Slow Food Columbus Blog

Living the slow life… one day at a time

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Action Alert: Proposed legislation to license street food vendors

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Columbus City Council is considering a measure that would require licensing ($150/yr) for community markets, defined as “any organized gathering of persons to primarily sell… merchandise, fruits, meats, dairy, vegetables, garden produce and/or food for human consumption.” That could mean community markets, farmer’s markets, food trucks, what have you. There will be a presentation from Public Safety and an opportunity for the public to comment TOMORROW, Thursday the 14th, and a second reading on June 25, at which there will be a second opportunity and possibly a final vote.

Please attend and comment! If you cannot do so, please email questions before 3pm Thursday to John Ivanic, jpivanic@columbus.gov, who will pass them along to presenters. For specific questions on the measure, call Councilwoman Michelle Mills’ office at 614-645-5344.

A link to the text of the proposed measure is here. Thanks to Wayne Shingler of Frijolito Farm for bringing this to our attention.

Update: Thursday’s hearing will be held at 5:00 p.m., in Council Chambers.

Written by Bear

June 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Beard Award Potluck/Celebration for Jeni Britton-Bauer

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Alana’s Food and Wine
2333 N. High St., Columbus

Tuesday, June 26, 7-9 p.m.
Free for members/$25 for nonmembers

 

We are thrilled to announce a potluck dinner at Alana’s Food and Wine to honor and congratulate 2010 Terra Madre delegate Jeni Britton-Bauer on the occasion of her receipt of a James Beard Award for her book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home! Though Columbus chefs and writers have been nominated in the past, and the Dispatch’s Robin Davis brought a Beard Award with her when she moved here, Jeni is the first native Columbusite to have received this tremendous honor.

Jeni’s commitment to sustainability, quality, and sourcing have made her a household name in Columbus in a very short time and have propelled her ice creams to the national stage.  Jeni was one of two delegates who represented our chapter at Slow Food Nation in San Francisco.  She joined Slow Food at the inception of our chapter and has supported us with donations of ice cream literally from our first event.  Jeni was a founding member of Local Matters and partners with and promotes more local farmers than almost any other chef in the region.

To congratulate Jeni on having won a James Beard Award, we will give her the gift that she’s given us: food. Bring a favorite dish (soup, salad, appetizer, entree, or dessert) to Alana’s to share and enjoy the creativity of the other home chefs who comprise our membership. Alana will open her restaurant to us… and even bring an entree herself. In addition, there will be a cash bar.

Everyone should bring a dish, a label describing it, and a serving utensil if needed; couples are welcome to conspire but should still take two tickets. The event is free to members and $25 for nonmembers (who can either add a “nonmember ticket” to their order or visithttp://slowfoodusa.org/local to join Slow Food USA for… $25.) Tickets are available here.

We hope to see you there.

Written by Bear

June 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Awesome People in Our Community

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I wanted to take a moment to tell you about some awesome people that we’ll be seeing tomorrow. I hope you can come and see them too.

The first group is Patrick Testa and the folks at WOSU. They have an annual fundraiser, Chefs in the City, that brings some of the top chefs in the world to Columbus. A few years ago, we suggested adding a quick meet-and-greet and book signing for folks who wanted to meet these chefs but couldn’t attend the fundraiser. The WOSU folks agreed, and a collaboration was born: they provide the chef, we provide some food for the people in line, and the first 50 people to sign up get in for free.

They didn’t have to do this. But they do, and it’s pretty cool.

This year’s guest chef is Chef Hubert Keller, familiar to West Coasters as the talent behind Fleur de Lys in San Francisco, to TV viewers as the handsome chef with the flowing grey hair on Top Chef Masters, and to backyard cooks as the author of Burger Bar: Build Your Own Ultimate Burgers. Chef Keller will be at the WOSU Studios at COSI on Wednesday, May 2, from 12:30-2:00 p.m. to chat with people and sign books.

The other awesome person who prompted me to write this post is Jennie Scheinbach, proprietor of Pattycake Bakery. When I asked Jennie whether she wanted to partner with us for this event, she said, “Sure!” (Keep in mind that Chef Keller started as a pastry chef.) When I suggested making something from Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, she agreed immediately. We got her some pawpaw—a local banana-like fruit—from Chris Chmiel, the local pawpaw king at Integration Acres (Chris, who shipped same-day when we called him? Also awesome) and she started experimenting. When last I heard, she was angling toward a peanut butter whoopie pie with pawpaw filling… which sounds pretty delicious.

Finally, when we asked Jennie what the bill would be, she just said, “Well, you got the pawpaw, so the rest is on us.” That’s 50 whoopie pies, folks. For free. That’s Jennie. And she’s really awesome.

What does this mean for you? It means that the WOSU folks are letting you sit in a room and talk with a world-famous chef, and Jennie is baking you whoopie pies for a post-lunch treat, and all of these things are free. We suggest you do it (sign up here; they actually need to charge you to add you to their signup system, but it only costs a penny).

I hope we’ll see you there.

Written by Bear

May 2, 2012 at 4:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Announcing our Inaugural Snailblazer Award!

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Slow Food Columbus is pleased to announce our inaugural Snailblazer Award, in recognition of pioneering contributions to a sustainable food system, and to announce that Warren Taylor of Snowville Creamery will be the award’s first recipient. Warren will be honored in a reception on February 23, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Wexner Center; the public is invited to attend. Delicious hors d’oeuvres, courtesy of Slow Food Columbus and created by Slow Food members John and Kimberly Skaggs from Heirloom, will be available, as well as a cash bar.

In addition, and recognition of the passion and drive with which Taylor champions the ideals of Slow Food, we are donating $500 to Snowville’s community-sourced Kickstarter campaign, designed to fund a yogurt-production facility. What’s more, we will donate even more money to Snowville’s yogurt campaign… but only if you will. Taking a cue from November’s Big Give campaign, Slow Food Columbus will designate matching funds to be added to every Kickstarter pledge made between now and February 10. The Big Give utilized $1 million in matching funds to leverage a total of $7.4 million in donations—just over $13 for every $100 donated. The needs of Snowville’s yogurt project are smaller, and our treasury is smaller still (we take “nonprofit” quite seriously), but we believe in this project, and we will give $1 for every additional $100 donated to the Kickstarter campaign after the morning of January 23.

Remember, folks, the deadline is February 10, so please, donate now. And we hope to see you at the reception on February 23!

Written by Bear

January 23, 2012 at 3:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

First Principles

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The past few years have brought some changes at Slow Food USA, changes that might leave members wondering about the principles behind the organization and behind their local chapter. It makes sense for us, in advance of our Annual Meeting, to lay out a statement of what those principles have been, and what we hope they will continue to be.

In past years, Slow Food developed a reputation as an elitist organization, largely because of its emphasis on being willing to pay the visible premium associated with good, clean, and fair food. To its credit, the organization took the criticism, in part because it took the long view: the invisible premium on conventional food, measured in terms of environmental degradation and health, would come closer to evening the price than most consumers realized. But elitism is an easy charge to make, a difficult one to evade, and a problematic one for a growing organization. More to the point, there was a growing sense that the emphasis on the best, cleanest, and fairest food excluded many Americans who could not afford it on a regular basis.

Accordingly, there has been a recent shift at Slow Food USA toward an emphasis on lower-cost solutions that nevertheless maintain the standards of food quality. The outcome has been divisive: a recent Chow article, while mentioning the substantial growth in the organization, nevertheless noted prominent defections from the Slow Food fold. According to the article, Slow Food’s shift toward $5 dinners and away from supporting the organic farmers who have been its core constituents is responsible for the disbanding of the New Orleans chapter and for making Alice Waters cry.

We regret that New Orleans is without a chapter, and we hope that Ms. Waters is well. But frankly, we don’t understand the reason for the uproar.

We have always believed that Slow Food should be a movement for everyone. The organization’s shift in emphasis toward younger and less well-off members is welcome, and we seek to continue it and to share it ourselves. But in our chapter, it is not, and should not be, exclusive. We hope that the mix of events that our chapter has sponsored over the past few years speaks to that orientation. We seek, as our homepage has always said,

to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.

The quote never specified which people—and it shouldn’t. Slow Food should be a movement that is accessible to everyone on every rung of the socioeconomic ladder. Period. Some of those people have been, and will remain, the core supporters of organic and sustainable farmers around the country. Others may be soon. Still others desire to find the best, cleanest, and fairest options available to them.

It is incumbent upon our organization, and upon the chefs, farmers, and rank-and-file members who comprise it, to use our creativity and skill to realize that vision for everyone. That is our purpose.

If you share those goals, please consider joining Slow Food or keeping your membership current, and if you are a member, please consider proposing a new event.

Thank you.

Written by Bear

January 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Stand Up, Columbus! Beard Award Voting Now Open

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You might think, at first blush, that Columbus is a shoo-in for a James Beard award. Julia Child once described James Beard as “the quintessential American cook;” Columbus, a test market for fast-food chains for years, has long been a quintessential American city. At the same time, both are progressive: Columbus was just named the up-and-coming gay city of 2011, and Beard was expelled from Reed College for homosexual activity back in the 1920s. Yet despite these obvious similarities, with the exception of the Dispatch’s own Robin Davis (who won while living in a different city), Columbus, unlike Cleveland (!!), is home to no winners of the prestigious James Beard Award.

We believe the time has come for this travesty to end. And we want your help in putting a stop to it.

The Beard Award nominations are open from now until December 31 (just click here to submit your choices). In past years, Kent Rigsby of Rigsby’s Kitchen and Magdiale Wolmark of Dragonfly Neo-V (soon to be reopened as Till) have been nominated in the Best Chef—Great Lakes Region category, and those worthy chefs probably will be again—with good reason. We would, in addition, urge you to forward two more names to the Beard Foundation this year, names that our Board believes brook no argument whatsoever: Chef Ryuji (“Mike”) Kimura of Kihachi, whose culinary skill wowed Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman on Bourdain’s No Reservations show, and Spencer Budros, the pastry wizard behind Columbus’ star pâtisserie, Pistacia Vera.

If you are reading this blog, you don’t need us to tell you anything more about these people. Please go vote for them now—and with any luck at all, Columbus will be able to celebrate the Beard Award committee’s recognition of their accomplishments in a few months’ time.

Written by Bear

November 23, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A $5 Dinner in 15 Minutes

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Most of the people planning Slow Food USA‘s $5 dinners have shown remarkable ingenuity in stretching their $5 far beyond what anyone would have imagined—preparing multiple courses of sustainable food that few would have believed cost less than $5 per serving.

I decided to try something a little different.

I stuck to the $5-dinner rules, but I wanted to address the criticism that many people have of cooking at home—namely, that they don’t have the time to do it. I didn’t seek out ingredients that I could stretch as far as possible; instead, I chose ingredients from the North Market that I could turn into a simple, delicious, sustainable meal, quickly:

  • One 4-1/2 lb. Amish chicken $14
  • 1 lb pesticide-free Brussels sprouts, Ann’s raspberry farm, $4
  • 1/2 lb salad greens, $2

(Prices are approximate; when you factor in the salt, pepper, and olive oil/vinegar that I added later, the result puts us almost exactly at $20, for four meal-sized portions.)

More importantly, I made use of a lot of the time-saving tips I described in the previous blog post. And I tracked the extra time it took to obtain the ingredients, prep them, and cook them on the Slow Food Columbus Twitter stream.  Some sample tweets:

@SlowFoodCMH Rather than documenting cost for today's #5challenge,
I'll document the time it takes. Proving we have time to cook.
bit.ly/q1aHcj
@SlowFoodCMH Entering @NorthMarket
@SlowFoodCMH And done
@SlowFoodCMH Not bad... produce and poultry in 6 minutes. short
lines today
@SlowFoodCMH Sprouts prepped, salad prepped, kitchen cleaned,
trimmings thrown in freezer bag for stock. Clock stops: 21 minutes
this leg #5challenge
@SlowFoodCMH Dinner in 36 minutes. #5challenge lockerz.com/s/139692086
@SlowFoodCMH And a few more nights' worth of dinners, already ready for
the fridge. #5challenge lockerz.com/s/139693172
@SlowFoodCMH All told: 4 servings shopped for, cooked, and cleaned up
in about an hour's time—15 minutes per meal. Now time your next
fast food run.

·

I did relatively little to the ingredients: I removed the extra bits from the chicken, rubbed it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary, and threw it in a 400° oven to cook for just over an hour (15 minutes per pound). Then I rinsed, oiled, salted and peppered the sprouts and put them on a tray by the oven, rinsed the lettuce and put it in the refrigerator… and went back to reading. When there were 40 minutes left I slipped the sprouts into the oven. When everything was done I pulled the sprouts and chicken out of the oven, quartered the bird, dressed the salad, put the remaining portions into Pyrex storage containers to cool, snapped a quick photograph… and sat down to enjoy dinner at my leisure.

It was far from the most elaborate meal that was prepared today. But it’s sustainable, it’s healthy, and it clocks in at around $5 per serving. And even making generous allowances for travel and cleanup the time spent obtaining and preparing it doesn’t exceed an hour, or 15 minutes per meal when you take leftovers into account.

You might be able to beat that with a trip to the drive-through window, maybe… as long as you don’t get stuck behind the guy who can’t decide whether he wants fries with that.

Written by Bear

September 18, 2011 at 3:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Op-Ed: You Say You Don’t Have Time To Cook. You’re Wrong

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Slow Food USA’s $5 Dinner campaign is a very good one. The idea that we can “take back the value meal” by showing people just how far their $5 can go is brilliant: why settle for a Big Mac when you can have so much more? Local food blogger and urban homesteader Rachel Tayse Baillieul has already risen to the challenge with style, and more dinners are on the way (you can sign up to make one or attend if you’d like).

The only problem is the objection we hear whenever we urge people to cook at home: in today’s busy world, who has the time to cook?

The answer is simple. You do.

Most beginning home cooks don’t think they have time to cook because—not to put too fine a point on it—they’re doing it wrong. When I started cooking for myself, I’d begin with a clean kitchen, take out the still-uncut or wrapped ingredients for the recipe one at a time, execute the recipe’s steps one at a time in order, stand there and watch the food cook to make sure that nothing went wrong, serve myself a single course, eat it, and then clean up. And yes, I decided pretty quickly that cooking took a long time.

If there are any professional chefs reading this, or even experienced home chefs, they’re probably smiling to themselves right now… because that’s not how you do it. There are all sorts of ways to cheat time and make home cooking far, far more efficient:

  • Shift time. If you find a few spare moments an hour or three earlier in the day, go ahead and put the raw ingredients together early. You’ll be amazed at how much time it saves when you go to cook. In some recipes (like bread), you have to do this.
  • Never stand still. If your feet aren’t moving, ask yourself whether they could be. While the food is cooking, start cleaning the dishes that you’ve already used. Cleanup goes a whole lot faster when there’s hardly anything to clean up.
  • Cook more than one meal. There’s no law that says that you can’t eat leftovers. Cooking lots of servings at one time means zero prep time for subsequent meals—fast food can’t beat that.
  • Do things out of order. Think ahead to when things need to be ready; don’t wait until step 3 to do the things that are required in step 3. For example, if you think you’re going to need to boil water for something, start a pot of it boiling right away—don’t wait until you need it.
  • Cook low and slow. Lots of meals don’t even require you to be present for most of the cooking. If you can start a recipe cooking in the morning, leave it unattended all day, and return to cook a quick side dish or two right before dinner, it will seem as though cooking takes hardly any time at all.

Nothing will eliminate the time that’s needed to cook, of course: it’s a simple fact that cutting up a chicken takes time. But it simply doesn’t need to take nearly as much time as beginning home cooks think it does.

So here’s my challenge to you, if you are of the “it takes too much time” school: Find three people you know who do cook on a regular basis, and ask them what their favorite tips are for saving time in the kitchen. I bet you’ll be impressed by the answer… and I bet, in the end, you’ll be more inclined to try cooking yourself.

I’m also curious to hear what they say… or what you have to say yourself, if you have more ideas.

Written by Bear

September 16, 2011 at 5:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Ruhlman’s Twenty and the Art of Cooking

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Cleveland chef and author Michael Ruhlman came to town recently to talk about his new book, Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, A Cook’s Manifesto. Ruhlman (who is called both “Chef” and “Mr.” elsewhere, a fact that may in part explain his Rihannaesque surname-only status) is an unusually thought-provoking author: his slim book Ratio condensed a lot of recipes down into a small set of simple principles—something that’s very hard to do—and Ruhlman’s Twenty does the same for cooking.

I had assumed, therefore, that Ruhlman’s talk at the Best of Fall Home Show would be about those principles, or some of them. But he surprised me.

Ruhlman used some of the techniques in Ruhlman’s Twenty, of course: he cured some salmon and did a basic ceviche, casually demystifying two dishes that most of his audience almost certainly had thought was well beyond its reach. But he actually focused very little on the nuts and bolts of how to do it, a fact that quietly emphasized the simplicity of cooking. Instead, he focused on his main message: “Cook for yourself. It makes life better.”

Obviously, we couldn’t agree more—from the point of view of health, conviviality, family, and pleasure. But what impressed me most was how Ruhlman had once again focused on the forest rather than the trees. It makes little sense to try to teach someone 1,000 recipes when they can learn 20 techniques instead. And by the same token, it makes little sense to talk about the specifics of those techniques when the point of learning them is to cook.

So let’s get out there and cook. It really does make life better.

Written by Bear

September 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A Snapshot of Slow Food Columbus

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I guess this shows where our priorities lie.  (via Wordle)

 

 

Written by Bear

September 12, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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