Slow Foodies At Play
Slow Food First Coast is a branch of Slow Food USA – both of which are all about reconnecting people to their food and the farmers and artisans who provide it. As they say, they want to support the good, the clean and the fair. Slow Food First Coast has been busy doing just that this spring. I’ve participated in two events that I’d like to share – the Tour de Farm and the Slow Down event at Intuition Ale Works.
On Sunday, April 10, numerous farms around the First Coast opened their gates to a flood of foodies curious to see how these farms and ranches operate. With two dozen farms and related sites open to the public, we had to be strategic when we loaded up the minivan and headed out. First, we visited Twinn Bridges Farm in Macclenny.
Scott Francis leads a tour into the greenhouse to see how it’s done.
Chef Tom Gray from Bistro Aix gets his veggie on as the featured restaurant at Twinn Bridges.
Thousands of plants, cheese and veg samples and a full working farm were okay and all, but the kids really loved this rusty old tractor.
While we toured, we picked up a block of Gouda from Sweet Grass Dairy, which was visiting from Georgia. Nom!
After touring the farm, we jumped back into the car and drove almost an hour to Cartwheel Ranch Meats. We were greeted with sliders made from their grass-fed beef. They were super-delicious. We came prepared to buy steaks, but they were sold out so we got some ground beef for future consumption.
The Spawn couldn’t leave the ranch without confronting a cow. Our 5-year-old daughter stared down a cow out in the distance, pointed at it like Babe Ruth calling the hit and said, “YOU! COW! COME!” And, like an obedient lap dog, the cow came trotting over. They regarded each other for a few moments before my daughter said, “Mommy, can we eat THAT cow?” I’ll be expecting my plaque from PETA for Humane Mother of the Year in the mail shortly.
One well-trained but obviously unamused cow.
Several nights later, inspired by the memory of a tender and delicious slider, we cooked up our Cartwheel Ranch meat.
Cartwheel Ranch Burger
Grass-fed beef is leaner than factory farmed beef, but the flavor is out of this world. The best thing about experimenting with “slow food” is re-discovering the foodieness of food. Beef is beefier, tomatoes are tomatoey-er (::ahem!::) – food just tastes more like what it is supposed to taste like. If you’re lucky enough to have space for your own garden or good memories of grandparents’ farms, exploring veggies from Twinn Bridges, meat from Cartwheel Ranch or any of the products from local farms will remind you of that fresh, bright, beautiful flavor you just can’t get from food when it’s wrapped in a Styrofoam tray under fluorescent lights.
Speaking of flavor, on April 29, Slow Food First Coast held a celebration called “Slow Down” at Intuition Ale Works on King Street. Numerous restaurants, farms and co-ops, including Seacow Confections, Chew Restaurant, Restaurant Orsay, Taverna, Bistro Aix, 29 South, Marker 32, Sweet Grass Dairy, KYV Farm, Black Hog Farm, The Veggie Bin, Bold City Brewery, Eat Your Yard Jax, Bakery Moderne, Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, Trad’s of Jacksonville Garden Center, Grassroots Market and more showed up to show off and celebrate slow food.
29 South – Lobster Roll
One of my favorites of the evening. The sweet corn dressing on top was so amazingly delicious that it almost out-shined the lobster in what they called “The Knuckle Sandwich.”
Orsay – Chilled Melon soup with prosciutto
This one was lip-smackin’ good and refreshing in the heat. The sweet, smooth, bright flavor was set off perfectly by the salty, rich prosciutto. Note to Chef Brian Siebenschuh – Please consider offering this in Popsicle form.
A large crowd gathered to see several local restaurants and farms receive the Slow Food “Snail of Approval.”
An oddly beardless Ben Davis receives his Snail of Approval certificate in honor of Intuition Ale Works. Congrats to all the new Snailers!
I think that Slow Food First Coast is doing a great job highlighting local food. I look forward to more great events from them in the future. You can keep up with Slow Food and see their listing of Snail of Approval establishments on the First Coast by visiting their website.
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all images copyright © 2011 by jodi a. kasten • all rights reserved