Informal dinner featuring local foods could be the first of many

 If you enjoy good food that's produced locally, you might be interested in a local-food dinner happening Saturday evening in Champaign-Urbana, and perhaps get involved in similar events in the future. 

I got an e-mail from local meat-lover Laurence Mate, who said the dinner's been planned by several local food lovers and will feature things like:

- sourdough bread by a local, artisanal baker

- fresh Amish-made butter from Jersey milk

- pea soup

- pork loin from Triple S Farm cooked sous-vide (Mate's contribution) with a red currant sauce made from currants growing in his yard

- roast vegetables

- chocolate truffles with Prairie Fruits Farm goat cheese centers (local chocolate-maker Dan Schreiber's contribution)

 

The dinner has a suggested donation price of between $5 and $20, Mate said in his e-mail.

 

"The idea is to feature some of the great foods that are being produced in our area and some creative things that can be done with them," he told me. "The emphasis with what we're doing is to keep things simple and accessible. We're collecting donations to cover our costs."

 

Mate said if you're interested in the specifics of Saturday's dinner, you should seek out Schreiber at Market at the Square Saturday morning at Lincoln Square in Urbana.

 

But more than entice you to dine with him, Mate said he wants to see if there's enough local interest to continue more public events like Saturday's dinner.

 

"For this first dinner, we're not looking so much to advertise the event and get people to sign up as to spread the word about this idea and connect with other people in our community who would think it's great," he said. "Since everyone hosting, cooking, cleaning up, etc. are all volunteering their time, we're looking for other local food fanatics to help us pull off more of these dinners throughout the growing season.

 

"That's how I would describe the people who are participating in getting this off the ground: local food fanatics. People who are keen amateur cooks (amateur in its root sense of doing something for love). People who are digging up their lawns to grow some tomatoes or salad greens. People who want to raise chickens in their backyards."

 

He believes there are more food fanatics in the area than anyone realizes, and "the issue of local foods is poised to become a populist, grassroots issue, and not some elitist, trendy, yuppie, foodie issue, as you often see it stigmatized."

 

So this dinner will be informal, he said.

 

"Just like an old-fashioned family reunion, the basic idea behind these dinners is to bring together and grow our local food family," Mate said.

 

Photo is from this Flickr page.

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