Monday, December 10, 2012

Highlands 30th Anniversary

Highlands 30th Anniversary

There are few Chefs that have had such a positive impact upon the great restaurants that we have here in Birmingham. Frank Stitt set the Bar very high 30 years ago and over the years Birmingham has become a great food destination.  When I first moved to Birmingham 20 years ago after traveling around the world working for famous celebrity photographers and realizing I needed some work. ( for lack of celebrity photographers to work for here in Birmingham ) Even I worked for Frank.  Though I must say handling celebrities and the demanding photographers I use to work with in Los Angeles, New York and London proved to be little help with pouring waters at Bottega. Yep I was terrible at it.  However it was a great introduction to the world of fine dining and  the hard work from everyone involved at these restaurants. Needless to say I am a good tipper now!  So it is always a pleasure to get to work with Frank Stitt and his great staff and to taste the food that Highlands is famous for not only here but around the country. I have done stories for several magazines and all of his restaurants this was a story for B Metro.  Congratulations on 30 years of great food!

Frank Stitt and some of the staff at Highlands Bar and Grill

Grilled Fudge Farm Pork Loin,  potato hash, caramelized onions, lardons and mustard greens in Bourbon-peppercorn gastrique

Pan Seared Snapper with butternut squash pilau, lady peas, lemon chive beurre blanc

Fried Okra with field peas, bacon and corn. 

Paradise Farm Roasted Pepper Salad with Feta, caper berries, marjoram, and Cerignola olives

Monday, December 3, 2012

Slow Food and Slow Moving

Slow Food and Slow Moving

"It is useless to force the rhythms of life. The art of living is about learning how to give time to each and every thing." 
Carlo Petrini, 
founder of Slow Food

As I look out at the world and see people going about their daily activities  I wonder what percentage of people actually take the time to slow down? Slowing down to cook their own food, taking the time to gather foods in season and grown close to them. Taking the time to turn off the televisions and break away from the internet and cell phones. And as a Tai Chi practitioner I wonder how many people take the time to stand still, or move slowly?  There are things a person will Never be able to see or experience in  life without taking the time to slow down and move slowly.  Think about that for just a minute...  A whole vast array of human emotion, sensitivity, awareness, understanding of the world around you, and nourishment for your body/mind is invisible to you unless you take the time to slow down. That's like never realizing there is more to life than eating fast food.

Here are a couple of great activities that you can do to slow down without knowing Tai Chi.
1. prepare, cook and eat  a meal slowly.
I mean eat a contemplative meal. keeping your attention on what you are doing, every time you have a thought that isn't about the meal you are engaged with  bring yourself gently back and pay attention to what you are doing.  ( side note here the goal is not to be free of distractions, you are human if you are breathing there will probably be distractions , the goal is to consciously bring your attention back when you are aware that you are distracted) 
2. take a slow walk in a safe place, it maybe your home, your back yard, the woods.  It is better outside in nature however I have walked very slowly thru my house and it is still a great exercise. The same thing goes with this exercise pay attention to what it is that you are doing. Any thoughts or distractions lightly bring yourself back to the activity with a smile.
3. Go someplace natural and stand completely still ( a minimum of 15min to 2 hours, although it doesn't really get good till about an hour) . Stand still in a safe place near ;the ocean, a stream, your back yard. Stand with your feet shoulder width and parallel knees slightly bent, legs Not locked!!!, let your arms and shoulders relax. and simply stand there. paying attention. Yes the same thing applies, when ever you have a thought about work, home , pets, bills, you bring your attention back to the activity with a smile. You can even say to yourself "thinking". then continue to pay attention.

Any one of these exercises is nourishment that you can get no other way. And it is free but the time and heart that you put into it.

This is also what is going on when you play Tai Chi, The activity does get a tad more complicated certainly more than just movement, but essentially you are moving slowly and paying attention to the activity.  I hope you enjoy slowing down.  By the way if you live in Birmingham you can study Tai Chi Here The New Forest Center.