Here are (some of!) the spoils of our holiday visit to the Bay Area — Ratto’s own White Wine Vinegar and California Olive Oil sparkling — sparkling in the Maine winter sun.
In Maine we say that summer has peaked and is now coasting downhill toward the dark valley of winter when the goldenrod heads erupt in a spray of gold the sun’s light that has blanketed our fields and pastures since the end of Spring’s rain.
Our last “foodie” stop on our trip was in another mountain area, north west of Coonoor and back in Karnataka state but right on the Kerela border, referred to as “Coorg” although that seems to be a colonial era term and is not found on any maps. Significantly we would be entering a dense chunk of the Tata Empire as guests of their hospitality division surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of their agricultural division which they proudly announced that they sold most of their coffee production to Starbucks.
Continue reading “Plantation Pundit”
The view from the upper bungalow at Acres Wild Farmstay, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
Our journey after Melkote began with being picked up by a driver and his car as we said our goodbyes to the Kouragi family and thanked them for hosting us. We had arranged through a travel agent that specialized in culinary focused travel to visit a cheese maker, and to visit a coffee plantation before we had to leave India. We had four nights left, and two of them would be spent at Acres Wild, a “22 acre, family-run organic cheesemaking farm and farmstay” according to their website. First we had to get there.
Continue reading “Acres Wild”
Sambar in the cup, pepper pickle, mint coconut chutney, and a stir-fry veg main dish surround a Finger Millet cake (Ragi Roti) on my plate at one dinner.
Some of you may know that the title is NOT an invitation to dance (though, feel free…) but to eat a lentil-ish soup/stew that is served throughout the South India areas we visited on our trip. In fact it seems to be a central dish to the local cuisines, served all day in a little (often metal) cup beside your roti (bread) and/or rice, and the main dish (vegetable or meat). I found Sambar SO satisfying that I was often tempted to consume multiple cups of it in one sitting, though the local consumers appeared to treat it as a complement to the main dish and primarily for moistening and flavoring your bites of bread and rice in combination with the main dish.
Continue reading “Everybody: SAMBAR!”
We traveled by train and car from Bangalore to Mysore to Melkote to Coonoor to Coorg and then back to Bangalore. Mostly we were in the southern end of Karnataka state, but Coonoor is just over the border in the southern-most state of Tamil Nadu. In Coorg we stayed less than 10 miles from the Kerela state border, and less than 40 miles from the Arabian Sea coast.
There are several large reservoirs in southern Karnataka which allows for constant irrigation, even in the dry season of crops like coconut and rice and sugar cane which are major cash crops in the area.
The agriculture was just so different than anything I’ve ever experienced I kept a list of all the food crops I saw being grown, followed by a few crops I did not see being grown but saw offered at the markets.
Continue reading “Crops Seen In South India”
Sign on the dining room wall in our resort “bungalow” amid the coffee and pepper plantations of Coorg in Karnataka, India.
According to their website’s home page the Janapada Seva Trust is “a voluntary organisation functioning in and around Melkote a mofussil town” [meaning rural and not originally part of the East India Company regions of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras] ” in Mandya District of Karnataka, India since 1960. Inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and Sarvodaya philosophy the Trust has been striving to create a non-violent, egalitarian order of society. Its core area of work is welfare, education, rural industry, environment and agriculture.”
“Over the years the Trust has built a fine infrastructure for its activities. The accent of the Trust is on self-help and people’s involvement, the Trust seeks support not so much from the State as from people who care.”
We were told by it’s founder, Surendrah Koulagi, that it all began when a 10 year old boy learned about Ghandi’s Salt Satyagraha, or Salt March, that took place in 1930 as one of the first acts of a self-declared sovereignty from the British Empire by the Indian National Congress. When Mr. Koulagi began to understand the philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience, the power found in the action, and the simplicity of its message (“Satyagraha” is a synthesis of the Sanskrit words Satya (truth) and Agraha (insistence on)) he wondered what other important things could be accomplished by a simple insistence on the truth.
Continue reading “Insisting on Truth”