Terroir, as concept, sits high atop the totem pole of culinary ideologies. Its conceit? To capture, through the medium of fruit, plant or flesh, an existential snapshot of one place, at one moment – a moment informed by the interplay of soil, sun, wind and rain over many seasons – and to transmit that distillation of life, nature and time into our own consciousness, via the palate. It’s all about the pursuit and appreciation of the taste of a specific place, at a specific time.
While this pursuit may settle quite well in a bottle of wine, it’s harder for restaurants, logistically anyway, to capture this essence in the context of an entire plate, let alone a full meal. Even the most dedicated locally-focused farm-to-table chefs find themselves fusing, say, greens from New Jersey with pastured beef from upstate, sliced and seared perhaps, and seasoned with French sea salt. This is good, but offers more of an impressionistic landscape of a region than sharpened portrait of place.
Always up for a challenge, the folks behind Williamsburg’s Parish Hall and Egg aim to tighten that focus with ‘Taste of a Place,’ a new dinner series that will construct meals entirely of components gathered from groups of small farms situated within a few miles of each other.
Here then, are the details, from George Weld himself, don of the Williamsburg Farm-to-Table mafia, and owner of Parish Hall, Egg and Goatfell Farm:
This month, Parish Hall and Egg restaurants begin a series of dinners called Taste of a Place. In these dinners, we’ll explore the culinary character of our foodshed through meals drawn entirely from small agricultural and cultural areas.
For our first dinner, on Wednesday, July 18th, we’ll celebrate the produce of a small pocket of the northern Catskills centered around our own farm in Oak Hill, New York.
Food for the dinner will come from these farms, all within a few minutes of each other:
The dinner will be served at Parish Hall starting at 7:30. Dinner will include 4 courses and will cost $75.
The second dinner in this series will be held in early August and will focus on the 5 boroughs of New York City. It will also celebrate the publication of Robin Shulman’s new book, Eat the City (pub. date: 7/10/12; Crown)–we’ll announce the details of this dinner within the week.
Intrigued? For reservations, call Parish Hall at 718.782.2602.