Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Introducing blogger Rich Higgins - because it's the Year of the Beer.

Rich Higgins is a SF based local brewer, food lover and a great writer. Since I'm newbie to the world of homebrewing, not to mention pairing food and beer--I'm excited to have Rich contribute to Root to Fruit about all things beer and food. Here's a quick interview to introduce Rich, be on the lookout for a new post by him this week!

How did you get started as a home-brewer?

I started homebrewing because I loved beer and wanted to figure out how to make it myself. My first few batches were horrendous, but after seeking info from different sources, my beer got better and better.

How did you make the jump to brewing as a day job?

After five years of homebrewing, I moved to San Francisco without a job and looking for a dream to chase. I spent my first few months here sitting in brewpubs, loving the fresh beer, and wondering what I was going to do with myself. Then it hit me: someone’s got to brew this stuff!

What is your first food memory?

The sound of the Shawerma Man sharpening his knives at the shawerma stand near where I grew up.

What are you cooking these days?

I’m pickling and jarring a lot of the last vestiges of summer. Basically, a lot of tomato sauce and spiced fruit jams.

You are a certified Cicerone--what is a Cicerone?

A Cicerone is a certified beer sommelier; someone who is an expert in beer history, styles, and brewing technique, who has an expert palate, and who has a passion about pairing great beer with great food. Draft system maintenance is key knowledge, too.

What are you the most excited by in the food/beer world right now?

The real excitement of pairing beer and food is how it can be an “a-ha!” moment for people, allowing the beautiful flavors and textures of beer to be appreciated in a new context. There are too many people who think that beer doesn’t have a place at the table. Beer is such a versatile partner with food, and, unlike how wine has difficult-to-pair foods, there really is a beer for every food and a food for every beer.

When was the last time you had a bud light?

At the Kentucky Derby a couple years ago at a bachelor party. It’s five seconds of my life I’ll never get back.

Last meal?

My last meal will be a ripe Warren pear from Frog Hollow Farm, sliced with a sprinkle of freshly cracked pepper, and a bottle of Old Stock from North Coast Brewing Co. Try it, and you’ll understand.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Heading East....

Fall colors, friends & family back east--here I come! From Philly to Jersey to NYC and back again.

I'm looking forward to finishing NYT Magazine Food Issue on the plane - so far, I especially love the article on the revolution of fresh produce in food banks.

When I get back I hope to have many photos of good food and I'm excited to be able to expand my guest posts to some on the craft beer + local foods world!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Latest food inspirations

Had a great weekend with friends visiting from my desert homeland, AZ. Cooking and eating with my old friends brought up lots of good food memories and a reminder of my own eating evolution.

From my fast food fueled high school years to my first attempts at college vegetarianism involving an aversion to vegetables and a dedication to veggie paddies and bean & cheese burritos. To my long, slow move to, well, slow food--it started when I was a CSA coordinator with no clue how to cook the veggie bounty and continues through today as I try and figure out how to learn to love the fennel and cook the pumpkin in my CSA share.

Each step of the way I get inspired by eating and cooking with my friends. So here's just some of the things I'm finding inspiration from lately...
  1. 101 cookbooks (as always) with it's beautiful photos & seasonal, whole food recipes--I'm especially excited when she shares those who inspire her, like this new blog focused on Asian cooking.
  2. Spicy noodle Mie Tek Tek soup from my new favorite Borobudur, a great Indonesian restaurant.
  3. Cauliflower is my fall vegetable of the moment.
  4. Vegetarian sushi @ Cha-Ya
  5. Dinners involving a tasting: this weekend=a mushroom tasting inspired by the farmers' market. Lobster, Chantrelle, Fried chicken, and so many others! So delicious.
  6. Finally...whatever comes out of the garden--here's a big old bucket of veggies harvested from Garden for the Environment. Even those radishes look good!

Friday, October 9, 2009

A do not miss farmer-writer event 10/17

Two of my favorite farmer writers - Andy Griffin & Novella Carpenter - are coming together for Litquake's Litcrawl next Saturday @ 18 reasons. More info here. Andy grows my beautiful CSA veggies and writes inspiring newsletters while Novella is an urban farmer superstar and the author of Farm City.  

I'll be on the east coast during the event—so, please go. Brave the crowds. Eat street food. Take profuse notes, let it infuse your soul and inspire. And tell me and my blog all about it. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Local food revolution continues to storm Washington

Thanks to my friend Katie for pointing out this NPR story about the local food revolution making waves in Washington.

The NPR story talks about two important issues of the local food scene: the cost of local food & public education coming from the top.

Public education campaign from the top: The USDA has created a new program focused on connecting eaters and producers for the first time: Know Your Farmer. Promoting local food AND creating economic sustainability for rural communities. This is a critical first step to ensuring access to fresh, healthy, organic food for all Americans.

When NPR turned to tell the story of the cost of local foods they started with the fact that at the White House Farmers' Market, food stamps and WIC are worth twice as much if used at farmers' markets. An unparralleled improvement in access to local foods for low income communities. But then the conservatives from the Cato Institute chimed into to say that the real solution is to bring WalMart into inner-cities.

Yes, inner-cities suffer from a lack of access to fresh, whole foods--corner stores and fast food chains are your best bet for an affortable meal. But perhaps the best tack is to look at innovative policies that create inscentives for small buisness owners to provide fresh, whole foods---even local foods--to low-income communities. Read more about these efforts in NYC and Philadelphia.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

David Byrne Turns Bike Advocate.

Byrne loves the way the world looks from a bicycle. He's been talking about it lately in SF and on NPR. He's weaves stories about biking with the politics of being a biker in a way that only Byrne could pull off. He turned an author lecture into a bike advocacy panel---just one example of how the Talking Heads front man is beginning to reach audiences that would never consider the realities of getting on your bike in a car dominated world.  

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall: in the soil and on my table

Fall is my favorite season. Autumn evenings. Crisp air. End of summer tomatoes appearing with winter's squashes. Pears, apples, and pomegranates are just hitting their stride.

In the kitchen I'm experimenting with cauliflower (because Mariquita farms has the most exquisite cauliflower!) and cabbages. Making pestos, roasting beets, and I'm threatening to buy up mounds of melons and boxes of tomatoes before they go out of season.

In the garden: I just put in my first fall SF garden!
I'm trying out onions, peas, greens, lettuces, broccolini and more. Here they are sprouting up!
Apple & berry picking for Garden for the Environment's CSA box!