Sunday, April 29, 2007

Field Trip! Sheep Galore and U-Pick Mayhaws at Golden Acres Ranch

Join Slow Food Tallahassee for lunch on May 12th at Golden Acres Ranch in Monticello. Farmer Bobbie Golden will give tours and answer your questions about the farm. Bring the kids -- they'll love the adorable baby sheep and goats!

For more information about this and other Slow Food Tallahassee events, check the Slow Food Tallahassee Calendar and get on Slow Food Tallahassee's Email Notification List.

Also visit Slow Food Tallahassee's Resource Directory for information about local farms and local food resources!

U-Pick Mayhaws:
May is mayhaw season! For times to harvest mayhaws for your homemade jelly, syrup, wine, or beer at Golden Acres Ranch, contact Bobbie Golden: (850) 997 6559; email You can also visit her website.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Slow Food Tallahassee Potluck-- You Wish You Were There

The Slow Food Tallahassee potluck hosted by Sarahkeith and Ruben was relaxed and delicious, educational and recreational. Relaxed for most, I should say. My little accompanist was thoroughly revved for the party. I stole bites of food and snippets of conversation as I scampered about after the joyful lad.

The venue, set from entrance to back porch to patio to garden with chairs, tables, and conversation nooks of all descriptions, reminded me that I ought spend more time on my own porch with Matt, chatting and listening to the whirring and chirping of crickets or staring into a summer downpour, deeply inhaling the smell of the wet earth. A screened porch opening onto the back garden and onto a brick patio sheltered with plants, more tables and chairs, a rain barrel, a rope swing hanging from an oak limb, a fire pit set round with logs for benches, a carefully built coop for two shy chickens, guitars and singing, stimulating conversation, and of course, exceptionally good food and drink -- all created a perfect oasis for Slow going.

For me, beets were the star of the Slow Table. This is their season, and they featured in an enormous and beautifully executed feta and beet tart, and in a beet salad paired with fresh seasonal greens. Also on the menu, fruits and local cheeses, a vegan macaroni and cheese that made me think that vegans aren't deprived after all, blood orange and ginger tofu, cool and spicy gazpacho, dal, moist, rich lemon cakes, a dangerously addictive spiced cake, warm ginger chocolate-chip cookies, cream cheese with mayhaw jelly from Golden Acres Farm, carefully chosen beer and wine, ginger beer and root beer. I missed a lot of dishes -- I didn't get to taste everything....

Thanks, Sarahkeith and Ruben, for hosting a deliciously Slow evening.

Food in the Democrat This Week, and MORE April Food Dates

This week's Democrat online featured good articles and tidbits for local food lovers.
Check out the article about Liam's Thomasville restaurant (cheese heaven), and visit their website. If you haven't already done so, read the Earth Day article featuring Monticello's Turkey Hill Farm, then visit their market stand at the Lake Ella Grower's Market on Wednesday afternoon (3p-dusk) or at Market Square on Saturday morning (8a-2p), or at Southwood every other Monday afternoon (3p-5p). Remember to go early to the markets for best selection.

Two more events to add to your your already packed April Food Calendar:

Quincyfest: Friday, May 4th & Saturday, May 5th: Quincy, FL: featuring blues and good barbecue.

Panacea Blue Crab Festival: Saturday, May 5th: Panacea, FL: Blue crabs and other local seafood, live music, dancing, parade, contests, demonstrations, and fireworks.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

In-Season In Tallahassee: Pretty Things for Your Plate and Palate

These garlic blossoms and some extra sweet sugar snap peas adorned Turkey Hill Farm's table at the Lake Ella Grower's Market on Wednesday. Both went into a stir-fry along with some radishes and radish tops. Tough outer sheaths removed and cooked until barely tender, the garlic blossoms' texture reminded me of fiddlehead ferns.

A few weeks ago, I bought some garlic bulbs from a grower at the market who gave me a couple of sprouted garlic toes and instructions for planting them. He explained that the flowers should be removed when they appear next year: "You're not growing flowers, you're growing garlic." SO, if you grow your own garlic, be sure to eat this lovely, delicious little by-product.

Loquats are also in season. They're hanging in heavy bunches from trees in back yards all over Tallahassee. You aren't likely to find them in any grocery stores -- they oxidize very quickly and are highly perishable.
They're also a fiddle to eat -- homely skins and chambered large, toxic seeds leave a small layer of delectable, sweet-tart flesh. The flesh is pulpy with a flavor resembling citrus, peach, and plum.

I had the good fortune of being able to harvest loquats from a neighbor's tree. Google turned up recipes for loquat jelly, wine, fruit syrup, sorbet, fruit sauce, and ice-cream. I even saw a recipe for a "detoxifying" honey-suckle and loquat soup (be careful, though -- honeysuckle is actually poisonous). I made some loquat syrup by blanching, peeling, and seeding the loquats before cooking the juice and pulp down with sugar and lemon juice.

You might do well to simply pick a bowlful of loquats and give them a quick wash before floating them in a large bowl of ice-water. Find your favorite outdoors spot and settle down for some sweet nibbling and day-dreaming.

Blackberries are coming! Thanks for the tips on where to find them. A walk along a roadside verge, footpath, or woodland clearing easily yields a small handful now but not enough for a pie, unless you're really determined! Sarahkeith picked a large bowlful at the Miccosukee Greenway, for her guests at last weekend's Slow Food Tallahassee potluck.

In-season Alchemy: Pair the loquats with the blackberries for a visually striking seasonal treat. Through my experimentation, I stumbled upon a trio of in-season local flavors so heavenly that I feel compelled to jealously guard them. As a compromise, I'll hoard my methods and give you the main ingredients to play with: loquats, blackberries, and honey.

Sweet-Grass Dairy Market Day: April 28th -- this Saturday. Culinary heaven and a terrific family outing. Buy some chevre (or any of their cheeses, for that matter) to enjoy with local honey, loquats, and blackberries!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Good Food in Tallahassee This Week

On Monday, I found these guinea-hen eggs from Zebra Truck Farm at New Leaf Market. I love their triangular shape and deeply pored texture.

We participated in Zebra Truck Farm's CSA program before owners Kevin and Penny Orr switched to having a table at the Saturday Downtown Farmer's Market.

Twice this week at New Leaf Market, I stood in line behind someone holding a liter of raw milk from local Kurtz and Sons dairy.

On a family walk after dinner yesterday, Matt spotted ripe blackberries! I didn't know that this is blackberry season in our area. Anybody know a good place for gathering blackberries?

The Grower's Market at Lake Ella was alive on Wednesday. FSU students took film footage for a vegetarian documentary. Keith Baxter (Kool Beanz Cafe) gave a cooking demonstration. Offerings at the market included sorrel (sold with recipes!), fava beans, red mustard, multi-colored beets, many kinds of lettuces, brussels sprouts, scallions, spring bulb onions, garlic heads, lettuces, chard, kale, rainbow bunches of radishes, hakurei salad turnips, shitake mushrooms, honey, fresh cut flowers, potted herbs, organic sauerkrauts and sprouted hummus.

Holy Cow, Tupelo!
I'm looking forward the Slow Food Tallahassee potluck this weekend. A taste of tupelo honey and a glass of Kurtz and Sons milk this week was an experience heightened to divinity with the addition of cream and vanilla beans. This tupelo-honeycomb candy (sometimes called cinder-toffee) will gild the local lilly.

Meanwhile, Matt will be keeping order at the National Homebrew Competition (1st round regional judging). We'll be missing the Mayhaw Festival in Colquitt, Georgia. I keep hoping to find some Mayhaw Jelly. It seems to be in abundant supply when I'm not looking for it. Any tips on where in/near Tallahassee I can find some Mayhaw Jelly?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MORE food dates for your April pleasure

Farmstead Grass-fed Pasture Raised Egg Cooking Class.April 21st Magnolia Farms, Live Oak, FL (90 miles).
Fermented Foods that Promote Digestive Health.April 29th Magnolia Farms, Live Oak, FL (90 miles)
For more information on both of these classes (including fees/ registration), visit's calendar of events for our area. Or try your luck at accessing Magnolia Farm's website directly:

Florida Wine Festival. April 12th-14th. Tallahassee, FL. The Mary Brogan Museum will host the event featuring wines from Florida vinyards, including local Monticello Winery.

Food classes and seminars at New Leaf Market: Several. Check New Leaf Market's calendar.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Democrat Causes Stir with Bradley's Sausages

I was happy to see the article about Bradley's Country Store's sausage-making in today's Tallahassee Democrat online (Eastside Chronicle). It describes Bradley's sausage-making process from butchering the hogs to stuffing the casings. There were several well-written comments when I read the article this-morning, some of them rather unhappy.

I can see how the descriptions would naturally upset a vegetarian. However, any meat-eater ought to be willing to learn how his/her dinner was treated while alive, how it was killed, and how it was handled after it was killed. Turning a willfully blind eye to the necessary steps involved in getting meat to your plate means that you cannot make truly informed decisions to opt for the sustainable farming and humane handling of livestock.

The Bradley's article reminded me of a similarly graphic article about small-scale chicken processing in the Long Island Slow Food's Edible East End (actually, the Bradley's article is very watered down in comparison -- for a broader readership).

Most consumers would prefer not to know what they are eating. This directly contributes to the prevailing large-scale farming and meat-processing methods that destroy the environment through all stages of production and transport, and torture animals while they are alive.

Unfortunately, now that I am armed with some of this knowledge, I bear a greater burden of responsibility each of the many times I opt to grab for the most convenient and least expensive package of meat from one of our big box grocery stores.

I spent some time learning how to butcher meat and fish in an Atlanta restaurant. Handling the animals, learning the intricacies of their musculature, the differences in texture and fat content from one cut to the next, attempting to make cuts that highlighted the natural beauty of each piece -- all of these things gave me a greater respect for the animals themselves. I felt like I knew them better. I tried to be accurate, to minimize waste, to maximize the value of the animal that was slaughtered for the pleasure of the restaurant's patrons. I felt annoyed when passers-by would poke at a fish that I had laid out on the counter or expressed disgust at the sight of raw meat or the task of breaking down the animal.

I also have a very vivid childhood memory of plucking pheasants in my neighbor's garage. Knowing the feel of the animal and being aware of its life and death reduces my sense of entitlement. I feel more humble and I enjoy my food more.

The more I learn about meat farming and production, the more aware I am of how much energy goes into creating and growing the animal. I hope that soon I'll make a chicken stock from the bones of every chicken I roast (rather than just making stock "when I remember to do it"). I might pull the bones from the stock, pulverize them, and add them to my soil in my garden. Sure would beat throwing my styro-foam and plastic packaging and wasted meat and bones into a landfill. In my mind, it's the waste that's cruel.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Eat Your Heart Out, Tallahassee!

April is rich in the Tallahassee Foodshed*. Check out this calendar of events!

Seafood Festival: Tallahassee (0 miles). This "Springtime Tallahassee" event has already passed, but it still happened in April!

Grits Festival: April 14th. Warwick, Georgia (113 miles). I was disappointed to read that this is a Quaker Brand Grits sponsored festival, and Quaker grits are what's on the menu. If you'd like to buy real local grits, try them from Ed and Joah Hart (Pavo, Georgia (229) 859-2278; please use respectful times when calling) and from Bradley's Country Store (Tallahassee).

Worm Gruntin Festival: April 14th. Sopchoppy (30.8 miles). Why are worms on a food-lover's calendar? These are our native worms -- reputedly great for fishing and great for the garden! Read about Worm Gruntin in Sopchoppy.

Marianna Arts Festival and BBQ Cook-off Friday, April 13, from 12 noon until 10 pm and Saturday, April 14, from 10 am until 7:30 pm. (66 miles) The grounds of the Citizens Lodge Park, Caverns Road, Marianna, Florida Tart contests, BBQ cook-offs, food vendors, entertainment.

Slowfood Tallahassee Dinner: April 21st. Tallahassee (o miles): SarahKeith and Rubin are hosting "The Baker, The Musician, The Dinner!," a Slow Food Tallahassee potluck to remember. Bring something Slow to share and bring the recipe!

24th Annual National Mayhaw Festival: April 20th and 21st, starting at 10:00 a.m. each day. Colquitt, Georgia (61.8 miles). Stock up on Mayhaw jelly and other mayhaw treats, enjoy the parade, live music, 5k run and theatrics. Mayhaws were featured in this month's Saveur Magazine.

Rose Festival: Thomasville, Georgia (34.6 miles). Parade, flowers, music, and probably some good food.

Sweetgrass Dairy Market Days:
April 28th. Thomasville, Georgia (34.6 miles). Sweetgrass Dairy's world-class cheeses for sample and purchase, free educational tours, baby animals, produce and treats from other local farmers.

National Homebrew Competition: Tallahassee. On April 21st, Tallahassee will host first-round regional judging. This event is not open to the public, but we ought to be getting lots of good beer vibes from all of the good beer and beer gurus in town. If you want to enter beer in the competition, now's the time to do it!

*Foodshed: generally within 100-250 miles of your locality.
Know about other food events in our area this month? Please share!