Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Ripe for Change" Southern Circuit 2nd Blog

Last night's screening and discussion at the Jule Collins Smith Museum in Auburn, Alabama went very well. The museum and it's staff were wonderful especially Scott and Andrew.

One grad student who came to the screening asked if it was California's climate(s) that allowed peach farmer David Mas Masumoto, author of "epitaph for a peach" to grow such fine peaches like the Suncrest variety organically. He said that beetles were a real problem to peach growers in Alabama and they were forced to use pesticides. I asked him to send me an email and I would ask Mas to share his secrets of organic farming in the great central valley of California.

Ross McElwee's 1986 film "Sherman's March" started out as a documentary about General Sherman's march to the sea wiping out as much of the south as possible. Instead it became meditation on love after McElwee's traumatic breakup with a girl friend.

Unlike McElwee, who in the film, slept with all his old girlfriends along the path Sherman took to the sea (documenting it very well by the way), on the Southern Circuit Tour with "Ripe for Change" I am going to be eating my way to the sea. I end up on the outer islands near Brunswick, Ga on the 26th. Along my path I will be enjoying southern food and culture and writing about it in this blog.

Last night I had a tasty, fresh, local sample of the great foods grown in Alabama. In fact, what blew me away was the "Sand Mountain" warm tomato tart I had at the Ariccia Restaurant at the Hotel at Auburn University. It was unlike any other tomato tart I have ever had. A whole tomato from the university's "Sand Mountain" agricultural research center was crowned by a slice of delicious goat chees and carmelized onions and sitting on a flaky crust (see attached photo). The dish by chef John Hamme won the 2007 Alabama State Dish Award and deserves the title. Chef Hamme was kind enough to explain his presentation of the dish. His staff, Billy Hankins and the server whose name I did not get were very helpful and cordial to me as a guest. Two great young bartenders, Lisa and Daniel took care of my libations serving me a perfect margarita straight up. In addition to the Sand Mountain agriculture facility, Daniel trned me on to the university's Lambert Meat Science Laboratory. I did not get a chance to visit any of the university's ag sites but I would have liked to find out more about their agriculture practices.

Onward to my six hour drive to tonight's screening at the Manship Theater in Baton Rouge. See you there.