Tablescapes

I recently attended an event called “Stem to Stem,” promoted as an opportunity to showcaselocal produce and products transformed into appetizers, beverages and desserts. The event was oneof a half dozen or more harvest season celebrations that are September happenings in the buy localmovement sponsored by Local First.

I’m the first to celebrate yet one more way to put zucchini to good use. Sure enough, among theselection of appetizers there were zucchini fritters and chocolate zucchini cupcakes.

Who can argue with anything fried, liberally seasoned with salt and garlic, then served on a cocktailnapkin at 5 p.m.? Likewise, there’s no rationalization to move the sanctimonious past the sins of creamcheese and chocolate better than hearing, “These cupcakes are made from locally grown zucchini.”

Save a zucchini from the compost pile and it’s almost as good as going to church.

For next week’s food page centerpiece I’ll move past the appetizers and talk about two intriguingobservations: just about any creative combination of good flavors added to gin or vodka can be called amartini. Second, food is art, not just on the plate, but on the table, too.

About 20 years ago, I entered the artistic design class of horticulture at the LaPlata County Fair’sFlower Show. The specific class I entered called for a dried arrangement of flowers or vegetables.

I thought I had a blue ribbon winner. I flipped over a cast iron skillet and attached sprigs of wheat, driedhops, garlic, burnt orange straw flowers and a couple of red and green peppers from my vegetablegarden. I was pretty impressed.

The judges were not. I was disqualified because my peppers were fresh, not dried. Guess you have toread the rules, if your objective is to win a ribbon.

At the Stem to Stem cocktail party in the Rochester Hotel courtyard, I saw beautifully arranged,locally grown flowers combined with apples, artichokes, hops, sweet peppers, okra and more. I sawhow simple kitchen containers, such as canning jars and colanders can be vessels of art.

I witnessedcolor combinations that were unimaginable, but striking against neutral greens and grays. Finally I sawskeletons of seed pods, vines and possibly even weeds be the ‘fillers” in arrangements of “thrillers,spillers and fillers” that made for exquisite tablescapes. In the hands of a creative florist, anything on astem can be art.

April’s Garden gets the credit. Local farmers do, too, because they provided the raw product.

This is a story I can’t wait to write.

As September flowers, herbs and fruits are making their last effort to force a bloom before the firstfrost, I’m looking at them with a fresh pair of eyes.

You should , too. Take a moment to walk through your garden and put together a feast for the eyes.

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