Deborahmclaren's Weblog

Sustianable Tourism, Buy Local, Rural-Urban Connections

Archive for the ‘food and wine’ Category

Local Flavor Travel

Posted by deborahmclaren on November 1, 2010

Please join me on my new Facebook page which celebrates LOCAL food, art, culture, heritage and travel. Please feel free to post about locally-owned businesses, organizations and events! See you THERE!

Buying local is the best investment in our economy!


Posted in art, Buy-local, ecotour, entreprenuers, Fair Trade, family travel, food and wine, green music, Indigenous tourism, microenterprise, Minnesota, Saint Paul, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, theater, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Commodore Hotel writers and gangsters

Posted by deborahmclaren on September 8, 2010

Opened in 1920, the hotel and its elegant art deco bar attracted literary figures F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald , and Sinclair Lewis as well as gangsters Al Capone and Fred Barker. The hotel was renovated in the 1970s but still looks much like it did when Ma Barker met her son Fred’s girlfriend here.

1st Mondays at the Commodore, 79 Western Ave, 4-8pm. Cash bar, music, and conversation in the historic Art Deco Bar with unique, exotic treasures from world travelers, artists, designers, collectors and antique aficionados.

Fore more information: The Commodore Hotel, part of the University Club of Saint Paul

See you there!

Posted in food and wine, Minnesota, Saint Paul, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Minnesota Garlic Festival a zero waste event

Posted by deborahmclaren on July 29, 2010

5th Annual Minnesota Garlic Festival

Saturday, August 14, 2010
(2nd Saturday in August)
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson

Adults: $5, Kids under 12: $3, stroller/carried babies free

No Pets Please


Minnesota Garlic Festival is the premier event for lovers of garlic, great local foods and good times! Family friendly, fun filled and fragrant, this festival features fantastic foods, celebrity chefs, marvelous music, area artisans, goofy games and lots of GARLIC – all in support of a healthy environment, sustainable farms and vital rural communities in Minnesota.

Minnesota garlic growers will have the first of their fresh 2010 gourmet garlic crop at the festival, and it can keep in your kitchen for up to a year! There are over 100 varieties of the country’s finest garlic grown here, all planted in October, harvested in July, and cured to perfection just in time for the festival. Other than the great taste, it is well documented that garlic is one of the healthiest foods you can eat.

The Garlic Festival offers a unique culinary experience with a cadre of renowned Minnesota chefs converging at the festival cafe, “The Great ‘Scape”, and a sumptuous selection of celebrity chefs will present cooking demonstrations on the main stage throughout the day, all under the direction of the our Maven of Mmmmm, Mary Jane Miller. Check at the web site below in the summer to get the full roster.

We’ll continue our tradition of unique entertainment, with festival favorites returning, plus some new acts. There’s plenty of activities for the kids, including the popular kite flying attraction, the Peculiar Pragmatic Promenade, and old-style country picnic games.

MN Garlic Festival is A ZERO WASTE event! We make a concerted effort to produce no trash – if you can’t take it home, it’s recycled, re-used or composted.

Come to farm country and Taste the Bounty!

Sponsored by the Crow River Chapter, Sustainable Farming Association of MN and others.

For more information, contact:
See for more information.

Posted in Buy-local, food and wine, Minnesota, Slow Foods, sustainable tourism | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Food Museum and the Potato Museum – yo foodies and travelers!

Posted by deborahmclaren on June 9, 2010

I just came across a gem! The Food Museum! And their sister museum, The Potato Museum! As a lifetime potato girl, I’m intrigued, entranced, salivating and wanting more. They are cool cause they are also online museums and you can visit for free.

The Food Museum examines what we eat and how we eat it, where it came from, how it has evolved, what its impact is on the world, and what its future may be. It researches, collects, preserves, exhibits and explains the history and social significance of the world’s foods. The museum brings artifacts and programs to where people gather, both in person and on-line.

FOOD Museum Online offers exhibits on food history and food heritage sites. Their home page features temporary exhibits and serves as a gateway to food issues, their food news blog, educational programs, book reviews, other food favorites and links.

An American original, the potato is contradictory. What grows above ground is poisonous, what grows below is nourishing. And–though it develops underground, the potato is not a root.

Neither “humble,” nor “lowly,” the potato has traveled widely, stimulated scientific research, erased famine, delighted cook and diner alike, influenced popular culture, inspired artists, and changed history. Lauded as the “world’s most important vegetable,” it produces more nourishing food per acre than any other planted crop.

The tuber’s tale begins in the Andes region of South America, 8000 years ago. Visitors will explore the potato’s travels, how it grows, its influence on history, art, popular culture, and cuisine, as well as controversies surrounding the potato. Both the unraveling of the potato genome and the mystery of the origins of Late Blight are on display, too

The Potato Museum, started (1975) in Brussels, Belgium, is the world’s first museum about the potato and features the planet’s largest collection about this valuable vegetable. The Potato Museum is not a product of the potato industry. They are a non-profit educational organization dedicated to exploring the potato’s fascinating past, controversial present and promising future.

Explore the contrasts, the pros and cons that have swirled around the potato from the beginning, with its poisonous green fruit tempting up top, its powerful fuel hidden away in tubers below.

Check out the Spuds Unearthed!
May 15-October 17, 2010
2400 square feet of potato artifacts, info, imagery, music, genetic material, aeroponically-
grown potato plants, video, clues to the source of Late blight, spudheads, as well as science lectures, “Planet Potato,” a docent-powered Spud Discovery Cart, photography, and more. All in the East Gallery of the U.S.Botanic Garden, our nation’s garden and plant resource showcase right on the Mall in Washington, DC.


Posted in food and wine, museum, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Carrotmob is coming to town: St. Paul

Posted by deborahmclaren on May 19, 2010

Let’s oroganize a Carrotmob in St. Paul/Minneapolis. Keep reading the blog for more information. Also send in your ideas.


Carrotmob is a type of consumer activism in which businesses compete at how socially responsible they can be, and then a network of consumers spends money to support whichever business makes the strongest offer. We harness consumer power to make it possible for the most socially-responsible business practices to also be the most profitable choices. It’s the opposite of a boycott.

It’s easier to understand if you look at an example. In the first ever Carrotmob event, a liquor store agreed to invest in upgrades that made their store more energy-efficient. In exchange, hundreds of Carrotmobbers showed up at once to support the winning store. To the right is a video of that campaign, which explains the concept rather well. With over 50 events worldwide, this model is proven to work on a small scale. Next we are going to grow our network until we can apply the same method to large companies. Towards that end, we are currently incorporating Carrotmob into a new non-profit, building a team, and raising money to support a large expansion. Browse upcoming Carrotmob campaigns here.

Posted in Buy-local, food and wine, Minnesota, quite unusual, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Go Local: St. Paul, MN Grand Avenue

Posted by deborahmclaren on May 13, 2010

Grumpy Boy

Local travel takes you outside of the bubble that you can often find yourself in as a traveler. Instead of traveling from place to place and only really scratching the surface, local travel helps you to gain more of an understanding of a place, it’s culture, it’s environment, it’s economy and it’s people. When I travel I like seeking out locally-owned businesses – getting away from the ever-present corporate chains that you can barely avoid these days.  I’m going to start blogging more about my home town cause it rocks!

I love my town!  Saint Paul, Minneota is noted for its neighborhoods. The city has been called “seventeen small towns with one mayor, “ owing to the neighborhood-based life of much of the city. It’s fairly diverse, with lots of  Southeast Asian (Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Filippino), Indian, Somalian, Eritrean and Ethopian new immigrants – mixed in with lots of Scandinavian, German, and Mexican immigrants that have been here for a hundred years or so. And of course – this is the original homeland of the Dakota Medwaketon (Sioux/Lakota).

Grand Avenue, St. Paul

This afternoon my son, Anil and I stopped on Grand Avenue  just east of Snelling to visit Shish Meditteranean Restaurant for a treat.  He was in a very fussy, grumpy mood and needed food immediately!  It was our first time to visit Shish. We ordered a chicken gyro plate that included to-die-for-hummus (garlicky and smooth, with lots of paprika), fresh pita bread and a generous salad. Shish uses local foods whenever possible. They also make delightful treats – your basic baklava but lots of tempting chocolate desserts and M&M cookies.

Yummies at Shish

I noticed at least a dozen salads on the menu – great to know about here in the Northland where salads have tended to be very limited (except summer time) until recently where winter greenhouses and tunnel gardening are making headway). Shish was voted Best Restaurant by readers of the City Pages (the Twin Cities free weekly entertainment news).

Sam at Shish!

The staff person, Sam, tried to tempt Anil out of his mood with offers of cookies but he wouldn’t budge. He was enjoying his little gloomy spell to the fullest.  However, he finally couldn’t resist and had to try the chicken. It’s not-hot, but “grill” spicy and so tender it falls off your fork! And half the plate was piled with it.

It was an emergency stop but made us feel so much better that we decided to walk around and peek into some of the nearby stores. This part of town, near Macalester College, is full of little locally-owned stores and cafes. There’s an army surplus type shop, Cat-Man-Do restaurant, Tea Garden, the very eclectic Coffee News Cafe, Khyber Pass (my husband’s favorite), the Italian Pie Shoppe & Winery, Pad Thai Grand Cafe, Dunn Brothers Coffee, a couple of spas (I like New Beginnings), gift shops, a cooperatively owned Ace hardware store and Wet Paint – an independently owned art supply store (since the early 1970s I’ve heard). About two blocks away is Coastal Seafood, the Twin Cities best fish market.  We always enjoy popping into the hardware store to browse through the seasonal stuff.  It’s May so we scoped out the latest model bar-b-q grills, wooden Adirondack chairs, gardening supplies and seeds. Our visit reminded me to take my torn window screens in for repair before the bugs arrive in full force.

Since this area is surrounded by small colleges most of the cafes provide wifi, won’t rush you, and have excellent food and fair prices. The area is a mix of college students, local residents, and adventurous diners.

I love my town! If you’re from the surrounding area, visiting, or just driving through, Grand Avenue is not far from I-94 (south at Snelling exit) and is a nice place to visit. It’s accessible by bus routes and is easy to bike to.  It’s an excellent place to get over the grumpies.

Posted in Buy-local, food and wine, Minnesota, Saint Paul, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Show Your Fair Trade, Organic Love on Valentine’s Day

Posted by deborahmclaren on January 22, 2010

Valentine’s Day Flowers and Chocolates that Support the Environment!

According to TransFair USA, the Fair Trade Certified label on your bouquet means that flower workers, most of whom are women, can put food on their tables, send their children to school, invest in community development, and use sustainable farming methods.

The best idea – buy locally! However, if you live in a northern climate like I do, that’s not always easy to do so you want to check with TransFair to determine where you can purchase certified flowers. You can also order organic flowers online for delivery, and support a good environmental cause at the same time – what’s not to like?

For local flowers, first search Local Harvest and find a floral farm, farmer’s market or CSA near you. By cutting down on transportation distances, you’ll be supporting local business and saving on carbon emissions – something anyone would love. Local blooms vary, so Local Harvest also offers lots of unique choices that can be ordered from their site.

One World Flowers believes in supporting sustainable business practices, human rights compliance, and fair compensation for workers in countries all over the world. According to their mission statement, “Suppliers of agricultural products are often pressured by American and European companies to lower costs in order to keep prices low for consumers. Many people don’t realize that because of this, hundreds of thousands of workers in South America, Asia, and Africa are exposed to physical, mental, and sexual abuse each day at work. In the floral industry, most of these workers are women who are not paid fairly for the long hours they are sometimes forced to work. In addition, workers are not given protective gear to wear when dealing with the dozens of harmful chemicals that are used to grow flowers. As a result, many of their children are stillborn or have major birth defects. Fair Trade is changing all of this!”

The Organic Consumer’s Union has made it easy for us to choose not just flowers but lots of other special Valentine’s day treats for our loved ones. Check out their suggestions for fair trade, organic flowers and chocolate!

My pick this year is EcoLogic Development Fund’s organic bouquet.

This Valentine’s Day show your loved one how much you really care with an organic bouquet! EcoLogic has teamed up with Organic Bouquet to offer you a special opportunity.

Purchase a special bouquet of sustainably grown Crown Majesty Roses for that special someone and Organic Bouquet will donate 10% of your purchase to EcoLogic. (The full 10% will be applied at checkout.)

You can show your love for your valentine and the environment at the same time! Visit Organic Bouquet today at
to get your flowers delivered in time for the holiday!

Next week I’ll take a peek at eco-friendly Valentine get-aways and organic wines.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted in Buy-local, Fair Trade, food and wine | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

New Years Menu – Go Local!

Posted by deborahmclaren on December 29, 2009

I’m thinking of some good dishes for New Year’s Day. Everyone knows you have to have black eyed peas – for good luck! My intent is to have as much local food as possible, and in Minnesota that’s kind of hard in the winter. We’re just starting hoop houses.

Send me your suggestions if you have them.

My thoughts so far:

some kind of winter soup (roots, mushrooms, grains)
roast beef
gluten-free bread
frozen yogurt dessert and/or chocolate
home-made chai with Summit Farms milk!

Posted in Buy-local, food and wine, Minnesota, mushrooms | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by deborahmclaren on December 4, 2009

I just wrote a great blog about why we should buy organic bamboo (clothes, utensils, etc) and LOST IT. I cannot go back and figure it out at this moment. It’s sustainable, it’s comfortable, it’s lightweight… anyone got a problem with that?

Posted in Buy-local, food and wine | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Salmon-free wines

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 22, 2009

Nope. Doesn’t mean your wine is free of fish – (mmm… like so many wines are inclined to be…)

“It means that essentially, Salmon-Safe wine growing is an effort to help preserve and sustain Northwest salmon habitats by requiring that vintners commit to not polluting the groundwater and surface water that may flow from vineyards into the streams and rivers where salmon live and spawn. Each vineyard must meet a rigorous set of guidelines specific to efficient irrigation and water conservation measures, erosion control, integrated pest management, and native vegetation and habitat management.”

I’m a serious fan of Washington’s boutique wineries and this is good news! Check out a great article “Tasting Notes: Salmon-Safe Wine”
by the lovely Shannon Borg in Seattle Magazine by clicking the link above.

Also note a program in Oregon at

Posted in food and wine, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: