Any foodie worth their salt has been to or put on a balsamic tasting dinner (okay, actually I never have), but rarely do you get to experience that on the farm that the balsamic has been grown on. I've previously reported on the Darland's organic balsamic farm and next weekend I'll be putting on a 10-course tasting dinner to feature their amazing vinegar.
Maybe its my own personal insecurities, but I always feel like I need to say, "I know what you're thinking...New Mexico...balsamic...but you just need to trust me on this one." I remind you that I sell 25 year balsamic from Modena and the Darland's rivals if not surpasses those $200 bottles.
I won't say it again. Your skepticism will be your loss! As I type this entry the Darlands are out in the field picking their blend of grapes and by the time we get to the farm next Saturday, the fermenting room will be ripe with black gold.
(Here are their vines from two weeks ago, covered to protect against bugs.)
But this farm is much more than balsamic. An amazing array of both culinary and non-culinary lavender fill nearly an acre.
You feel like your in the south of France (or a Bed Bath and Beyond shop).
And the vegetables - oye! Here are some beautiful peppers.
And even as staunch of an anti-smoker as I am, I was impressed by Steve's stash of heritage tobacco. If I recall, he has three plants, one will be used for the wrapper and the other two for the filling.
They gifted me with these shashito peppers. All the rage at the Sante Fe farmers market, these little peppers aren't very spicy hot (one out of ten will kick your rear), but addictive when flash fried and seasoned.
Simply throw them in a hot wok with some oil - I used peanut oil. The Darlands swear by saffron salt.
And the farm is littered with other bounty - so much so that I don't even remember what this is, but I know its important because I took the time to take a picture (oregano bud maybe?)
And Long Island Cheese squash...wow, I immediately made that into a spicy soup and served it back to the Darlands for dinner - beautiful color and fantastically rich flavor.
But enough about the farm, dinner (which is sold out) will begin at 6 pm. My tentative menu is:
Fig and grape salad
Grilled apricots and balsamic foam
Goat cheese terrine
Cantaloup carpaccio/duck prosciutto
Braised pork belly
Carbonated watermelon with balsamic dimple
Balsamic ice cream and dulce de leche napoleon
I'll be sure to post pics next week.
The Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
4 days ago