Food for comfort

Fundraiser for Carroll Hospice serves a `Taste' of county's best in dining

May 20, 2007|By Cassandra A. Fortin | Cassandra A. Fortin,Special to The Sun

Eight years ago, Karen Opper sent letters to local food and beverage establishments asking them to participate in the first Taste of Carroll fundraiser to benefit the Carroll Hospice.

That year, a few businesses signed on to serve food and beverages for the event, which raised about $20,000.

"At the time, there weren't any other prominent tastings in the county," said Opper, the special events coordinator for the hospice. "Local eateries and wineries saw it as a way to highlight their products and to help us out at the same time."

It was also a chance for the hospice to give back to the community, said Opper, who had to turn away businesses and patrons for this year's event.

"The Taste of Carroll brings the business and philanthropic community together," she said.

This year's event, which includes food and beverages made and served by 27 local businesses, is scheduled for tomorrow at the Antrim 1844 Restaurant in Taneytown. More than $100,000 has been raised annually at the event in recent years.

The event benefits the Carroll Hospice, a nonprofit that started in 1986, offering end-of-life care to about 53 terminally ill patients. Today about 50 patients a day receive help with pain management and control of symptoms, home and inpatient services, and bereavement care for the family for 13 months, Opper said.

"We never turn anyone away, regardless of their financial situation," Opper said. "We give out services totaling more than $130,000 for which we do not receive reimbursement. This event helps us to cover most of those costs."

At the event, each establishment receives a station where the participants set up their samples for the tasting. The dishes include salmon and ravioli, and there are a variety of desserts and wine.

Patrons purchased general admission tickets for $60, or a VIP admission for $125, that includes meeting the Baltimore Ravens head coach, Brian Billick.

Throughout the tasting, patrons also can place bids in a silent auction. The auction items include trips, a private dinner for 10 people cooked by a well-known chef, gift certificates, and a Ravens package that includes 5 sideline passes.

Once the date for the event is announced, calls and requests to participate come flooding in, Opper said.

Since its inception, the venue for the Taste of Carroll has changed to accommodate its growth. It started at the local Best Western, moved to the Wakefield Valley Country Club, and then in 2005 it found a new home at the Antrim 1844, once a thriving plantation that is now a country house hotel. Antrim is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

"It's a good cause," said Amy Fields, who owns the Legends Caf? with her husband, James Fields. "And it's good for us as a business to participate."

Legends, which opened in Westminster in 2005, has items on its menu such as "Babe's Baby Back Ribs" and the "Skipper's Fish and Chips."

At the tasting, Legends will serve a dish called "Ravioli Garbo," named for Hollywood star Greta Garbo. The dish contains chicken and ricotta cheese, a roasted garlic cream sauce, crab meat, and sun-dried tomatoes.

"The ravioli was a special at the restaurant, but it is so popular we decided to add it to the menu and serve it at the Taste of Carroll," said Fields, who resides in Bel Air.

Shannon Clarke, the owner of the Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse that opened in 2002 in Westminster, is making about 20 cakes for the tasting, she said.

This year Clarke will be serving five flavors of cakes: espresso, caramel pecan, almond raspberry, dark chocolate ganache, and a new flavor. The bakery, which boasts 27 flavors of cakes, will add the 28th - to be unveiled and sampled for the first time at the Taste of Carroll.

"I try to do something different each year," said Clarke, who will make the cakes fresh tomorrow. "The event brings in a lot of people for a good cause. And the event is a chance for me to serve a good variety of what I make at the bakery."

Beverages at the event will include wines made at the Basignani Winery in Baltimore County. Bert and Lynne Basignani have participated in the event every year since it started, she said.

Although the winery is outside the county, the Basignanis participate because it's a good cause and because they have customers from Carroll County, Lynne Basignani said.

"There are a lot of people at the event that know our wine," she said. "The Antrim 1844 is a nice venue. It gives a chance to get face to face with people and talk about our wine. The personal contact is great."

A portion of the wine will be donated by the winery.

This year a Riesling and a red zinfandel will be served at the event. The Basignanis also have donated a gift certificate for a winery tour and tasting.

Other participating vendors include: Boordy Vineyards, Brick Ridge Restaurant, Casa Rico Mexican Restaurant, Clay Pipe Brewing Company, Cygnus Wine Cellars, Elk Run Vineyards, E.W. Beck's Pub, Giulianova Italian Deli & Groceria, Gregory Hutsell Catering, Gypsy's Tea Room, Harry's Main Street Grille, Java Coast Coffee, Just Desserts by Linda, Linganore Wine Cellars, Maggie's Restaurant, Marina Cuisina Caf? & Creative Catering, New York J&P Pizza, Olde World Catering, Paradiso Italian Restaurant, Santoni's Marketplace & Catering, Smoker's Barbeque, The Green Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, Timeout Sports Grille, and Woodhall Wine Cellars.

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