Foodies’ Alert: Lucky Express

After nearly four years living in Bloomington, I’ve been very fortunate to find individuals who I connected with not only on an intellectual level, but bonded by one of our most basic needs: food. Some eat to live, we live to eat. And thus the first of many “Foodies’ Alert” begins.

Growing up in the Bay Area, the culture of supporting mom-n-pop establishments is ingrained into the fabric of our food souls. I am not just taking about small businesses. Thinking about a lackluster exterior that has seen better days with an eclectic medley of furniture forming the interior, yet the irresistible aroma of food and chattering of excited patrons in lines snaking around the small establishment fills the air. Such pure and soulful dwellings of culinary excellence must be recognized. In need of a Chinese fast-food fix? Look no further, Lucky Express is the answer to those cravings.

So much soul for one tiny hole-in-the-wall. Photo by Marta Shocket and Rashid Williams-Garcia.

Located on 3rd and Lincoln across from the Bloomington Police Headquarters. Image from Google Maps.

Handwritten menu items with Mandarin included just in case you are in the know. Photo by Marta Shocket and Rashid Williams-Garcia.

The small venue provides seating for your eating pleasures. And yes, that is faded mossy oak on the front counter panels. Hilarious. Photo by Marta Shocket and Rashid Williams-Garcia.

The necessary tools of the culinary bliss trade. Photo by Marta Shocket and Rashid Williams-Garcia.

A typical delicious meal at the establishment. Photo by Nancy Q.

An action shot! Hot wok over an industrial gas range stove. Photo by Marta Shocket and Rashid Williams-Garcia.

Remember to bring cash to help your local establishment Rage Against the Machine! Photo by Marta Shocket and Rashid Williams-Garcia.

It has been hailed “The best Chinese fast-food in Indiana,” the place is owned and operated by a very nice Chinese family whose likeness I will challenge you to get acquainted with. If you are a capsaicin fiend, this place will be absolute heaven. If not, they have alternative that will still blow your minds. My girlfriend and I recommend the eggplant w/ garlic sauce (not spicy) and double pork w/ dried tofu and jalapenos (spicy). Have fun and have a wonderful new year!

Bloomington is for (Slow) Foodies

Stranger's Hill Organic's stand at the Bloomington Farmer's Market.

Bloomington is a special place. Really. I mean it. There are so many good things about living in this town. The visual and performing arts scene is happening. There are fantastic ethnic restaurants. You can get a great cup of coffee in many restaurants and coffee shops. There is a community-supported cooperative grocery store called, what else, Bloomingfoods (http://www.bloomingfoods.coop/).

One of the things I have come to appreciate most about Bloomington is the commitment of its citizens to the community at large. For instance, there is a significant constituency who is committed to supporting local farmers and sustainable agriculture.  The size of the Bloomington Farmers Market is evidence of this (http://bloomington.in.gov/farmersmarket). The market runs on Saturday mornings nearly year round (yes, even in the winter!) and provides access to locally grown produce, grains, meat, eggs and cheese. In the spring months, you can also buy heirloom seeds and seedlings to plant in your own garden, and many vendors sell landscape plants. Several restaurants in town are even committed to purchasing food from local farmers: Lennie’s, FARM bloomington, Laughing Planet Cafe and Upland Brewing Company are just a few.

Having access to locally grown food has fundamentally changed the way my family eats. Now when I go to the grocery store, I don’t have to buy produce flown in from thousands of miles away. And I am more comfortable with the quality of the meat we eat because I have visited the farm (just 3 miles from my house) where the animals are humanely raised. My family eats more in tune with the seasons…this means no watermelon in January; we eat that in the late summer months when it’s offered by local farmers. It might seem that we have to sacrifice to eat this way, but in fact I have found the seasonal, local produce I do buy is more fresh and flavorful. My kids are even eating more veggies with less complaint.

If you are interested in local and sustainable food, it’s easy to get connected in Bloomington. There’s a Local Grower’s Guild (http://www.localgrowers.org/) and you can also find a number of community supported agriculture (CSA) groups that provide weekly deliveries of fresh produce, grains, and animal products. Initially, I found many CSAs through http://www.localharvest.org/, but I have been a CSA member of LIFE Farm (http://lifefarmcsa.com/) for the last three years. They provide a weekly basket of freshly picked, seasonal produce from mid-April through the end of October.

If you love food, Bloomington is a great place to live!