Farm to Fork 2011

After a couple years of missing out, I was lucky enough to finally attend this year’s Farm to Fork Festival this past Sunday.  Featuring virtually all of the areas top restaurants, chefs, and farmers, it was an incredible event for food lovers.  This being my first time in attendance, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I came prepared (read: hungry) and left completely stuffed after having tried samples from maybe 20 out of the 30 or so tents.  Most, if not all, of the offerings showcased the region’s freshest produce at its peak: tomatoes, squash, eggplant, blueberries, and so on.  These were augmented by the best of the best in local meats and cheeses in the preparation of some amazing and creative concoctions.  While not everything was a smash hit, here are a few of the highlights:

1)      Arancini from Toast: eggplant, Carolina gold rice, and smoked mozzeralla, fried to a delicious crisp huge ball and served with a bit of tomato passata sauce

2)      Orecchiette pasta from Il Palio: almost gnocchi-like noodles with pesto, sage, peppers, zucchini, pesto, asiago, and plenty of olive oil.  So, so good.

3)      Quark panna cotta with blackberry and cornmeal shortbread from Magnolia Grill: decadent cool custard with ripe fruit and a cookie – executed perfectly

4)      Tomato summer “pudding” from Magnolia Grill: this was like a hybrid bread pudding/sandwich with mozzarella, tomato and basil.  Simple and elegant.

5)      Herbed squash fritter with tomato chutney from Market Restaurant: a little mushy but it had great flavor

6)      Tomato popsicle from Watts Grocery: they were out of the other flavors by the time I made it over there, but this was good and my daughter loved it

7)      Sausages from Farmhand Foods: they had three different kinds (the names of which I can’t recall), but the spicy one was fatty and succulent

8)      Bread samples from Chicken Bridge Bakery: plain with fresh butter, duck egg-cornmeal with blueberry compote topping, and potato-garlic-rosemary

9)      Blue and black berry buckle from Scratch: a pretty standard coffee cake like thing, done well

10)   Chicken strudel from Saxapahaw General store: a rich and wintery pot-pie kind of affair, but delicious nonetheless

11)   Curried chicken and potato with pickled red onions from Panzanella

12)   Thin crust pizza slices from Stone’s Throw Pizza

And there were many others, and some that I didn’t even get around to trying.  Already looking forward to next year!

Pittsboro Pepper Festival

The third annual Pittsboro Pepper Festival is coming up this Sunday October 3rd from 4-7pm.  The event will benefit the Abundance Foundation and the Piedmont Biofarm.  The Abundance Foundation is focused on both renewable energy and local food, and has been supporting Farmer Doug Jones’s research at Piedmont Biofarm for many years.

There will be a pepper tasting of 40 different varieties of mostly sweet and some hot.  12 Local Chefs from the Triangle and Triad will be creating dishes using Farmer Doug’s peppers, including chefs from 18 Seaboard, Angelina’s Kitchen, Carolina Crossroads Restaurant, Chatham Marketplace, Chipotle, Crook’s Corner, General Store Café, Lucky 32, Market Restaurant, Mez, The Natural Chef Program @ CCCC and Zely & Ritz.  In addition, Triangle Brewery will offer a habanero pale ale beer.

There will also be live music by the Holy Ghost Tent Revival  and a tour of the Eco-Industrial Park on Lorax Lane.  The Park is home to Piedmont Biofarm, Piedmont Biofuels, The Abundance Foundation, Eastern Carolina Organics, Carolina Worm Castings, Green Door Design Build, Green Bean Counter, EcoBlend, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, Working Films and Screech Owl Greenhouses.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $25 at the door, with children 12 and under free.  For more information and to purchase tickets, please see the event webite here.