We’ve recently spent a bit of time visiting Healdsburg. It’s a charming town and the surrounding countryside is beautiful, especially at this time of year with the vines bursting into full foliage and starting to put forth the slightest suggestion of grapes. In case you’re heading up this way over the summer, here are a few places worth a visit:
1. Shed is one of the newest places to burst on the scene in downtown Healdsburg. It’s an ode to local, sustainable eating, cooking and farming, all housed in a gorgeous airy building that is nothing like the kind of shed I grew up with (small, dark and a place for men to escape their wives and have a nip of something strong to drink). You can buy treats to eat here or at home, cookware and things to plant in the yard.
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I’m a fan of hummus. It’s nutritious, tasty and makes for a great snack when you’re in a hurry. Although I’ve made my own for a while now, it’s always involved grabbing a can opener and cranking open a tin of organic garbanzo beans. But no more. I’m now a convert to cooking my own chickpeas.
I’d heard that dried beans are better for many reasons: 1) they’re cheaper (buy in bulk at Wholefoods) 2) they can be easier to digest if you soak them for 12 hours and cook them to your preferred doneness 3) they simply taste better and, 4) it’s better for the environment if you not chucking another can in the recycling.
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Spring in Roman means carciofi (artichoke) season, and like all things in Italy, they are cooked with gusto, style and in a variety of ways, so you can never tire of them. As I look back over our eating tour of Rome, it’s clear that cariofi played the starring role.
On our first night we ate at Enoteca Antica, a bustling wine bar on Via Della Croce, just a stone’s throw from the Spanish Steps. A popular place bustling with locals, who show up to unwind after work, and tourists lucky enough to find it, the place has a fab wine list and a pretty extensive menu.
We’d had a long day of travel and had been drooling over the idea of eating Italian food for days. Faced with a chalkboard chock full of delights, it was hard to know what to order but the artichokes beckoned. Raw artichoke was sliced paper thin, clothed with shaved parmesan, flecked with parsley and brightened with lemon juice and olive oil. Heavenly. I didn’t even know you could eat artichoke raw. Also on the menu was another Roman speciality: thinly sliced, barely cooked beef, with peppers, arugula, and yet more parmesan. The meat was so tender, the flavors so rich. I wondered if this was the inspiration for Philly cheese steaks.
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Rome in March is unpredictable. From one moment to the next it can be pouring rain, sunny or grey. But no matter. Whenever you need to duck out of adverse weather you can find shelter among food: under a market stall’s awning heaving with rainwater, in a fogged up coffee shop, inside a traditional bustling Roman tavern or in the comparative calm of a contemporary restaurant.
And what’s a vegan meat eater to do in Rome? You know what they say, when in Rome… so I gleefully ate the chewy, yet crispy freshly baked bread accompanied by the deepest green most virgin of olio d’oliva, relished the Parmesan on my raw artichoke salad, and decided to pay for it later. > Read more
Britain’s food has long been a joke around the world, especially where I live on the West Coast of California with access to fresh produce that thrives in our mild climate, and superb locally-raised meat and freshly-caught fish. On my recent trip to the UK I decided to look through a different lens to see whether the overall quality of food served by restaurants had improved and more importantly (for Alice Dishes), if the local, slow food movement had a notable presence.
First, eating out. The good news is there’s a plethora of ‘gastro pubs’ and new, tastefully designed restaurants cropping up all over the place. The bad news is, that a venue that looks good, doesn’t necessarily serve great food. Design and style seems to matter more in the U.K. vs. in the U.S. (I know, that’s a gross generalization), which maybe why this disconnect exists. This is particularly true of the many restaurant chains, from Pizza Express to Gourmet Burger Kitchen.
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