Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Food Day Dinner - 10/24/2011

"It's time to eat real, America." Today is Food Day, an initiative that aims to bring all Americans together via nationwide events that promote “healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way” (foodday.org). Williams is expanding upon Food Day and celebrating Food Week – over the next couple of days, many events will take place on campus that highlight sustainable farming practices, access to healthy and affordable eats, and food justice for producers and consumers alike. Tonight's special dinner was one such event - the delicious meal showcased the autumn bounty of various local farms. 
Once again, this dinner showcased why fall is my favorite season - the presence of squash was divinely inescapable, its exquisite texture and flavor featured in three different menu items. While the butternut squash risotto has appeared in the food line before, I never tire of the delicate rice cooked to creamy consistency in hearty vegetable stock - sticky globs conglomerate enthusiastically with the delectable orange chunks of butternut squash flesh scattered throughout the decadent mixture. I relish the butternut squash soup similarly - the smooth, vibrant puree is of the utmost earthy sweetness, with an unassuming creamy quality that does not overpower the squash's prize flavor and texture. The final squash installment was the Peace Valley Farm Kubota squash salad with cranberries and chopped chard leaves - as signified by its darker colored flesh, this squash variety had a more rich, earthy flavor than butternut squash, and the mushy chunks can only be characterized by their impressive density. The sticky orange squash fused in a delightfully oppressive fashion with the cranberry pieces and thinly sliced chard, creating a satisfying salad that appropriately concluded the squash celebration.
Peace Valley Farm contributed much of the fresh produce used in the special dinner - the saute and salad featured swiss chard and mixed greens, respectively, from the nearby grower. The green salad was particularly notable this evening - it contained fresh lettuce mixed with crunchy raw carrot rounds, juicy tomatoes, spicy red onion chunks, and crumbly feta from Maple Brook Farm, and the sizable selection of Drew's All-Natural dressings allowed fortunate diners to incorporate personal preference into the final product. Also traveling a short distance from farm to table were the local purple caribe potatoes, roasted to starchy perfection amidst a coating of olive oil, salt, and pepper. 
The flesh of the free bird roasted chicken was juicy and flavorful - the poultry's impressive tenderness can perhaps be partially attributed to the humane method used to produce the bird. Peeling the skin back yielded a delicate pearly white breast, which the brining process infused with the flavors of salt, pepper, and herbs such as rosemary - the careful preparation of this free range chicken enabled my most favorable meat experience in the dining hall thus far. This special Food Day dinner truly embodied the principles of the movement - lucky Williams diners reveled in a toothsome, healthy meal, and dining services further illustrated their awareness to the cause by using ingredients obtained from sustainable food systems. 

(This entry created in collaboration with Williams College Dining Services). 

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