Great Plates: Sunny Side Up

Eggs from our friends at Oliver Farms, Tomatoes & Radish fresh from a farm vendor at Royal Oak Farmer's Market and herbs from The Rogue Estate garden including Sorrel & Licorice Basil and finishing kick from pickled green peppercorns.

Unloved Veggie: The CSA

As the resident vegetarian my goal is to introduce the concept of veggies to the normally meat-centric food writing you see here at Rogue Estate.  This series of posts will be intended to introduce or explore some of the underused or misunderstood vegetables seen at the supermarkets or farmer's markets. This post is to introduce people to the concept of the CSA or community sustained agriculture.  The CSA is a pretty basic concept of basically purchasing a share of a farmer or collective of farmers output.  The CSA service has a few different options and concepts behind them.  Most CSA's operate by having individuals purchasing a "share" of the farm's output before the season starts.  This allows the farmers to fund the farm during slower months and gives them capital to use for seasonal start costs such as seeds and supplies.  Some CSA farms have work options that give reduced cost to the customer in exchange for a work share that the customer provides by working a day or even a few hours at the farm.  Sometimes this work share is once a month or more depending on the farms needs or harvest schedule.  The schedule varies by farm and region but most will run from May through September sometimes later.  The great advantage is that you get seasonal fresh produce and a relationship with the people who grew it. The CSA is a great way for people to get involved with their food and their community as these CSA's are generally localized.  The CSA will either drop off the share at a central location or farmer's market or will require the customer to pick up their share from the farm directly.  Some CSA's allow their customers to specify what their likes and dislikes are and in some cases allow the customer to choose their exact product. My own experience with CSA's was cultivated over two years with a share of the Wild Way Out CSA based out of Coldwater.  The owner, Kate Weilnau, is a small-scale sustainable organic farmer who had a pick-up point nearby and had the interesting concept of a "wild" option that included wild and foraged goods.  The CSA introduced me to many unfamiliar vegetables and Kate had options and suggestions as to how to prepare them.  The "wild" option introduced me to many interesting things I had never had before including stinging nettles, burdock leaf and root, cattail pods and shoots, amaranth, purslane, wild grapes (which turned into a fantastic grape jelly), chestnuts and my absolute favourite rattail radishes.  Megan and I decided not to renew our share this year because we've now discovered enough vegetables that we like and we know where to find them, plus we put in a bunch of vegetables in our garden based on what we learned from Kate's offerings. The CSA is a great way for people to get to know where there food comes from and helps to support small-scale local farmers by giving them an outlet for their efforts.  It also gives the unadventurous or the overwhelmed a good starting point for culinary creativity.  You'll have a bag or box of fresh vegetables in front of you and you'll need to discover or learn how to prepare it.  Most CSA's are vegetable based but there are an increasing number of  farms that offer meat shares and dairy shares (in fact it is almost impossible to buy raw milk unless you "own" a share of a cow).  The best starting points are Local Harvest at www.localharvest.com and also at your local farmer's market.  Many farm market vendors also offer CSA's with pick-ups available at your local market or it gives the farmer the idea that there may be people interested in a farm share CSA option.

TBIFOM #10: Jumping Off the Rosé Bandwagon

(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of somewhat regular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) Jumping Off the Rosé Bandwagon In my part of the midwest, the last 2-3 years have seen a massive increase in the popularity of good dry Rosé wines. The usual excellent French and Italian suspects are present, but added to the mix are Spanish, South American, South African, and even a few great Michigan pours. My local grocery is carrying at least 40 different Rosés this Spring/Summer, and only 1 or 2 are the dreaded sweet "White Zinfandel". I adore chilled rosé through the Summer, and I was hunting for something unfamiliar. I scored that in spades, from a place I never really knew existed. Lanzarote. Lanzarote is a Spanish territory in the Canary Islands, at the edge of the E.U., and off the coast of Southern Morocco. They were also the last stop of Spanish galleons on their way to the new world. It's a volcanic island of striking, harsh beauty, with really fascinating viticulture. I had no idea what to expect from this mysterious little wine-making island before I opened the bottle in front of me. 2010 Bermejo Rosé (About $24)

An attractive, unfamiliar shape, with minimal labeling. In addition there is a unique "spout" molded into the top.

Learn more about the winery (Spanish language only): http://www.losbermejos.com/index.php Learn more about the bottle in front of me (Spanish language only): http://www.losbermejos.com/view_product.php?product=7ROSBUM869 SEE: A gorgeous medium amberish pink, almost terra cotta. The bright clear color fades to a transparent rim. SWIRL: An extremely viscous cling to the glass which falls very slowly in curtains, not legs. SMELL: Unexpected. An initial note of spiced apples fades quickly to an unusual funk, with undertones of oxidized cherries. Very light notes of honey and sulphur follow. This appears to have been a difficult wine to coax from the fruit available. SIP: Heavy mouthfeel, dominated by tart cherry and sour cranberry. While not tannic, there are hints of red currant, oak leaf, and tomato skin. SAVOR: The closest relative to this wine I've experienced is a fino sherry. Very rustic. Final impression: Unlike any other rosé I have yet tried. Unique in my experience, complex, but a bit unapproachable. If you have a summer dish that you like with a very dry sherry, this might be a nice change of pace. Otherwise, there may be better values out there from mainland Europe. Pair with: The obvious rules apply, but I had to taste a few bites to confirm. I might pour this with wood-grilled squid or small fishes, grilled sweet peppers, olives. It takes to woody herbs quite well--lavender, oregano, thyme and sage.

Independence Day

I have declared my independence. I declare myself independent of those nasty, store bought tomatoes. My battle may be great, but I will win this war.  If for no other reason than the fact that my tomato plant army has taken over the garden! Considering that this is only the beginning of July, I'm pretty happy with their size and development.  It looks like I'll be able to harvest my first tomatoes soon, and they should keep going until mid September! Having been growing in containers for the last few years, this just amazed me.  All of my early gardening frustrations this year (like killing off all of my seedlings!  Whoops...) are now gone, replaced by the lush growth of organically grown tomato plants.  I cannot wait for that first harvest! This summer, what have you declared your independence from?  

Great Plates: The Brunch Underground

On Sunday Ian, Deb and Bob were fortunate enough to score reservations at a local "pop up" brunch club in Metro Detroit called "The Brunch Underground". The locally sourced (and well executed) menu:

--Bloody Mary bar featuring McClure's Mix & Pickles -- An open-faced duck eggs benedict entree, one with crispy pork belly, another with house-made tempeh and sauteed greens with a lightly dressed sprout salad and house made vegetarian kimchi. -- A petite scoop of house-made, locally grown, organic raspberry-ginger sorbet. -- Chazzano coffee

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