Earlier this year, G and I were lucky enough to spend a week eating in and exploring Barcelona! It is a fantastic city and I am finally getting a chance to write up my copious notes into blog posts. I thought I’d start with some thoughts on tapas as they are ubiquitous in Barcelona! There are tapas bars all over the city; some small quaint hole-in-wall joints to larger, stylish restaurants. Tapas are small dishes which were originally provided free with the purchase of drinks. Now they range from the traditional small bites to small plates style dishes. Tapas are a great dining option because you can sample several flavors and items and not have a huge meal, especially when you are on the go. During our week stay in Barcelona we were able to try several tapas bars and I thought I would highlight three of our experiences.
As I have said over and over, the Triangle area has a great farm-to-fork culture with restaurants capitalizing on their proximity and access to local farms. Luckily, there are several opportunities for us lay people to visit these bountiful farms. The largest of these events is coming up in just a couple weeks, The 17th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour. In fact, it is the nation’s largest sustainable farm tour and will be held Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29, from 1-5pm each day. The tour is great event for the whole family and an opportunity to learn where our food comes from. We had a wonderful time last year and are planning to go again this year and check out some different farms!
This self-guided tour features 40 scenic and sustainable working farms in Orange, Chatham, Alamance, Durham and Person counties. Sites include a biodynamic fruit farm, a food truck farm, pasture-raised livestock farms with lots of wonderful baby animals, sheep shearing and fiber demonstrations, hayrides, pick-your-own strawberries, two vineyards, an award-winning cheese dairy, lots of organic produce farms, and more!
Tour tickets, good for both days, are $25 per vehicle in advance and $30 on the tour weekend or you can choose to pay $10 per farm (available for purchase at all of the farms during the tour). Groups of cycles count as one vehicle. Tickets can be purchased online now at www.carolinafarmstewards.org or at WeaverStreet Market.
Choose the farms you want to visit on the interactive map at www.carolinafarmstewards.org to plan your tour. Visit any farm in any order. And, don’t forget to bring a cooler so that you can bring home some of the farm fresh products for sale at many farms! No pets allowed. The tour is rain or shine. Proceeds from the tour support the work of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.
New farms on the tour this year.
o Boxcarr Farms: This 3-year-old farm features dairy goats, pigs, chickens, bees, and produce. Their food truck, Local in Motion, will be selling food from the farm during the tour!
o TwoChicks Farm: This small farm grows year round thanks to their hoop houses. They sell fresh and preserved veggies at Farmers’ Markets throughout the Triangle.
o MinkaFarm: Come meet their baby chicks,goat kids, calves, and tour their beautiful orchard! Wool sheep will be sheared by hand on Saturday!
o Irvin Learning Farm: This impressive farm project assists Karen refugee farmers from Burma transition into farming in the US.
o Sunset Farms: This multi-generational farm will show off their free-ranging poultry, intensively-grazed beef and a wide variety of vegetable crops.
o Dutch Buffalo Farm: Check out high tunnels and hoop houses, on-farm composting, trellised crops, perennial fruits and veggies!
Over the long Memorial Day weekend G and I went to Charlotte to check out the ‘big city!’ I wanted to take G out for a special dinner while we were there and was trying to do some research online. I was having a difficult time with the various review sites as it seemed people were more interested in the atmosphere or the price but few discussed the food. So, I turned to the Twitterverse and asked for some suggestions. The food editor from the Charlotte Observer, Kathleen Purvis, was kind enough to direct message me her email address and asked what type of food, price range, etc I was looking for. What a treat! She suggested a few options and based on those and the menus, I made a reservation at Halcyon.
A few weeks ago we went to NYC for a long weekend. It has been a long time since we had been to NYC so we were quite excited to try several places we hadn’t tried yet. Some friends of our from Boston, met us in the city. One of our friends is obsessed with fried chicken and when he heard that David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar offered a fried chicken dinner he was sure we got reservations. This meal is only offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday with limited seating times early in the evening and late at night. I believe this is to avoid large groups taking up seating during prime seating times. We had a 11:45pm reservation so we only had a couple of appetizers earlier in the evening in anticipation of the chicken dinner. We had a group of 8 so there were enough people to take care of the chicken.
Last week after the earthquake and tsunami a friend asked, “Aren’t you glad you went to Japan when you did?” My response was, “Isn’t that the tragic truth.”
A week later and it seems as though the news coming out of the situation is just getting worse. It is true that there is little we can do but despair over the crisis from a far. However, we can contribute whatever we are able to the emergency relief efforts that are being coordinated for the victims.
There are several organizations which are collecting funds towards the rescue effort but I wanted to highlight a few. Two organizations which work to provide food for the victims and the displaced are World Food Program and the local Raleigh based Stop Hunger Now.
Also, there are a few events which are being coordinated by the generous food blogger community. Chika of She Who Eats is raising funds for the International Rescue Committee. Food bloggers in the U.S. are organizing a collective bake sale in various cities around the country. Update: There is also an online bake sale being organized by The Tomato Tart.
In our travels to Japan last year, it was clear that the country and it’s people are resilient and will surely emerge stronger from this tragedy. I only hope our contributions can help in some small way.
In preparation for our trip to Japan I read several food blogs with recommendations and suggestions. I still enjoy reading Kyoto Foodie when I want to day dream about revisiting! In fact, I follow this blogger on Twitter as well. Several weeks ago @kyotofoodie posted a picture from lunch at Izugu for Kyoto-style sushi before heading to Ebisu Shrine. This tweet made me realize just how many blog posts from the Japan trip I have left unfinished.
Anticipation is complicated; it can raise expectations so high that the anticipated event is doomed to failure yet without it we would not have anything to look forward to. Our French Laundry visit, as you may imagine, was filled with much anticipation. We had been looking forward to the experience and planning for it about a year, when we originally thought of celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in Northern California wine country. I read the many, many blog posts on how to secure a reservation and started charting out a plan of attack. In my research I had discovered that the American Express Platinum Card has a special concierge service which secures French Laundry reservations. I remembered that my brother-in-law had this card so I emailed him right away. Unfortunately, he had cancelled his card but a very good friend of his had the card and said he would be willing to ask for a reservation for us. So, I emailed him the dates and times we were interested in and he passed the information along to the Amex concierge. Luckily, we were able to get our first choice for our reservation. We thought lunch would be nice so that we could enjoy the gardens and a leisurely meal. Now with our reservation secure all we had to do was wait two months in anticipation!