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It’s hard to repress culinary creativity when you’re surrounded by organic produce, cheeses, edible insects and flowers, all produced in a yearlong growing season. That’s how chef Melissa DeLeon operates in her native Panama, and the concept travels well. The Whole Foods Culinary Center, known for celebrating homegrown bounty influenced by the homes of the world, will host DeLeon at a cooking workshop September 20.
Word on the street is that Panamanian food may be the next big thing, says Culinary Center director Jamie Powell. “Chef DeLeon calls it rain-forest recipes, and it fits,” she says. “Panamanian cooks work with exotic fruits—mangoes, passion fruits, plantains—and I’ve heard we’ll be tasting the number one rated coffee in the world.”
Perhaps in the form of banana bread with ground-roasted coffee, one of chef DeLeon’s signature desserts?
By Kristi Willis
Photography by Jenna Noel
Buying seafood can be overwhelming. Doctors and nutritionists tell us to eat more seafood for a healthy diet, but environmental groups warn us that we’re overfishing the oceans to the degree that a number of species are in danger of extinction. The result is a dizzying array of rating systems meant to help consumers better navigate the seafood counter, but often simply add to the bewilderment.
By Elizabeth Winslow
Photography by Jenna Noel
Ever since Linnaeus published his Systema Naturae, we’ve been wont to classify Mother Nature. Plants serve as food, medicine or decoration, but rarely do we imagine more than one simultaneous use for them. With a little imagination, though, we can return to a pre-Linnaean aesthetic—a kind of botanical synesthesia, where medicinal plants are treasured for their aromas, ornamental plants find their way into recipes and edibles become decor.
By Spike Gillespie
Photography by Jenna Noel
On a recent Sunday, Autumn Deuel and her mother, Barbara Henderson, stopped by Farm to Market Grocery. Shopping at the little South Austin store is a regular outing for the pair.
“My mom discovered it right after it opened,” says Autumn. “I’m on the East Side and don’t have a store like this…easy in and out.” Owner Peg McCoy considers that trek across town one of the highest compliments she could receive.
Texans have long known that the Hill Country is a gorgeous and fertile place—home to some of the best peaches, pecans, barbecue, cheeses and wines found in the state. And if you’re looking to explore the vast richness of the region, there’s no better guide than Terry Thompson-Anderson’s new book, The Hill Country: A Wine and Food Lover’s Paradise.
Denise LoSchiavo, retirement home director, believes in home-cooked dinners.
“The ham and turnips are baking,” she says one recent afternoon. “I’m also cooking three chickens, beets with balsamic vinaigrette and butter, roasted sweet potatoes doused with olive oil, and baby spinach with crisp-fried bacon and sage.”
Institutional it isn’t. At Country Vista Residential Care Home, the business Denise straightforwardly calls an “old folks home,” nutrition comes not from an Ensure can, but the canning shelf, the garden, local farmers and ranchers and the farmers market she helped start last year.
At this point, she doesn’t even rely on recipes. “I make this stuff up,” she says. “I lie in bed and think about what I have in the kitchen.” Last night’s leftover rustic bread becomes today’s addictive bread pudding. A bumper crop of kohlrabi becomes—wait, what do you do with kohlrabi? When Denise wasn’t sure, she asked one of her clients.
Nestled in an unassuming spot just a few blocks south of the rowdy punk rock clubs that line Red River Street, the guacamole-green El Naranjo trailer offers up something unexpected to hungry Austinites: authentic Oaxacan cuisine. Chef Iliana de la Vega and her husband, Ernesto Torrealba, opened the trailer this spring as the latest incarnation of their acclaimed restaurant of the same name in Oaxaca, Mexico, which closed in 2007.
The Journalism Committee of the James Beard Foundation Awards has presented the Edible Communities publications with the award for 2011 Publication of the Year—a first-ever honor bestowed on a publication demonstrating fresh directions, worthy ambitions and a forward-looking approach to food journalism.
By Carol Ann Sayle
A young customer once brought her New York City parents to see our farm. As I visited with the ladies, Larry took the father on a tour. It was August, and the man wasn’t appropriately attired for—or used to—such heat, but he was game to see the withering tomato vines, the crisp Bermuda grass, the struggling squash and the freshly tilled beds ready for fall-crop seeds. After they left, Larry told me that the father had asked incredulously, “Can you really make a living doing this?” His disbelief was apparent when Larry replied, “We do.”
By David Alan
Photography by Jenna Noel
In my interactions with the foodie public, I’m always surprised by how intimidated non-bartenders are by the thought of making drinks themselves. One of the areas where I see many hopeful home bartenders get hung up is recipe orthodoxy. Any competent home cook should feel comfortable whipping up a few drinks, yet I often hear from these same folks that they would have made a particular recipe but they didn’t have X, Y or Z spirit.
Typically, a restaurateur starts with a menu concept and builds the space and decor around it. The creative minds behind Hillside Farmacy, however, did things a little differently. Co-owner Mickie Spencer—the proprietor of East Side Showroom—was putting finishing touches on her last creation, Swan Dive, when she discovered Jones Drug Store, an abandoned 1920s pharmacy in Elgin.
By Kate Payne
Photography by Jo Ann Santangelo
The spark that set me in the direction of infusing liquor and simple syrups was a stockpile of trash—preservers’ trash, that is. I always ended up with all sorts of things that didn’t go into a jar of preserves, but might be (as I learned) used for other delicious projects: pits, juices, skins, various bits of still-useable ingredients from the perspective of any smart Depression-era granny.
By Elise Krentzel
Photography of Miguel Ravago by Matt Lankes
Chef Miguel Ravago, founder of Fonda San Miguel—what some call the first authentic Mexican restaurant in Austin—grew up in his loving Mexican grandparents’ house in the dusty desert city of 1950s Phoenix, Arizona. The household also included Ravago’s sister and mother, but it was his grandmother who was the undisputed queen of the roost—leaving him with a solid, lifelong impression of what bliss is supposed to be: good home cooking, compelling conversation and loads of happy people enjoying delicious food.
Improving children’s nutrition may be the reason why the Whole Kids Foundation has helped to fund more than 900 school gardens and 1,500 salad bars throughout the United States and Canada since Whole Foods Market launched the charitable entity in July of 2011. However, local beneficiaries say that what has grown out of these projects has been more than just food.
“They are really investing in the community,” says Natalie Seeboth, development manager for the Ann Richards School Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps to fund the Austin Independent School District’s Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.
by Lucinda Hutson
Photography by John Pozdro
It’s warm and steamy in my kitchen—a glorious reminder that I’ve survived another summer in Central Texas. Autumn has arrived, bringing with it my reclamation of kitchen and hearth. Mysterious and alluring aromas permeate the room: a charred scent mingles with the sweet perfume of peppers roasting close to the flame.
By Layne Victoria Lynce
Photography by Kelly Rucker
It’s no secret that Austin-made brew is in the thick of a cultural revolution. In just a few short years, a handful of outlying craft breweries have transformed into an epicenter of astoundingly diverse, creative entities with such leaders as (512) Brewing Company, Austin Beerworks and Hops & Grain. With the recent changes in Texas alcohol legislation—allowing breweries to sell and serve directly on-site—the industry is at a tipping point.
I’m a cook with a dilemma, and it ain’t about my food
My baby’s got me cranky, in a terrible mood
He’s swearin’ that he loves me, but I think it’s my cuisine
He wouldn’t be so ornery if I fed him rice and beans.
—Sweet Potato Jive
The Beat Divas write songs about food—and life—and sing them as they cook, often for a paying audience.
One day, Tom left his mainstream job of 17 years to spend several months reading library books on his couch, looking for his life’s mission, his heart’s desire and his means of independence and financial support. Nearly a year passed before he jumped up from the sofa, announcing, “I will make chocolates for fun and prosperity!”
“That’s the Hollywood version,” Tom Pedersen laughs.
Bite into just about any dish from Lamba’s Royal Indian Food and prepare yourself—this exquisite Indian cuisine will bite right back. Think of it more like a love nibble that will warm you from the inside out. The heat comes from a combination of traditional Indian spices and, often enough, a healthy dose of serrano peppers—something you might expect more from a Mexican meal, but which works surprisingly well in the otherwise traditional cuisine served up weekly on the farmers-market circuit by Garrima and Gurpreet Lamba.
The couple, both born in India, met stateside. Gurpreet, a naturalized citizen, had been living in California when he met Garrima, who was visiting from India. They decided to marry and eventually found their way to Houston, where they opened up an Indian food store. But Gurpreet, so impressed by his wife’s cooking prowess—which she learned from her mother and her grandmother, who at 98 still loves the kitchen—saw potential. They decided to try selling prepared dishes at a local farmers market.
As they worked to build their business, Gurpreet began researching. “He was looking online and saw farmers markets in Austin,” says Garrima. “We realized our best bet was Austin when he found there are not too many Indian restaurants there.”
By Kristi Willis
Discovering new recipes is a delight, but finding them again later can be a challenge. Here are some clever storage solutions to help organize those cherished dishes so that you’ll never again lose the secret ingredient for Aunt Millie’s potato salad.