Inspired by the Beauty and Bounty of Nature’s Synergies

Nick Antonaccio
Nick Antonaccio

If it grows together, it goes together.

We’re moving into the height of the growing season here in the Hudson Valley. I visited the Pleasantville Farmers Market this past weekend and was smitten with the array of farm-fresh produce, dairy products, organic meats and other culinary components that tantalized my home-chef’s palate.

The spring offerings are especially appealing to me. Yes, in several weeks, beautiful tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and berries will be abundant at the market. But there is a special attraction to the market as we come out of the doldrums of late winter into the vibrancy of spring.

A cornucopia of greenery, be it lettuces, peas or asparagus or highly seasonal offerings such as ramps, spring garlic and fiddlehead ferns, provide inspiration after the profusion of flowering spring shrubs I admired on my short journey to the market.

Of course, my wine-centric mind immediately segued to the wines being offered. This week Fjord Winery was featured in a stall next to its Hudson Valley neighbor, Neversink Farms. I began to focus on a theme for a meal.

If it grows together, it goes together.

My palate began to salivate as I meandered from stall to stall, picking up fresh greens along the way, staples for a spring garden salad to pair with a Fjord Rosé.

If it grows together, it goes together.

This farm- and vineyard-to-table practice has been evolving for millennia. Early man’s trial-and-error approach to farming and winemaking became intertwined with the culture and traditions of societies across the globe. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans cultivated grapes and produced wine as an accompaniment to meals prepared from indigenous crops and local cattle, hogs and lamb.

The Romans developed and refined food culture in each land they conquered. They sought to plant grapes that were compatible with local crops. These are the symbiotic practices that are sustained today.

When I travel abroad, I’m impressed with the seeming coincidental compatibility of certain food dishes with regional wines. How many of us have marveled at how well Chianti pairs with local tomato dishes or bistecca alla fiorentina in Tuscany? Or Barolo and Barbaresco wine with the hearty game and fowl dishes of Piedmont? Or remember enjoying a light seafood meal in Provence with a locally produced Rosé?

None of these ethereal pairings are coincidental. They evolved over centuries of experimentation and refinement.

If it grows together, it goes together.

Here in the United States, we’ve come full circle in the last hundred years. Until the late 20th century the farm-to-table diet was common; as global trade evolved and modern transportation methods emerged, our palates expanded well beyond the local farm. The abundance of food ingredients grew exponentially and year-round availability of produce from across the globe became the standard. Fresh berries in the dead of winter? No problem. Cargo ships and planes delivered fresh South American strawberries to our doorsteps every day.

However, over the past 25 years our focus and sensibility has changed. Now, we seek out local foodstuffs whenever possible. We are supporting local farmers and winemakers, who are gaining a foothold in the marketplace – and the carbon footprint of their products is much smaller than that of imported food sources.

The United States is a mosaic of ethnic diversity – in our culture and our cuisine. Recently, winemakers have taken this diversity into the vineyards. Indigenous grape varietals of distant wine regions have been acclimated to the American terroir, retaining Old World charm but expressing themselves with a new freedom not found in their native lands.

Next week I’ll explore this recent phenomenon as it has manifested itself in California and the American Northwest. California now grows many international food ingredients and produces wines from many international grapes. Local wines and food have become the new international standard for the farmlands of central and northern California.

In the meantime, I’ll be heading to the Pleasantville Farmers Market this weekend for another experiment in pairing local food products and wine.

Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at nantonaccio@theexaminernews.com or on Twitter @sharingwine.

 

 

 

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