I thought I’d give a quick summary of what I learned from my Eat Local Challenge this past month, then (thankfully!) move on to other subjects (or not!)
Biggest challenge: Definitely eating out. There are precious few options for eating local food in restaurants. In fact, I have found that restaurant staff are genuinely puzzled by the question. The good news? Masoud and Annah Awartani have re-opened Zaytoon, a Mediterranean restaurant that serves delicious local and organic foods from 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. M-F. It’s at 301 N. Elm Street. Phone: 336-373-0211. You may know them from the curb market – they are serving the crowd lined up at the Dough Re Mi booth.
Biggest thrill: Harvesting my first artichokes, that I grew from seed, beginning last winter.
Biggest disappointment: Not having the energy and/or time to try more new things, such as making my own pasta, or to bake bread.
Most fun: Eating rabbit stew and mulberry parfait at Bistro Sofia.
Greatest discovery: Lamb’s quarters are the best weeds ever. Much tastier than spinach, free, and easy to prepare.
Greatest discovery II: Making your own mayonnaise is really easy with a blender. And it makes a great base for dips, dressings, and sauces.
Biggest accomplishment: Breaking the Pepsi One habit.
Dish I made for the first time ever: Carrot cake.
Food I liked best: Lamb’s quarters and navy beans.
Food I liked least: The first salad dressing I made, and several of the salads were on the bitter side.
What I missed most: I didn’t eat any tomatoes at all. Period. I decided to be strict on this one. Dark chocolate. But then, I always miss dark chocolate, every minute of every day that I’m not eating it.
What I ate when I fell off the wagon: Chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate cake, and crab/cream cheese dip on crackers at an evening work reception when I was stressed out and starved. Mama’s chicken tetrazzini and Vidalia onion/cream cheese pie on Mother’s Day weekend. Collard greens, grits, and salad at a restaurant that I thought served local produce, but didn’t respond to my questions then or later. More crackers. A spoonful of ice cream. Pimento cheese sandwich at another restaurant that told me it served local food, but didn’t. Sour cream. Sampled wine and cheeses at a local wine shop tasting (Zeto). But I didn’t eat as many of my exemptions as I thought I would.
What I learned: It wasn’t that hard, as long as I could do my shopping at the Farmers’ Market. I didn’t have to do a lot of complicated cooking. It didn’t break my budget. The variety of food available at the market is remarkable. But if I had had to rely on regular grocery stores and restaurants for local food, I would be quite a few pounds lighter right now.