Third Annual Locavore Dinner

locavore dinner setting

On a lovely late summer Sunday, Cheenius and Mr.Dr. Cheenius graciously hosted a group of enthusiastic locavores for the third annual Locavore Dinner. The first two dinners (recapped here and here) were incredible successes with our small group of ethical-foodie friends and we eagerly anticipated a third dinner. We were not disappointed!

locavore dinner scoring

The Locavore Dinner is not just a potluck; it’s a competition. Dishes were scored for localness again this year, but the math was simplified, due to Cheenius and her garden always winning the most-local awards:

  • 1 point if an ingredient came from within 100 miles
  • 2 points if an ingredient came from within 50 miles
  • 3 points if an ingredient came from Charlottesville/Albemarle County

In addition to Most Local, two Best Tasting awards were also up for grabs.

As in years past, entries were mostly veggie-based, with the notable exception of Mr. HP’s sausage, which we thought was a shoo-in for Most Local (gaming the system again–see our entry from last year)… until we saw that the point system would not grant full credit to an item from just over the Albemarle County line in Nelson.

locavore dinner appetizers

For appetizers, we enjoyed Annie’s bruschetta (made from local tomatoes purchased at Integral Yoga), truffled goat cheese from Caromont Farm, homemade homegrown tomato jam that I received as an instructor gift when I gave an entomophagy presentation to a local environmental group, deviled eggs from Cheenius’ own chickens, and bread purchased from the Charlottesville City Market and MarieBette Bakery.

locavore dinner dishes

The main event featured Mr. HP’s sausage from Rock Barn; roasted potatoes with rosemary, both from Cheenius’ garden; and Roger’s sweet carrot and apple dish, with carrots and apples from Charlottesville City Market.

Dessert was Melissa’s delicious crumble starring Saunders Brothers peaches, which I voted for as Best Tasting; she was edged out by Mr. HP, who voted for himself four times to secure the victory. My tomato jam with MarieBette bread was the controversial winner of Most Local. Yay math! Prizes included a jar of honey from Cheenius’ bees, a felted wool pouch from a City Market artisan, and a special t-shirt from Cheenius’ childhood with a theme quite unrelated to this event.

locavore dinner japanese soda

No award was given for least local, but Jay would have won easily with his contribution of Japanese octopus-flavored soda. It was surprisingly inoffensive.

As we ate and caroused, we sipped local beer, wine, and cider. The Charlottesville area has no shortage of local alcohol. See: Brew Ridge Trail, Monticello Wine Trail, and the Virginia Cider and Apple Trail. We also have a few distilleries, none of which I have visited yet, but as I take my job of reporting on local culinary happenings very seriously, I will have to check them out soon.

The Locavore Dinner just gets better and better, thanks to the Cheeniuses’ generosity and gorgeous venue, and the participants’ creativity and conviviality. Can’t wait for Year Four!

locavore dinner setting

Second Annual Locavore Dinner

Last year’s Locavore Dinner was such a stellar success that the public demanded a Second Annual Locavore Dinner, which was celebrated at a local lake late in the summer. Again, there was a complicated/clever/rigged scoring system created by Cheenius, and again, Cheenius won. Hmm. Scoring went as follows:

4 pts. if you grew/raised it yourself
3 pts. if it came from within a 50 mile radius of your household
2 pts. if it came from within a 100 mile radius of your household
1 pt. if it came from VA.

Freebies: you don’t have to count herbs, oil, vinegar, salt, or pepper.

Estimate each ingredient’s proportion of the whole and multiply by the point value, so the total for the entire dish is out of a maximum of 4 points.

And show your math.

The rules were promptly amended thusly by the non-Cheenius attendees: if you don’t (want to) show your math, you must submit a haiku.

Cheenius won again this year for Most Local with a potato strata created primarily of ingredients grown in her own garden; the Tiny Twosome won Best Tasting with an amazing biscuit-based peach cobbler; and, in the absence of other voters, I hereby declare myself the winner of the haiku competition with a heartfelt poem that is not fit to print on this site.

Thanks to the Cheeniuses for getting us organized and hosting another successful Locavore Dinner! Let’s do it again next year!

Locavore Dinner in Photos

The gorgeous setting, complete with local flowers from a City Market vendor and beeswax candles made by Cheenius herself:

table by the lake

We enjoyed local beverages from Blue Mountain Brewery, Champion Brewing Company, Bold Rock Hard Cider, Barboursville Vineyards, and Prince Michel Vineyard.

local beverages

Nadia’s bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed jalapeños were a close second in the Best Tasting category.

bacon-wrapped jalapenos

Mr.Dr. Cheenius made an addictive fruit dip with Caromont Farm goat cheese and honey from the Cheeniuses’ own bees. Apples and peaches came from Carter Mountain Orchard.

goat cheese dip

Mr. HP and I brought local beef purchased from JM Stock Provisions, thinking we weren’t just providing a delicious dish, but also crafting brilliant a strategy: our dish had a single ingredient (plus freebies salt and pepper) sourced from within 50 miles of our home. That’s a solid 3-point entry, with no math required!

local flank steaksslicing the steaks

Can you tell we were a mostly vegetable-based group? The winning potato strata, Ewe-nique‘s egg muffins (with sausage!), Annie’s veggie kebabs, and Melissa’s marinated green bean salad were all delicious.

sausage muffins and veggie kebabsa very local plate

Drumroll… the winning dish, a peach cobbler. It was fantastic.

peach cobbler

peach cobbler

To celebrate local food, you need local spirits. Cheenius, ever resourceful, curious, and talented, shared some homemade mead and blackberry wine with us. They were… not so good. But A for effort, Cheenius!

homemade mead and blackberry wine

Winners chose prizes from a variety of environmentally-themed goodies: magazines, books, the best honey around, and local Gearharts chocolate.

the locavore prizes

And finally, where better to pass around samples of Soylent than at a gathering of folks interested in eating REAL food? Mr.Dr. Cheenius ordered it out of curiosity and mixed up a batch at the end of the evening. It could have been that we were all too full from feasting, but it was fairly unanimous among those who tasted it: Soylent is terrible. I thought it tasted like pancake batter, if the pancakes were made of cardboard.

soylent: not local food

For more of Cheenius’ wacky adventures, see:
Cheenius’ adventures in homemade wine
A visit to Vermont’s Shelburne Farms
Cheenius fights the law: Urban Chicken Keepers vs County Planning Commission
Cheenius in Missoula: The Good Food Store
Cheenius and the Mushrooms, Part I