And we accepted. In honor of Buy Local Challenge Week, Gov. O’Malley held a party on his lawn for folks involved in local food production and press. Many little tents were erected and tables under them were populated by teams of Maryland chefs and producers offering samples of their creations.
Falcon Ridge Farm and Elk Run Vineyards, two of our Market producers, were represented by their fine products. James Ricciuti of Ricciuti’s Restaurant was grilling Stanton Gill’s peaches and serving them with beef and peanut sauce.
I started and just about ended the moveable feast with goat products. An appetizer called “Three Goats Gruff,” a goat meat ball stuffed with goat cheese, was my initial taste. It was the best meatball ever.
I strolled on to Saval’s fried oysters with Silver Queen corn, tomato and peach salad and aioli. Silver Queen! I didn’t know anyone was growing it anymore. When I first moved to Maryland almost 40 years ago, it was everywhere – now it’s all but gone. I miss it! Cooked as soon as picked, you can’t beat the sweet, yet still “corny” flavor.
Fish and corn was a popular combination. Rockfish Imperial with corn salad and tomato jam was the offering from Chef Martin Saylor. The booth decorations were his wife’s idea. The food was delicious as well as photogenic.
I was especially eager to try “Tongue and Cheek Tacos” from Michael Cleary of St. John’s College. Beside appreciating the pun, I am very fond of variety meats, and tongue is not easy to find. I thought it was brave of Chef Cleary to offer this recipe for the competition, as not so many folks appreciate offal. The tacos were so good, I had two.
Desserts were as interesting as the other courses. Chef Nancey Veldran swore that the dark chocolate Caprikorn dessert truffles with port were made with goat cheese, but the other ingredients masked that taste. The overall impression was of one luscious dessert.
And my attempt at dining symmetry was ruined when I noticed ice cream on offer. I had to have some. Although not part of the Challenge menu, the Taharka Brothers company makes some of the best ice cream in the state.
The company was as good as the food. Besides many politicians, food industry people and press, there were Hector deLorimar and Robin Tam, organizers of the Canton Farmers Market in Baltimore. This is the first year for their small, neighborhood market.
The Watermelon Queen was there, and so was one uninvited guest.
The Governor was there to read a proclamation and entertain us.
The weather was hot, but I have it on good authority that it wasn’t as hot as last year. Rain threatened but did not fall until after the Cookout was over. We made our escape in good time (and it was a very good time!)