Archive for June 2011

The Catskills: Where Chicken Actually Tastes Like Chicken

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel from the Finger Lakes to the Catksill region of New York State on business (and pleasure, like many wine related field trips turn out.) Red Newt Cellars was selected to pour wines for each event of Bobo Restaurant’s Plate-to-Gate traveling series of meals. The first of which was a brunch near the Neversink River in the Catskills at Neversink Farm. The owners of Red Newt Cellars believe very heavily in the concept of supporting local and sustainable farming while showcasing it locally in the Finger Lakes at the Red Newt Bistro. Farm owners, Kate and Conor Crickmore were onsite at Neversink Farm to educate the diners about their farming practices and answer any questions that the primarily metropolitan crowd had. Bobo Restaurant’s Chef, Patrick Connolly was there working the wood-fire grill, that was constructed out of an old iron cattle trough. Meanwhile, Adam Rothstein, the Beverage Director of Bobo, was mixing up some mouthwatering local bloody marys using fresh ramps as the cocktail stirrers.  I was there on behalf of Red Newt Cellars.  You can guess what I brought to the table, #FLXWine.  Red Newt provided a bottle of red and a bottle of white, both paired flawlessly and shocked the metropolitan crowd when it was revealed that these wines were local too.  My favorite and least favorite response was, “There is no way these wines are from New York, they taste amazing!”

Watch the NooTToob video from my trip here!

Here is a short explanation of the menu items served:

Neversink Farm

The Meat Birds:

Grilled chicken breast with fresh herbs

Braised chicken legs with collards & kale

The Vegetables:

Mixed baby greens, picked herbs, & balsamic vinaigrette

Quick Pickled Radishes with Swiss chard & cilantro

Zucchini ‘Carpaccio’ with arugula and pecorino

Shaved Beets & their greens with Hudson Valley chevre

Grilled Scallions

New Potato Salad with sorrel (using Carola Potatoes)

Olive Oil Poached Scapes

The Laying Hens:

Spinach Omelet – Frittata style

The Bees:

Grilled toast with Neversink Farm Honey (unfiltered spread almost like butter)

Red Newt Cellars

2008 Glacier Ridge Cabernet Franc

2009 Sawmill Creek Riesling

The brunch was served family style with more food than we knew what to do with. The only ingredients not sourced locally from Neversink farm were local Hudson Valley cheeses, Olive Oil and salt & pepper. The menu showcased four different components of the Neversink Farm: the meat birds, vegetables, the laying hens, and the bees. Their free-range farm raised chickens, around here we like to call them “freebirds,” were used for their leg and breast meat while the remaining bones were used to the make the chicken stock. The braised chicken legs were tender and succulent “fall of the bone style.” The grilled chicken breast was lean yet flavor-filled and I felt more like I was drinking a protein shake (nutrition overload.) I thought in my head, this is what chicken is supposed to taste like! Which makes me believe that the ethical treatment of animals for safe and healthy food product is even more pertinent that I had previously considered.

What blew my mind was how incredible the Spinach Frittata was. Now, if you’ve never tried farm fresh local eggs I challenge you to a Quiche (or Omelet) experiment. Make yourself two of the same egg focused dish, but make one with farm fresh local eggs and the other with generic grocer eggs. The difference should be obvious. From the color and flavor of the yolk to the overall feeling you get once it hits your belly, there are noticeable contrasts between the two.

I was floored with just how incredible the food was. Were these Super Chickens that could lay magic eggs? Or is this actually what chickens and eggs are supposed to taste like? My short trip to this little farm in the Catskills now has me wondering… what happens to the chicken product I normally buy from the store? Are those chickens malnourished? Are they pumped full of growth hormones and steroids? Are they genetically cloned and overbred to create a more consistent product? I am sure all of the above may be plausible explanations. It strikes me as odd the way that the taste can vary so widely from one chicken to the next. This is just it; I mean the locavore movement that we all talk about. Consumers now want to know exactly where their food is coming from, who is farming it, and what techniques and practices they use in developing their product.  It is clear that Bobo Restaurant is dedicated to the cause.  They are one, of only a handful of restaurants, that provide to their locavore  clientele the opportunity to enjoy a meal exactly where their food is sourced.  Note: I use the term locavore even though it is not approved by spell check as an actual word, YET.

This is just the first of many great Plate-to-Gate meals offered by Bobo Restaurant. Upcoming events will be showcasing a local Long Island oyster farm, New York City’s largest rooftop garden, and a pig roast/clam boil right near the beach. For more information on upcoming events, click here. For tickets, click here or call 212-488-2626.

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