What happens when America’s crappy fast food culture erupts in Italy? They shut it down, and establish a world-changing non-profit to make sure it doesn’t happen anywhere else. Slow Food originated in 1986, is driven by members and volunteers. Chapters popped up everywhere, protecting food culture, supporting small farms and entrepreneurs that cherish local food and traditions. Utah’s chapter is no less adamant in protecting and cultivating our food culture. Through mini grants, classes and fundraisers, Slow Food Utah wants you to care where your food comes from.
A celebration of all things Slow Food, The Feast of Five Senses, is one of the finest food events each year. This year is the tenth anniversary of the fundraiser, which was held at the historic Memorial House in Memory Grove. Guests made their way through the appetizers and beverages while bidding on awesome local items, with proceeds benefitting Slow Food Utah’s micro grant program. This program benefits small-scale farmers and other food artisans in the community. Some of our favorite local goods, like Biocentric Brothers and Amour Spreads have benefited from this program, as well as many more.
The appetizers and beverages were outstanding. Francis Fecteau of Libation LCC, poured a refreshing vermouth spritzer and a sparkling prosecco. Uinta Brewing was there as well—my very favorite beer, Baba Black Lager made an appearance, dark and wonderful. Whenever I see Uinta Brewing at an event, I know my drinking decisions have been made. Nathan Powers, the head chef at Bambara, treated us to a “very sophisticated version of peanut butter and jelly” as he put it. Preserved Duck Rillettes topped with Brown Turkey Figs were scrumptious. My husband kept tabs on the server, and ate quite a few of these. Matt Caputo and crew had a most impressive spread, featuring goat cheese from Mesa Farms, a small farm with about 35 goats (with ambition to bump it up to 40 goats). Three different preparations demonstrated the versatility of the cheese as well as the talent that makes up Caputo’s Market and Deli. Jennifer Gilroy of Meditrina prepared delightful triangles of crustless pimento finger sandwiches. The cheese was made from a chevre combined with Beehive Cheese Co. Promontory; the addition of candied bacon played nicely against the tangy cheese. I have to admit to eating quite a few of these. The last appetizer was a delicious combination of sweet and salty. Asian pear compote topped crostini along with blue cheese and Creminelli proscuitto was a tasty contribution from Liberty Heights Fresh.
After two hours of mingling, eating and bidding, dinner started. Gwen Crist, Chair of the Board for Slow Food Utah, welcomed everyone. It was a packed house. Before each dish was served, the chef had a chance to talk the local ingredients used and the preparation. Between dishes, Snail Awards were presented. These awards are given to those in the community that support the Slow Food mission. This year’s winners included David Jones, the head chef at Log Haven who is known for his foraging skills and knowledge. Kim Angeli was also recognized for her community leadership, managing the Downtown Farmers’ Market and supporting local growers and ranchers.
Our first course was a fresh salad from Kali Matson of Caffe Niche. Kale and mustard greens were topped with tart pickled cherry tomatoes and candied pine nuts and dressed with an herb vinaigrette. Emily Gassmann of Em’s served one of my favorite dishes that evening. Heirloom tomatoes from their own garden, served with burrata (a creamier version of mozzarella) and an especially flavorsome balsamic reduction and pesto oil. Sashimi was up next, and who better prepare it than Del Mar al Lago’s chef, Frederick Perez? Nobody, that’s who. This man has a way with fish. Koosharem Steelhead Salmon was dressed with roasted corn and creamed peppers, it was an impressive dish.
My best-loved dish of the night was made by Amber Billingsley from Vinto. An intermezzo presented in a jar filled with grape sorbet, sage and brown butter gelato topped with sunflower brioche, burst with flavor. The flavorful grapes, paired with the buttery gelato, were dreamy. Next up was the most original dish of the night. Actually, it was downright funky. Adam Kreisel of Chaia Cucina shocked our tastebuds with a savory porcini mushroom panna cotta—cold and jiggly—surrounded by a wild mushroom ragout and chorizo. Imaginative, rich and full-flavored – I’ve never tasted anything like it and the distinct differences in texture was compelling. Lastly, Courtney McDowell from Finca prepared an heirloom carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting, sage cream and candied carrots.
If that menu doesn’t convince you to join Slow Food, nothing will. Members receive discounts to events like the Feast of Five Sences as well as others. Your membership supports our food heritage and community. Slow Food Utah is “changing the world, one bite at a time.”