I'm taking a trip this weekend to Greenville, SC for the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association's 27th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference
, a weekend-long gathering featuring some remarkable movers and shakers in the sustainable agriculture field. The conference is chock full of workshops, hands-on intensives, farm tours, blockbuster speakers and heaps of local food from around the region.
I have the incredible pleasure of blogging on behalf of the CFSA this weekend for their blog, The Sweet Potato
, and am even more fortunate to attend a host of workshops and seminars about growing local food, food policy and how local food affects our community.
I'll learn my full schedule when I arrive on Friday, but here are just a few of the amazing workshops that caught my eye (taken from the CFSA website
): Hands-On Mushroom Experience
presenter Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain, LLC on-site workshop at Upstate Children’s Museum This outdoor class will give you a chance to get your hands dirty. Come learn about mushroom ecology and production from a top mushroom expert. Tradd will show examples of woodland mushrooms and demonstrate different types of produc- tion methods (ex. logs, wood chips, wheat straw.) Learn also about mushrooms in compost, recycling, and bio-remediation. Hands-on training at its best!How Wildly Good Cooks Use Local Food to Fight Obesity
presenter Linda Watson, Chief Cook & Researcher at Cook for Good Learn how the Wildly Good Cook certificate program mixes videos and books with local instructors and cooking demonstrations to provide affordable, customized training. Participants learn to cook delicious, healthy, local food even on a tight budget. They learn to shop with the seasons and avoid cues luring them to eat hyper-palatable food packed with sugar, salt, and fat. Watch an example cooking demonstration, learn about the first trial sessions and consider becoming an instructor or host organization.Growing Great Garlic
presenter Pam Dawling of Twin Oaks CommunityGarlic planting, harvesting, curing, storing, and the selection of planting stock will
be comprehensively covered in this workshop. We will discuss both hardneck and softneck bulb garlic. We will also cover “by-product crops” such as garlic scallions and scapes, which are ready early in the year when new crops are at a premium. Come learn about this wonderful plant from a popular expert.Forest Farming and Cuisine in the Southeast
presenter Zev Friedman of Living Systems Design Come learn about the permaculture forest agriculture model as a way to provide marketable ingredients for a true forest cuisine. This sustainable model works with the native ecologies of the Southern Appalachian bioregion and provides foods that indigenous people ate (and still eat!). Learn from the food wisdom of the Cherokees and early European settlers, as well as contemporary wild food gatherers. You can do this on your land!
Sounds like a blast, right? I could go on and on listing the workshops that I want to attend, but I'd run out of room. If you'd like to see the full schedule of workshops, you can download it here
. There are still available spots if you'd like to attend the conference too. Registration can be found right here
I hear Greenville has quite the vibrant nightlife and local foods scene and am looking forward to exploring the city with a camera in one hand and a fork in the other. Look out!
Have you been? Send me your favorite dining spots and Greenville must-sees.
Photo courtesy of Caveman Cafeteria
I fell in love with a couple of food trucks in Denver. On our first night in the Mile High City, we met up with our lovely friends Stacey and Justin who let us crash at their place and happily indulged my need to hunt down a very specific food truck. I caught wind of the Caveman Cafeteria
while still in North Carolina via my Twitter feed. You know, doing all of my nerdy, foodie research that I do prior to landing in any city. What's cool about The Caveman Cafeteria is that they are a paleo food truck! They serve up a host of delicious proteins and tasty vegetables for those following a diet free of grains, processed sugar and legumes.
The Caveman Cafeteria is the brain child of Will White, an Army veteran, stand-up comedian and all-around nice guy. He joined forces with his best friend and chef, David Kenney earlier this yeart to start the Caveman Cafeteria. He even took a picture of us the night we ate there.
Photo courtesy of Caveman Cafeteria
That night, the Mister and I dined on a fresh tomato salad marinated with sea salt and wagyu beef sauteed with enoki mushrooms and the most slurptastic demi-glace which I called the "bistro juice." I wanted to take a bath in it. If you meet up with the Caveman Cafeteria, be sure to give a nod to its mascot and wonderdog, Boris who is usually chillin' like a villain on the sidewalk.
Photo courtesy of Caveman Cafeteria
The Comida Food Truck
was the main attraction at our friend's wedding, serving up some dope guacamole, handmade tortilla chips and expertly made tacos for the masses. You can't miss it either. The Comida truck is a big and bright pink.
I opted for Stella's Pork Carnitas over sweet potato mash with pineapple-habanero salsa and the Sirloin Situation over sweet potato mash with sauteed onions and crema. The Mister chose the Spicy Shrimp taco over jalapeno grits with pico de gallo and avocado. I heard it was fiery from a number of guests, some who could handle it and some who could not. Everything was made from scratch and prepared to order in the taco truck. Smack ya' mama good!
I'm a big fan of food trucks and would love to travel around enjoying all the inventive cuisine made inside these matchbox kitchens. That's a culinary feat all by itself. If you're in the Denver area, I hope you hook up with these two winners.
Did I mention I had a food truck during my wedding weekend? More on that this week!
After a short "business" trip to Wray, Colorado
, our next stop was an impromptu visit to Boulder. What a wonderful treat!
I failed to mention in my last blog post (because I was feeling more poetic than conversational) that on our first night in Wray, Colorado, we totally hit a deer with our rental car. It sucked. The radiator busted and we were in the middle of nowhere. But....guess who bought insurance for the first time in her adult life? I did!
Shout out to Fox Rent A Car
for replacing our Hyundai Santa Fe with a Jeep Liberty and towing it to us. We were not close. The next morning, new wheels in place, we decided to hit up Boulder, Colorado for a night and we are so glad we did.
Boulder is gorgeous. Seated at the foot of the Rocky mountains, the city of Boulder offers incredible mountain views and hiking trails along with the charm of a small town. It's full of an eclectic mix of creatives, college students, outdoor enthusiasts, locavores and whiz-bang entrepreneurs. Seriously, there were some wicked good conversations happening everywhere we turned.
I was just happy to be around like-minded people again. You know, the kind that love good coffee and local food. There were even compost bins right next to the trash cans in the coffee shops. Be still, my heart. We only had a night in Boulder so our stops were limited.
Here's a run down...Ozo Coffee
: See that delicious pour over pictured above? That's the Ozo business. Our barista was just about the friendliest and most knowledgeable barista I've ever met too. We also indulged in a Chemex
brew too. Folsom Street Coffee
: More friendly baristas and strong coffee. Also, we fell in love with their gluten-free baked goods. Best Blondie made with almond flour EVER! SALT
: This restaurant was recommended by a few locals and friends of mine. It's menu boasts local and seasonal ingredients and the menu made my mouth water. But, I would say our experience was "meh". The service was lacking and the charcuterie was impossibly small although it did have duck prosciutto and rosemary infused lard. I only wished there was more of it. The entrees were simply okay. The atmosphere , disingenuous. We left feeling like we spent more than the experience was worth. The Kitchen[Next Door]
: We ate lunch here and loved the bustling and hip atmosphere. Old school industrial lighting and hip, schoolroom chairs mingled with servers in plaid shirts racing around the bar made of reclaimed wood. The menu was farm-to-table lunch fare. I had the poached salmon salad over baby arugula and the Mister had the dry aged Colorado cheeseburger with garlic smashers which happened to be a most marvelous take on a french fry. Eat them. All of them. Two Spoons Gelato
: Malted chocolate chip gelato and toasted almond gelato made from scratch in small batches. Nuff said.
All of these spots were on the Pearl Street mall, a fantastic and lively walkabout of shops and eateries with the mountains cuddling you in the background. I could live here, no doubt.
Next up on our adventure list? Denver! The city we really came to visit. We had a big time with two amazing Denver food trucks and some more good eats. Can't wait to share the rest of our trip with you.
Sunrise over Wray
Did you know that taking a trip right before your wedding is an incredible stress reliever?
That is, until you set foot back home from said trip. That's right, I'm back from a lovely trip out West and I'm crazier than ever. I've decided to wear my crazy as an accessory for the next couple of weeks and just make it work. I've got plenty of things to go with the crazy like the random outpouring of to-do list jibberish and manic outbursts of payment dates and appointment times. Whatevs. I make crazy look good. But, I digress...
The Mister and I flew to Colorado last week for a wedding and arrived a few days early to tend to some business in Wray, Colorado. Located about two and a half hours east of Denver, the town of Wray is the embodiment of small town USA.
The expansive plains and cattle feed lots that lead to Wray make it feel much further than the couple hours distance it is from Denver.
I was appropriately shocked at the nothingness coupled with the sights of big agriculture- large silos of grain, mono-cultured fields and heartbreaking feed lots. For a locavore like myself, these sights were hard to take in, but there was beauty too.
I saw sunsets and sunrises unobstructed by big city buildings and stars that beamed across the pure night sky. I enjoyed silence, unknown in places filled with neon lights and white noise. I could hear crickets conversing and coyotes cry out. I could hear each blade of grass between the teeth of cattle. The expanse felt like freedom, if only for a moment.
We stayed for one night and then moved on, much like the people in the deserted towns in which we passed. Oil drilling instruments and windmills dotted our line of sight and then it was gone. Civilization returned and we saw mountains on the horizon. Boulder was next. Good food and coffee was poised and ready for our arrival.
More to come....
What day is it? Can anyone fill me in? Honestly, I was a day ahead last week and now I'm a few days behind thanks to one of the greatest long weekends EVER. My bachelorette party weekend. I won't bother you with all the details. Okay, maybe I will.
But first, a few snaps from my special weekend....
Suffice it to say that I ate my way through the entire city of Atlanta with my bestie/maid of honor and a dear friend who drove all the way from Gainesville, Florida to surprise yours truly. It was everything a girls weekend should be- long talks, good food, pampering, shopping, slumber parties, couch snuggles with the best doggies alive (see Charlie and Maya above) and lengthy discussions about the meaning of life or at least, life right now.
I love my long-time girlfriends. They have seen me through the worst of times and the best of times and somehow they still love me anyway. I am so grateful to have these ladies in my life and, though, not all my girls were there, the spirit of the weekend was indicative of the love I have for all my gal pals. Okay, I had to gush for moment. Now, back to the food.
Did I mention the food
Atlanta has an incredible food scene. Each time I visit, I barely scratch the surface of all the good eats in town.
On the first night, my bestie prepared a home-cooked meal with the last of the fresh grouper filets she scored while visiting her foodie father in Sarasota. She made Grouper Granoba with a green bean and pepper saute along with her killer artichoke dip which is always a crowd-pleaser. Dessert that evening was Martha Stewart's tres leches cupcakes
topped with fresh cream and a dash of cinnamon. That became my late night snack. Every. Single. Night.
The next day, we went shopping and stopped for lunch on Buford Highway, the premiere spot for ethnic eats in Atlanta. This long stretch of road spans the globe as you drive from one end to the other with endless eateries and specialty markets. We decided on Vietnamese food and ended up at Nam Phuong
where we ate like queens for $40. My favorite was the green papaya salad with cilantro, basil, mint and fresh lime along with barbecued pork.
Later that night, we dined at a trendy new spot in Inman Park called Barcelona
. Our friend, Ben McPherson, also happens to be the Executive Chef and so the red carpet was rolled out for us in the form of endless tapas and hand-carved Jamon Iberico (pata negra
, which means "black hoof"), a famously Spanish cured ham that is salty and delicate with silky fats that melt in your mouth. Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard. I also must comment on the exquisite heirloom tomato and peach salad dressed in red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. It was a mouthwatering trio of tangy, acidic and sweet. After the barrage of small plates ended, we finished the experience with butterscotch flan and three spoons. Stick a fork in me.
After another night of revelry, we spent the next day in watching episodes of Being Erica
with lebanese takeout from Olive Bistro
and provisions from Whole Foods Market. Of course, on our trip to pick up takeout and snacks, we had to stop at Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand
for one of their infamous sloppy sliders with chicken sausage patties, cheese sauce, pickled jalapenos and special "comeback" sauce. Sloppy perfection.
Needless to say, I've been to the gym every day since I've been back and am fighting the urge to make a batch of tres leches cupcakes for myself and the Mister. I will leave you with a couple other favorite ATL spots that I hit up whenever I'm in town and wrap up this overdue blog post. San Francisco Coffee Company
- for my morning cup of joeRia's Bluebird
- My old faithful brekkie spotKing of Pops
- My favorite popscicle stand
Next time I'm back in the ATL, I'll be a married woman!
So, why the spotty existence on the blog? Well, I have some good news to share with you. A while back, I knocked on several doors looking for writing opportunities and do you know what happened? They all opened. At once.
Don't think for a minute that I'm complaining because nothing could be farther from the truth. It's just that these new additions have, for a moment, got me all topsy-turvy. I'm in the adjustment phase, so to speak, trying to find a new rhythm and routine that allows me to tend to these new opportunities while also making time for the blog, photos, recipe development and kitchen time.
You see, I also work nights because writing and creative living does not yet pay the bills (for me, at least) which means that all these wonderful things must be squeezed into my daytime hours. Like a boa constrictor. Also, I am not a night owl, so there's that too.
This is the learning curve of my transition, I guess. I hope you'll bear with me as I find my way back to a regular posting schedule. In the meantime, I am content to share with you some of my travels. The photos above are from Off The Square Restaurant
, a farm-to-table restaurant located in downtown Albemarle, a quaint town about one hour northeast of Charlotte. I was in the area working on my first piece for WFAEats
, the food blog for our local NPR news source.
Off The Square is known for its commitment to providing local food to its customers. In fact, they source their produce from Carolina Farms,
the subject of my story and other local farms in the area. Carolina Farms is a special program dedicated to the care and support of individuals with autism. They provide meaningful lives and work for seventeen permanent farm residents and five employed individuals through their farm program which fully sustains a 39-acre farm and robust CSA program. Currently, Carolina Farms supports 48 weekly CSA shares for local families. Amazing, right?
Off The Square purchases eggs and much of its produce from Carolina Farms. I was graciously brought to lunch there after my visit to the farm and met with James Edwards, executive chef and owner. James was born in Asheboro and took off into big city livin' where he earned his culinary chops working in some tough NYC kitchens. After years in the hamster wheel, Edwards returned to his hometown and renovated a space in the heart of downtown Albemarle with his wife Ashley, where his restaurant has become somewhat of a crown jewel.
I've only met three people from Albemarle and all three of them asked me the same question-Have you been to Off the Square?
Off The Square owner and Executive Chef, James Edwards
Edwards keeps it local and simple on the menu. Many of the items are not incredibly inventive rather they are simple and well-made with quality ingredients. I had the lobster bisque (pictured above, top left) and the crab cake sandwich with a house made honey mustard fig sauce. My host had the grilled vegetable sandwich made with local herbs and produce from Carolina Farms. I am keen to try the brunch menu
which looks outstanding.
The air in the restaurant was cozy and comfortable, locals coming in and saying hello to each other from across the table, seated in an assortment of eclectic wooden chairs. Gorgeous details highlighted the space, exposed brick and wooden floors, a nod to preserving history of the building and the pride of this small town.
If you've never been to the Depot at Gibson Mill
and love anything collectible or vintage, you must go. It is one of my favorite places to find treasures in the Charlotte area and it never disappoints. I'm typically there for a minimum
of three hours bumbling about, digging through baskets and collecting inspiration from every nook and cranny in the place.
It's a sprawling 85,000 square feet of vintage pieces, furniture, dining sets, clothing, jewelry, tchotchkes, records, collectibles, ephemera and things you never even knew you wanted . Prepare to be amazed and maybe even slightly overwhelmed. Before my first visit, a friend told me to "pack a lunch" and "wear some sneakers." She was right. The Depot is one bad mammajamma!
These pictures were taken from my last visit when I had the pleasure of going with my buddy Brooke
, who had never been there before. I really can't decide what's better, digging for treasures for hours or bringing people there for the first time and seeing their eyeballs pop out of their head. As you can see above, Brooke scored a lovely repurposed peach side table for her adorable home
. I was on the hunt for vintage details for my wedding and ended up leaving with a Turkish Kilim rug and vintage postcards
. NOTE: If you go into the Depot without a plan, be prepared to leave with a Turkish Kilim rug or something equally off-course.
That being said, I'm never mad when I leave the Depot. It's one of my happy places. If vintage is your thing, here are a few other local "spots" to check out- Oak Street Mill
, Sleepy Poet Antique Mall
and Downtown Mooresville
I am so excited to share a sneak peek of what will likely be a staple "spot" for vintage clothes and stylish notions come tomorrow. The traveling trunk show known as the Frock Shop
has found a permanent home in the MONA (Museum of Neighborhood Art) building
, a local art gallery and studio space, which sits happily on the corner of Central Avenue and Hawthorne in Plaza Midwood. The Frock Shop Style Lounge fits perfectly into the renovated space which already houses a delightful assortment of locally made art, jewelry, sculpture and other Charlotte-centric goodies
I was introduced to the Frock Shop and the adorable Caroline Cook-Frers last year by friend and proverbial shopping instigator, Nikki Mueller
, who dropped in on one of Caroline's trunk shows hosted at Eco-Licious
. That day, we arrived early and got our own sneak peek shopping experience before the droves of women came in to devour the racks of well-curated clothes and accessories. I found my most favorite pair of red vintage flats along with an armful of one-of-kind clothing. I was hooked and have been stalking, I mean, following
Caroline and the Frock Shop ever since.
The Style Lounge is charming and the MONA house itself is laid out in a way that invites exploration. Natural light floods the space, the wood floors creak with character and the handcrafted archways gently lead you from one carefully curated area to the next. Caroline has put the same care into her new space as she does with her collection of handpicked clothing and accessories. The drippy chandelier that hangs above the Style Lounge is her grandmother's, the wallpaper is vintage and the mirrors that adorn the space are bright and colorful. It's all the perfect accessory to her unique collection. Have a look!
Frock Shop Owner, Caroline Cook-Frers
: Frock shoppers that visit the Style Lounge will get first dibs on all new arrivals before it hits Caroline's online shop
and ongoing trunk shows.
The Style Lounge opens to the public tomorrow with a Grand Opening celebration beginning at noon until 8 p.m. MONA is located at 1200 Central Avenue. I'm thinking I'll be there quite often. Maybe the handsome MONA owners, Dan and Brian will be so kind as to let me pay rent. Happy Frocking!
I wanted to share a few more pictures from our time in New Orleans. From the ornate to the ordinary, it was a feast for our eyes. Of course, I had to start the day with delicious coffee and pastry. I personally love the picture of the mustachioed Mister (Happy Movember!) drinking his chickory coffee. He's so patient with my incessant picture taking. At least we share the same love for taking pictures of our feet in different places.
When the Mister has the rare occasion of getting his hands on the camera, he takes lovely shots. This is me on Frenchman Street, THE place to catch live music. You can hop from place to place along this street and catch band after great local band. I was heading to that antique shop across the way.
You know I had to snap a photo of this orange bike! It is my favorite color after all. And this turquoise? It was everywhere.
Whenever I think of New Orleans, I think of brick buildings with iron details like these. This was taken while wandering the backstreets of the French Quarter. There were beautiful tree-lined streets and historical homes.
Street art and a colorful voodoo face
It was perfect. I couldn't tell you the last time we had two whole days to wander with absolutely no agenda. I can't wait to do it again in another city. New York, is that you calling?
Yesterday, the Mister and I had a splendid time wandering the French Quarter, New Orleans. It has been quite some time since we've had a full day with no agenda and it was awesome. We spent the morning in the French Market district perusing the flea market and historic streets. I love being in cities with so much history, there are beautiful old homes with amazing handmade detail, brilliant colors cover the aging facades of each home and the streets are a walking timeline of years gone by.
Our first stop was Croissant D'or
for coffee and pastries. I picked up this recommendation from Michael Stipe's (R.I.P. REM) guest post on GOOP
a while back. The Mister drank chickory coffee and I had a cappucino and almond croissant. After we fueled up, we took off into the streets and hit the antique stores. There are tons of them in NOLA and they didn't disappoint. I hope to be showing you a lovely Russian teapot that caught my eye very, very soon.
We popped in and out of random boutiques like Paper Plume
, a stationery store with lovely calligraphy supplies and old school correspondence seals. There are plenty of art galleries too. Our favorite was Antieu Gallery
and the work of Chris-Roberts Antieau. She makes these whimsical fabric applique pieces that are brightly colored and often have a sens e of humor. Her style reminds me of the work of Frida Kahlo, one of my all-time favorite artists. Eclectic and colorful.
We were able to catch up with a friend for afternoon coffee at Cafe Envie
and then finished our day with po-bo boys and Abita root beer from Mahony's Po-boy shop
. The rest of the evening was spent with family, relaxing and savoring our splendid day. We're headed to Magazine Street today for more shops and happy meandering. I can't wait to share more of our trip with you.
T-minus 2 days 'til Thanksgiving! Happy Tuesday!