Monthly Archives: April 2011

Artisanal Foods and Local Wine tasting at Northside Social, May 26

Curious about the artisanal products being turned out of Executive Chef Liam LaCivita’s kitchens in the Liberty Tavern restaurant group? Join us for a happy hour at Northside Social for a unique chance to sample breads, spreads, sausages, and cheeses, all made in house at The Liberty Tavern, Northside Social, and Lyon Hall. The food will be complemented by wine from a local Virginia winemaker (one glass included in the event price). May 26 from 6-8:00 p.m.. $23 for members, $28 for non-members.

Register here:

Foraging: Ramps 2011

For the last few years, a common sight on early spring restaurant menus and in farmers markets has been the Ramp (a.k.a. wild leek). The ramp is a member of the onion family, and it only grows on the East Coast, mostly in the Appalachians where it is very common. It has a different look than any other in the onion family, it has broad green leaves, most times with purple tints on the lower stem, and a stalk and bulb like a scallion. The taste is that of an onion but has a distinctive garlic smell. The whole plant is edible. The window to harvest ramps is very small, only few weeks before the leaves die back, not to reemerge until the following spring.

Ramps have not been successfully cultivated so any ramps that are eaten are foraged wild. Due to the immense popularity recently there has been a bit of a strain on the native populations of ramps. Though not in danger yet, we should be careful to not over-harvest to allow the ramps to regenerate naturally. It takes many years for a large stand of ramps to grow, and this must be kept in mind when harvesting.

I am lucky enough to have family that live on a mountain in upstate New York, adjacent to a giant old growth stand of ramps. The stand below probably easily covered a quarter mile of mountainside.

My wife and I recently harvested enough for our friends’ and families’ enjoyment, being careful not to take too many from any one spot.

Ramps are wonderful in any application scallions are used. This morning’s meal was an omelet made with pastured eggs, ramps, and Spanish goat cheese. It was delicious. Other great ways to eat ramps and preserve them include making and freezing a ramp pesto or pickling the stems and bulbs.

This year I am going to try something different and transplant some of the ramps in a pot. Online I’ve seen that some folks have had success cultivating them this way, and I hope it can be replicated.

Golden Girls and Blueberries

Two awesome things happened in the last 14 days.

1) I went on a trip to Broadway High school three hours south of D.C. in the middle of no where Virginia and met 2 amazing change maker seniors trying to find ways to fix their school lunch program (and we did in just one meal period) and 2) We found a way to get students to eat healthy, no additive, not boring looking yogurt.

There’s not much to elaborate on with the yogurt story other than the fact that we were getting a lot of comments from a few schools about how white, (even buying Stoneyfield organic lovely yogurt with granola AND drizzling HONEY on it) was not good; too tart. They wanted something purple, something with a cartoon on it telling them that it would be great….so I spent a few weeks talking to our awesome sourcer at DCCK and she brought in this dairy farm from Maryland to do a tasting. As soon as I saw the color of this beautiful, rich yogurt I knew the students would eat it. It’s bright but soft, as if you just blanched a purple head of cabbage…but it’s also not as thick as other yogurts.

Fast forward a few weeks and a few gallons later and the yogurt is running off the salad bar shelves and off the breakfast line. The best part: it’s made with REAL BLUEBERRIES!!!!…CRAZY, I know.

As far as my visit, well, I think I could write a dissertation on the visit I had at Broadway High School in Virginia last week. So much is going on in schools across the country that it makes me giddy to be a stranger there and share ideas. I was lucky enough to meet 2 students who, as their senior project, took on revamping their school food program. In 2 months they are trying to make local produce more abundant and consumed….

Knowing how hard this can be, to change a culture of eating habits, I asked them to ask the kitchen staff (all white women, mostly in their 30s and 40s) what their biggest hurdles were and what they thought about getting more fresh fruits and veggies into the menu mix.

“It’s too much work, we have to get 8 hours of work done in 6 hours,” one cook told the senior. And so it began. I walked into work and opened an email to see a list of 10 hurdles the students were having with their communication to the school and their food service staff about making changes in their food program. Le sigh.

And then I visited. When I got there I sat with the students (accompanied by the county Food Service Director who came when he found out someone from DC was visiting) and spoke to them about the cook’s life, the budgets we have to face, and the hardships of actually getting local food distributed to schools or anywhere larger than a 100 seat restaurant. It’s about purchasing power and slow changes.

So, the first step we took was observing eating habits of a large populated high school and we saw that, despite a great salad bar set up, most students went right for the pizza and didn’t choose to add their veggies to their plate.

After seeing that all the students had to pay at the end of the line (and seeing a fake bowl of fruit next to the check out) I grabbed the kitchen manager, Norma (a lovely women right out of a Golden Girls episode) and ran into the walk in with a punch bowl from their dry storage. We filled it up with apples and pears (which they get from the commodity program from the USDA and have a lot of money for) and put that huge bowl on the line, 4 feet from the cashier.

We had 8 hits in the first 10 minutes of the second meal period. Norma now uses that trick every day for every meal period. BAM!

Change is possible. It’s just terrifyingly slow.

I can’t wait for my next visit to Broadway; the lights are bright there.

BGH Story Suppressed

The link below is to a ten-minute video reporting on the suppression of an investigative news story that raised questions about the threats to human health posed by the use of bovine growth hormone (BGH) to increase milk production. This should be of great concern to all Slow Food members. This is yet another instance of unbridled corporate power being used to stop legitimate inquiry and debate about the future of our food system.

Fox News Suppresses BGH Investigative Report At Monsanto’s Request

9th Annual Clyde’s Farm Dinner, Aug 6th

Update: This event is now SOLD OUT. Please check out some of our other great events!

Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm
42920 Broadlands Boulevard
Ashburn, VA 20148
Saturday, August 06, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Slow Food DC’s event of the year, the 9th Annual Clyde’s Farm Dinner, is now on the books for Saturday, August 6 at 5 p.m. Our friend and patron, Clyde’s, has opened the barn door and garden gate to welcome Slow Food members and friends to a tour of their raised-bed garden—where all their veggies grow—and a five-course farm dinner. We will celebrate our local farmers by partying at Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm, just off Route 267 near Dulles airport and Leesburg, VA.

A $100 voucher for dinner for two at Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm will be auctioned off during the meal.

Menu and speakers to be announced. But hurry, this event ALWAYS sells out fast…really fast. Last year, all tickets were gone within 72 hours. Limit: 85 guests.

Sign up for the event at:

Straight Talk About Food in Low-Income Communities

The sustainable food movement is teeming with buzzwords: “farm to table,” “locavore,” even “sustainable” itself. Despite their relative youth, they’ve already become cliché.

That’s why listening to Louise Thundercloud, an advocate for low-income people in Washington, DC, is so refreshing. “If I go up to somebody hanging out on 7th Street and say, ‘Here’s some sustainable food for you,’ they’re gonna look at me like I’m crazy,” she says.

Thunderbird shared her insights on  how to talk about food, nutrition, and cooking with people in low-income communities at a conversation on food justice hosted by Bread for the City on April 6th. Learn what she had to say over on the FRESH blog.

The Ultimate Pig Dinner, May 4

The Ultimate Pig Dinner!!
Wednesday, May 4 6:30 p.m.

Harry’s Tap Room
2800 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201

Come to Harry’s Tap Room in Clarendon for the ultimate in “pigging out.” It’s pork (from snout to tail) in a multi-course dinner and a Virginia wine tasting. Harry’s Executive Chef Alex Reyes promises an extravaganza of four courses ending with bacon ice cream.

The evening will start with Michael Rodriguez, owner of Fauquier’s Finest, providing a pork butchering presentation.

While “digging the pig”, you will enjoy culinary and wine insights from Chef Alex, Winemaker Chris Pearmund and Michael Rodriquez, owner of Fauquier’s Finest Country Butcher Shop.

Chris Pearmund, founder of Pearmund Cellars, Vint Hill Craft Winery and The Winery at La Grange will talk about his passion for bringing the Virginia wine industry into national prominence. He’ll also discuss how he worked with Harry’s Tap Room co-founder Michael Sternberg in the production of “Harry’s Declaration Red” made at Pearmund Cellar’s. Chris will lead a tasting of “Harry’s Declaration Red” and three other wines from his wineries specially selected to accompany your dinner.

Harry’s Tap Room has always worked with local producers using all natural and sustainable meats, dairy, produce and seafood in Chef Alex’s menu offerings. Recent menus have put more effort into utilization of whole animals. This benefits Harry’s farm partners by giving a ready outlet for their products at a fair market price, allowing them to focus on farming instead of worrying about where to sell their products.

Cost for the event is $55 for Slow Food members, $60 for non-members. Register for your tickets here: