Obviously, I personally accepted the challenge and won! However, it was not the elegant, graceful win that I had hoped for. Prior to Local Foods Week, I had imagined lush daily meals made with subsequent daily trips for farmer market goods. This week-long culinary epic horizon was crushed with the eight-pound shoulder that I slow barbequed, mopped, and pulled (pic 1) over apple and oak logs for six and a half hours on October 1st in celebration of rock band, La Otracina, making their way through Cleveland for the first time in two years. The shoulder was from a non-certified organic Creston, Ohio hog that I bought half of several weeks ago. Those french fries in the picture are Yukon golds from the Farm.
Though La Otracina are skinny Brooklynites, they ate wholeheartedly that evening, as did other musical luminaries like Lightning Fingers and Josh Snuff. October 2nd was the "official" start of Local Foods Week, and we (me, Sarah, and Otracina) partook in the Challenge with non-vinegared and instead chili powdered pulled pork breakfast burritos (pic 2) with purple onions from Old Husher's Farm, Morgan Farm Stay eggs, organic herbed cheese bought from a Amish Go-Between at a LEAF event this summer, and leftover bacon-mashed pinto beans from Rose Angel on W 58th. The condiments were Texas Pete Hot Sauce from North Carolina, Chipolte Tabasco from Avery Island, Louisiana, and Cholula from our brothers and sisters in Mexico. Day One, check.
Day Two was my favorite individual day of Local Foods Week. This is because I cooked the least and ate the best that day. Eating the best came as a courtesy from Lakewood's most aggro farmers, Bay Branch Farm. Yep, Annabel and Eric opened up their home and hearth for us heathens. The table-spread picture above (pic 3) is from the Bay Branch Party. My personal fave was the Yukon Gold potato salad with arugula accents (both grown at Bay Branch). However, Sarah begged to differ and preferred the beet salad (more Bay Branch produce) with the Lake Erie Creamery Chevre. I cooked up a pair of blue hubbard pies (pic 4) from the farm, and though there were three pumpkin pies, mine was the first to go. This probably had more to do with the fact that we brought a spatula and drew first slice, rather than some competitive tasting, as Ryan Kennedy's pumpkin pie was no less delicious. The chit-chat was great and ultimately devolved into subject matter relating to the competitive state of urban farming in Cleveland, Ohio. Day Two, check.Day Three was a mellow day for me and Local Foods Week. Remember that eight pound shoulder and the other blue hubbard pie? Day Three, check.
Day Four was another no-cook day for me, but that evening I went to the Growhio Web Launch party. Thereby, completing Task 2. And since the Party was graciously catered with tasty treats from Flying Fig and Ohio City Burrito with a conscious effort to include locally grown food in the offerings, I was able to get my local foods meal in that day. Growhio's mission statement "is to increase demand for local food products and services by acting as an educational resource for information seekers, consumers, and future local food participants." Not only that, I'm "supposed to be" Growhio's first featured farmer with a question and answer style interview. Considering that Old Husher's Farm is not mentioned even as a link on the Growhio site yet, I'm starting to wonder if that "supposed to be" has fallen to the wayside. I should probably follow up with them on that. Regardless, Day Four and Task 2, check.
Day Five was Wednesday, hump day. It came with its own little micro-challenge, to eat at a restaurant that regularly buys from local farmers, of which there are probably about 10 to 20 of these restaurants in the area. Right here in my little village of Lakewood, Ohio is Root Cafe. Root is a coffee shop with an amazing beer and food selection. They buy from five or six separate farmers in the area, including Bay Branch. As you can guess, Day Five was another no-cook day with my local meal being provided by my pizza lunch at the Root (pic 5). Day Five, check.Day Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine went a little something like this: pulled pork sandwich, followed by another breakfast burrito, followed by more pulled pork, then some Italian sausage from that same hog with some purchases from Gordon Square Farmer's Market on Day Eight and little snacks of blue hubbard pie peppered throughout those days. This was kind of an uneventful way of concluding the First Annual Local Foods Week Cleveland. But when you do a whole shoulder, it's best to eat it all.
Right now in Cleveland, we're celebrating our 2nd Annual Beer Week. Last year, the Week was hardly a murmur, meaning I didn't know it existed until after it was over. This year's Beer Week has a ridiculous amount of events and brewers flying in from all over the country. Sarah and I indulged in a food and beer pairing at the Beer Engine that matched 15 of Boulder's Avery beers with 15 petite courses. My favorite pairing was the sour beers with the stinky cheeses, which are two food groups that I generally dislike, but completely synergized together. The word on the street from the Cleveland Beeries is that this 2nd Beer Week has "blown up" from last year. Let's hope the same for next year's 2nd Annual Local Foods Week.