Chris LeVeque will give the Foodshed project a tasty leg up July 4. Photo by Christina Waters.
Meat maestro Chris LeVeque of El Salchichero knows his way around a fiery barbecue sauce. Gearing up for the biggest barbecue day of the year, LeVeque will be joined by charcuterie artist and chef Brad Briske in a barbecue demo and tasting on July 4, 3-5pm. And it's all part of an exciting new food awareness program that will include farmers, food artisans, community organizations and local chefs. Thanks to a USDA grant, our Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets have joined forces with the Ecological Farming Association to offer a summer-long series of lively educational celebrations.
The Foodshed Project began its first event showcasing the ultimate June harvest, the strawberry. Swanton Berry Farms and Companion Bake Shop teamed up with cooking demos, a strawberry hunt and some impromptu artmaking to help spotlight sustainable sources of fresh produce. There will be more delicious match-ups each month, with the loyal downtown farmers market clientele invited to join in the fun.
FoodShed spokeswoman Nicole Zahm says the goal of the Project is "to illuminate and support the important work being done by farmers, food artisans and community-based organizations in our regional foodshed." She adds that the events also have "economic and food justice goals" in mind. Partnerships are important—hopefully many new ones will emerge from this summer/autumn series. For example, Zahm reports that Fogline Farm will be working with El Salchichero at the Livestock Lowdown on July 4, and Frog Hollow Farm and the Penny Ice Creamery will team up for the Peach Partay on Aug. 1. Yes, this is delicious fun, bound to reward the inquiring foodie.
Meanwhile, barbecue-wise, LeVeque knows that July 4 means cranking up the barbie and thinking about favorite warm-weather grill items. He's getting ready to artfully carve his leg o' pork from Devil's Gulch into plump pork chops when I catch up with him, so I hit him up for some advice. “Why does my barbecue chop always turn out charred on the outside and raw on the inside?” I ask the sausage king. "You need to make sure the meat is room temperature before you put it onto the grill," he grins. Another big mistake that many people make is using too much—or too little—seasoning. "Balance," he advises. "Salt is key—and chile," He points to an enormous bag of freshly dried Lindencroft Espellete chile peppers that will find their way into his sausages and rubs.
Plan to join LeVeque at the July 4 Foodshed event. Free, fun and hands-on, these monthly events are sure to bring a whole new dimension to your weekly farmers market experience. For details on the Foodshed Project, visit the website at www.santacruzfarmersmarket.org.