30 January 2009


Donny has a favorite bread called Black Pepper Parmesan that is made by Manhattan Bread & Bagel.  He will often ride his bike down on Tuesdays to the Manhattan Beach Farmers' Market to pick up a loaf or two.  Even though he likes to make that ride a couple times a week for exercise, its a long way to go just for bread.  Twenty-four miles roundtrip to be exact. Last time he was at the market, the guy told Donny MB&B will start selling products at the Venice Farmers' Market. Wonderful!  So this morning we rode the 1/2 mile and scoured the small, but plentiful market and found MB&B around the corner at the end.  Much to our surprise we walked up to a dozen plastic containers full of...bagels.  Donny nicely asked the guy if he had any bread.  The man replied simply, but with some anger and resentment, that he is only allowed to sell bagels and he can't sell anything else.  So I bought a bagel (and it was really tasty!).  

Disappointed, Donny found Jim who is the guy that runs the Venice Farmers' Market. Jim decided to give us a little lesson in big business.  His speil was basically about how The Breadman has been here for 14 years and MB&B has been here for 2 weeks.  He contests that MB&B is actually a bakery and has too much inventory.  Not sure why that's a bad thing.  He went on to say that if MB&B can sell anything they want then the Bread Man will be out of business.  And then an even larger company will come along and push out MB&B.  The moral of the story, according to Jim, is that soon we'll just have only big businesses at the farmers' market.  Yet oddly, the Rockenwagner stand sells anything they want (including bread) - they are not only a bakery, but a cafe too!  With 3 locations!  That seems to be a much larger establishment than MB&B.  I think a little competition is good and it also gives people options.  There isn't just one stand that sells orange juice or just one stand that sells berries, so why can't we have more than 2 stands selling bread?

Here is one of the rules from the Venice Farmers' Market Operating Rulebook8. Producers are admitted into the market based on the following considerations: consumer demand, product mix or competition at the VFM, and/or seniority on the waiting list.

I tend to think we're pretty knowledgeable about our local bread and we weren't there just to give Jim or the Venice Farmers' Market a hard time. We've had at least a dozen experiences with The Bread Man bread going stale in a matter of days. We've tried so many things, including putting it in the bread box, a plastic bag, a paper bag, a plastic bag in a paper bag. And though Rockenwagner has amazing challah, the normal bread loaves are extremely dense and dry that it is often impossible to cut or bite down. All we want is our Black Pepper Parmesan bread.  Isn't that enough consumer demand?

09 January 2009

Living Locally returns to Los Angeles

I am not ashamed to say that at the core, Donny and I are lazy when it comes to cooking and preparing food.  While we do like to make our own food and create homemade dishes our natural instinct is to go out to a restaurant or get something delivered.  Last night was no different.  We had not "thought" about what to make for dinner, which translates to "we think" there is nothing to eat.  Of course there is a small mountain of local chicken, bison, turkey and beef in the freezer, but that would need to be thawed and thawing takes time.  Time that you don't have when you want food that second.  For a moment I unknowingly mislead Donny into thinking that we had salad mix.  When he found out that we didn't (my mistake), he was briefly let down and then realized, wait, we have our own salad mix!  Donny went up to the rooftop garden.  In barefeet and pajama pants he went grocery shopping for fresh lettuce.  

06 January 2009

Local Pennsylvania Edition: Dining in Harrisburg

Donny and I had a brief, but busy trip back east for the holidays.  While visiting friends and family in the Harrisburg area we had planned a night out.  Since we spent the week eating mostly home cooked meals & fast food we thought a dinner at a nice restaurant was in order.  One of Donny's friends picked the place.  Our only request was that it didn't serve light beer or hot wings.  Let's just say we didn't have high expectations.

Upon our arrival to Mangia Qui, I was pleasantly surprised. This Italian restaurant Ben brought us to had a romantic interior and a nice wine list.  After just a few moments I heard the waitress describe one of the appetizers and all of a sudden I heard three magic, unexpected words "local and organic".  To our shock, we had found the one restaurant in all of Harrisburg that not only serves organic, but also local fare!  The food was delicious and I look at central Pennsylvania in a new way.  The wine list and some of the ingredients are not all local, but their mantra is simple: We embrace fair trade, environmental, and economic sustainability. We do this, with you in mind, as well as the health of our planet. 

If you live in the area, I suggest signing up for their newsletter and updates.  I learned that the owners are in the process of opening another restaurant in the area.  According to one of the servers this new place will in fact be all local.

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