Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall Is Being Fresh (does it need a timeout?)

While it isn’t technically fall yet in New England, and long timers know from the feel of the air that the beloved season is upon us. The thunderstorms that went through today brought the signature cool and dry air of fall in behind. Whether it is official or not, I present the fresh produce found all over New England this time of year, which should leave no doubt.

We spent the Labor Day weekend up in Vermont and were lucky enough to enjoy one fresh delight after another. Local apples, tomatoes and garden basil with cheeses & crackers, salsa made in time to eat, a fresh blackberry glaze on ham, candied leeks and carrots, and raspberries on granola for the breakfasts that powered us through 15 miles of country road hiking. The tastes transported us to happy places.

The Gala apples from Dutton Berry Farm in Vermont are extremely tasty this year, not too sweet and with a little kiss of acidity to bring in a clean finish. I have been eating these straight, but I’ll be cooking with apples soon enough. Look at these beauties!

Dutton’s (as we call it) has everything you could want this time of year and many items are available in enough quantity for preservation. Do stop by if you are near any of their locations in Brattleboro, Newfane or Manchester. The salad I had for lunch today was loaded with Dutton’s veggies and only needed a pepper and tomato salsa for maximum enjoyment.

The family vacation place in Vermont has blackberries on the several edges of the yard. With a tag team effort we have historically retrieved quite a bit from the bushes each year. You name and we’ve made it with our crop, jelly, pies, desserts, drinks, sauces, etc. Margot will be posting some tasting notes on her Vermont Blackberry Cabernet wine later this month. Picking had already begun prior to this weekend and I pulled another ½ gallon or so before heading home. In the next few weeks I would expect another gallon or so to be ready. Right now our grab is sitting in the fridge with some nutmeg, lemon juice and sugar; awaiting breakfast.

It was Margot’s birthday this weekend and anyone who knows her knows that her birthday does not go under-celebrated. We enjoyed family, friends, food, drinks and of course cake so she wasn’t lacking for recognition. This year I mixed up a new drink for her, something to blend the fall freshness with her sweetness.

Blackberry Sunset

Handful fresh clean blackberries
½ oz simple syrup
1 pint Ancient Fire 2009 Sparkling Strawberry Cider

Lightly muddle the syrup and berries in the bottom of a pint glass. Fill with ice. Pour the sparkling cider over, gently mix and serve.

This drink has perfect balance of sweet, tart and enough acidity to make the fruit pop. Margot really enjoyed these and I expect I will be making them until the cider is gone.

Some other recipes and pairing notes from the weekend can be found at the end.

I’ll close with a collage of empty country roads. Margot and I love to walk when we are in VT. There is something about the quiet, empty roads in the woods that draws us there.



Blackberry Glaze (for oven baked ham)

1 cup fresh blackberries
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ ounce lemon juice
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp Ground Cloves
2 Tbsp butter

Melt the butter and sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add berries, juice and spices. Cook over medium heat until blackberries begin to breakdown. Take off heat and use as a ham glaze as you normally would.

Food & Beverage Pairings

We paired Margot’s 2010 Symphony with smoked salmon and herbed goat cheese toasts and found the nice fusion of fruit and savory flavors. This wine is very versatile with food and requires more experiments.

The 2009 Plum Riesling didn’t fail as a great match for the glazed ham. The sweetness in each were evenly matched and rich salty ham and fruit were incredible. I baked some apples in the pan with the ham and a bit of ham, apple and the wine tasted like an off-beat dessert.


Emily Malloy said...

Fall could NEVER need a timeout! It should always be in season :-)

Kate said...

Beautiful! And, Happy Birthday Margot!!! It looks like a fantastic weekend. Love the blackberry glaze for the ham. That sounds perfect - especially for me who loves any kind of berry :-) Kate @kateiscooking

Pam @ Sticks Forks Fingers said...

Pretty photos of lovely produce make me sigh. This post makes me sigh. And I love your birthday cocktail for Margot, all blended in with her own sweetness.

Winelady Cooks said...

Happy Birthday Margot! Jason, you did good.... Your recipes look delicious.

Happy Fall : )

Magic of Spice said...

Happy Birthday Margot! I am sure it was well celebrated :) Sounds like a most wonderful weekend, and wow on the pics :) The recipes sound wonderful...

Belinda @zomppa said...

As a New Englander living in the South, I sooooo miss that weather you are talking about. What a lovely weekend!

Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet } said...

Fall is such a wonderful time of the year. Today it actually rained a bit here in California - we are having the oddest summer ever. Great photos - love the drink. Happy Birthday to Margot!!!

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Kristen said...

Those blackberries and apples both look wonderful. This is definitely a great time of year for food.

City Share said...

Thanks for the blackberry recipes. They both sound delicious.

Kim Forni said...

I agree with Emily... i love fall! The ham glaze probably wouldn't make it to the meat, i'd be in a corner slurping it up.. hahah ( i know, classy, right?)
We haven't been to that orchard yet.. Our spot is usually Wellwood Orchards in Springfield, Vt. We got some beautiful apples there last weekend!