In the midst of all of the holidays, there is a lot of eating and drinking. We are roasting turkey and baking pumpkin pie to give thanks, frying latkes on Hanukkah, roasting ham for Christmas, baking cookies for Santa, and toasting to the New Years with Moscato. But do we ever really celebrate the food itself? What if we slowed down from all of this holiday festivity to celebrate a movement of food culture – that of slow food. The slow foods movement, an alternative to fast food drive-thrus, is the concept of growing food locally and seasonally and preparing it to serve – moving food slowly from farm to plate… to mouth! This is where you can sit down, enjoy what you are eating and nourishing your body with by knowing that it’s done good to the environment – a cause worth celebrating!
We celebrate slow foods by eating locally and there is a time and a place to do this! December 10th marked Terra Madre Day which is the international Slow Food Movement’s celebration of local food. The purpose of the event is to keep small-scale agriculture and sustainable food production alive and well and this is achieved by celebrating and tasting.
Last year, this day was celebrated worldwide in 130 countries with organized meetings, discussions, dinners, and farm visits so that people could recognize the importance of local food for the sustainability of our land. This year, I celebrated locally in Temecula at a sponsored Terra Madre Day event. The event was put on by Temecula Valley Slow Foods and hosted at Europa Village to invite the food communities together. It brought together farmers, artisanal vendors, chefs, and hungry people like me to come experience what Temecula has to offer.
A few of Temecula Valley Wine Country’s farm-to-plate chefs featured heritage dishes to represent the area and Italian, French and Spanish cuisine – all made with locally sourced ingredients. Curious what I tried? The tasting menu included tamari smoked pork belly, spaghetti squash with pomegranate mignonette, Basque-style country stew, rabbit ragu with cured olives and soft polenta, squash bisque, eggplants, meatballs, and pappardelle con funghi…and for dessert, butterscotch crème brule.
Serving the goodies
This local food movement connects the chefs to the farmers. With so many farms around the area, it was easy for these chefs to source their ingredients from places like Cooks Pigs Ranch, Sage Mountain Farms, and Mountain Meadow Mushrooms. As a consumer, you could feel the connection that was there and also experience talking to them to learn about the growing of the food and preparation – it made my experience even that much more delicious!
The local food movement also branches out to support small businesses of all types. The event invited local artists to share their products – lots of cute jewelry, pottery, and canned goods. It was a great night to be out supporting the local community.
If you missed the event, there are still ways to celebrate and support the slow foods movement. How about eating local? The Restaurant at Ponte is a partner with this movement and would like to help you celebrate by bringing the farm to your plate. Come try what we cook up with our local sources. We source as locally as possible with our own tomatoes grown in a garden right outside of the kitchen’s doors for seasonal summer salads. We then source produce, oils, and cheese from Connally Farms, poultry from Mary’s Free Range Chickens, and meats from Cedar River Farms. We shop around to find the most sustainable source to bring them to the dishes we serve to you.
Our Restaurant takes the farm to table movement even further by practicing farm-to-table-to vineyard. That means, we return materials back to the earth. We do this by using a pulper machine to take organic food scraps left over from your plate and let them decompose and compost where they make nutrient rich soil. Every week, about 50 pounds of this compost material is brought out to the vineyard where it will be applied annually as a cover crop. This is a great cycle so don’t feel too bad if you don’t finish your vegetables. See all of our restaurant’s green efforts here.
So while you celebrate the holidays enjoying all sorts of food, we hope you come celebrate slow foods and eat locally with us! Book your celebration and come share what it means to you to be a part of the slow movement – I’m hungry to hear about it!