Once upon time, an erudite culinary historian and linguist with the nom de Internet of Antonious stormed around LTHForum reminding us that the proof was not IN the pudding but rather in the eating of said pudding. Mr. B would agree then, if he attended last night's Green City BBQ that the proof of local came not in the local pudding but in eating said putting, although really we did not have pudding we had cheesecake made from local goat cheese (my pals at Eli's) that was like pudding and sweetened farmer's cheese from Fox & Obel that was pudding-ish (as was the filling in the Spring/Green Zebra/Custom House ravioli). This night was a very worthwhile celebration of all things local, and nothing could convince you more, the local food offered.
Really, this fete has been recorded as the homage du porc, but unlike last year where literally (about) every other stand offered a take on pig belly, I found pork not quite as prevalent. It was more, I believe, the year of the sausage: bunny weiners from Blackbird/Avec, a locavore version of the Chicago hot dog from Four Seasons, a newly emancipated chef at the Peninsula making a foie gras Polish saw-sage; clever square breakfast sausage "sliders" from Iron Chef-testant, Paul Virant's Vie, and my favorite, the Greek flavored pork sausage from Mint Creek Farm served by Prairie Grass Cafe.
I stuffed myself on encased meat. So stuffed, that well past mid-day, I have had nothing to eat beyond coffee (fact: we anticipated this yesterday and cancelled our planned Shabbos "Southern Night*" dinner in light or our need to eat spa food for a bit). Stuffed aside, my favorite foods were not the sausages. For all the efforts of all the chefs, the things that impressed me the most were the La Quercia ham and the sustainably caught hot smoked whitefish from Plitt Seafood. Perhaps because I am so stuffed still, ultimately it was not even the food that most made the night.
The closest I've come before to meeting someone who has inspired so much envy and admiration in me was when my wife and I kinda, sorta intermingled with the sister of Gus Hanson in Las Vegas. Last night I got to meet and schmooze with the most hated one herself, the Washington Island dwelling Martha Bayne. Of course where would I find her, but hanging out with the Death's Door Spirits people. For me it was a chance to meet Martha and also meet, in person at least, my editor at the CTrib, Colin; for one daughter it was the chance to chat up Dale Levitski in the potty line. The real celebrities of the night, the farmer's were in abundance. Look there was Mr. Nichols and Nick and Chad were both espied. Beth Eccles of Green Acres looked very happy as did the Heartland Beef people (why not it tasted delicious). And if the farmers were tops on the list of market heroes, and there were reporters with the best of beats; and chances to meet the Top Chef (and I swear I saw someone who looked like the man with the culinary boner, Andrew); there were also chances to meet with many more top chefs like Bayless and Zanella (fact: your kids are cute AND look a lot like you) and Carrie can't say your last name and Sarah who must just be proud of it all (all except Virant who was face deep in flames) and finally all the bedrock foodies of the city, especially the crew from LTHForum.com. We all got a chance to eat our local. Get your tickets early for next year's event.
*Planned dinner included local collards slow-cooked with local smoked turkey from a Wisconsin farmer; summer squash casserole, pickled beets, etc.