Event celebrates local flavors
By Imari Scarbrough
for the SNAP
More than 100 people gathered to enjoy a large family-style meal on Saturday evening — in the middle of the street.
This was the third year that Dinner On Main, a farm-to-table dining experience, has been held. The event, organized by chiropractor Connie Eckman and catered by Tiffany’s Catering, Events & More in Albemarle, celebrates the variety of food available from local producers and promotes their businesses.
Upon arrival, guests were offered a variety of wine and other beverages as well as a selection of appetizers: kale chips with sriracha aioli, hickory-smoked pork belly with peach habanero jam, deviled eggs and several cheese options.
After a half-hour of appetizers and socializing, guests were seated at a long table comprised of several smaller tables set along the intersection of Main and First streets. Two varieties of salads were served family-style, including both a summer salad with fresh berries and roasted beet vinaigrette and a cucumber and tomato salad.
Serving bowls and platters filled with Shepherd’s Pie with a whipped cauliflower topping, herb pesto-marinated leg quarters, red wine braised beef with roasted squash, oven-roasted pork loin with sausage gravy and biscuits, and grilled cabbage, glazed carrots and roasted cauliflower were passed around next.
Guests selected their own dessert — mixed berries with sweet cream and a butter cookie crumble or a piece of strawberry custard pie from the Albemarle Sweet Shop — from a small dessert table to end the evening. As the sun set, many guests lingered over dessert and conversation before leaving.
The event had several sponsors. Many local businesses fully or partially donated their products: Lazy Heron Farm, Cody Strawberry Farm, The Naked Pig Meat Co., Brown Creek Creamery, Crooke Cattle & Meat Co., Spring Lake Family Farms, West Center Farm, Almond Farms, GHA Carolina Farms, Mountain Creek Farm, Rocky River Honey, Albemarle Sweet Shop, Thomas Family Farm, LLC, Fieldstone Farm and Muddy Boots Farms all had their food featured. While most were from Stanly, some were from nearby counties.
“I feel like this event is a way to put our town on the map because for such a small community we’re doing great things and we have great resources,” Eckman said. She worked with Tiffany Dahle, owner of Tiffany’s, to plan the catering.
Eckman said it’s an enjoyable event that conveys the message of the “local bounty” that’s available, using the variety of local products to create a variety of dishes. The word is getting out: with about 110 people, this year’s event was the biggest yet.
Each year, the proceeds go to a different beneficiary. This year, the money will go to the Friends of the Agri-Civic Center. The first year the event was held, the money went to The Butterfly House child advocacy center.
As of Saturday evening, the total was still being calculated.
Each guest was given a Dinner on Main bag with a drink koozie, pen and letter opener.
Some guests were from out of the county. Several attended for their first time, while others have been to every event.
Robin Bennett, of Norwood, has attended each of the three years the event has been held. This year she brought her friend, Janet DeRhodes, also of Norwood, who came for her second time at Bennett’s invitation.
Both women praised the extensive, locally-sourced menu.
“Connie’s awesome!” Bennett said. “It was delicious. Everything was great, and there was lots of food.”
She enjoys the social aspect as much as the food.
“We always meet new people,” Bennett said. “That’s exciting, to meet new people. You sit at a table with old friends and make new friends, and it is a fun part of it.”
DeRhodes loves the variety of producers whose fare is featured.
“My favorite part is getting to try local vendors, and then go and seek them out because their food was really good,” DeRhodes said.
After last year’s event, she looked for the same vendors at the farmers market and made a stop at Mountain Creek Farm in Albemarle to buy more of the blueberries she’d enjoyed at Dinner on Main.
“But if I hadn’t gone last year, I wouldn’t have known where to find it,” DeRhodes said.
Bennett noted that she appreciates that the event benefits a different organization each year.
“It’s unique,” DeRhodes said. “It’s something you don’t see happen very often because you wouldn’t have the opportunity to shut down and put the tables on Main Street. It was wonderful.”
Bennett said she is grateful both for the organizers and for the town who let sections of First and Main be shut down for the event.
She said she plans to attend next year.
“It’s a tradition!”
Imari Scarbrough is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News and Press.