July 5, 2007

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Got milk?

A sustainable buzz
Locally produced wine, locally made dinner
By Tim Protzman tprotzman@sbcglobal.net

I once had a job at a public television station.

One of the producers was really wacky. And naughty. She ate other people’s food in the refrigerator. She erased tapes on purpose, maliciously.

She wore loud shoes and made sure you heard her coming down the hall. It was because of her they put carpeting in their new building.

Her funniest idea was to edit a tape of a game farm so it said, “Come visit our adult petting zoo!” Naughty, but funny.

Friday night I went to almost an adult petting zoo. This co-op of farms got together and decided to host a roving restaurant. Once a month, a different farm will host a local, fresh and sustainable feast prepared by a different area chef. It’s all very Alice Waters, and the food was pretty good. My only complaint was they served a spicy crab soup and only had one port o’ potty. And I really didn’t understand what “sustainable” meant. I guess it means leave the environment no worse than when you got here. Some sustainable tenets are sublime, some are scarier. I certainly don’t want to be required to compost or be nice to my neighbors or customer service reps if I don’t want to, but sure, if I cut down five trees I’m willing to plant seven more to replace them. So as long as sustainability is cafeteria-style, I buy it.

When we got there we were put on a hay wagon and driven across a field to an area of lush grass surrounding a pond. The tables were set up there under a tent. Horses ran loose in the pasture. Goats milled around in a corral. A big cow with some calves headed into the barn for the evening milking. There were no mosquitoes because a huge squadron of swifts skimmed over the pond catching them. During the salad course it rained, but by the entrée a big double rainbow filled the southeastern sky.

They served a really good New England chardonnay. I was surprised because I had tasted earlier vintages before and found them lame. This was buttery but with a very strong acidic backbone with tiny, tiny hints of melon and chalky, granite minerals. No green vegetable notes, no oak. The Prosecco and the rosé were less “sustainable.”

Look for this wine and buy it — it’s one of the better local drinks:

• Chamard Vineyards 2005 Chardonnay ($16.79)

On Sunday the fire department came to my apartment complex. I thought they came for the pulled pork I was smoking, but it was because the woman next door was sick. I fell in love with pulled pork on a road trip to Florida, but I’ve never been able to duplicate it. The heat in the smoker has to be just right — 215 degrees. The wood has to be slightly wet. I thought about putting it in the bath tub until I spotted the hose. Instead of letting it run to dampen the firewood I pulled out an old trash can and filled it with water. (See, I get this sustainability thing after all.) There was so much smoke people gathered around and asked if we’d elected a new pope.

Then after six hours and four stacks of wood the pork was done. The sauce was made and the coleslaw shredded and dressed. But I was too tired to eat. The pork sandwich was good, but not like the ones you get on the back roads of the South. The best part of the whole attempt was that I had a smoky, manly smell, not my usual aroma of Axe and mothballs. I served the exhausting meal with a George Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent Beaujolais. It’s lighter than a pinot noir, not as scratchy and more forgiving.

Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape and it has a faint taste of strawberries. Not plump sweet strawberries, but maybe like the freeze-dried kind. This wine had a dry structure, with cherry, strawberry and a touch of mushroom-like earthiness. And it costs $14.99. I don’t think George Duboeuf runs a sustainable vineyard, but Tablas Creek on California’s Central Coast does. They use organic methods for growing and producing the wine. I’m such a wino that if a Dunham Vineyards 2003 Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon were bubbling up from a crack in the New York subway system I’d drink it, but some people prefer their wines be produced in a sustainable way. Most organics are sustainably produced and it’s easy to find a number of certified vineyards by searching the Web. What isn’t easy is finding the wine on store shelves. Lolonis is one vineyard that’s using biodynamic methods (like ladybugs for pest control) and it’s widely available.

In my ongoing quest to taste the perfect vodka (it will taste like water and instantly put a smile on my face) I tried Jewel of Russia Ultra ($74.99). Very smooth, great finish but pricey.


6/28/2007 We are the merlot

6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.
6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Gin
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
Mondovino
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce