Sunday, November 30, 2008

the locovore's holiday

Thanksgiving is the food holiday. Christmas and Easter have their hams, and Halloween its candy, but none of the other major U.S. holidays are as explicitly tied to the stomach as Thanksgiving. After all, the image that appears in most people's minds is a feast at which the pilgrims give thanks to native Americans for their generosity in helping the new Americans survive the harsh winters of their new found home. It also celebrates the riches of the fall harvest, which is perhaps the most exciting part of the holiday to gastronomes. So not surprisingly, Thanksgiving is an exceptional opportunity to build a menu of local foods from area farmers and artisans. Even in northern climes, Thanksgiving typically arrives during the very tail end of the fall produce season, and many farmers' markets hold special market days on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

What's more, holidays are great excuses to break from routine and seek out some truly unique food items. This makes Thanksgiving an excellent time of year to expand your local food knowledge and cooking repertoire, even if you don't consider yourself a rabid locovore. To give you some examples of how one family decided to spend their Thanksgiving dollars and calories, I've posted our menu below, which we served to 10 family members. We didn't purchase every ingredient from in-state sources (in our case Minnesota), but we did try to design a menu that used as many local products as possible, given our particular climate. I've listed each menu item and the origins of its major components below, as well as any relevant links.

Summit Winter Ale (Minnesota)
Schell's Pilsner (Minnesota)
Vinho verde (Portugal)

hors d'oeuvres
potato chips (Old Dutch, Minnesota)
assorted pickled peppers (our garden)
dry-cured salami (Volpi, Missouri)
marinated olives (Spain)

roasted beet salad
organic gold beets (Wisconsin)
Sartori parmesan-style cheese (Wisconsin)
organic radicchio (California)
olive oil (Italy)
balsamic vinegar (Italy)
organic walnuts (unknown)

stuffed turkey breast with prunes
organic, free-range turkey breast (Farm on Wheels, Minnesota)
organic pork shoulder (Farm on Wheels, Minnesota)
pancetta (Italy)
bread crumbs (old bread from New French Bakery, Minnesota)
parmesan-style cheese (Sartori, Wisconsin)
organic rosemary (Rockspring Farm, Wisconsin)
organic sage (Rockspring Farm, Wisconsin)

acorn squash risotto
acorn squash (Minnesota)
onions (Wisconsin)
organic butter (Organic Valley, Wisconsin)
parmesan-style cheese (Sartori, Wisconsin)
arborio rice (Italy)
olive oil (Italy)

sauteed brussel sprouts with pancetta

brussel sprouts (Minnesota)
organic rosemary (Rockspring Farm, Wisconsin)
pancetta (Italy)

baguettes (New French Bakery, Minnesota)

Yali Cabernet-Carmenere (Argentina)

apple tart
harolson apples (Minnesota)
flour (Minnesota)
organic butter (Organic Valley, Wisconsin)
organic cream (Organic Valley, Wisconsin)
organic eggs (Crystal Ball Farms, Wisconsin)
Cognac (France)

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