By Porcshe Moran
If you follow PNM Media on Instagram (and you definitely should!), you probably noticed all of the photos I shared from the "Art of Food" party that I attended a few days ago in downtown Columbia, Mo. The event was a fundraiser for the North Village Arts District Farmers & Artisans Market which reopens for the season April 28. The North Village Arts District, referred to as a "bohemian paradise" by those who work and live there, is a section of the city that consists of art studios and galleries, the Missouri Contemporary Ballet headquarters, film and graphic design companies, cafes, a fashion house, concert venues, loft apartments and many other artsy delights. When I saw a flyer for "Art of Food" during the True/False Film Fest earlier this month, I knew immediately that I wanted to go. Food, art and music is a trio that I can't pass up!
The evening was set up as a progressive party that included six different businesses. Each location featured food from a local vendor, live music and visual art of some sort. The first stop was Perlow-Stevens Gallery (aka PS: Gallery). My fiancé and I browsed the gallery's winter exhibit which showcases the works of six artists in various mediums such as oil painting, photography, ceramics, fiber and glass. I particularly enjoyed the "City Pictures" project by Columbia photographer Joe Johnson, the wearable art jewelry collection by Columbia's Amanda Vander Tuig and the whimsical ceramic sculptures by St. Louis-based artist Laura Lloyd. After checking out the art, we sampled the smoked sweet potato pork bite hor d'oeuvres from Bleu Restaurant and Wine Bar. Rock Bridge Brewery, a local craft beer company, was handing out samples of their Peppered Rye Saison and their Black Fog Imperial Black IPA.
The next stop on the tour was The Root Cellar, a grocery store that specializes in organic and Missouri-raised produce. They were serving up greenhouse tomatoes, from Amish members of the Central Missouri Produce Auction near Versailles, Mo., topped with soft Goatsbeard Farm's herbes de Provence goat cheese. They also had salami from an Italian deli in St. Louis, artisanal white cheddar cheese from Milton Creamery and fresh cucumber slices. All of it was absolutely delicious. I'd never before tasted vegetables that were so crisp and robust in flavor. We ended up purchasing some of the cheese to take home.
Artlandish was third on our list. We visited the Catacombs Galleries which is located underground. Artists rent booths and sell their wares in the subterranean space. Inside, there was a duo playing the blues and Broadway Brewery fed us tasty chicken salad with fruit and walnuts in mini Parmesan cheese bowls.
At the offices of Hoot Design Co. & Silverbox Photography, we had the chance to taste some handcrafted popsicles from Fresh Beets and Artisan Pops. These aren't the normal frozen treats you are used to devouring on a hot summer's day. Owner and chef Maroua Jawadi uses fresh, mostly locally sourced fruit and organic sugar to create interesting flavors like spicy pineapple, balsamic roasted strawberry cheesecake and kaffir lime avocado. Jawadi says she can provide her popsicles in custom flavors for wedding receptions and other special events. She sells them at the North Village Arts District Farmers & Artisans Market each Sunday during the season, and she has a tricycle with rear cooler to get to customers around town. My favorite of the ones that I tried was the roasted peach. Even though I live an hour from Columbia, I'd make a trip to the farmers market every Sunday just to get some of those. That's how good they are. Trey Bistro was also there with savory bread pudding made with duck offals, sweet potato puree and fried spinach. In terms of art, I was very impressed by the work that Hoot Design Co. and Silverbox Photography is doing. Hoot's "Simply Yours" custom prints are adorable and would make a great gift for a baby shower, birthday, anniversary or wedding. Silverbox shoots a lot of weddings, including actor Tim Allen's 2007 nuptials, and their pictures are stunning.
Last, but not least was Orr Street Studios. The featured appetizers from Les Bourgeois Vineyards were chicken pate from Richly Blessed Farms with Norton vincotto and sea salt, and Goatsbeard Farm cheese garnished with marinated and fennel seasoned beets from Happy Hollow Farm. Of course, Les Bourgeois also had a selection of their award-winning wines (my picks were the 2011 Sweet Traminette and the ice wine). Painters were working on portraits in front of the crowd as part of a silent auction. Artists rent studio space at Orr Street so there was plenty of finished and in progress work at which to look. One of the coolest things to see here are the unique studio doors that were designed by sculpture Chris Teeter.
The Bridge hosted an after-party which featured complementary beer from Rock Bridge Brewing and live music from Mikey Wehling and the Reverbs/Sun.
"Art of Food" was a fun event that gave the community a chance to support local farmers and artists. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys farm-to-table cuisine, art and music.
Hello! I am Porcshe N. Moran. My nearly two decades of professional experience covers print and digital journalism as well as strategic communications, content marketing and copywriting.