Food Writer's Diary

Democrats’ local taste

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As I’m sure you know, much stock is put into the use of local ingredient when serving food. Rightly so, I think — ideally, at least.

Ideally, produce grown for local consumption can be bred and grown for its deliciousness rather than its ability to ship well and last a long time. Ideally, it tastes of the ground it was grown in, literally reflecting local flavor and expressing a sense of place in a way that really nothing else can. Ideally, it requires less fuel to transport it from the farm to whoever’s eating it.

Of course, none of those things are necessarily true. I wish I had time to explain all the reasons why, but I don’t. 

Instead, I’ll take a look at the food that was served last night at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dinner held, according to my friend Paolo Lucchesi, at the Portola Valley, Calif., home of venture capitalist Vinod Khosia for $32,400 per person.

I was alerted of the dinner by my colleague Alan Liddle, who forwarded an e-mail with the subject line: “President Barack Obama returns to Bay Area and enjoys local Taste”.

The subject line is true in that the meal was prepared by the staff of Taste Catering & Event Planning, which is a local company.

And some of the food was local. The chicken was from Pitman Farms in Sanger, Calif., and the spinach was from Heirloom Organics in Hollister, Calif.

But Anson Mills, which was listed on the menu as the supplier of the farro, is based in Columbia, S.C. And La Quercia, whose prosciutto was listed with that local chicken and spinach (and local artichoke from an unspecified location — although I think you’d be hard-pressed to find artichokes from this country that weren’t from California), is in Norwalk, Iowa.

Should you care? Should you drop your concerns about the IRS targeting conservative groups, massive government colllection of cell phone records, or whatever else might trouble you about the government to focus on South Carolina farro?

No, of course not. Anson Mills’ grains and La Quercia’s pork products are very highly regarded in those circles of people who bother to hold grains and designer ham in high regard. Really, I think this is more of a study of how farm names add perceived value to a menu item.

What I really wonder about is why the “Greek” in “‘Greek’ Salad” is in quotation marks.

The menu:

First course

“Greek” Salad
Heirloom Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onions, Garbanzo Beans, Pepper Cress, Ricotta Salata & Black Olive Vinaigrette

Za’atar Grissini

Paired with: 2011 Newton Chardonnay, Napa, Calif.

Main course

Pitman Farms Chicken Breast Saltimbocca
Anson Mills Farro Verde, Heirloom Organics Bloomsdale Spinach, La Quercia Prosciutto, Local Artichoke ‘Chips’ & Caper Jus

Paired with: 2010Newton Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Calif.

Selection of Petit Desserts

Hand Crafted Chai Chocolate Crémeux Cups

Upside Down and Stuffed Raspberry Tartlets

Baked Vanilla Pavlovas with Fresh Cherries & Cream

Raspberry, Lychee, & Peach Pâtes de Fruits

Strawberry Panna Cotta with Champagne Pearls

Assorted French Macaroons:

Raspberry Elderflower

Salted Caramel

Coconib Cognac

Milk Chocolate Passion Fruit

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What's Food Writer's Diary?

Food Writer's Diary is a blog written by Bret Thorn, senior food editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, which covers culinary trends and his adventures.

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Bret Thorn

Bret Thorn is responsible for reporting on culinary trends in foodservice for Nation's Restaurant News. He joined NRN in 1999, after spending about five years as a journalist in Thailand, where...
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