I know I haven’t been posting lately and I’ve regretted that (stress at work, recent surgery, etc. – I can come up with all manner of excuses – I’m good at that). I did just recently have a significant surgery and have been cabin feverish during my convalescence. I chose for my first outing a Winter Farmer’s Market. This past Saturday I attended the Massachusetts Farm Wineries Day at the Wayland Winter Farmers’ Market. I saved up my daily quota of stamina, some of which was already spent by the 40 minute car ride but I’m a trooper and toughed it out. I’m a huge supporter (read: sucker) for the shop local movement and when you combine foodie products and produce with WINE, well, enough said.
What could be more decadent on a cold winter’s day with sub-zero wind chills than a farmers’ market in the tropical environment of Russell’s Garden Center’s greenhouses. Agricultural Tourism thrives all year-long in Massachusetts! MASS Grown and the Massachusetts Dept of Agricultural Resources has a wealth of information on the vibrant winter farmers’ market program.
The first thing we saw was the huge oven fire of VESTA Mobile Wood-Fired Pizza. Suzanne and I both said at once, “We’ve got to get some of that.” Little did we know that we would be saying that again and again.
The farmers’ market in Wayland will take place every Saturday from 10-2 at Russell’s until March 9th. In and amongst their displays of flowers, and houseplants vendor tables are set up for you to wind your way around. A huge number of vendors were there (see list and websites at the end of this post) – far more than I expected for a winter market. This particular day nine of the Massachusetts Farm Wineries were offering tastings, which was the entire draw for me to spend my day’s energy on. I was utterly (no dairy pun intended, though there were several artisanal cheese producers there) blown away by the beautiful produce and agricultural products being offered. I nibbled on one of the fattest, sweetest carrot slices I ever tasted.
Back to the wine. If you know me you know I always come back to the wine. We first spotted Running Brook Vineyards and tasted several whites, including their 2010 Reserve Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc which we already knew we liked.
We brought a limited amount of cash and of course our idea of being conservative is telling each other that we don’t have to buy from the first vendor we see, so we moved on. Next we visited Kip Kumler’s Turtle Creek Winery from Lincoln, MA. I am familiar with Kip’s winemaking and was happy to taste examples I had not yet had the opportunity to try. We had both attended a Finger Lakes Riesling event in 2011 during the Summer of Riesling so I had an idea of his palate. His 2011 Riesling grapes were sourced from Hobbit Hollow, on the west side of Lake Canandaigua, in the Finger Lakes. Deliciously off-dry with a well-rounded mouthfeel and enough acidity not be bracing but to contribute to the wine’s overall balance.
Rounding a corner we stopped by Extra Virgin Foods where they were sampling and selling artisanal Greek olive oils and olives. I was not sure what the Massachusetts agriculture connection was but I chose to taste their boldest flavored oil and their barrel aged sun-dried tomato olives. We liked the oil but bought the olives.
Our next stop I’m embarrassed to say was new for me – embarrassed because for years I have passed them, sometimes daily for years along the highway and never stopped in. I do plan to now. Alfalfa Farm Winery was making their first appearance in Wayland and they were very pleased with the turnout and sales. We had the opportunity to taste their Chardonnay (soft oak), Cranberry (great cranberry expression without being too tart – a great picnic wine in my book), and their Red Table Wine. I spoke with Trudi Perry and plan a proper visit and future post.
Well placed after these tastings we came upon Bagel Alley bagels and Nobscot Artisan Cheese. Great placement, whoever set up the market tables. I am from New York City originally so it goes without saying that I am a bagel snob (and a pizza snob, and a Chinese food snob…oh well, we need not go into that here. Let’s just say I am food snobby.). The bagels had names like Health and Energy Bar and were packed with great grains and fruits. We picked some favorites such as egg, pumpernickel, and cinnamon raisin along with the ones with interesting names. Then we spun around and visited Nobscot Artisan Cheese where Sue Rübel, a former 30 year educator has teamed up with Doug Stephan at Eastleigh Farm in Framingham to make raw milk cheeses with his “Jersey girls”. There was Herbes de Provence, Chive, Lavender and Honey, and others. We bought the Sun-dried Tomato, Garlic and Basil for our bagels for breakfast the next morning.
By this time I was losing my energy and knew I would not be able to last through all nine wineries. We stopped by Coastal Vineyards where Dave Neilson said he was enjoying the farmers’ markets and has been selling at several this winter. We tasted his Estate Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Ocean Breeze, and White Wave. We bought the Chardonnay (deep golden color, whole cluster fermented, with citrus, apple and pear notes) and White Wave (an off-dry sipper). Coastal Vineyards is a member of the Coastal Wine Trail, located in Southeastern Massachusetts, blessed as some of the most favorable land for grape-growing in the state, and less than a hour’s drive from Boston. Click here to learn more.
While browsing the beautiful produce here and there we saw Obadiah McIntyre Farm Winery (Charlton Orchards) which I had tasted at the Big E this past year. Known for their fruit wines we tasted and bought their Pear wine which was delightfully balanced and none too sweet. I could see this wine pair well with many different foods.
I was getting ready to call it a day and Suzanne gathered up all of our packages to bring back to the car (her fatal mistake) since we had just about spent all of our cash. Then I spotted off in another of the several greenhouses my particular favorite, Westport Rivers. Of course my plan was to say hello to Bill Russell but he wasn’t there and Suzanne had not come back to collect me yet so I checked to see what they were sampling that I had not yet tasted. Having enjoyed several pretty special memories with some of Westport’s sparklers I knew that Bill had been taking leaps into previously unexplored directions. A few years ago he made a sticky fortified Chardonnay called Grace, made with their own estate grown eau de vie. Not a dessert wine, Grace is best served before the meal as an aperitif. Since then they have created Grace Pinot Noir and Prodigiosa (which, sadly, was not available for tasting that day), a luxury Vermouth which purports to be infused with its own New England character. Note to self – plan trip to Westport Rivers to see what I am missing. Bill has successfully created his own version of the Three Graces. Since I was left to my own devices, and they did take credit cards, I made the most expensive purchase of the day and bought the Grace Pinot Noir. This wine truly lives up to Westport Rivers tasting notes: Wonderful aromas of crème brulee, caramel, dates, figs and warm toast. We blended our estate grown Pinot Noir “clear brandy” with ripe Pinot Noir juice and aged it in French oak. Then I hightailed it out of there to meet up with Suzanne who was just approaching the entrance. She saw the bag in my hand and asked me what I bought and when I told her she said, “For that little bottle!” ($25/350ml). I said it was her fault for leaving me alone. I got the look. I’m sure you know the one I mean. It was a great day. After all of this tasting and excitement I was ready for a good nap.
On Sunday I made a dinner to go with the Coastal Vineyards Chardonnay. It was breaded chicken breast with broccolini and a buttery lemon creme sauce (a Julia Child worthy amount of butter went into this sauce). If you’d like to know the sauce recipe request by leaving a comment. Don’t forget to scroll down to see the links to all of the vendors attending Wayland’s Winter Farmers’ Market. It is a treat!Alfalfa Farm Winery Andover Farm Greens Baaaystate Blanket Baer’s Beans Bagel Alley BOLA Granola Caledonia Farm/ Burnshirt Valley Farm Charlton Orchards Farm Coastal Vineyards The Danish Pastry House Doves & Figs E & T Farms Evergreen Farm Extra Virgin Foods Fior D’Italia Pasta & Cheese FishWives Specialty Foods Foxhill Farm Giovanna Gelato Globe Fish Good Karma Farm Goodies Cookies Great Harvest Bread Greenwood Hill Farm Grillo’s Pickles The Herb Lyceum In Stitches/Threaded Needle Iron Horse Farm Karma Coffee Roasters Keldaby Farm/Moonshine Design Nobscot Artisan Cheese North Brook Farm Alpacas Obadiah McIntyre Farm Winery (Charlton Orchards) Pam’s Black Bean Salsa Rag Hill Farm Red Fire Farm River Valley Farm Wools & Wovens Samira’s Homemade Soluna Garden Farm Subito Farm Sweet Lydia’s Terrosa Farm Turtle Creek Winery The Warren Farm & Sugarhouse Vermont Gourmet Candy Dish VESTA Mobile Wood-Fired Pizza West River Creamery Windy Hamlet Farm Windy Hill Farm WindSong Farms Winterberry Farm Winter Moon Roots