Movie. Coffee. Conversation.

On the heels of yesterday's post, I am excited to announce the details of our first Fresh event:

Join us for a community screening and discussion of

Wednesday evening, October 7th
Screening at 7:00pm, Discussion at 8:15pm
at Burlap and Bean
The Shops at Springton Pointe
204 South Newtown Street Rd
Newtown Square, PA
$2 screening donation suggested

*I should take a moment to say that the title of the movie, FRESH, is not related to this blog other than a common interest in food and good taste in names (wink, wink).

For those of you who haven't yet heard of FRESH; it's an inspiring documentary about the visionaries who are making positive changes in our food systems. I caught a screening of it over the summer, and immediately appreciated the film's focus on innovative solutions in the face of challenges. As I have mentioned here, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the complexity of the issues facing our food system, but I left FRESH feeling like there is a way out, and that there is much that each of us can do to make a difference for our own health and the health of our environment... Not to mention for better access to delicious food! After the screening next Wednesday, we'll be opening up the floor to questions and discussion about the film with local organic farmer Rick Fonda of Skunk Hollow Farm and Greener Partners.

As for the location, it's a no-brainer. When I began making plans, it made perfect sense to approach the crew at Burlap and Bean about hosting the film there. Given their own dedication to good food, they were immediately on board and excited.

So if you're interesting in spending an evening with a good movie, good coffee and good conversation, we would love to see you there. And you won't go home empty-handed, take home resources on local and sustainable food will be provided after the movie. Hope to see you soon!

For more information, click here or here.

Small coffee, large cookie.

When I first heard about Burlap and Bean Coffee in Newtown Square, it was as the new music venue that was getting buzz in our area. Justin was the one to tell me about it and he, being a musician, could not wait to book a show there. At the time, we were most excited about the location (good music venues are rare in suburban Philadelphia) and the fact that the coffee house is a BYO. But the more we learned about Burlap and Bean, the more we liked.

In the run-up to Justin’s first show at B&B, he commented several times on the kindness of the booker, Tara Endicott. As a young musician booking shows, it’s not unusual to work with, ahem, creeps. But Tara and her business partners, Brent, Ben and Christi, are not only welcoming to the musicians they host, they actually go as far as to feed them before a show. And when I say musicians, I don’t mean Britney Spears. An extremely talented line-up of local and national acts comes through Burlap and Bean, and most of them don’t have extensive riders. In other words, the owners don’t feed the bands because they have to; they do it to support their community. To wit, Tara told me that in Burlap and Bean’s early days she would spend hours before a show making huge dishes of baked ziti and green salad for the band. Over time, a gourmet pizza from down the block has replaced the homemade ziti, but no one seems to be complaining… More than one band has told me that they prefer to play at Burlap and Bean over any other local venue.

This tangible feeling of community at Burlap and Bean has everything to do with the café’s owners. Brothers Brent and Ben Endicott, along with their wives Tara and Christi Endicott, opened Burlap and Bean in November 2006. Tara describes the family partnership as a four-legged chair; without one of them, the rest wouldn’t work. And as Brent puts it, “You’re not opening a coffee shop to get rich.” Instead, he explains that the rewards have more to do with being able to facilitate artists and community connections.

So what does all of this have to do with sustainability or local food? The short answer is that Burlap and Bean’s sense of community responsibility extends beyond music to the food and drink they serve. The coffee served at B&B is 100% Fair Trade Certified and organic, and made from beans roasted in house. Though the rest were quick to get on board, it was Ben who championed the exclusive use of Fair Trade and organic beans early on. By partnering with Transfair, Burlap and Bean ensures that the farmers who produce their coffee are paid a fair price for their labor and harvest. And by extension, Burlap and Bean customers are supporting these same farmers.

Many of the accompanying snacks, salads, sandwiches and baked goods are sourced from local producers. One of my favorite summer lunches this year included a House Mediterranean salad and an oatmeal cookie, both from B&B. The cookie was big enough for a meal itself, and maybe the best I've had.

It's no surprise that Burlap’s coffee beans have been picked up by several Whole Foods locations in greater Philadelphia, the Coffee Club and Selene Whole Foods Coop in Media to name a few. Most recently, B&B became the exclusive supplier of coffee to the White Dog Café in University City, and soon to be in Wayne. Founded in 1983 by community activist Judy Wicks, the White Dog is celebrated in Philadelphia for its support of local food and social activism. That they chose to carry Burlap and Bean speaks to the micro-roasters’ success. Or in Tara’s words, “[Getting picked up by White Dog] was like winning the Oscar for local small business. We feel so honored.”

For more information on Burlap and Bean, visit their site. Or better yet, bring a book and stop in for a coffee. I hear they have an excellent espresso roast...

And stay tuned tomorrow for an exciting Fresh event announcement!

{ Photos courtesy of Burlap and Bean and Jeff Wojtaszek Photography }

Note to self.

The next time that I have the brilliant idea to bake a decadent and nearly flourless chocolate cake on a random Sunday afternoon, and "put all but two slices of it in the freezer to savor over time," I should probably just get real.

I know that you can't see much in the photo, but what you can see is that the cake clearly did not make it to the freezer. And, to be honest, I may have had another teensy sliver while uploading the photo. Ouch.

To do this fall: develop a single serving version of this recipe...

An update and an apple tart.

Well hello. I've been away over the last week, and spotty internet access has thwarted plans for a couple of new Fresh posts. Mostly, I've been wanting to share an update about my whereabouts, and the exciting work that I'm going to be doing this fall.

The where is New York... Brooklyn to be exact. I've spent most of the last two weeks there, or on a bus between there and Phila. The what is an internship with Slow Food USA. While the 'internship' part may not sound ideal (as many of you know, I was on the hunt for a full time job) I have wanted to work for Slow Food USA (SFUSA) for so long that in some ways I feel like I've landed my dream job. I mean this. Last week, after going over a list of projects that I would be working on I had to stop myself from jumping up and down and clapping in my chair (not only would it have been embarrassing; logistically it just wouldn't have worked).

If you're not already familiar with SFUSA, I would definitely recommend a trip over to their website to get an idea of the scope of their work. If that sounds like a hassle, here is a quick overview: Slow Food is a food advocacy organization, whose international branch was founded in Italy in the late 80's. As the name hints, it was in part a response to a global increase in the presence of fast food, the idea being to recognize the importance of our food cultures and traditions, while acknowledging the connection between plate and planet. Because Slow Food is a member-based organization, chapters started forming all over the US until 2000, when Slow Food USA officially came into being. Now, the USA focus is grassroots advocacy for food that is good for us, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet.

The SFUSA mission takes its shape in various projects, campaigns and events, a great example being the Time for Lunch campaign that I mentioned the week before last. The campaign has been a very successful thus far, and I feel lucky to be there during this exciting and action-packed period of time. All of that to say, I'm looking at this internship like you might look at going back to school, as a learning opportunity. Thanks for bearing with me as I adjust to the new schedule, I'm looking forward to sharing the experience here once I get used to blogging from the Bolt bus.

And on an unrelated note, I baked my first tart yesterday. Early this weekend the weather seemed to say fall, and an apple tart seemed like the perfect Sunday dessert. Unfortunately, the temperature here cranked up near 80 yesterday, but that hardly damaged our enjoyment of baked apples on a sweet vanilla crust last night (a scoop of ice cream off-set the heat). I would consider this recipe a starter tart, perfect for those of you who, like me, aren't enthused by the idea of making a traditional tart crust. This version could not be easier, and I don't even own a food processor.

Time for Lunch.

Labor Day, wow. Is summer already on the way out? I am particularly reluctant to let go of it this year, but luckily that is not dampening my excitement for a relaxing Labor Day weekend in the mountains. No phone, no TV, no internet. I'm already breathing a sigh of relief.

That said, coming back to the hustle and bustle will be made slightly easier by an event I am very excited about on Monday: an pot-luck "Eat-In" as part of Slow Food USA's Time for Lunch Campaign and National Day of Action. Across the country, people will be getting together for a community meal in the hope that, if enough people get involved, congress will take note as they approach the renewal of a bill that determines funding for school lunches. In other words, it's kind of like signing your name to a petition by hanging out with new friends and eating good food... Clearly, sounds like a good plan to me.

Now I know many of us enjoyed our high school lunches of french fries and soft serve, myself probably most of all, but for many kids who don't go home to my mom's cookin', a school lunch is potentially the only chance for a healthy meal each day. It's also an opportunity to make healthy eating patterns for life. President of Slow Food USA, Josh Viertel, explains it well here.

If you're interested click here for more information on an Eat-In near you, or to host one yourself (it's not too late!). And if you can't make it to an Eat-In, you can still get involved by signing the Time for Lunch Petition here.

Have a wonderful and safe weekend all!