During a recent culinary exploration in our kitchen, we bought all of the “seconds”- you know, the apples that aren’t perfectly shaped for your grocery store display…but it’s the same damn apple. So anyway, we bought all of these seconds from Three River Farmer’s Alliance, a group of local farmers who offer year-round delivery of locally grown products to homes, restaurants, stores, and other wholesale buyers in the New Hampshire Seacoast region and beyond.
The apples came from Brookdale Farm in Hollis, New Hampshire. Pete Labrie, being the farmer that he is (which is so excellent for us and the type of food we make) brought his apple grinder and press from his farm and to grind and press fresh cider in the kitchen- which was super cool. They hooked the grinder up to an electric mower à la Tim the Toolman Taylor…and it was epic. We were all holding sheet trays like spartans while apples were flying everywhere. It was a silly moment of fun but to see it, taste it, and watch it oxidize was a moment that no one else would have.
The best part is getting the chance to taste fresh cider before it oxidizes. That’s a special and fleeting moment. It’s really amazing. And it’s actually my first food memory as a youth. I was on an elementary school field trip and we got to taste it right out of the press, cloudy and clear, not brown like you see in the store; I still remember exactly how it tasted. It was very special to share that experience with our staff and connect with them in that moment.
We put some of the cider in our vinaigrettes and sauces, and the bar used it for some drinks. We took all of the mash leftovers and turned it into apple sauce which was available to guests, on our kids menu, and featured in an apple crisp dessert. I’m not going to lie…we had a LOT of applesauce.
It’s real food. That’s what we mean by bringing food closer to our guests. We could have probably bought cider from Brookdale, but to be able to bring that experience to our team, support local agriculture, and to understand the craft, that story of an apple translates a lot deeper into our conversations with guests. It’s something very important to us and we look forward to exploring further. As they say, an apple a day makes your entire kitchen staff think they’re spartan warriors…or something like that.