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  • Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on December 9, 2014

    Join Dianne and Linda for the third installment of their Drinks & Design Series, workshops patterned on the popular Painting Nights all over town. Only these fun events let you leave with a real work of art, something put together by you and Mother nature together. We’ve already done cut flower bouquets in the summer, and boxwood arrangements for the holidays, but this time we are going to break the winter doldrums with something not cut at all, but living and growing!

    Terrariums are the next rage in gardening, and we are going to help you put together a mini desk or table top garden under glass of your very own. We’ll provide you with a choice of appropriate plants, a handsome glass container, soil and instruction on how to put it all together into a work of natural art. You just bring your hands, and a willingness to kick back and create with some snacks and wine.

    The materials of this course are a bit more expensive than our usual classes, but we want to make sure a lot of you can join in the fun so we are keeping our workshop price the same for this class, which means the project you take home could have a retail value more than the entire event ticket! How’s that for an incentive?

    So please join us with your friends. Maybe make this the holiday get together you know you just wont have time for in this busy season, but get it on the books now. A solid month after the hectic New Year, we think it’s a great time to get out and celebrate again.

    The class starts at 7 pm, January 31st in the farmstand. Seats are $50, or $65 with wine. Purchase seats with our cashiers in the farmstand or greenhouse or online right now by clicking the button below. Hurry while space remains!

     

    Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on

    Join us for our second Cooking Class of the winter for a little bit of Bon Temps Cuisine. With Carnival Season in full swing, join Chef Todd as he leads you through the steps of some of his favorite recipes for the pre-Lenten season. Expect rich and spicy flavors and a real sense of joie de vivre, especially with the additional wine pairing option.

    Cooking Classes are an excellent gift for the foodie in your life this holiday season, are great night out with friends and loved ones.

    Tickets for this multi-course class are $50, $65 with wine pairing. Sign up  in the greenhouse or the main farmstand registers while seats last, or right now online by clicking the button below.

    Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on

     

    Join Chef Todd this January for his first Cooking Class of the season. He’s been itching to try out some of his favorite Italian techniques, especially on some of the regional specialties of which you might not be aware. So come hungry for this class, which will feature tastes of Italy minus one classic ingredient, Tomato Sauce. It will certainly have some of Italy’s classic wines to pair with your tastes of the evenings dishes as you learn how to replicate them yourselves at home.

    Cooking Classes are an excellent gift for the foodie in your life this holiday season, are great night out with friends and loved ones.  So sign up for this one soon or our follow up February 7th featuring a Mardi Gras Menu, also on sale now.

    Tickets for this multi-course class are $50, $65 with wine pairing. Sign up  in the greenhouse or the main farmstand registers while seats last, or right now online by clicking the button below.

     

    Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on

    All Seats $60

    Join us this winter for another wonderful evening of friends, beer and food with the folks from Jack’s Abby Brewery in Framingham. Similar to last year’s event, we’re striving to keep the price low and still present you with a fun atmosphere of belly-filling lagers and beer hall food served family style in long tables stretching the length of the farmstand.

    We’ll close the retail store a little early that day to prepare the space, and then spend a few hours treating guests to a very fun and unique meal prepared by Chef Todd and our kitchen staff.

    Be sure to look at last year’s blog post about the event to get an idea of what a great gift this would make for yourself or your loved ones this holiday season. Seats are $60 apiece and include food, beer, and all the homegrown hospitality we  can provide.

    For Tickets Click the Box Below, or see our cashiers in the Farmstand or Greenhouse:

    Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on November 21, 2014

     

    Please join us for the next in our series of floral design workshop events. This design & Drinks night will feature our famous Boxwood Tree, the perfect holiday hostess gift, table centerpiece or office decoration. Our designers will help you make a colorful lasting floral arrangement in the shape of an evergreen tree, and then show you how to fashion decorations onto picks and and embellish your tree to your liking. We’ll have clay pots, florist foam, cut boxwood, ribbons, pine cones and more for you to work with so that you are sure to go home with a stunning piece of holiday cheer.

    Along the way we’ll have snacks and a selection of wines for you to choose from. $50 gets you a seat at the table and a boxwood tree of your very own, the wine option is available for $15 more and includes two glasses.

    Make this an early holiday party with your friends, or gift someone early this season and catch them off guard. It will be a fun easy night and you’ll go home with something beautiful. Please register by clicking the button below:

    Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on October 22, 2014

     

     

    Apple Pie Contest 2014: There’s No Place Like Home

    Welcoming home our show runner and judges, while inviting in our first time winners, and recognizing the courage of persistence.

    Going Home Again: They say it can’t be done, and maybe they are right, but this, 2014 is the year that we tried. I love to tie these contests into the heartbeat of the moment, tap into what we are talking about. And right now, I’m dwelling in the past. So time to tune in to the nostalgia. Break out the transistor radio, crank up the old Victrola, listen for the hoof beats of the postman’s pony; lets cozy up to some traditional Americana and this year’s Annual Apple Pie Baking Contest results!

     

    Kelley and Ruth on their way around the corner, first round of judging.

    What am I on about? Well, we jumped back in time to a sweeter space this year, with familiar faces all around. So in all honesty, there was a bit of nervousness right off the bat, from judges and contenders alike. Where is Teri? Why isn’t she here? Who is running this? How will they do it?

    “Fear not” I told them all, “Dave has it in hand”

    “Really?” Incredulously asked many.

    “Yes! yes of course,” I continued, ” Dave, well, he is the originator of the pie contest, it is his brainchild”

    “That’s right! it’s my baby” Dave chimed in, as he shooed another impatient onlooker/taster  away from the yet to be judged pies.

    Dave went on to express his fondness, not for the first and not for the last time I’m sure for his beloved apple pie contest. The same great battle that for years which has  fallen under the helm of his wonderful, and equally beloved sister, up until her current state of blessed maternity. After a decade of them, this  contest is truly a labor of love for the whole Volante family and crew, but Dave has a special fondness for it, and it was good to see him cradle this baby again.

    Dave looks on satisfied as Jeff delves into the details of apple pie.

    And yes this is one of those years where you are really going to have to read through for the winners, sorry but time is of the essence, specifically a lot of it. Patience is the virtue we saw exhibited today, from the careful handiwork of our participating bakers, to the measured opinions of our fabulous judges, and also our wonderful customers who waited dutifully to be called to the table to partake in the excess.

    So first, let me thank our judges. We couldn’t have done this without all of you and your donation of time and talent are graciously appreciated. We had some of Needham’s finest in attendance today, sights for sore eyes in some cases. Our panel of four judges included long-time farm friend, Jeff Kaye, of Fava Restaurant. He was one of the first to put Needham on a dining destination map, and now professor at Le Cordon Bleu College. He strikes an imposing figure in his chef’s whites, but as one of our original judges, we feel confident he grades fairly, and on the curve.

    We were also graciously joined by Needham and newly Wellesley, restauranteur Dave Becker, of Sweet Basil and Juniper. Another veteran of our judging circuit, we were so pleased he could join us again this year, especially with the demand of two restaurants on his mind. Always great to have Dave around as he keeps the crowd going as well as any MC, and his general positive attitude for every aspiring home cook really comes across to the contestants.

    A new face of our judging panel and one that we were able to snag via a wee bit of nepotism thankfully, is Ruth Armstrong.  A woman with a true pastry sensibility, Needhamites have been fans of hers for years as the woman behind Sweet Rues, another Needham institution whose past isn’t so distant. Her talents are now being put to what sounds like a fair amount of use managing at our other friendly neighborhood Italian restaurant, Spiga, whose chef Robert is also  a veteran judge of our contest. We are happy and thankful that Ruth could join us and lend an added touch of professional pastry knowledge to the panel.

     

    Rounding out the panel, in the honorary throne of pastrydom, Kelley Heyworth, Apple Pie Champ Emeritus. Kelley’s unique apple pie wowed judges last year and set her on this path of peer review. The question is, will her knowing stature make her a judge of compassion or will she cut to the quick? It certainly must be an emotional roller coaster nonetheless, at once relieving the glory of honors once received, and then finding the courage to pass the torch. Will she be able to quietly fade into obscurity again, with only her blog, HappyHealthyKids, and a life only moderately dependent on events at her local farm market to satisfy her? Time will tell.

     

    Cast Irony: a make it work moment

     

     

    Nicole’s pie, had it not won on flavor a would have taken home the prize for presentation as well. Prepared and presented in a petite cast iron skillet and adorned with spiced whipped cream curls, it practically proclaimed itself as a tasty homemade dessert before fork touched mouth. In our brief interview session afterward, Nicole mentioned that she had entered the contest in the past to no success. Moreover, this year she baked a pie crust and couldn’t stand behind it. There just wasn’t enough to it to deserve her name or the luscious Ruby Macs she was going to fill it with. So she made a last minute run to her recipe stash and found this winner. The risk paid off, and the judges loved it. The crust was a hit, seemingly a classic ice water crust that we’re familiar with, but this pie cranked it up with a streusel topping, the saltiness and nuttiness of which won over more than one judge.

    Nicole, for her valiant last minute save and wise decision to take the time to do it right was handsomely rewarded. A $100 Volante Farms gift card, a Sweet Basil Cook Book and gift card complements of Dave Becker, an amazing trophy, and of course the opportunity to stand safely on the judges side of things next year should she desire the limelight a little longer. Her recipe is found below.

    Second Place, Rudy Giacomo and his 3rd Try Pie

     

    Rudy has become a cooking contest regular of late, and honestly it is a shock that this is his first win by my records. Always near the top, consistency paid off again. It may just be that he is always smiling win or lose that I never realized he had yet to win. In any case, those days are done and now only first place eludes him.

    His perfect pie hewed close to traditional mores. Crust on bottom, crust on top. Golden Delicious Apples in the middle. His trick to tenderness is to precook the apples a bit in boiling water.  A $75 gift card to Volante Farms was his reward for persistence. His recipe below:

     

    Joanne Rampe, the Dark Horse.

    First time ever competitor, Joanne, arrived not knowing what to expect and lo-and-behold, she brought with her an outstanding pie. It too had a pedigree attached, one of some tradition. Named Grandma Rampe’s Apple Pie, well it’s certain someone would fight for its honor among the greats. A mix of Granny Smith and Macs lent this pie it’s unique taste, oddly one of the few top placing pies to shoot for the complex blending of apples flavors this year.

    Joanne was thrilled enough with the title, but also happy to receive a $35 gift card to Volante Farms for her win. Hopefully we have her and the rest of you hooked on our contests now and ready to show up next time. Grandma Rampe’s Recipe is below:

     

    One last bit of history I have to bring up is Lauren Murphy, our $20 Gift Card winner for Best Presentation for her apple pie with whipped cream and cinnamon sticks on the side. She is a veteran of many of our customer cooking contests, having placed in several. By her own admittance, apple pie is not a strong suit. So for her to turn around last year’s performance of what I will only say was a memorable pie in appearance to win for best presentation this year, is really perhaps the coup of the day. Congratulations Lauren and hopefully you don’t mind being called out on this, having such a rebound in such a short time.

    A few overall notes on the year:

    • Crusts tended toward ice water this year. Vodka crusts were the vogue until recently. Is there a shift toward Teetotalism afoot?
    • Apple variety, not as varied as in years past. Lots of monapplic pies. May have to do with the season, some apples have been in shorter supply this year and a bit off schedule. Still a surprising lack of Northern Spy et al. Suncrisp, a perennial favorite just became available this weekend, so that would have been a tight turnaround, but try any of these recipes with that apple and you should be quite happy based on other years’ results.
    • Gimmicks usually only go so far, but then there were some really good ones this year. From bourbon ice cream to candied leaves there were some definite twists on what makes a pie stand out and these certainly did.

     

    All of the contestants in this year’s contest

    Don’t forget about our 2nd annual Pumpkin Fest this weekend, we are trying to carve 500 Jack-O-Lanterns to light along the walkways and sidewalks of the farm, $5 Donation gets you a hollowed out pumpkin to do your own artistry with!

     

    Thank you again for all your participation in this and all our events, keeping the community strong! Next up for customer contests is our Chili Contest, date to be announced in late December, and held right in time for your Superbowl Party this winter. If all these pie recipes don’t speak to you, or you aren’t convinced you can replicate the best this coming Holiday season, don’t forget we offer apple and a lot of other types of pies from a variety of local bakeries!

    And to close my favorite Pie By the Numbers Charts, first the ever popular Pie Chart, describing which apples were most popular this year, and the second showing changes in apple demographics over time. Thanks for reading through all of this yet again!

     

    Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on September 26, 2014

     

    Bring in your home-cooked apple pie and our local celebrity judges will taste and evaluate it! Please provide your recipe and most importantly, which varieties of apples are included. Pre-registration (required) and pay attention to the very few rules below!

    Apple Pie Contest Rules:

    1. Only one pie per entry
    2. Pie must be 8” or more in diameter
    3. Apples must be purchased at Volante Farms
    4. Contestant must provide recipe for filling and crust with apple varieties listed
    5. Pie must be at Volante Farms by 10:45 AM!

     

    • 1st Prize: Over $100 in Gift Cards & Prizes!

    • 2nd Prize: Over $75 in Gift Cards & Prizes!

    • 3rd Prize: $35 Gift Card

    Each participant will receive a discount coupon for 10% off that day.

    To enter register here or with any of our cashiers in the farmstand:

    Name (required)

    Phone (required)

    Email Address

    Please note, you will NOT get a confirmation email once you register, just be here by 10:45AM on the 18th! Thanks!

    For inspiration look at the recaps and recipes from previous years:

    Apple Pie Contest Archives

     

    Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on August 13, 2014

    A Flower Arranging and Wine Party

    Thursday August 28th @ 6PM

    We are pleased to present the first in a series of seasonal design events at Volante Farms. Join us for a fun and relaxing evening of wine and snacks while we lead you through the process of making your own beautiful fresh field flower arrangement. We do the cutting and prep work, you just show up with your friends, grab a glass, and choose your flowers.

    We will lead you through the steps to make a professional quality arrangement of our homegrown summer field flowers for you to take home and be the centerpiece of your summer table.

    Our party starts at 6 pm in the greenhouse with a quick look at the field where we grow our flowers. Then back inside to your tables, where design bowls ready to accept the professionally prepared stems you choose from our selection. While you snack and sip wine Dianne and Linda and a team of design helpers will lead you through the steps of creating a long lasting arrangement full of fresh flowers for you to take home.

    Along the way you will get ideas on how to create arrangements like the one pictured above on your own from flowers you find around your own home and garden. The evening will be lively and fun with a focus on chatting and wine with helpful instruction as a nice addendum.

    Tickets are $50 and include the class, snacks (cookies, cheese, etc), and the flowers and container to arrange them in. For $15 additional you will receive vouchers for two glasses of wine that we can pour for you from a selection suited to the event. Must have valid ID to enjoy the wine option.

    The evening will be held in our greenhouse and so can take place rain or shine.

    Click HERE to Register.

     

    Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on July 30, 2014

     

    Jungle Jim Balloon Show from 12-2pm

    Jungle Jim will entertain kids of all ages with

    his fabulous balloon-twisting show!

    The Field Tour will start around noon. We will begin at the greenhouse where we grow our baby arugula and start our seedlings and then head out to look at the cutting flowers, rhubarb, mint, beets, beans, cabbage, corn, blueberries and whatever else we can find! Bring kids of all ages and plenty of questions, we love to share our fields, tips and tricks with you.

    You may notice a lack of info about our Customer Cooking Contest that was previously here. Unfortunately due to an overwhelming lack of interest in participating we have been forced to cancel the event this year. Hopefully you will be able to join us for the field tour and Jungle Jim and his balloon art, which are going forward as planned.

    Posted by Ryan in Theme Additions on July 25, 2014