Friday, February 4, 2011

Changing sides.

Three-thousand miles. It's a great distance for someone to uproot, though many of my friends have move further throughout their lives. It's a vest personal and cultural adjustment for one to make. For a person, it involves leaving comfort, family and friends. For a chef, it involves leaving behind all the purveyors and markets that you came to love and trust. Luckily for me, I had time-a-plenty to do my research before leaving the West Coast. By the time I arrived here in Charlotte, I'd already located my local farmers markets, international food suppliers, gourmet stores and kitchen supply companies. Actually find my way to their doors was an entirely different matter, as Charlotte doesn't have the benefit of Portland's superb urban planning.

Mid-February I'll be attending The Flavors of Carolina, an event for culinary professionals that has been set up at roving locations all over North and South Carolina since 1986. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture lovingly brings all sides of the regional food service community together for a few hours of cocktails and entertainment while we taste state-specific products. Who knows what hidden gems will be uncovered at this event? Personally, I'm hoping to find a few more local cheese producers (the more, the merrier in my mind.) Perhaps to try some of the much-maligned regional wine (It's wine, can it be THAT bad?). More than anything, networking with these artisans will bring me closer to understanding the state of the culinary union in my new home.

Already I've had the fortune to work with and purchase from, some very down to earth, friendly and talented individuals that are working their collective asses off to change the way people view food in Charlotte. Proffit Family Beef. Harmony Gardens. Grateful Growers. Rosemary Pete. Boucom's Best. Farside Farms. Spinning Spider Cheese. These humans are amazing. They believe thoroughly in what they do, and why they do it. Respect and our patronage is all that we owe them. It's required. I have their products at home and in the restaurant, literally eating and breathing their work.

Enough about the local-local-local-local.

I'm finally about to add some photographs to the mix here. Here's to hoping pictures can do the writing some justice. Gonna bring in pictures of the burgeoning backyard garden, the farms, the restaurant, the food, the people.

Keep eating like you give a damn (but don't be a silly vegan).

See you soon

The Bulli

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hello again.

It has been far too long, my friends. There will be no recipes this installment, just the sharing of a few concepts and ideas that I've been playing with over my extended absence from Food Bulli. This is also about getting ya'll up to speed with me. It's been a very full year. Excitement and disappointment were both in attendance. I'm at a new restaurant, working in-house and running the food cart that is associated with it. Job number three is running the vegetable program for Grateful Growers LLC, the farm that supplies most of the pork for the restaurant.

I'm now located in Charlotte, North Carolina. It's a city in dire need of forward thinking people, that want to build something special from the ground up. Housing costs here are 40% of what they are in Portland, so you can make ends meet here in this economy. My new home is located in Charlotte's EcoDistrict. The backyard is huge, and I have many ideas for it. Seating for 20 or more at a communal table, a pit bbq, outdoor bread oven, and many raised beds for my beloved organic produce. My supper club idea from two years back will become a reality here.

Enough about that.

I've never been more serious about eating locally. The restaurant that I work for is a farm-to-table joint, so access to "the good stuff" is extremely easy here. Add in weekly trips to the farmers market, and a willingness to cut down on meat consumption,and before you know it, you're helping out small farms instead of Monsanto or ConAgra. Living in this manner allows you to make a difference in a grass-roots way. You get to know the folks that actually picked your food, and the quality doesn't get any better. The local cheese is magnificent here, the meat wonderful, the produce sublime. The wine however, needs help, but I digress..

There are exceptions to be made in the extreme localvore diet. Wheat flour, olive oil, salt, spices, good wine, and a few other things(I can't in good conscience eat Alaskan Salmon here, trout from the mountains will suffice, I can make Lox with that.) The Carolina seafood is superb, and there's fish here that I haven't eaten(or prepared) much of. I welcome the challenge.

So, all-in-all, with the opportunity to do something new, something meaningful, something that could potentially make a difference in this community, the cross-country move will be worth it. West Coast, I miss you dearly, but what did I accomplish with you? I'm glad we parted ways as friends, not bitter enemies. I'll be back one day to begin our friendship anew. Until then, keep being you, west coast. I'll always love you, I'm just not in love with you anymore.

Thanks for reading friends,

The Bulli