Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Homegrown Gourmet - Round 1 Roundup!

We have had a successful first go at the Homegrown Gourmet challenge! 4 cooks submitted delicious looking SANDWICHES using local ingredients, recipes, and inspirations. They really all look fantastic! The original rules can be found here.

I'll go first with my Maine inspired Real Maine Italian. These subs differ from your average meat n' veggie sub in that it has no lettuce, contains no condiments beyond olive oil, salt and pepper, and includes chopped up sour pickles and kalmata olives. With homemade bread and all the fixins' I was really surprised at just how tasty these were- and I don't even like pickles!

Our second entry is from the other side of the country in sunny California. Kate from Paved with Good Intentions took inspiration from that favorite bumpy green ingredient, the avocado. Mmmmm, avocado... She also kept in mind those sun lovers on the west coast want their food tasty and healthy. Her creation was a perfectly baked chicken breast served on a bun with crisp romaine, tangy Swiss, and amazing looking guacamole.

Next we have recipe inspired by local seasonal foods as well as traditional cultural recipes, well, with a twist! Cara of Cara's Cravings had Rosh Hashanah on the brain when crafting this gourmet looking lunch cuisine. A tradition in her family is to make chicken salad with the leftovers from matzo ball soup. As if a delicious curried chicken with the local flavor of cranberry mixed in wasn't enough, she paired this filling with an incredible looking pumpkin challah bread. Have you ever even heard of such a delicious thing!? How good does that look...

And finally, we have what I've decided is my favorite! Meg of Joy Through Cooking went above and beyond with 2 submissions to the event to celebrate both her hubby and alma mater's home and her hometown. I'll start with her tribute to Pittsburgh- a Primanti sandwich. I just love this because I've never heard of it- one of those local things that is special to just one place. And talk about special- it sounds like heaven! Grilled meat, coleslaw, tomato AND french fries all crammed between two sliced of Italian bread. Whoooo-doggie... now that's a sandwich! This was good enough for me, but Meg make some gorgeous looking grilled pork, scrumptious sweet potato fries, and homemade coleslaw. I wish I had smell-o-vision to enjoy the aromas of this masterpiece!

Meg's second entry paid homage to Connecticut, the Nutmeg state. Another original I've never heard of made an appearance with a personalized twist. The basis of this sandwich was Anadama bread, a native New England bakery item, made special with a hint of nutmeg seasoning. It sounds fantastic! Add in some Vermont cheddar cheese, tuna with Massachusetts cranberries, and thin sliced apples from the local farm, and you've got a keeper!

Ok, so I loved Meg's creative twists on new and exciting foods, and the extra effort really was fantastic. But you know what really sealed the deal to pick Meg's as my favorite? It was that her Connecticut dish was the Whalers Melt. Now I know nothing about the Hartford Whalers as a hockey team, but they are referenced in a very favorite movie of mine - Mallrats.

Renee (Shannen Doherty): What are you doing? You promised me breakfast.
Brodie (Jason Lee): Breakfast, shmreakfast! Look at the score, for Christ's sake. It's only the second period and I'm up 12 to 2. Breakfasts come and go, Renee, but Hartford, "the Whale," they only beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime.

So maybe it's not a good exclusive reason to choose Meg as the host of the next round, but I'm the hostess for now and that's my choice!!!

Happy cooking!