Try the Taste of PlaceWritten by mkh on August 4th, 2009
It’s such a simple idea. We know the chefs around Cleveland who use local products have the best tasting food and most interesting menus. So why not seek out the locavore chefs when you travel? It is, by default, what we do when we travel abroad, because “national” or “regional” foods are, in fact, local foods or at least based on local ingredients. This may be the most exciting opportunity in the “travel close to home” trend that has yet to be recognized. The enthusiasm for local foods that has been fueled by the explosion of farmers’ markets across the county makes it easier than even to find restaurants that offer the taste of the place.
Last summer I went with my sister-in-law to the open farm tour at Polyface Farm in Virginia. The lunch served that day was so local it had been alive or in the ground on the farm just days before! But for dinner the next night we decided to find a restaurant Staunton, where we were staying, that featured farmers on the menu. The Staunton Grocery was just what we were looking for–everything was fresh, seasonal, and prepared with skill and affection. Our next time together we were in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and the local food passion took us to the Route 7 Grill–another farm to table success.
It has become my guiding principle when I travel. Find the restaurant that features farmers on the menu and you are certain to have a delicious and memorable meal. I was recently in Washington D.C., where I met Dean Zimmerman of Dino’s whose enthusiam for local farm products is so intense that he regularly sends email blasts to his customers about what he bought at the farmers’ market or from local farms that will be on the menu this week. My three course fixed prix ($35) dinner started with white peaches from Heyser’s Farm wrapped in procuitto! As we were leaving, he collared us to talk about the wild blackberries that were ripening in the backyards of a Maryland housing development, where foragers go each summer to pick and resell the sweet bounty. He could hardly wait for the flats of berries they would bring him.