The sky is cloudy this morning over the vineyards of Glenora and the shores of Seneca. From the temperature readings it would seem winter has arrived but we still have another month of Fall according to the calendar. The current temperature Is 35 degrees however it "feels like" 27 degrees due to the wind which is coming from the south southwest at 10 miles per hour. Lake temperature: Keuka - 53 degrees.
In the vineyard: The 2019 harvest at Glenora, Knapp, and CLR is finished with the CLR team "wrapping it up" on Monday when the Mason Road Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Petite Verdot at CLR were harvested. We certainly appreciate the efforts of the vineyard teams in bringing in all of the grapes. The season starts out with short sleeved shirts and ends up with sweatshirts, heavy jackets, and Carharts! There is always a lot of moving parts to the harvest season, and depending on the vineyard, the winery and the weather the picking schedule needs to be flexible. For people who need a structured work day/week the harvest season would be very stressful. Thanks go out to Chaz, Jeffery, Bob, Brent, and Corey - the harvest team!
With harvest ending this past Monday, the Vineyard teams quickly "changed gears" as they power washed and greased the harvester, making notes of all of the items that will need attention before harvest next year. They rounded up all of the bins that seem to grow legs during harvest, power washing them as well and making repairs as needed. There is one winery where we deliver grapes that seem to play "bin bumper cars" when they unload and empty the bins - they also fail to risnse the bins which is and has been a winery courtesy since the beginning. The teams also started "hilling up" in several of the vineyards. Hilling up consists of pushing soil up and over the graft at the base of the vine to protect it over the winter.
On the press decks: While the harvest (picking) finished on Monday the press deck teams stemmed, crushed and then placed the Cabernet in red fermenters on Monday. They also started to press our "iced Wine" grapes on Monday, however that was cut short by a "stripped gear" on the Wilmes Press's motor. So a quick trip was made to Knapp where we have an identical press. Thanks to the efforts of Tracey, Chaz and Brent, the motor on that press was removed - quite a project has it had been in place for over 40 years with several coats of paint on the nuts and bolts that held it in place. However with some prayers (or were they cuss words?) the motor came off and the "Iced Wine Grapes" were pressed and the juice is now in the tank. A side note - pressing "Iced wine Grapes (frozen) gives us a yield of 45-60 gallons per ton as compared to 170-175 gallons per ton from the same fruit that was not frozen.
Yesterday marked the 43rd anniversary of a Nouveau Wine Celebration at Glenora. The event was first started at the end of harvest in 1977 to celebrate our first year of harvest/winemaking. It was a rather small event at which we invited all who had helped us establish Glenora during the year of 1977. We had started the year with a site on which an old barn had stood, and by years end we had 4500 cases of wine in the tanks-10 months. The event was original called Foch Nouveau as Foch grapes were the grapes used. It has now become "Nouveau" because we no longer make a Foch wine although the vineyard is still alive and well. One tradition did end this year and that was Henry the Hogg was not roasted on a spit or smoked - he was cooked in an oven. That decision was made when the weather forecast came out earlier in the week. Starting the smoker at 6 AM and standing by it when the temperature is 25 degrees for 6 hours is no longer considered fun - even when fortified with a glass of two of brandy. Thanks go out to Joel and the Maintenance team for keeping us warm, the kitchen and restaurant team for the great food, and to the administrative team for all of the organization.
Bob, who assists us with marketing and sales, returned from the American Wine Society meeting in Florida carrying a plethora of medals won by our wines, including one for the best white Vinefera wine in the commercial wine competition (wineries from across the US) - our 2019 Select Harvest Riesling! While all of our wines are the efforts of our entire cellar/production team, Winemaker Rachel took the lead on this one -Congratulations Rachel!!
While 2020 is 7.5 weeks away, plans are being made or finalized for some of the early years events which include Pasta Night, Fish Fry Fridays, Steak and Potato, the Bridal show and the early year Wine Trail events. There are several "twists" in store for these events. We also will have a new program - a monthly signature wine. More to come as we do not want other readers of the Gazette to plagiarize it.
Thought for the week: Thought-Ideas
"True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision."
Written by Sous Chef Sarah Hassler of Veraisons Restaurant
Veraisons is not a vegan restaurant, but we have become a vegan-friendly (very friendly!) restaurant. When people learn of my passion for creating delicious meals free of animal product, they assume I must be vegan myself. My answer typically surprises people; while I am allergic to gluten and dairy, I am not, in fact, vegan.
A classically trained chef, I was taught the techniques of the French – none of which were animal-friendly by the way. There were no classes on vegan cooking; there were barely dishes to be served to the few who would attend. I was vegetarian upon entering the CIA – two months of eating polenta and mushrooms and I conceded.
As my school days have long since passed, I have discovered that I enjoy a challenge and a direction when creating dishes. The world of food is far too vast to create and streamline a meal without some frame to work within. Anything can play the role of the framework, preferences, theme, restrictions – veganism is just one more box to work within. That is why I chose to study food and become a chef – the knowledge is far beyond what one man could hold, and the chance to transform ingredients to suit is ceaseless. Chefs are truly students for life.
Orlando and I have a lot in common when it comes to the kitchen. We lead with our hearts, cook with our stomachs, and source food with our brains. When a guest walks into our dining room, we want them to have an amazing meal and a pleasurable experience. This goes for every guest, regardless of dietary restriction.
The dinner table is the place where humans come together. We all need to eat – it’s that basic. Regardless of color, creed, gender, or even (GASP!) political allegiances, seated at a table we are all equally human, fulfilling that common need. Why should it be any different for people with dietary restrictions?
Some of my chef-friends argue that the folks with “legitimate” reasons for having restrictions are “ok”, but those who choose to eat a certain way and expect restaurants to work around them are asking too much. To this I would reply – When did it become the right of the chef to take the choice away from the diner?
Perhaps this is a sign that we’ve taken our profession a few too many steps away from the blue-collar days. When we stop being grateful for the people walking through our doors and paying us to do something they could do themselves – and then post later on Pinterest! – we might want to check ourselves. The food isn’t about us – it’s about them.
The line that vegan food is somehow more “chemical” or made “in a lab” is also antiquated. Our world is filled with factory-farms and our shelves stocked with highly-processed foods, no longer recognizable from their original state, so this seems a bit high-brow to say. The reality is that all food is chemical…and it all equates to chemical energy. See? That student-for-life line wasn’t a lie!
My passion for creating vegan dishes comes from the same heart that creates dishes for omnivores. I remain endlessly grateful for the opportunity to pursue my passion as a career, to feed people delicious food, and to be consistently challenged to become a better cook…for humans.
As we gear up for Buen Provecho (simple Spanish translation: “Bon Appetit”), our first wine pairing dinner of the Spring season this Saturday, we’re shining a light on Chef Orlando’s menu inspirations, as well as what led him to become a chef, which means going back to his roots to where his love of cooking began…in his grandmother’s kitchen.
Throughout his childhood, Orlando could usually be found in her kitchen during family gatherings. He would watch large family meals come to life, take in the delicious aromas and join in the familial kitchen banter that many of us know and love.
A Connecticut native with Dominican heritage, Orlando is constantly inspired by his upbringing and culture, both of which play an integral role in his cooking, and of course, bring back many fun memories…like fighting with his aunt over who gets the pig tail.
Read on for more…
What sparked your interest in cooking?
My interest in the kitchen started as a young child. I was told that I would go into the kitchen cabinets and take out pots and pans to play with. All the family would get together on the weekends and make a massive family meal and everyone would help out. I would always hang out in the kitchen and watch my grandmother and my aunts prepare food. I was always impressed by the fact that they would dice onions and peppers in the palm of their hands (not a safe method by the way) never cutting themselves. I loved the smell of the peppers, onions, and garlic on the stove cooking that would linger in the air as they cooked, even still to this day. There wasn’t much I didn’t eat; I remember having arguments with one of my aunts about who was going to eat the pig tail. At the end, we would always end up sharing when there would be a pig roast.
I started to cook at home at the age of 8, not sure if I was just being scammed into making sandwiches, grilled cheese, and omelets, but my sisters always said I made the best food. They still swear that it was the truth to this day. Honestly, I think they just still want me to cook for them.
Did your grandmother use ingredients or any special methods that you use in your cooking today?
My grandmother and my family members still use a mortar and pestle, which is used to grind up spices and herbs. I also use a wooden one at my home.
Do you have a favorite dish or recipe of your grandmother’s?
I had the honor of helping out my grandmother marinate a pig a few years ago for Christmas. I say it was an honor because my mother and aunts told me later that no one was ever allowed to help marinate a pig with Grandma Carmen so I should feel privileged, which I was. Yes, the mortar and pestle was used that day, and no, I will not let you in on her secrets.
One of my favorite dishes is Mondongo. It is stewed tripe soup. Whenever family comes to visit my grandmother goes out of her way to make some and send it to me.
Can you tell us about the traditional Dominican treat Morir Soñando?
It is a traditional drink made with orange juice, milk, sugar, and vanilla. The translation of the word is died and gone to heaven.
What dish are you most excited about on the menu for this weekend?
Well, it would have to be Mondongo, of course.
Written by Sous Chef Sarah Hassler of Veraisons Restaurant
Autumn in New York might be a romantic cliché, but it is truly a chef’s dream season in the Finger Lakes. Farmers from all over the region send me emails every day with lists of available produce. Yes, farmers market via e-mail, welcome to the future everyone. Squash, beans, brassicas, apples, pears, grapes, and still the summer produce winds in with tomatoes, corn, peppers, eggplant, and melons. It is bounty at its fullest.
At Veraisons we have always taken the time to prepare a special feast that celebrates the season. For years our annual Harvest Dinner has marked a time to honor our farmers and our winemakers, to toast the end of tourist season, and to wind down into the quiet of winter – like a late-night bowl of Mom’s soup before bed.
This year our Harvest Dinner falls on Halloween, an occasion that happens only once every seven years. Talk about adding special to already-celebratory! Orlando and I wracked our brains to come up with spooky ideas – at one point there was a chicken pot pie with a clawed foot sticking out of the crust as a potential idea, quickly vetoed, but nonetheless memorable. Finally, one of us said “Let’s just go all out and do Harry Potter.”. Neither of us spoke for a bit, wondering if it might be ridiculous, and after a moment’s silence, we pounced.
Images of bountiful feasts rolled into our heads. Having read all of the books several times over (especially the audio versions – total #jimdalefangirl), I know how strongly that imagery takes hold. A young boy coming from a cold home he doesn’t belong in finds himself at an enormous table, surrounded by friends and food…so much food! Rowling nailed the relationship between food and comfort, highlighting the intimacy of breaking bread with friends and finding joy that multiplies.
Think about your favorite food memories. I’m willing to bet that they rarely, if ever involve you eating alone, dining on something you made yourself. Most likely they revolve around family, or a longing for family (care packages from Mom while you were at college anyone?).
The equation so far:
Autumn harvest romance + deeply imbedded nostalgia + chefs = truly awesome dinner plans
So the idea was born – do a Hogwarts themed dinner, serving the food family style at communal tables. We plan to separate guests into houses and leave the platters for sharing and available seconds. We’ll serve Butter Beer and Polyjuice Potion and the dessert course will be nothing short of a child’s dream – treacle tart, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate frogs, ton-tongue toffee, and trifle. We’re leaving the rock-cakes at Hagrid’s hut for the night.
The books we read play a role in the direction of our lives. Harry Potter and his tales have long been in a thread in mine. Attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York felt very much like my own Hogwarts adventure – only with more food and less house elves. Click here for an article I wrote for their alumni magazine, Mise En Place, back in 2011 on the subject.
Whether the plan is to wind down the season and shake the hands of our farmers or to immerse yourselves in the world of magic (at least the of culinary sort), I hope to see you at our Great Harvest Feast this year!
Author Bio: Sarah Hassler is the Sous Chef of Veraisons Restaurant. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a native of the Finger Lakes region, Chef Hassler has a keen understanding of flavor and nuance and a reverence for the agricultural community, bringing local ingredients into her cooking as much as possible. She has been a member of the Glenora team, in between her time at CIA and professional experiences in the Hudson Valley and Corning, since 2009.