Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cilantro, daikon, carrot: the holy trinity of (easy) Banh Mi BBQ pork sandwiches

Dear friends,

I have been on a banh mi kick, but since they're in short supply here in South Carolina, I'm rolling my own.

I just can't get enough of the magical combo: fresh cilantro, daikon radish, and carrot, combined with mayo, smoky pork, tamari, and hot sauce, all layered within some sort of bread product.

Do you love crunchy, sweet-spicy, fresh, smoky Vietnamese sandwiches as much as I do? I have a banh mi obsession.

(The Immaculate Consumption has a great ground turkey banh mi sandwich, but 12 years in San Francisco spoiled me on the BBQ pork variety.)

I've been making mine with croissants (naughty, naughty) cut into quarters for parties, or with pan-toasted Sami's gluten-free millet flax spinach lavash wraps for my lunches. Want to make your own? It is way easy, especially if you live in a pulled pork saturation zone like Columbia, SC.

1. Shred a bunch of fresh carrot and daikon radish root, and use a giant, healthy pinch of each per sandwich. Your health food grocery will have daikon, most likely. (Rosewood Market does!) Thank g-d for mom's 1980s Cuisinart w/the shredder blade!
2. Rip up a bunch of fresh cilantro -- the more the better. Total cilantro coverage is a good thing.
3. Mix up a tablespoon of Sriracha rooster hot sauce with 2-3 TBSP mayo or vegan mayo. Or some such.
4. Here in the Carolinas, pulled BBQ pork is fairly ubiquitous. Get some. (Without sauce!) If you're somewhere else, I bet you know where to get some. Or sub something else! I bet grilled shrimp would be insane.
5. Slice a jalapeno real thin -- this is optional. As are thin-sliced onions. I leave those off.
6. Add a drizzle of tamari! Or soy sauce in a pinch.
7. Assemble all within some sort of bread product. Destroy.

Why don't I have a picture of the banh mi wraps I had for lunch yesterday and today? Well, that would be because I got too excited and ate them. Two days in a row.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vegan chocolate sunrise, abandoned beach mansion sunset

This is the vegan chocolate mousse I made on my birthday.

Brought it to the beach and ate some for breakfast with my cousins.

Is it made of tofu? Yes. Can I give you the recipe? I wish I could! It's my nutritionist's recipe, so you'll have to ask her. But I'll tell you this: it's freaking unbelievable!

For lunch, we ate the pants off of some very fresh, tasty Cajun (read: blackened) seafood platters at a Murrells Inlet restaurant called Flo's, a well-loved, joint that is positively clotted with Mardi Gras beads and signs like "Unattended children will be sold." It was awesome.

Also awesome: Atalaya, the ruins of a magical old winter beach castle in Huntington Beach State Park, SC. I walked down there this evening from our big old resort, which was fancy in the 80s but has great winter rates and an indoor heated pool.

At magic hour, the photo ops at Atalaya are just ridiculous.

Is this not the most awesomely trite teen girl angst photo? I wanted to take a picture of the pretty magic hour sunset wall, and this tween girl was walking around back there, I think being angsty. Which is quite natural, no? I was angsty at that age.

In fact I recall very vividly listening to Sinead O'Connor on my cassette tape Walkman on a family trip to this very same beach area when I was in 8th grade. Remember The Lion and the Cobra? So much angst. I also had an Echo and the Bunnymen tape. I was all set.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blackened treats, mountain spa magic, + how to email Congress re: Child Nutrition Act!

Hi friends,

I hope your weekend was tasty! I managed to put away an enormous blackened shrimp, mushroom, spinach, goat cheese + soft-scrambled local egg breakfast burrito yesterday morning at the hip, seasonal-menu'd Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville, NC, as well as a brain-melting blackened salmon, queso fresco, and BBQ mushroom paquete (basically a quesadilla) on Saturday at Hector's Salsas in downtown Asheville -- my new favorite Latin restaurant. Obvi had some cravings to attend to.

The 3rd fl GPI atrium, w/four-story ceiling + skylight. Rad.
'Twas not a gluten-free, dairy-free weekend. Kinda couldn't resist the iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese dressing, bacon, and tobacco-sizzle onions; the Carolina lump crab cake; and the roasted veg ravioli we enjoyed via room service in the 100 year-old, Arts and Crafts deco'd guest atrium at the historic, boulder-encrusted Grove Park Inn on V-Day. Especially after spending a mega-therapeutic afternoon (thanks to my sweetie!) in the GPI's mind-blowing spa , rated #5 in the country by Travel + Leisure for very good reason.

Um, an enormous indoor heated multi-pool grotto with massive, vaulted stone ceilings, skylights, two super-hot, thundering "therapeutic waterfall" hot tubs, and a snow-ringed, sunny, outdoor hot tub with a view of the Blue Ridge mountains? Yeah. The GPI spa facilities fully kicked the tuckis of the spa at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn in CA, y'all, and I had thought the it was a king-daddy.

For those of you who know me personally, you're likely familiar with the chronic neck and back problems I've acquired over the last decade or so. Back in 1999, I started reviewing spas for the now-defunct San Francisco Metropolitan Magazine in an effort to score comped therapeutic massage treatments, which I could not otherwise afford at the time. One thing led to the next, and among other terrific writing/editing clients, Splendora (one of the all-time greats) enabled me to sample hundreds of pampering destinations. So I kindof developed a thing for spas. A BIG thing for spas. And the Grove Park Inn is the most pampering bang for your buck that I've found thus far! Man, it was awesome. Obviously I can't shut up about it. Let's go back!

Meanwhile, toward less self-indulgent pursuits, here's a repost of national interest that I just put up over at the Slow Food Columbia blog:

Act Now! Tell Congress about the Importance of Real Food in Schools.  At last night's monthly meeting, each attendee sent an email to Congress telling them that America's children need real food at school.

For those of you who were unable to attend, join us now by submitting an email:

Child obesity is skyrocketing, and our children, our economy and our quality of life are at risk. Helping schools serve real food may be the most promising way to end child obesity -- but it can't happen unless Congress invests in healthier food in the upcoming Child Nutrition Act. 

Last night, your fellow Slow Food Columbia members told our legislators that schools need the resources to serve real food, cook meals from scratch and buy directly from local farms. It's time to give America's kids a healthy future.

A call to Slow Food USA this morning confirmed that efforts toward reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act will be ongoing over the course of many months and beyond, do don't be shy about Facebooking and forwarding this call to action!

Thank you for all that you do to promote good, clean, and fair food in the Midlands. 
All the best, 
Slow Food Columbia

p.s. We're thrilled to report that our Terra Madre Day BBQ at City Roots Urban Farm on February 27, 2010 has sold out! Special thanks to local businesses Caw Caw Creek Pastured Pork, Smoke Southern BBQ Revival, and Rosewood Market for working with us to produce the event.

We're also happy to note that last Tuesday, Slow Food Columbia co-sponsored a sold-out screening at the Nickelodeon Theatre of the excellent, positive-minded documentary film, Fresh

A vibrant talk-back session followed re: cost-prohibitive, byzantine regulatory issues facing small, independent farms, leading to a thought-provoking discussion between panelists from Slow Food Columbia, City Roots Farm, and Freshly Grown Farms, as well as audience members from USC's Green Quad, Sustainable Midlands, the SC Department of Agriculture, The Shop Tart, and Shadow Lane Farm in Wagener, SC.

FRESH Synopsis (from

"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.
FRESH would love to support you in organizing a community screening. Community screenings of FRESH provide a great way to raise awareness about our food system while promoting your work and vision"


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The South Is Alright, Y'all; Here's Another Good Thing

It's a very exciting time to be living in a small Southern city, I have to say.

Since I moved operations to my hometown of Columbia, SC last April, I've been repeatedly inspired by the commitment level of the local arts community, despite our politicians' best efforts to make the state look ridiculous on an international level.

And wow: the foodies, the locavores, the urban farmers -- it's all so cool! I love it.

I've had the pleasure of meeting a great many bright, quirky, truly interesting people through organizations like 701 Center for Contemporary Art, Slow Food Columbia, and the Nickelodeon Theatre, not to mention through my friend Anne, whose wildly successful local blog encourages the upper crust to shop local, eat local, and basically live like a hippie -- albeit in (local) designer dresses. (Brilliant, right?)

Progressive work is so desperately needed here (in order to balance out all those education + arts cuts, and the bigots, and the narrow-minded right wingers, and the...blah blah blah). You'd think any effort would just be a drop in the bucket.

But the impact of volunteer work is really magnified here in Columbia. It truly supports an exciting, vibrant, growing community of people who care! The volunteer efforts in this town make an enormous difference in the local cultural landscape, thus influencing public policy and even progressive legislative action. Which lord knows, we need.

That in mind, here's a lil dispatch on an event I'm co-planning later this month with Slow Food Columbia.

The food (including local Caw Caw Creek pastured pork shoulder) is going to be cooked offsite by Smoke Southern Barbecue Revival, a magical new lowcountry/Louisiana-style BBQ/oyster roast restaurant opened recently by my newfound pals Tom + Julie Hall. (That's a picture of their communal oyster-shucking area out back. I love Smoke. I especially loved their recent six-course wine dinner with James Beard award nominee Chef Christopher Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, AL.)

Staff from a new local acoustic venue, The White Mule, is running the bar, and Tom Hall's locally famous bluegrass band, The Plowboys, are going to play live!

I'm also happy to report that all of the cups + utensils will be made of compostable corn resin instead of plastic -- which are regrettably impossible to find in any Columbia retail establishment I've contacted, so I'm ordering online. (UPDATE as of 2/15/10: Rosewood Market has transitioned their deli takeout containers to a compostable variety. They plan to accept them back here at the store for inclusion with our other compostable items.)

I'm also very thrilled about the location of the party -- it's local architect Robbie McClam's new sustainable urban farm, City Roots. (Maybe you read about it in The State or The Free Times?)

I was really excited to start volunteering last year with Columbia's chapter of Slow Food. As some of you know, I struggle with chronic repetitive strain injury from a past FT writing job, but I do what I can! You probably know this, but Slow Food is an international non-profit geared toward promoting "good, clean, and fair" food practices -- basically it's all about locally-grown and/or organic food, fair wages, environmentally conscious methods, and that sort of thing.

Rosewood Market, the All-Local Farmer's Market, Caw Caw Creek pastured pork, Anson Mills grits, and Columbia restaurants like Terra, Motor Supply Co., and Gervais & Vine epitomize the Slow Food movement here. 'Tis a lot of yummy going around, in general.

Here's the event flyer and ticket link, and if anyone needs reasons to relocate to the South (beyond the incredibly inexpensive, spacious Craftsman-style homes for one thing), hit me up!
p.s. My parents are AWESOME for already buying 5 tix to this event! Love you guys.
p.p.s. Terra Madre Day was back in December, but we are a lil sloooooooooooow down here so we're celebrating at the end of February, yo!


Celebrate Terra Madre Day at City Roots - 
Saturday, February 27, 2010
4 - 6 pm

Terra Madre Day Celebration at City Roots
Join Slow Food Columbia to Celebrate Local Food

Join Slow Food Columbia for a Barbeque Dinner to celebrate local, fair, sustainable food and raise awareness of the organization's mission. The dinner will be held at City Roots Farm, the much-anticipated new organic & sustainable urban farm in Rosewood near Owens Field.
The family-style meal will feature pulled pork BBQ made with pastured pork from Emile DeFelice's Caw Caw Creek farm. The buzzworthy new restaurant Smoke Southern Barbeque Revival will slow-cook the pork at their extensive outdoor kitchen in Blythewood. Vegetarians can dig into macaroni and cheese and all-veggie sides, also from Smoke. Smoke owner Tom Hall has enlisted his infamous local bluegrass band, The Plowboys, to perform at the event.
Come an hour or two early - and bring your family - to volunteer on the farm. The McClam family, owners and operators of City Roots, can always use some helping hands!
1005 Airport Boulevard
(Across the street from Owen's Field Airport & Park)
Columbia, SC 29205
February 27, 2010
Tickets will cover admission and a barbeque meal. A cash bar will provide beer, wine and soda. Tickets must be purchased in advance here.
Non-members: $15
Slow Food members: $10
Students: $5
Kids under 6: Free
Slow Food Columbia Sincerely Thanks Its Sponsors!

Caw Caw Creek
City Roots
Smoke Southern Barbeque Revival
The Plowboys

Slow Food Columbia
Slow Food Columbia online

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Time to Plant the Easiest Veggie Ever

Check out the new monthly guest gardening blogger on my pal Anne's blog, The Shop Tart! Jenks Farmer is a gardening world luminary, so this is a super exciting collaboration!

"Welcome Jenks Farmer, guest gardening blogger. (Yay!)...[read more on The Shop Tart]"