Shrimp Pirogis anyone? Fluffy Biscuits Stuffed with Shredded Short Rib Meat, drizzled in full cream horseradish sauce? How about Sliced Smoked Venison on Brioche Topped with Red Onion Cherry Marmalade? Oh, and don’t forget the gingered sausage wrapped in collard leaves as in Mediterranean stuffed grape leaves, served with a sauce of butternut squash yogurt. Or, the goat cheese soufflés on a bed of baby greens adorned with golden and Chioggia beets. The list goes on.
I happen to sit next to a couple from Holden Beach who’d driven up to Chapel Hill for the weekend to attend TerraVITA, the first full scale food festival celebrating North Carolina restaurants dedicated to locally sourced and sustainable products. The Terra VITA 2010 Grand Tasting on the Green, held in Southern Village’s market square was the first ever of its kind in the Southeast, and reminded me of wine and food expos in New York or L.A., only much smaller and more intimate. The gathering had the feel of a wedding reception—skirted tables, the live bluegrass of Big Al and The Marching Rams, beautiful weather and conviviality and of course the lively, tasty food and drink. Indeed I ran into old and new friends there, and people came in groups to share the experience. Filling the tasting tent were more than two dozen restaurants represented by their chefs who are committed to farm-fresh and locally grown ingredients plus eighty sustainable beverage producers offering biodynamic, natural, or organic beer, wine, coffee and tea.
As if all this abundance wasn’t enough, the event was primarily a fundraiser for Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and TABLE, an organization of college students and community volunteers dedicated to getting meals to locally hungry children. In addition to this worthy cause, TerraVITA, not unlike the Farm to Fork Picnic each May (which pairs a local farmer and a chef to inspire and set the example for us locavores), was designed to make guests aware and involved in the ever-evolving North Carolina food scene, and to make real, tangible and tasty the connection between excellent food and sustainable sourcing.