Archive for May, 2009
SUPPLY VS. DEMAND:
Supply and demand is an economical model based on price, utility, and quantity (available) in the market. In a competitive market, the model predicts that price equalizes demanded quantities and quantities supplied by producers, resulting in an economic equilibrium between price and quantity. Clearly this is in a perfect world…
In today’s world, far more stark and critical predictions are being made about supply and demand that are unsettling and great cause for attention and action. Remember the phrase “Think Global, Act Local”? Most of us may assume it is a relatively new term. It was actually first used in the book “Cities in Evolution” in 1915 by social activist Patrick Geddes. For nearly a century this phrase has been utilized to promote local consciousness in multiple contexts (environmental, business, agriculture) for the betterment of the world’s supply and demand. The argument for establishing local roots and supporting local roots has been active and yet, in our vastly expanding populated world, the argument has fallen short of being heard by the masses and today we are on the brink of a global food crisis that is not a short-term crisis nor one that can be solved by simply planting more. China, the world’s second largest corn-growing nation on the planet cannot even grow enough feed to sustain its pigs. As more grain is being diverted to livestock and the production of biofuels, demand has tripled since 2005. Supply and demand? The cost of corn has tripled since 2005 and it only continues to skyrocket.
Moreover, we have forgotten the source of the food that sustains us. Like breathing, walking and talking, we eat, often oblivious to the heaping global ramifications on our plate. Our beef comes from Oregon, fed by Iowan corn. Our blueberries come from Chile and our apple juice, not from Washington State, rather China. Modern society has not heeded the centuries’ old warnings, as modernity as we know it, has relieved us of the need to grow, harvest and even prepare our daily bread. We just pay for it. And the consequences are profound.
We are consuming food faster than it CAN be produced. At this rate, we need a green revolution or we will run out of food.
Buzz kill? What is a chef to do? Why are we responsible? As chefs, we are a vital and active participant in the food supply. There is no denying it. Every day, we walk into our kitchens and make decisions that have direct effects on the food chain. We can easily place orders for all of our commodities by the click of a button. We can smile at the Sysco trucks delivering goods to us from thousands of miles across the globe and sign the invoice and wave goodbye. The money saved is genius! The bottom line just got lower. Or did it bottom out? We are responsible because we hold the responsibility to our profession, to our craft, to our better judgement. We are chefs because we love food. We love that it inspires us to be better than our better selves. We love that food, at the end of the day makes us rise to the occasion. We love food because it is a natural wonder that feeds plenty. We love food because it is a gift that has been given to us and in our profession, if we allow it to shine, it allows us to shine.
We have access to over 3000 micro farms in Southern California alone. These farms are family institutions imbedded in our communities, generations of farmers working the soil, working with nature to produce the same gifts that feed the plenty. Thousands of miles away in China, a similar community relies on generations of family farms that also feed the plenty. We have a choice to choose. In an imperfect world, today, we too, can think global and act local.
To each and every chef that participates actively in the Farmers Market, I thank you. And I know the farmers thank you too. Every visit I pay to the farmers, they thank me for the support and the business that we give. That thank you is extended to each chef that makes the choice to buy a freshly picked vine-ripened tomato that screams, “Delicious….and local!”
There was a lot of action on the farms this week! Some for the better, some proving even more that Summer is here. Summer proves unpredictable patterns in harvesting and it also puts to rest some of our favorite produce. Heirloom tomatoes are looming. Spinach varieties are wilting. Lettuces are bolting, only to be seen again in October and in the lettuce-friendly months of winter. Tangerines – we may just be tasting the last of them. Cherries are everywhere! And Fitzgerald Farms’ summer stone fruits are falling gracefully from the branches and into our hands. Pay attention because this week, produce is shifting and moving at the speed of light!
Entering: Pluots from Scott Farms, Summer Baby Squash Mix from Coastal Organics (awesome!!!), Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Shunkyo Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farms, Tiny Tiny Apricots, Yellow Nectarines and Debutant Peaches from Fitzgerald Farms, Cherries from Simms Cherry Farm, Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Green Onion Chives and Miners Lettuce from Yasutomi Farm, Pink Variegated Lemons, Meyer Lemons and Murcott Tangerines from Garcia Organics, Russian Red Kale and Spicy Mix (Arugula, Mizuna and Chard) from Windrose Farm, and All Blues Potatoes from Weiser Famly Farms.
Back on track: Fiesole Artichokes from Life’s A Choke, Stinging Nettles and Dandelion Greens from Coleman Family Farms
Gapping: Bloomsdale Spinach from Weiser Family Farms, Savoy Spinach from Rutiz Farms, All Radishes from Jaime Farms
Exiting: Apriums, French Leeks, Green Garlic, Meiwa Kumquats, Paige Tangerines, Tom’s Terrific Tangerines and Gold Nuggets from Garcia Organics, Black Kale, Baby Turnips (Coastal Organics) and Watermelon Radishes from Mcgrath Farms
Next week: A video tour of a local heirloom tomato farm!!
Baby Green Artichokes – round, meaty and mild, more heart than other varieties, as it is simply a tinier version of its larger counterparts that get more sun. 100% edible!
Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood. A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!
Tulare Cherries – from Simms Cherry Farms – much like a bing and perfectly sweet!
Debutant Peaches – from Fitzgerald Farms. Sugar and acid strike the perfect balance making this the perfect peach!
Shunkyo Radishes – Shaped like a baby pink carrot: one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet! My personal favorite!
Baby Summer Squash Mix- from Coastal Organics: a variety of Ronde Nice, 8-Ball, Green & Gold Zucchini, Sunburst (a.k.a gold patty pan) and Middle Eastern.
Persian Watercress – Rutiz Farms, a hot peppery leaf that has been an equally hot seller at the market. Very unique shape and taste!
Japanese Tomatoes – I just love these meaty tomatoes! They are the most beautiful tomatoes at the market right now. Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!
Pencil California Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!
Baby Celery – from Yasutomi Farm, more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and almost herbaceously tasty stalks. The best baby celery available. Period.
Jerry’s Berries Strawberries (Galante variety) from Rutiz Farm – sweeter than candy!!
Between 5pm and 9pm twenty different local restaurants opened their doors to event attendees and welcomed them with small plates of some of their most popular and scrumptious offerings. Here are a few of my favorites….
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for good pesto and the pesto at Mimmo’s did not disappoint. Where they really won me over though was with their sweet offering, fresh sweet berries with rich mascarpone cheese, oh be still my heart! The interior of this restaurant is so cute! Decorated to look like you are dining alfresco in old Italia, I think it would be the perfect place to take your special someone for a romantic date.
At the Porto Vista Hotel their their resturant, The Glass Door was serving for the event on the roof, which had a cozy set up of couches, out door heaters, bar, and spectacular views of the harbor and San Diego skyline. The small bite of king crab, ginger, lime and coconut palm sugar was a delectable amalgamation of flavors and the mojito was the perfect balance of refreshing and sweet with just the right amount of mint (which can make or break a mojito in my opinion). I can imagine sipping cocktails here on summer evenings after work, enjoying the spectacular San Diego sunset. I peeked inside the restaurant on the 5th floor on my way out and it boasted a gorgeous view as well and was beautifully decorated with colorful glass lanterns.
There’s nothing quite like ceviche on a warm almost summer evening. Fresh veggies bursting with color and flavor and the subtle fresh from the sea flavor of the shrimp, its the perfect precursor to any number of Indigo Grill’s delicious entrees. Using fresh seasonal ingredients Chef Debora Scott is consistently creating the most delectable dishes. From the roasted butternut squash soup to the hickory and apple smoked pork ribs everything they offer is always incredibly scrumptious!
I could spend hours sipping wine and relaxing at Enoteca Style. This classy yet cozy wine bar not only boasts an outstanding selection of wine offerings but has an array of paninis, salads and other scrumptious small bites that pair quite well with their wines. Pop in on a Monday for Half Off Italian Wine by the Glass Monday (I know I will be there!).
You can tell that a great deal of thought is put into each and every dish that Illume offers. Farm fresh ingredients prepared and combined as to bring out the most palate pleasing flavors and textures. Their offering at the event was the perfect example of this, the soft orzo and sharp feta and sweet sundried tomato melded perfectly with the melt in your mouth slow roasted pork and spinach that tasted as fresh as greens I have grown in my own backyard. I will definitely be back again soon as I am dying to try their herbed gnocchi with fiddlehead ferns and pearl onions.
Since they first opened their doors in 1933 The Waterfront has been a popular spot to share a brew with friends and unwind after a day at work or even better mid day on a lunch break! In addition to beverages they also have an array of delicious twists on pub style fare such as Italian style fish and chips, breaded fish tacos and an array of mouth watering burgers and sandwiches. They are also open for breakfast and brunch serving everything from eggs, bacon and hash browns to French toast or pazole.
Yogurtland has been one of my favorite frozen yogurt shops for a while now so you can imagine I was pleased as a peach when one opened up in Little Italy so close to us here at Specialty Produce. They always have a great selection of both tart and creamy flavors and an array of tasty toppings, from rainbow sprinkles, fruity pebbles, and mochi to fresh fruits and nuts Yogurtland has something that will please just about everyone.
If you happened to miss this delicious outing don’t fret, there will be more deliciousness to come at the Fall Taste of Little Italy! In the meantime why not pick a few restaurants, grab some food loving friends, put on your walking shoes and spend an evening tasting your way across Little Italy on your own.