Olivia Dish

Archive for the ‘Local Flavor’ Category

Salad ReMix

In Homemade, Local Flavor on July 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm
salad wrap

Lettuce now wrap leftover salad…

Making a large salad for a crowd has its drawbacks–chiefly, for me, what to do with the soggy leftovers the next day.

I’ve written food TV segments that recommended you turn that mess into a stir fry, but the truth is, I never thought the results were very good.

Somehow, in a moment of bumbling inspiration, I have hit upon a perfect use for leftover salad–a use I like so much that I am now making up fresh leftover salad just so I can have this dish: leftover salad lettuce wraps.

If you have leftover salad, you can mince it up and stuff it into fresh lettuce leaves.

Or you can make it even tastier, by starting fresh like this:

An array of sprouts from City Roots farm

Put some greens in a bowl.  I like a mix of lettuce and micro greens such as sunflower sprouts and broccoli sprouts.  Shredded carrots are nice too. Read the rest of this entry »


Perfect Strawberry Sherbet

In Homemade, Local Flavor, Sweets on June 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Get me a Biore pore strip–those seeds have got to go!

I hate the seeds on the outside of strawberries.

I always wish I could use one of those pore cleansing strips and rip them off.

And when I’ve made ice cream with the seedy things, not only have I despised the texture but I’ve always found the taste to be a sort of cloying sick-sweet.  Maybe I’ve had too much medicine in my life that tasted of strawberries.

You might wonder why I bothered, then, to make my own strawberry sherbet.

I’m not sure.

I kept watching other people at the farmers’ market buy fresh local strawberries.  They were so durned happy about it.  I wanted some of that happy for myself, I guess.

So, I systematically (well sort of systematically and sort of haphazardly) started to address the things that make me go ick.

Step 1: seed removal.  I wanted to use fresh strawberries, not cook them, so I macerated a batch in a little brown sugar and pureed them in the food processor.  I strained the whole mess through fine mesh and extracted their thick, juicy, seedless essence.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fate and Fried Pies

In Barbecue, Dallas, Local Flavor, Restaurant on June 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm
Fried Pie Window

Pity the poor soul who's never had a fried pie...then buy him one.

You miss out on so much when you don’t spend time in the South. Case in point–fried pies.

I was traveling across Texas with two globe-trotting military experts. Every morning as we drove to a secure location just down the road from Fate, Texas, we saw it: a giant billboard beside the interstate proclaiming “fried pies.”

One of these worldly fellows pondered aloud, “I wonder how they fry the pies. Can you fry a key lime pie?”

Gracious. The man thought you submerged a whole, circular pie into the deep fryer.

Fried pies, y’all, are turnovers, I told them.  Empanadas. “You mean like hot pockets?” the other one asked, eyes wide.  Yessir, I do.  Where’ve you been?

The poor fellows had never had fried pies. They’d never even heard of them.  Might I add, neither of them were that young.  It seemed a shame. And I’d been craving fried pies since the first time I laid eyes on that billboard.

Seemed like fate was directing us to take that exit and dig in.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cafe Du Monde Mystery

In Local Flavor, New Orleans, Restaurant, Sweets on November 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm
Cafe Du Monde

What is it about this place?

Cafe Du Monde is a destination for any tourist in New Orleans. And yet, I go there. Keep going there.  I like it. Wouldn’t miss it.  How is that? How can that be?

Mysterious, don’t you think?

I realized on this last visit that I’ve been coming to Cafe Du Monde since I was 14, when I made my first trip to New Orleans with my high school French club. I had chocolate milk and beignets back then.

And I was hooked.

Cafe Du Monde beignet

The classic: cafe au lait and a plate de beignets

Read the rest of this entry »

Meatball City

In Local Flavor, New York, Restaurant on May 16, 2010 at 11:19 am

Driving by The Meatball in Schenectady

Dear Schenectady, I owe you an apology.

When I learned of a work assignment in your city, I confess: I did not expect much. I knew nothing about your history, could barely pronounce your name.

Historic theater restored

All I knew for certain was that I’d be staying at a Hampton Inn; I braced myself for a week of chain restaurants and strip malls.

Now, after four nights and four meals, I’ve grown rather fond of the little city with the Mohawk name (which means “over by the pine plains”) and settled by more than a few Italians (thus the Little Italy). I have learned that Thomas Edison moved his company to Schenectady, which is why to this day, it is the administrative headquarters for GE. The old GE plant with the round logo on top is called “The Meatball” by everyone.

So where did we dine in the meatball city?

Read the rest of this entry »

Did He Say Wawa?

In Local Flavor, Pennsylvania on April 23, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Yes, that is what he said.

What kind of food will we find along the Pennsylvania Turnpike? My friend Blade Wellington and I were driving from Philadelphia to Wilkes Barre. It was late. We were hungry.

“Look, Quakertown, last food exit for 15 miles,” I said, pointing at the sign.  “Sounds like a good place for food.”

Blade agreed. He exited through the toll booth and after paying, asked the toll collector in his most gentile Southern accent, “Sir, can you recommend a place to get some food around here?”

“Well there’s quite a few places about four miles into town. Or you could go over here to wah-wah’s,” the man said, pointing over his shoulder with his thumb.

Wah-wah’s?  I chalked it up to regional accents.  We turned onto Fries Highway, which I took as a good omen, and started looking for Walter’s.

“I think he means this gas station,” Blade said, aiming our rental car toward a brightly lit complex.  And there on the sign was the name.

Read the rest of this entry »

Better Than Pancakes?

In Homemade, Local Flavor, South Carolina on April 17, 2010 at 8:06 am
Anson Mills Oatmeal

Anson Mills Oats!

Despite what my mother is always telling me, I do not think breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

I don’t eat it from a sense of duty—but for delight! I love French toast, bacon, sausage, waffles, eggs, corned beef hash, toast and pancakes. Dear, dear pancakes.

Once upon a time, someone nicknamed me Short Stack, because I seemed incapable of ordering breakfast without a short stack on the side.

Lately, I seem incapable of imagining breakfast without oatmeal.  This morning I walked into my kitchen and chose to make oatmeal OVER pancakes.  What is going on?

Quite simply, Anson Mills stone cut oats.

These are not the rolled and steamed flat oats pimped by a Quaker.  These are more of the pinhead variety—but they cook quickly and taste toasty-nutty.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Farm in the City

In Fancy Farms, Local Flavor, South Carolina on April 6, 2010 at 1:53 pm
City Roots

Welcome to farming in town

You can build an asphalt plant in the neighborhood. But want to put in an organic farm? That requires an exception to the Columbia, SC zoning law.

City Roots pressed on (or should that be plowed ahead?) and now, less than a year later, is growing vegetables and developing a market for, among other things, darling delicious sunflower sprouts.

“Yeah, it’s cool that we’ve created a market for something that wasn’t there before,” Eric McClam says, as I rave about the sprouts.

Eric partnered with his dad to start City Roots.  He was pushing a hand plow when I arrived for my tour.  He showed me what was growing on their acres tucked in between warehouses–rows of garlic, broccoli, lettuces–bee hives over on one side. He picked a few early strawberries for me to taste.

Then we went to the greenhouse, where my beloved sunflower sprouts were popping out all over.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reindeer on the Menu

In Alaska, Local Flavor on March 21, 2010 at 8:15 am

Iditarod Street Food

Some people see reindeer on the menu and think Rudolph.  I see reindeer on the menu and wonder wild or farm-raised?

I had reindeer sausage for breakfast at Snow City Cafe in Anchorage, Alaska.  A robust reddish color, the sausage was fairly lean but moist, spicy in a way that made me think of kielbasa.

It was quite good, and quite a bit better than expected.  I failed to ask then where Snow City gets their reindeer sausage or how many plates of it they sell, so I emailed them this morning.

Meanwhile, I did a little Google investigating of my own.

I discovered that reindeer were brought to Alaska by the U.S. government to provide livelihood for native Alaskans and to supplement their traditional food supply— seal, walrus and game that were being depleted.  There’s an interesting account of the “reindeer solution” here.

I also happened across an article explaining how reindeer offer a Viagra alternative.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Sunflower Salad

In Homemade, Local Flavor on March 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm
sunflower salad

Sunflower sprouts, seeds, and Jerusalem artichoke slices tossed with greens

I have recently fallen head over heels for sunflower sprouts, thanks to a gift from my friend Whit DeSpoon.

Now that an in-town farm is growing them and I know where to get a steady supply, I find myself daydreaming about those adorable sprouts, the last time I saw them, and when we’ll be meeting for dinner again.

In one of those dazy-eyed moments, I had a little thought.

I’ve always loved Jerusalem artichokes, which are sunflower roots. (My parents used to make relish with them.)

Now I love sunflower sprouts.

What if I whipped up a sunflower-themed salad–seeds, sprouts, roots?

I’d be sort of like those people who use the pig snout to tail, right?

Read the rest of this entry »