Fall dinner series @ Flag Hill

[via Kreblog]

Flag Hill, along with chef Ted McCormack, will be introducing a new style of dinners in the Ferguson-Davis Dining Room beginning Thursday, October 5, 2006. These four course dinners will feature a Regional New England Cuisine, the vast majority of the ingredients coming from local farms and producers. As a company, Flag Hill has always strived to feature and support local artisians, products, organizations, agriculture, and business. It is with this idea that together Flag Hill and chef Ted McCormack present a schedule of dinners at the Ferguson-Davis Dining Room that focus on the wonderful and varied flavor of foods that can be procured locally, sometimes right in your own back yard.

Menus and format are soon to follow. Reservations will be accepted once the dinner menu for that date has been posted online. The general schedule through December will be:

October: Every Thursday at 6:00

November: Every Friday and Saturday at 6:00

December: Every Friday and Saturday at 6:00

The added emphasis is mine. One of the big reasons B and I got married there was this very commitment of theirs to supporting other local agricultural businesses where and when they could. I'll be most interested to see how this actually plays out.


What to Eat, by Marion Nestle

just finished this book, and I found it well worth most of it, despite its 500 page length (600 if you read the notes). Nestle examines food from a nutritional standpoint, separating out what is important to pay attention to from what is not. For example, all the hype around soy - she looks at all the studies, and comes to the conclusion that if you like it, eat it - if not, don't. Either way it isn't necessarily all that great for you, nor is it all that bad for you. She illustrates why we get so many conflicting messages (the industries are sponsoring the studies, and food studies are really really hard to be conclusive about, because you can't feed humans only soy for 5 years, for example). She explains how politically driven it all is, because the USDA doesn't have our health interests at heart, it has the economic interests of the industries at heart.
A good find: the Seafood Choice Alliance combines several factors to look at consumer fish buying - I've talked about the Seafood Watch Program cards before, but those look at ecological implications, not health (ie mercury levels) implications - Seafood Choice Alliance does both. And a choice quote:
You eat. Willingly or not you participate in the environment of food choice. The choices you make about food are as much about the kind of world you want to live in as they are about what to have for dinner.
Buy this book from Powell's


Maine is Smart

Maine seems to really get it. It being what a state can do to support and promote food producers. They've got the very successful "Get Real, Get Maine" campaign (with an amazingly informative and user-friendly website). I hear from Mainers that the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is top-notch. There's also the Maine Foods Network.

And now there's "Certified Maine Lobster." To be honest, I don't know enough about lobster to know if there's much difference between a lobster caught in Maine and one caught off of Rhode Island. And I can't believe there's a difference between NH lobster and Maine lobsters caught just a couple miles north, just as the state fisherman's association is quick to point out.

My point here is that our response shouldn't be to downgrade what they are doing by insisting it is meaningless. We should take a page from their playbook - create brand identity where there was none, help producers label and promote their foods in a way that influences consumers. We've got this NH's Own thing, but I just don't see it often enough. Definitely not as often as I see the Get Real, Get Maine label. And the farmers and growers I talk to don't feel very supported by the state in terms of what the state could do to promote NH agriculture/food producers in general, therefore creating a more informed customer, a customer who will take the time to seek local agriculture/food producers out and pay the price they often require.


New Kid On the Block: Popovers on the Square, Portsmouth

I haven't tried it yet, and won't be able to until the Seacoast Eat Local Challenge is over (though B and I are vaguely considering just keeping on going - I would demand a little relaxation of our rules), but we walked in and looked around a bit anyway.

It's shiny. Very shiny and neat and appealing to masses, totally put together in a polished fashion. It's right next to the church, in the new building, and its got a wide berth of outdoor seating. Which I love.

We picked up a flyer with a menu; there are several things I want to try (here's their website, but at the time of this writing it was their logo and nothing more). The popovers with maple butter, for one. The turkey & bacon terrine also appeals. There's assorted breakfast pastries, salads, sandwiches, a cheese plate. They are part of the John Tinios baby-empire, so serve Galley Hatch desserts.

Also of note: we noticed a full bar. The outdoor seating isn't really sequestered, so I'm not sure about drinking outdoors. The menu also mentions wines.

Anyone tried it out yet?


Word of the day: Gourmeh

I've been looking for a new word, a word I can use on a daily basis, a word that sums up something trying to be more than what it is and in doing so becomes less that what it was, and in terms of food, gourmeh does it for me.

From the Wired story whence it came:

Croissants become more like dinner rolls. Burger chains talk up their "Angus beef" where "Angus" is apparently Latin for "indistinguishable from the other stuff." You start getting sandwiches where the bread is laced with green speckles and topped with white powder, but these may as well be confetti and sawdust for all they add to the flavor. I have a word for food that tries to look like something you'd get at the queen's birthday dinner but tastes like something you'd poke holes in before you microwave it: gourmeh.


Columbia County in the New York Times

it's weird when the NYT 'discovers' farms in your home town . . . Welcome to the Country