Last year’s Governor’s Buy-Local Cookout belied fears that the change of parties might affect that office’s dedication to Maryland food producers. The event on the governor’s mansion lawn showed just as much consideration for the promotion of local products as ever it did. More, actually; the new First Lady pitched in to help serve one of the tastiest entries.
Her bulgogyi was delicious, and reflected her ethnic heritage. Come to think of it, this Cookout could better reflect the mix of cultures in Maryland these days, beyond the traditional European-derived bisques and grilled meats that dominate the menu.
That’s a quibble, though, in light of the wonderful creations showcased by the producer-chef teams. In addition to the appetizers, mains and desserts, there was liquid nitrogen ice cream and a table of Maryland distilleries sampling their products.
The Maryland wineries and the Ice Cream Trail were also back to offer their fare. So many good things to eat in our state!
Celebrities were in attendance, as well. There were not one, not two, but three (count ’em) Queens in the house. John Shields, of Gertrude’s in the Baltimore Museum of Art, did his bit for the Maryland television industry by being filmed for a new season of “Maryland Farm and Harvest” for MPT. And, of course, the Secretary of Agriculture and Governor Hogan were present for the Proclamation. The only thing missing was a gubernatorial presence in the band.
The Cookout invites teams of producers and chefs to submit entries, to be sampled on a (usually) hot evening in July. There was one producer who sells at the Olney Farmers and Artists Market, Banner Bee in Laytonsville. They provided the “sweet” in a sweet and sour pork dish. Another dish I was interested to sample served up blue catfish, an invasive species now infesting our waterways. It is delicious – I hope to see it available more widely in the near future. Let’s eat it out of our rivers!