Editor’s Note: Farm-a-Q is an amazing community event, which we are proud to support and proud to say supports the work of Seacoast Eat Local. We would like to thank the many organizers, volunteers, patrons and others who make this event possible each year. Nothing celebrates the power of local foods quite like a true community event– as this one is– and we wish it many more years of continued success.
“Turn here and then the young ladies at the end will direct you where to park,” a man clad in a bright orange vest directed cheerfully. We pulled into the grassy parking lot and sure enough two women dressed in matching bright vests pointed us to a spot along the tree line. Gearing up, my family lathered on sunblock and grabbed the essentials from the trunk – our blue-patterned fleece blanket, a folding chair, and our picnic basket filled with forks, knives, plates, and cups.
What kind of picnic does one attend when you are only expected to bring along dishware and utensils? A Farm-a-Q! By some miracle we all had the day off this year that the Slow Food Seacoast and Heirloom Heritage groups were putting the Farm-a-Q, an event where local chefs and local ingredients come together to create homegrown goodness. A range of restaurants and farms collaborate to create tastings of dishes in celebration of local food, with participants including When Pigs Fly, Leaven, Louie’s, and more.
This year the theme of the lunch was “perennial,” a word that describes something that continues to live on year after year, and the location was Heron Pond Farm in South Hampton. We set up camp behind some of the local brewers who were also at the event, and listened to the sweet sounds of the bands Fox & Fern and OldHat. Soon after getting settled, the awaited announcement came – food was ready! With plates in hand, people scurried to the assortment of tents where the delicacies awaited.
While dishes ranged from local beef sliders, to collard green roll-ups, to grilled monkfish, there was a reoccurring element in many of the dishes – pickled rhubarb. One of these dishes I devoured was by The Black Birch – pita with pea falafel, with goat milk yogurt, and rhubarb relish. I had never even heard of pickled rhubarb until tasting it in this wonderful dish – it was sweet, tangy, and salty all at once and utterly delicious.
Rhubarb pickles are a great example of how local chefs working with local ingredients provide fresh ways of how to extend our region’s short growing season, and how to create new flavors with what we have available. Inspired by what I tasted at the Farm-a-Q, I decided to try my hand at making rhubarb pickles at home. The super easy recipe I used to make the pickles is attached below, and includes spices such as star anise, clove red pepper flakes, and cinnamon. The pickles will be ready after two days of being in the frig, so the rhubarb has time to ferment. (These are refrigerator pickles, meaning that no special equipment or long waiting times are needed, but also means that these pickles must stay in the refrigerator and will need to be eaten within a month). I am anxiously waiting to taste them!
A small (and not exhaustive) list of restaurants that support our local farms can also be found below, places that offer delicious meals and inspiration for your own kitchen!
- 7th Settlement, Dover, NH
- Anju, Kittery, ME
- Joinery, Newmarket, NH
- The Black Birch, Kittery, ME
- Thistle Pig, South Berwick, NH
- Earth’s Harvest, Dover, NH
- Black Trumpet, Portsmouth, NH
- Stages at One Washington, Dover, NH