Sustainable sustenance: Maya hosts second 'local' dinner

dish-mayaFrom left, Richard Bean of Double H Farm, vintner Gabriele Rausse, Peter Castiglione of Maya, Peter Hatch of Monticello, Megan and Rob Weary of Roundabout Farm.

"Creating a relationship is what this whole trip is about," said Maya head chef Christian Kelly to a full house Monday, November 9, as foodies, farmers, and fans of Charlottesville cuisine filled 60 seats and devoured five wine-paired courses, while learning about sustainability from some of the area's top culinary names.

Feeding off the burgeoning "local" food movement sweeping across the nation, Maya owner Peter Castiglione hosted the restaurant's second "Local Food and Spirits Night." Featuring wine from Gabriele Rausse and products from Double H Farms, Roundabout Farm, Sweet Dog Farm, and Rag Mountain Trout, the dinner emphasized the exclusivity of  local food–- each farm owner stepped forward to personally introduce the methods and missions behind each trout, radish, potato, or wine grape.

"We aren't doing anything new," said Megan Weary of Roundabout Farm, who provided the potatoes and greens. "It's old-fashioned growing; it's a revival."

As guests and foodies mingled, Gabriele Rausse regaled with stories of his beginnings in Virginia wine country–- sharing grapes with Barboursville, nearly getting arrested by ABC when his young daughter took a swig of GR Pinot Grigo at a wine festival–- while Monticello gardens and groundskeeper Peter Hatch emphasized the importance of Thomas Jefferson's "experimental gardens" in the evolution of American cuisine.

"Thomas Jefferson was the first and only epicurean president, the first American foodie," Hatch said.

And while the conversations ranged from recollections of growing up on a farm to local cooperative Horse and Buggy Produce, the two hour meal stole the show. Eleanor Porter, co-owner of The Seasonal Cook, encouraged her table to take a big whiff of each plate, holding it up to her face as an example. "Each dish should incorporate four of the five senses," she explained.

Needless to say, the meal was a multi-sensory production, dispersing the conscientiousness of locally-sourced product with the Southern flair of Chef Kelly's creations. While Maya plans to use as many local products in their Thanksgiving dinner, the next Local dinner is planned for early January, with Blue Mountain Brewery signed on as an early provider.