This past weekend I traveled to Hampton, Virginia to see Disco Biscuits and String Cheese Incident for Hulaween 2010. As an added bonus I got to visit my brother a bit too which meant we had some great food. Before stopping at his house I picked up a 750 of Allagash Black, the brewery’s new Belgian style stout (they’re based in Portland, ME and I haven’t seen their bottles anywhere in Ohio yet). Some Terrapin Hopsecutioner and Hop Karma IPAs out of Athens, GA and a smoked cheese and another great creamy and nutty cheese called Pyreness. Scrumdiddlyumptious to say the least.
This was all a prelude to lunch with my brother at The Blue Talon Bistro – a French comfort food restaurant in colonial Williamsburg with Redmarker Ale on draft and a reasonably priced and decent wine list with a very nice Malbec by the glass. Paired that with a delicious brandade – think artichoke spinach dip in steroids and but no artichokes or spinach but instead … SALTED COD, ohhhh yes please. To follow a delightful green salad and a blackened fish Reuben.
Needless to say, when I ran out of crostini to scoop up the brandade, I started slathering on my sandwich. Thanks to colonial Williamsburg for yet another delicious meal.
There’s that song out by BoA called Eat You Up and I couldn’t help but think of the new Jamie Oliver show on ABC called Food Revolution, wherein, Jamie tries to salvage the city of Huntington, VA from literally consuming itself. Closer to home than Texas, this city was recently labeled the most obese in the nation. As a Northerner/Midwesterner, we/I like to think that the truly obese reside in the South which I guess includes Virginia but geographically it’s too close to home for me. As Jamie tours the public elementary school’s lunchroom, kitchen and classrooms you immediately get a clear picture of the deterioration of food education in this country.
I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my parents were both college and graduate school educated who valued food, taught and exposed us to all types of food even in utero. So when I watched a little boy look at a potato and have no idea what it is, then look at a french fry and know exactly what it’s called I almost barfed. In a world where a french fry counts as a vegetable in public school lunch programs, it’s pretty easy to see why Michelle Obama is dedicated to reform and raising awareness.
Eating well has become a moniker for the privileged. However, eating well did not used to mean expensive, it meant eating fresh and local. The advancement of fast food, processed snacks, beverages and the industrialization of the meat market has created a vacuum into which marketers and large companies stepped in to offer up cheaper substitutes. When you read literature on families living with Welfare, part of the discussion is overwhelmingly devoted to feeding the family and the choices available to them: it should be a crime that a liter of Coca-Cola is cheaper than a gallon of milk — this marketing targets the underprivileged and inflates the obesity numbers and unhealthy in our country.
Besides putting me on the verge of tears, Jamie Oliver’s show made me give thanks for the progressive stance of my private elementary and middle school. Obviously as a private school they are not as subject to the strict dietary and regulatory guidelines as public schools. In the heart of the most visited national park in the States, the school has always put kids and food education together starting in preschool up through eighth grade, advocating local foods and sustainability. Now they sport a “Living Machine” which serves to clean the school’s wastewater and a classroom to educate children in the greenhouse. The challenge becomes greater when you move to urban schools who are not as fortunate to have a rural environment in which to learn. Hopefully, with more education and the dedication of groups and individuals the heinous state of food in our schools can become a beacon of reform for the rest of our country.
It’s a beautiful thing and all you have to do is force feed a duck to fatten up its liver for it! Sometimes I wish I could feel bad about that, but then Anthony Bourdain does a little expo and shows that it’s not so bad and plus it’s just so scrumptious that the sinner in me is a happy to be ingesting such a smooth delight. I had only one bad experience with foie gras and that was in a very lovely little ristorante around the corner from my apartment in Milano. Apparently, in Milan and perhaps most of Italy, foie gras is prepared very differently — it’s not the deliciously hot grilled fatty lobe I’ve come to love. I believe it was a paté and I’m sad to report I really just couldn’t finish it: the richness alone and in that quantity was overpowering and it was cold which threw me off too. With the kind of foie gras I love I feel like a nice lambic or maybe even a sour would be a fitting pairing with this creamy, fatty, buttery gift from the gods.
However, I had a gorgeous rendition of the heated type in Toano, VA at Dudley’s Farmhouse Grille. If you’re ever near this place, go! They specialize in wild game and have a small seating area which provides for a more intimate atmosphere, which is furthered by the owner who is also the chef. I wish my liver could wind up in such a happy state after I’m gone. Anyways, the foie gras was my primo and my secondo was a mixed plate of venison, wild boar and quail. Then I slipped into a loverly food coma.
Last weekend, while visiting my brother in Williamsburg we took a detour into the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. It was an interesting place with some quirky collections, boss Revolutionary/Civil War muskets, mansion-sized dollhouses and some pretty sweet beer paraphernalia.
The old man river motif is of German origin as is the shape of the ware. According to the handy museum placard the “Bartmann Bottles were produced in different sizes from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The small specimens shown here that feature a round or globular body date from throughout the 1600s. They were used as storage containers for beer, wine or cider and may even have been pressed into service as drinking vessels. [...] The salt glaze on stoneware was impervious to the corrosive effects of these preservatives, making it an ideal choice for maintaining a well-stocked household”.
Of course, these are things I have to have as is this next hilarious little vessel, a miniature keg.
Makes modern day kegerators look pretty crass and unrefined, huh?
It’s a common mix and for good reason. The refreshing, not too filling beer refreshes a spicy palate after a faceful of tacos and hot sauce, while the light carbonation brings about those satisfying belches.
I had the pleasure of visiting my big brother this weekend in Williamsburg, and the little love bug brought me back a 21st birthday presie from Spain in the form of a bottle of Ambar CaesarAugusta (CaesarAvgvsta). The bottle is awesome — reminds me of the squat Chimay Blanche bottle. Pours a light yellow with a 2 finger bright-white head. Faintly citric notes in the aroma. Flavor is about the same as the aroma with more lemony taste and a bright mouthfeel. The other Spanish beer I’ve had is the macro, Estrella Damm Inedit and I hated it, so this was a lovely change. Spain still could use a bit of work on their micro industry and take a chapter from the Italian craft-beer movement, France too!