Olivia Dish

Archive for the ‘Markets’ Category

Lentil Soup: Good to Great

In Homemade, Markets, South Carolina on May 25, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Any old lentils will do, but the bacon makes it great.

I have no idea why I first decided to make “Hearty Lentil Soup” from the January/February 2004 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

I’d had my eye on the Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe and its promise of “Rich, Moist, Chocolatey.”

I’d eaten lentils but had never cooked them before in my life. (We were more of a field pea/butterbean family when I was growing up, and it just hadn’t occurred to me.)

There I was, though, following Cook’s Illustrated‘s meticulous directions.  The soup was good, good enough that I made it regularly for the next year and a half.  I raved about it.  I served it to friends.

But the soup did not rise to the level of perfect until November 2005.  That’s when I went to the inaugural All-Local Farmers’ Market in Columbia, SC and  bought my first pound of Caw Caw Creek bacon.

Yes, like Mr. Frost’s road not taken, that bacon has made all the difference. Read the rest of this entry »


A Sprout to Love

In Local Flavor, Markets, South Carolina on December 5, 2009 at 12:36 pm
sunflower sprouts

Attempting to refocus: can any good come from sprouts?

I don’t like finding a pile of hairy alfalfa sprouts on a sandwich.

I’m okay with a few bean sprouts in a stir fry, I guess.

I’ve just never been a sprout person.

Last weekend, my friend Whit DeSpoon brought me a collection of items from the local farmers’ market.  He unpacked and presented–arugula, carrots, green bell peppers–pausing when he came to a small bag of green-leafed things.

“Sunflower sprouts, I don’t know about these,” he said, turning the zip lock bag over in his hand.  “Hmm.”

His little “hmm” said plenty to me: “Maybe I shouldn’t have brought these to you but what the heck. Try to keep an open mind but don’t get your hopes up. And please don’t go all persnickety on me, the way you do when they put raisins in your French toast.”

I didn’t get my hopes up. I did feel persnickety.  But I also felt obliged to give them a try. So later in the day, I pulled the bag out of my refrigerator to take a look.
Read the rest of this entry »

Carrots: Honey Underground

In Local Flavor, Markets, South Carolina on November 28, 2009 at 4:11 pm
bunch of carrots

The Celts' honey underground

A man bearing fresh produce is likely to win more points with me than one bearing roses.  I wonder if my friend Whit DeSpoon knows this.  He came by this morning, arms full of gorgeous stuff from the All-Local Farmers’ Market in Columbia–baby arugula, sunflower sprouts, and bunches of carrots, red and orange.

He was eager to show me the carrots in particular.  “Wow,” I said, “I love the red ones.”

“Did you know that most carrots used to look like this?” Mr. DeSpoon said singling out one of the reds, his brown eyes widening.  “I just learned this today. The Dutch started growing orange carrots to honor the Oranges, the ruling family. And that’s why we have orange carrots instead of red.”

I think I said “how about that” or something along those lines to indicate that I was impressed.  And I was.  But I was also thinking: is that really true?

Read the rest of this entry »

My So-Called Life in France

In Local Flavor, Markets, Paris on August 22, 2009 at 12:42 am

Bastille Market


Paris Market Vendor

Apparently every Julia, Kiki, and Carrie longs to live the French life, so many of us it’s getting kind of silly.  A few years ago, I became a cliche (in yet another way) and started renting an apartment in Paris for a couple of weeks at a time.  One of my favorite parts is that I can buy food, come home, and cook it.

It’s an education.  Where to shop.  When to shop.  The unwritten rules of shopping.  The option of buying a single egg.  The store that’s dedicated solely to frozen food.

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Bubblegum and Ice Cream

In Local Flavor, Markets, Ohio, Sweets on June 16, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Bubblegum artist in the news

Surely, I reasoned, artist Ben Harben must have a well-developed sweet tooth.  He makes portraits out of bubblegum, most of which he chews (the gum not the finished portraits) himself.

So when he offered to introduce me to the best ice cream in Columbus, Ohio, possibly the world, I said yes–rather loudly and a little too eagerly.  (Well, I would have said yes to pretty much anyone because I am an ice cream fanatic.)  Lucky for me, the man is not easily frightened by excessive enthusiasm.  The quest was on!

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Alaskan Groceries

In Alaska, Local Flavor, Markets on April 26, 2009 at 1:28 am

New Sagaya Market in Anchorage

Giant cabbages nurtured by the midnight sun.  Fierce, pincer-snapping Alaskan King Crab.  Fresh ground bear burgers.

The mind reels at the possibilities of a local Alaskan grocery store–which is what New Sagaya promises.  Ah, yes, The Whole Foods of Anchorage–but better.  I notified my contact above the Arctic Circle.  My assignment would have to wait.  There was a grocery store to explore

My driver, Willow, told me that New Sagaya’s Midtown Market was the larger of their two stores, so we headed there.


Alaskan Halibut

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