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Thursday, June 18, 2009 01:34 pm

‘Local Flavors’ meals make connections

Jim and Mary Burris, owners of Indian Creek Farms in Jacksonville, attend a local flavors dinner are Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Illinois members.

Local Flavors, a program that connects farmers, restaurants and consumers, has returned for its second season.

The program, which started as a dinner series, will expand this year to offer both lunches and dinners at 11 locally owned eateries in the Springfield area. Consumers who attend will support local farmers, as well as the restaurants that use the farmers’ produce in their menus.

Several of last year’s dinners, including those at Ross Isaac and Caitie Girl’s, sold out, says Lindsay Record, executive director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a cosponsor of the program. Organizers wanted to extend the same opportunity to other local restaurants, like Incredibly Delicious and Trout Lily Café, that are only open for lunch.

This year, Record adds, they’ll also encourage restaurants to list ingredients and the farms they come from on their menus. Consumers can then continue to support those farms by shopping for their produce at the Old Capitol Farmers’ Market.

“There is more effort for our community to be supportive of each other,” Record says. “I’m looking forward to this season of Local Flavors, because it really does give people the chance to support local farmers and restaurants.”

Augie’s Front Burner kicked off the Local Flavors lunch series Tuesday, serving lemon balm seared tofu salad, cobb salad, grilled sirloin sandwiches and pan seared sirloin.

On Friday Caitie Girl’s headlines the dinner series with the choice of chicken fricassee with roasted garlic and vegetables over a spring onion quiche with braised swiss chard or grilled capanada-stuffed eggplant over turnip gratin with a spicy balsamic glaze.

“Everything is local, from the eggs to the chicken to the vegetables,” says Caitie Barker, the eatery’s owner. She shops at the farmer’s market every Wednesday and Saturday.

Reservations for Local Flavors are recommended and can be made directly with participating restaurants.

The lunch series includes Blucat Café in Williamsville on July 7; Caitie Girl’s, July 21; Café Andiamo, Aug. 4; Maldaner’s, Aug. 18; Incredibly Delicious, Sept. 1; Lake Point Grill, Sept. 15; Trout Lily Café, Oct. 6; and Inn at 835, Oct. 20.

Dinners include Ross Isaac on July 2; Maldaner’s, July 16; Augie’s Front Burner, Aug. 6; Caitie Girl’s, Aug. 20; Augie’s Front Burner, Sept. 3; Sebastian’s Hideout, Sept. 17; Ross Isaac, Oct. 1; and Maldaner’s, Oct. 15.

For Local Flavors menus, visit the Illinois Stewardship Alliance Web site at www.ilstewards.org.

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