Buy Local Bash draws big crowd to sample local food, drinks

Just before the doors opened at Monday night's Buy Local Bash--exhibitors setting up displays and samples at the CNYRegional Market

Hundreds of people are spending this Monday evening sampling food and drink produced locally. The third annual Buy Local Bash, being staged at the CNY Regional Market until 10pm, had lines out the door as it opened at 6pm. The $25 entry is a benefit for the Food Bank of CNY and Say Yes to Education.

Syracuse First's Chris Fowler, who is coordinating the event, says the evening of sampling---and meeting local producers---is a way to raise awareness of the many and diverse food products from the region.

Among those handing out samples, Empire Buffalo, which produces raises bison and sells buffalo meat at its Chittenango farm. They were prepared to hand out 500 Asian meatball samples, and hoped they had enough to last the evening. Co-owner Eileen Randolph told us buffalo meat is leaner than chicken, and theirs is all grass and hay-fed.

Friar Nicholas, from Assumption Church, was also at a table, showing off the 'Fat Friar' (he isn't!) bakery products. It's a new not for profit, benefitting the Franciscans' Syracuse North Side food pantry by selling shortbread and other baked goods.

Next to the Franciscans, Rebecca Secreti was offering gourmet designer cupcakes, which have already won the Taste of Baldwinsville and are now going to a bigger market.

Pastabilities, from Syracuse's Armory Square, had dozens of loaves of long bread, offering dipping samples of its 'Spicy Hot Tomato Oil' now being packaged so it has a longer shelf life.

And there were lots of beverage possibilities: Empire Brewing and Saranac, both offering craft beer samples, and lots of wine, as well, including some from a winery about to open in Cazenovia.

And, on sale at the event, City Dining Cards, 50 'playing cards' featuring discounts at Syracuse area restaurants--another CNY Food Bank fundraiser.

The Buy Local Bash is part of Buy Local Month. Fowler says if just 10% of business here is switched to local vendors it would create thousands of new jobs and help neighbors give a big push to the local economy.

Next up: Buy Local Saturday, right after Black Friday, aimed at widening awareness of locally based vendors in other businesses.