Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama Restaurant Watch

From Obama's favorite Chicago restaurant, we learn how to make ravioletto.

The St. Petersburgh Times has a good scorecard on who is who in the Obama Foodie Universe.

Michael Pollan

Claim to fame: University of California, Berkeley, journalism professor, activist and author of bestsellers The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food.

Why he matters: Pollan's exhaustively researched books explain to the masses how food gets to our table, and it's not always pretty. He is a critic of industrial agribusiness, which, he says, has lost touch with the natural cycles of farming. He is also an expert on the Western diet.

What he says: "A health claim on a food product is a good indication that it's not really food, and food is what you want to eat."

Alice Waters

Claim to fame: Chef-owner of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., and founder of the Edible Schoolyard project at a middle school there. The students grow some of their own food and help prepare it for lunches. The project has been copied around the country and the garden re-created in 2005 on the National Mall in Washington as part of the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival.

Why she matters: Waters nearly single-handedly changed the American palate by creating "California Cuisine" in the 1970s, which has since spread throughout the country. The hallmark of the movement is eating local, preferably organic, food in season. Credit her for introducing goat cheese and baby greens to our dinner tables.

What she says: "You buy from the right people, you support the right network of farmers and suppliers who care about the land and what they put in the food. If we don't preserve the natural resources, you aren't going to have a sustainable society."

Dan Barber

Claim to fame: Farmer and chef-owner of two New York restaurants, Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Farms in Westchester. He also appears occasionally on the Bravo series Top Chef.

Why he matters: His devotion to sustainable agriculture and eating close to the land has made him a go-to source for many food journalists. He frequently writes about food himself and is an adviser to Harvard Medical School on health and global environment issues.

What he says: "No one wants farmers to suffer, especially chefs. But if we're spending $20 billion or so a year on farm subsidies, we ought to invest in the foods we eat."

Wendell Berry

Claim to fame: Prolific writer of novels, short stories, poetry and essays and a farmland philosopher from Kentucky who is a staunch supporter of agrarian values.

Why he matters: At 74, Berry has been writing about America's relationship with the land for decades and warning about damage to cropland from large-scale farming. He writes eloquently about how industrialized agriculture has fundamentally changed what we eat and moved us further from what he believes should sustain us: real food and a connection to where it comes from.

What he says: "The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing, responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope."

How happy am I to see a poet? V happy!

I'm interested to learn what stoat thinks of the wine served at Obama's first state dinner. Stoat, cold or warm????

More than you could ever want to know about food and Obama at Obamafoodorama.

Photo found here.

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