It’s that time of year again, the holidays are closing in quickly. We at Volante’s are ready to help as much as we can. With several Christmases and Hanukkahs under our belts and now one Thanksgiving we think we have got what you need to breeze through the season, relaxed and enjoying your family time.
Beginning next weekend we will be sampling our kitchen’s Thanksgiving Menu, so you can get an idea of what our offerings are going to be this year and whether they will help fill a niche on your table. There are printable menus for planning your order available at the cashiers as well as here on the home page of the website. We do ask that all orders be placed personally with Steve or Todd either at the farm stand or over the phone. This helps ensure that we are going to provide you with the quality product you expect from us in a timely manner. Any questions about the Preparation of these dishes, please ask at the Deli for Todd or email him or Steve at their name @volantefarms.com. All orders should be placed by Friday Nov 22.
For your holiday convenience and party planning we have made some space in the wine and beer shop for some higher end bottles. While our usual selection is based around being ready to pop with the evening meal, we wanted to make sure there were some of varying “giftable” quality, so you can stop off on the way to your friends and relatives and pick up something a little fancier. Any questions about these finer wines please ask for Dave or Steve and they can lead you through them.
In the stand we still have 30 varieties of Apples to choose from, though the number will begin to taper off soon. There is still homegrown produce arriving from the field, especially our new crop, Horseradish, our abundant Brussels Sprouts, and after a brief gap we think we will have Homegrown Carrots again later this weekend. We have Lettuce under cover out in the field so expect several weeks of homegrown field lettuce as well.
The greenhouse is in a state of flux this week, making the hard crossover from fall’s harvest to winter’s trim a tree shop. While we are transitioning in there, please browse some of the beautiful tropical house plants available in the main farm stand to keep your home fresh until winter greens take over in a few weeks. Trim a Tree, Wreaths and Greens and all that comes with it will be open November 29, with a special Open House and a chance to meet with Santa on Sunday December 1 from 4 -6.
While you are in the holiday mindset, a quick update on scheduling. Patti of On the Edge Knife Sharpening has gotten such a great following here at the farm she has decided to change her dates so that she can devote even more time to our customers. She will now come every second Sunday of the month from 11 -2 and will be able to stay later if there is a line. This means her next visit is tomorrow, Sunday November 10th, so bring in your knives and get them ready for carving that Thanksgiving bird!
Thank you to everyone who helped us with last month’s Pumpkin Fest to benefit Boston Children’s Hospital. We had so much fun and hope you did too, plus it was for a wonderful cause and created a beautiful display for night time strollers and central ave commuters right through Halloween. We really appreciate all the hard work, and while we didn’t quite reach our fundraising goal, we did carve several hundred pumpkins in a few hours and learned a lot about how much more time it is going to take to meet and beat our goal next year. Again we thank you for your help as does the surgical department of Boston Children’s Hospital.
Can’t wait to do it again! If you missed it here are before, during, and after photos:
Things are winding down for the Fall Harvest, every morning brings a little touch of frost to a new part of the field. Halloween must be right around the corner! To get in the spirit we want to try something a little different this year. We are so excited to be open right through the fall and Holiday Season now, we want to decorate and we don’t want to wait for Christmas!
We love our Hay Man, but he needs some friends. Come join us for our first ever Pumpkin Fest this Saturday, starting at 2 pm. We are having a carving party with the hopes of scooping and carving 500 pumpkins to place around the farm for a twilight stroll. We hope you’ll join us for this event simply for the fun of getting in the Halloween Spirit, but the added bonus is that we wanted to use it to raise money for a very worthy cause, Boston Children’s Hospital.
We are asking that you donate $5 for each pumpkin you carve to benefit the surgical department at Boston Children’s Hospital. We’ll do the hard work of scooping out and cleaning the pumpkins, you and your family only need to bring the creativity. We’ll have marking crayons, kid safe carvers, and a lot of friendly helpful hands to turn your pumpkins into works of art.
We will then take the pumpkins and spread them along the sidewalk gardens of the farm and as it gets dark, right around 6 pm these days, we will light them all for everyone to enjoy.
We usually close at 6 pm on Saturdays but because we wanted to be able to enjoy the fruits f our labor, the farm will remain open until 7 this Saturday night. Wine and Beer will still close at 6 pm, but Ice Cream will be open late, so lets hope for a warm night and you can enjoy some pumpkin ice cream or a warm apple crisp sundae to enjoy with your lit pumpkin stroll.
The idea for this fundraiser is based on our own history, several years ago we partnered with the Life is Good charities to carve pumpkins for the big jack o lantern lighting on the Boston Common. It was so much fun, but when they stopped their festival we didn’t have an outlet for our carving skills, now that we are open through Halloween, we have the perfect space to display Jack o Lanterns on our own, and really hope you’ll join us and help raise funds for Boston Children’s Hospital, a real Fun-draiser.
Below are some photos from the last carving party we had, nearly 10 years ago! Come help us make some new memories.
So here’s the part of the blog I love the most. When I come up with a great pun title and tell it to someone and they hate it/ don’t get it/ downright say it’s no good, and then I know it’s the one to go with. For the record, Teri hated it, but on the other hand she did want me to ask you how to make an Apple Turnover? … Push it down a hill. So bear with me, I haven’t gotten to get my creative juices out for a while and here they go:
For our annual pie contest, one thing has become very clear; this is by far and away the strongest competition going at Volante’s. People sign up quick and feverishly for a spot on the card table these beautiful last days of October. Why?
So many reasons: personal demons, sibling rivalry, the approval of friends and relatives, chips on shoulders. A love of baking and the camaraderie of the kitchen? Sure probably that too.
So the apples were the stars again of course. The apple pie contest has once again brought pies of all creeds, shapes and sizes to the mat. Lightweight and heavy weight alike, some lumbering under their own caramelly heft others dancing around on flaky phillo dough, but all of them giving the judges something to consider. Round after round they absorbed each and every jab and parry (mixed metaphors yet?) of the flavors on their forks.
While I’m on that note, thanks again to our judges. They are true heroes. Tasting 21 pies, often more than once, and offering comments and criticism, scoring and determining their favorite. Judges included our own pastry chef, Jen Heberlein, whose opinions for apple pie, well, mean she is a pretty tough judge. A little more understanding of the tribulations the contestants had put themselves in for, last years winner, Sally Gaudaitis, was on the other side of the judges table and rose to the occasion. She also brought the possible future prize idea of a reserved parking spot at Volantes for the winner, not a bad idea at all! Robert DeSimone of Needham’s Spiga Restaurant has often said apple pie is his favorite dessert, so we inundated him once again. Finally Amy Traverso, author of the Apple Lover’s Cookbook, fought through personal injury to circle the table. So glad she could make it, we hope to get more copies of her book in the stand shortly. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet, check out this wonderful piece on Chronicle from earlier this month, all about apples it has a piece on us and flows right into Amy showing how to make her apple pickles and her own perfect Apple Pie.
OK back to fight night.
There was nothing overtly technical about the knockout in this bout. Kelley Heyworth won easily with her nearly extravagant display of a Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Crumb Pie with a Maple-Cinnamon Whipped Cream.
Rumor had it she comes from a family of trained culinary talents. However many eyes they rolled at her for entering her same old apple pie, it is clear she knew how to bring her A game to the task. Strolling home with a $100 gift card to Volante’s, a copy of the Apple Lovers Cookbook, a sweet trophy, and judging rights at next year’s competition. She has certainly earned the title, the belt and all the accolades to follow. She went home hoisting her trophy and mobile fan club in the air.
Recipe for her pie below and here: Kelley Heyworth’s Pie
Second place was a real interesting matchup. Former classmates, and I have to assume from their visages, bitter rivals (who had never been happier to see each other again) met again in the ring, years after grad school. Surprised to see each other, the tension was palpable. But they held it together and kept it clean and it paid off. These two once bitter foes ended today’s match in draw. At the final bell they were tied for 2nd, and parted ways with a $75 gift card each. Sure to meet again in upcoming cooking challenges. Schoolyard rivalries can’t end so quickly.
Third place: Future rivalries take off. The Lockhart sisters came to play again, but young Zoe Lockhart held her own. While she certainly wants to move beyond third place, having won the same spot last year, her sister is nipping at her heels. With this kind of familial pressure, I don’t envy the other mouths in that house, being subjected to trial after trial and choosing one sister over the other. For today however, Zoe takes home the honor again and $35 worth of Volante Farms gift card.
That’s as far as I can stretch it today. It has been a long bout and literally I never watch boxing. I clearly don’t have the vocabulary for it. But thanks to everyone for joining us again this year. There were really do many beautiful pies and so many different types. In addition to the 4 winners above we also gave a special presentation award to Maria Engle whose piecrust towered beautifully over her pie. See the photos here to see how the tower of apples left a lacelike structure of crust suspended above the plate.
Also as you are well aware, the other half the fun is opening up the tasting to the crowd, and letting everyone be a judge for a minute. Plenty of our staff did this and there was a different and clear favorite for them, perhaps because of the uniqueness, Paul Gardner’s Candy Apple Pie. The recipe for this is also included below in the photo gallery, due to popular demand.
See this pie and the rest of the excellent contestants below, as well as the recipes for our top winners. And thanks for joining us. Please be sure to come back to see us next Saturday when we take a different sort of food challenge on. We hope to carve at least 500 pumpkins Saturday afternoon and light them around the farm for a twilight stroll. We ask you to come and join us in the fun and donate $5 to the surgery department at Boston Children’s Hospital in the process. More to come on this later this week, but mark your calendars now!
For future pie planning, be sure to study my favorite bit of fruity statistics, the Apple Pie -Pie Chart. This year’s pies used apples from the wide variety we have to choose from, but the winner used Suncrisp, Baldwin, and Granny Smith. See the distribution of the 21 entries below:
Get your baking hats on and your counter tops dusted with flour:
The prizes are as usual, amazing, and will be announced shortly, and will involve gift cards to some of your favorite local establishments, Volante’s included.
To enter register here or with our cashiers while at the farm stand.
For inspiration look at the recaps and recipes from previous years:
Also this story on the science of the perfect pie:
As well as this infographic on how different apples taste and their best uses:
So best of luck and get to work! We’ve got 29 of these apples on the stand today so there’s plenty to choose from-
And pumpkins, and asters and bulbs and cornstalks too! It’s time to start the fall decoration season so you have plenty of time to enjoy the bright fall colors before holiday greens and winter snow push their way in.
Was that unfair? Sorry, it was 90 yesterday so I feel I can tease about winter without it being too, too real.
Anyway we have thousands of blooming and budding mums ready to swap in to your landscape now that the spring annuals are starting to peter out. Even if they aren’t suffering a lot of the plants in your garden will start to show less flower with the shorter days and cooler temps, so adding in these mums and asters will keep that festive feeling going around the house.
Pumpkins are also arriving in case you really want to get an early start on your carving skills. Bunched cornstalks and straw & hay bales are also available now to fill out your autumnal displays.
For you folks who are really on the gardening ball, we have a great selection of spring blooming bulbs available now as well. time to think back on those beautiful tulips and daffodils you saw all over town earlier this year and were envious of, and now you can plot your secret revenge. Fill the yard with crocus and narcissus and hyacinths galore now and sit back and wait for the spring show.
Coming in from the field, we have started picking some beautiful Broccoli, another crop that thrives on the cooler weather. Stop in soon for some of it and maybe cauliflower too in a week’s time.
The farmstand expects to have 17 varieties of apples on the stand this weekend, including your favorites: Honeycrisp, Macintosh, Cortland,and our first bin of Macoun. Check This Week’s Apples List regularly to see what other great options are coming to fruition!
Shall we say we were inspired by the flooding washout rains from earlier this week? Let’s call it this inspiration that has got water on our minds now. We are starting two new water based affiliations as a matter of fact.
We saw the arrival of our new Hydroponic Growing Chamber today. I don’t know much about this yet, but the 8 x 40 AquaHarvest Container was delivered on a trailer bed and ‘squeezed’ neatly between the barn and greenhouse #5. This will be our new go-to for baby greens, basil, and all sorts of leafy greens absolutely year round. We understand that the LED lights and aqueous solution the plants will grow under and in will produce a healthy, nutritious,and beautiful plant in as quick or quicker than our traditional growing methods. During the winter this is going to mean you are still getting super local and super fresh greens from our home to yours. The first harvest could be coming in by the end of the month as I understand it, so we’ll be letting you know more about it soon!
In other all-wet news, we are ready to offer an all-new way for you to complete your seafood acquisition right here at the farm. While we still offer a partnership with Cape Ann Fresh Catch on Mondays, which is a CFA where you purchase a share in advance and receive regular allotments of fresh caught fish of the day our new purveyors are from Jordan Brothers Seafood. They will set up in the farm stand every Thursday from 2-6 and sell assorted fish a la carte as well as have some shellfish available by pre-order for pickup. From Bobby Jordan:
Jordan Brothers Seafood offers the freshest local seafood to the customers of Volante Farms. Jordan Brothers will be offering fresh Cod, Haddock and Flounder from Gloucester to Chatham. Fresh Day Boat Sea Scallops. Fresh picked native Crabmeat. Swordfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Halibut and Monkfish. Seasonal favorites such as Bluefish and Striped Bass. Shellfish from Rhode Island to PEI will be offered, Oysters from Onset, Mussels from PEI, Steamers from Ipswich River and Littleneck Clams from the East Coast. All these products are of the highest quality sourced by Jordan Brothers daily from local boats from local docks along the New England Coast. These products will be available, packaged nicely in a serving size, Thursdays 2:00PM until 6:00PM starting in September. Please stop by and say hello.
So they arrive for the first time tomorrow, September 5th, and we expect to set them up near the Corn Table inside the farmstand. We hope that this additional opportunity for fresh and local seafood is something you are looking for in your shopping experience here at Volante Farms and that this partnership with Jordan Brothers serves your needs. Please stop by this week or next and check them out. Also if you are interested in the CFA from Cape Ann Fresh Catch we have some info at our registers but the best option is to check them out on the web here, their fall season begins on September 9th.
So while we continue to dry out from last weekend, at least the receding waters are leaving some great new offerings in their wake.
Oh and related to the season… Honeycrisp apples are if you hadn’t heard. Coming and going as fast as ever. Just a reminder not to be tunnel-visioned, while Honeycrisp are indeed the apple of the moment we have a dozen other varieties right now that are also worthy of your attention and dozens more on the way. Like this new variety for us the Gale Gala, a red gala apple from Brookdale Farms in Hollis NH.
So, I wrote this Saturday, before this morning’s deluge. we had a wee bit of flooding to interrupt the morning here, but all in all it seems like the crops will recover. Definitely had some washouts and some minor surprises but hopefully tomorrow we can get out and see how bad the mud really is. We certainly needed some of that rain. And now on with the regularly scheduled blog after a few wet photos:
Hard not to feel like we are well into into fall with the week ahead of us. Labor Day weekend upon us, school back in session, and Rosh Hashanah by mid-week.
Fall flavors have started to fill the stand:
And soon, look out for our newest crop, and a huge success! Leeks! We’ve been wanting to try them for years and finally got around to it, and lo and behold we did alright. It’s a small test plot so grab them while they last.
Pumpkin beer and fall fest tastes have invaded the summer shandy laced beer department, here are notes from Steve on what’s new on the porch:
Guten Tag! Or gluten tag, you’re it…
Fall beer is here and I’m thrilled…since I spend 10 months out of the year waiting for the onslaught of malty orange goodness that is fall beer. We’ve got a great lineup of local and not so local fall flavors. In the traditional “Oktoberfest” style we have some great offerings from Jack’s Abby (their Oktoberfest called “Copper Legend” is one of the best I’ve ever had), Sam Adams, Wachusett, Narragansett, Peak Organic and a couple others. We like to keep our beer as local as the rest of our products but for the Fall months we thought it might be a good idea to source some beers from Germany, where they know a thing or two about brewing the stuff, so expect to see them in the next couple of weeks. Beyond the traditional style we’ve loaded up on some less conventional tastes as well, namely Pumpkin. While I don’t normally advocate non-beer flavors invading my stein, there are a couple exceptions when the timing is just right. Cold fall nights and pumpkin beers by the fire pit go together like Dunkel-Weiss and Schnitzel. We are currently carrying squash spiked beers from Shipyard, Dogfish, Curious Shandy, and Southern Tier’s famous Pumpking, an imperial stout with pumpkin added. There are a bunch of other new releases for the fall like Baxter Brewing’s Hayride and Peak Organic’s Fall Summit, but there are more than I have time to list here so definitely come by and take a look, we’ve got beers for every palate. Speaking of, next week we should see the release of the sought after Field Mouse Farewell from Pretty Things, which I think is Ryan’s favorite beer.
Thanks Steve, and he’s right that is one of my favorites, you’ll have to fight me for that Field Mouse.
Back in the VF kitchen, Todd and team have put together a selection of sides to make this seemingly early Rosh Hashanah holiday a little easier to pull off if you are attempting to go a little more traditional than a BBQ themed holiday. Check out the refrigerator case for these seasonal specials and talk to Todd with any questions. You can always contact him on our Facebook or on twitter @volantefarmchef.
Our Bakery will also have a variety of Challah Breads available including Round, Round with Raisin, and regular from Cheryl Ann’s of Brookline and Susie’s Bakery of Needham. There are also honey cakes and packaged rugelah from Babycakes on the pie table.
On the shelves we have a great beer and wine selection including Kosher wine, local honey, and already over a dozen types of apples to ring in fall.
See you soon and Happy New Year!
We held our final Dinner in the Field for the 2013 Summer Season a little less than a week ago, and it was another grand success. We had our largest gathering yet, partly due to the fabulous weather, and likely due to the season. Now that we are entering into the fall harvest season everything coming out of the fields is at its peak and the choice Todd had to experiment with was unmatched during the rest of the year.
The evening started off a little cooler than we expect for late August, which was a pleasant surprise. The skies were still clear blue, and the conversation was bubbling. The crowds arrived to find there place at one of 14 tables spread up and down the main road through the field.
Winemaker Joseph Carr joined us for the evening and presented four wines from his cellars to pair with the various dishes Todd’s kitchen sent forward. Many thanks to Joe and the folks at Ruby Wines Inc for their help with the evenings event.
Todd’s first dish out the door was a duo of crostinis. One with a brightly hued beet hummus and collard greens. This was a huge hit and the beet hummus will soon be available on the shelves in the Farmstand if it isn’t already. The other crostini was a carefully phrased “crostini con la lingua”: Hillcrest corned beef tongue, with a slaw of Brussels sprouts, apples and horseradish. This was also relished by many and a similar variant has found its way onto the specials menu at the deli already. Keep an eye peeled for it!
The appetizer course brought another bread based duel, this time homemade flatbread, the first with our famous baby arugula pesto and heirloom tomatoes, now available in the Farmstand as well. the second a rather unique combo of kale, caponata, feta cheese and our own homemade lamb bacon, another of Todd’s specialities.
The salad course again was a feast unto itself with three vastly different salads. The bowl of greens, this time largely rainbow chard, was dressed with a Hole Mole Pepper and Corn Vinaigrette, now available on the shelves. A red pepper vinaigrette dressed a “kitchen sink” salad full of farm veggies like carrots and green beans. Finally a watermelon and tomato salad popped with cool tastes and hot colors as a refreshing end to the salad course, dressed with goat cheese, basil and pickled melon rind.
For the entree, in the waning light and amid ever more fully stuffed patrons, we presented them with stuffed peppers. Todd’s high brow version used our homegrown Merlot, Dove, and Bluejay peppers as serving dishes for braised short ribs, corn and Taza Chocolate. A crunchy kale and tomato curry provided the base for a moist and flaky Maine Sole. A full vegetarian option of “oh so many” beans, dressed a variety of nine different green and wax beans in locally grown Spelt and a Romesco Sauce.
The night was particularly dark by the time dessert rolled out, but the taste was succulent enough it had us seeing stars anyway. Jen and her pastry department conjured up a cake made from SunnycrestOrchards peaches, polenta, and homegrown corn. Drizzled with a caramel and a side of sweet Crescent Ridge Vanilla Ice Cream, everyone rolled into the evening darkness rather content with the meal once again.
Darkness set in completely and the crew packed up while conversations trailed off into the candlelight. It really felt like summer was coming to a close right around us. Really feel blessed that we had such wonderful weather for all these events. Thanks to everyone who was able to join us this year at our summer dining series. Please stay tuned for upcoming events, there are sure to be many. We will focus on pure harvest for the next few weeks as we prepare for another big holiday season, and will be sure to be announcing more fun soon. We hope you’ll join us each and every opportunity!
So, first, I have to apologize for the delay, but sometimes with an event with a magnitude as great as this it takes a day or two to come down and catch a breath. I mean we were just blown away by the participation for our 8th annual Field Day and Customer Cooking Contest this year. We were even more thrilled that the concept of an ingredient based challenge went over so well. We will certainly be switching it up next year to another favorite or obscure Volante vegetable. Glad you guys really brought it with your corn dishes.
The popular dish seemed to be the cold corn salad, or Texas Caviar, as one contestant called it. While they were all beautiful and tasty their similarities worked against them and allowed some of the more out-there entrants to really stand alone, at least to our distinguished panel of judges.
Many thanks again to Mary Rolph Lamontagne who did double duty as EATS cookbook-signing author and cooking challenge judge for the day, Chef Dora Tavel-Sanchez Luz of The Farmhouse in Needham Center, and Chef Robert DeSimone of Spiga Ristorante on Highland Circle near the Needham-Newton Line. It is never easy to critique projects that so many aspiring chefs poured their passion into, but these three gave it their all. We also appreciate their very generous donations of time and prizes to the event.
So again, remember that key ingredient was Volante’s Homegrown Corn, and the judges were looking for Presentation, inclusion of Volante’s Homegrown Produce, and of course Taste. It was great to have some new contestants join our regular throng of competitors this go around. But top honors went to our always-a-bridesmaid challenger Ashley Hughson with her very unique Sweet Corn & Basil Ice Cream. This dish blew the judges away for its creativity, and well-balanced flavors, as well as getting high marks for presentation, each serving topped with a mint sprig and a Zucchini Cornmeal Cookie, which is a super treat on its own. We are really thrilled Ashley won this challenge, as one of her prizes is to move over to the judging panel next year and we can finally let her see what it’s like on that side of the table! Additionally she took home a bevy of other prizes including:
Not bad for a mornings work right?!
Here is the recipe for her Ice Cream and Cookie, it will also be available on the Recipe rack in the Farmstand along with the second and third place recipes plus other seasonal tastes to try out.
Second Place went to a very excited, and prescient contestant who attempted to make one of Chef Dora’s favorite dishes, without even knowing it it seems. It was a beautifully hued and spicy Green Corn Soup/ Sopa Verde de Elote. Mexican flavors really made this dish sing. the judges thought it was creative and well-flavored. The heat of the soup balanced well with the heat of the day as it turned out. Lauren Murphy, the runner-up chef, took home a similarly lovely prize package including:
Third Place this year went to Scott Kinder, for his Corn-ish Quiche. This struck me as the perfect breakfast food, so it was great having winners that consisted of three very different types of cuisine from breakfast, to appetizer to dessert. Good job for taking the challenge to incorporate Corn in such varying ways. Scott took home the following prizes for his efforts:
All contestants received a coupon to start their next homegrown produce project, a shopping bag, and gratitude from us for their gracious competitive nature.
Scott’s dish recipe follows:
Thanks to everyone for helping out and participating with the fun event. Of course your next chance at the fame and fortune that a Volante Farms Cooking Contest affords is this October 19th for our Annual Apple Pie Baking Contest. With several types of apples already available it is never too early to start honing your crust skills!