Friday, November 14, 2014

Post 390 Farm to Post Dinner Featuring Sparrow Arc Farms

Over the past few years I have talked to you about some pretty incredible dinners I've been able to attend as press.  To be honest- I've always felt a little guilty- telling you all about these amazing experiences at chefs tables, dining with wine makers while sipping their wines, extravagant meals....well I have another one for you, but this one you can also indulge in, multiple times even throughout the year.

Post 390 is continuing their Farm to Post dinners where every few weeks they play host to one of the amazing farmers, fisherman and butchers in the area and showcase their food.  The best part of these nights- I mean beyond the fantastic food and wine of course, is that the person responsible for creating the food that is sitting right at your table, ready and waiting to answer every inane question that pops into your head.  This is an experience not to be missed.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Sparrow Arc Farm dinner.  Sparrow Arc Farm is located in one of our favorite neighbor states- Maine, and this operation, family operated and owned by Natick native Matt Linehan, supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to many of our favorite Boston based restaurants.  Sitting at a table with Matt, and his wife and infant son gives a whole new perspective to the idea of Farm to Table.  It finally hammers home the ideals that are being brought back after so many years of mega farms shipping their produce all over the country and eliminating the little guys.  It provides fresh fruits and vegetables that have true, real and clean flavors.  It makes food the very best it can be.  Sitting with Matt lets us city dwellers in on the incredible hard work, dedication and sacrifice that goes into growing carrots and turnips, lettuce and squash that we take for granted.   

It goes without saying that the meal, created under the watchful eye of Chef
Eric Brennan, was incredible.  Seated dinner started with spaghetti squash latkes, adorned with smoked arctic char, house made pickles made from a variety of vegetables and a green onion creme fraiche.  Lets talk about spaghetti squash latkes.  They were amazing.  Soft and buttery enough to be decadent, but with great texture from the strands of squash.  Thick pieces of delicately smoked Arctic Char lay across it, their velvety soft texture was a perfect contrast to the latke.  A bit of acidic crunch, and creamy creme fraiche rounded out this dish with an excellent variety to keep every bite interesting.

Our second course was, plain and simple, decadence in a bowl...but only sort of.  A leek and turnip vichyssoise - an impossibly smooth, creamy soup which blends together those fresh turnips and leeks with cream and stock into an incredible, thick and comforting soup.  Set inside, a gorgeous, plump Wellfleet Oyster, and then a poached flounder wrapped around sauteed turnip greens.  Root to stalk....that's the same as nose to tail right?  The flavor here were not over powering, they were light, and yet decadent, similar, but intriguing.  

This was paired with an absolutely gorgeous Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc
blend from the mother land for the blend, Bordeaux.  It was fantastic to see this special bottle, a 2010 from Chateau Ferran in the Pessac-Leognan.  Bursting with grapefruit and fresh white flowers, it had beautiful acidity to lighten the richness of the vichyssoise. What I loved even more was the fact that it had this beautiful medium to medium plus body that gave it the ability to spar perfectly with the weight of the soup.  Favorite pairing...

Our main course featured a grilled Rohan Duck breast with a root vegetable hash, pureed turnip, topped with roasted broccoli raab and finished with
an orange and green peppercorn sauce.  The duck, first and foremost was perfectly cooked.  Moist, well flavored, the skin perfectly salted- when duck is done well it is a work of art.  This dish had all the classic components of Sunday night dinner, but like you've never had before.  The truly incredible piece here was the sauce- where there was spice and natural sweetness that enhanced the rest of the dish.

The team paired this with a Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley.  The Couley-Dutheil Clos de l'Echo from 2009.  Cab Franc is one of those fantastic lesser known grapes.  It packs in flavor of black fruits- plums and blackberries, cassis...all with light body and high acidity.  Its an easy pairing wine and here, with the aging it had fantastic tobacco notes.  I loved the mix here- the earthy qualities presenting in the wine with the bright beautiful flavors of the sauce and dish.  

We ended the evening with a pumpkin cremeux topped with candied dahlia
root and a Canadian heirloom blood diamond cake with apple gelee and carrot caramel.  The idea of dhalia root and carrot being so artfully incorporated into our dessert is exactly what is so beautiful about these dinners.  Its a perfect marriage of local produce with classic fall flavors.   It was a perfect sweet treat to end the meal.

Post 390 hosts these incredible evenings all throughout the year, with details appearing on their website.  I've had the great fortune to attend a few of these dinners and have walked away each time feeling unbelievably lucky to have sat a midst the company I did, and enjoy the food that they cultivated.  Its a phenomenal experience.   

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Is Wine Flavored? What's the Deal with Terroir?

One of the most commonly asked questions that I'm asked during tours with City Wine Tours, is how do they get those flavors into wine?   My latest installment of A Boston Food Diary: Decanted explores that very question!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Il Ruspo Barbi 2010 Sangiovese: Value Wine for a Chilly Night

Sangiovese
So I'm going to be honest with you, as much as I love to pair great wines with delicious meals, I get pretty jazzed about a wine that I can crack open at the end of a very long day and just relax with.  These wines have to be full of great flavor, they normally need to be light to medium in body so I don't fill up on them too fast, and I like limited tannin in a sipping wine.  I also want them to be economical.  Rarely do I want to crack open an expensive bottle of wine on a random Tuesday night, however, and here's the trick- I want to FEEL like I'm treating myself to that amazing bottle just because.  I want there to be depth to the wine, and complex flavors.  

The other day I was browsing at The Wild Duck in the North End and I found the perfect bottle.  Il Ruspo Barbi 2010 Sangiovese.  This bottle rang in well below the $20 mark, as I recall closer to $13, and presented with a medium garnet rim blending to a ruby core.  An incredibly clean nose, medium intensity and scented with black fruits, eucalyptus, and the slightest hint of chocolate.  The palate fell right in with what I anticipated, medium to medium plus acid, gentle tannins, light in body, and bold flavors.  Similar to the nose, I got tastes of bright, fresh sour cherry, and then baked plums and black berries mixing with a subtle feel of chocolate or mocha and a hint of herbal and eucalyptus again.  Gorgeous wine.  A medium length finish made this a very nicely balanced wine, and a great representation of what slightly aged Sangiovese can be.  

I can't say that I'd age this one much longer, the body and tannin can't hold it for too much longer but right now, this is a gorgeous wine.  It's a perfect sipper on a chilly night to keep you warm and chase those bad day blues away.  Of course just as easily it would pair with a heaping bowl of pasta smothered in red sauce, or in a wine reduction sauce to marry together pork and vegetables.  This is a good one folks- drink like a prince at a paupers price.

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