Sunday, October 25, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A night of local food

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Shortly after joining the Foodbuzz community, I heard about their monthly VISA Signature 24^3 [24 meals, 24 hours, 24 blogs] event. Not being a culinary expert, I wasn’t sure if I would ever participate. But that changed when I started St. Louis University’s dietetic internship and met Dan, another intern with a culinary focus and both the experience and creativity to conceptualize a fantastic 5 course dinner [see his sketches below].

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And so our 24^3 proposal was born…we wanted to feature locally grown food because we feel strongly about supporting local farmers, and as future dietitians, we know that local food is often more nutritious than food imported from thousands of miles away since it is picked at peak ripeness.

We shopped for most of our produce at Soulard, an enormous farmers’ market. Not everything there is from our immediate area, but we tried our best to get locally grown food.

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So, why the big focus on local food?

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Locally grown food is kinder to the environment and reduces pollution due to decreased transport time.

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Buying local food contributes to rural sustainability and helps support the livelihoods of small farmers, whose farms contribute to agricultural biodiversity.

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Local farms are also smaller, less open to hormone and chemical use, produce more grass-fed or free-range animals, and are more organic-friendly.

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By the time we were done shopping, we had a ton of produce ready to be made into a fabulous meal. Honestly, it was a bit overwhelming, and I was glad Dan was the brains behind the whole operation.

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The ex-roommate’s sister, Christy, was a huge help. She spent her Saturday chopping vegetables, prepping sauces, and picking out $80 worth of wine to go with our meal {thanks, Christy!}.

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This is what happens when you overcook caramel. Oops. So maybe not everything went exactly as planned.

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Do we look tired? I hit some sort of wall in the afternoon. I’m not used to cooking all day {and I wasn’t really even cooking, unless you count shelling 100 walnuts and using my expert blender skills, haha}.

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Dan and Christy making the appetizer (fried jalapeno poppers). We discussed the fact that we were incorporating fried food into our menu, which is not exactly nutritious. Our conclusion? Everything in moderation, people.

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Working on the gooey butter cake with Christy and the ex-roommate. That cake was an adventure in itself.

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Dan with the caramel, round 2.

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first course: providing a punch of spiciness paired with creamy and complex sensations, the appetizer featured Baetje Farms Goat Milk cheese-stuffed Jalapeno poppers tempered with creamy country grits and a dark chocolate mole.

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The popper was a little too spicy for me {yes, I am a hot-food wimp}, but everyone else devoured their appetizers in about 5 seconds.

second course: perfect for a fall evening, the soup was a corn chowder paired with Brussels sprout confit, roasted pearl onions, and tarragon oil garnished with jalapeno crème fraiche.

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Usually I hate Brussels sprouts, but I loved this soup. It was really good with the tarragon and hint of jalapeno. The general consensus was that the Brussels sprouts really enhanced the soup’s flavor.

third course: a crisp addition to our October menu, the salad consisted of Missouri green and red apples, fennel, Baetje Farms Goat Milk cheese, and Missouri black walnuts paired with a coriander cilantro dressing.

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My favorite of the 5 courses by far. I loved the dressing featuring my favorite herb, cilantro, and the crispness of the apples. Or maybe I’m just a little biased because I did shell all of those walnuts.

fourth course: combining the best of savory and sweet, the entrée featured pork jowl braised in cilantro honey puree, poached and roasted leeks served with caramel and chimichurri sauce.

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Pork jowl is a pretty fatty cut, which is a bit of a surprise, if you’re not used to it. But, hey, fat makes everything taste delicious, and the meat was really tender.

By now, most of the guests were wishing they had worn their elastic-waist sweatpants. Pressing on to the dessert course…

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fifth course: Gooey Butter Cake is a St. Louis tradition, so it would only be fair of us to include this delectable dessert as part of our menu. Pairing the cake with a reduction made from Missouri-produced apple cider provided yet another tie into the local food movement.

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The cake didn’t really taste like any Gooey Butter Cake I’ve ever had. It wasn’t a bad taste, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Fortunately, the guests enjoyed the cake by the looks of their empty plates.

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In all, it was a great day of enjoying the entire process that goes into making a gourmet meal. From shopping for produce at the farmers’ market to cooking and eating with friends….I can’t think of a better way to enjoy food.

A million thanks to Foodbuzz, Dan, Christy, and all of the guests for making this fabulous night possible….

And here’s hoping you enjoyed this post and that maybe, just maybe…you’ll be inspired to create a local food-centered menu of your own.

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38 comments:

  1. wow what a meal! Sounds like you had an exciting time getting everything together

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  2. Aww your comment about the babies on my blog was so sweet :). Made me so happy.

    I'm a hot food wimp too! I tried that siracha sauce cuz everyone was blabbing bout it. SO burned my tongue off!

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  3. Wow, what a great opportunity! Those dishes look amazing, and I love all the pictures :)

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  4. what an amazing night! looks fun AND delicious :)

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  5. Emily, I loved this post! What an amazing meal you created, I'm just so impressed. Dan sounds like he is so talented in the kitchen, you should take the opportunity (as you are...)to soak up as much information from him as possible! Oh, and he's pretty good looking too ;)
    Congrats on the amazing, local, meal. I need to by more local foods, and I'm glad you reminded me. I just don't think about it a lot (I'm a frozen veggie gal!! ). I did buy local squash the other day, three of them, and they were absolutely delicious. Better than frozen.

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  6. looks like a terrific experience for all of you! congrats on getting on 24, 24, 24!

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  7. Your 5 course meal you guys prepared looks so good and nutritious. Way to go local produce too.

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  8. This is DELICIOUS. The poppers, soup and gooey butter cake top the list. Really great 24 post.

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  9. oh man oh man...can we eat like that at your house every saturday, emily?! it was all sooo fanTAStic! the pictures are great and the post is terrif, em!! thanks again for all your hard work (to dan and christy too!) it was such a good time! -the ex-roommate

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  10. That looks awesome, Emily! : )

    What a fun experience ... you guys did great!

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  11. you guys had so much fun!!! I'm so happy for you~ cooking with only local food is a great idea and so inspiring to a lot of people! :)

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  12. omg that apple salad loosk amazing!!!

    its incredible what a difference local ingredients can bring to a dish. there is something about using the freshest local ingredients that make the meal all that much more enjoyable!

    lol after shelling 100 walnuts I may hit a wall too!!!

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  13. I'm impressed you managed to make and plate all the food without it getting cold. I'm always curious how that works... I would take too long! I'm seriously wowed by your culinary skills and bravery!

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  14. That all looks so awesome. What a great idea. I can't believe how big the market is. I may have to come visit (ok my step bro lives there too) and check it out. Local is certainly better.

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  15. wow everything looks amazing! i love this concept :) you are so cute!!!

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  16. What a cool thing to do with friends! It sounds/looks like you really pulled off everything well, congratulations!

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  17. Oh wow! What an amazing event to be apart of!! Everything is mouth watering!

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  18. That looks so much fun! What an awesome experience :)

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  19. I love that you guys focused entirely on local food. Great job! And I understand feeling wiped out by the end of the day - I tend to do that after one of these events!

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  20. How fun! Looks like an excellent evening!

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  21. Hello! I did a similar theme for my fb24 about cooking with local foods too. I love the meals u whip up with the fresh ingredients :)

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  22. My mouth was watering as I read your post! Everything looks so yummy. Are you allowed to share the recipes? The salad looks great and so does the entree.
    Have you started training for your half yet? Using any training plan? I am a big fan of tempo runs for speed work...(just follow any training plan and throw in a tempo a week). Good luck!!!

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  23. What awesome meals! I love mole. I could eat it on almost anything, I swear

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  24. Looks like you had a lot of fun and great food!

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  25. i am toatlly in love with this post! I think its great that you highlight the importance of eating local because its better for the planet and for our health :) plus I love knowing my farmers!

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  26. check out you and Dan!! LOVE IT :) It looks like you had SO much fun!! congrats woo hoo!

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  27. Great meal, Emily! Man, I LOVE it! All the food look so fresh, so simple, yet so elegant!!

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  28. I love checking out the farmer markets in other countries whenever I go holiday, and looks like you have a good one there! That is one scrumptious meal you had there too! wish I am one of the guests.

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  29. Hi Emily! I love your concept for this month's 24,24,24. I really think we should make the effort to support local farmers. :)

    Thank you for visiting my 24,24,24 entry!

    Munchkin Mommy

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  30. Ohhh wow ! I can't imagine a better meal! Fresh, local and FRIENDS!! How awesome. I love brussel sprouts so i'm sure i'd love what you guys made...*drool*

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  31. Oh my gosh, I am drooling over those awesome courses!!! amazing line-up guys, great job. I love local farmer's and try to visit our farmer's market every week. I'm so jealous you get to work out in the garden :)

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  32. What a great opportunity! Everything looks so fresh and delicious!

    By the way, expert blender skills totally count! :)

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  33. Em ~ You did such a great job. I LOVE how it all came together from the flow charts you all drew out to making it - YUM, YUM! I think it's awesome that you picked an everything local theme too!

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  34. Hey you! I am finally back to blogging! I have so many of your posts to get caught up on...just wanted to drop by and say hi!!!

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  35. Great to meet you at FNCE! Check out the All Access Internships blog for a new job posting - I immediately thought of you as the perfect person for it!

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  36. Wow! You sure had a good time, huh? I love your pictures! :)

    I'm so glad I discovered your site. Love it! Can't wait to try some of the stuff!!!!!!!! :)

    Please keep the posts coming. You're an inspiration.

    Reka

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