Category Archives: Going Green and Sustainable

Tantalizing Tastes From the 8th Annual Maui County Ag Fest

San Francisco Chef Ritchie Nakano shows off his saimin dish at the Maui County Ag Fest live cook-off event. Nakano was the only chef to use Spam in his dish.

San Francisco Chef Richie Nakano shows off his saimin dish at the Maui County Ag Fest live cook-off event as Maui Chef Jeff Scheer looks on. Nakano was the only chef to use Spam in a dish.

 

MAUI, HAWAII – Despite its rich soil and tropical, year-round growing season, Hawaii actually imports about 90 percent of its food. To promote a growing trend toward locavorism, the Maui County Farm Bureau has hosted its Maui County Ag Festival for the past eight years.

For the fourth time, I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest judge for the event by the Maui Visitors Bureau.

The all-day event on April 4 drew hundreds to the Maui Tropical Plantation to eat, drink, and mingle with chefs and farmers. A lively farmers market gave folks the chance to buy Maui-grown strawberry papayas, avocados, apple bananas and even hand-pounded poi.

An assortment of food trucks made sure there was no shortage of food. In fact, I hate to admit that my day consisted of: Pigging out at Chef Kyle Kawakami’s Maui Fresh Streatery Gourmet Food Truck, which changes its menu according to the local ingredients available each week; followed by judging 12 dishes prepared by chefs in the live cook-off; then judging another 12 dishes in the Grand Taste event, where each chef had to make a dish spotlighting an ingredient grown by a local farm.

Maui Fresh Streetery truck.

Maui Fresh Streatery truck.

The truck's poutine topped with Maui Cattle Co. braised short ribs.

The truck’s poutine topped with Maui Cattle Co. braised short ribs.

My eating didn’t end there, either. Even though I vowed I was done after that, I somehow ended up at the chefs after-party at Chef Sheldon Simeon’s Migrant restaurant, where plate after plate descended upon the table in a non-stop parade.

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EXO — An Energy Bar With A Little Something Different

There are about 40 crickets in each bar.

There are about 40 crickets in each bar.

 

Unwrap an EXO protein bar and you’ll find something unusual lurking inside.

Crickets.

Yes, these bars have an unlikely ingredient — flour made from ground crickets.

Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz got the idea for these unusual bars when they were in their final year at Brown University after discovering the health and environmental benefits insects have. Indeed, according to them, insects are a source of protein in 80 percent of the world. Moreover, crickets are low in saturated fat and contain more iron than beef.

They figured the easiest way to entice people to eat insects would be to put them in a form they readily understood — a bar. So, they enlisted the help of Chef Kyle Connaughton, former head chef of R&D at The Fat Duck in England and former culinary director of Chipotle, to develop the bars.

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Sustainably Raised Meat Delivered To Your Door with AgLocal — Plus a Food Gal Deal

AgLocal's Moroccan lamb sausages get roasted in the oven for an easy weeknight meal.

AgLocal’s Moroccan lamb sausages get roasted in the oven for an easy weeknight meal.

 

As much as we’d like to eat local, sustainably-raised meat regularly, it often takes going the extra effort to do so.

Usually, it requires driving out of the way to a specialty store.

Now, San Francisco’s AgLocal makes it much easier to enjoy farm-fresh meat and to support local family farms by delivering a box right to your door.

All the meat comes from pasture-raised animals. The meat offerings, shipped frozen most of the time, are available in four different boxes, each of which includes a different selection: “Family Style”  (favorite cuts to appeal to all members of the family); “Grill Master” (ribs, chops and steaks); “Fit and Lean” (brisket, flank steak and the like); and “Farmer’s Pick” (more esoteric cuts such as lamb breast and smoked shanks). Each box comes in two sizes, either 7 pounds ($85) or 14 pounds ($150).

A look inside my "Fit and Lean'' box.

A look inside my “Fit and Lean” box.

AgLocal currently delivers to California, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

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Palo Alto Welcomes Belcampo Meat Co.

Pulled pork bun (front) and braised lamb belly bun (back) at Belcampo in Palo Alto.

Pulled pork bun (front) and braised lamb belly bun (back) at Belcampo in Palo Alto.

 

After opening its first restaurant-retail meat shop last spring in Larkspur, Belcampo Meat Co. has been on a rapid roll.

Since then, it has opened in speedy succession in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and just four weeks ago in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village.

Shortly, Santa Monica will get the largest outpost of the farm-to-table meat company with a butcher shop plus a restaurant that will boast a full bar, as well as 90 seats. A lease also has been signed for a location in West Hollywood.

Belcampo is on a fast-track mission to prove that sustainable not only can be profitable, but feasible on a large-scale.

A butcher packs away the meat just before closing.

A butcher packs away the meat just before closing.

Note the whiteness of the fat on the meat -- a sign of pasture-fed animals.

Note the whiteness of the fat on the meat — a sign of pasture-fed animals.

It is the brainchild of Todd Robinson, a Wall Street veteran with deep pockets; and Anya Fernald, a California-native and long-time locavore entrepreneur. She may look familiar from her previous appearances as a judge on “Iron Chef America” and as the founder of the Eat Real Festival in Oakland.

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California’s Only Grower of Real Wasabi

This is what real wasabi looks like.

This is what real wasabi looks like.

 

If you think that pasty blob of green garnishing your sushi platter is wasabi, think again.

The real-deal rhizome is as rare as it is pricey.

That’s why what you generally find on most sushi plates is actually a cheap concoction of horseradish, mustard and green dye, not the actual Japanese rhizome that’s extremely difficult to grow.

Nowadays, though, if you know where to look, you might find more of the real wasabi around. That’s because there’s now one grower in California cultivating it: Half Moon Bay Wasabi.

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