Wild Goose have put on some fantastic food events over the last year. As well as their monthly ‘too many cooks’ series and regular cooking classes they hosted the phenoms of bacon camp and beer camp, even organizing a parade for the latter. Asparafest may have been the most enjoyable yet: a celebration of local, seasonal foods, a great crowd and a showing of what some of Columbus’s adventurous, creative and talented home cooks can produce.
There was an impressive array of dishes, I think at least 12 and the judges with the unenviable task of having to decide on a winner were Trisha Wheeler fromEdible Columbus, Todd Mills from Local Matters and Lisa Dillman aka Restaurant Widow. Above is my plate loaded with samples of each entry. They included stuffed mushrooms, soup, pickles, ice cream, pizza, quinoa salad, salmon tart, bacon and onion tart, bruschetta, orzo salad and asparagus ceviche.
Rachel Tayse wins the unofficial award for most local with her home raised deviled eggs, garlic and herbs. Only the asparagus was purchased. The judges winning dish was a flavor packed bruschetta with honey caramelized bacon, cheese and a balsamic reduction, but my favorite was the runner up, the asparagus ice cream made by Bear and Colleen. I may be biased, not just because I love ice cream, but because they used my lemon balm. I had a sneak preview taste yesterday during which I was able to get over the initial ‘asparagus flavor ice cream???!!!’ reaction and that probably helped too.
Of course, this was a ‘fest’ so as well as food, there was an art exhibit and entertainment including asparagus themed music. Andy Anderson did an amazing job of thanking the sponsors (Edible, North Star and Local Matters) with a clever and funny song that I wish I had on video.
But the main event was Asparagus the movie: Stalking the American life. It was a charming, touching film with lots of laughs, but the story it told was at heart depressing. It was the story of the decline of the Michigan asparagus industry due to unfair competition from Mexico and Peru. The Michigan farmers are collateral victims from the war on drugs as the US government subsidizes Peru to grow asparagus as a substitute crop to cocaine. The film also showed us the pride of a community that dubbed themselves the world capital of asparagus, ‘our tips are tops,’ and their engagement in the fight for the survival of the industry.
You can watch a six minute trailer for the film on the film’s website. Sadly, I think you have to watch the whole film for a taste of seventies disco asparagus style ‘do the stalk.’ After the movie we were treated to a interesting Q&A with the directors Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly and had an update on recent developments.