Thursday, October 6, 2011

Farm To Maplewood

When friend Chef Michael Bick (Something's Fishy Catering) invited the hubby and I to a cocktail party he was catering at Maplewood at Newtown, I figured, sure, why not.

One, I cannot resist a party where I know the food will be delicious.

And, it was delicious. To compliment local wine, seasonal beers and hot apple cider were savory bite-sized combinations like duck breast topped with cranberry dressing on pumpkin bread, roast beef on garlic crostini, mushroom  tartlets and king salmon with avocado and chipotle cream in thin crisp corn taco shells. Oh, and I can't forget mentioning the dessert awesomeness: bite-sized spiced apple tartlets made with a butter phyllo crust and topped with a hint of  Peace Tree Desserts Applejack Cajeta Caramel and mini pecan cupcakes topped with maple butter cream and caramelized bacon!

Two, I cannot resist a party where the reason for the celebration is local food.

When you think of assisted living facilities, let's face it, farm fresh food is not what comes to mind when you think of the dining experience. Maplewood Communities (Assisted Living and Memory Care Residences) is looking to change that.

Maplewood has launched a farm to table initiative for all it's locations. The first step in their long-term plan is to source more meat, fruit and vegetables from local farms. 

It was great to get a tour of the Newtown location. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I had a chance to peak in on the residential dining area and saw that evening's menu included acorn squash and kielbasa from local farms as well as pumpkin ice cream from Dubl Twister of Danbury.  In the Country Store I saw Hannan Honey and locally-made jams. I learned that the staff encourages residents to share personal recipes and has a "food committee" so they can make suggestions for things that they'd like to have at meal time. And bottom-line, since transitioning to more locally sourced ingredients, they've found it's not more expensive over the long haul and that less food is going to waste. 

I love the fact that Maplewood is making food such a priority. Food connects us not only to the land, but also to our heritage, our family and each other. Not being able to cook a family recipe or not being able to taste (often people with dementia experience diminished senses) can rob you of those connections. The people living at Maplewood are part of a generation that cooked every meal, not to mention probably grew a lot of their own food. They know farm fresh food, in many ways, more than younger generations. They may not be making dinner for themselves anymore, but they can still enjoy food and recipes they know and love made with fresh ingredients.

According to Maplewood Chairman and CEO Greg Smith, sourcing from local farms is just the beginning ... think land, think greenhouses, think grow your own.

From what I could see everyone at Maplewood is honestly behind this farm to table initiative. I think it's exciting. Maybe it will start a trend.
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