The Real Foodie

Tag: local food

Jamaican Lunch


Jamaican local and organic lunch

This week I traveled to Jamaica for a short visit to oversee the renovations at our family rental house. I was tired from standing all day and breathing in paint fumes and needed a nourishing meal to pick me up. While in between meetings I took a quick taxi ride to Hopewell, the nearest town, to buy some ackee, breadfruit, coconut and okra, from the roadside fruit stall at the main junction in town. It was such a treat to sit down to this delicious nutritious meal of local, organic vegetables made by our amazing cook, Ana, accompanied by a glass of refreshing coconut water. The ackee, tomatoes, okra and plantain were sautéed in extra virgin coconut oil from Belize which I bought in Ocho Rios at Progressive Foods supermarket—a chain of supermarkets selling a wide range of local and organic foods, part of a growing organic movement in Jamaica.  The lettuce was from a local organic farm and our driver Kenny picked the avocado for me from the tree in his garden.

For years, while growing up and throughout my twenties, I had to settle for low quality, imported food when I came here but now that I come so often, since managing our house, I have found the resources for local, organic food and it has made all the difference to my experience and the way I feel. Along with my morning hour of running, swimming and yoga, instead of getting fat and tired like I used to, I stay in shape and feel great.

Canteen, London

Interior at Baker street location.

‘It’s amazing to think how far London has come as an eating town since [the early nineties], and the progress restaurants have made is nowhere exemplified better than at Canteen.’ Giles Coren, London 2010.

I had been wanting to go to Canteen for a while because I have their cookbook, Great British Food which came up in my search online for popular cookbooks last year. I love traditional British food and the recipes bring me right back to my childhood. We had lunch at the restaurant in Spitalfields and I was not disappointed. The food was excellent; it was by far the best restaurant we had been to in London and we returned two more times throughout our trip. This was confirmed to me by my stepfather: a true old fashioned gentleman who has spent most of his life wining and dining at the finest restaurants in the world; and came down from Scotland to meet us at the restaurant in Baker street for dinner. He told me he has never felt better after eating at a restaurant because the ingredients were of such high quality. This is not regular traditional British food like the kind you can find in restaurants all over England, especially pubs, which is loaded with additives and far from what our ancestors ate; this is real traditional British food because it is seasonal, nationally sourced, cooked from scratch (many restaurants buy pre-prepared food), their meat is pasture raised and additive-free, and their fish is sustainable, delivered daily from boats on the south coast. Their menu and design are reminiscent of classic British cafes of the past and their philosophy is honest, casual all day dining at a reasonable price.

Daylesford, London


Across the street from the Pimlico market, Daylesford is an organic farm shop and cafe selling organic produce, prepared food, and pastured meat, dairy and eggs from their own organic farm in Gloucestershire. They have three locations in London, one in Surrey and one in Tokyo. We had a delicious lunch at the cafe in Pimlico and brunch at the cafe in Notting Hill, which has replaced the old Fresh and Wild market: one of the first organic supermarkets in London where I used to buy my organic food over ten years ago. It is on the trendy Westbourne Grove and is giving the popular conventional brunch hang out, 205 Cafe two doors down, a run for its money.

Pimlico Farmers’ Market, London


When I went to London for my long overdue trip back to the city where I grew up, I arrived just in time for the Saturday Farmers’ Market in Pimlico (my mother’s local) to buy raw milk for Olivia. I was impressed that they were selling raw milk in plain sight, something which doesn’t happen in the US (usually it has to be bought secretively as if doing a drug deal!). The market is part of London Farmers’ Markets: a group of certified farmers’ markets around London, established by the food writer Nina Planck in 1999. Nina Planck wrote the book Real Food which along with The Weston A. Price Foundation and The Body Ecology Diet, made a lasting impact on me and is THE book that anyone interested in adopting a healthy diet should read, as it has a very straightforward and simplistic approach.

I was amazed by how much more modern and multicultural the city has become since my last visit and especially since I left ten years ago. While London has always been one of the leaders of the organic movement (it was where I first started eating organically in my early twenties), there is now a vast array of options for me in terms of real food when I visit. I remember during my first trip back after I left, in 2004, my friend took me to the Marylebone Farmers’ Market and it was the first of it’s kind that I had seen. Back then I wasn’t yet a real foodie, I was still just an industrial organic foodie, (eating foods that were labeled organic but not unprocessed, sustainable or from animals that were humanely treated and pastured) and so I couldn’t appreciate it as much as I do now. Now there are 21 certified Farmers’ Markets across the city and several shops and restaurants serving real food.

Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, Miami Beach


I was so excited when this southern style restaurant opened in October 2011 in South Beach, where there was not one restaurant that served real food, I could hardly wait. I waited for months after passing it by each day, still under construction. I could tell it was going to be a farm-to-table restaurant by the style of the graphics they used for their shopfront sign and window posters and though I was being overly optimistic (in hopes of a change in the area), I was miraculously right in the end!

The only other restaurants we would go to before Yardbird Southern Table & Bar opened were Sustain Restaurant which closed in May 2012, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink or Harry’s Pizzeria (both the same owner) who also get most of their ingredients from local, organic farms, but coming from New York City, this selection was very limited. (We later started going on a weekly basis to BM Organics in Fort Lauderdale which is by far our favourite restaurant of all time and has a standard of food beyond any other restaurant I have been to because they source a hundred percent of their ingredients from local organic or Amish farms in Pennsylvania and strictly adhere to the principles of the Weston A Price Foundation.)

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar have become a huge success; they are busy every night and it is impossible to get a table on a weekend night (unless you are a regular like we are). They fry their pastured chickens in lard (their fries unfortunately in canola oil unless you ask for lard) and the majority of their food comes from local, organic farms. They are not a hundred percent organic (I discovered one time after eating their Adluh stone ground grits that they were GMO and they use conventional mayonnaise for their devilled eggs) but if you choose carefully you can have a real food meal, which is priceless in a town as small as South Beach.

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar was one of the winners of the 2013 Slow Food Miami Snail of Approval.

Update: In May 2012 BM Organics Market closed down. In July 2013 the chef and partner at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Jeff McInnis, left and has been replaced by Clay Miller.

Fish Market Manantiales, Punta del Este, Uruguay


Olivia, my husband and I drove up the coast of Uruguay after staying at my husband’s family’s farm, to spend the weekend in the beach town of Punta del Este. While looking for places to have dinner we came across this seafood restaurant which was by far the best restaurant we had been to in the area of La Barra and we loved it so much we returned the next day for lunch. The food was simple, healthy and delicious! The scene was laid back, bohemian chic and it was always packed. It was all outdoor seating surrounded by white and blue agapanthus, a small pond, green picnic tables under a white wooden slatted roof, an open kitchen; and umbrellas and bench pillows decorated with Roberta Freymann’s Roberta Roller Rabbit line of printed fabrics. I ordered a salad of sliced peaches with cherry tomatoes, mint and parsley and a main course of Abadejo: a pollock like fish, cooked a la plancha which came with an amazing side salad of cherry tomatoes, shaved pieces of red cabbage, fennel, carrots, spring onion, dill, parsley and sesame seeds in a lemon vinaigrette.

The next day we came back for lunch with Olivia and ordered the same fish, which she polished off almost entirely and a cold beetroot soup, which came with a firm scoop of mascarpone and crumbled pistachios on top. We left feeling satisfied and nourished, not full and regretful like I usually do after eating out. I will definitely be going back again on our next trip and would highly recommend it to anyone going to Punta del Este.

Lunch at Yardbird


After two days without power from the after effects of hurricane Sandy which flooded our basement, I thought Olivia needed a more varied diet than just fruit, raw yoghurt, avocado and raw cheese. Although it is important that a large percentage of one’s diet be made up of raw food, which is filled with many enzymes and nutrients that are destroyed through the cooking process, the fats found in pastured meat and minerals in bone broths are essential to health. So we went to one of the few restaurants in Miami that we go to, Yardbird Southern Table and Bar which serves mostly local or organic food (but not one hundred percent—the reason it is not my favourite—check out which is).

Olivia must have been craving some protein and healthy fats because she happily made her way through an entire plate of pastured chicken from White Oak Pastures and she had her first taste of fish roe taken off the top of my deviled eggs, which she enjoyed the look of but made a cringing face once the fishy taste exploded in her mouth. She finished off with some pickled cucumbers, which she loved as always. I felt much better as we went back to our dark and cold apartment, knowing she’d had a more full, varied and nutritious meal.

Trackside Cafe

I stumbled upon this adorable historic station house converted to a restaurant in Speonk, Long Island, while picking my husband up from the train station. After looking at the menu and reading that they used local ingredients, we decided to stop and have dinner. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was!

They are only open for dinner on Thursday and Friday nights with a special prix fixe menu. The rest of the time they are open for breakfast and lunch only. I started with spanakopita and tzatziki sauce, followed by a salad with blue cheese and a main course of roast Long Island duck with lingonberry sauce and wild rice, all of which were delicious. I wanted to stay for desert and try one of their homemade pies but it was getting late and Olivia wouldn’t allow it. The setting was beautiful with tables both inside and outside, lit only by candlelight and there was the occasional train passing by. It felt as if not much had changed since it was first built in the late 1800’s and reminded me of the cafe from the film I loved as a child, Fried Green Tomatoes. The owner was very friendly and sat next to us explaining the history of the station house. He was a cool guy with good taste who obviously had a love for old things and drove a vintage car. It is my dream to open a cafe like his.

I went back a few days later for breakfast after checking out their Facebook page to try their eggs from their own hens and homemade English muffins but was disappointed to find that they were ‘out of’ both. I settled for a banana bread pudding/French toast which was good but probably made from conventional bread, as it appeared the breakfast menu items mostly were. I didn’t ask as I didn’t want to stress myself out after having already eaten it. If only all of their food was local and organic. I will definitely, however, return for dinner someday.