Monthly Archives: May 2008

Writers’ Night: A Brief Memoir

The First Annual Slow Food Seacoast Writers’ Night was a resounding success and a magical spring event. The Pearl of Portsmouth was a gorgeous location. Tables decorated with just-bloomed lilacs provided a comfortable meeting and eating place for friends new and old, while four prominent food writers shared selected readings from their work, paired with delicious tastes of dishes from their books. The readings were as varied as the tastings, ranging from witty to touching – memories of tables laid by people now passed, vivid pictures of active restaurant kitchens, the insider stories of a recipe tester, and more. Rachel Forrest hosted, and miracles were performed in the small kitchen by Chefs Jodi Holihan of Atlantic Culinary Academy and Gary Caron of the Dolphin Striker, with assistance from Slow Food volunteer Erin J. More volunteers served the tastings and kept things running smoothly. Thanks to everyone: Rachel Forrest and Andy Gagnon for their able organization of a complicated event, Taste of the Seacoast and Seacoast Media Group for their sponsorship of the event, River Run Books for selling copies of the featured writers’ books, the Portsmouth Pearl and the Sheraton Harborside, all the volunteers, and the local restauarants and purveyors that donated tastes and time (Enoteca Italiana, The Dolphin Striker, Atlantic Culinary Academy, The Dunaway). The event raised money which will return to the Seacoast in the form of public events, garden and school projects, and other Slow Food Seacoast activities. Thank you all for a lovely evening!

What’s in the Bag, Dad?

The answer? 100% recycled fibers, New Hampshire labor, a great design, plenty of room for your shopping, and the positive mojo of four groups working hard to celebrate and promote our local and regional food systems. Yes, it’s the first annual (we hope) market tote, brought to you by the coalition of Slow Food Seacoast, Seacoast Growers’ Association, Seacoast Eat Local, and Seacoast Local.

Last week’s “Question of the Week” survey at Portsmouth farmer’s market asked whether responders would support a ban on plastic bags at retail locations in Portsmouth. Though there were a few dissenters, and not everyone wanted to see it as a law, there was overwhelming support for the idea of dramatically reducing the number of throwaway plastic bags we currently use. We’re hoping this bag, with its bright simple design, will make it easier for you to choose another way.

The totes are being sold for just $6, meaning that we hope just about everyone will want to purchase one! Tote bags will be available every Saturday from the Portsmouth Farmer’s Market, and also at all Slow Food Seacoast events as long as they last. It’s a great way to promote our message, demonstrate your support, and keep a few more plastic bags out of the ecosystem.


Slow Food Portland brings back its popular Fiddlefest on June 1. Billed as a “Celebration of Spring Food,” the event is a great example of how Slow Food can revive regional, seasonal, and local food traditions – and throw a great party. For $20 ($15 for SF members) attendees sample dishes made by local chefs from fresh Maine spring foods like ramps, rhubarb, and of course, fiddleheads. Also, enjoy organic beers and ales, along with a mead tasting that will include Fiddler’s Reach Merrymeeting Mead and Shalom Orchard mead. Poor Valley Salvation Society will be performing LIVE from 5 – 7 for our entertainment. If you haven’t heard them yet, they are a fun rockabilly, gospel, old-timey ensemble. Kid’s activities will be held throughout the event. Peak Organic Ales is a sponsor of the event this year. There will be a cash bar with hand-chosen wines in addition to Peak Organic Ales.The event is being held at the Dining Hall at SMCC in South Portland, overlooking the ocean.

Tickets are available at the door or in advance at Rosemont Market, Standard Baking, Aurora Provisions or Rabelais Books. For more information, visit Slow Food Portland, ME!

News, Views, and Things to Do(s)

News: Yesterday on NHPR’s “The Exchange,” Jon Greenberg interviewed New Hampshire’s recently appointed Agriculture Commissioner (and dairy farmer) Lorraine Stewart Merrill The Comissioner works for the Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food. On the show, she spent a lot of time discussing the local food movement, developing NH’s pastureland, and public policy issues affecting farming and markets. It’s a show you’ll want to listen to if you’re interested in the state of agriculture in New Hampshire.

Views: Amy W.’s second blog post on serving on the Dover Schools Dining Facilities Committee is up at Seacoast Eat Local. Titled “A bright idea – Go Old School,” it chronicles the committee’s tour of the kitchen facilities and meeting with the Food Service Director. Their look around the kitchen confirmed some fears (small budget, time constraints, lotsa processed food) but also highlights some hopeful areas (space, equipment, and a daily homemade soup). It’s a very interesting first look into one local school kitchen, showing some of the challenges to providing fresh, local food to students. We’re eager to keep learning from Dover’s efforts to transform their system.

Things to Do: Willow Pond Community Farm will hold its Spring Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 24 at Pilgrim Church on Rtoute 111A in Brentwood. Many types of certified organic vegetable seedlings will be available, including tomatoes (20-plus varieties), peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, greens, herbs and more. To preorder your plants, e-mail and request an order form, or download the order form from the farm website at 778-8881.

Erin J. writes in: “Just thought I’d pass on the word about a walking/educational event at Emery Farm (across from Wagon Hill in Durham): A Behind the Scenes at Emery Farm – On Sunday, June 1, 2008, 1:30 to 5:00 PM, Emery Farm invites families
to come and explore one of its newest conservation lands and learn
what it takes to make Emery Farm function. This walk will be on easy
trails and will take place rain or shine. Wear appropriate footgear,
and please leave pets at home. Call Cynthia Belowski at 868-5562 for
more information. Meet at the Emery Farm stand off of Route 4. This
walk is sponsored by the Durham Land Protection Working Group and the
Durham Conservation Commission.

And don’t forget to visit Slow Food Seacoast at the SGA tent tomorrow morning if you’re at the SGA Portsmouth Farmer’s Market. We’ll be there with the latest calendar of events, our beautiful new tote bag for sale, and plenty of information about local markets, local foods, and local businesses. Thanks!

In the News: Yellow House Farm

Today, the Seacoast Online Food section posted a great Slow entry, “Barrington Farm Aims to Save the Chickens.” Friends of Slow Food Seacoast have been getting to know Yellow House Farm this year, through their participation at the Slow Food Seacoast CSA Fair, and a session on livestock (taught with Lasting Legacy Farm) at the Kittery Adult Education’s SOLE Food Series.

At the Barrington farm, poultry farmers Joseph Marquette and Rob Gibson are working to preserve heritage breeds of chickens and turkeys, including many varieties (like the Narragansett Turkey) found on the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity’s Ark of Taste.

Heritage breeds have been showing up in the national media, as well. Last week on NPR’s All Things Considered, we heard about “Saving Endangered Species One Mouthful at a Time.” The topic showed up once again on NHPR’s “Word of Mouth” show on “Endangered Food.”