Last night was our second applewood farm Meet-the-Farmer dinner at applewood restaurant in Brooklyn.
We arrived a little after 2:00 p.m. to deliver all the produce for the dinner and then proceeded to hang all the new photography. It made such a change to see our own farm photographs hanging on our restaurant’s walls. Up until now, we’ve had a rotation of other photographers’ work, varying somewhat dramatically in style and theme. The farm stuff just really fit perfectly; it made us happy to see it there throughout the meal.
Chef Sam Sherman and his team made such amazing use of everything we brought. They’d been salt-curing pork in a bourbon barrel from one of our former pigs and they did a fresh preparation from one of the more recent ones. Sam said it was the first MTF dinner they’ve done where almost every single item on every plate was from one farm (I believe the black beans, dijon mustard, and cinnamon were the only exceptions). Here’s last night’s menu:
bourbon barrel cured ham
arugula, shaved fennel, pickled carrots, dijon vinaigrette
grimaldi brut rosé pinot noir “ventuno,” piedmont ‘09
crispy guanciale, pickled radishes, jalapeño purée, cilantro, nasturtiums
domaine labbé jacquére, savoie abymes ‘12
smoked pork loin
black bean ragout, parsnip purée, salsa verde, pork jus
château de pourcieux, côtes du provence ‘12
roasted pork leg
sautéed kale, roasted rutabaga, tomato purée, pickled chiles
château d’oupia carignan/syrah/grenache, minervois ‘10
caramelized apples, lard-streusel crumble
grilled squash cake
candied chiles, cinnamon ice cream, basil syrup
alpianae fior d’arancio, colli evganei
It was really a joy to be in a room full of people who believe in the importance of eating sustainably-sourced foods. We talked with many old friends and even had two couples in attendance who’d both been married at applewood (I’m looking at you, Jeremy)! The night was a true celebration of food and friendship.
We always include some copy about the featured farm on the inside of the menu for these events. We wanted to share with you here what we shared with everyone who attended last night. The menu copy read:
“Wrapping up our second full summer of farming, we have learned many important lessons. Tonight’s dinner is a result of a great deal of hard work, a number of mistakes, and a whole lot of changes.
The changes (and mistakes) have come in many forms. Our original garden has been expanded three times now and we intend to expand even more. The garden produced like gangbusters and continues to do so. With the exception of the pork, the food you are receiving tonight was picked just for this dinner at around 7:00 this morning. THIS is what we’ve always hoped to do. Whether the farmers are from Vermont, New York, Connecticut, East Chatham, or farther afield, applewood has always tried to bridge the gap between people and the food they eat. Being able to delivery freshly-picked, organic food directly to you is about as good as it gets.
On our little farm, we keep pigs and goats, chickens and bees, fruiting trees, gardens, and even sugar maples for making syrup in the spring. It is our sincere hope that we will be able to join you for more dinners such as these as we continue to learn and expand our depth of knowledge and experience. We hope that by tasting this food and learning about the farm, you will be motivated to seek out more sustainable food sources in your daily life. It is just so important.
Making good food choices shouldn’t just be a sometimes thing. It is getting decidedly more and more difficult to find clean food, but it isn’t impossible. While we would love for you to come to applewood for dinner nightly, we know that sometimes you will eat at home or (gasp!) at other restaurants. All we ask is that you question what you are eating and what you are buying. Supporting sustainable farming means supporting humanity, the earth, and our future.”
So, that’s our spiel.
And we really do mean it.
As wonderful as it was to see everyone, it was important that we made the long drive home afterward. Heading out at 11:15, we knew we had a rough morning awaiting us. We pulled in the driveway at 2:00 a.m. to the sound of barking dogs, and not much else. There is something about a farm in the middle of a crisp and clear, starry night that can’t be captured in words but, bleary-eyed or not, we were glad to be home.