‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Sunday, September 28, 2008

CLASHing to the choir

I know, I should write a dissertation about why eating locally is better for the environment, supports local business, and is less (globally and personally) toxic, but really, I was just there for the food. The delicious, fresh, flavorful, immaculately crafted food.

I just spent the last few days visiting CLASH events from Hyannis to Wareham (there are more, farther out on the Cape, but who do you think I am? Wonder Woman?) and I have finally gotten to the point where I seriously cannot eat another bite. And that's saying something.

Thursday we went to the gala opening at CLASH headquarters - a tent behind the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis. There were people offering us food and drinks that they had made right here on the Cape. We saw a lot of these people:

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I spent most of the time talking to people about food I had never heard of and asking them to spell things. They're throwing around farm names and horticulture terms like it's no big thing and I'm nodding and smiling like I'm some sort of food critic and of course I know what they're talking about. It was like when I started waitressing and fumbled every single cocktail order. You want a what? Laphroaig? Are you kidding me?

Wianno Grille had these little caponata on brioche thingies made with buttercup squash. I had several. And Brewster Fish House had a local salad with some kind of soft cheese from Shy Brothers Farm in Westport. They're called Hannahbells and are the most delicious thing ever. You can buy it off their website.

On Friday there were talks on growing what you eat. Here's Sarah Swain after her talk on raising backyard chickens:

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She was swamped with people asking for more information. I think there may be a drop in commercial egg consumption next year.

There was also a talk by the East Dennis Oyster Farm guy, John Lowell. One thing he recommended was asking where the oysters come from when you order them in restaurants. If they don't know, he suggests you get the burger. He also explained that it's not okay to take oysters from one town and replant them in another. So if any of you Oysters Have Feelings, Too people are reading this stop releasing oysters back into the wild.

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At the end of his talk he asked if anyone would like some free oysters and let me tell you, it was as if Sarah was out there calling her flock of chickens. I have never seen people move so fast in my life.

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There were other treats, too.

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On Saturday, CLASHists had many choices. It was sort of a Cape-wide Open Studio of food. I headed up to Falmouth to watch a clam digging demonstration, and got there in time to not watch the demonstration. It didn't happen because of rain that also wasn't happening but probably did happen on Sunday, the rain date. And if you think that was confusing? You should have read the directions to get to Bournes Pond. It said to turn right on Menahaunt, but what it should have said was "turn left on the big street that has absolutely no sign whatsoever." I love New England. If a street is important enough, no sign is necessary.

I was sorry to miss the demonstration, as it involved a plunger.

From there I went across the bridge to Wareham for a cranberry bog tour. I followed the directions and was met with a very difficult choice: turn left for the bog tour, or turn right to bail on the whole afternoon and go to Target. I could use some cork shelf liners.

I went on the tour. And here's what I found out.
1) cranberries are vines
2) some of these bogs are 100 years old and have not been replanted - making for some serious heirlooms
3) bogs that are all sandy have not been punked by competing bogs. Dumping sand on your bog every three years helps the plants grow.

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By now I was starving - all this talk of clams and cranberries and not a darn thing to eat. So I jetted over to Feast of Falmouth.

What a lark! You get these punch cards and you get to try ten different samples of dishes brought by local restaurants. I stood by the trash cans so I could eat and discard my plates more efficiently. Also, they gave us these little plastic plates to balance all our stuff on, with a corner indentation for a drink. I'm keeping mine in my purse to use at wedding receptions and art openings.

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Child labor?

Once I had had my way with Feast of Falmouth, which by the way offered my car the nicest view it's had in a long time while it sat waiting for me, I headed toward Sandwich to visit Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen.

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I have a crush on the jam kitchen, and not just because Thornton Burgess' Smiling Pool is out back.

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On our way east we saw one of the aforemention sanded bogs. It's like pruning. I know this because now I'm really smart.

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And then there was a boy waving at the side of the road with yet another CLASH sign, inviting us to visit Gallery Gourmet on 6A in Sandwich.

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They have all kinds of yummy looking things and if I hadn't just eaten twice my body weight at Feast of Falmouth, I'd have been in big trouble. Go get into some trouble yourself if you're in the neighborhood. She just opened last spring and would, I'm sure, be delighted to see you.

From there I went home and fell into a food coma.

And when I woke up, I went back to Hyannis for more oysters at the Oyster Festival on Sunday. My new best friends John and Stephanie Lowell were there again, from East Dennis Oyster Farm. They were doling out oysters and offering some with a dash of cranberry pepper jelly. Oh good heavens. Also out of this world was the oyster sashimi from the Oyster Company. It was an oyster on the half shell with yellowfin sashimi, wasabi, cucumbers and citrus-soy vinaigrette. Don't even try making it yourself because theirs is completely perfect in every way.

And here's faithful COD reader Craig Poosikian shucking those Brewster Oysters. I had several. You know, to support our readership.

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And the icing on the proverbial cake was when John Rega of "Taste of Cape Cod" chatted with me in a food critic to food critic kind of way.

Obviously he's never read any of my food reviews.

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