Paradox Pastry

In a break from the usual HP posts, there’s a new pastry shop in Charlottesville, and I felt duty-bound to check it out and report back here. Paradox Pastry recently opened in the Glass Building next to Bluegrass Grill. The owner is also a personal trainer; hence, the paradox.

It was hard to choose. I went with a gluten-free concoction of peanut butter mousse on a base of chocolate fudge, and my friends got a savory croissant and a blackberry pie.

The savory was as good as the sweets. My only complaint was that the desserts were too big and I don’t have the willpower to stop eating when I’ve hit my sugar limit.

sweet and savory

In addition to the downstairs seating area, there are a few tables upstairs and a TV. They did a great job with the space. Go check it out!

HP in NYC: Notable Food Experience #1

Hello from New York! I am here for a weekend of eating and drinking, with big plans for deliciousness; but today’s a regular work day, so I needed to grab a quick lunch to bring back to my desk.

I’m staying waaay downtown, between the Financial District and Battery Park, so there are lots of quickie lunch options catering to the buzzy workers and the bumbling tourists. A popular restaurant trend here (everywhere? big cities? for some reason, not C’ville) is the build-a-salad joint. I’ve eaten at a bunch here and in other cities, but I don’t recall ever seeing the word “local” used in signage, until today. That’s what drew me into Flavors.

Here are some descriptions from their website:

Healthy, fresh, natural

Organic where we can. Fresh & natural all the time.

Nothing about local. Googling doesn’t tell me anything about their local claim. Hmm.

It was a good salad, though.


NYC Coffee Break

Our friends took us to Jack’s Coffee near their apartment to get fueled up for a day of exploring. What a lovely surprise to be greeted by this sign!

Jack's Stir Brewed Coffee local milk

My delicious latte was made with milk from family farms in the Hudson Valley. Love this quote from the site:

Hudson Valley Fresh is indebted to Jack’s Coffee. Jack’s was the first coffee shop in New York City to serve our milk and promote our mission of high quality and sustainable dairy farming. Jack has shown his conviction by bringing his baristas to the farm and educating his customers. He is passionate about sustainability and continues to be our best advocate by encouraging customers and competitors to use our milk.
– Dr. Sam Simon, President of Hudson Valley Fresh

Jack's Stir Brew Coffee

Kudos to Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee! It really was a delightful latte. Must have been the fresh, local milk. If you’re in NYC and see a Jack’s, go there!

Wowed by WV, Part 1b

After wandering the cute, artsy downtown area of Berkeley Springs, WV, we headed to the local Food Lion to pick up some supplies. Food Lion is not known for local, organic food, so I headed straight to the egg shelf to how bad a Food Lion in WV would be. I was surprised to see Cool Thing #5:

Happier-than-average eggs! And organic eggs! Farmhouse Eggs and Eggland’s Best eggs come from hens who are free roaming indoors (it’s unclear how much room they get for their roaming), and fed vegetarian diets without hormones or antibiotics. Of course, local pastured eggs would be ideal, but nice job Food Lion.

Cool Thing #6 is a menu for a restaurant that was sadly closed while I was in town:

Panorama at the Peak is an environmentally-conscious restaurant a few miles from Berkeley Springs offering local, seasonal food with an amazing view. Most of their partner farms are within 65 miles, and most of the food they serve is organic. They are careful recyclers and composters, and closely monitor their power and water use. I hope when I go back the stuffed acorn squash is still on the menu!


Brooklyn Commune

Tired of dealing with Christmas lists and wrappings (bah humbug), I took a lunch break and turned on Chopped. One of the contestants on this episode is the co-owner and executive chef of Brooklyn Commune, Chris Scott. My ears perked up as Chef Chris described what his restaurant/market/catering operation is all about: connecting people with local, sustainable food. Clips of the chef working in an urban garden were shown while he talked about how he’d put the $10,000 prize money back into the local food scene. How could I not root for Chef Chris?

Spoiler alert: he didn’t win. But I googled around to learn more about his enterprise, and found some impressive stuff about Brooklyn Commune and about local produce in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Commune’s mission is “to help develop a personal connection between people and the food they eat.” They support local farms, CSAs, bakers, cheesemakers, and other local businesses in their quest to spread the gospel of sustainability, teach classes, and they even have plans to host field trips. (Maybe they already do, it’s an old article!) They serve as a pickup point for a couple CSAs, and right now they’re hosting a Charlie Brown Christmas tree sale. Love it! The activity on their Facebook page is a good illustration of their interest in their local community, and their importance to their neighborhood.

I was also interested to read about Prospect Farm in Brooklyn, an urban farm on a formerly vacant lot.  Their objectives are “diversity in food production and membership… [and] creating healthy soil through our community composting project and farm without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.” Members and Friends can purchase food from the farm: members commit 52 hours of work and $25 per year, and get a 50% discount on farm food; Friends donate $100 a year for the ability to purchase farm food at regular prices.

Brooklynites are lucky to have resources like Brooklyn Commune and Prospect Farm providing local products. Please try to do business with local food sources like these! We’re lucky to have citizens among us who care enough to make livelihoods out of producing local foods, and the best way to pay them back is to patronize the establishments they support.

New local food cafe in Charlottesville

Can’t wait to visit The Farm in Belmont! I’d seen it from the road, but thought it was just a coffee shop. They do sell (local) coffee, but so much more: local produce, local meat and dairy, local baked goods, as well as sandwiches, wine, and beer. Local, local, local. From The Hook article:

Much of the produce comes via Horse & Buggy Produce, which distributes food gathered from small farms in the area. Coffee comes from local roasters Shenandoah Joe, baked goods from Albermarle [sic] Baking Company on West Main, and milk, yogurt and other dairy from Organic Valley, Seven Stars Farm and Grass Point Farms. There’s tofu from Twin Oaks in Louisa, hummus, dips, salsas, pesto and fresh produce from The Farm at Red Hill, just down the road in North Garden.

I’ll try to get there this weekend and will let you know how it is!

Cheers! (i.e., British kudos)

A couple shout-outs from HP’s recent trip to London…

Marks and Spencer’s Forever Fish campaign:

M&S has had a sustainable fishing policy for 12 years and 84% of the wild fish sold at M&S is now independently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or undergoing MSC certification. But now M&S wants to take it further – and that is where Forever Fish comes in. Through partnerships with WWF and Marine Conservation Society, education programmes in primary schools and Fish of the Month promotions, the plan is to take the lead to make sure our sea life is protected for future generations to enjoy.

and Chop’d, which uses local ingredients where possible:

Wherever possible we work with the seasons. Every September we take the van down to Kent to pile it full of heirloom apples from Brogdale Farm, home of the National Fruit Collection. Every spring we gather bagfuls of wild garlic from the woods of West Sussex.

All our chicken comes from a single farm on the Essex/Suffolk border, is barn reared and meets farm-assured and ‘red tractor’ standards.

Chipotle does more, again

In the news today:

Chipotle to double its use of local produce

Chipotle says it will increase use of local produce

Chipotle expects to use more than 10 million pounds of locally-grown produce this year, instead of the previously-forecast 5 million pounds. The restaurant is already the leading restaurant company in serving naturally-raised meat.

Brookville Restaurant

Last night we had a fantastic dinner at Brookville Restaurant in downtown Charlottesville. Brookville is dedicated to using local (within 100 miles of the restaurant), seasonal food, and the resulting dishes are delicious. One thing we particularly appreciate is the indication on the menu of foods that are not local–and there aren’t many. See the (poorly-lit, taken with a no-flash iPhone) photo below for the “Not a Local Product” note:

Highlights from Brookville’s blog:

  • “So I believe that there are many responsibilities that come along with owning a small business. The two most important are supporting your local community and giving money to those who are doing research to make the world a better place.”
  • “I strongly believe that the animals we eat must be cared for and live in the best possible conditions. That means chickens should be required to have pasture grazing time and not kept in huge houses that become a breeding pool for animal disease.”

Support local farmers by patronizing the restaurants who buy from them!

Great Harvest Bread Co.

A Great Harvest Bread Co. just opened in HP’s town, Charlottesville VA. Yum. When we visited, we were pleased to see a notice announcing that the store sources its eggs locally, and Kath, the proprietress, told us she’s working on finding a local provider of sandwich meats. Looking around their website, there’s more good stuff:

For more than three decades we have been a friend to family farms located in Montana. We know our
wheat farmers on a first-name basis

And from the corporate website:

We also provide you with the best bread-baking wheat available by identifying suppliers who meet our strict standards for wheat quality and business practices. The Franchise Agreement requires you to buy wheat only from our approved suppliers, which maintains quality standards and helps you produce the freshest, most nutritionally rich and phenomenal-tasting bread!

Good luck to Great Harvest Charlottesville!