(Jenn with Rocio of Applecheek Farm AT Applecheek Farm)
Recently when we were in Vermont finalizing some things before the big move this April, we were able to take in another wonderful Localvore Dinner at Applecheek Farm. We went to our first Localvore Dinner when we were in Vermont last November, and it was a fun night filled with great food and music. So we were looking forward to being able to attend another one during this visit to Northern Vermont.
Between the months of November and February, I have become Twitter and Facebook buddies with the folks at Applecheek, and have really enjoyed getting to know Rocio and John better through our internet connection, at the dinners, and during frequent stops to the farm when we have been in town. The internet is really an amazing tool for networking with other people who are passionate about the same things you are, and those Applecheekers are certainly passionate about local, sustainable agriculture, something I am becoming increasingly passionate about. Roberto and I are looking forward to learning more about the farm, and all the wonderful things they offer there once we are living in Vermont.
Going to Localvore Dinners at Applecheek is a way to meet and chat with your neighbors while dining on foods produced locally by your neighbors. This time we had a great time meeting Rocio and John’s children, as well as some other neighbors doing interesting things, like Nathan of FollowNathan.org(definitely check him out – he rode almost 5,000 across country on a bike learning about sustainable agriculture – talk about cool neighbors!). There is always local music, and before the dinner starts, there is always a short talk about what is new at the farm, and new in agriculture that affects everyone, both locally and at the national level. This last evening we were happy to hear that the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) bill was not passed and to learn more about the Consumer-Farmer Alliance that is working together to keep sustainable agriculture alive while giving the consumer(as opposed to the government) the right to decide what products (like raw milk products) they want to purchase from local farms. It is always informative and a great way to learn more about how you can participate in Farm to Table initiatives.
As interesting as those talks always are, we all look forward to the delicious food that Chef Jason from JDC (Just Delicious Catering) cooks up!!! Applecheek is a real family farm and has been in the Clark family for generations. Chef Jason is the brother of John. John runs the farm operations and Jason is the chef!
On this night the menu was the following:
* Homemade Kimchee made with veggies from the chef’s garden – I found it perfectly spiced and crunchy
* Poutine – a French Canadian specialty of French fried potatoes and homemade gravy with cheese curds from just across the border (literally 20 miles) in Quebec. This was the BIG hit of the night. Our whole table was talking about it.
* Root Vegetable Cassoulet made with veggies from the chef’s garden – Delicious!
* VT Soy Tofu Skewers marinated in Rock Art Brewery Beer (made one town over) and spices – I didn’t try it, due to my soy allergy, but it looks like others enjoyed it!
* Turkey Casserole with Herb and Cheddar Crust made from Applecheek Farms turkey and veggies from the chef’s garden – fantastic! I am a HUGE fan of Applecheek’s turkeys ***
* Cheddar Ale Soup – chock full of delicious farm fresh potatoes and local cheese
* Carrot Cake with Crème Fraîche Icing – a wonderful way to end the night with a nice glass of raw milk!
* Farm fresh Raw Milk, Hot Apple Cider and Water to drink
You can also BYO to the Applecheek dinners. Roberto and I decided to try a bottle of Otter Creek’s Russian Stout. Otter Creek is a brewery in Middlebury VT. It is a historic beer that was made in England especially for the Russian Czars. It is a beautiful robust and dark beer with distinct chocolate notes. It was a great choice with this wonderfully hearty winter dinner.
There was a pretty big snowstorm up on the hill that night and the wind was blowing in gusts as you looked out the windows during dinner. But the hall was warm, full of music, laughter and the perfect comfort foods, keeping the chill out.
We had a great night chatting with everyone at our table, and even got the opportunity at the end of the night to enjoy some of John’s homebrew – a wonderful fermented maple sap drink that he made using ancient brewing techniques. Something I am also interested in trying my hand at somewhere down the road.
My wheels are turning – I am thinking perhaps making elderberry mead from our own bees and elderberries (that we still don’t have, but hopefully will one day)….but that is what happens when you are out in the country, your life has more space for learning new hobbies and skills, and the sky is the limit.