Once again, in honor of Buy Local Challenge Week, Gov. O’Malley held a party on his lawn for folks involved in local food production and the press. As in years before, tents were erected and tables under them were populated by teams of Maryland chefs and producers offering samples of their creations. This is the sixth year the Cookout has been held, and the sixth edition of the Buy Local cookbook has been published.
By all accounts, the weather was the best in memory. The food matched it.
I started with soft-shelled crab presented by Chef Paul Bartlett from Phillips Crab Deck. Was this the best dish at the picnic? I may be biased because it’s my favorite way to eat crab, but the soft-shells were matched by the crab cakes on offer from Chef Martin Saylor of the Coastal Sunbelt Produce Company.
But I’m going to declare the best entree of the evening to be the bison ravioli in Bay Blue Mornay sauce created by Chef David Hayes of Bistro St. Michaels. He used two kinds of cheese from Chapel’s Country Creamery for the sauce topping the ravioli.
For dessert, Gertrude’s Charlottetown Farm ricotta doughnuts with peach caramel sauce stood out, not just because all the other desserts were ice cream (I’m not complaining, you understand), but because John Shields, owner of Gertrude’s and tireless promoter of the Chesapeake Bay and its products, was there.
There were tables under a tent, for folks to eat and schmooze.
Did you know that there is a beehive on the Government House grounds? Neither did I. The beekeeper had a table to talk about bees and hand out literature. Governor O’Malley has taken to presenting jars of his bee’s honey as official gifts.
Speaking of the Governor, he was there, but did not play with the band, nor did he issue a proclamation, as he did last year. Even with his quick walk-through, we managed to get a picture.
To make up for that, there were not one but two Queens present: Miss Delmarva and the Watermelon Queen.
There was a guy in a great tie.
And at the very end, two hats canoodling.