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Slow Wine 2016 Pours Italian Wines Across America

By Elena Grigashkina, Slow Food USA International Campaigns Intern

“Wine, just as food, must be good, clean and fair.”  Slow Wine as a natural extension of Slow Food.

Slow Wine

Over the last decade, Americans have been eagerly embracing the idea of sustainable agriculture, natural food and a healthier life style. Yes, the natural food movement has changed the way people eat today. We consider where our food came from, who grew or produced it and how far it traveled to get to our plates. But I wonder, do we ask ourselves the same questions when buying a bottle of Pinot in a local liquor store or having a glass of wine with our meal?

Slow Food believes that wine, just as food, must be good, clean and fair. In the end, wine is an agricultural product, and has an impact on the lives of people who produce and consume it, and on the environment. Pesticides, herbicides, excessive water and energy consumption are all commonplace in conventional wine production.

The program that supports good, clean and fair wine already exists in Italy. The Slow Wine guide, produced by Slow Food editore, promotes small-scale Italian winemakers who make quality wines using traditional techniques, working with respect for the environment, biodiversity and terroir. Once a year the Slow Wine team and select winemakers hit the road to Asia, North America and Europe in order to debute that year’s guide and to present a selection of the best Italian wines. (More on the 2016 Slow Wine Tour here.)

Slow WineHistorically, most of the wine in Italy has been produced by families, with minimum intervention and rarely with chemical inputs. In the United States, by contrast, wine production is more industrialized, made with the techniques optimized for bringing wine to the marketplace as quickly as possible. Producers who make wine in industrial quantities are more likely to use additives with long, unpronounceable names to ensure consistency in the product. Grapes are sprayed with pesticides that damage the soil, the environment and the health of the workers who pick those grapes. As a result, the consumer ends up with wine which is pumped, fined, filtered, has less complex taste and a greater negative impact on the environment.

The good news is that the whole industry is steadily changing. Resource depletion and the consumer demand for sustainable products and services encourage local winemakers to move towards more sustainable farming practices and wine production techniques. More and more wineries across the United States are becoming environment-friendly, whether by organically growing their grapes, using biodynamic methods or following sustainable farming practices.

But how does one understand what wine is good, clean and fair? Organic, biodynamic, natural, green, eco-friendly, naked or sustainably-farmed… all these terms are confusing for the average wine drinker. To clear up this confusion, I’ll be writing a series of wine blog posts featuring different slow wine related individuals, projects and discussions that, perhaps, could be a first step forward in building a strong Slow Wine movement in the US.

In the coming weeks we will interview California wine producers to get a snapshot of what sustainable winegrowing means in practice; we will learn about a recent Slow Wine project in Oregon; and we will sit down at the table with Slow Wine team, Italian winemakers and local wine industry representatives to talk about sustainability and the future for Slow Wine in the U.S.

Cheers and stay tuned!

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A Preview of What’s in Store for the Snail of Approval Party

rislogo1This year’s Snail of Approval Party is just around the corner – Saturday, April 18 at Ris – and in addition to celebrating a new batch of awesome Snail winners, there’ll be all sorts of goodies to enjoy!!  First, Chef Ris has prepared an incredible menu for all to enjoy, including:

  • Fresh Ricotta Gnudi-smoked tomato vinaigrette, spinach and lemon salt  
  • Mini Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with mustard cream
  • Eggplant Parmesan Sliders
  • Fried Scallops on Fried Lemon with tartar sauce
  • Goat Cheese, Fig and Olive Crostini
  • Deviled Eggs
  • An assortment of chocolate and lemon tarts
  • A specialty, seasonal cocktail

Plus, new Snail of Approval winner Port City Brewing Company will be pouring tastes of their local craft beers, and new winner Meat Crafters (formerly Simply Sausage) is providing samples!

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But the fun doesn’t stop there – we’ve got an amazing selection of products and experiences from our region available at our silent auction.  Check out the list below to find out what great items you can come  bid on:

  • Gift packs from Olio Olive Oil
  • A Staub Dutch Oven
  • A Growler Pack from Port City
  • A Tasting at Barrel Oak Winery
  • MOM’s gift certificate
  • A Fresh Farms Market Gift Basket
  • A Barrel Kit from Copper Fox Whiskey
  • A cooking class with Chef Mark Haskell
  • Fermentation Crock Pottery from Artist Marlisa Jeng
  • A Le Creuset Casserole Dish
  • An incredible array of cook books from Phaidon Books
  • Coffee Classes from Vigilante Coffee
  • Autographed Washington Capitals Player Card
  • Infield Box Tickets to a Washington Nationals Game
  • Glens Garden Market CSA Share
  • Mosser Glass Crystal Cake Stand
  • Gift Certificate from Route 11 Potato Chip Company
  • A night at Belle Meade B&B in Sperryville Virginia
  • Beehive Handmade: Pewter Measuring Spoons
  • Tickets to Contemporary Vegetarian Cuisine Cooking Class with the Guiding Knife
  • Wine Tour and Tasting at Chrysalis Vineyards
  • Group tour and tasting at South Mountain Creamery
  • Distillery Lane Ciderworks Cider
  • Book Lecture and Book Nora Pouillon at 6th & I

We hope you to see you there, so get your tickets now!!

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April 18: celebrate the newest Snail winners with us!

Join Slow Food DC to honor and celebrate the 2015 Snail of Approval winners! We have an exciting line up of chefs, farmers, and artisans to add to the growing roster. This unique event is an opportunity to mix and mingle with the individuals dedicated to shaping our food community while enjoying some delicious food and drink!

This year’s event will be held at RIS in DC, featuring a menu designed by Chef Ris using locally sourced ingredients, and a featured, specialty seasonal cocktail. There will also be a silent auction and other surprises from local food purveyors!

For more information on the Snail of Approval program and to see prior winners please visit http://www.slowfooddc.org/snail-of-approval/.

The event will run from 12noon-3pm. Get your tickets here.

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Snail of Approval Nominations Now Closed

Thank you to all who nominated producer of good, clean, and fair food in the greater DC area for a Snail of Approval award!  We are so excited to recognize great new local restaurants, bars, artisans, and farmers in the new year.  So be sure to stay tuned for news of our Snail of Approval Party and the next batch of winners in 2015!

Until then, be sure to learn more about the Snail of Approval here.

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2014 Snail of Approval Nominations Open

Are you a producer of good, clean, and fair food in the greater DC area? Know someone who is? Consider nominating your favorite local purveyor for a Snail of Approval award — Slow Food DC’s “stamp of approval,” as it were.

Learn more about the criteria for SOA here and for a little inspiration, check out our directory of prior Snail winners here.

Nominate your favorite restaurant, bar, market, or artisan today!

The deadline for 2014 nominations is December 1, 2014.

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Get mashed

Many thanks to Brooklyn Brewery for bringing their beer-food-arts awesomeness back to DC for the summer 2014 edition of the MASH tour!

This past Friday, I had the good fortune to secure a seat at the Slow Supper, featuring four delicious courses cooked up by the ingenious Chefs Andrew and Jacob, and perfectly paired with limited edition Brooklyn Brewery beers. (In retrospect, it was tough to pick a favorite course, as they were all so good, but I’ve a feeling I’m going to be seeking out Brooklyn’s cuvee noire — the delectable, chocolaty brew we enjoyed with dessert and which I’ve been daydreaming about ever since.) Set in an airy warehouse space in the up-and-coming Union Market area of NoMa, more than a hundred other foodies joined me and fellow SFDC board members Amanda and Rob at the dinner that benefited our local Slow Food chapter.

The dinner marked nearly the end of a week packed with fun, mostly beer-themed events, ranging from farm tours to tastings to homebrew tip sharing all around our nation’s capital. See more photos from various MASH DC events on our facebook page. And keep your eyes peeled for the next time Brooklyn Brewery comes through town, ’cause it’s sure to be delicious….

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All in a Days Work at Wangari Gardens

On Sunday, April 27 Slow Foods DC spent a beautiful spring afternoon at Wangari Gardens working to expand their communal herb garden. Located near the McMilliam Reservoir and the Washington Hospital Center, Wangari Gardens is a 2.7 acre educational community garden park that offers free garden workshops, private and shared garden plots, and youth programing alongside a pollinator hive and a fruit orchard. A group of over 14 volunteers from Slow Food DC and Wangari gardens worked together to build a 12 foot L-shaped garden bed for cooking and medicinal herbs that can be harvested and shared by the whole community. Guided by master gardeners and SFDC board members, Mark Haskell and Ibti Vincent, volunteers also planted a few Ark of Taste Fish Chili Peppers – an African American heirloom variety brought to this country from either the Caribbean or Africa by enslaved peoples to the many plantations that surrounded the early Chesapeake Bay settlements.

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The group wrapped up their afternoon of hard work in the sun with an al fresco pot luck, sharing some of their favorite homemade dishes gathered around Wangari’s home-made garden benches under the trees. It was the perfect way to pass a gorgeous day outdoors, learning new planting skills and getting to know our neighbors.

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Slow Food DC’s new community garden plot at Wangari is accessible to all who want to work in the garden, learn more about one of our regional foods and how to grow food locally, or just sample some hearty herbs of the season. So be sure to head on over to check out the garden and enjoy the fruits of our labor throughout the summer!

You can also check out Wangari’s free Sunday workshops throughout the month of May, including:

  • May 4th & May 11th – Gardening 101: Everything you need to know about starting a garden from soil prep, garden designs, plant types and more.
  • May 18th – Soils and Composting: Learn about soil, soil biology, and different systems for creating compost.
  • May 25th – Container Gardening and Companion Planting: Learn how to garden with limited space and how companion plants can enhance your garden’s production and repel pests.

Hope to see you there!

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March 26: tasting the season at Bruce-Monroe Elementary

IMG956496Earlier this week, my friend and fellow SFDC board member, Amanda Terillo, and I joined 5th graders at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School for a talk about local, seasonal food. And because it was a Slow Food talk, of course there was some hands-on cooking and tasting at the end. I have never seen so many kiddos devour raw beet salad as I did that afternoon….

Our meeting started in the school cafeteria with a brainstorm: why might somebody choose to eat food that is from somewhere nearby? It tastes better! someone suggested. It doesn’t have to travel all the way from Florida…or India! (I later learned that students were in the midst of a history/geography unit on India. I am certainly not against Indian food, mind you.) You can meet the farmer who grew it!

These kids were awesome.

Next, we looked at our month-by-month seasonal food charts — courtesy of FreshFarm Markets — to determine the plethora of produce items in season in our area RIGHT NOW in the spring (or, more accurately, late winter) in the DC area. Students made mini posters with a few of their favorite fruits and veggies for each season.

Finally, Amanda and I worked with student volunteers (with recently scrubbed hands) to prepare two seasonal salads: a massaged kale salad (always a favorite) and a sweet-tart apple beet salad (which, incidentally, inspired Amanda’s husband to stop hating beets when I’d brought some to a dinner party a few weeks ago).

IMG956488On their way out, after a collective Thank you!!!  a few students paused to tell me that they were looking forward to making these seasonal salads at home. For SFDC’s part, we’re looking forward to more work with schools in coming months.

Interested in working with local schools and community gardens to promote Slow Food DC’s message of good, clean, and fair food? Sign up for our monthly newsletter to learn of opportunities, or send your ideas to info@slowfooddc.org.

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Cured DC

Behind the Kitchen Door: Tour & Demo at Union Kitchen

Sunday, March 30th

2:00-4:30pm

Be the first to get a behind the scenes tour of Union Kitchen, DC’s first kitchen incubator where dozens of food entrepreneurs launch their businesses! We will get a chance to see many of them in action including the delightful Chris Johnson of Cured DC. Chris will lead a private demo of his marvelous charcuterie products. In addition to tasting what we make you will get a chance to purchase goodies to take home with you.

This price is a special offer for our partners of Slow Food DC. We are honored to support this organization and hope you will too. We will meet at the NoMa metro station to walk over together with the possibility of further exploring the neighborhood following the tour.

Have questions about Behind the Kitchen Door: Tour & Demo at Union Kitchen?

Contact Taste of Place

Click here to purchase tickets today!

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