Congratulations to Adrienne Anderson for taking first place in our 7th Annual Customer Cooking Contest this Saturday. Her Vegetable and Pork Lasagna wowed the judges and had an alluring visual appeal to those of us watching.
Perennial contestant Ashley Hughson, presented a Vegetable Provencal that luxuriated in its baking dish and danced on the tongue. The combo brought in a strong Silver Medal.
A first ever third place tie had Jim Sargent and Mike Bolio pitting Italian Eggplant with Roasted Corn against Jamaican Jerked Chicken and Apple/Heirloom Tomato Salsa Sandwiches.
Judges included our own energetic Chef Todd Heberlein, veteran Dave Becker of Needham’s Sweet Basil, and last year’s winner cum professional chef Laurie Cochran of Wellesley’s Pure Gold Granola. What’s that? A former Customer Cooking Contest winner is now an honest to goodness vendor with product on our shelves? Dreams can come true and they can start right here at Volante’s.
But on to the judging. Firstly, as a rule, the entrants this year were the strongest overall pool we have seen in years. In fact the judges were adamant that they were choosing among the best and that the dishes overall were perfectly seasoned and very professionally presented.
Chef Todd, new to this sort of excitement, was impressed by the seasoning and that “this was a lot harder than [he] thought it would be, because everything was so good!”
The judges, when faced with many exquisite dishes eventually settled on deciding in favor of the plate that most celebrated the farm, and the vast array of homegrown produce available for these creations. Adrienne’s creation used many of Volante’s homegrown favorites to create her dish, including yellow and green zucchini, basil, onion, carrot, and garlic.
The vast array of Volante vegetables packed into this tight little package really shone through, and as a result she took home top honors, including a $75 Volante Gift Card, lunch for 4 to Sweet Basil, and a large bag of Pure Gold Granola. Additionally, and perhaps the best prize of all, she will be offered the chance to guest judge the competition next summer.
Ashley’s Vegetable Provencal presented itself as a rich layered melange of summer vegetables. Points go to the smart use of beautiful Homegrown Dancer Eggplant, as well as zucchini, onion, garlic and tomatoes. No stranger to the winner’s podium, Ashley has also placed in our Apple Pie Contest, so don’t hesitate to accept a seat at her table given the opportunity. She and her family joined me for a field tour right after the judging, and the gusto with which they chomped down all the raw field fresh veggies we found on the way– radishes, beans and even basil–shows she can both please a discerning crowd and train young tastes buds to be open to new tastes. Ashley went away with a $50 Volante Gift Card and lunch for 2 at Sweet Basil and a bag of Pure Gold Granola.
Our third place tie between Jim Sargent and Mike Bolio had both chefs going home with a $35 Volante Gift Card and Pure Gold Granola. Jim’s dish received rave reviews for the interplay between the eggplant and corn, clean and simple flavors working very well together. Mike’s sandwich was a more complex affair, with perfectly cooked chicken and a cooling salsa to catch some of the heat.
In addition to seasoning, presentation was another skill all of our entrants possessed this year. To get a look at all this years entrants click here to go to our photo blog. For recipes for our top contenders, click on the dish’s photo above. To get in on the fun yourself, stay tuned for announcements about this fall’s Apple Pie Contest, it is right around the corner!
We held our second Dinner in the Field last night, and it was another wonderful evening. Chef Todd Heberlein and his crew put together an amazing array of dishes using the bounty from Volante’s fields. Many thanks to our many guests and to those who helped make the night possible, Urban Grape of Chestnut Hill, the tireless farmstand, kitchen, deli, bakery, ice cream, and field crews, and the many friends and family who pitched in to help as well. These events require above and beyond effort before during and after by the entire Volante Farms team to be this successful and this was more proof of that effort on display. Please enjoy the photos and slideshow here .
If you were in attendance last night and have photos you would like to share of the night please forward them to me care of ryan at volantefarms.com and if you wish you had been in attendance, make sure to join our email list and follow us in as many ways as possible, so you don’t miss future events, like this weekend’s Customer Cooking Contest and Farm Field Day starting Saturday morning at 10 am.
Click photo to go to full gallery and slideshow:
This Saturday is Farm Field Day, when we give you the opportunity to ask and have answered all your farm related questions as we offer guided tours of our home field at 10, 12, and 2. The home field has been host to all of our lettuce, radish, broccoli and many other crops this year. While a lot of our major crops are grown at the Standish Road fields, a lot of our small crops thrive at home where we can pick small amounts of the diverse options.
We will give you a run down of how a day in the field works and show you how food gets from our fields to your plate.
In addition to these tours it is also time for our annual Customer Cooking Contest. This farm favorite event has just a few rules and is open to just about anyone with a penchant to have their skills compared to others’. Judging begins at 11 am.
Pre-register for the cooking contest by simply filling out this contact form, or talk to a cashier when you stop in!
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We only have three simple rules for the cooking contest:
1. Recipe must contain Volante Farms Homegrown veggies/fruit
2. Contestant must bring in enough food for 4 judges to sample
3. Contestant must bring a copy of his/her recipe!
Prizes are to be determined, but usually involve Volante Gift Cards galore.
Also this week you will see we have started separating our heirloom tomatoes by variety so you can find your favorites and know them again next time. We are picking hot peppers now, too and several varieties of eggplant. Beautiful pink and white shell beans have returned to the stand this week as well.
You may start hearing about us from a variety of new outlets soon. I’d like to thank many of our local partners for helping make our new customer outreach possible, and invite you to visit them online here: Local Partners. This week specifically, Alex’s Ugly Sauce, doves & figs jams, Crescent Ridge ice cream, and Pat-Os Pickles are our featured favorites. Keep an eye out for them on the stand and see why we love them.
The past week has brought a lot of new items to the stand. The kitchen has been putting out some stellar take away meals like lobster and homegrown corn and chard risotto and arugula pesto summer vegetable pasta.
Chef Todd is finally getting his hands on some of the abundance from the fields and really putting some signature touches on it. Be sure to check out the refrigerated chest in the stand for some of these easy and delectable meals.
The greenhouse has many beautiful fall annuals on the way, bright colors to replace the victims of neglect, drought, or time in your garden.
We have really started to bring in substantial numbers of summer vegetables from the field this week as well. With heavy picks of summer squash and cucumbers from our second crop of the season you will start to see some odd squashes from time to time as well : patty pan, papaya pear, and eight ball for example. We are starting to keep an eye out for early fall squashes as well like Delicata and Acorn, but they are still a little ways off.
Our green bean selection is continuing to grow. We are offering 5 types of green beans on the stand this week, not counting wax, romano, and waxy romano. Keep buying by variety and keep letting us know your preferences. Your opinion really has a direct correlation to what we plant next year so it is worth vocalizing your thoughts in addition to your purchase. We really do care.
Peppers are expanding their selection too. Hot peppers should be available homegrown shortly. Green, Purple, White and Black peppers are regularly available now. Plus the first pick of the season on Cubanelle Peppers, a light green elongated frying type.
Eggplant is also producing in bulk, with two types of Classic Aubergines, one is Epic, our standard and the other is Black Beauty, a squatter multi-lobed fruit. We grow a half-dozen specialty eggplants with origins in the Dominican Republic, Asia, Africa, Italy, and a fairly new one to us that passed last years trial stage, Turkish Orange.
The tomato harvest is in full swing, we brought in 87 bushels today which is close to breaking all recent records for a single pick. More impressive is that these tomatoes are collected from over 30 varieties. We should have enough heirloom production to start selling by variety by next week so you can really get to know your favorites or find them again.
And of course there are the new items that just have to peek their heads in. Our Komatsuna Asian green has been off to a sluggish start, but for all you bok choy fans out there this is a great and more than serviceable hot weather replacement. Much in the way that our New Zealand Spinach is not quite the same as our regular Spinach, but can serve a similar purpose, it is worth working with what the season brings you. Kale sales are shooting up, so it is a good time to remind you greens fiends to give our new Collard Greens a shot. Not sure how to prepare them? Pretty easy, more or less just add bacon, or is that just me?
If all this harvest influx wasn’t enough, you know we are thrilled to announce the return of Apple Season. We have gotten Early Macs, Paulareds and Ginger golds in from Sunnycrest Orchards, which is a good start but barely the beginning of a long and luxurious season I hope. You can always check in on our Apple Page to know what’s in this week. It is accessible from the top of the blog or from our Now Picking Page.
Since we are talking about our other local farmers, in addition to Sunnycrest Orchards in Sterling MA, we expect to see fruit from Brookdale Fruit Farm in Hollis NH soon as well. Those two farms, with over 320 years of growing experience between them provide the majority of our tree fruit in the summer and fall.
We are also maintaining old and establishing new partnerships with other nearby farms to provide interesting locally grown foods we aren’t growing yet. We have gotten some gorgeous items from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon this week, including local potatoes, local Galia and Cantaloupe melons, and a few types of cherry tomatoes we aren’t growing this year.
This Thursday, August 9, Cones and Trombones, join the Beantown Brass Quintet for a free concert at the Ice Cream Stand at 7 pm
Saturday August 11, Taza Chocolate will be by midday to sample their Somerville made specialty chocolate
Thursday August 16, Second Dinner in the Field, 6 pm
Saturday August 18, Farm Field Day and Customer Cooking Contest, Details to come, Enter contest with cashiers