Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What's This NAIS Thing and Why Should We Care?

NAIS is an acronym for the National Animal Identification System, a program which the US Department of Agriculture says is needed to "protect the health of U.S. livestock and poultry and the economic well-being of those industries." NAIS, it avers will enable the USDA to quickly and effectively trace an animal disease to its source so we'll know exactly which animals are sick and where they are. But there’s much more to NAIS than meets the eye. Many small ranchers and farmers see it as a threat to their very existence.

The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, an Austin-based non-profit, has been one of the leaders in the fight against the implementation of NAIS. Judith McGeary, the executive director, has called to our attention an eye-opening article about NAIS published on-line by The Nation.

This quote from the article sure got my attention. I think she's talking about us. I think it shows why we should care.

"NAIS is going to truly coalesce the food supply," said (attorney Karin) Bergener. "All the people who like to go to a nice farmers' market so they can buy fresh eggs and chickens from a farmer they can look in the eye won't be have anywhere to go. We won't be there anymore. We won't exist."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Another Must-Read Michael Pollan Article

Be sure to read Michael Pollan's article in today's New York Times Magazine. He uses this year's outbreak of MRSA and the mysterious epidemic that hit the nation's beehives to demonstrate the "precariousness of monocultures."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Latte Da Dairy Tastings Coming Up

Latte Da Dairy will be doing in store tastings this next week at the three Central Markets it serves:
  • Dallas CM (Lovers & Greenville) Saturday, Dec. 15 from 12-4.
  • Fort Worth CM (Hulen) Sunday, Dec. 16 from 12-4
  • Southlake CM (FM1709) Tuesday, Dec. 18 from 10:30- 4.
Anne and her divas are also offering a chevre with the "works" (dill, garlic, red pepper & black pepper) that she says,"looks quite festive with the green and red of the spices ."

Stop by and tell Anne that Slow Food sent you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Cheeses Available

Slow Food cheese makers Paula Lambert and Tonia Ashworth-Kuesel have special Christmas cheeses in stock that can be ordered on line or picked up at their stores. The Mozzarella Company's Christmas Cheese is a once-a-year treat that is made from Thanksgiving through New Years. In keeping with the season, the fresh, spreadable cheese is mixed with a red chile puree and topped with fresh jalapenos.

Over at Chateau de Fromage, Toni is offering here prosecco cherry, brandied cranberry and the year-round favorite, truffled chevre, along with gift certificates and holiday baskets.

Both offer gift baskets and Chateau de Fromage offers gift certificates as well. Order through the Mozzarella Company's and Chateau de Fromage Website. Or email Tonia at orders(at)chateaudefromage(dot)com.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Think Grass-Fed II

Got an e-mail reminder today from Eden’s Organic Garden Center in Balch Springs that even though the vendors that participate in Eden’s Farmers Market won't be back until February, you can still order products for pick-up before Christmas, but you must order by tomorrow—Thursday. Go to Eden's site for more info. For a list of vendors, see the Nov. 21st post on the Farmer-Rancher network.

Pick-up will be Saturday, Dec. 15. Note that JuHa Ranch has added a new item--stewing hens. JuHa also has plenty of fresh, free range chicken wings for those holiday football parties. You can contact them directly at jeg_31[at]hotmail[dot]com.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Think Grass-Fed for the Holidays

It’s not too late to order your grass fed beef, lamb or chicken (sorry no turkeys) for the holidays say Slow Food members Wendy Taggart of Burgundy Pasture Beef and Robert Hutchins from Rehoboth Ranch in Greenville.

Burgundy Pastures is out of whole tenderloins and standing rib roasts for Christmas but will have them available for a New Years feast. At Rehoboth, Robert reports that he has beef dry aging at the processor right now and will have cuts available for Saturday, Dec. 22. He’s offering a four-rib and seven-rib standing rib roast, “cut from our organic grass fed beef, of course.”

The price for the four-rib roast, which weighs about five to six pounds, is $14.99 per pound; and for the seven-rib roast, which weighs in at about ten to twelve pounds, the price is $13.99 per pound.

Both Wendy and Robert have grass fed lamb available. Robert also has ham roasts that are two inches thick. The ham is considered "fresh" or "green" since it has no preservatives or other chemicals in it.

Robert says that next year, he hopes to have some sugar cured hams available in holiday cuts. “We do have some sugar cured, smoked, sliced luncheon ham coming out after the first of the year. We think it will be very popular. It is very good, and also completely chemical free.”

Wendy says that Burgundy Pastures can also provide New York strip steaks, “or we can package whole strips, which is the other side when we take the tenderloin off” that can be cut into steaks or prepared and served on its own. Wendy admits she has never cooked one as a whole piece, “but if I did – I would brown the whole piece over a wood fire – and finish it in the oven.”

Wendy also suggests a “more down home preparation” –a brisket. “You can get just as elegant in the sauces to prepare for a brisket as if it were standing rib roast.”

At Rehoboth, Richard also has in stock some “very large plump roasting chickens--over five pounds--that would work very nicely for the Christmas dinner table.’

But, he adds, there are no turkeys. “They all sold for Thanksgiving except for the few people that planned ahead and ordered one for Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time,” he said.

“James Morris from the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth served our Bourbon Red heritage turkeys for his special Thanksgiving brunch this year. It must have been a hit. I have already received a call from the new executive chef at the Mansion wanting to order heritage turkeys for his Christmas brunch. I was sorry to have to disappoint him.”

Suggest you order now if you don’t want to be disappointed. I already did. Just go online to Burgundy Pasture or Rehoboth Ranch for information on how to order.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Menu for Hope -- Dec. 10-20

Alfonso Cevola, fellow Slow Foodie and preeminent wine blogger, has alerted us to a great way to combine our holiday altruism with our never-ending search for unique culinary experiences--participate in the fourth annual Menu for Hope online raffle.

The effort was launched four years ago by the food blogger Pim Techamuanvivit (Chez Pim ) to help the victims of the devastating southeast Asian tsunami. Basically, the effort is a hybrid on-line auction/raffle for great foodie prizes. (Think dinner at the Hinds Head in Bray, England; tickets to Madrid Fusion; cooking lessons in Northern Umbria; and sure to be a favorite, "A Homesick Texan Care Package of Texas Foods, from the Homesick Texan" whoever that is.)

You can find out more at Alfonso's blog, On the Wine Trail In Italy (Alfonso has donated a "Six-Pack of Boutique Italian Wine" to the auction) or at Chez Pim.

Proceeds (which topped $60,000 last year) will go to supporting the school lunch program in Lesotho.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Calling all Foodies! The 2007 Olive Oil is Here.

Slow Foodies Nancy and Gary Krabill want everyone to know that they've been climbing the trees looking for the newest Italian Olive oil and have some available at Flavors From Afar at 6712 Snider Plaza. The 2007 Tutta Toscana has arrived, and the Society Merico Maria Rosa "Novello" arrives later this month.

Nancy says fresh-pressed oil has a vibrant, green, sunny taste that rises up, cuts through, and accents mellow and rich flavors (steaks, Ribollita), or soars on its own in a salad or for dipping bread. Flavors From Afar has a Dallas-exclusive stock of 2007 oil from Tutta Toscana in store now ($24.99 for ¼ liter), and will receive Puglia’s newest in a couple of weeks (or when the container arrives!).

Come down for a taste and meet Tutta Toscana owners Betty and Cesare Nadalini this Saturday from 12-4 at Flavors From Afar.

Flavors From Afar features fabulous flavors and sumptuous settings. It's open 10-6 Monday – Saturday. 214.696.2327

Eating Slow in Central Texas

Slow Food members Mary and David Stanley have brought big city cuisine with a slow twist to central Texas with their Turtle Restaurant in Brownwood, Texas.

The restaurant offers slow, fresh, locally grown foods, fresh baked breads and desserts and homemade gelato from The Turtle Gelateria, a recent addition next door to the restaurant. The Gelateria features classic Italian flavors like Lemon Sorbetto and Chocolate Hazelnut, but carries out the local theme with flavors such as jalapeno peanut brittle and Brennan Vineyard Muscat - cantaloupe sorbetto

The Stanleys, who also have a business making a line of naturally shaped children’s shoes called Bear Feet (cause bare feet are best), originally came to Brownwood to be closer to Cathey Enterprises, a holster manufacturer who handles the leather cutting for the shoes.

“George Cathy had grown up in Brownwood,” Mary explained. “The Chamber of Commerce recruited him to move his factory from Austin to Brownwood, which he did because the cost of his factory building was equal to four years’ rent in Austin.”

The move meant that the Stanleys had to drive to Brownwood from Austin to get their cutting done. The drive, coupled with the lower cost of living in Brownwood, made the decision to move there easy.

Mary and David have owned the building that houses the restaurant since 2000. After watching several tenants fail at that location, and deciding that they couldn’t remain in Brownwood without good fresh food, they opened their own restaurant.

“We called it The Turtle because the turtle symbolizes longevity and persistence,” Mary explained. “It shows that completion is more important to a journey than haste, especially on the road of life.”

They recently recruited Eric Aldis, who had been the Chef de Cuisine at The Ritz Carlton in New Orleans, as their Executive Chef. Eric, who had also worked at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, is a native of Katy. Taking on the Executive Chef duties at The Turtle allowed him to return to Texas and, as he puts it, “live a slower life style.”

The lunch menu caters to locals with seasonal soups such as curried pumpkin made from the varietal pumpkins Fairy Tale and Apple Dumpling and topped with cilantro infused yogurt, (the pumpkins are grown in De Leon) or Nouvella's grass fed beef hamburger on house-made black sesame buns topped with cheeses made by Stuart & Connie Veldhuizen in Dublin.

Dinner is more formal and may feature roasted beet salad, Texas Bar-B-que shrimp with Veldhuizen blue cheese coleslaw as an appetizer, venison flank steak with broccoli rabe and mushroom macaroni and cheese.

The restaurant is located in historic downtown Brownwood, which is the geographic center of the state and a two to three hour drive from Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex-- a perfect stop on a weekend getaway.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Future of Food" Film Screening Jan. 13

Slow Food Dallas is sponsoring a screening of the film, Future of Food, which “offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods (commonly referred to as GMOs) that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade.”

The screening will be in the Nasher Sculpture Garden's Private Dining room on Sunday, January 13 at 2 p.m. There are only 65 tickets available for the screening so get your tickets early.

The tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets for $25 for members and $35 for non-members. The price includes admission to the gardens, so plan to come early to enjoy the gardens.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Gregorian Chant Christmas CD

Sister Noella (The Cheese Nun) emailed us about the release of the Abbey of Regina Laudis' first Gregorian Chant Christmas CD. The CD was recorded in their church and is the work of the whole community. The CD features "The Announcement of Christmas" read by Mother Dolores Hart. For the first time the Abbey has ventured into E-commerce so the CD can be ordered with a credit card at their web site: http://www.abbeyofreginalaudis.com/catalog/index.php

More than 140 of us attended the Slow Food Dallas director's premier of the film, The Cheese Nun, on March 9th, 2004. The Abbey donated Sister Noella's Bethlehem cheese for the reception where we sampled local artisan cheeses and beverages. Sister Noella is an internationally recognized microbiologist who has become a leading defender of traditional cheesemaking and campaigner for biodiversity.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Slow Food Book Club Meeting Tomorrow

For those of you who might have missed it (and are fast readers) the first meeting of the Slow Food Book Club will be tomorrow, Dec. 3 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The book up for discussion is Slow Food Nation by Carlo Petrini.

The club will meet every six weeks with the next book (and the next host) decided by a majority vote of those attending.

Kudos to Sandy Lewis for organizing the book club. Watch your e-mail (and this blog) for upcoming meeting dates.

For more info regarding this event: http://www.slowfooddallas.com/events.html

Slow Food Dallas Holiday Gathering

Be sure to plan on attending a holiday gathering in Oak Cliff on Sunday, Dec. 9. The festivities run from 6 to 9 p.m.

Please bring a dessert to share and something to drink. Check your email or Slow Food Dallas for details.