A Day on the Farm

Today was spent visiting Stillmans at the Turkey Farm in Hardwick, MA. A few of us farmer's market assistants spent the afternoon at the farm.

Kate, the owner/farm girl/mom of an almost four year old, is in the middle of lamb-ing season. 

He is cute baby ram. Horns to come.

Baby lambs are born every day and at all hours of the day.  

The barn and house are just shy of 300 years old.

Adult rams - one is named Bernie, and he likes to misbehave.

Brunch at Bakers' Best

What's a little brunch before watching the Academy Awards?  A group of Boston Brunchers visited the catering machine known as Bakers' Best, a catering company located in Needham. Michael Baker, founder and owner, started his business due to a poorly constructed turkey sandwich eaten during a business trip.  That was 28 years ago.

Today, Bakers' Best focuses it's business on corporate accounts, special events, charities, and schools.  The company has nearly 120 employees; the hallmark of the culture is their people. Many employees stay with the company for five, ten, or even 15 years. Diane Wilson, director of sales, leads a team of 13 who work seven days a week. During the brunch, a sales member was at her desk taking orders.  In the catering world, work never sleeps.

Chef Phyllis Kaplowitz (graduate of Johnson & Wales who cooked at the James Beard House and member of Les Dames d'Escoffier) and her culinary team prepared a feast with beverages, passed appetizers, amuse, and buffet. As we toured the office, kitchen, storage, and delivery areas, Michael explained each area's role. The entire place was humming with activity; Bakers' makes 100+ deliveries each day. A team of overnight bakers prepares breads, pastries, and baked goods.  The company makes an effort to source some ingredients from local farms and purveyors.

pastry basket: Meyer lemon blueberry scones, jelly donut muffins, cinnamon buns, sweet potato biscuits, and lavender butter

Here is the menu Chef Phyllis created for the group:

typical scene at a food blogger event! citrus cured gravlax with pickled onions, lemon crème fraiche and frissee in "everything" bagel cup
maple brown sugar bacon cup with sweet potato hash
bite size waffle egg sandwich with house made turkey sausage, tomato jelly and Camembert
mini bloody mary shots with jumbo poached shrimp, green beans, and celery salt dusting
spicy tuna tartare in miso sesame cup with spicy mayo and soy pearls
baby seasonal quiches: spinach/mushroom/leek & goat cheese, bacon/potato/onion, tomato/asparagus/feta “beet ravioli” with field greens, shaved fennel, citrus and Spanish vinaigrette

challah french toast • assorted toppings and Vermont maple syrup

A special thanks to Michael Baker, Adam Klein, Erin, and Boston Brunchers for putting this complimentary event together.

Ceia Kitchen & Bar: Boston Brunchers visit Newburyport

Spending a Monday morning at brunch isn't a typical occurrence, but when a holiday falls on a Monday, making brunch plans is a nice option.  Boston Brunchers organized a day time road trip to Ceia Kitchen and Bar in Newburyport, MA.  Ceia opened in the summer of 2011 and has received high praise from local and national media. 

Located in this charming Northshore town, Ceia garnered the attention of the Boston Globe and earned a mention on the newspaper's list of "best new restaurants of 2011".  Wine Spectator also named Ceia in its issue featuring the "2011 best restaurant wine lists in the world".  With a list featuring 120 bottles, the owner, Nancy Batista-Caswell, knows the importance of training her staff on the finer points of wine service.  Nancy recently spoke about her management practices in the January 2012 issue of Restaurant Management Magazine.

The word Ceia means “supper” in Portuguese, and the restaurant's menu reflects flavors from Spain, Italy, and Portugal. The brunch menu featured four courses with a cocktail with the first course and dessert wine to conclude. 
St. Germain 75
Oyster escabeche
Cold smoked asparagus with mache and mozzarella
Poached eggs, linguica and potato hash with Bernaise
Raspberry and Coconut Pain Perdu with a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca, Chile

Thank you to Nancy and her team for opening the restaurant early for the group.  This enjoyable meal was provided to Boston Brunchers free of charge by Ceia; writing a review was not a requirement to attend.

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Late Fall Vegetables

Autumnal fruits and vegetables come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Summer cooking methods morph from "just slice and eat" to fall's version of "roast for two hours".  It won't be long before little boxes of strawberries return.

Red and green Bartlett pears

Vibrant chilies both in color and heat.

Orange and white carrots

Pink turnips hang out next to fennel.

Who knew artichokes could be grown in Massachusetts?

Purple cauliflower reigns supreme.

Wilson Farm + Tomato Festival

Wilson Farm, a family owned and operated farm since 1884 in Lexington, MA, held it's annual Tomato Festival this weekend.  Tomatoes varieties from A to Z including a bloody Mary mix were available for purchase.

Fruits and vegetables looking fresh and seasonal.

Wilson Farm staffers doled out samples of tomato recipes (think risotto, caprese salad, gazpacho, guacamole) and cut up slices of peaches and plums.

Games (such as kid-friendly flip cup) attracted kids of all ages; prizes included tomato planting and canning kits.

Saturday was a beautiful day to eat tomatoes and enjoy the summer sunshine.

An Afternoon at Taza Chocolate

Entry to Taza Chocolate's retail shop and tour site.

Raw cacao beans

Taza sources it's beans from Bolivia and the Dominican Republic; beans arrive in 70 kilo bags.

German roasting machine circa 1950's; found in a used industrial Italian warehouse.

A winnower, a machine used to separate the cacao nib from the shell.  The machine was transported from a soon-to-be-closing candy factory in the Dominican Republic to Somerville.  Shells are by-products at Taza and great for garden multch and loose leaf teas.

Packaging material is compostible.  Taza ships to 45 states, but local Bostonians can receive Taza by Metro Pedal Power.

Cacao pods and chocolate samples pre-tour

Items for sale in the retail store

Pictorial story of chocolate making

Thanks to Taza Chocolate for the delicious tour and samples! Also thanks to Rachel Blumenthal (@blumie) of Boston Food Bloggers (@BostonFoodBlogs) for organizing.

Bully Boy Distillery

10 a.m. isn't the usual time to visit Boston's only craft distillery much less sip vodka, white bourbon, and white rum.

Bully Boy is the brainchild of two brothers, Will and Dave Willis.  The pair use traditional techniques to produce small batch spirits emphasizing quality over quantity and local ingredients over whatever is available.

A small group of Boston University gastronomy graduate students toured the distillery hoping to get an inside peek at the inner workings of Bully Boy's operations.  Every step of the spirit making process is performed by hand.  The 600 liter copper pot still is the workhorse of the facility allowing the brothers to focus complex flavors, aromas, and mouth-feel into their spirits. 

This impressive business has bottles featured in some of Boston's top cocktail menus.  For more details, click here.

Farmer's Market Produce

Moving from Chicago to Boston meant an adjustment in many things including weather, accents, lack of taquerias, and timing of produce.

Working as a farmer's market assistant for Stillman's meant a weekly peek at the lastest and greatest produce offerings. 

Each week new vegetables and fruits would appear. Some berries arrived in limited quantities one week yet the following week tables would be overflowing. 

Colorful beets

Squash, beans and peas by the bushel.

Tomatoes and blueberries await a new home.

Cute boxes of sun gold tomatoes mean summer.