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Eat Your Heart Out

Jul 25, 2011 08:14PM ● By Anonymous

Now, let me be honest with you. I'm something of a locavore. If it's not raised or grown within my general vicinity, I try my best not to eat it. So, getting to go to Governor O'Malley's picnic was like a chinephile receiving an invitation to the Oscars.

As I waited in line to get in, barbecue smoke and the sumptuous smell of crab cakes drifted over to my nose. I peaked over the wrought iron fence. Tents lined the sidewalk like a grand-scale buffet. Underneath them, chefs, growers and watermen were hard at work crafting spectacular dishes. All local. Cue Homer Simpson drool here.

Finally, I made it to the front of the line, and past security. (The only time I've ever had my name checked off a guest list--ooh la la.)

Faced with the queues of tents, wafts of oil and garlic, and tables bearing pamphlets with enticing names like, "Unearthing Potatoes' Goodness," I didn't know where to start. I just stood there, stuck in a foodie stupor. I turned, mouth agape, to look at the Washington County fiesta blue chorizo wraps with escabeche. Chorizo? My new love! I thought to myself. I must try.

A woman with a large and spectacular hat to my right seemed to have the same idea. "Well, don't those sound delicious!" I heard her mutter to herself, looking in their direction. She made her move. On her way, her hat feathers brushed against my face. "Oh! So sorry!"

I excused her chapeau, and stepped aside so she could pass. Still, her excitement made me spring into action of my own.

I figured I would wait on the wraps. Didn't want to seem like I was stealing her thunder. Instead, I headed over to a table boasting the banner "MD crabcakes, Chestertown chow-chow and Chesapeake Bay sauce." I grabbed a plate, and took a bite of the cake. Oh em gee. Delicious. Light, warm and barely any filler. The sauce had just the right amount of kick to cut through the creamy. And the chow-chow's corn and cider vinegar gave plenty of acidity. Plus, how great is it to know that the crab came from Maryland instead of North Carolina?

Once I'd tasted the cakes, I was a whirlwind of consumption. Fusion bison tacos, vanilla bean french toast with Lockbriar Farms straw-blackberry compote, Springfield Farm roulade of spring lamb with pine nuts and apricots and an heirloom tomato gazpacho, and Black Rock Orchard almond-polenta cake with peach and cherry honey compote all made their way into my seemingly bottomless stomach. And, of course I tried the chorizo wraps. Let's just say my love affair continues.

Soon, I heard the voice of Governor O'Malley over the speaker system. In fan-girlish glee, I pushed to the front of the press folks, and stuck my camera out in front of him. He told us how pleased he was to be kicking off the fourth Buy Local Challenge, and assured us that Maryland would keep sustaining local agriculture, stating that the state has enormous potential to make it, dare I say, profitable.

He then introduced the honorary speaker of the day, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who thanked Governor O'Malley's efforts for keeping the state at the forefront of local food issues.

Awards were given. One went to local chef and regional foodie celeb Craig Sewell, owner of A Cook's Cafe. Poses were struck, pictures were taken.

And, before the featured speakers adjourned, Governor O'Malley gave a little plug for his honey. That's right--there's a bee hive at the Government House. And it's yielded 90 lbs! Unable to resist the governor's queries of "have you tried my honey?" as he walked around the picnic, I gave it a taste. It's delicious.

If you want to participate in the Buy Local Challenge, shop at your local farms, farmers' markets, farm stands, wineries, grocers and markets that stock genuine local products. Consider dining at restaurants that serve local farm food. (Be sure to ask if the products are grown locally.)

I've taken the pledge, and I really think you should consider doing the same. It supports our local economy, allows us to eat foods with exceptional taste and freshness, and helps enhance the health of our families and the environment. And really, it's tremendous fun.

For more information, visit the challenge's website.

-- Karly Kolaja