Buy Fresh! Buy Local!

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Buy Fresh! Buy Local!

I find it especially enjoyable wherever I am to seek out locally-raised products. This helps me to gain a sense of place and understanding for my surroundings and helps ensure the products I am consuming are the freshest and best quality available. This is a time-honored tradition in Italy, where you can literally taste the essence of a particular area or region, i.e. the rich volcanic soil in the Naples area yields the world famous San Marzano tomatoes, and grapes such as the red Aglianico, and white Greco di Tufo, both which result in wines that are rich in minerals. The buffalo mozzarella from the Campania region, luscious, creamy, and bursting with flavor speaks to the rich diet of the local water buffalo in this region. Italy is truly amazing- the fresh, local nature of the Italian table, where even simple things like lettuce, tomatoes, milk, cheese, eggs, and fresh fruit taste incredible, it is like having your taste buds amplified the minute you step off the plane. Canteloupe in Italy tastes like sugar, even lettuce has a slightly mysterious, yet appealing flavor, who would have guessed? Regular milk that accompanies your coffee or froths atop your cappuccino tastes richer than heavy cream in the States. The eggs in Italy are a deep orange color, more like duck eggs at home– ever wondered why Spaghetti Carbonara in Rome tastes so good?

The good news is you can enjoy the local bounty anywhere, even right at home. Americans are increasingly conscious of what they are eating– more and more people are making a point to seek out the best, and are looking to support their local farmers, growers, ranchers, and artisans. I like to visit my local farmer’s markets and make a point to inquire as to what is fresh, local, and in season, whether I am shopping in a market, or dining out. I have had the pleasure of enjoying many wonderful things in my travels, at home in Florida, or traveling around the country, that I might not have experienced, simply by asking what was local and in season. I’ve gotten to enjoy freshly caught fluke in Nantucket, Oysters from Gardiner’s Bay on Long Island’s East End, soft-shell crab in Maryland in June (always a treat) Lobsters in Maine, and stone crab in Florida, to name a few. My advice: whether in restaurants or markets, ask for what is local and in season.

While we are fortunate to live in a country where practically anything is available anytime (we can buy strawberries year-round for example), still nothing tastes quite like strawberries that are freshly picked and ripened on the vine locally, whether you are in California, Florida, or New Jersey. I employ my “When in Rome” philosophy to everything, I want to experience anyplace I am fully, as though I were a local. Recently, I was in  Sarasota, Florida, one of my “hometowns” where I attended high school and still consider myself a “part-time resident” having lots of friends, family, and clients in town. Sarasota is known for its splendid white sand beaches, cultural amenities, and a burgeoning  restaurant and food scene, focusing ever more on locally-raised and grown. Aside from the obvious delicious local citrus and produce during the winter months, Sarasota is home to Mote Marine Laboratory, a renowned aquarium and research facility, that is definitely worth a visit.

As a connoisseur of fine foods and gourmet products, I was intrigued to learn that Mote Marine has been sustainably raising Siberian Sturgeon and producing their own caviar since 2006. I recently had the pleasure of trying it over fresh blini’s at a local restaurant, and I was blown away. It tasted every bit as good as the imported caviar I was accustomed to. Recently, I purchased a 2 ounce tin ($110) along with some Carr’s water crackers and creme fraiche and along with a nice cold bottle of champagne, showed up at a party. I was the hit of the night, and everyone there (mostly locals) had not tried Mote Caviar (many were unaware they were raising caviar) were amazed by the mild, luscious flavor and texture. What’s even better, the price was roughly half that of the imported caviar I usually purchased for a special occasion.

Mote Caviar is available at Whole Foods stores throughout Florida, as well as Morton’s Market in Sarasota, and can be found online and is featured in many restaurants and hotels. If you like to indulge in caviar, I highly recommend you give Mote a try! To learn more, visit Mote Marine Caviar:

Bottom Line: wherever you may be, at home or while traveling: Buy fresh! Buy Local! You will most certainly be rewarded!

About Fred Bollaci

I'm CEO and President of Fred Bollaci Enterprises. I lost more than 100 pounds while living "La Dolce Vita" and I'm now known as "The Healthy Gourmet." Sample the good life with me through fitness, fine food, and good wine. Meet chefs who cater to a healthy gourmet lifestyle through my Golden Palate blog.
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