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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Entertaining - CSA Style

With the holidays upon us, I have been busy on many levels-planning the Road Show/working, entertaining and getting ready for the holidays.

My husband & I are hosting a holiday dinner party and I am planning a menu that is in line with the holiday season and also compliments the wide selection of wines I have in my cellar that are ready to be enjoyed.

This year in an effort to eat locally and healthier, I have signed us up for different CSA's.  For those of you that are not familiar with this, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  You buy a share in the farm and in return you receive a set pound of product on a scheduled basis.  The farm is located within a 150 mile radius of your home, thereby the food is just picked & in your basket in less than 48 hours. In the winter, we have joined a Winter Vegetable share CSA through The Garden of Eve Farm on Long Island.  This past weekend we picked up our first winter share and I received the following items: cabbage, broccoli, squash, spinach, kale, swiss chard, celery, mesculin greens, lettuce, dill, cilantro, parsley, turnips & carrots.  We also received 1 dozen farm fresh eggs as well.

So far I have made (with the help of my mother) a Greek comfort food for me - Lahanodolmades.  For those of you non-Greeks, it's cabbage leaves stuffed with a beef/rice mixture served with an avgolemeno (lemon/egg) sauce.  In this dish I used my organic cabbage, dill & eggs.  It was very tasty and the eggs made the sauce a very bright golden yellow color - not one that you would get by using commercial eggs. We paired a bottle of Domaine Spiropoulos Mantinia 2009 with it.  The acidity & minerality of the Moschofilero worked very well against the sauce and the delicate stuffing in the cabbage leaves.  It was an added bonus that the wine is produced from organically grown grapes.  Now that it's had a bit of time to develop, the color has turned a deeper hue of blush, which is directly related to the fact that the grapes undergo a pre-fermentation cold soak before crushing.  As a result, some of the grape's color leaches into the juice, giving it its unique color.

The next item I used was my broccoli-I ended up making a broccoli soup which tastes really good.  I had a huge broccoli head and I ended up making enough soup to eat over the next few days in addition to freezing 2 quart sized containers for future use.  I'm not sure what I'm going to drink with the soup - if I decide to thicken it with milk I will most likely break out an assyrtiko to combat the creaminess.

This coming weekend we are having a small holiday dinner and I'm working on the menu now.  In addition to joining a winter vegetable CSA, we have also joined a meat CSA from the 8'o Clock Ranch located in upstate NY.  All of their animals are grass fed and that is definitely a better and more natural diet for animals.  Unlike the veggie CSA's where shares are limited, meat shares are easier to get into and you have the ability to tailor your share to what you eat.  We are receiving our first shipment this week and based on it I will make dinner for my guests this weekend.  We will definitely have a meat dish and I am tempted to break out a GAIA Estate 1998.  I'm not sure what the meat cut will be.  However, I will finish the meal with individual brownie pudding ramekins.  With dessert I am going to open up a bottle of UWC Samos dessert wine or an Argyros Vin Santo - I'm not sure yet.  I need to see what I have in my cellar.  The key at this point is to have a dessert wine that has enough acidity to hold it's own against the chocolate.  I think I'll serve Spiropoulos Ode Panos sparkling wine as an apertif and then will most likely move towards the Ktima Pavlidis White 2009 for a white wine.  We'll see.

While I'm not an organic nut, you can definitely tell the difference when produce is freshly picked rather than what you get at your local supermarket.  I think that if you really do some research on what kinds of pesticides are used on our foods, you would be concerned.  I read the book Food Inc and while some of what is written is pretty far out there, there are many points that make you think about what it is you actually eat and what you buy.

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