Monday, August 16, 2010

Stay home. Eat Local.

Tune into one of the many food television programs these days, and you will inevitably find some chef praising the merits of utilizing local ingredients.  If you think about it, it's quite strange that we've come to this point.  After all, in the old days, local/seasonal ingredients were our only option.  So, why is it that we are so focused on the source of our food?


Sure, it's pretty cool that I can pick up a kumquat in my local market in the middle of winter.  But tasting that piece of citrus imported or trucked across the country quickly quells my fascination with modern day logistics.

The fact of the matter remains:  it's best to eat local, fresh, and seasonal ingredients whenever possible.  In fact, most of the time these ingredients are cheaper because they have not been marked up to cover the costs of transportation, packaging, etc.

Forget about the warm fuzzy feeling of supporting your local farmers . . . there are enough Birkenstock wearing, burlap sack carrying, foodie types out there that have already created a 'movement' to spread the love.  Instead, just be realistic.  Local ingredients are typically cheaper and better tasting than the alternative . . . enough said.  If you get that warm fuzzy feeling as a by-product of making realistic and sustainable choices . . . all the better.

Today's recipe is for a simple Caprese Salad.  I utilized fresh basil from my herb garden, along with house-made mozzarella cheese made daily by Tom over at Lazzaroli Pasta.  I was fortunate to have a few friends bring me an assortment of heirloom tomatoes grown by some of Sugar Hill, GA finest local farmers, Marler & Edwards.  These guys are producing outstanding crops of tomatoes and peppers that are all the rage in the Atlanta fine dining circuit.  Don't fret if you can't find their website or location . . . you are more likely to catch these two traversing the serene waters of the Chattahoochee than you are with a hoe and shovel in hand.  With that said, they may produce only the finest of ingredients in the Atlanta area, but your local farmers market or vegetable stand will offer up some great varieties for use in this recipe and others.



Heirloom Caprese Salad

1 Cup Assorted Heirloom Cherry and Grape tomatoes, sliced
6  - 8 oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, torn into small pieces
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar

Arrange sliced tomatoes and cheese on a serving plate, garnishing with fresh torn basil.  Lightly season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Drizzle oil and vinegar over the top of all ingredients.  Serve.

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