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Monday, November 11, 2013

Indiana's Food Diversity: 2013 Farm-to-Table Festival

This past Saturday, I was able to experience the diversity of food Indiana produces. Through the Grow NWI/County Line Orchard Farm-to-Table events, I learn something new every year. 

Year 1: Indiana is the top duck-producing state. 

Year 2: It takes a lot of resources to support a dinner for 300+ people. More than 500 eggs were used to make the quiche alone! 

Year 3: There is a movement to bring rabbit farming back to Indiana. I also learned much more about the people involved in bringing the food from the farm to your plate. I found out about restaurants I didn't know existed and got to try a sample of their cooking style. The chef was right there, serving the food up and answering questions.

This year was the third Farm-to-Table event at County Line Orchard. In previous years, it was a sit-down, family-style dinner. This year was a new and more casual festival. I was able to really enjoy the food at my leisure. For an event like this, where the goal is to showcase what the local farms and restaurants have to offer, I like the idea of getting to try more. And boy, there was no shortage of options!

A vast assortment of cheeses, apples, breads and dips were set up on both ends of the large event space. Butterkase, blue cheeses, basil havarti, and one with bacon. Cheddars and goudas, more cheeses than I could try. Arkansas Black, Enterprise, Gala, Cameo, Fuji, Honey Crisp, Rome, the selection of apples was much more than I could remember. This was just the hors d'oeuvres. They were set out to enjoy before the stations were serving and stayed stocked through the event. You could easily avoid the lines without fear of missing something.

Bars were on each side with soft drinks, water, and local beers, wines and a signature cocktail (Apple Pie in a Jar). The brews included one brewed with apples and one brewed with pumpkins from the orchard. They had an double pale ale brewed with hops grown right in Chesterton, Indiana. The wines were all from wineries throughout the state. There was a range of dry reds and sweet whites. Traminette, Indiana's state wine grape, was available from three different wineries. Two types of mead from Wild Blossom Meadery were available.

Then...there were the food stations. Clearly set up with big banners to show the restaurant and chef's name. The food ranged from Thanksgiving dinner turned taco to hearty and warming chili. Stations had one or two different small plates. They served lettuce wraps and soups, sausages and rabbit tamale, spaghetti and root vegetable salad. All served through windows from a quick-moving kitchen. You could see them in action. They moved quickly enough, and there were stations enough, that I didn't have to stand in line for more than a minute. Of course, I was still grazing on cheeses and talking while the first wave of people ran up for food. This isn't my first rodeo. There are always the people who have to rush to get it all, rush to stand in line. If you hang back and wait, you'll still get your fill.

Trays were provided if you wanted to grab everything at once, or you could just graze and grab some from here or there. Autumn-decorated cocktail tables were placed around to give you a spot to rest your glass while you sampled the food. Plenty of long tables with chairs filled the event space. It was great to get up a mingle or to sit down with friends and talk about food, life, and politics. 

After some socializing, music, and deciding what to try next, the desserts were rolled out. The apples were pushed aside and the desserts took their place on either side of the barn. My must-have dessert was the Valpo Velvet Honey Comb ice cream. Last year it was wonderful. Apple tarts and small slices of a large variety of desserts lined the tables: lemon bars and brownie squares, butternut squash pie and crumb cake, donuts and cheesecake. Mr. K came back to the table with a pile of dessert. It all went well with my mead.

It was a more casual atmosphere, and I liked it. The program/brochure listed all the suppliers, chefs, and ingredients. It was a good talking point, and great to take home and use as a resource. The live music provided a good, up beat backdrop for this event. It was a food social, and I can't wait for next year. 

Food Listing

Pat Niebling | Three Floyds Brewpub
Porchetta with Swiss Chard, Bacon Vinaigrette, Caramelized Apples and a Sorghum Ale Drizzle

Brad Hindsley | Spire Restaurant
Roasted Duck Breast Stuffed with Bacon and Vegetables

Jean & Dennis Theile | Branya's Bakery
Beef Stew, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Red Cabbage Pierogi & Sausage, and assorted breads, appetizers, and desserts.

Cory Muro | Valley Kitchen
Pork Belly Lettuce Wrap and Fairytale Pumpkin Soup

David Castillo & Ryan Garbaciak | The Cottage on Dixie
Milk-braised Rabbit, Corn & Carrot Tamale

Nicole Bissonette | Bistro 157 & Bartlette's
Bison and Cinderella Pumpkin Chili and Roasted Pork on Root Vegetable Salad

Dave Hemdal | Strongbow Inn
Turkey Taco with Cranberry Squash Salsa and Sausage Walnut Stuffing 

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