The purpose of this post is to tell you about the glory and pleasure that is VOLT. Located in historic Downtown Frederick, Maryland, VOLT isn't just food - it's an experience. The chef/owner, Bryan Voltaggio, is committed to serving up food that is as organic, sustainable, local, and seasonal as possible. If you look out the back window, you'll see a little garden, complete with bamboo trellises. Voltaggio has built up a great working relationship with many local farmers and businesses. The restaurant gets its tea from a tea shop within walking distance. They've even got their own custom-blend coffee, which they roast in-house (of course).
When you taste his food, you can taste the pure respect Voltaggio has for it. Every ingredient is allowed to shine in its natural way. He doesn't blow flavors out of proportion or augment them with unnecessary spice or seasoning - he simply lets them speak for themselves.
I believe that my brunch at VOLT may have been the best meal of my life. The best part: we were seated in the kitchen, so we could see them preparing our dishes. I was absolutely fascinated as I watched a chef bring out an enormous tray of carefully sliced heirloom tomatoes and painstakingly arrange them on our plates. I watched Bryan Voltaggio himself spend at least an hour and a half inspecting and preparing blackberries that would be served with our dessert course. Contrary to how most of us expect a kitchen to sound, there was no yelling - there was barely any talking. It ran like a well-oiled, silent machine. One chef would prepare a mixture in a large industrial KitchenAid, then adeptly remove it and gracefully slide over to another counter, where a different chef was waiting to take over the process and chauffeur the ingredients to their next tasty destination.
It was amazing. And it was over too soon. Five courses later, we were heading out the door. As I lifted my purse to my shoulder, still dazed from the tastes I had experienced, I looked up and saw him. Bryan Voltaggio. In my direct path. Chumming it up with the head waiter and my father.
Yes, I squeaked. Like a little school girl. I watched this guy on Top Chef. I absolutely admire his approach to cooking and sustainability. In short, he is one of my heroes. And he was standing directly in front of me.
If he heard my squeak, he was gracious enough to pretend he didn't. Next thing I know, my dad lifts his camera and says to Hero-Chef, "Would you mind taking a picture with my daughter over there? It's her birthday." Then he came over to me and the next thing I know, this happened:
|I like to call that look in my eyes the "I-can't-believe-this-is-really-happening" look...|
Right before my dad clicked this picture, I only had enough time and wherewithal to babble out, "You're an amazing chef, and I love your approach to cooking. It's...just...perfect." Not exactly poetry, but I hope it got the point across.
Anyway, on to the real reason you're probably reading this post - the giveaway. I've thought for a long time about what I'd like to give away as my first blog contest. The decision was made in a very (pardon the pun) organic way. While visiting one of the Maryland vineyards on my birthday wine tasting tour, my mother bought me a copy of Dishing Up Maryland, by Lucie L. Snodgrass. It's not only a collection of 150 recipes from all over Maryland, it's also got interviews and features about some of Maryland's awesome farms, restaurants, and inns, including - didn't you see this coming? - a two-page spread about Bryan Voltaggio and VOLT. The book is organized by season (awesome) and includes recipes like:
Sweet and Savory Beet Soup with Orange Juice and Yogurt
Wild Mushroom Tartlettes with Goat Cheese and Bacon
Ricotta Hotcakes with Strawberry Compote
Tarragon Chicken Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts
Smith Island Cake (the official state cake of Maryland)
This book is brimming with wonderful recipes and interesting back stories about where our food comes from. It embraces local living and highlights all of the wonderful delicacies that Maryland has to offer year-round. I'm so excited about it that I'm giving away a copy to one of my readers! (And I don't have a huge amount of readers, so you've got pretty good odds at this point!)
Here's how it will work:
- The contest will run from today until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 23rd, 2011
- The winner will receive one copy of the book Dishing Up Maryland via Amazon.com
- You have three ways to enter:
- Leave a comment on this post telling me what region of the world you're from and post a link to your favorite regional recipe from there!
- Like The Bare Midriff on Facebook (comment saying you did or remind me you already do)
- Follow The Bare Midriff on Twitter (comment saying you did or remind me you already do)
- The winner will be selected randomly and announced on Monday, September 26, 2011
- The winner must contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org within 72 hours of the "and the winner is..." post going live or he/she forfeits the prize and another winner will be selected (same guidelines apply)
Good luck and, as always, Eat well!