Tuesday, October 12, 2010

HarvestFest Highlight: Local Fare Fair

Eating locally-produced food is all the rage now.  People are finally catching on that you don't need to truck in lettuce from 3,000 (or more) miles away when the agricultural community - or your own backyard garden - can provide that same lettuce for you from right here in New England.

Here on Cape Ann the local food movement is more than a trend: it's a way of life.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that so many people around here made - or, if they're lucky, still make - their living from harvesting food right out of the ocean, or maybe it's the fact that Cape Ann is home to many intact ethnic communities still celebrating their unique recipes and home cooking, but the food here is not your average American kitchen fare.

We thought it only appropriate to highlight this fact during Harvestfest (we are celebrating the harvest season after all) by featuring a Local Fare Fair: a showcase of just some of the amazing food producers from Cape Ann and around New England.  Cape Ann Brewing Co. will offer a pour of some of their unique brews from 12 to 5pm.  Cabot Creamery - a cooperative that has managed to support hundreds of small farmers over the last few decades - will be offering samples of their cheddars, as well as a cooking demonstration at 11am, hosted by food writer Heather Atwood.

Heather will follow the cooking demonstration with an introduction to the chef-owners of The Market Restaurant, Amelia O'Reilly and Nico Monday.  Amelia and Nico will explain a little bit about their philosophy of fresh, locally-sourced food that centers around the idea that eating is a communal activity to be savored.  Then they'll serve a delicious Harvest Lunch they've cooked up, just to illustrate the point about a meal being a communal (and delicious) experience.  Tickets to The Market's Harvest Lunch are available online, at Lula's Pantry in Rockport, or at the Information Booth in Dock Square the day of the festival.  A percentage of the proceeds will go to support festival programming.

If you miss the opportunity to enjoy the Harvest Lunch, there is still plenty of food to be savored.  Bean & Leaf Cafe will be on hand serving pumpkin whoopie pies, as well as hot (and cold) drinks.  Chili Choice will be at the Local Fare Fair, as will Duckworth Beach Gourmet's food truck, a beautiful silver machine loaded with culinary goodness.  First Light Farms will be selling their fresh produce for you to take home and use in creating your own harvest meals, and Cape Ann Pies will be selling Rockport-made slices and whole pies.  Roy Moore's Fish Shack will offer clam chowder (of course), and Lark's Fine Foods provides a chance to follow that chowder with a variety of the best cookies you will ever be privileged to eat.

All of this action intersects with a Seafood Throwdown at 2pm between two of Rockport's historic inns: The Yankee Clipper Inn and Emerson Inn-by-the-sea.  A Seafood Throwdown is an inspiring exercise in culinary skill between two chefs who face off in cooking a fish that is only revealed to them just before showtime.  Sponsored by the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, the Throwdown will no doubt prove to be a good time no matter who wins.  And we have some expert judges: Bob Smith and Bill Lee, two Rockport fishermen who really know their stuff.

At 4:30pm we are featuring a Food Bloggers' Summit, a panel of Boston and North Shore-based food bloggers, all of whom cook, write, read and think about food in order to make the rest of us understand a bit more about its importance in our lives.  This is a lively, opinionated and knowledgeable panel, hosted by the man himself (and one of their own): Joey C. of Good Morning Gloucester.

After all this food and drink, it seems only appropriate that the day should close with a little foot-stomping music to get the blood pumping.  Stuff yourself full and then stick around to listen to Jake Pardee & Friday Night Bingo from 6 to 8pm.  Who knows?  You might even find yourself pushing back those communal tables to create an impromptu dance floor before heading home to munch on some locally-grown lettuce.