Category Archives: News

How the Grinch didn’t steal school food

I don’t make new years resolutions; I make them everyday. We as a society should be aware of our actions everyday and the effects they have on others… something Congress has lost sight in; something we need to urge them to reconnect with.

This year, people all over the country mobilized to turn out better food for the kids in this country. Chefs worked to demonstrate, teach, and feed thousands of kids not only in DC but also all over the country. Farmers showed students and parents how they grow the food that they eat, truck drivers dropped of local healthy fresh fruits and vegetables to put in their mouths, and logistic coordinators helped facilitate all of the above. Lots of people have made their resolutions to not only themselves but to the kids of this country to get better food to them. To get wholesome food that isn’t processed into the mouths of kids and teach them skills that no longer exist in mainstream America is a task that should be on many resolution lists this year and for many years to come.

Congress may still continue to follow big business lobbyists and monopolies to cut corners (pizza will never be a vegetable) and the health of our next generation but it does not mean we have to give up. It fuels my fire to believe that such rhetoric can occur and that such ignorance exists.

We got this folks; and we’re still doing a great job together.

Here’s to more kids getting real food in 2012. Please join me in fighting childhood obesity and hunger in America. Let me know if you want to help in the fight @chefallisosna on twitter.

Happy and healthy holidays!

Slow Food DC Snail of Approval Award Spotlight: P&C Market

Across the street from the west side of Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill, you’ll find one of the winners of our Snail of Approval Awards: P&C Market.

P&C is the perfect place to nip in and grab a coffee and a sandwich, a bit of cheese, a bottle of wine and maybe even something new to brighten your culinary world: Iberico ham, artisanal chocolate or something called jowciale.  Jowciale is similar to guanciale, an Italian bacon made from hog jowl.  These pork cheeks hail from a family farm in Virginia, Edwards Farms.  They’ve been dry-cured and smoked for almost 24 hours.  Slice it very thin, advises Chase Alan Moore, the “C” in P&C Market, and the smoked pork will just melt into your dish.

Pablo Espitia and Chase Alan Moore opened P&C in December of 2008.  After years of traveling, they wanted to open a market similar to the ones you’ll find in most European cities – a market that sells the best of the best that the grocer has found to bring to his customers.  Espitia and Moore took their time finding the products they wanted to sell.  It took almost two years to cultivate the relationships with the regional food producers that now stock the shelves of P&C.

Take the now famous Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia.  Espitia and Moore toured Polyface, and spoke at length to the farm’s owner, Joel Salatin, about their vision for the Capitol Hill market.  Since then, P&C has become the only retailer in the district for Polyface meats.  Another favorite producer is Trickling Springs Creamery.  Moore says he felt strongly about stocking their products, and lobbied hard to sell their milk, butter and ice cream.  They also met with Central Coffee Roasters and developed P&C’s own blend of coffee beans.  And the list goes on – a family run honey business, peanuts from Virginia, a chocolatier out of Brooklyn and a gluten free cookie maker.  Ask Moore about any of the goods on his shelves, and he will happily speak at length about the people behind the product.

There are also a number of unique imported products, like Albert Menes spices, Mariage Frères teas and Pastificio dei Campi pasta, a line of dried pasta Moore says rivals any fresh pasta on the market.

In the next year, Moore says he would like to increase the presence of the store’s website to bring the products they love to a national audience.  But that doesn’t mean that P&C isn’t grounded in the local community.  They’ve also put down strong roots in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  The store has sponsored a little league team and a bluegrass concert at Eastern Market.  Moore says he wants to be like the community businesses he grew up with – a real presence in the lives of the neighborhood residents.

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What’s in season: BUTTERNUT SQUASH!

Believe it or not, a few farmers’ market are still open this time of year. (Dupont Circle and Takoma Park markets are open on Sundays year-round, and my own Columbia Heights market runs every Saturday through mid-December.) While milk, eggs, and meats stay pretty constant at farmers’ markets throughout the year, you’ll notice a shift from the summer and early fall produce offerings to heartier things like potatoes and turnips and dark leafy greens. And, of course, winter squashes.

For those looking for a simple, flavorful, healthy soup as the weather begins to turn cooler, try this one on for size. (You can even make it for friends and family of the vegan persuasion, but even my carnivorous friends slurp it down. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to make it to your local farmers’ market, most grocery stores should have plenty of butternut squash around, too.) Right, right, on to the recipe….

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
(adapted from the Cafe Flora Cookbook)

Dry roast 1 tsp cumin seeds + 1/2 tsp coriander seeds until fragrant. Grind with a mortar and pestle, then add in 1-2 tsp curry powder. Set aside.

In a large pot, saute 1 onion (diced) in olive oil for a few minutes before adding a head of garlic (peeled and chopped) and a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled and minced).

Add 3-4 cups of fresh butternut squash (peeled, seeds removed, and cut into chunks) and stir in the spice mixture to coat the squash. Add 4-6 cups of vegetable broth and a bay leaf, then simmer until squash is soft (about 20 minutes).

Fish out the bay leaves, puree soup, then stir in 1 can of coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Yep, it’s that easy. Feel free to fiddle with proportions — I do.

Committee Fair: November 6th

As always, there are many ways for you to become involved with Slow Food DC!

We will be holding a very important committee fair on Sunday, November 6, from 1:30 to 3:00 pm at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Conveniently located near Metro Center and Chinatown Metro stations, the MLK Library is DC Public Library’s main branch.

What: Slow Food DC Committee Fair
When: 1:30-3:00 pm
Where: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20001

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What’s in season: KALE!

I don’t know quite how bananas got the reputation as being Nature’s Perfect Food. In my mind, that title should go to kale. Raw, massaged, steamed, stir-fried, chopped into soups, stews, quiches… kale is infinitely adaptable, crazy healthy, and surprisingly inexpensive. And you can find it at your local farmers’ market or grocery store RIGHT NOW. Here are a few ideas on how to prepare kale, in case you need a little help getting started…. Continue reading

Food Day Activities: Organize Lunch

Food Day is generating a lot of talk out there. Just search the event lists on the Food Day website and you can see there’s plenty of ways to become involved. The official day is Monday October 24th, but no one will chastise you for doing this on any day.

Here at Slow Food DC, we encourage you to take a more personal route. Instead of doing something out of the ordinary, we want you to do something very ordinary: eat lunch. If you’re like me, you have to be at work on Monday the 24th. But who better than the people you work with to share the idea of good, clean fair food? The best part is, you can demonstrate by bringing something to share.

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Blog Action Day: Apples

On this Blog Action Day, I hope you will remember one thing, and that is to enjoy food. No meaningful change will ever come to our food system until we reframe our approach to food, and get back to the simple enjoyments of eating quality food.

Clockwise from the top: Rhode Island Green, Splendor, Liberty, Golden Russet, Red Gravenstein, and Bramley's Seedling. Goldrush is in the middle

Yesterday I went to the Distillery Lane Ciderworks and enjoyed a beautiful if windy day in historic fields a few miles north of the Potomac river. Where Union and Confederate soldiers marched 150 years ago, this farm is growing dozens of varieties of apples, many of them heirloom breeds. From British cider apples to Heritage Americans and a few modern cultivars, the tour group sampled the different hard cider produced on the farm and chose apples to take home. Continue reading