An East Coast Locavore Spends the Holidays Out West

I just spent two weeks visiting family in Northern California. Almost as soon as the plane landed I asked myself, “What do I get to eat today that is local here but not back East?”

After I’d unpacked, I headed for the supermarket and bought locally grown limes and avocados. Back at my dad’s, I made some guacamole, washing it down with a glass of Napa valley Sauvignon Blanc.

If you take a peek at The Rules, you’ll see that I gave myself an olive oil exemption, so that is not something I’ve been deprived of since starting The 250. But the olive oil I use at home, though organic, is produced in Spain. At San Francisco’s Ferry Market I was able to buy oil pressed from the recent crop of local olives (early winter is olive harvest time). Yes, that flew back with me in my suitcase, along with:

A bag of Meyer lemons and other West Coast fruit my mom’s neighbors gave me. Mom also sent me home with pomegranate, which is in season now but doesn’t like harsh winters.

pomegranate seeds

A container of organic raisins from locally grown grapes (I know I should be able to get raisins in New York because we have local grapes and somebody could make raisins, but I haven’t found anybody who is. I tried making my own and it took four days with my dehydrator running nonstop to get one cup of raisins—hardly energy efficient).

California grown rice.

More local olive oil, this time from Corning, a town we visited on the drive north to my mom’s home in Yreka.

california olive oil

It is in The Rules that I can bring home food that is local to places I travel, so long as I can carry it in my suitcase without adding any baggage overweight charges. Mailing stuff back to myself is not permitted, because that would definitely burn additional fuel. My suitcase was heavy, but not too heavy. I stuck to the rules.

The day before I flew back, I made lunch in SF for two fellow Brooklynites and CSA members, Ruth Katz and Scott Blakeman. They were in SF because Scott was performing as part of a Jewish stand up comedy show in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas (no, seriously). I wanted to feature some ingredients that wouldn’t be local for us back home, and once again I turned to avocados and citrus. I used leftover holiday turkey in a tortilla-lime soup served with avocados and local sour cream (recipe below). My dad co-hosted the lunch, and I’m hoping he enjoyed a new level of appreciation for the avocados and limes that are local to him.

I was surprised to find out that it may cheaper to be a locavore in New York City than in San Francisco. Although the variety for this time of year was more impressive in SF, the fruits and vegetables on offer at were much pricier than those at home. I’ve come back with an even greater appreciation for the Greenmarkets in NYC.

Two days after I flew back I turned around and took a bus to Massachusetts to spend New Year’s Eve at the home of Jenny Giering and Sean Barry, along with other friends. We enjoyed Jenny’s wonderful cooking and Sean’s excellent wine cellar, but especially each other’s company. The weather obliged with a hefty snowfall, creating a postcard-perfect New England winter landscape.

new year’s 2008

I’m back.

Tortilla Lime Soup
Seves Four (recipe can be halved)

2 quarts turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
2 cups chopped leftover cooked turkey or chicken meat (optional)
1 c. chopped canned tomatoes (preferably those you canned yourself back in summer ;^)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small chile peppers, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 limes
1 large handful cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste
2 avocados
¼ c. sour cream

1 c. tortilla chips

Over medium high heat, reduce the stock by half.

In a medium sized soup pot, sautee the onion in the oil over low heat until starting to turn golden, 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and chile pepper and stir one minute more. Add the reduced stock, chopped turkey meat, and tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes more. Add salt to taste.

Just before serving, stir in the juice of two of the limes and half of the cilantro. Place half an avocado, cut into pieces that will fit on a spoon, in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the soup over the avocado. Spoon a tablespoon of sour cream into each bowl. Break up a few tortilla chips over the sour cream. Sprinkle remaining cilantro on top. Serve with additional lime wedges for those who want them.

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Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules



One response to “An East Coast Locavore Spends the Holidays Out West”

  1. acmeplant says:

    You’ve got me thinking about what to bring back from Santa Fe later this month. But most interesting is your comment on prices…I’ll approach Union Square with new gratitude.

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