Great Grapes Wine Festival

4 May

by Green Gourmet L

What do you do when it’s sunny, 70 degrees, spring time, and Saturday? Drink wine of course! And what’s more fun than drinking wine? Drinking lots of wine. You can sample up to 200 different wines at the Reston, VA wine festival. If you missed it this weekend, not to worry. The Great Grapes festival will be back this way in the fall (Sept 10th and 11th). Don’t live anywhere close to Virginia? The festival also stops in Cockeysville, MD and Charlotte/Cary, NC. Check out the website for more info on the festival.

Now onto the good stuff…the wine! There were two wineries that we liked the best:

Granted, we didn’t have the time (or the stomach) to sample all 200 wines, so we had to pick and choose based on eye-catching signs and proximity to our blankets. Each tent gave about 5-9 samples, which were a mixture of whites, reds, and some sweet wines. The nice thing about drinking local wines (similar to eating from local farmers) is that you’re giving money back to the community and supporting small, local businesses. Many of these smaller vineyards offer tours, wine dinners, or even a chance to stay overnight. What a fun weekend trip! Here are the two wines that we loved:

Chardonnay Reserve 2008

Grown at an altitude of 1700 feet, the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve is a wonderful wine with a toasty vanilla nose, a delightfully light mid palate filled with citrus and apples and a subtle oak finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007

Tight nose opens to feature hints of plum and other dark stone fruits. Upon the palate, this wine widens to include blackberry and raspberry tones, leading to a hint of anise on the finish. Slightly lighter body and delicate tannins follow a more Italian winemaking tradition and are indicative of the 2007 harvest. Enjoy with braised or grilled beef or lamb.

Cheers y’all, and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets! Thanks given to Matt Higgins for the great pictures.

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Savannah Soap Co. – A Green Laundromat

3 May

by Green Gourmet K

I am departing from our usual food-based blog theme today to share a great “green” business I came across in Savannah.

Recently I found myself in the predicament of no clean sheets and no dryer and a serious amount of pollen outside that prevented my sheets from being line-dried. As you all may know, the husband and I have been living apart while he finishes school. So he kept the washer and dryer and I bought a dinky washer on craigslist. I have been line-drying or hanging my clothes on a rack.

Drying your clothes this way is a great way to make them last longer but you do have to iron them usually and if you need a few things to shrink from the heat of the dryer then you are out of luck. I’d like to say I am just being eco-conscious and not using the dryer because of the energy suck that it is, but alas, that is not true. I miss the dryer and line drying is not so fantastic when the occasional scent of pulp mill flows into your backyard.

That is how I found myself with no clean sheets and no way to dry them, without giving myself pollen hives. I asked my co-worker where a safe laundromat was so that I could do a load of bedding. She said she’d heard of a new “green” laundromat and it looked nice. I decided to check it out.

I was dreading the laundromat, being able to wash clothes in the privacy of your own home is such a luxury. I no longer take it for granted. The laundromat is always full of potent smelling detergents, it’s usually very hot, and you have to sit and wait while your clothes do their thing. And sometimes you have to sit and wait with some unsavory characters. But this is no ordinary laundromat. In fact, it made me re-think the laundromat and how it can actually be a place where you go to save time. I washed a set of sheets, two blankets and a mattress pad in one load and the whole wash and drying cycle together took less than 45 minutes. I kid you not, their washing machines are so efficient and remove most of the water so the drying cycle literally took 14 minutes.

The Savannah Soap Co. is located off of Abercorn at 12324 Largo Drive, Savannah, Georgia. This laundromat has a drop off service or you can do your clothes yourself and choose the right size washer and dryer for your laundry. They also have washers, called “Perfect Wash,” that will add the soap and softener for you. The soaps they use are all earth-friendly, and they have a board up front to tell you which soap they have loaded up that day. You are, of course, welcome to bring your own soap and softener.

The Savannah Soap Co. also sells great green laundry and cleaning products, like the Mrs. Meyer’s line (one of my favorites!). They also carry a lot of products that are safe for babies.

Check out this organic stain pen – I had no idea this was an option but this is the kind of unusual and practical “green” products the Savannah Soap Co. carries.

You can sip on an iced tea while waiting for your clothes to do their thing.

I mean who wouldn’t feel calm and relaxed while sitting this laundromat?

Now that my husband has moved down to Savannah, and we have our washer and dryer, I still plan to return to Savannah Soap Co. to do the occasional large load of bedding or slip covers. It would be well worth the money in my book and save me the hassle of doing multiple loads of laundry when I can be in and out in under and hour.

***Soap Co. did not pay me to write any of this – in fact, they have no clue who I am. I just enjoyed their establishment and thought others might like to know.

Dinner in a Thai Man’s Basement

2 May

By Green Gourmet L

The best way I can describe this place is a portal into Narnia. If you aren’t looking for it, you could easily miss the sign hidden behind the vines for Thai X-ing.

But if you know what you seek, once you walk inside you are transferred to a far-away place where the food is amazing and the servers treat you like family. This restaurant is literally located in a basement (the owners live and even have extra tables in the apartment above).

A few tips in advance before you go:

  1. Wear socks or get a pedicure. If you end up sitting upstairs, you must take your shoes off.
  2. Make a reservation. I called a week in advance, and the earliest they had was 8:15 on Tuesday night. Here are the website and phone number: 202-332-4322.
  3. Bring your own ____. Beer, wine, soda. Whatever you like. They put a pitcher of water on your table, but beyond that you’re one your own.
  4. They serve a chef’s tasting menu which is $30 Tuesday-Thursday, $40 on Friday/Saturday, and a Vegetarian/Vegan menu on Sundays for $30.
  5. You don’t have to stuff yourself silly. We asked for to-go boxes and had a wonderful dinner at home the next night.
  6. There is a metro stop not far away and I saw many buses going by. We elected to take a cab home. This is not in the best part of town and I would not recommend walking home alone after dark.

Now for the food. If you go for the Chef’s Tasting, this is the best way to experience all that Thai X-ing has to offer. They will bring out between 5-7 courses depending on how many people are in your party. And the ingredients are so fresh, the dishes are very well balanced, it is by far some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had.

Course 1

Tom Yum soup. This soup is hot and sour and filled with delicious fresh seafood and herbs. This was my favorite course since I have never had soup that tasted this fresh- stalks of lemon grass, sprigs of cilantro, and a hint of fish sauce. They must simmer the broth all day long to get this depth of flavor.

Course 2

Papaya salad. Spicy but refreshing. My friend who loves spice thought this was quite authentic. I was glad it was a smaller portion, because a little goes a long way.

Course 3

Red curry with salmon and pumpkin. This was the most unique dish we had all evening. I have never had pumpkin cooked in this way, but it had such amazing flavor and texture. I am definitely going to attempt to make this at home at some point. The red curry was spicy but well balanced with just the right amount of sweetness from the coconut milk. Yum!

Course 4

Pad See-Ew. Chicken, egg, veggies, noodles, and sauce. Sounds simple, but I heard rumors that they make their noodles in house, oh yeah. We were pretty full by the time we got to this course, but this was even better for leftovers the next day. Don’t be afraid to take some home!

Course 5

Sticky rice with mango and coconut milk. A perfect way to end this dinner. This sticky rice is not too sweet, filled with fresh mango, and had an interesting starchy component (which the server said was green pumpkin). We all cleaned our bowls and even though I was full to the brim, I was wishing there was more!

After dinner, chef Taw Vigsittaboot came out and greeted our table. He was even kind enough to let us take a picture of him in his modest kitchen.

This was definitely an experience to remember and if you like Thai food, this is a MUST when you’re in DC. Enjoy your Thai adventure and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Cauliflower Done Right

26 Apr

Green Gourmet L

With the weather getting warmer and the flowers in full bloom, the urge to eat lighter is upon us. And I, for one, am totally ready. Although I’m also ready to gorge myself on a 7 course meal in a Thai man’s basement tonight. Don’t worry, I’ll take lots of pictures and tell you all about it later this week.

Back to spring, I love the vegetables that appear this time of year. Snap peas, green beans, sprouts, I’m getting excited to go to the farmer’s market again. I whipped up something last night that put me in the warm weather mood. Seared salmon with sauteed kale and cauliflower mash. If you’ve never had cauliflower in this way, you’ll be a convert. It satisfies your craving for mashed potatoes, but it’s lighter and (possibly?) healthier. Give it a try!

Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients

Makes 3-4 small servings

  • 5 cups cauliflower or 1 bag frozen cauliflower
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 TB butter
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or plain kefir
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Place cauliflower in a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes or until very tender. Drain well.

At this point, you can either mash by hand, use a handmixer, or place in a food processor (depending on what texture you like). Add the other ingredients and mix well. Garnish with chives or spring onions. Serve hot alongside your favorite spring dish and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Ginger-Lime Baked Pineapple

20 Apr

by Green Gourmet K

I had a craving for some fruit when I was at the grocery store and pineapple was on sale for $1.99 so I snatched that up thinking I’d eat it fresh or throw some in a stir fry.  Then I promptly forgot about it until I realized I needed to cook it up ASAP!  I have never broiled or baked pineapple but it seemed like it was worth a shot.  Turns out this was the best decision I have made in a long time.

This dessert is my new favorite – because it is incredibly fresh tasting and has a nice balance of hot and cold, sweet and sour, fruity and creamy.  To get the hot and cold and sweet and sour part I used greek yogurt.  The naturally sweet pineapple  is almost caramelized by the buttery ginger-lime syrup and the unsweetened yogurt is a great complement.  Ice cream or a lightly sweetened cake would be good with the pineapple too but the plain yogurt does a nice job of balancing out the sweetness.

The baked pineapple could be made ahead and then heated and served later.

Ginger-Lime Baked Pineapple Dessert

Ingredients

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 whole pineapple, cored and sliced

2 teaspoons of sliced fresh ginger

plain Greek yogurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Core and slice one pineapple.  Arrange slices in a baking dish.

Peel and slice ginger, set aside.

Melt butter in saucepan with brown sugar, once melted, add the ginger, lime juice and water.

Let simmer on low until the mixture is syrup-like in consistency.

Pour over the pineapple, holding out the ginger slivers.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350, then broil or turn your oven up to 400 degrees and bake for 5 more minutes.  Let the pineapple cool for a few minutes before serving.  Spoon pineapple and sauce over greek yogurt and garnish with a small sliver of lime.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Farmers Market Bounty

18 Apr

by Green Gourmet K

Slow Food Savannah debuted at the Forsyth Park Farmers Market this weekend and we had lots of visitors to our table.  The market was very busy as usual and we were fortunate to be able to speak to many people from our target audience.  Hopefully support and enthusiasm for the organization will continue to grow.

While at the market I of course did a little shopping of my own and found some really inspiring and beautiful ingredients.

First off, Slow Food Savannah’s table was right next to Walker Organic Farms and those folks know how to display and sell some good-looking organic produce.  One thing that caught my eye immediately were these root vegetables.

Ignore the wilted leaves, that was my fault for not bringing a cooler.  So what’s so great about this funny looking root vegetable?

Oh yes, look at that beautiful pink color!  This is a watermelon radish.  It has a slightly sweet taste but is spicy and crisp, like conventional radishes.  It was new to me and I love finding something I have never tried before.

The Walker folks also had lovely, colorful carrots.  These carrots make me sad for grocery store carrots, they will just never, ever be able to measure up to flavor and appeal of the real thing.

The radishes and one of the yellow carrots (no need to peel these organic carrots!) went right into a salad with Walker spinach, feta cheese and a homemade vinaigrette.

I also picked up this little guy:

An heirloom cherry tomato plant!  I can’t wait to get this guy planted in a big container.

I hope this inspires you all to get to your local farmer’s market and find out what special varieties of new and interesting foods you might be able to find.  My time there this weekend was a great inspiration for me and I can’t wait to see what else pops up at the market throughout the spring and into summer.

Bringing Slow Food to Savannah

13 Apr

by Green Gourmet K

Have y’all heard of the Slow Food movement?  Well, I had not until a couple of years ago.  The movement was born in Italy and grew into an international organization that supports good, clean and fair food for all.  Slow Food is all about eating local, seasonal food from sources that do not harm the environment, animal welfare or human health.

The Slow Food Manifesto was signed at the inception of the organization and it serves as a declaration against standardized food choices and a fast lifestyle:

“Born and nurtured under the sign of Industrialization, this century first invented the machine and then modelled its lifestyle after it. Speed became our shackles. We fell prey to the same virus: ‘the fast life’ that fractures our customs and assails us even in our own homes, forcing us to ingest “fast- food”.

Homo sapiens must regain wisdom and liberate itself from the ‘velocity’ that is propelling it on the road to extinction. Let us defend ourselves against the universal madness of ‘the fast life’ with tranquil material pleasure. Against those – or, rather, the vast majority – who confuse efficiency with frenzy, we propose the vaccine of an adequate portion of sensual gourmandise pleasures, to be taken with slow and prolonged enjoyment.

Appropriately, we will start in the kitchen, with Slow Food. To escape the tediousness of “fast-food”, let us rediscover the rich varieties and aromas of local cuisines.
In the name of productivity, the ‘fast life’ has changed our lifestyle and now threatens our environment and our land (and city) scapes. Slow Food is the alternative, the avant-garde’s riposte.

Real culture is here to be found. First of all, we can begin by cultivating taste, rather than impoverishing it, by stimulating progress, by encouraging international exchange programs, by endorsing worthwhile projects, by advocating historical food culture and by defending old-fashioned food traditions.

Slow Food assures us of a better quality lifestyle. With a snail purposely chosen as its patron and symbol, it is an idea and a way of life that needs much sure but steady support.”

I love that.  We all need to be reminded to slow down and enjoy food for the pleasure and health of it.   But Slow Food is so much more.

This is from the Slow Food USA site:  “Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.”

Many cities have their own chapters and in Columbia and Charleston, SC the Slow Food chapters are a wealth of information on where to eat and buy local food.  The chapters can be adapted to the needs and culture of that city.  These organizations do an incredible job of connecting growers, producers, chefs, and consumers from all walks of life.   Many of them are also involved in basic food education and outreach.

When I moved to lovely Savannah I was floundering in my search for quality sources of local food.  I searched for their Slow Food chapter and was surprised to find they did not have one.   The website said “Savannah Slow Food – looking for new leadership,” and that was all the prompting I needed.  I emailed the Slow Food USA folks and they hooked me up with a small group of dedicated individuals that were also interested in establishing a chapter.   So off we go!

Two of the ladies who have really gotten the chapter off the ground are very talented individuals, I hope you will check out their blogs:

Inquisitive Appetite

Well Savannah

But here’s the big news . . .

Slow Food Savannah was officially established yesterday! Our big, public debut is this Saturday at the Forsyth Park Farmer’s Market.  We will be there at 9:00am and looking forward to speaking with anyone interested in supporting this new organization.  If you’re in Savannah, I hope you’ll come by.  We would love to share ideas, figure out the needs of the community, and help build connections that will support good, clean and fair food for all in Savannah.