A sustainable buzz
Locally produced wine, locally made dinner
By Tim Protzman firstname.lastname@example.org
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.