Thursday, July 28, 2011

Adventures in Local Eating

This week, thoughtful Marylanders participating in the Buy Local Challenge have been flocking to farmers markets and produce stands. While we here at Just Saying have purchased plenty of local produce since the challenge began on July 23rd, we've also had the pleasure of enjoying our very own locally grown produce harvested from the University of Maryland's Public Health Garden.

Thanks to Mother Nature and the hard work of our partners at the garden and dozens of volunteers throughout the growing season, the Public Health Gardeners harvested several pounds of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, and peppers just before dinner time last night. As always, we sent lots of produce home with volunteers, but this time we held on to several pounds of tomatoes and beans and headed to Baltimore City for an extraordinary adventure in local eating and cooking at a restaurant near and dear to our hearts: Alewife.

Alewife has been in the news recently thanks to a brilliant environmentally-sound endeavor by Chef Chad Wells: serving invasive snakehead fish. If you haven't read about it yet, do so here and here. While we hoped to sample some snakehead ceviche, Wells explained that the fish are currently nesting and spawning in shallow, marshy waters which are out of reach of commercial fisherman.

Previously, the snakehead bycatch had been killed and discarded. Thanks to Steve Vilnit, a fisheries official with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and John Rorapaugh of ProFish, Wells is hopeful that snakeheads will be popping up on local menus and the radar of environmentally-conscious eaters within a few months.

Humbled yet excited by all the press, Wells credits Vilnit for the idea of putting invasive species, specifically the Blue Catfish he recommended to us in place of the snakehead, on the Alewife menu. After engaging our inquiries about sustainable seafood, food safety, local markets and food policy, Wells agreed to create a few one-of-a-kind appetizers (just for us) with the produce from the Public Health Garden and we put in our order for the Blue Catfish Tacos (pictured).

What came out of the kitchen from that point forward was pure, delicious joy. For full details of our unique meal, stay tuned to our sister blog: Adventures in Container Gardening and Local Eating.


A. Lilly said...

Follow up post here:

Anonymous said...

Deborah said...

Love this whole situation here ;-)