Posts Tagged ‘local’
Today we are thankful for Alice Waters and local food. We’re in an exciting time where food is in the spotlight and people are realizing that local tastes better. This shift towards farm to table restaurants, grocery stores (woo hoo!) and food trailers is in part thanks to chef Alice Waters. Back in 1971, Waters decided (with no prior chef experience) to open a restaurant.
In an old house in Berkeley, CA, Waters opened the doors of Chez Panisse, and has been helping shape the local food movement ever since. Her inspiration came from studying abroad in Paris during the 1960s. As she traveled around the country, she realized that the best flavors came from what was made, grown and sourced from France.
Taking this idea of local food tasting better, Chez Panisse menu consists of simple, local food prepared with a lot of love. Since opening, the restaurant has grown and fostered relationships with growers in California. Using weekly trips to the farmers market as inspiration, the menu is shaped by what’s available and what’s in season. And while Waters acknowledges the challenges of eating local (where are the bananas?), she urges people to get creative, “Eating locally is so particular. You have to accept that fact and celebrate what does really grow.”
Waters has taken the idea of a local, sustainable diet and moved it from the restaurant into the classroom. Seventeen years ago, Waters teamed up with Neil Smith, a principal at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School to transform an acre of asphalt into an Edible Schoolyard. They then added in a kitchen element, and by year five, the teachers at this public middle school taught ten 90-minute classes a week in both the garden and the kitchen. Since then, they’ve added chickens to the land, and now grow more than 100 varieties of seasonal vegetables, herbs, vines, berries, flowers and fruit trees. Best of all? They have served over 7,000 students. The work they are doing for the farm to school movement is huge, and if you’re seeking inspiration, go check out the multiple projects they’re working on to bring real, local food to the classroom.
Alice Waters is an inspiration. As a business whose ethos is to bring local, sustainable and seasonal food to our community, it’s not surprising that Waters was one of the main influencers for opening in.gredients. Last year at the Think Beyond Plastic award ceremony, one of our founders, Christian Lane, got the chance to meet Alice Waters. While discussing local food, Waters congratulated us on the work we’re doing, and encouraged the growth and expansion of in.gredients. To say we were flattered is an understatement. It’s not everyday you get kudos from a national local food leader.
When we look into the work of Alice Waters, our hope is restored. She’s living proof that with a lot of work, a lot of love and a strong passion and commitment to what you believe in, you can change the way people view and value their food. This Thanksgiving, raise your glass to individuals around the world who are bringing local back to the table.
Today we are thankful for our early adopters. We are grateful to the folks who looked at our business model and mission statement and said to themselves, “Yes, this is something I believe in.” Whether this support came in the form of funding our Indiegogo campaign, helping us dig our garden beds or shopping here since day one, we are thankful for each and every one of you.
The founders of in.gredients took the conventional grocery store model and flipped it on its head. In a country where over 40% of our food goes to waste and so much unnecessary packaging fills the shelves, in.gredients exists as an alternative. We are a small grocery store that serves our community sustainable, seasonal and local food. We believe in our farmers, ranchers and artisans and think that our money should stay within our community. in.gredients isn’t about convenience. We are about innovation and shifting the way people shop and interact with their food. So today, we are thankful for all of those that believe in what we are doing.
In 1962 a man named Everett Rogers published a paper titled, “Diffusion of Innovations” This paper sought to explain how, why and at what rate new ideas and technology spreads through consumers. Shaped like a bell curve, this idea shows that there are a small number of early adopters, and these are the folks that catch wind of an innovative idea, acknowledge its purpose, and sign up. From there, more and more people catch on and eventually this idea becomes a part of everyday life.
Source: Alta Street
While a majority of the real life examples apply to technology (DVD players, Apple iPods, etc.), this is a theory that can be applied to any innovative idea. In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, he asks the question why some leaders, businesses and organizations are so great at inspiring action and change. Referencing great leaders from our past, he suggests his Golden Circle idea. According to Sinek, every single person and organization knows what they do 100%, but very few people and organizations know why they do what they do. Not many organizations have pinpointed what their purpose is. Instead, they think from the outside in, first answering what, then how and finally why.
What makes inspiring innovators different, is that they answer the why first. They inspire by making believers out of their followers. As Sinek puts it, “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” These believers, they are the early adopters. They are the ones that will dive head first into the business before anyone else. They are the people who funded us before we opened, volunteered countless hours to help us build the store from the ground up, and continue to shift with us as we grow and adapt our business.
Today, we are raising our glasses to our early adopters. The people who heard about in.gredients, saw that we were pioneering the idea of a zero-waste grocery store, accepted that it would be a work in progress, and have supported us ever since.
Thank you for believing in us, we wouldn’t be here without your continued support.
Thanksgiving is a week away, and we have so much to be thankful for. We are honored to serve a community that values real, local food. We are inspired by all the people in our neighborhood who come together and make this place such a wonderful place to work. in.gredients wouldn’t be here without your support, so to kick off this week of giving thanks, we extend our gratitude to our customers.
A few of our regulars have captured our hearts. They are here almost every day, and have become a part of the in.gredients family. If you’ve visited the store, a few of these folks are probably familiar to you (Zippo is the unofficial store hound.) These are faces we adore, and we sat down them to find out why they are “in.”
Get to know your neighbors. Support local. Be a part of this amazing community!
Describe yourself in 3 words: easy-going, adventurous and fun
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? It has a little bit of everything, and you don’t have to walk far for it.
How did you hear about in.gredients? I lived across the street!
Why do you come back? I never left… haha. And all my friends are here.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? It’s dog friendly, and I like the zero-waste idea. I also love the familiar environment.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Pleasant.
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or a vegetable, what would you be? I’d be a kiwi… a hard exterior with a sweet inside.
Describe yourself in 3 words: new, music, experiences
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? Without a doubt, it’s the community, the people and the neighbors.
How did you hear about in.gredients? I watched it get built and then came on over.
Why do you come back? The staff! They are the nicest. in.gredients exceeded my expectations, the store has so much more stuff than I initially thought it would have. I do almost all of my grocery shopping here, it has everything I need.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? It gives our neighbors a place to be. It’s our pub, our grocery store and our play house, all in one place.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Tasty
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or a vegetable, what would you be? I’d be a green bell pepper because I can go with anything!
Describe yourself in 3 words: funny, smart & lazy
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? The people
How did you hear about in.gredients? I moved in across the street right before you opened.
Why do you come back? I like it here. It’s full of good people and fun.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? The prepared foods, the events and the selection.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Community
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? An avocado. It’s delicious and green is my favorite color!
Describe yourself in 3 words: crazy, cat, lady
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? My neighbors
How did you hear about in.gredients? I moved in right next door.
Why do you come back? The staff. Everyone is encouraging about healthy food, and don’t make you feel stupid if you don’t know something. They aren’t patronizing or intimidating.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? It’s a great place to hang out. My friends and community are here.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Family
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? Cheese doesn’t count as a vegetable?
Describe yourself in 3 words: charming, gentle and sweet
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? All the people and dogs!
How did you hear about in.gredients? Jake told me.
Why do you come back? To visit my pals.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? The events.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Friendly
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? A pear… I’m soft and sweet.
We set a lofty goal when we embarked on our zero waste mission. Luckily, we work with amazing local farmers, ranchers and artisans who share in our vision. We realize our vendors are up to their eyeballs in work, and are so grateful when they take the extra steps to help us reduce waste.
Today we received our first shipment of Vital Farms eggs in reusable containers. In the past, we’ve received them in cardboard boxes and egg cartons. While these were collected and given back, we knew we could improve the system. Now, with the help of Vital Farms, we’re getting our eggs delivered in milk crates and reusable plastic egg cartons. Each week we will wash and store these crates and cartons, and return them with our weekly delivery. It’s a pretty neat system, if we do say so ourselves.
We owe a big thank you to Vital Farm founders Matt and Catherine, who met one of our managers a few weeks ago and turned around as a zero-waste delivery partner within days of hearing our idea. Vital Farms, founded in 2007, started out on a 10 acre piece of land south-east of Austin. They now work with small family farms from California to Georgia in order to produce pastured eggs year-round.
Vital Farms cares about their chickens. With fields full of grass, legumes and insects available to the birds, plus certified organic Coyote Creek feed to supplement their wild diet, plenty of outdoor space and a nighttime shelter with clean nesting boxes, these chickens are well taken care of. The founders have gone to great lengths to make sure each of their farms meet this high standard, sometimes requiring 6 or more farm visits per year.
We’re happy to support Vital Farms, and can’t wait to see how our next zero-waste endeavor goes.
Did you know that we source over 95% of our produce from Texas? We believe in Texas farmers and think a farm to table diet is not only feasible, it’s also delicious! We have teamed up with Traveling Recipes to bring our community free culinary workshops that focus on plant-based dishes featuring Texas produce. We are able to offer these workshops for free thanks to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant, which gives us the opportunity to promote produce grown in Texas.
We met everyone at in.gredients so folks could pick up their beverages of choice (what’s a workshop without wine?), before heading down to the Sustainable Food Center (SFC). SFC’s new space is less than a mile from in.gredients, and has a beautiful fully equipped kitchen that was perfect for the workshop. After introducing ourselves and why we were there, we got to cooking!
Chelsea from in.gredients and Andi Jo from Traveling Recipes had done all the shopping and initial prep work, but beyond that it was all up to the participants to chop, grate, blend and cook the six plant-based dishes. With different stations set up around the kitchen, everyone spent two hours getting well acquainted with a wide variety of Texas produce.
After all the hard work we all sat down together to eat the fruits of our labor, and enjoy a meal together. It was a wonderful evening, and we can’t wait to host the next one! Stay tuned for the next workshop, as we hope to host them on a monthly basis!
This workshop’s menu included:
Super Loaded Salad
Raw Veggie Pad Thai
Spaghetti Squash Pasta
All of these recipes will be listed on the Traveling Recipes website within the next few days, so keep checking back if any and all of those dishes have you drooling.
Daily 1 Reflections:
I expected the first day to be harder than it was. Aside from a brief wave of nausea during a short bike ride and a few pangs of hunger here and there, I felt well and energized. For snacks in the afternoon I had a few pieces of fruit – a huge honey crisp apple, a couple small satsumas, and a persimmon – plus some raw organic cashews. For my raw dinner “appetizer”, I dipped a few different raw veggies (carrots, broccoli and mushrooms) into the ceviche-style Tomatilla Heaven Salsa we sell at the store. Quite delicious and worthy of a return after the cleanse is over. The hardest part was later coming home to a decadent potluck dinner that a few friends and roommates had put together and only being able to eat the raw salad that I had made.
On many Saturdays I indulge in a large brunch of hearty homemade pancakes and a big cup of coffee, and I clearly wasn’t going to be doing so this weekend. Prior to committing to the cleanse, however, I promised my girlfriend I would make her a delicious breakfast on her first morning back after two weeks of traveling. Let me tell you, whipping up some delicious (smelling!) sweet potato cornmeal pancakes and a big maple latte took some serious discipline. I managed to sip on my lemon tea and drink my bottle of Vitality without giving into the temptations, but I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone.
Late last night I figured I should soak some raw pumpkin seeds so I could dehydrate them today. So before I left for work, I coated them with spicy goodness and popped them in the dehydrator. I haven’t had a headache at all. My energy level is low-medium, but if I keep snacking I’m fine. What’s hardest is working around food and seeing things I just want to stuff in my face. At least when you’re at home everything is hidden in cabinets. I ate the same thing for lunch today because it was easy and available. I might look up a recipe for a raw zucchini hummus and do that for dinner tonight.
I went to my massage and it was much better than last time. My muscles were easier to work with, less crunchy and painful. I did still have to get suction cupped to work with my fascia, but it hurt was less than before. She noticed I have some lymph fluid behind my knee, which could be contributing to some of the discomfort. She worked on it but I’m also going to do some lymph exercises to help flush that out.
I snacked on an apple and nuts earlier, and had my Renew juice as an evening treat. I didn’t eat until about 9 pm, but it was marvelous. I made a raw zucchini hummus (substituting dulse flakes for salt) which I ate with leftover carrots and celery. I bought some amazing garlic dill sauerkraut and had that as a side along with my spicy pumpkin seeds.
For past cleanses I was always able to do them during down times when I didn’t have to work. This has proven to be interesting and challenging trying to balance both responsibilities. Tomorrow I have a day off which I can dedicate to giving my body what it needs, whatever it is asking for.
Recently we reached 11,011 likes on Facebook (woo hoo!) To celebrate, we asked our followers to share with us the 11 reasons they love local food.
We are so blessed to be in a community that so wholeheartedly embraces the beauty that comes along with local, sustainable and seasonal food.
Y’all shared with us amazing lists (and photos!) that we can’t help put pass them along. Take the time to read why our community loves local food, and please feel free to share your lists. The more the merrier.
- in.spires the community to make sustainable decisions
- in.corporates small businesses into larger economies
- in.volves the local population in the worldwide food movement
- in.timidates the big food corporations
- in.troduces new ways of thinking
- in.centivizes local entrepreneurs to follow through on their ideas
- in.creases awareness of the impact food has on our environment
- in.cludes opportunities for the community to become more self-sufficient
- in.toxicates the locals with unbelievably good craft beer
- in.justice is exposed when local food proves there is a better way
- in.novation proves to be in.finite when it comes to using real in.gredients
- Keeps Austin Weird!!!
- Love knowing the people who grew/raised my food
- It has taste unlike most mass-produced food
- The fresher the food the more nutrients I get in my body
- Support local economy
- Support people who are stewards of the environment
- Reduced carbon footprint
- No nasty GMO foods
- Opportunity for bulk purchases (as my salsa and canned tomato stash can attest)
- I have visited the farms and felt the dirt that nourishes me and seen for myself how the animals are treated
- Brings back good memories of childhood visits to my grandparents farm – sitting in the middle of the strawberry patch eating the berries straight off the plant (competing with my sister to see who would get through her row fastest), or shucking corn with my grandpa (and nibbling on a few ears)
- The friendships I have made with people I have met at the markets, at food swaps, and at restaurants and stores that carry local produce.
- Incredibly fresh
- Less fuel required for delivery
- Can meet your farmers!
- Supports the local economy& Supports small farmers
- Fosters a close relationship with local community
- Encourages creative business models
- Encourages creative approaches to cooking
- Allows you to experiment with interesting local produce (prickly pears! loquats!)
- Allows you ensure that everything you eat is ethically produced because you can trace the origins of everything on your plate.
- Local food = supporting local farmers/ local economy
- Less carbon in the atmosphere from moving around food!
- Local food is super fresh and delicious
- It ensures you’re eating only what’s in season.
- Fresh food is more nutritious!
- It’s a step toward food self-reliance.
- There is more variety!
- Is free of GMOs!
- Represents Austin’s food culture
- I love knowing where it came from, and visiting those places!
- Lastly, It feels great to make good choices about what you put into your body!
- Getting to know my farmers
- Often sustainably grown
- Fewer food miles (less carbon/water waste)
- Outdoor markets
- Supporting my home
- Fresh food
- Makes me food conscious
- Often it’s native to the region
- Supports education!
- The colors
- Low carbon foot print
- Meeting the farmers
- Eating in season
- The price tag
- Promoting it
- Teaching it
- Growing it
- Community it creates
- Farmers markets
- The people involved
You always want to have friends that know where to go for the best food.
You know the ones, the people that you turn to when you’re looking for the best restaurant (or grocery store) in town. When you don’t have that friend, you turn to the internet. If you’re looking for something other than Yelp, we recommend turning to some of the folks that love exploring our cities food-scape: Austin Food Bloggers.
A perfect example? Kay Marley-Dilworth from ATXFoodnews. Kay started this blog after spending several decades answering the common question, “Where should we eat?”
After launching ATXFoodnews on Twitter, she decided to expand to other social media platforms and this fantastic blog was born. Check it out and take our word for it, you’ll want to trust Kay’s recommendations. Happy eating!
How did you discover your love of food and writing?
As a child, I would lose myself in books, whisked away with a story line to exotic locations, into fun mysteries and adventures with the characters. My love of writing comes from wanting to tell stories that would in turn allow a reader to “live the moment”. My love of food stems from a childhood of eating delicious homecooked meals. My mother didn’t learn to cook until she married, and she was determined to teach my sister and I basic kitchen skills at an early age. We played kitchen assistant for her and gradually earned more responsibility. At the age of 9 I was a prep cook, browning meat and cooking vegetables for our family dinner.
Has blogging changed the way you view food and cooking? If so, how?
Blogging has changed the way I view food in that meals are not just fuel for your body, but also an opportunity to appreciate the artistry of the cook or chef, and their vision for your plate.
What is your favorite ingredient to use in the kitchen?
Garlic is my most used ingredient, in many forms from fresh to roasted. There will be no vampires in my casa!
What is your best memory in the kitchen?
One of my most vivid food memories wasn’t in the kitchen, but outdoors. I ate my first raw oyster off its shell while standing in shallow water outside a fishing boat that was pulled up on a beach in Rockport. My father and uncles had harvested their oyster beds and were shucking while my sister and I played in the waves nearby. We were too young to be anything but curious, and so it was as a fearless 3 year old that I began my love affair with mollusks. Since that first briny bite, I’ve gone on to sample many types of wild game, ethnic dishes with unusual main ingredients and the more unusual organ meats.
What is the best thing about your kitchen?
The best thing about my kitchen is an agreement with my husband: I cook, he cleans!
What is your favorite meal to prepare?
Carne guisada with rice and beans is my favorite meal to prepare. It’s my comfort food.
What does your dream kitchen look like?
My dream kitchen would include a red Viking range, plenty of cabinets/storage space, a walk in pantry, an island prep station with a small sink, and plenty of windows to let in natural light. There would be a small table and chairs on one side, as everyone always gathers in the kitchen. Might as well give them a comfortable place to sit!
What 3 guests would you like to have at your dinner table?
Victoria Woodhull, Cesar Chavez and Cole Porter.
What does the word “sustainable” mean to you when it comes to food?
To me, sustainability is the process of providing nourishing food (preferably from a local source) while also protecting our ability to continue producing that food for future generations, with as gentle of an impact on our Earth as possible.
What three recipes would you share with our readers?
Steel Cut Oats with Fruit, Carne Guisada and Avocado Tomatillo Salsa. My current breakfast favorite is steel cut oatmeal. It’s delicious, nutritious and you can add whatever you like to it in terms of sweetener, fruits, and other toppings. It’s a great blank slate, easily tweaked to fit individual tastes.
There is something idyllic about Green Gate Farms. A historic piece of farmland tucked away in East Austin, it’s easy to miss amongst the RV park and new housing developments. Pulling into the long driveway I was surprised at the amount of cars packed into the parking lot. My surprise turned into delight as I was instantly greeted by children of all ages, offering to give me a tour of the farm and selling me fresh squeezed lemonade.
As it turns out, Green Gate Farms runs a summer farm camp for children ages 5-15. As I was led around by one of the campers, I was impressed by the ownership and pride these kids take in the farm. They have freedom to explore, catch bugs, pet pigs and help run the farm stand. Not only that, but they gain leadership skills as they lead farm tours and interact with the adults and volunteers.
Green Gate Farms is run and managed by Erin Flynn and Skip Connett. They’ve been running the farm for eight years, restoring a historical farm site to bring food, education and community to East Austin. On top of maintaining and running a farm (which is an incredible amount of work), Erin and Skip founded the New Farm Institute, a non-profit that exists to educate, assist and inspire the next generation of sustainable farms, especially those within 30 miles of medium to large cities.
Sitting down with Erin amongst the arts and crafts projects left behind by the campers, it was easy to see that Erin is passionate about what she does. “My husband and I are agricultural activists, we want to work towards a system where farming is made a priority,” Flynn said, “There’s always talk about how we need our police and firemen, I want there to be a shift so people start holding their farmers up in the same way.” As a part of the Sustainable Food Policy Board, Flynn goes above and beyond to be a part of the conversation and community that is working towards making small, family farms a priority, instead of a thing of the past.
“Small, family farms are endangered,” Flynn said, “We are a society based on convenience, and it’s time we stopped trivializing what farmers are doing. I want farming to be a year-long, lucrative profession. If it isn’t, we are going to lose our family farms.” The thought of our beloved Austin farms disappearing should make your knees start to shake. Farmers are some of the most resilient, smart and dedicated people in our community. They’re the people that stock our shelves with mouth-water produce, providing our neighborhood with real, local food.
Our conversation ended when one of the campers ran up with the tragic news that the lemonade was gone. With a smile, Erin excused herself to make sure her campers and visitors were well taken care of. I ended my trip to the farm by stopping at the farm stand. Open on Tuesday (3-6 pm), Friday and Saturday (10-2 pm), the stand is stocked with vegetables and flowers from the farm as well as meat and eggs from nearby.
“We have a vegetable, meat, egg and flower CSAs available,” Flynn said, “We work with farmers nearby that we trust, and only provide our customers with the highest quality products.” You can sign up for their CSA to receive weekly or biweekly shares that include approximately 8-10 seasonal organic vegetables and you can add flowers, eggs and pastured meats. With convenient pick-up spots around town (in.gredients included), there’s no reason not to support this wonderful family farm.
As two young girls gave me the run down on prices, I realized how special it is that I can drive ten minutes from my house and be at Green Gate Farms. Not only is it a farm, it’s an education center where kids can be outside, learn valuable skills and get closer to their food. Green Gate Farms is definitely worth a visit, and if you have a little one there are still week-long programs to join this summer.
Go ahead, take a field trip and connect with your food.
We feel like celebrating. It’s almost Mother’s Day (make sure you call your mom!) and we have fantastic events planned this weekend. It looks like this rainy weather might stick around for awhile, so it’s the perfect evening to make a cake. Carrots are still going strong in central Texas, and not only are they perfect for snacking they also make a mean baked good.
This recipe goes one step beyond simple carrot cake with the addition of orange frosting. While a good carrot cake should be able to stand on its own, it’s always nice when you pair it with the perfect frosting. We still have some local citrus, which will be out of season soon, so grab it while you can.
We enjoyed that the author made it slightly healthier by adding goat cheese to the frosting, which is easier to digest than cow’s milk and adds a bit more tang. She also added less sugar and used olive oil instead of butter, which makes for a cake that you feel a little less guilty about eating, right?
Who are we kidding, guilt and delicious (real) food shouldn’t go together.
Carrot Cake with Tangy Orange Frosting
From: The Kitchn
- 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 2 tsp pure vanilla
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
For the frosting:
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 6 ounces goat cheese
- 2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- Whole walnuts, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 375°F and place a rack in the center of the oven.
Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line both with a round of parchment paper.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Using an electric mixer on medium-low, combine the olive oil, buttermilk, sugars, eggs, orange zest and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. With a spoon, fold in the grated carrots and walnuts.
Divide the batter equally between the two pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then carefully invert them out of the pans, peel off the parchment, and set them right side up to cool completely on the rack.
While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. With an electric mixer on medium-low, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese, orange zest and vanilla. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting reaches desired consistency.
To frost the cake, first spread a small dab of icing on the cake plate. Cut narrow strips of parchment or paper and place them in a grid on the cake plate, leaving the center open. They should be close enough together that the cake layer sits on top of the paper with no part of the diameter exposed directly to the plate.
Using a serrated bread knife, carefully carve off the domed top of one of the layers as evenly as possible. Center this first layer on the plate. Using an offset spatula, apply a “crumb coat”: a thin layer of frosting meant to keep the crumbs down. (Refrigerate the layer at this point if the crumbs are coming up.)
Stir the frosting and place about 1/3 of it over the bottom cake layer. Spread the frosting with the spatula until even and smooth. Make sure that the frosting is thicker around the edges.
Place the second layer on top and apply a crumb coat. Refrigerate. Place about half of the remaining frosting around the sides of the cake, working the frosting around the edges. Spread the remaining frosting across the top of the cake, dipping the spatula in warm water and wiping it off between strokes to keep it warm and clean for a smoother finish.
Remove the strips one at a time, pulling it out in a straight line, parallel to the floor. Garnish the cake with walnuts, herbs, flowers and/or birthday candles.