Friday, April 13, 2007

Double Duty

As if from Harry Potter, Fergus Henderson's books have magical properties [ed. cannot resist those Potter analogies, huh?]. You find yourself wondering if you should salt some liver to see what Dried Salted Pig's Liver, Radishes and Boiled Eggs tastes like. Salted. Pigs. Liver. The spell wears off and you are at least enchanted with his fascination with radishes. He devotes two pages on how to eat them, and you eat not just the bulbs. Last night I doused the radish greens with balsamic vinegar to cut the bite, and we had a fine salad to finish a meal.

One of the great things about getting produce from farmers is that you get the whole thing. This week's box may have included only about five radishes, but the radish greens provided another dish (so to speak). All the time, us CSAers get double duty: turnips and turnip greens, beets and beet greens, parsley and parsley root; hell I've even made use of carrot leaves (tastes a lot like parsley). Double duty helps a lot at this time of year because a spring box is not vast.

The idea of spring vegetables springs from two related sources (I think). First, in California (evil California), things are growing away. The supermarkets have artichokes, asparagus, strawberries. Second, there's (I believe) a kinda idealized, what I would call, cookbook culture of spring because so many cookbooks base their words on French and Italian climates and cuisines where peas do come in April. In Chicagoland, peas come in late June. Those eating local know otherwise. We can, however, make due.

So, our Spring CSA from Farmer Vicki's Genesis Growers is a rump offering. Stuff that happens to be thriving now in her hoop houses, mostly odd(ish) greens like boc choy and napa cabbage. Lettuce makes it. We also got this week a few big turnips and beets that I think came from storage. The message is, while we can stretch some of the box, radish and salad, we cannot expect a box this week to be sufficient. It still takes storage, freezer, and as we do (often) a bit of eating out to stay local.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Eat Local...Ham!

A while back I wrote a post for the Eat Local Challenge blog on how my effort to eat local had skewed my palate. Like an observant Jew who would actually not like the taste of bacon, I found that all things local tasted that much better to me. One of the things I cited was locally made Iowa prosciutto from La Querica. So, it turns out it's not just me. Mike Sula's piece in the Reader mentions he got some of the ham at Whole Foods in Chicago; I've always purchased mine at Fox & Obel. Unfortunately, the demand (until now) appears a bit low, and sometimes the Querica ham at F&O is a bit dried up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Seems like I'm not the only one waiting to write about a February meal at Vie. Eat Chicago covers all the main points about Vie: the tinker-tinker-tinker they do in the kitchen ("hey let's make some sausage guys"); the effort to source local instead of talking about sourcing local, and the kind of cooking you cannot do at home (even if you tinkered and sourced). There is no more restaurant (or restaurateur) that I like around here than Vie (and Chef Virant).

But do I love it? I kinda do. I will go endlessly back to see what's around, what they are doing. I want pickled grapes and house made tasso. Vie appeals to all my sensibilities. It does not always appeal to my senses. On our February visit we had the same scallop and black rice dish mentioned by Eat Chicago. Like EC, my wife and I found the dish cooked well but tasting eh. For ages (I love reading the Vie menu) I was salivating over a brisket and bean dish. When I finally tried it, last winter, it was another eh, especially compared with brisket I had recently had in Central Texas (score one for cheap eats). I still remember one of the first things I had at Vie, a salsa made with fresh oregano and other herbs. How do we say...oh yea, eh. Maybe it's refinement when I'm looking for a bit more oomph. Why I prefer the Rolling Stones to the Beatles.

I will say this. There are things that are always (seem) delicious at Vie. Seek anything fried. They are mastering of the fry. Although I did not favor the brisket, I tend to like things coming off the wood-burning grill. And fish, I hate the fact that the restaurant I love most for its local-ness does best, things that are not local. So, make sense, I love them for being local but love best what's not local. Right?

Buy Local - April 14 Buzz Cafe - Oak Park

Ann Fisher, of LTHForum posts to let people know they can buy local beef, pork, chicken, lamb and eggs from the Wettstein's this Saturday at the Buzz Cafe in Oak Park. See here for details.

I cannot resist an opportunity to support this farm. Taste the way food used to taste--last summer Slow Food Chicago organized a BBQ taste-off, having Honey 1 do batches with conventional pork and the Wettstein's pork; Robert Adams of Honey 1 commented that day how the Wettstein's pork reminded him of his grandfather's piggies. More importantly, support a true local farm, that is doing it all right.


Blog 3.0 needs some links. I've added two (with more to come). Jen Maiser monitored and marshaled various localvores into one place,, which has become an outstanding resource. Read how people many people attempt to eat local, including many who are showing it's possible to be penny-wise and still eat local. More importantly, behind the scenes, Jen has served as a real hub for the whole Eat Local movement, answering e-mails, schmoozing the press, spreading new challenges. Her blog barely scratches the surface of all she does, but it is a great read anyways, with outstanding pictures to boot.

Monday, April 09, 2007

What Me Blog

Well, yeah, there's so much I shoulda coulda woulda blogged about; not the least, from November 2006 until April 2007, we bought not a single "baby" carrot. And cow, soon there will be a whole half cow in the freezer. We are buying 1/4 of Farmer Vicki's current heard.

So because I was eating local all this time, because it's time to encourage others to eat local, because the first box from Farmer Vicki came last week, because I need a place to post a couple of pics I like of the Sonoran desert, because I cannot continue to spend so much time playing computer poker; it's time to blog again.

To help spread the vital information, I've re-introduced a bit of classic blog (design). Enjoy the ease of reading. Also, as you may note, the links and resources are gone. A lot of that stuff was dated or useless anyways. I'll update with the rest of the renewed blogging.