Love at First Bite

June 10, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Melissa Graham

I’m officially smitten.

Meeting at a big party, I was impressed by my darling’s breadth, support of local producers and environmental commitment. I’m just a little concerned that this new love doesn’t quite fit my image.

But before anyone starts calling my husband, let me explain. I’ve got a wicked crush our city’s brand new Whole Foods.

We met at the opening party, which brought producers from far and wide. For example, Bayless was there serving a spicy shrimp dish. I got to meet Herb and Kathy Eckhouse of La Quercia for the first time as they sampled their porky wares. Local producers of cupcake, confections, sweets, cheeses, even wines, were in attendance.

The store is tremendous. Shop while enjoying wine, beer or coffee. You can purchase a single locally-raised chicken, duck or quail egg. Products from small, local manufacturers’ abound, including chocolate-covered figs from Pasticceria Natalina, hand-made pasta from Pasta Fresh and ice cream from Homer’s.

Certainly, the store won’t become my main food source. The farmers’ markets are that. Plus, I love my small independently-owned shop owners, like Provenance’s Tracy Kellner. Nevertheless, the multi-department, dare I call it, super-market has its appeal. Here’s a recipe that I made after a wandering visit, which is a mixture of the best local ingredients, Minnesota morels and Iowa’s artisan prosciutto, with the best imports, French triple crème cheese and fine Italian aged balsamic:

La Quercia Prosciuttto-Wrapped Morels Stuffed with Triple Crème Cheese
Serves 2

1 ginormous morel mushroom
2 chunks of triple crème cheese with rind (I used Langres)
2 slices La Quercia prosciutto (best in the world and locally produced)
Finest aged balsamic vinegar

Method: Preheat oven to 400° F. Slice the mushroom in half. Stuff each half with a chunk of cheese. Wrap in La Quercia prosciutto. Bake in a small oven-proof dish until the cheese is softened. Drizzle with vinegar.