Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fenway Farms

Fenway Park.  If you've spent any time in Boston...really any at all... you're very well aware of Fenway.  The country's oldest ball park, we, as residents, cherish
our summer nights there, and lord knows we parade every guest we've ever had through there as the trophy of our city.  There's a badge of honor that goes along with how many games you've been to each season, and another for how many different areas of the park you've sat in.  Knowing where the right sausage guy stand is and who to ask for "dust and dirt" has it's own medal.  Of course there's also one for knowing how to juggle two beers, a pretzel and a hot dog back to your seat without spilling on the row in front of you.  If you're in the know- you are in the know for Fenway and its a point of pride.

However- there is still one surprise hiding in Fenway that I would bet you a carton of Popcorn that even the die hards don't know about (obviously I'm not much of a gambler).  Fenway Farms.  Heard of it?  And no I'm not talking about the gardens in the Fens.  Just above Jersey Street, on the third base line, outside the EMC and State Street Pavilion levels, there sits, on a former "dead space" sits a fully functioning garden.  

Begun in 2015, this piece of roof has been transformed to house a 5,000 square
foot garden.  Now this isn't your fire escape "garden" comprised of a couple of basil plants and maybe one sad tomato plant (face it- that thing isn't going to make tomato sauce), this garden is producing 6,000 pounds of vegetables annually.  Six Thousand Pounds of an incredible variety of vegetables - we're talking carrots, peppers, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lettuce, kale, collard greens, every herb you can think of, tomatoes (of course) and so much more.   

So where does this harvest end up?  Two spots really- a large chunk is served right in Fenway Park.  The chefs there have the incredible good fortune to design their menus (mainly in the EMC Level dining) around what the garden is growing.  Talk about fresh and local.  Now most of us aren't attending many games in those lux seats but that doesn't mean we
can't indulge in these veggies- there is a salad bar in the ground level concessions that offers these sweet picks!  It doesn't end in Fenway though.  There is a whole area of the farm known as the Vineyard Vine's Deck where private events can be held and ALL of the produce grown there is donated to my very favorite organization- Lovin' Spoonfuls.  If you are a long time reader of ABFD- you love them as much as I do.  We go way back.

So how does all of this work?  Green City Growers set up the garden using- wait for it- milk crates.  Yup- milk crates, landscaping cloth, dirt and a minimal use irrigation system keeps this garden growing all season long. 

Fenway Park has always been one of my favorite places in the summer.  It's the place of great team work, of heartbreaking suspense and incredible joy.  It may well be one of the romantic places in Boston where loyalty is tested and belief perseveres- and now it's a place of growth, a return to our roots, and a place to nourish body and soul.    

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How Would You Redesign Boston Common?

I'm honestly not sure if there is anything as quintessential to Boston as Boston Common.  It's like apple pie and America.  The oldest city park in the US, it dates back to 1634 when it was used for cows to graze until it became a bit too popular for that use.  Later it provided a restful location for the military to set up camp during the American Revolution, and its green calming space was where many soldiers departed from to march to Lexington and Concord.  Though it was also used for darker events as it became the place for hangings, and for a while a dumping ground which caused the citizens to stay away.  However since the advent of the 1900's we've seen the space used for concerts and speeches, rallies and marches.  It is truly the common space for the city, open to all.  

Respecting the nature of that common space, the city is now appealing to its residents for help with the common.  Boston Common has just received $28 million to be used for its revitalization.  The powers that be have a whole host of people studying the common- structural engineers, environmental experts, storm water experts...all sorts of people to make real improvements to the space. However- they want to know what we as the residents, the people who frequent the common every day, weekly, monthly or even just occasionally want to see.  They have opened up a survey  and urging all to respond and give ideas. 

So what do you want to see?  Boston is, already, the best city.  We are constantly striving to achieve greatness in all aspects and often lead the way for the rest of the country.  We contribute in sciences and finance, politically and healthcare, sports and the arts.  Let's use those amazing brains and talent to come to get to design our common to be the best it can be.   One quick favor though- please don't bring back the cows- my dog would NOT appreciate their presence ;-)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Cline Vineyards, Cashmere Red Blend 2016

See here’s the thing I try to impart on anyone who will listen- wine doesn’t have to be “technically good” to be a favorite.  Wine critics wax on about high acidity and gentle tannins, the aging ability, depth of flavor…and all of those are wonderful things.  And wines that have excel in those categories can be amazing wine- but see wine isn’t just marking check boxes.  Wine is experiences, it's memories, it’s passion, it’s love.  More often than not someone’s favorite wine isn’t something that was graded high by some wine critic- its something that transports them to memory.  

I bought Cline Vineyard’s Cashmere blend while I was on a business trip to San Francisco probably about 8 years ago.  Long before I had studied anything about wine.  I had a meeting with our Asia teams later that evening and so I declined to go out with coworkers when our day wrapped up.  Instead I made my way to Fisherman’s wharf and bought dinner and a bottle of wine to bring back to the hotel.  This bottle of wine.  It was more expensive than what I normally drank, but I decided I deserved to splurge.  

I remember sitting in my room later that night relishing every sip of a wine that was so luxurious to me.  A blend of Mouvedre, Grenache, and Syrah- it was full of notes of chocolate and red fruits- I remember thinking that it felt like I was sipping the most wonderful cherry dipped in chocolate concoction I’d ever had.  There were little notes of spice to keep it savory.  It was perfect in my book.  

I spent years trying to find it after I returned to Boston.  I even emailed the vineyard for assistance.  They relayed the horrible news that their Cashmere wine was still unable to be shipped to Boston -something with labelling laws, but they were working on it.  Cut to tonight- when I found this bottle in my (very) local wine store.  

Simple label, limited colors- I felt excited about my purchase.  When I returned home I wondered- what are Cline’s practices when it comes to their wine? Are they cutting corners and finding shortcuts to getting the juice in the bottle or are they taking pride in their work.  I gotta say- Im not sure I’ve ever been so impressed with a companies website.  Every step of their winemaking process is outlined - from the sheep and goats they use to remove weeds harmful to the vines, to their commitment to keeping their wines clean throughout the fermentation process.  

The resulting wine, 2016 vintage: ruby red, but starting to lean towards garnet.  The nose is bright with red fruits- cherries and raspberries, but plums as well.  Spicy black pepper, hints of chocolate, a bit of eucalyptus, and a background of cola.  Dry, not bone dry, but definitely dry on the palette, high- acidity, as I’d anticipate from Sonoma.  Light body, and light tannins.  The flavors- strawberry was the first, then raspberries and cherries.  The black pepper stayed behind, and no trace of the eucalyptus on the tongue.  Cola for sure, and just hints of chocolate.  Despite the color of the wine hinting at aging, the wine itself presents with youth, and the ability to age.  

No matter what- remember that wine is more than just the description above.  Wine is the experience and the memory.  Now if you’ll excuse me- I’m going to go enjoy my wine and remember when I was a fresh faced 20 something, drinking wine in hotel rooms after meetings with Asia ;-)

Fenway Farms

Fenway Park.  If you've spent any time in Boston...really any at all... you're very well aware of Fenway.  The country's oldes...