Governor gets local chef's goat (recipe)

July 31, 2011|By TAYLOR ECKEL |
  • Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, center, samples the Washington County entry in the governor's annual "Buy Local" Cookout. Natoma "Cookie" Vargas, second from left, prepared Washington County Fiesta Blue Chorizo Wraps for the event. The recipe incorporated goat chorizo sausage produced on the farm of Jeanne Dietz-Band, left, and goat cheese from the farm of Alice Orzechowski, right.
Submitted photo

For the third straight year, Natoama "Cookie" Vargason represented Washington County at the annual "Buy Local" Cookout on July 21.

The cookout was hosted by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and first lady Katie O'Malley on the front lawn of the Government House in Annapolis. Vargason and her team of local food producers prepared Washington County Fiesta Blue Chorizo Wraps with Escabeche.

The "Buy Local" cookout kicked off the "Buy Local Challenge" week, which encouraged Marylanders to incorporate at least one locally grown, produced or harvested product into their meals each day. The week ran from July 23 through July 31.

"It's an honor," Vargason said. "The first time we went, (O'Malley) had never tasted goat meat before. I like to think he's acquiring a taste (for it)."

Vargason said O'Malley joked with members of her team and acknowledged the effort they put into the presentation of the fiesta wraps.

"Anytime we go anywhere to be ambassadors for Washington County and get the governor to remember Washington County, that's a good thing," she said.

Vargason said chef/producer teams submitted their recipes to a jury, who judged recipes based on creativity, availability of ingredients, geographic representation, and maximum use of local ingredients.  

Joining Vargason at the Buy Local Challenge were her husband, Chuck Vargason and her daughter, Audrey Vargason; Washington County Agricultural Marketing Specialist Leslie Hart and her husband, Rick Hart; Jeanne Dietz-Band of Many Rocks Farm in Keedysville; Tim Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission; Alice Orzechowski of Caprikorn Farm in Gapland; and Lynn Little, family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.

The fiesta wraps, or "goat tacos," featured goat chorizo sausage from Many Rocks Farm; cheddar-jalapeno goat cheese from Caprikorn Farm; yogurt from Clear Spring Creamery, as well as blue potatoes from Blue Faerie Farm in Frederick County, Md.

Vargason described the escabeche as a "jalapeno relish," or "salsa without tomatoes," and said it included garlic and carrots from Rights of Man Farm in Frederick County, Md. Even the blue corn tortillas used for the fiesta wraps were produced in Manassas, Va., less than 100 miles from Vargason's home in Sharpsburg.

"We've been working together as a team for three years," Vargason said. "It's truly a cooperative exchange. We stood up to the challenge of creating a product with creative, local ingredients."

Vargason said she is committed to using local products for her catering company, Cookie's Cooking Co., and said that fresh foods are especially flavorful.

"The carrots and garlic were picked the day before (the meal) was served," she said. "There's nothing like the taste of fresh carrots."

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