The Food Column: We're going 'farm to' table and community

Two events this week will appeal to the locavores among us.

The Farm to Table Harvest Tasting, from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, in East Liberty's Bakery Square, is a chance for you to plan a local-foods Thanksgiving menu or holiday party -- or just to fill up on some food samples.

Local produce -- what's left of it -- will be in the spotlight. Farm to Table Director Erin Hart said the event will feature butternut squash, potatoes, onions and garlic, plus other foods and drinks.

The Harvest Tasting was scheduled late in the year on purpose, Ms. Hart said, because local farms often run fall festivals that keep them busy through Halloween, and she wanted as many farms as possible to be able to attend the tasting event as vendors.

"We never want to compete with the farms," she said.

More than 65 farms, wineries, breweries, dairies, restaurants, caterers and other food sellers will have vendor tables at this event, and each table will offer an item for tasting (see the recipe for Port Tenderloin with Fruit Compote, which Lisa Ferguson of Fabled Table, a North Side catering service, will prepare for sampling).

For $20 in advance or $30 at the door, attendees will be able to try the sample items at as many tables as they wish; the price also includes a grocery bag and Farm to Table tumbler.

Vendors also will offer merchandise for sale. Much of the merchandise will include things such as cheese, honey and eggs -- "the things you'd find at a farmers market," Ms. Hart said -- and many vendors will be emphasizing Thanksgiving foods and the holiday season.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. For more information and a vendor list, or to order tickets, go to

Meanwhile, the Farm to Community Forum, promoting fresh foods in schools and underserved areas, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Regional Learning Alliance at Cranberry Woods in Cranberry.

Keynote speakers are Judith Dodd, a registered dietitian and consultant on child nutrition issues, and Rodney Taylor, director of a California school district lunch program and pioneer of farm-to-school salad bars.

Two tracks will be available: a "farm to school" track for those working in the school lunch field and a "farm to community" track with workshops of interest to those hoping to increase fresh food options in underserved communities and other arenas.

Workshop speakers will include university professors, food bank and other organization leaders, and heads of local agricultural organizations. Topics will include food safety, "food deserts" (communities where fresh foods are largely unavailable), connecting with farmers, getting grants, and more.

The School Nutrition Association of PA has granted six continuing education units for this program, which is being offered by Women for a Healthy Environment.

Cost to attend is $30. For more information, go to

Benefit dinners

Pasta Dinner for Peace: Five different pastas (including gluten-free) cooked by Sherri Walewski of Sharp Edge Restaurants, plus Chinese and silent auctions, games and salsa lessons. 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at Wilkins School Community Center, Swissvale. $15 for adults and $10 for students; proceeds benefit CISV (Children's International Summer Villages) Pittsburgh, a peace organization offering children's summer travel programs.

Signature Chefs Auction: Meet chefs from local high-end restaurants and sample their food, plus bid on unique auction packages such as a trip to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Pirates game next season. 5 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Westin Convention Center, Downtown. $100 per person; proceeds benefit the March of Dimes.


Guinness Oyster Festival: Fresh shucked oysters, deep-fried oysters, oyster stew and live entertainment starting at 1 p.m. Nov. 10 at Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle, Strip District. (Festivities end at 1 a.m. the next morning). 412-642-6622.

Rhema Christian School Fall Festival: Vendors of homemade goods, candies, chocolates, kitchenware, baskets and other items. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 10 at Rhema Christian School in Moon. 412-269-9555.

Polish Fest 2012: Family-oriented celebration of Polish music, dancing, culture and religion, featuring ethnic foods, cultural displays, craft and cooking demos, children's activities, folk performances and more. Noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Cathedral of Learning, Oakland. Admission is free; proceeds from sale items benefit the University of Pittsburgh Polish Room Scholarship Fund. 412-231-1493.

Wine, beer and spirits

Toast to the Community: Wine and beer tastings, jazz by the Joe Negri quartet and light food. 5:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 10 at Montour Heights Country Club, Moon. $60 per ticket or $110 per couple; for ages 21 and older only. Proceeds benefit the Ohio Valley General Hospital. 412-777-6359.

A "Spirited" Celebration: A class on holiday cocktails, mocktails and appetizers, including limoncello and chutney. 1 p.m. Nov. 11 at McGinnis Sisters, Monroeville. $30. Register ahead: 412-858-7000. ext. 7.

Pork tenderloin with fruit compote

  • 1 medium green apple, washed, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red apple, washed, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 pear, washed, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups apple juice (no sugar added), divided, or as needed
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons no-salt herb mix, divided
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free Bisquick
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

In a large pan, combine apples, pears, cranberries and 1/2 cup apple juice. Add 2 tablespoons herb mix. Toss and allow to cook down. As mixture absorbs liquid, add more apple juice as needed.

While fruit is cooking, mix gluten-free Bisquick and 1 1/2 tablespoons no salt herb mix. Dredge pork tenderloin slices in mixture.

Melt butter or heat oil in large pan. Place dredged pork in pan and brown. Put pork aside once it has browned. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Once fruit has become a compote, spoon on top of pork.

Serves 4.

-- Lisa Ferguson, Fabled Table

Rebecca Sodergren:


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