The Carolina Table: East Meets West Dinner
We have finally made it, dear eaters. It’s the last of my posts on TerraVITA 2012, which you may find funny because I passed up the Grand Tasting on the Square, which is TerraVITA’s main event. It did not take place until the day after this meal, and there are several nice write ups for it. But this blogger knows herself, and she knew she would need a tasting bud sabbatical after the mad rush of the Media Farm Tour and the Sustainable Classroom. So I chose to end my TerraVITA experience with the East Meets West Dinner, a new addition to TerraVITA. Once again, my meal ticket was complimentary.
The idea behind the dinner, according to the event website,
is showcasing chefs from different parts of the state and having them collaborate to create a fabulous 6-course meal, centered on top-quality, local ingredients.
I would say that was achieved by this year’s participating chefs who came from all corners of the state. Wine was provided by Sour Grapes, beer by Fullsteam, and the Carrboro Coffee Roaster coffee was brewed by award-winning barista Michael Harwood who also led the Chocolate and Coffee Sustainable Classroom session earlier that day.
The dinner took place at the Chatham Mills in Pittsboro, which I had been to before to taste at and tour Starrlight Meadery, but I had never been in the main complex. It was quite attractive with rich red wood, exposed brick, and lots of windows.
Before we claimed our spots, we were treated to a cocktail and appetizer hour. Chef Adam Rose of il Palio in Chapel Hill supplied arancini with NC truffles and Carolina Gold rice and guafrette potato chips with Elodie Farm goat cheese, Atlantic sturgeon caviar, and Lucky Leaf Garden micro herbs.
Chef Vivian Howard of the Chef and the Farmer in Kinston offered collard dolmades with pork, pecan, cranberry, and sweet potato yogurt.
Both the mushrooms and dolmades stand out in my mind because I normally don’t like either, but they pleased me this evening.
My closest dining companions were Laura of Carolina Epicurean and a brassy and opinionated couple from Brooklyn who pretty much made my evening. Colleen Minton, the mastermind behind TerraVITA, introduced herself to all the patrons and explained that she wanted the meal to feel like dinner with friends and family, and thus we would be served platters of food for sharing.
Then she introduced Lionel Vainet of La Farm Bakery, who provided fresh bread for the meal.
We learned from him that you should squeeze your bread to smell it! I would never have thought of that, and unfortunately, I never got to try the bread at all. But I speak from experience when I say La Farm Bakery is one of the best around.
Then the first course began.
There was a confit of carrots, beets, and apples with charred scallion vinaigrette and sunburst trout fritters from Chef Howard.
The beets were amazing in this dish, and the fritters were phenomenal. The smokiness of the trout broke through the fried coating beautifully. The whole dish was excellent, creating a salty, sweet, and earthy balance among the elements. The other dish, from Chef Rose, was cannelloni stuffed with spinach and Chapel Hill Creamery mozzarella and calavander. It was served with a sauce of sherry, cream, thyme, and mushroom ragout.
The cannelloni were too cheesy for me, but the sauce was rich and savory.by