Sunday, October 18, 2009

Food Centric

Seems my life has evolved around food. Not sure why, really. My family wasn't all that big on food. My Dad liked to make his specialty things, like award winning chili. But there weren't any restaurant workers in my family, until I got my first job as a dishwasher at Le Mirabelle, a French restaurant in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where I grew up. I managed to work my way up to salad chef, and did the deserts for a while.

Then I worked at Mikes, a beer joint on the south side of the tracks, where I cooked hamburgers and served beer in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where I went to college. That was an experience worth forgetting. So, I got out of the food service life, until I met my wife, who was a cook in Hawaii before she started slinging beers at the 326 Bar in the Farmer's Market in LA, next door to CBS Television City, where I was working as a stagehand.

The rest is history.

Our vacations to New York and points east were always based around food, not the least of which was always a few days at the house or Robin's cousins, Cathy and Eric, owners and operators of Woodstock Moveable Feast, a Hudson Valley catering company. Staying at their house was always a culinary adventure! The picture above is from their website.

When I became disabled and couldn't work as a stagehand anymore, we moved back east to be near Robin's family here in Cherry Valley, where our brother-in-law, Clem, runs The Rose and Kettle, a gourmet restaurant near Cooperstown, and he has a delicious food blog. He met his wife, Dana Spiotta, when they both worked at the Giorgio's of Gramercy, a great place to eat in New York City.

Once we moved up here, we started looking for business projects. Since farming and ranching is so big up here, we thought we'd team up with a local grass-fed beef outfit to make Robin's gourmet beef jerky. Robin met Sonia, who along with her partner Dave, run Nectar Hills Farm, which grows grass fed and pasture raised meats, including the naturally low-fat Highlander Cattle (they have less fat because they have hair, as you can see in this picture), the top round from which we make into naturally healthy and delicious gourmet grass-fed beef jerky.

My friend Mort Mather, who lives (happily) up in Maine, and I converse regularly about organic gardening, which he does for his son's southern Maine restaurant. He and I go way back to the early days of the internet when I published his organic gardening articles at my organic gardening web site (which was one of the world's first).

I've started gardening again (albeit lazily due to my physical limitations) and it seems my food friends will never let me fade away from the culinary life: My Los Angeles caterer client, Emma, now has a LA Catering blog. Even my Maui bed and breakfast client often writes about the delicious tropical fruit she grows in her garden.

Oh, and then there's the organic Kona coffee farm that I used to do the web site for, back when Dr. Faust ran it. He sold it to Mike, who now, because times are tough, pays me with the best coffee on earth, because he's not making enough money to pay me with cash. And that's fine, because, well, it's organic Kona coffee!

So, somewhere out there someone's going to be reading this, and they'll think, hey, this guy's all about food! Let's contact him! Since we gave up eating pork almost two years ago now (for ethical and environmental reasons), and we try to eat only grass-fed meat, and we grow a lot of our own food, and we try to stay away from fast food, and we are the very definition of a slow food family, I just hope that person is Michael Pollan.

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