By Ira Barrows
The Slow Food movement began in Italy in 1989. As the name implies, Slow Food is the antithesis of fast food and not merely in speed of delivery. Adherents to the Slow Food philosophy of which Carol and I are two, believe in locally grown and raised food and sustainable agriculture.
The Harrisburg Convivium sponsors many events, most notably semi-annual “Slow Suppers” at HACC, with the culinary students, under the chefs’ supervision, visit the producers, plan a menu which they then prepare and serve.
Before the meal guests have the opportunity to meet the producers and sample hors d’oeuvres made from the various products.
All wines served at the latest dinner on April 23 were produced at Chaddsford Winery in Chester County. During the cocktail hour we tasted “Naked Chardonnay” Pinot Noir and Rubino, a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and syrah.
Meats from Jonas Stoltzfus’ Jujo Acres farm in Perry County were crafted into smoked pastrami, air cured tenderloin and pickled tongue. Many guests, Carol among them, were surprised to learn that tongue is actually delicious, especially if you don’t have to see it au naturel since it looks a lot like what it is. Mr. Stoltzfus was impressed by the students’ hors d’oeuvres and the use of his grass fed Limousin beef. This is a French breed of cattle with lean meat and high meat-to-bone ratios. Mr. Stoltzfus is among a small number of producers who do not feed his cattle any grain. You can tell the difference!
The first course at dinner was the freshest, crispest salad I have ever had, a mixture of baby lettuces from HACC’s own greenhouse garden, together with Camelot Farms feta, baby radishes and just the right amount of citrus vinaigrette. Chaddsford Spring Wine, made from vidal, seyval blanc and vignoles, French-American hybrid grapes, provided a slightly sweet, crisp counterpoint to the salad. Rosemary sourdough rolls were so good I had to have two. HACC uses its own 4 year old starter and fresh rosemary from the garden.
Jujo Acres short ribs were braised and then teased over olive oil potatoes with a hearty red wine sauce. While not as fatty as commercial beef, the Limousin has a big earthy flavor that combined well with Chaddsford’s award winning Chambourcin.
A tangy lemon ricotta cake with blackberry coulis and crystallized flowers made a light ending to the meal. Chaddsford Late Harvest Riesling added sweetness to the dessert course.
These dinners are always interesting, well-planned and well prepared. The service is certainly very earnest so we are willing to overlook some small glitches. The culinary program requires that cooks and front of house personnel must occasionally switch roles so that they will learn what goes on in each domain. These young people are the future of our restaurants and they are off to a fine start.