Today was a special day of my Eat Local Challenge. Bistro Sofia and Slow Food Piedmont Triad co-hosted a local seasonal lunch that featured food and wine from many local farms. A few of the farmers joined us. Two of them are friends - Steve Tate from the Goat Lady Dairy, and Deb Bettini, who has been in a couple of food-related classes with me and is now supplying Bistro Sofia with salad greens, mushrooms, and other products from her farm. Bistro Sofia also has its own garden behind the restaurant.
Just like the last Slow Food tasting lunch, we had a fabulous meal AND entertaining conversation with dinner companions. I hope that I will see the people I met today again at Slow Food events.
Sandy and I don't know a lot about wine, but we enjoyed both wine selections and everyone else seemed to as well. We bought a bottle of the Rockhouse Vineyard Cabernet Franc to go. I really wanted the Chardonnay but I'll visit Zeto Wines later and get some.
I have eaten rabbit before at Williamsburg and loved it, but I was feeling a bit skittish about it this time. Let's just call it remnants of Watership Down bouncing around the corners of my brain. I decided that I would just have to try not to think of it as a living animal - however, the rest of the table decided to trade rabbit stories! But I enjoyed it anyway. It was really delicious, and reminded me of the last time I ate it, when it was served in a pie.
Someone made a joke about people who didn't like grits liking polenta, when both are just basically cornmeal. (It's all in the way you cook grits, trust me. Plain grits are awful, but you can do wonders with them when you add cheese and herbs and spices. I prefer yellow grits, with garlic and sharp cheddar cheese.) To me the polenta reminded me of my mother's cornbread dressing, especially combined with the gravy from the rabbit stew. There's not much higher compliment than comparison to Mama's cornbread dressing.
I learned something about mulberries. I wondered how they would deal with the stems - the stems do not come off the berries easily. That turned out to be simple - the stems were left on and I wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't been paying attention to it. And it was exquisite.
I think that everyone learned something about local foods and the wide availability of them here in the Piedmont Triad, and so it was a real success for "the cause."
Uwharrie Farms (Larry McPherson) tomato herb mousse, Bettini Farms (Deb & Randy Bettini) salad greens, sweet tomato vinaigrette
Local rabbit (J&S Farms, John and Sue Marshall) and thyme stew, herb baked polenta (Old Mill of Guilford cornmeal)
Bettini Farms mulberry parfait, crème chantilly (Homeland Creamery Heavy Cream)
Goat Lady Dairy Providence cheese (Taleggio-style), walnut biscotti
Round Peak Vineyard Chardonnay 2004, Mount Airy, N.C. (Curry Martin)
Rockhouse Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2004, Tryon, N.C.