26 January 2012

No Lie: Real Good Food

Jim Dixon is the owner of Real Good Food and it’s no lie, his foods are real good.  PFM is a fan of good food in all of its glorious forms. At the heart of our mission is to support our region’s  farmers and food producers and one way we help do this is to provide our shoppers with what we call a Full Market Basket experience.  This means that shoppers can find high quality, authentically sourced ingredients and prepared foods that enhance and complement all of the farm-fresh produce and proteins filling your basket.

Jim collects killer food and oil  from all over and sells them at our Market once a month. This weekend he will be bringing Extra Virgin Olive Oil* from California & Italy, Hand-harvested sea salt from Portugal, Organic farro from Washington, Organic heirloom variety brown rice from California, Hand-harvested oregano from the Italian island of Pantelleria, Hand-harvested fennel pollen from Tuscany, Crystal hot sauce from New Orleans (Mardi Gras is coming up, don’t embarrass your gumbo with tabasco).

Last time I saw Jim he was telling me about a recent trip to Italy to meet up with his food suppliers. He was kind enough to share a few pictures from his trip. And then even threw in a few recipes for kicks. Visit Jim’s blog to learn more about the food and where it comes from or  stop by and say hi to Jim at the Market this Saturday between 10-2 .

Words and Pictures by Jim Dixon

*Extra Virgin

Tom Mueller’s excellent new book Extra Virginitycovers a lot of what’s right and wrong about the world of olive oil. Anyone who likes to eat should read it.

Lax Labor Laws

I’ve been telling the same story to my customers for nearly a decade. Most of what’s labeled “extra virgin olive oil” really isn’t. True extra virgin olive oil costs more because it requires a lot of care to produce. Extra virgin olive oil is an agricultural product, and the people who grow the olives and press them into oil suffer the same market vagaries as farmers who grow vegetables.

Albert Katz, one of my suppliers in California, lost a third of his crop a few years ago when freezing weather hit just before harvest. This season the cold came in the spring, damaging the buds that grow into olives, and his crop is less than a fifth of normal. Katz oils will be short supply this year.

Lack of regulation and dishonest producers do as much damage as bad weather. Factory farms and industrial processing means cheap oil, and lax law allows the label “extra virgin” to go on olive oil that’s been deodorized, refined, or cut with cheaper seed oils. A bottle of fake “extra virgin” olive oil can sell for much less than it costs to produce the same amount of real extra virgin.

Pure Stuff

Recipes

Shredded Brussels sprouts, leeks, and bacon
Dice a couple of slices worth of bacon into roughly 1/8 inch bits; cook over medium heat with a splash of olive oil until just starting to get brown. Add a leek that you’ve cleaned, split lengthwise, and cut into quarter inch slices. Cook the leek with the bacon for another few minutes.

Add about a pound of shredded sprouts. To shred: trim the ends if they look worn out, split top to bottom, lay flat side down and slice thinly. Cook the sprouts, leek, and bacon for another 5 minutes, taste for salt (the bacon adds some), and eat.

Roasted Winter Squash with Balsamico
Laura and Deeana served us this in Modena. The simple squash highlights the balsamico, and the vinegar transforms the humble vegetable. Use one of the larger, pumpkin-like winter squash; they’re a bit dryer than butternut, delicata, or acorn.

Cut the squash into slices about one inch thick; leave the peel attached. Arrange on a sheet pan that’s been drizzled with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of flor de sal, and roast at 350F for about 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.
Let each diner dribble a few drops of balsamic on their plate. Gently daub each bite of squash in the vinegar and eat. Or if you’re feeling flush, drizzle each slice with balsamic before serving.

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