I feel like for so long in the lifetime of humanity, the food you ate was limited by the plant and animal life within, say, twenty square miles of the place you were born.
This is no longer true. And at least once a week I find myself confronted with a store, restaurant, produce item, or recipe that makes me all, “WHERE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!”
(Yes, I know that is grammatically incorrect.)
1. Ah Love Oil and Vinegar
This is a store full of olive oil and vinegar. And mini pieces of bread to sample everything.
It’s just pretty and serene and fun and you just want to stay there ALL DAY EVERY DAY spending EVERY SINGLE CENT YOU OWN!
Friends and family, you will likely all be getting Christmas presents from here.
They have the most fantastically eclectic flavor selections: pumpkin spice balsamic, anyone? BACON OLIVE OIL?
(Which, I might add, is somehow totally vegan. Gasp. Yet tastes like bacon. Those of you who are suffering throughout life without bacon for whatever reason, consider yourself saved.)
They also have other items likely to please the palate of any gourmet- a jam cupboard (doesn’t that make you want a jam cupboard?!) and the most exquisitely patterned dried pasta.
Probably my FAVORITE feature, however, is their monthly special:
Each month, they select a seasonally appropriate olive oil and a seasonally appropriate vinegar.
For that month, one can (as I opted to do in November, with cranberry balsamic and rosemary olive oil) buy a mini bottle of each as a gift set for a mere $5 each. And it comes with recipes!
So, so in love with this idea.
2. While we’re on the subject of possible holiday gifts, may I call your attention to Coffee Rwanda?
Our old family friends are two of the most ridiculously accomplished people on earth. In addition to being doctors.. and documentary filmmakers, yknow, no big deal… they also travel to Rwanda twice a year to do public health and development work amongst the historically disadvantaged Pygmy tribes.
This has led to the creation of a nonprofit, Pygmy Survival Alliance. If you purchase coffee from Coffee Rwanda, ALL of the profits will go to the Pygmy Survival Alliance. Moreover, the profits from the sale of one bag of coffee, can provide: 3 pairs of shoes for pygmy children; or health insurance in Rwanda for 2 people for 1 year; or nutritional support for one child with malnutririon for 3 months; or a shovel to dig farming terraces to increase food production in the village.
On the subject of do-gooders, my best friend, who is also working at a food bank (in cold, cold Massachusetts) at the mo but is moving home soon (Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!) was home over Thanksgiving break and we spent oodles of time talking about all things life.
The best conversation at the most amazing place ever
In DelRay, the neighborhood with which I”m now passionately besotted, there is a cheese shop and restaurant called Cheesetique.
What they sell:
Macaroni and Cheese.
Lydia and I went there for dinner. We split a cheese platter (a dreamy goat’s milk brie, a nutty Dutch somethingorother, and a sharp Italian) and ate wine and cheese and bread and little nibbles of grapes and olives and bruschetta and marinated beans and pickles and quince preserves for dinner. It was the BEST DINNER EVER.
Also, their service is great. If you want to order a cheese but just aren’t sure which one they’re all “Here, try it.” So we ruled out a stinky raw one (though I’d eat it again :D)
On the subject of good restaurants, there’s always
4. Tackle Box
I knew they existed, and adored their sustainable seafood cooked well but also picnic benches and casual beachy style vibe. You can see my previous trip- ooh weird it’s like a date with Steve but we weren’t dating yet- here. But, I had not been to their Cleveland Park outpost.
Guys, I love Cleveland Park. It’s a super awesome neighborhood. You can walk to the zoo, which is obviously a major part of it’s appeal. Also food. All I really need is good food and zoo walking for a neighborhood to satisfy my every desire.
Also, new to me were the sweet potato fries, which Steve and I DEMOLISHED after walking to Cleveland Park… from South Arlington. (Locals will understand this is a long trip. Nonlocals, it’s about 11.5 miles. Understandably, we were hungry).
On the subject of sustainability, I had an adorable local cabbage from the farmer’s market and wanted to mix it up a bit and make something new.
I discovered something I’m going to make again and again and again and again.
Colcannon, WHERE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!
In case you have not yet had the amazing experience of eating colcannon, a primer; it’s a traditional Irish dish that is, in its essence, mashed potatoes and cabbage.
I followed this recipe from Eating Well, which had six ingredients (two of which were salt and pepper).
The recipe is STUPIDLY healthy.
And yet… dude, it is SO GOOD! How is something SO SIMPLE and SO HEALTHY and essentially just a big pot of poor people food (and yo, cabbage and potatoes be cheap, even now) be just SO SUBLIME!
I’m in love. It’s real. It’s powerful.
Clearly, I will need to do some further inquiry into Irish recipes.
Along with that, I had some (also sustainable) cod (Pacific, wild caught!).
My mother found this recipe for pan seared cod with basil sauce. Very nice! Though word to the wise: I used the sauce to deglaze the pan and then poured it on top of the fish. With the quantity of raw garlic it contains, I would recommend you do the same, particularly if you’re planning on breathing on anyone for the remainder of the day.
Finally, on the topic of desires, here is what I would like for Christmas:
1. Microwave-safe, eco-friendly glass containers.
Because every time I microwave something in plastic (as I do virtually every time I eat lunch at work) I sort of imagine my cells mutating.
(original picture here)
2. Some nice socks
Because my poor toesies are always cold. I hear cashmere is nice.
(original picture here)
What made your life better when you discovered it?
What do you want for Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice/General Consumerism that happens in December?
Oh P.S. Since I missed the entire first family visiting the food bank where I work, next week I get to go on a White House tour! Will bring lots of pictures of awesome decorations.