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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Seasonal recipe: Chesapeake Slider with Chili Salsa and Pickled Veggies   

This recipe comes from local chef and SFDC board member, Mark Haskell, who whipped these up at the Burgers and Brews for the Bay event in October 2015! It originally appeared in the September 2015 SFDC newsletter.

 Ingredients

  • mini buns
  • pickled chilies
  • pickled okra

Meat:

  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast or similar (10-15% fat), cut into cubes
  • 1/2 pound smoked bacon
  • 1 pound fresh picnic or boston butt roast, skinned (10-15% fat), cut into cubes
  • 1 cup, onion & garlic, sliced, sauteed in oil/lard/butter until soft
  • 3 TBSP dried red pepper pimenton/paprika
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs: oregano, thyme, marjoram
  • 2 TBSP Salt
  • 2 TBSP black Pepper
  • 1 TBSP cumin, toasted & ground
Chili Chow Salsa:
  • onion, diced
  • fresh chiles, diced
  • pickled Chesapeake Fish Chiles & liquid, diced
  • fresh tomato, diced
  • fresh mint & cilantro leaves, chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • a little sugar or honey, to taste

Directions

MEAT

Put the meats & sauteed onion/garlic through a meat grinder, first through the large grinder, then a second time through the small grinder.

Mix in the other ingredients, mixing well so all the seasonings are evenly distributed.

Cook a small piece to test the seasoning, add whatever you want, to taste.

Refrigerate the seasoned mixture for 6 hours or overnight so flavors can come together.

SALSA

Mix together and season to taste use pickling liquid and water (or tomato water if you’ve got it) to hydrate. (Proportions are your choice for the spice level.)

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER AND DEVOUR

Assemble buns with meat, salsa, and pickled chilis and/or pickled okra.

We try to feature a delicious new recipe in each newsletter. If you would like to have one shared with the SFDC community, please send it to  info@slowfooddc.org and we’ll see what we can do.

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Seasonal recipe: Mixed Melon Salad

This recipe comes from food educator and SFDC board member, Ibti Vincent, who whipped up a batch at the Snail winning Crossroads Farmers Market during their National Farmers Market Week  celebration!  It was featured in our August 2015 SFDC newsletter.

Ingredients
Salad:
  • 1/2 red watermelon, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 yellow watermelon, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cantaloupe, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1-2 peaches or a pint of berries, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 handful fresh basil and mint leaves, chopped into thin ribbons
  • 1 block feta cheese, crumbled or chopped
Dressing:
  • 1 tsp honey
  • zest and juice from 1 lime
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil
  • fresh pepper, to taste

Directions

Whisk together dressing, then toss with remaining ingredients.
Keeps in the fridge for a couple of days…if you can resist devouring the whole bowl that long.
We try to feature a delicious new recipe in each newsletter. If you would like to have one shared with the SFDC community, please send it to  info@slowfooddc.org and we’ll see what we can do.

 

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Seasonal recipe:  Ratatouille

 This traditional French Provencal vegetable dish, original to Nice, is a wonderful way to use fresh, summer vegetables!   It was originally included in our July 2015 SFDC newsletter.

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant
  • 2-3 peppers (a mix of colors is best)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 summer squash
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Few handfuls of chopped basil
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Chop the onions and saute in olive oil until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic. Chop all the vegetables.

Add the eggplant and peppers to the pot saute for a few minutes until soft.  Add the squash and cook for a few minutes more.

Add the tomatoes and red wine, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Taste for seasoning, and add the fresh basil at the end.

Serve over polenta or with some crusty bread.

We try to feature a delicious new recipe in each newsletter. If you would like to have one shared with the SFDC community, please send it to  info@slowfooddc.org and we’ll see what we can do.

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Seasonal recipe: Strawberry and Spinach Salad

This recipe for Strawberry and Spinach Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette is adapted from the FreshFarm Markets website. It is just one of many recipes that was prepared and devoured at schools around the city for  Strawberries and Salad Greens Day (May 20, 2015) — an annual event put on by DC’s Dept of Education that encourages kids to eat more fresh, local fruits and veggies. This recipe appeared in the June 2015 SFDC newsletter.

 

(Though we are SLOW Food, this salad is actually a snap to prepare.) Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, preferably organic
  • 8 cups fresh spinach, well washed and dried
  • 2 ounces arugula, optional

Directions

Heat a small skillet over low heat, add the sesame seeds and toast them for about two minutes, or just until they begin to brown. (Be careful not to burn them.) Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk the honey, vinegar, olive oil, shallot, paprika, salt and pepper. Add the sesame seeds and whisk until all are combined.

Wash the strawberries only just before making this salad. After washing, hull the strawberries and slice each strawberry into about 4 or 5 slices. Set aside.

Place the spinach and optional arugula in a large bowl and toss the dressing with the greens, ensuring all their leaves are well coated.

Place a mound of this salad on each of 4 salad plates and garnish with the sliced strawberries. Enjoy immediately. (Like we had to tell you that last bit….)

We try to feature a delicious new recipe in each newsletter. If you would like to have one shared with the SFDC community, please send it to  info@slowfooddc.org and we’ll see what we can do.

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Seasonal recipe: Quinoa Bowls

This seasonal recipe provided by SFDC board member, Ibti Vincent. The recipe was taste tested and much beloved by 3rd graders and their parents alike. The recipe appears in the April 2015 SFDC newsletter.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa, pre-rinsed
  • olive oil
  • 1 bunch raw kale, stems removed, leaves sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup lentils, pre-cooked
  • a few handfuls of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, toasted
  • Dressing or pesto of your choice
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water (or stock) and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, prepare your toppings. Sauté onions in a medium pot with a splash of olive oil until soft (about 5 minutes). Add in garlic and kale, and toss to coat.

Continue cooking until kale wilts (another 3-5 minutes), adding a splash of water if needed to prevent burning.

In a small saucepan, saute radishes with butter on medium heat, stirring, for 5-10 minutes, until tender but still firm.

Give each person a bowl with a few scoops of quinoa, and they can add whichever mix-ins they like: kale, radishes, carrots, lentils, seeds, dressing, etc.

Notes

You can make a quinoa bowl with just about anything! Try:

  • Salad dressings: Asian sesame, sweet balsamic vinaigrette, lemon juice and olive oil, etc.
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro and/or parsley
  • ¼ cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese
  • 1 TBSP sliced raw unsalted almonds
  • other legumes in place of lentils: chickpeas, kidney or white beans, etc.
  • Leftover steamed broccoli, brussels sprouts, snap peas, sweet potato….

You can also swap in other whole grains (brown rice, farro, etc) and add leftover bits of meat/poultry for a new twist on things.

We try to feature a delicious new recipe in each newsletter. If you would like to have one shared with the SFDC community, please send it to  info@slowfooddc.org and we’ll see what we can do.

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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!!

Contributors Poster Snail 2015_Final_3-1

 

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Seasonal recipe: Winter Pickles 

 Recipe provided by Slow Food Boardmember and pickling maven, Ibti Vincent. These two recipes were used in a hands-on pickling class at Rooting DC this February and featured root vegetables and garlic from nearby New Morning Farm.

 

Homemade Pickling Spice

Makes about 24 tsp (enough for about 24 pints of pickles!) It’s handy to have a jar of this around for spontaneous pickle making.

Ingredients

  • 6 TBSP mustard seed
  • 1 ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 4-6 tsp coriander seed
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, crushed (I used a hammer – nothing like breaking out a tool box in the kitchen)
  • 6 whole cloves, crushed (the hammer again….)

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

AND NOW THAT YOU HAVE YOUR PICKLING SPICE READY…

Pint o’ Winter Pickles

This is a great way to use up odds and ends of winter root vegetables. You can use the same recipe for summer veggies as well, but if you do be sure to add a fresh grape leaf to keep the waterier veggies crunchy. This recipe is adapted from http://abikeablefeast.blogspot.com. Makes 1 pint.

Combine in a freshly cleaned pint jar:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp pickling spice (well, look at you, you’ve made your own!)
  • 1 tsp coarse salt

Stir, and let stand at room temperature until the sugar and salt dissolve. Next, add:

  • 1 sprig dill (because these are pickles, after all)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 hot pepper or pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 star anise (optional, especially nice to have this liquorice flavor with beets)
  • washed and thinly sliced beets, turnips, and/or radishes

If the veggies aren’t completely submerged, top off with a half-water/half-vinegar mixture as needed.

Seal and refrigerate for 7-10 days. Use within 3 months. (Psh. Like you can resist for that long….)

We try to feature a delicious new recipe in each newsletter. If you would like to have one shared with the SFDC community, please send it to  info@slowfooddc.org and we’ll see what we can do.

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Irresistible Shrimp and Grits

For your mouth-watering pleasure, I offer you this recipe, adapted from Saveur. It came about after a handful of Slow Foodies visited George Washington’s Gristmill at historic Mount Vernon. It has been tested in the kitchen of at least one SFDC board member, to much acclaim. It serves 4 people as a main course.

 Ingredients
  • 1 cup George Washington’s Gristmill grits (seriously, they’re the best!)
  • 4½ cups chicken broth
  • Olive oil
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp (about 30), peeled and deveined
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1-2 handfuls shiitake mushrooms, washed, patted dry, then thinly sliced (I like the ones from North Cove Mushrooms, at the Dupont farmers’ market)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup grated cheddar
  • ¼ cup freshly shaved parmesan
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions

In a medium cast iron pot, bring 4 cups chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and whisk in grits. Cook, whisking frequently, until grits are tender and creamy, 30–40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium/large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate; set aside. Reserve cooking fat in skillet.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, add shrimp to skillet and cook, turning once, until bright pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp with a slotted spoon to a dish that you can keep warm in a 200F oven.

Lower burner heat to medium, then add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 5 minutes), then add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).

Raise heat to high, add remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and scrape bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon. Cook until broth reduces by half (about 3 minutes).

Return shrimp to skillet along with remaining butter and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, (about 1 minute).

Stir 1 TBSP butter into grits, along with parmesan. Sprinkle cheddar on top, then use a blowtorch (if you’re brave) or a creme brulee torch (if you’re fainthearted like me) to melt the cheese.

Divide grits between 4 bowls; top each with shrimp and sauce. Garnish each bowl with bacon and scallions.

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