Thanksgiving 2009

thanksgiving09_table-and-preparing450

(Table setting, Preparing food (with our new baby “Cipollina” in the background), Turkey platter and green beans, Roberto carving the turkey)…

I am not ashamed to say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the idea of a huge public harvest festival where people are showcasing meals using seasonal ingredients on their tables all over the United States without even thinking about it! This tradition of giving thanks for the harvest is an old one, and one that I try to celebrate in our home throughout the year. It very much defines my relationship to the natural world and to the food we eat. For me, that is what Thanksgiving is – the last openly public harvest festival. It is not a celebration of the friendship between pilgrims and Native Americans because frankly, that Thanksgiving is a myth and the reality of it is not one that I would want to celebrate.

That being said, I love the food at this time of year. On this blog I often talk about my love for autumn foods , and at Thanksgiving, I can have many of them on my table at one sitting. I was very fortunate this year to have the baton passed to me, to host Thanksgiving at our house. In past years we have spent Thanksgiving with either set of parents, but this year, they decided I should be the one to host everyone. Honestly, this was a long held dream of mine, to be able to prepare a seasonal harvest menu that incorporates family favorites with my personal touch. A meal made in heaven! :)

We were very thankful that my stepmother, Kayzie is a wine distributor, and checked 6 bottles of wine onto her flight for us to enjoy at dinner.

I hope to have many opportunities in the future to prepare this meal for family and friends. I am sure that it will be especially seasonal and full of ambiance when we move to Vermont. Especially when we can showcase foods we have grown and harvested ourselves, or at least those harvested within our community.

So I see a future of varied Thanksgiving dinner menus based on what is available and delicious that year, much like a harvest festival should be.

thanksgiving09_foods450

(Pumpkin ravioli, cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole)

This was our menu this year:

Pre Meal Course:
Roasted Chestnuts
Cabot Vintage Reserve Cheddar Cheese
Clementines
Smoked Almonds
Hot Bourbon Toddies

First Course:
Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli with Sundried tomatoes in oil and toasted pine nuts with Vermont (organic) Raw Farmstead cow’s milk Feta
Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

Second Course:
* Vermont Pasture Raised Turkey (“Henrietta”) from Applecheek Farm (a farm down the street from our place in Vermont)
* Sausage Stuffing with Pumpkin Oatmeal bread from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (made with wheat flour from Butterworks Farm (a farm in Vermont)
* Reclaimed Green Bean Casserole – made with all organic ingredients (including the onion rings)
* Mashed Potatoes with traditional turkey gravy (with bourbon)
* Cardamom-Orange Cranberry Sauce
* Sweet Potato Casserole
Oregon Pinot Noir

Dessert:
Indian Pudding with Bailey’s Whipped Cream

I hope all of my US based bloggers and readers enjoyed their own Thanksgiving Day celebrations! Happy Holidays!

Finest Foodies Friday – November 27, 2009

icon_fff1

IF YOU LIKE FOOD BLOGS, THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE EVERY FRIDAY!

For those of us in the US, yesterday was Thanksgiving. I hope all of our US members enjoyed their holiday and aren’t too stuffed with turkey and all the trimmings. I know for me, Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite, most anticipated meal of the year, and we were lucky enough to host my mom, dad and stepmom this Thanksgiving. More about that later….

As always here is what the FFF is all about. Finest Foodies Friday is a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! We do this so we can share in the rich diversity of what The Foodie Blogroll has to offer by featuring some of our favorites and yours!

What is the Foodie Blogroll? It is the first and fastest growing free membership blogroll for food bloggers and has become a wonderful community to share ideas about all things food related. With a membership of over 5,200 food blogs, I am sure you can find much inspiration and new friends! :)

The only requirement to be featured here on FFF is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and be displaying The Foodie Blogroll widget on your blog. If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join us, please click here!

If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here on FFF, please join us over on The Leftover Queen/Foodie Blogroll Forum, and post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.


Culinary Disasters Blog

This blog is written by Jeff, another foodie I really “met” via Twitter. He participates in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge – where bloggers are baking their way through the cookbook of the same title. I love bread, and I make bread at home, so I always enjoy getting inspiration from his bread posts. He will disclose all failures AND successes. He says about his blog: “I am not a writer nor am I a photographer; I am simply a lowly underpaid and overworked computer guy. So do not be alarmed by the bad grammar, horrendous spelling, and even worse photography that this site offers. It is just me being me. Maybe if I make it big I would hire someone to do that part for me…..ok who I am kidding I would spend the money on truffles, veal, strange cheeses, or something that can be devoured.” Now that is a true foodie speaking! LOL!


The Closet Chef

The Closet Chef is authored by Peter, and it is a fairly new blog, started this past August. But you really wouldn’t know it if you went to visit the blog. The pictures look very professional (which is because he is a professional photographer by day! But still, the pictures are WOW), and the writing is that of a seasoned blogger. I became a fan instantly, and so will you!

Framed: My Life One Picture at a Time

Here is another food blog that focuses mainly on food photography. This is the inspiration for her blog in her own words: “Taking pictures — it makes me grin, it’s always on my mind, it satisfies my soul. And cooking, well, I am pretty much just making it up as I go along but in general it tastes pretty good. So this little blog is a lot of me and my Nikon, a lot of stuff I love to eat, and a bit of anyone or anything that will stand still long enough for me to take their picture. I hope you like reading it as much as I love cooking, photographing and writing it!” I always enjoy finding out more about people’s passions, especially when it involves food! :)

Lex Eat!

Lex loves everything about food. She says: “Eating delicious food is important to me and my girlfriend Y, so we are always looking to cook great food at home and eat great food out and about on our travels through London and further afield. I am writing this blog largely for my own enjoyment, and if also for the enjoyment of others then that would be really great.” I think this sums up why most of us blog. Yes, we do it for our own enjoyment, but we also love sharing with others that enjoy food as much as we do!

Stetted: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Megan is a copywriter by day and a food lover the rest of the time! She says: “In my spare time I cook, write, read, and take photos. I’ve found that I like cooking even more than I had thought, and even go so far as to plan our dinner menus a month at a time (which helps my developing type-A tendencies). Probably the best gift I have received this year is my apron, because I wear it almost every day. On some weekends I wear it all day.” I love her photos and her simple yet delicious looking food.

That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed this week’s FFF. Remember, if you would like to see a blog featured here, who is part of the FBR please visit the forum and nominate them.

I NEED NOMINATIONS!!!!!! I know we all have our favorite blogs that we read everyday, and I would love to know about them. We have a very diverse food community, and I would love to see more of the blogs you love featured. We also have a lot of humanitarians out in the Foodie Blogosphere. If you think there is a food blogger out there that deserves a little recognition for their culinary skills, or what they are doing to help the world through the lens of food, please tell us about them!!! Please post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

Also we all love to know how people came to find our blogs, so please visit all of our featured bloggers today and don’t forget to tell them that you found them via Finest Foodies Friday! They would love to have your feedback.

Thanksgiving Dinner

thanksgiving_table

Thanksgiving Dinner:

Hot toddies, homemade pumpkin ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and spinach, Vermont pasture raised turkey with Italian sausage stuffing (made with homemade pumpkin-oatmeal bread) and traditional gravy, reclaimed green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and Indian pudding with whipped cream for dessert.

What are you having?

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

*Stay tuned for a Thanksgiving post and posts about our travels to New England*

Finest Foodies Friday – November 20, 2009

icon_fff1

IF YOU LIKE FOOD BLOGS, THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE EVERY FRIDAY!

As always here is what the FFF is all about. Finest Foodies Friday is a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! We do this so we can share in the rich diversity of what The Foodie Blogroll has to offer by featuring some of our favorites and yours!

What is the Foodie Blogroll? It is the first and fastest growing free membership blogroll for food bloggers and has become a wonderful community to share ideas about all things food related. With a membership of over 5,200 food blogs, I am sure you can find much inspiration and new friends! :)

The only requirement to be featured here on FFF is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and be displaying The Foodie Blogroll widget on your blog. If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join us, please click here!

If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here on FFF, please join us over on The Leftover Queen/Foodie Blogroll Forum, and post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

<!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } A:link { so-language: zxx } –>

Smash and Sniff

I love this blog, because it is co-authored by two cousins Ashley and Jiffer. They live on two different continents, Ashley in Mexico and Jiffer, in Germany, but they have a great time connecting through this funny and delightful food blog! I have a very special cousin too, who I love spending time with, and who I have spent a lot of time being goofy with (as these two seem to have, as well!). So this blog warmed my heart in one way, but also because this really exemplifies how food bloggers, no matter where we are in the world, can really share so much together through the internet – foraging bonds and relationships and sharing a meal together in unconventional ways.

La Faim (The Hunger)

This is a culinary manifesto from the Pacific Northwest. Written by Violet. She says: “I’ve been cooking since I was old enough to hold a wooden spoon and my favorite food memory is sitting in front of the television with my grandfather when I was little, watching Death Wish, and eating Spanish pickled mussels out of a can. I am a graduate of The Seattle Culinary Academy at SCCC. My cooking style is Spanish soul food.” Her blog has really nice photos and really good looking food! Enjoy!

Inspired Taste

This blog is written by Joanne and Adam. Joanne has always had a dream of writing her own cookbook, and so in lieu of that, Adam introduced her to the world of blogging. Much like my husband did for me! That inspired her to build her repertoire of recipes, and look for new inspiration, daily. Adam enjoys his perk as food tester, but more importantly he says he enjoys that they have found something they can work on together, just for fun!

Shindig411

I really like the word shindig! I also like celebrating with food. I always say that everyday is a good reason to celebrate something, and that food is always a celebratory event. Well this blogger, Elizabeth seems to feel the same way! Here is the inspiration behind her blog: “[it is a] blog dedicated to celebrating. Anytime. Anywhere. Here you will find recipes and menus for celebratory events, gift ideas, decorating tips and advice on proper gift-giving etiquette. With just a little thought, you can find a reason to celebrate every day of the year!” So go on and celebrate!

Kitchen Diary

This blog is written by Shannon in California. Her blog is full of wonderful and delicious pictures and recipes that celebrate the fresh produce of her state through her CSA membership and famers markets. Her blog is fairly new, started this past summer. She started this blog, because like all of us, she is obsessed with food, and blogging is a way for her to attempt to organize “the chaos that swims in my mind”. She also has this to say about her obsessions: “would include,but are not limited to, cooking for friends, drinking espresso (not starbucks!),butter,anything with the consistency of salsa, thinking about food way too much…”. Sounds good to me!

That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed this week’s FFF. Remember, if you would like to see a blog featured here, who is part of the FBR please visit the forum and nominate them.

I NEED NOMINATIONS!!!!!! I know we all have our favorite blogs that we read everyday, and I would love to know about them. We have a very diverse food community, and I would love to see more of the blogs you love featured. We also have a lot of humanitarians out in the Foodie Blogosphere. If you think there is a food blogger out there that deserves a little recognition for their culinary skills, or what they are doing to help the world through the lens of food, please tell us about them!!! Please post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

Also we all love to know how people came to find our blogs, so please visit all of our featured bloggers today and don’t forget to tell them that you found them via Finest Foodies Friday! They would love to have your feedback.

Little Break…

Just wanted to let everyone know, I am still around, just taking a little break from posting. I have a bit of a journey, Thanksgiving dinner (and out of town guests) to prepare for, I am working on several posts highlighting some delicious taste adventures that we enjoyed while in New England and working on some side projects.

foodbuzzbadgephp1

To tide you over, if you haven’t seen them yet, please check out all my coverage from The Foodbuzz Food Bloggers Festival in San Francisco.

icon-foodie-joust1

Also, be sure to check out last month’s Royal Foodie Joust Winners, written up by my dear friend Judy, and come join us for this month’s event!

icon_fff1

If you still need more, please check out all the Finest Foodie Fridays!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the USA!

Finest Foodies Friday – November 13, 2009

icon_fff1

IF YOU LIKE FOOD BLOGS, THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE EVERY FRIDAY!

As always here is what the FFF is all about. Finest Foodies Friday is a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! We do this so we can share in the rich diversity of what The Foodie Blogroll has to offer by featuring some of our favorites and yours!

What is the Foodie Blogroll? It is the first and fastest growing free membership blogroll for food bloggers and has become a wonderful community to share ideas about all things food related. With a membership of over 5,200 food blogs, I am sure you can find much inspiration and new friends! :)

The only requirement to be featured here on FFF is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and be displaying The Foodie Blogroll widget on your blog. If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join us, please click here!

If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here on FFF, please join us over on The Leftover Queen/Foodie Blogroll Forum, and post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

Sidewalk Shoes

I have been reading Pam’s blog for a long time! Again, another blog I could have sworn I had already featured! Another testament to the fact that I need help by being reminded of all the great blogs you read regularly! Anyway, Pam is always delighting her readers with beautiful photos – either of food, her handicraft or her beautiful garden. She is always up to something creative and I love to see what is going on every week. She is also an avid reader, and often cooks up treats that go well with a nice pot of tea and a good book.

Lowbrow Foodie

This is a fairly new blog to both The Foodie Blogroll and the blogosphere in general, starting back in June of this year. But already the author, Ruthy, has a real style to her blog! Her writing is fun to read, and enthusiastic and her food looks great! She says: “I have no formal training, nor an extensive amount of skill in the kitchen, but I really enjoy mixing a bunch of ingredients together and seeing what happens. So this is for those of us who love good food, wish we had wallets to match our sophisticated palates, enjoy cooking, eating out and occasionally use the microwave (I know…oh, the horror!) Bon Appetite!”

Blog Appetit

Cooking local. Eating Global. This blogger has been writing since 2005! What is their blog about? : “Am I a home cook with higher aspirations or a foodie who also appreciates that sometimes simpler is better? I don’t know, but I do know I like to share what I cook and what I know. I’ve been a writer, journalist, public relations professional and marketing consultant. I like to travel and I ALWAYS have an opinion or at least a point of view.” After attending the BlogHer conference in SF, FJK is going to be making some changes: “Look for more narrative and story telling posts as I work to find a voice and blog post format that reflects that. I also hope to refine and define my photographs visual style to help tell that story.” We look forward to the evolving! :)

Recipe Addict

Carla is a fairly recent member of The Foodie Blogroll. She had some questions for me recently, and that is how I came to re-discover her blog! She says on her blog that she has a vast collection of cookbooks (very old and new) and never passes up a magazine dedicated to cooking and recipes.She says she will try any recipe at least once and if it is a hit, it will be added to her repertoire of “make again” recipes. Her husband Michael is also good in the kitchen, and cooks “off the cuff” from whatever is in their pantry, freezer and fridge, but never writes down the recipe to replicate! Sounds a lot like how I am in the kitchen! :)

A Love For New Recipes

Another Pam! This Pam really enjoys living a healthy lifestyle. I like going to her blog, because she is always featuring a good and healthy product – many of which I would really like to try! Everything from green smoothies, to larabars and nuts. She also enjoys baking up healthy treats for her and her husband. Her very first post was about the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day, one of my favorites. Pam always has a kind word to say!

That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed this week’s FFF. Remember, if you would like to see a blog featured here, who is part of the FBR please visit the forum and nominate them.

I NEED NOMINATIONS!!!!!! I know we all have our favorite blogs that we read everyday, and I would love to know about them. We have a very diverse food community, and I would love to see more of the blogs you love featured. We also have a lot of humanitarians out in the Foodie Blogosphere. If you think there is a food blogger out there that deserves a little recognition for their culinary skills, or what they are doing to help the world through the lens of food, please tell us about them!!! Please post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

Also we all love to know how people came to find our blogs, so please visit all of our featured bloggers today and don’t forget to tell them that you found them via Finest Foodies Friday! They would love to have your feedback.

1st Annual Foodbuzz Food Bloggers Festival – San Francisco, CA (Saturday Afternoon and Evening, Part 3)

foodbuzz-festival-saturday_tasting-pavillion

Saturday afternoon, after the Farmers Market we enjoyed the afternoon’s main event – The Tasting Pavilion at the Metreon. We enjoyed talking to Jerry from Cooking By The Seat of My Pants on the way over to the Metreon. Growing up in California, he told us a lot about different California grown foods, like rice, wine and cheese. In fact we talked quite a bit about cheese (and which is better, CA or VT – of course you can guess that I am all about the VT cheeses). Oh…and cowboy hats. I have known Jerry for a long time through blogging and he is just as much of a character in person as his blog would have you believe!

At the Tasting Pavilion, we tasted food and drink by many local CA producers as well as Artisan food producers from all over the country. It was an amazing experience and so inspiring to see so many people passionate about food! It was a great opportunity to network with food producers, and hopefully we will work together with many of them in upcoming Foodie Blogroll Giveaways! :)

Some of our favorite tastes were all the delicious dishes inspired by Bertolli sauces that Food Bloggers at the festival created. It was really fun to watch them prepare their winning dishes in the Bertolli Sauce Kitchen! I got to catch most of Chrystal and Amir’s aka The Duo Dishes , presentation (that is them in the collage above) and they did an awesome job! The best part was getting to taste all the food coming out of the sauce kitchen! Well done everyone! I wish I could have seen all the presentations…but there was just too much to see!

We also enjoyed talking about beer with the guys from Magnolia GastroPub located in San Francisco and Rogue Ales . If we had stayed a few days extra I would definitely have stopped by Magnolia. They brew their own historic and traditional beers, and create gourmet gastropub food sourcing local ingredients!

One of our favorite eats of the afternoon was a seafood ceviche from Fuego At The Maya. Executive Chef Jesse Perez made an awesome version of the Latin dish, including Mexican shrimp and tender juicy scallops, broiled calamari and sweet potato. Check out Jerry’s post – he has a lot of great photos about the things I discussed!

Roberto and I also attended a Merlot wine seminar hosted by Alder from the popular wine blog, Vinography.  This was an extremely interesting seminar about the stories behind the wines – about the producers, and the history of where the grapes are grown. It was a new and intimate way to learn about wines, something that Alder is amazing at doing. There was also much talk about wines in general, which was very informative. Our favorite was the Paloma 2006 Merlot, from Spring Mountain in Napa. All of the Merlots we tasted were from California and were between $25-65 a bottle. Definitely your upper end, and very different from what most people think of, when they think Merlot.

After the afternoon’s events, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the Saturday Night Dinner. This was a big night for me, because I had the extreme honor of being asked by Foodbuzz to co-host the Food Blogger Awards with Managing Editor of Foodbuzz, Ryan Stern. Coming into the weekend I was a bit nervous, but after meeting nearly everyone who was going to be in the audience I felt much better about it. Plus Ryan is a great person, so I knew I would feel comfortable up there with her!

foodbuzz-festival-saturday_dinner

(Roberto and I on the bus to dinner, Me and Mari from Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard, Peter from Souvlaki for the Soul and Joan from FOODalogue, the gang at dinner).

The dinner and awards ceremony was held at Greenleaf Produce Warehouse which was the perfect place for a dinner brought to us by Outstanding in the Field . It was a bit too chilly to hold an outdoor dinner, so this really was the next best thing!

foodbuzz-dinner_details

(Photos courtesy of Peter Georgakopoulos)

Very rustic and the perfect environment to enjoy a menu of farm fresh products. Our menu was created by Chef Dennis Lee of Namu. All of the food was local, organic and sustainable and the meats were all pasture-raised. It was really nice to enjoy a guilt free meal of the highest quality!

foodbuzz-dinner_eats

(Photos courtesy of Peter Georgakopoulos)

Winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon , selected wines to accompany each part of the meal. It was fun learning more about Outstanding in the Field, and chatting with Greg from Sippity Sup about being nominated for several awards, and about fashion!

foodbuzz-dinner_people

(Photos courtesy of Peter Georgakopoulos): Me and Catherine of Munchie Musings, Christey of FotoCuisine, Joan of FOODalogue, and Val of More Than Burnt Toast

We had a truly wonderful and memorable dinner, in really great company. We had the honor of sitting with longtime blogger friends: Peter of Souvlaki For The Soul, who came all the way from Australia to be at the festival, Peter and Christey of FotoCuisine , Val and Giz of BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine , and Joan of FOODalogue . I also got to meet Angela of Spinach Tiger , another of my favorite blogs. In fact, Angela was the first blogger I saw in San Francisco – we checked into the hotel at the same time! The best thing, is everyone we met in person is even better in person! It was a fun night talking about blogging, food and everything else. I really enjoyed spending time with these people, and know I have life-long friends! I can’t wait for them all to come and visit! Thanks to Peter G for many of the great photos in this post. Your photos are truly magazine quality, Peter! You should totally be famous!

saturday-dinner-buddies

(Val, Roberto, Me, Joan and Mary (aka Giz)

After dinner many headed over to the Americano at Hotel Vitale for a nightcap. There I got to spend some time chatting with the Foodbuzz staff and my blogging and Twitter buddy, Esi from Dishing Up Delights ! It was great finally getting to meet you! And of course we were trying to get in as much time with everyone as possible. We knew we probably weren’t going to make it to the Brunch the next day, so this was our last hurrah so to speak. It was wonderful getting to see everyone and making that personal connection. I didn’t want to leave…or more realistically, I wanted to pack everyone up in my bag and take them home with me.

If you have never been to a blogging event, I highly recommend it. If there aren’t any in your area, start one! There is nothing like meeting bloggers in person! Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for putting on this wonderful weekend, and I am very much looking forward to next year’s festivities!!!

1st Annual Foodbuzz Food Bloggers Festival – San Francisco, CA ( Saturday Morning – Part 2)

foodbuzz-festival-saturday_market

DISCLAIMER: Our camera battery died on Friday night and so the photos in this post are snapshots pulled off our video camera – which is essentially why they suck! ;) But I wanted to be sure to give some viuals.

The next morning, everyone met up at the Ferry Building, to enjoy the morning at San Francisco’s incredible Farmer’s Market. We started off up stairs drinking coffee, eating pastries and meeting up with bloggers. We had a fun and lively conversation with Nichelle, from Cupcakes Take the Cake and got to meet another one of my foodie friends, who had evaded me the night before, Joan of FOODalogue . After chatting, we wanted something savory for breakfast. So on several recommendations from Foodbuzz staff, Roberto and I (as well as many other bloggers) enjoyed breakfast sandwiches from the Golden Gate Meat Co. We decided to enjoy the sandwiches al fresco so we could enjoy a view of the San Francisco Bay. Once back inside, we couldn’t pass up a “meat cone” from Boccalone which was a mix of several of their different cured pork products. The mortadella with pistachios was my surprising favorite (usually my favorite is salami). I wish we had gotten video of this, but we were hanging out chatting with Kristi of Austin Farm to Table. But I know she talked about it on her blog, so go check it out!

We spent the rest of the morning perusing the market. I was especially impressed by one of the indoor shops that was exclusively mushrooms. I saw the most beautiful and delicious looking mushrooms – colorful chantarelles, lobster mushrooms and the biggest FRESH porcini. My heart sank a little because I knew I could not take any home. Outside, we spent time marveling at the fresh produce booths. We tasted Asian pears, yogurt, persimmons, honey and much more. I also bought 4 lbs of beans and grains from Rancho Gordo on a recommendation from Kat and Matt of A Good Appetite .

At 11:00 we joined Peter and Christey from FotoCuisine , Joan of FOODalogue and Catherine from Munchie Musings at the Farm to Table Discussion led by Executive Chef of the Americano – the restaurant at the Hotel Vitale, Paul Arenstam and the general manager of the Hearst Ranch (sorry, no picture of these guys…). Hearst Ranch  supplies their grassfed beef to the Americano for their burgers and so the discussion centered on the differences between grassfed and conventional beef (something I talk a lot about ), how farms and restaurants can work together to get quality and local meats to consumers, how food producers can work with food bloggers to get unbiased and genuine word out about their products, and how to build a farm to table model that works, and can be copied by local farms and the restaurants around them.

Some facts about grassfed vs. conventional beef:

Conventional beef depends on fossil fuels and government subsidized feed (like corn and soybeans) to feed their cattle. Conventional cattle are weaned at 6 months and spend the rest of their life, eating subsidized grain, living in close quarters (with other cows, and their own excrement) and in 13 months become 1300 lbs of meat.

Grassfed beef remains free ranging and pasture fed their entire life. They depend on sunlight and photosynthesis to eat. They experience low stress, and little handling from humans, making their meat tender and lean. In an 18 month period they will become 1100 pounds of meat. Grassfed cattle, through well managed grazing, are part of a natural cycle which actually aids in the conservation of grasslands.

During the question and answer period, Catherine, from Munchie Musings asked about what kind of a discount food bloggers could get on Heart’s new program where consumers can buy a share of a grassfed cow directly from Hearst. He was quick on the draw and responded that food bloggers can get a 30% discount and free shipping, if they use the coupon “foodbuzz”. Now that is a great deal! If I lived in CA I would totally go for it – but I am looking forward to supporting my local meat producers. If that fails – I am going for Hearst – they are a company that I can support without reservation.

I really enjoyed the morning – it was nice to see lots of farm fresh products at the market and then learn more about how local businesses and farmers can work together to get local foods out to the consumers. It was inspiring in so many ways. If you live in California, and have not been to the Americano, you should try it out. Their menu sounds delicious, and I got to sample Chef Paul’s Hearst Meatballs at the Tasting Pavilion later that afternoon (more about that in a follow up post) and they were really fantastic. I would also encourage you to check out Hearst Ranch and their Cattle Share program.