Sunday, May 19, 2013
CARRABASSETT VALLEY -- Al Keene first heard about a locavore at a seasonal dinner started three years ago by a chef in Carrabassett Valley.
LOCAL: Russell Dodge holds a tray of various locally raised meats at his Whitewater Farm Market in New Sharon. Al and Dianne Keene are collecting recipes for a cookbook that promotes natural and local products that will benefit consumers, producers and retail shop owners.
Staff photo by David Leaming
TASTE OF MAINE: Pan-seared, black pepper-crusted Gulf of Maine tuna.
• Add “local” to an ending abstracted from the word “carnivore,” which comes from the latin vorare, meaning “to devour,” according to Dictionary.com, and the result is a person who eats only locally grown or raised food.
• For more information about the “Maine Locavore Cookbook” project, contact Al Keene, at Locavore Cookbooks, 1106 Valley Crossing, Carrabassett Valley, ME 04947. To submit recipes, call 235-2225, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.locavorecookbooks.com.
He remembers asking Chef Tony Rossi, who hosts the dinners at the Shipyard Brew Haus restaurant at Sugarloaf Inn, to repeat the foreign-sounding word, coined to describe people who eat locally produced food.
"I asked him, 'Local folks, what'd you say?'" said Keene, 65, last week.
Rossi's answer came during the meal that followed -- six courses of gourmet food prepared almost entirely with ingredients from Maine.
Keene and his wife, Dianne, have only missed one of Rossi's dinners since. Rossi has served about 20 locavore meals so far during the ski resort's off-season, according to Keene.
The dinners inspired the couple to start experimenting with their own locavore recipes at home, and it gave them an idea to publish a cookbook to encourage other Mainers to also eat local food.
They started gathering recipes this summer for the "Maine Locavore Cookbook," which they hope to publish this fall, according to Keene, who owns a printing and consulting business in Carrabassett Valley.
Keene described the project's goal as showing people how to support local farms, food markets and other businesses, while getting better-tasting food that hasn't traveled hundreds or thousands of miles.
"We're not chefs and we haven't been in the food business, but we like food," Keene said. "We buy local stuff and we like local stuff."
The couple put out the word over social networking websites, and to locavore organizations and agriculture groups in Maine. They give a few simple guidelines for people who have recipes for the cookbook.
"How many of the ingredients can we get from Maine?" Keene said. "We're not requiring that all of the ingredients are from Maine, but as many as you can find."
Keene recalled a corn ice-cream sandwich and chocolate cake cookie with blackberry sauce as a favorite dessert, prepared from local ingredients for one of the seasonal dinners.
His wife's favorite dish from the dinners is a pan-seared Atlantic halibut with heirloom tomatoes, Riesling butter sauce and cucumber salad, he said.
The couple has learned that everything from cooking oil to buffalo meat can be found locally.
There is going to be a section in the cookbook dedicated just to the odd ingredients you can get from local farms and businesses, he said.
"Once you dig in, it's amazing what you can find," he said.
The couple also plans to allow nonprofit organizations to sell the cookbooks as fundraisers for their groups.
For example, a Little League team can sign up to sell them and get a portion of the proceeds, according to Keene. He said the cookbook will cost $25 and the group would get $10 per sale.
'Once you taste the difference'
Rossi is still deciding which of his recipes should go in the Keene's cookbook.
The 40-year-old chef co-hosts the seasonal locavore dinners with his girlfriend, Heidi Donovan, who is the restaurant's bar manager and brings liquors and wine made in Maine to the meals, while also making the desserts.
They serve about 24 people at each dinner. Menus describe where the food came from and the chef introduces each course himself, telling tales about the farms and markets he visited to buy the ingredients.
Rossi called the cookbook a great idea that he hopes will introduce people to a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.
Meat and vegetables that are shipped a great distance, or mass-produced, will often have preservatives, hormones and other additives that make it less healthy, while creating a dull taste, according to Rossi.
(Continued on page 2)