I had no cooking challenge this weekend, because on Sunday, we went to the annual Farm to Fork picnic instead. Farm to Fork is a fun event in which local farms team up with local restaurants to offer tasting portions of dishes made from fresh, local food. It’s held on the Breeze Family Farm in Hurdle Mills, NC. This year, it benefited the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and Plant at Breeze Farm Enterprise Incubator.
There were a lot of great dishes, but our favorite this year was the one offered by Toast, which was teamed with Bluebird Meadows Far. They served arancini with grilled eggplant, Carolina gold rice and Chapel Hill Creamery smoked mozzarella on heirloom tomato passata. This was a zingy, smoky fried rice ball in a tomato sauce that just sang in my mouth. As a bonus, Toast was reviewed in the New York Times travel section last Sunday, along with other local favorites Rue Cler and Scratch Bakery.
Here were some of our other favorites of the evening: Chapel Hill Creamy mozzarella and tomato summer pudding from Magnolia Grill; heirloom tomato, cucumber and squash bruschetta with smoked corn aioli from Chef and the Farmer; fried bread-and-butter pickles from McAdams Farm & Market; and orecchiette Genovese from Il Palio. My husband loved the Stone’s Throw Pizza, my toddler sucked down two dreamsicles from Watts Grocery, and I enjoyed the wine offering from Wine Authorities. It was a great evening.
Attending Farm to Form is becoming a tradition for us. We can’t wait to go back next year.
This is being touted as a real North Carolina doughnut: a Krispy Kreme doughnut (born in NC) with Cheerwine filling. If you don’t know what Cheerwine is, it’s a weird cherry-tasting soda created in Salisbury, NC.
As someone who used to eat two Krispy-Kremes (glazed) for lunch each day in her high school cafeteria, and who would be happy never to see another Krispy-Kreme again, this looks gross. But I guess it is quintessentially North Carolinian.
Krispy Kreme Cheerwine doughnut introduced at State Capitol (News & Observer)
I guess we should start looking for an influx of New Yorkers around here anytime now, because the New York Times has mentioned local food and restaurants three times in the last couple of weeks. In the Sunday magazine was an article about a farm in Hillsborough (where I live), which is opening a restaurant in Durham that will serve only foods grown on the farm. There will also be a farm store in the restaurant. I can’t wait. You really can’t have too many options when it comes to fresh, local, deliciously cooked food, can you?
Fresh Direction: A Farm-to-Table Restaurant (NY Times Sunday Magazine)
What is the most you would pay for an ingredient? Not one you planned to use for a special-occasion meal, but just for your everyday cooking.
For me, the ceiling seems to be about $5 (except for meat, of course). Yesterday, I was thinking about making an onion soup that calls for a broth made from dried porcini mushrooms. It sounded good to me. Except one tiny bag of the mushrooms cost $6.99. Um, no thank you. I’m also going to avoid the pine nuts (at $23/pound right now).
In a recent post, I posited that you would spend less money on fresh fruits and vegetables if you made an effort to eat seasonally. To help us do that, the North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services provides this very attractive chart (there is also a printable version for the refrigerator). I see that, other than peanuts, the only vegetable that’s in season all year round is the sweet potato, which explains why I’m always struggling to come up with new ways to cook them. If you don’t happen to live in the great state of North Carolina, perhaps you might find similar information at your state’s Dept. of Agriculture.
There was an interesting article in today’s New York Times Magazine about a new activity called “crop mobbing,” which is happening at small, sustainable farms in my area of North Carolina. A group of mostly young people who are interested in sustainable farming volunteer to work on a local farm for one day, pulling off big projects like building a greenhouse that might otherwise take weeks (or never) to complete. The volunteers say they are doing this to build community, support something they believe in and learn more about farming.
This reminds me a lot of the Amish tradition of coming together to build a barn and similar practices in agricultural communities, which are mostly lost today. In today’s culture of “I’ve got mine, you can’t have yours,” stories like this give me a sense of hope. It seems there are so many people out there screaming about what’s wrong with our country. But these young people aren’t screaming; they’re out there doing, making positive change. I find that inspiring.
Field Report: Plow Shares (NY Times)
Hey, y’all! I just saw that Durham-Chapel Hill has been named Bon Appetit‘s Foodiest Small Town. I do live in a great place for food. But finally, the world recognizes that we’re more than just basketball.
First, I’d better clear up a misconception. Durham and Chapel Hill are actually two different towns. For some reason, people like to hyphenate towns around here and turn them into one thing (Raleigh-Durham, anyone?). Durham, in my opinion, has the best restaurants around here. I live somewhere between them, in Hillsborough. I noticed that a Hillsborough restaurant and the Carrboro farmer’s market were also featured in the article.
Why are we foodiest? We’ve got great farmers’ markets — two in Hillsborough alone — and lots of local farmers producing fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, bread, preserves and soap. We’ve got a ton of good restaurants, many nationally known. And we’ve got lots of options when it comes to sustainable and organic eating. This article made me appreciate how lucky I am to be living here.
Check out the article. There are recipes!