Thursday, November 15, 2012

Do GOOD, Eat GOOD at Farmland Feast

Chef Scott Drewno of The Source and Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve
By:  Jennifer Duff
Capital Cooking Contributor

FRESHFARM Markets celebrated its 10th anniversary of autumnal Farmland Feasts, a showcase for regional chefs cooking local food.  This year's Farmland Feast featured an enticing cocktail hour of hors d'oeuvers served by chefs hand-picked by Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve, a hand-crafted artisanal cocktail from Tom Thrasher of Eat Good Food Group, and a silent auction. 
 The cocktail hour was followed by six-course dinner with local wine pairing and speaker Mike Koch, Award-winning cheese maker of FireFly Farms.  All funds raised from the Feast are used to support the operation of the 11 FRESHFARM Market farmers markets in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, the organization’s diverse educational programs and the new Fund Our Future campaign.

The cocktail hour featured small bites from each of the different Chefs participating in Farmland Feasts.  They prepared an amazing array of seasonal delights sourced from local farmers highlighting the bounty of fall foods such as pumpkin, mushrooms, chestnuts, and pears.

Chef Alli Sosna of the project Micro-Greens started off the cocktail hour with a smoked sweet potato soup with parsnip bark, micro greens and creme. This soup was fantastic, the savory flavor of the sweet potato was followed by a spicy finish of chili peppers slightly tempered by the creme. I love spicy foods and the soup was a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I did not sample the parsnip bark, as I wasn't sure I was supposed to -- there were lots of people standing around and I didn't want to be the only eating bark.

Chef Michael Costa of Zaytinya prepared Chestnut Cabbage Dolmasi with dill yogurt and local truffles.  The dolmasi, a traditional Mediterranean food, was stuffed with basmati rice and topped with truffle shavings.  It was a light and crunchy cabbage roll that nicely blended the Mediterranean fare that Zaytinya is known for with locally grown truffles.   

Chef Haidar Karoum of Proof and Estadio created a delicious amuse-bouche of House-Made Tofu over Maitaki Relish. The tofu was lightly fried and had a little bit of a creamy texture - it was wonderfully prepared in a way where I might be so inclined to order tofu from Chef Karoum in the future (instead of my normal MEAT! pick). The mushrooms were outstanding, dense and filling with a slight salty flavor that matched well with the tofu.

Chef Scott Drewno of Wolfgang Puck's The Source offered a savory Red Braised Pork with Millet Congee. The pork was succulent and tender served with a reduction sauce over the creamy and slightly grainy millet congee. The bite-sized treat was similar in flavoring to a cassoulet (minus the beans) where the slow-cooking of the meat releases rich and complex flavors. This was an outstanding autumn dish featuring locally raised pork -- definitely one of my favorites from the evening.

Chef Ryan Wheeler from Virtue Feed and Grain prepared a Wild Mushroom Terrine with Pickled Turnip Root.  The terrine was luscious and creamy which paired nicely with the light and crisp finish of the pickled turnip.  

The exquisite food featured by each chef was accompanied by Virginia wines and a specialty cocktail crafted by Todd Thrasher of PX.  The artisanal cocktail was a PrePEAR to Bid Hye with Bitters & Rye made with Catoctin Creek rye and Foggy Ridge Serious Hard Apple Cider.  It was smooth and sweet with a light finish, the perfect complement to the savory dishes with the seasonal fruit as the base.   

Overall, it was a fantastic evening celebrating the 10 year anniversary of FRESHFARM Markets with creative cocktails and delicious food prepared by some of the finest chefs in the DC area in a lively atmosphere.  A wonderful opportunity to DO GOOD by supporting local farmers and EAT GOOD!

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