Tag Archives: Farmers Markets

“In Greece, food is an excuse to meet friends,” says Nikita Patiniotis

“In Greece, food is an excuse to meet friends,” says Nikita Patiniotis

Taverna To Kati Allo, Athens
Taverna To Kati Allo, Athens

With half the national population, Athens is Greek cuisine in microcosm. Nikita weaves his Athens market tour through the narrow streets of Monastiraki to taste Greece, and during several hours Context Travel’s Beyond Feta Athens food tour introduces travelers to many future new friends.

Varvakios Agora, the Athens Central Market
Varvakios Agora, the Athens Central Market

Nikita Patiniotis defines Athenian cuisine for Context Travel, Part One

herb & plant car in Athens
herb & plant car in Athens

We’ll wander through bustling Athinas Street into the vast Varvakios Agora and understand why Greece is still the ancient center of the culinary world. Context Travel’s Beyond Feta walking tour illuminates a civilization. Come walk with me.

Feta Cheese
Feta Cheese

Context Travel wanders markets Lord Byron knew, Part Two

I discover a 150-year-old wine shop in the basement of an aging building which attracts presidents, Hollywood moguls and Athenian business elite.

In part three Context Travel illuminates the Greek way of life

Demitri Koliolios (left) 4th generation owner Dyporto Wine Shop, Athens
Demitri Koliolios (left) 4th generation owner Dyporto Wine Shop, Athens

The pleasant evening temperature, the lack of car horns and loud music coupled with the sounds of conversation and relaxed dining, Greek national pastimes, create a culture in contrast to the 21st century’s frenetic pace.

Grilled Sea Bream, To Kati Allo, Athens
Grilled Sea Bream, To Kati Allo, Athens

This is not tradition triumphing over the modern era; it is the modern era.

Love at first bite at Athens’ To Kati Allo

Orange spoon sweet
Orange spoon sweet

More than one spoonful of this sweet at a time would most likely make your teeth ache. But if the quality of the spoon sweet was deemed worthy, the bride could take a deep sigh of relief.

Spoon sweets were a test for Greek brides

Greek coffee
Greek coffee

Along with a natural Mediterranean diet, enjoying rich Greek Coffee may hold a key to Greek longevity – average life expectancy is 81.

Greek coffee at Flegra Palace Hotel can promote longevity

Athens will introduce the visitor to a life that’s beyond the microwave and the modern world’s overly scheduled itinerary. If you give in to the experience, you just may change your own way of life.

Ruins of the ancient Roman Agora looking out onto markets in modern Athens
Ruins of the ancient Roman Agora looking out onto markets in modern Athens

You can read all my articles on Examiner.com at:

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

and

 Food & Recipes Examiner

 

To Hawaiians taro is much more than a vegetable

Ikaika Bishop
Ikaika Bishop

Ikaika Bishop beams with pride as he tells of his commitment to the sustainable revival of Hawaiian agricultural. He has a right to be proud as he shows off his taro fields, the heart of Keanuenue Farms and Hawaii’s agricultural future.

Keanuenue Farms
Keanuenue Farms

The vast resources of Princess Bernice’s legacy are focused on reviving sustainable Hawaiian agriculture, and the answers may be in taro, continued …

Taro is the heart of Hawaii’s agricultural future

antique poi pounder, Bishop's Museum, Honolulu, Hi
antique poi pounder, Bishop’s Museum, Honolulu, Hi

 

You can read all my articles on Examiner.com at:

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

and

 Food & Recipes Examiner

 

City Support for Sustainable Agriculture

Columbia and AgriMissouri is putting money where its mouth is supporting farmers markets and sustainable agriculture.

Carolyn Todd, Market Director, “Local is not 1,500 miles away,” as she informs me that membership is open to producers living within a 55 mile radius of Columbia.

Walk About Farm's honey

5,000 Columbians a day patronize the market.

Eric and Chert Hollow Farm garlic & herbs

Despite my love of garlic, and being a chef, I was unaware that garlic originated in ancient Persia.

Read more at Suite101:

Columbia Farmers Market: City Support for Sustainable Agriculture


Shawnee Inn’s Own Local Sourcing

Great Shawna Island Farm at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort

Pennsylvania’s Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort takes food sustainability seriously, and creates profits, taking food from their farm to their tables.

 

Shawnee’s beekeeper Erin Schroll

ShawneeCraft Brewery: aging beer in oak casks & hand bottled
Foodshed Alliance products at Shawnee Inn’s Tuesday market

 

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Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort: Preserving Pennsylvania’s Best for a Century

Jackie Gleason learned how to play golf at Shawnee in 1959

“Out with the old and in with the older.”

Shawnee’s Centenary motto

 

On Pennsylvania’s Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort’s spacious and secluded grounds guard bees congregate on the porch of the hives providing ventilation for the life of the queen. Six varieties of tomatoes, white eggplant, Chinese five-color peppers and multi-colored chard thrive in the middle of one of America’s oldest award-winning golf courses. Micro-beers are being bottled by a former electronics engineer of advanced defense weapons. Goat cheese is delivered fresh from a local farm. The mist on the Delaware River swirls through the tree-covered Pocono Mountains, and Frank Sinatra’s voice croons softly through the 100 year old lobby. This is the 21st Century?

 

The River Sanctuary
Shawnee Inn (1911)
guard bees in the Apiary – they’re providing cooling ventilation for the Queen
Chinese 5-color pepper at the Shawnee Farm
The Verandah at Shawnee Inn
The Inn in the evening

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Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks: Days of Food and Wine

From the moment you drive across the 1931 Bagnell Dam you know you’ve entered a different world.

Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks: Days of Food and Wine

Read more at Global Writes, the journal of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association

Columbia, Missouri: A Zou for the Lively Arts

Be it jewelry, painting, film, music, writing or culinary, 100,000 Columbians enjoy a surprisingly rich artistic life – and a lively “Zou” of 50,000 students.

Beetle Bailey and Me
Thomas Jefferson’s original tomb stone at the University of Missouri
Sycamore’s Missouri Legacy Beef Tenderloin
University of Missouri
Organic Beet Salad at the Main Squeeze Natural Foods and Juice Bar

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Hội An: Silks and Spices and Silt – all gold

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”                    Confucius  (551-479 BCE)

Dragon in the Thu Bon River, Hoi An

The estuary of the Thu Bon River is a watery maze of emerald green islands opening within a mile onto the South China Sea. For over one thousand years its villages prospered as major ports feeding the Champa Kingdom with trade, especially from China and Japan, superb fish and seafood. The decline of Champa gave rise to Vietnam’s influence, continued China/Japan trade and, by the 15th century, new Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish trading houses. The village of Hội An was a hot item on the South China seacoast.

18th century Hoi An in the 21st century

As prosperity increased both population and agricultural production and given the fickle nature of alluvial rivers, the Thu Bon River began to fill with silt making navigation by ocean-going vessels difficult. By the early 19th century the port of Da Nang was replacing Hội An as the area’s major international trade center. The town slowly sank into obscurity sustained by the accumulated wealth of old merchant families and its abundant seafood and agricultural products. Its old 18 and 19th century cypress and ironwood buildings remained intact impervious to the river’s floods and their owners inability to modernize. More remarkable was that during the wars of the 20th century while Da Nang was in the middle as the site of both a major port and airport, Hội An a mere 10 miles south, was hidden among the reed covered islands of the Thu Bon estuary.

(top left) Hoi An market (top center) hand pump for benzene - motor bike fuel, (top right) fishermen with net traps (bottom left) Pho noodle soup vendor (bottom center) junk food delivery, cyclo drivers in line, restaurant kitchen (bottom right) shoe stalls
21st century merchant house in historic Hoi An

The silting of the river that threw Hoi An into a time warp allowed it to emerge after 1975 as the most intact pre-19th century village in Vietnam. In 1999, the Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as an example of a Southeast Asian trading port of the 15th to 19th centuries.  Some decry the “preserved-for-tourist” nature of the Old Town with its rows of shops and cafes in the old buildings. Yet the reality remains that Hoi An is today what made it famous centuries ago – a busy merchant town. With a population of 120,000, it’s once more a prosperous port but now the goods don’t sail out on ships, they’re packed in tourist suitcases.

Tan Ky House, 18th & 19th century merchant house, currently in the 7th generation of the family

 Tan Ky House (101 Nguyen Thai Hoc St.) is one of several privately owned house museums in Hoi An that are prime examples of how these entrepreneurial families lived. Two stories tall, the street front of the house was always for business. The solid walls on either side of the door in the collage above are actually wood panels that can be removed to open the shop. The staircase to the left is to the second floor storeroom. The homes living quarters begin directly behind the shop surrounding two to three courtyards. The first sitting room contains the altar to the ancestors and, in Tan Ky, an elevated altar to Confucius. The detailed and elaborate interior woodwork as well as the 19th century mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture attests to the family’s prosperity. Tan Ky was particularly well situated running the full depth of the street with a direct opening to the waterfront in back.

The Tran Family Temple

Hoi An has a number of endowed “family temples,” a common method for wealthy Vietnamese families to broadcast their status and provide for the perpetual and public honoring of their ancestors. Many of these “chapels” are actually large temple/monastery complexes. One of the oldest, largest and most beautiful in Hoi An is the Tran Family Temple still sponsored by the family in its 15th generation.

Cam Pho Temple and the Cantonese Assembly Hall
Thien Hau, Goddess of the Sea & Protector of Sailors at Fukien Assembly Hall

A “guild system” among Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian merchants both regulated and governed trade as well as provided support groups. The Chinese in particular constructed several Assembly Halls which served as Confucian temples, hostels and a social gathering place for these ex-pat sailors. Japanese merchants constructed a Hoi An icon – the Japanese Bridge in the 16th century. More than just a bridge, it contains a small temple dedicated to the protection of sailors. The Assembly Halls are still active temples and social halls.

Japanese Covered Bridge, 16th century

 Although Hoi An was already in decline when the French put the Vietnamese Empire under its “protection,” French merchants and ex-pats found the charms of Hoi An sufficient to create a French Quarter just outside the old medieval town. The graceful tropical colonial architecture and tree lined streets with attractive shops and cafes make is a less hectic stroll than the Old City.

Hoi Ans French Quarter, late 19th early 20th century
barrier closing street to traffic

Hoi An is Vietnam, it is a tourist town, the streets are narrow, motor bikes and cyclos are everywhere, selling is in their blood so be prepared for constant pitches every step for everything from ice cream, postcards, chickens, paintings, street foods and, especially, silks – high quality made-to-order clothing and shoes take 1-1/2 days minimum with a reputable store. It’s a cornucopia of colors, smells and sounds. At least once a day for several hours, and during festivals, the cobbled stone streets of the Old City are closed to all motorized traffic. The absence of at least that noise certainly adds to the town’s charm. There is an admission price to most of the merchant houses, assembly halls and museums. A strip of tickets is purchased at one of several tourist offices in the Old City at a price of less that US$1.00 per venue.

Hoi An is a beautiful and relaxing town, especially surprising given its tourist nature. Within less than one mile are empty pristine white sand beaches. Surrounding the village are emerald green rice fields and vegetable farms. There are additional tourist “villages” for farming, sculpture and fishing but these are virtual recreations of life in the past and generally are excuses for more shopping. The land is flat and ideal for renting bikes. Mountains are in the distance and the fishing fleet actually fishes, it doesn’t just give tourists rides. Quiet hotels and a growing local middle class have spread out onto adjacent islands. Both residents and the town government keep the village clean, something not common in most of Vietnam. If satisfaction can be judged by the large numbers of foreign visitors, Hoi An has patiently, as Confucius advised, turned its silted river into tourist gold.

fishing boat – the eyes as so the ship can see the fish

 next: Hoi An Part II – festivals, seafood and song

Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine

chilies at market - just a small selection

Famous local saying: “We have three seasons in Thailand – hot, hotter, and hottest.”

Tom Kha Chicken

You could say the same about Thai cuisine. I’ve seen innocent tourists sitting in a Bougainvillea bedecked cafe terrace enjoying Tom Kha Chicken at breakfast – the incomparable Thai lemongrass infused stock and coconut milk soup. Small chunks of chicken float in a fragrant  white sea and the diner, concentrating on the interplay of lime, green onion, cilantro, tomato and coconut, is oblivious to the decorative slivers of red and green until teeth involuntarily release their oils into the mouth. The shock has often been audible. Now I know why crisp, cold cucumber slices are frequently at every meal – they’re an “ice pact” to your burning mouth. Given the subtle ways Thai’s can hide chilies within a dish, it’s perhaps the secret to remaining the only Southeast Asia nation never colonized. You figure.

small local cafe, noodles with a meat sauce, glass noodle soup with fish balls

Yet not even locals constantly bombard their taste buds with numbing capsicum overloads. At a tiny local street café I had two common noodle dishes mild hot. Next to me were dishes of dry and fresh chilies, as well as fish sauce and lime, to add my own layer of heat. Rarely will a Thai dish be made without any chili, but as common is accommodating personal taste and not just for tourists.  I find too much heat masks the other flavors. I enjoy a soft to mild after burn once I’ve tasted the fresh herbs, mushrooms, fish sauce, garlic, lime and lemongrass. (Thai restaurants in North America forget that the quantities of the previous ingredients need to be generous – not merely garnish). Those two dishes cost US$2.00, total.

from faux fruit at Rimping Village Hotel to tarot bowls, stir fry and salad at Antique House Restaurant

  Thai’s like to play with their food. We’re all used to the ubiquitous stir fry with beef (upper left)  but have we given a thought to making a woven edible bowl out of tarot root for a chicken stir-fry (bottom right). A noon time salad of mushrooms, tomatoes is not uncommon, but adding porcelain white varieties that look like sea plants along with a light, lime, chili and sesame oil dressing raises the bar. The miniature little fruit off to the left? They are edible, painted and decorated sweet bean paste creations that can’t help but make you smile.

Ban Rom Mai Restaurant, Chiang Mai

Ban Roi Mai Restaurant serves a good and varied menu of Thai cuisine in an attractive garden setting (bottom right). Live music plays at night. It’s easy to find by Tuk-tuk or walking since it’s only a couple blocks from the Night Market. (Top left) The “fried chicken” was a chopped flat disk nicely seasoned with cilantro, chili, onion, lightly browned and topped with a lime sour cream mayonnaise. The chicken was surrounded with a ruffle of dry green cellophane noodles. (Top right) Sautéed Snake in Red Curry Sauce was a surprisingly mild dish. Snake really is as mild as chicken, and the curry was exceptionally light on chili to the point where I added a few. (Bottom left) The typically spicy green papaya salad – a dish that can go to the height of heat – was spiked with steamed purple crabs. (Lunch for 2 w/beer: less than US$15.)

Pongyang Angdoi Resort & Restaurant

It’s hard to top Chiang Mai’s Pongyang Angdoi Resort & Restaurant for location: on a hillside surrounded by the protective mountains and forests of Doi Inthanon National Park. A waterfall that attracts many visitors in its own right is within unobstructed view of anyone dining on the multi level stone terrace. For a restaurant that’s on everyone’s list, the food is surprisingly fresh and imaginative. (Top right) A classic dish of seasoned ground pork with lime, chilies, fresh basil, cilantro in broth, to which fresh vegetables are added as it’s consumed, had a good balance of heat and cold.  Note the side dishes of fresh marinating chillies and garlic – one’s in rice wine vinegar the other in a sweetened fish sauce. Fish Sauce, which so puts people off with its initial smell actually becomes sweet once added to food. Along with lime it’s a great flavor enhancer.  (Bottom center) The stir-fry of calamari was tender. (Lunch for 2 w/beer, espresso, tip was less than US$20.)

Rimping Village Hotel, Chiang Mai

  There are less expensive hotels than the Rimping Village, but you’ll be hard pressed to find one with a more friendly and helpful staff. Situated in the quiet of Chiang Mai’s east bank of the Ping River within its own extensive walled garden, the hotel is a luxurious oasis for US$90/night/breakfast. The salt water pool is immaculate along with every other square inch of the facilities. Fresh flowers grace every room and in the massive rubber tree are small alters with burning incense just to thank its spirit for adding such useful shade. The open air restaurant serves a superb breakfast buffet of both Western and Thai dishes (which change daily): pastries, breads, cereals, juices, sticky rice, tropical fruits, green salad, a couple Thai hot dishes such as Pad Thai with shrimp, stir-fry rice with vegetables as well as choices of freshly made eggs, omelets and meats.

breakfast at the Rimping Village Hotel

Take away the chilies and Thai cuisine is more subtle that other Southeast Asian cultures. All the herbs and spices are there but in quantities that add soft layers of flavor rather that explode in the mouth – unless it’s chile peppers. In previous articles I’ve written about the street food. It’s no cliché; that’s the real Thai food – simple grilled, marinated, fried – with fresh chilies. (I need to mention that it’s best to observe the street techniques but recreate the dish in your own kitchen unless you’re not bothered by a lack of certain elements of street sanitation).  The natural flavors of the fruit and produce, of course, are intense. Few factory farms exist in this land of small farmers with abundant time for food to ripen and many markets to sell their goods at the peak of freshness.

His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, King of Thailand

His Majesty the King is said to enjoy the simple yet beloved egg tart sweet so much that it’s prominently advertised by KFC in Thailand.

Hanoi: 24-hours

First Impressions…Hanoi

                            …in a much anticipated visit to Vietnam. 

photos: Marc d’Entremont

music: Ai Oan Lamentation, Phong Nguyks Vietnamese Instrumental Music on the Đàn bầu.