REACH for a bite

September 23, 2009|By NATALIE BRANDON / Special to The Herald-Mail

While the economy has continued to tumble into turmoil, the general public has been pinching their pennies and trading take-out for eat-at-home dinners - until now.

REACH Caregivers of Hagerstown will be hosting the 2009 Taste of the Town Benefit and Auction from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreational and Community Center (ARCC).

The event includes samplings of specialty dishes from about two dozen local restaurants and eateries, two of which are new to this year's benefit.

Aqua 103 will be making its first appearance at the Taste of the Town since its opening in March 2008. Its seasonal restaurant menus feature what chef John Waffil calls "progressive American cuisine."


"We take a simple ingredient and turn it into something more complex," Waffil explains. "We use natural products, no chemicals, and we buy everything local."

Aqua 103 will be featuring a pepper-seared pork dish at the event, which includes infused potatoes and a butternut squash sauce that is promised to tingle diners' tastebuds with "an infusion of flavor."Another newcomer, Cafe del Sol, will also be making its Taste of the Town debut.

"We wanted to take the opportunity to become more active within the community," manager Dereck Hewitt says.

Cafe del Sol serves an eclectic mix of American, Italian and Mexican cuisine. The restaurant will offer three dishes at Taste of the Town - a roast beef panini, a chicken pesto panini and tomato bisque.

"The paninis are a popular item," Hewitt says.

Other restaurants that will be featured at this year's Taste of the Town include Black Eyed Susan, Schula's Grill and Crab House, LJ's & The Kat Lounge and Virginia Barbeque.

If you go ...

WHAT: REACH Taste of the Town 2009

WHEN: 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4

WHERE: The Athletic, Recreational and Community Center at Hagerstown Community College

COST: $40 per person

CONTACT: For more information, contact Jodie Stock, REACH executive director, at 301-733-2371 or

Butternut squash risotto

2 cups diced butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fine diced garlic
1 teaspoon fine diced shallots
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Saute squash in butter until soft, then mix in garlic and shallots. Stir in heavy cream and cinnamon. Reduce for 5 minutes or until squash develops a creamy texture. Salt and pepper to taste.

Autumn port gastrique

1 cup port wine
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine diced garlic
1/2 teaspoon fine diced shallots
Juice and zest from 1 orange
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in medium sauce pan and simmer until contents are reduced by half. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pepper-seared pork loin

1 tablespoon oil
8-ounce pork loin
1/2 cup freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Coat saute pan with oil and heat.

Roll pork loin in freshly ground pepper and place in hot saute pan over high heat, searing meat for 2 minutes on each side.

Finish pork loin in oven for 5 minutes to serve at recommended temperature of medium. Checking with a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the meat should be 140 degrees.

Courtesy of Steven Weaver, executive sous chef of Aqua 103, north of Hagerstown

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