Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fun Playing with Mother Earth and Slow Food on Terra Madre Day

Every since I gave my first volunteer day to World Hunger Year as a follower of the late singer Harry Chapin, in 1977, I have been involved in the food movement. The "food movement" takes many forms - some fun and tasty,  some serious and life-or-death, and some in between these extremes. The organization that best embodies this movement for the "average American,"  IMHO, is Slow Food. Founded internationally by delegates from 15 countries in 1989, Slow Food in the US
seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system. We reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. We inspire a transformation in food policy, production practices and market forces so that they ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat.
Slow Food USA Mission Statement.

Slow Food designated Thursday December 10, 2009 as Terra Madre Day. Members were encouraged to celebrate eating locally, and to celebrate 20 years of Slow Food activism. Events raised the voices of small-scale farmers, fishers, breeders and all those who uphold good, clean and fair food production and traditions in their region, and are working for food sovereignty. And so, in this spirit, Bob and I partook in two fabulous eating adventures that celebrated the locally owned and smaller-scale food producers and providers. And we had fun playing with all of this food, too.

We began with lunch delivered from Mister Brisket to a diverse group assembled in our office conference room - a few of the firm's attorneys, friends, and Slow Food members.

BBQ Brisket on White

Two people ordered this - the perfume was amazing!

The Charles Barr

Since I couldn't decide between corned beef and pastrami, I decided to enjoy both! On rye, of course, with deli mustard. Yum.

And as if this feast wasn't enough - local farmer Courtney McLeod (also known as Herbthyme on the local chat boards) brought us two lovely dessert choices from her farm kitchen  - banana bread and chocolate pumpkin bread.

Sorry the banana bread got short shrift - I was shooting across the table.

After about 5 hours of digestion, it was time for part 2 of the festivities, which would include many of the same folks who shared our lunch - a Meet the Farmers' Dinner at The Greenhouse Tavern.

Our evening began in the intimate downstairs room, with the farmer-guests seated at the Chef's Table alongside the open kitchen.  The tables were set with bread from On the Rise Artisan Breads and the most creamy looking spread - I thought for sure it was cheese or a dip from Lake Erie Creamery (one of the featured farmers) - but the server informed us that it was butter churned in-house! And a delightful start it was!

The amuse was served to each diner, then a platter was set on the table for anyone who wanted more!

Arincini with Parmesan & Chives

This succulent bite was served with an Aperol Cocktail with Prosecco. As we enjoyed, Chef-Owner Jonathon Sawyer welcomed us.

Our first course featured Lake Erie Creamery cheeses:

Endive Tarte Tatin with Fresh & Aged Goat Cheeses and Roasted Grapes


I've never thought to roast grapes - but what a wonderful idea! The tatin melted in the mouth - it was a shame that farmer Mari Ann Janosko was unable to join us, so she could hear those lip-smacking sounds for herself!

Old Overholt Rye & Pimm's Highball

Chef Jonathon decided to go all over the map with the drink selections - after the prosecco cocktail that began the evening, we enjoyed Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale with our first course, and this cocktail with our second. The rye liquor complimented the rye flavors in the salad course perfectly.

Caraway & Rye Roasted Seed Carrots with Assorted Greens, Pumpkin Seeds and Bacon

The greens and beets were supplied by Farmer Peter McDermott of Urban Farms and they were simply marvelous - the carrots had an extra shot of sweetness infused into them by the recent frigid weather snap, and the greens conversely had been harvested "just in time" to avoid being frozen.

The next two courses were served family style:

40 Clove Garlic Chicken, Whole Fryed, with Lemon, Thyme & Pomme Puree

The chicken, from Hickory Acres farm in Oberlin, was incredibly crispy and moist, and the deep fried lemons added a new taste twist. Farmers Fred and Chris Thaxton delivered with the most heavenly organic garlic, which was roasted to perfection.

Eat your heart out, Colonel Sanders - the herbs and spices complimented the fresh poultry  to a tee.

Thaxton's garlic was especially wonderful mashed into the pomme puree:

Sorry - too busy eating to photograph the combination - but you get the idea!

The last meat course was sourced from Farmer Aaron Miller and featured his grass-fed beef!

Braised Beef Shortrib with Pearl Onions


My portion.

My table-mate's portion.

Unfortunately, I was so fixated on the beef that I didn't photograph the Yorkshire Puddings when they came out, nor did I snag one. Chef Jonathon said that more were coming, so I didn't worry about it. Bob and I finally snagged the last two from the initial batch, that were sitting on a serving plate on the far side of the tables.  Since I knew more were coming, I didn't photograph it (it was already getting pretty cold). Trust me that the puddings were beautiful to look at and delicious to eat - but when the additional batch came out, the emphasis was more on taste than looks:

These were every bit as delicious as (and a lot warmer when I got to taste them than) the first ones!

For dessert, Chef Jonathon combined some of Lucy's Welhausen's magnificant Ohio Honey with Ohio Grenache for a warming glogg, which complimented the honey-based dessert very nicely:

Fennell Pollen Panna Cotta with Ohio Honey

A light and succulent ending to a fabulous celebration of some of our finest local farmers and their wares! The flavor of the fennell pollen cut through the rich panna cotta, and brought out the honey notes.

I hope that you found some local food to play with on Terra Madre Day. And it's ok if you didn't - no need for event psychosis - every day can be Terra Madre Day if we take a little time and effort to consider where our food comes from and how it is made. We are very lucky in the Cleveland area to have so many fine sources at the farm, retail and restaurant levels to play with food that is made with love, on so many levels.


  1. There's a lot of good cooking in this post. Wish I could have made that dinner - if just for the fried chicken.

  2. Everything looks fantastic, and Chef's dedication to the movement is wonderful for our area. Your photographs make me hungry!