Leap and the net will appear, or is that the wine talking?

It’s been two months since I worked my last full-time day in the ad biz, friends. TWO WHOLE MONTHS. That’s four paycheques, for anyone who’s counting. What I have learned in that time is worth all the money I didn’t earn – and so very much more.

For those not in my loop (so mostly everyone), I left a really good paying job after a long career in advertising (which I still love) to pursue another love – wine. It occurred to me last year while I made my way through the vineyards and cellars of Beaune and Nuit-St-Georges – while on a solo mission to decide what to do with the second half of my career – that if I was going to switch gears that I better get on with it. I was about to turn 43 and if I wanted to work just as long at my second career then I needed to get my proverbial shit together.

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By Olivier Vanpé – -, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

In January I signed up for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 4 Diploma (for a decent overview and student perspective on what the course entails, see here). After interviewing half a dozen friends that had completed it, I knew that I couldn’t give it the attention it required and still work full time. Levels One through Three could be weekend pursuits, but the diploma was hardcore. Real. Scary. Possibly not achievable. Some of the exams had a less than 60% pass rate, and the A-student in me was not going to be the wrong kind of statistic if she could help it. I handed over a bunch of money (the first of three such Kari/cash separations) to the fine folks at the Independent Wine Education Guild… and then I waited. It would be August until my studies began and I was still mid-plan on my #adlife exit strategy.

Over the next few months I made friends with my OCW and tasted everything I could to prepare. I thought I needed to improve my blind tasting so I spent 12 consecutive Wednesday evenings in the summer with Master Sommelier Bruce Wallner and his team at the Somm Factory, honing my skills. More money out. This was time (and money) very well spent, however, and I’ve recently been back as part of an ongoing plan to keep those skills sharp. On the first day of classes Bruce was very open and clear about what my change in career would mean, and I quote, “you really don’t like money, do you?”

I could not be swayed, however, and my resignation was already long penned and delivered. My colleagues were wildly supportive and my close friends in the ad biz (at least to my face) told me they envied my ability to do something else. A few of my female friends told me I was lucky Paul would let me leave my job. Let me? Wow. I told them: yes, I was lucky to have found someone who supported me and my dreams. I left the “let me” in the wind to find its way back to the 1950s.

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By Nilfanion – Wikimedia UK, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

It’s a funny thing, going back to school when you’re (gasp) older. Those amazing Wednesday nights in somm prep class resulted in Thursdays where I felt like I was dragging around a piano. No longer could I be up past midnight and wake up for six the next morning without consequence. I also discovered that I had more trouble paying attention and reading for long periods now, so I made a study schedule that had me hitting the books in bursts, in the 50-minute commute on the GO each way, or in the first few hours after waking up on weekends.

But I had more energy too, if that makes sense. I knew I was on to something and I was tapping into a reserve that also allowed me to be a better producer in my agency role. I listened better, cared more, and worked harder to bring to life all those ideas in those last few months. I never phoned it in and I never gave less than my best. In the short stints I still do as a freelancer, I bring fresher eyes and clearer insights – things I wouldn’t have had the room to find inside my old life. I’m not always exhausted and I’m doing exactly what I want, well almost, nearly every day.

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By Fir0002 – Own work, GFDL 1.2, Link

The diploma (oh, right!) has been a pretty great experience despite being as hard as everyone warned me, and all the wine professionals and instructors I’ve met through my studies are the best wine people anywhere. I’m three months into school with two exams down and four more to go, as well as a paper and a case study still to complete. I’m selling wine for two importers (call me for yummy wine!), teaching new wine students, pouring for wine classes in Toronto, working private dinners with a chef, and getting paid to write what I really want to for the first time since journalism school. I eat lunch with Paul almost every weekday now, and my dogs are way over me being home this much and making them do stuff during the day. I have time to study. I have more time to work with Slow Food and increase my involvement in the projects I really care about.

I originally came here to say that the self-employed life hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, but as I worked my way through writing the above, my post morphed a little and all the positives started to emerge. While there have been MANY hiccups, like A LOT less money and not getting paid reliably, worrying about HST, people telling me I’m too old, people not calling me back, slim margins on wine sales and selling wine within our uber-regulated province, there have been a goodly number of folks who’ve helped me along the way – giving me freelance work, teaching me about the wine business, introducing me to people, and giving me a chance to prove myself, despite being on the “wrong” side of 35. I shout some of them out at the bottom of this post along with their Twitter handles.

Leap and the net will appear, they said. They have a point. I’m still figuring all this wine biz stuff out, but I’m happier, marginally healthier, and significantly poorer. Two out of three ain’t bad, right? Buy my wine or hire me, and help me make it three for three.

Shouting out to a few of the many:
My Mum and Dad, who are always so proud of me
Pauly, who thinks most everything I do is magic and talks me up endlessly to all who will listen
Krys Roman, for helping to start the domino effect, and for her continued support
Joel Thompson, for hiring me as a sales rep from a Facebook post and for turning me into a Riesling nerd
Paul Perugini, for hiring me, helping me learn, and going along with so many of my ideas
Bruce Wallner, Emily MacLean and Sam Melanson, aka the Somm Factory
Daniel Lafleur, for his friendship and guidance
Debbie Trenholm, for helping the words write themselves
Val Vagopoulos, for her small-biz savvy and always telling me I’m awesome
Amanda Davis, to whom I sold my first two cases of wine as a professional wine person
Shari Walczak, for her big support of my wine adventures
Sara d’Amato, for her wise wine woman counsel
Mark Jacoby, for talking me out of this and into this simultaneously
Carrie Rau, for all the real talk on being in this business and for also wanting to buy all the wine

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A Little Collingwood in the Cave

Thanks to my pals at iYellow Wine Club, I was invited to attend a Collingwood Whisky tasting event at the Wine Cave this past week. Although I’m a long-time fan of both American and Scotch whiskies, I’m really just starting to get into all the Canadian, Irish and Japanese offerings, so this was a chance to learn I couldn’t pass up (plus, it means hanging with the #WineAngels!).

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Wine Angel Danielle (@dsips) greets me with a French Canadian – recipe, courtesy of Collingwood Whisky, below.

I was given a French Canadian when I arrived, a slightly sweet twist on a whisky sour. To make: 1 oz Collingwood Whisky; 0.5 oz Chambord; 0.5 oz real maple syrup, 1 oz fresh lemon juice; 3 dashes Angostura bitters. Mix all ingredients in a shaker, and shake for 10 seconds. Strain into highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon wheel.

OK, Collingwood, you have my attention… I’m definitely adding this tipple to my cocktail repertoire – it was a real crowd pleaser. I typically like my cocktails more booze-forward, and this one would not be diminished with up to 2 oz of whisky. Since Collingwood is a pretty smooth sip without too hot an edge, this is a nice one to try neat if you aren’t ‘into whisky’. There is a characteristic sweetness (relative, of course) that I do associate with Canadian whisky, that is more taffy than caramel, if you feel me. I liked the product and can see it as one I’d reach for regularly.

Adding to the great flavours in the glass, I found one of my favourite cheeses, Mimolette, among the offerings on a gorgeous plate from The Cheese Boutique. Swoon.

Whisky typically pairs very well with cheese, as it happens. The Raw Milk Gouda also on the tray was a killer match with the Collingwood, pulling the sweet spice from the rye in the whisky. I’ll be experimenting with cheeses and whisky again soon. Since I have never once escaped Afrim Pristine‘s shop without spending less than $100 on cheese, I suspect I’ll need to invite a few friends over to enjoy the pairings with me!

But, first, back to the whisky. After a short educational piece on the history of the Collingwood distillery, their process for making the whisky, and a bit about its owner Brown-Forman, we embarked on a pretty cool little tasting. On a plate in front of us sat a piece of shortbread, some almonds, and a spoon of maple syrup – each designed to help pull a particular element out of the whisky. For me, the shortbread helped isolate the vanilla note, which makes sense. Surprising was how the almond brought the spice from both the oak and maple woods to the fore. As part of the finish, toasted maple staves are placed into the whisky to impart some additional flavours. The maple syrup at the end really highlighted the rye in the mash bill (the distillery does not declare the exact make-up). I thought this was a really neat way to taste and learn about whisky.

Thanks to the iYellow crew for including me.

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Hello, Alo.

My anticipation for our dinner at Alo began back in December when Paul and I were given a gift certificate to the restaurant for our wedding anniversary. I had been wanting to go to Alo for months so I was beyond excited. This giving of dinner is somewhat of a tradition with a good friend of ours who stood up for us on our big day, and we love her special annual gift; she researches her choices so carefully and each year she somehow outdoes herself.  I’m going to put it out there now, though – she may not be able to surpass this one!

Just one day after making my reservation, Alo was awarded the top spot in this year’s list of the top 100 Canadian restaurants. Timing, as they say, is everything.

Let me rewind the clock for a moment to that time last year I made a reservation at Osteria Francescana, in Modena, Italy, shortly after it was named best restaurant in the world. I got up at 4am like everyone else, to take my chances on their reservation site on the first day of October bookings. I was IN. I had a plan to cap off my biennial trip to Slow Food’s Terra Madre with a gastronomic pilgrimage to BotturaLand, but then changed my mind a few weeks before my journey. So, after a busy week in Turin I headed to Burgundy instead to commune with some world-class winemakers during the grape harvest. I cancelled the reservation nobody cancels. My foodie friends all questioned my judgment. Regrets? I have a few, but dinner for two with Massimo himself is about the only thing I’d trade for that magical and educational week spent in Beaune.

Maybe I should write a post about that… anyhow, I knew I wasn’t missing THIS dinner.

So last Saturday Paul and I tidied ourselves up and headed to Alo for our 8:15pm reservation. One thing you notice from the moment you enter a restaurant like this is how every decision revolves around you and your experience. This particular kind of care and treatment is certainly not unique to Alo, but it is nearly only found at the world’s top spots. It takes a precision, execution, and craft that extends from the kitchen to the FOH. It makes you feel like the only diners in the restaurant. Every last detail has been carefully considered and perfected by Chef Patrick Kriss and GM Amanda Bradley. The room is sexy and understated and absolutely gorgeous to be in.

If you visit you must let head sommelier Christopher Sealy guide you through all the pairings he’s come up with to match the magic from the kitchen’s beautiful tasting menu. Alo has a wonderful wine list, of course, but trust me on this. At $75 pp for the pairings, this is terrific value for both the selections and the amount of wine you get.

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I always love when restaurants open up your dining experience with an unexpected and delicious sparkling wine to welcome you. I’m a fan of most of France’s “other” traditional method sparklers, and a Crémant de Jura (this one from Baud is a Blanc de Blancs – 100% Chardonnay) is something you sadly won’t usually find in the LCBO. There are a few in the SAQ, however.

 

 

This wine was really light and lively, yet creamy and with a lovely toasted brioche note. I could have enjoyed these bubbles with nearly every course. If you love Champagne but hate the price, seek out France’s various Crémants.

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Our canapés and first course selections (with a no-shellfish option for me) were a wonderful taste of what was to come. Each one paired wonderfully with the Bernard Fouquet Vouvray Brut NV, a sparkling wine made from Chenin Blanc.

Next up, our salad course: avocado, baby fennel, macadamia nuts and a lovely aromatic vadouvan – a great match with the Pearce Predhomme 2015 Oregon Pinot Gris. Normally we don’t reach for Pinot Gris, but of late several that we’ve tried have us seriously re-evaluating that position. This wine is absolutely one of them.

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Since there were two impossible choices for the next course, Paul and I each chose one so we’d be able to sample everything. This is probably our favourite thing about dining together! My venison tartare with foie gras, wild rice, and miso was paired with the François Crochet 2015 Sancerre Rosé, and Paul drank the Anselmo Mendes 2015 Contacto Alvarinho with a Hokkaido sea scallop, with chorizo, preserved lemon, and almonds.

I found the foie gras far too rich for me (as I always do) and I couldn’t finish it, but the venison was gone in a flash. Paul nearly gobbled up the whole scallop dish without giving me a taste so we’ll call that one a winner. The chorizo was an unexpected flavour that really made the dish memorable.


FullSizeRender 27Then, much to my carb-loving delight, their addictive pain au lait with their housemade cultured butter arrived. Topped with crunchy fleur de sel, this bread and butter would bring me back to Alo regularly even if I hadn’t already loved the entire experience.

 

 

Our excellent servers Tracy and Quentin then brought two more impeccably prepared plates. The Salt Spring Island mussels in a semolina pasta with some Bourdy 2010 Côtes de Jura were for Paul. He felt this was the pairing of the night. I had Koshihikari rice with Périgord truffle and brown butter paired with Pearl Morissette Chardonnay. I’m never one to sneeze at truffles, but this rice dish was the only missed step in an otherwise spectacular culinary dance. The truffles couldn’t carry the dish. The pairing worked delightfully well, however. Worth noting the rice dish was a substitute because I couldn’t do the shellfish; it is not part of the offered menu.

Next up, veal sweetbreads (with pancetta, black garlic, and caper cream) with the Vercesi del Castellazzo 2015 Vespolino for me, and I think the first example of the indigenous grape Vespolina I’ve ever tried. This wine screams “Sono italiano!” and speaks to the sommelier’s love for unexpected bottles. This was a gorgeous pairing with an equally exquisite plate. The depth of the black garlic was a lovely parallel for the earthy rusticity of the wine, which had just the right acidity to break through the panko on the sweetbreads.

For Paul, this course brought him a delightful Madai paired with a razor sharp 2015 Grüner Veltliner from Austria’s Fred Loimer. I liked the pairing more than Paul did, mostly because I like Grüner probably 1000% more than Paul does (also see every time Paul drinks Dolcetto). The fish was flaky and light, the kind of fish that could get me to eat fish regularly.

Mains: I chose the St. Canut pork with cabbage, prune, and hazelnuts. I loved this dish! The pairing with the Domaine Ledogar 2014 Carignan Blanc was spot on. Another wine and producer I’d never tried before that is now on my radar. If I could have fit another plate and glass of this in my stomach I would have asked for it.
Paul opted for the Forsyth Farms lamb loin, served with legumes, Swiss chard, and Ras el Hanout. Paired with the Fita Preta Tinto de Castelão 2014, this dish sang. It was refreshing to see this very different wine pairing offered with lamb.

Lastly, dessert. The folks at Alo take dessert seriously. Here too the plates and pairings speak to a keen understanding of flavour combining.

The Bera Moscato d’Asti was for me a classic example of the style. The sunkissed sweet and musky nose smell and taste exactly like the grapes themselves do. The sudachi in the dessert added a lovely acid to the combination and really elevated both the wine and the dessert.

With Paul’s dessert he was given a 2008 Port, the Dona Matilde Colheita. It tasted of pepper and cocoa and sweet caramel, and it was fantastic. I still have a lot to learn about Port, but I’m confident saying this was a very good one. If you are the agent for this wine, get in touch!

The Bodegas Toro Albalá Don PX 1986 was my wine of the night. Rarely can a sweet wine make that claim, but this incredible bottle had me casing the wine station from our table next to the open kitchen, and plotting my escape with the remainder of the bottle. I’m kidding, sort of. Thick and syrupy, this nearly black wine reminded me of what balsamic vinegar must taste like in heaven. I will add this bottle to the growing list of wines I’ll never forget the taste of.

Thank you to everyone at Alo for a memorable evening. We’ll see you again soon.

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Say Cheese.

We are big fans of the happenings in Prince Edward County (about 2.5 hours east of Toronto) and our membership in the Slow Food convivium there (www.slowfoodthecounty.ca) brings us to ‘The County’ about once a month. The last few weeks have seen us heading there every weekend, attending a series of events we can only hope are on the schedule for years to come.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival www.cheesefestival.ca

June 3-5, 2011

Cheeses from all over Canada were represented but I was most impressed with the Québec showings, with nearly every region in ‘la belle province’ very well represented.  Not only did the delegation have incredible product to showcase, but their representatives and cheesemakers in attendance were incredible at making each and every taster right at home, regardless of the taster’s level of knowledge about the regions or the cheeses themselves. Next year’s event runs June 1-3, again at the Crystal Palace in Picton.

We only had the Sunday free—the artisan cheese market day—but tasting seminars and a chef’s dinner, The Chefs & Curds Cheese Gala, were highlights of the other two days of the Festival. We will not be missing the gala dinner next year, having heard from our Slow Food friends (and Chef Michael Howell of Tempest in Wolfville, NS, who cooked one of the dishes) how incredible the event was.

One of the remarkable treats of the weekend was a taste (or several) of the famed Dragon’s Breath Blue, from That Dutchman’s Farm in Nova Scotia. Not legal for sale in Ontario, it was brought as a gifts to our hosts by Chef Michael. I can’t wait until I’m lucky enough to try it again. www.thatdutchmansfarm.com/pages/DragonsBreathBlue

Ontario was also well represented, with The County’s own Fifth Town Artisan Cheese and Black River Cheese impressing so many of the out-of-towners. Finally, the Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from Cows Creamery in PEI rounded out another flavourful day spent in Prince Edward County.

The Rassembleu, a firm, veined farm cheese made with organic cow's milk. Its grey, naturally bloomy rind gives this cheese a unique appearance. I loved this cheese, eating most of Paul's sample as well.
Louis Morin, cheesemaker at Fromagerie du Presbytere and winner of the Grand Prix for the cheese he is holding, the Louis D'Or.

Autumn in the County

Harvest time in Prince Edward County is arguably the best time of year and the weather this year made for some of the most beautiful produce I’ve seen in a while. The tomatoes in particular benefited from the ample sunshine and the rain that came in just the right amount. At Vickie’s Veggies in Milford, one of our ritual stops on our County tours, over 100 varieties of heirlooms were on display and lined up in tidy rows for our tasting pleasure.

From sticky sweet to high in acid, the tomatoes also ran the colour gamut from nearly pure white to purples so dark they were almost black. I could only get through about 1/3 of the varieties before my tastebuds threatened to strike. It’s been a long time since I’ve purchased tomatoes from the grocery store and it will be a long while still – there really is nothing like a fresh tomato from Ontario. You can’t make that in Mexico and you can’t ship it from a hothouse off-season.

You can buy from Vickie at the Brickworks Farmers’ Market or you can visit her farmstand in the County. Tomato season is over now, but there is a lot of local produce ready now and the flavours will have you dreaming of what’s to come next summer.

Back in the Saddle

2010's first 3 tomatoes

It’s been nearly 4 months since I posted anything at all, let alone anything interesting. I plan to make the time between entries shorter by at least 3.75 months if I can help it.

The summer has been very busy both with the job that keeps the roof over my head and with the garden that keeps us in fresh local vegetables. My gifts from the garden have been popular at the office, this year consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, chives, thyme, basil and radishes. I can’t wait until the pumpkins are ready so I can get rid of them all!

Our black seeded basil
Our many lettuces aka best salad ever.

The farmers’ markets in our area have been a great source of delicious produce and baked good this year, not to mention the great people we meet who are joining the local food movement. Two new markets have opened this year within a half hour’s drive from our home. It’s really exciting to see more and more of the area’s farmers getting in on the action. The local beekeeper at these markets lives just down the street from us – talk about local!

Homegrown

There isn’t much that connects you to the land more than growing your own food. When you take responsibility for the production of what you eat, you begin to notice things in nature that never mattered before, like the quality of your soil or the specific insects roaming in and around your garden. Most of all, you appreciate in the smallest of ways how important farmers are.

www.farmersfeedcities.com

Like most other Canadian children, I too grew seedlings in Styrofoam cups, watching them sprout and grow on the windowsill of my elementary school classroom. I guess the lesson was one in both amateur botany and environmental science, but at that time most children probably still knew what vegetables looked like in their natural form. It turns out that connection is being lost in many parts of North America. The cost of growing a few plants is so little that it would seem that connecting kids back to the land can be bought for the cost of some soil, a few seeds and some used paper coffee cups.

In my own backyard I have two small greenhouses, neither of which are larger than 2×5’. I bought each of the kits for less than $50 at local DIY stores. They were easy to put together and are entering their third year of service. Word to those in more northern climes – don’t leave the greenhouses outside during the winter. The cheap plastic will rip once confronted with extremes of temperature. It can be fixed like most other things, however, with duct tape.

In previous years I’ve grown exclusively heirloom veg (mostly tomatoes), to both support biodiversity and to avoid paying the high prices they command at farmers’ markets. An heirloom vegetable, for those unfamiliar with them is generally defined as a variety of open-pollinated cultivar that was grown prior to the advent of large-scale agriculture.

With varying degrees of success in the first few seasons, I managed to put food on the table that was both delicious and inexpensive to produce.  I am descended from a long line of Scottish farmers so I dug deep (both figuratively and literally) for the knowledge I knew was somewhere in my DNA. Last summer, unfortunately, it was very wet where I live east of Toronto and my tomato plants grew very tall but bore very little fruit. They ended up resembling another popular Canadian crop, one that has a slightly higher perceived value… marijuana.

This year I am focusing on fewer crops so I can have a steady stream of vegetables rather than 100 pounds of food all being harvested in a few short weeks. The safe planting date is still a few weeks away here (although that date is shifting each year) and already I’ve got peas, peppers, broccoli and the very beginnings of sugar pumpkins poking their heads out of the soil in the greenhouses.

Greenhouse seedlings

Many of the seeds were easily procured from either grocery or DIY stores; all are certified organic. It’s just a better start in life, be you animal, vegetable or mineral. Some of the seeds come from a vendor near me who sells only heirloom, rare and endangered seeds and plants, The Cottage Gardener in Newtonville, Ontario. I have purchased from them a variety of vegetable seeds, including the delicious Boothby Blonde cucumber, as well as a variety of flower seeds suitable for my area. I can’t wait until the Scottish bluebells and Sweet William of the types common in the gardens of my grandparents and great-grandparents will be growing right in my own back garden.

www.cottagegardener.com

But let’s go back to the school windowsill for a moment.

It hasn’t taken long for us to lose our connection with the land and that knowledge that allows us to feed ourselves. Before WWII, nearly everyone had a kitchen garden and knew how to coax food from the soil. Whether you had to keep the rabbits and deer out or the aphids at bay, you knew the tricks – minus the input of chemical pesticides. You knew about companion planting and about the last frost, and about saving seeds for next year. You probably canned too, debated stem up or stem down, how much dill and garlic and just how amazing green tomatoes taste when you pickle them. Now, before a few years ago I didn’t know any of that without asking my mum or dad. But they grew up knowing.  They didn’t need to teach those particular survival lessons so they never got passed on.

That windowsill is a bridge back to that knowledge. If you know a kid teach them to cross that bridge, to produce their own food and to depend on themselves for the most basic of human needs. The world needs more farmers, urban or otherwise.

Fresh and Revolutionary Thinking

If you’ve wondered where your food comes from (and you absolutely should) there are some people you should meet who want to make sure you can count on the food supply – to be safe, nutritionally sound and free from the influence of the large corporations seeking to control it.

British chef and food revolutionary Jamie Oliver is a new hero of mine. After successfully taking on British school food and children in the Channel 4 documentary ‘Jamie’s School Dinners’, he’s turning his attention to the US school food system in ‘the fattest town in America’. The ABC incarnation of the show is aptly called ‘Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution’. I watched a sneak peek last night and was both impressed and in awe of Oliver for his tenacity and sheer bravery. From the cranky radio host who pronounced Oliver’s experiment a  failure before it started, to the lunch room workers who clearly don’t want him there, he has his work cut out for him on this side of the pond as well.

Best bit: Oliver’s face when he sees that the kids are being served pizza for breakfast and nobody seems to think there is anything wrong with it.

On another front: An old friend of mine and Slow Food guru Allison Radecki is part of the team working on the theatrical release of a film I think everyone should see. It’s called FRESH The Movie.
www.freshthemovie.com

Here is a synopsis of the film, lifted from their website:

“FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.”

Organize a screening in your community or just go and see it.

Slowing Down

Slowing down for me (and my patient, kind and mostly adventurous husband Paul) should be pretty easy. We have home delivery of organic fruits and vegetables and we love to cook. We are one vegetarian and one committed omnivore, no dilemma.

Today’s brunch: mushroom and Applewood cheddar frittata. We usually blend breakfast and lunch on both weekend days.

We love our low-key weekends and going slow for good has come out of  our usual Saturday and Sunday pace, combined with a swift kick in the butt from Carl Honoré. To start, we are taking the time to think about some of the decisions we make that are decidedly un-slow and working to slow them down. We’re going to focus on meals as our first hurdle. Because I commute to and from work about 2 hours total per day and have no firm finish time at the office, a home-cooked meal can be hard at the end of a long day and, for Paul, eating with me often means waiting for dinner until after 7:30pm.

The trick for anyone to cooking great meals is to have great ingredients on hand and plan your menus in advance.  A creamy risotto, for example, is no trick at all if you have broth, reggiano, white wine, onion, garlic and arborio on hand. Just vary the vegetables and proteins based on what’s in the fridge. Sweet peas and cremini mushrooms is a favourite combo of ours. Paired with a crisp salad, this is one of our favourite weeknight meals.

Our team effort usually involves sous chef Paul prepping all the ingredients and then I step in when I arrive home and do the cooking. Risotto is easy to make. It’s done when it’s done and so seems the perfect ‘in its own time’ symbol of slowing down.

In Praise of Slow

My first book recommendation is ‘In Praise of Slow’ by Carl Honore. Please visit his website at: www.carlhonore.com

This book really got me thinking about officially going slow, although I was headed there in many ways already.

I have always valued quality over quantity. We all know doing things faster is no guarantee they will be done better, whether you’re talking about food, work, play, sex, or what have you.

I’m looking to reframe the word ‘slow’ as something positive. I’ll talk about random acts of slowness that are worth highlighting and I’ll happily promote books, films, ideas and events that make sense.

Traditional Farming = SLOW