Monday, July 23, 2012

Maplewood at the Farm

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending a farm to table reception at the senior living facility Maplewood at Newtown. As I've written about in the past, there is a company wide initiative at Maplewood to serve locally sourced food to residents. It's a challenging goal, but one that executives and staff alike seem very committed to meeting head on.

"We are here celebrating our food. Celebrating farm to table," said the Maplewood at Newtown Executive Director. "We are working with our farmers to nourish our residents."

It was beautiful summer evening to network and enjoy delicious bites in celebration of local farmers and local artisans. So, what was on the menu?

Well, while sipping DiGrazia wine and Thomas Hooker beer we savored a variety of Cato Corner cheeses, Beltane Farm goat cheese and locally made spreads along with passed hors d'oeuvres made with local farm and Maplewood grown ingredients. There was chilled watermelon soup with yogurt and white wine, Belgian endive leaves topped with whipped blue cheese, walnuts and a touch of local honey, Ahi tuna with ginger aioli, crushed wasabi peas on a sesame cracker, figs wrapped in prosciutto drizzled with local honey, Spring rolls with shrimp, ginger, carrot, cucumber and mint, and lump crabmeat topped with grapefruit and avocado.

For a little something sweet there was creme brûlée with berries, mascarpone cheese topped with poached pear and crumbled pistachios, and mini ice cream sandwiches. All the evening's tasty eats were made by Maplewood Chef Adam Lewis. 

At an institutional level, the amount of ingredients necessary to feed all the residents is pretty darn large. Finding locally grown ingredients in the volume they need it in is no easy task, but Chef Lewis said he's up to the challenge. Right now Maplewood locally sources eggs, bread, fish, milk, cheese and some vegetables.  And while every meal isn't 100% local just yet, they are working on it by creating stronger relationships with local farmers.

Growing their own is also a piece of this food puzzle. The on-site garden at Maplewood at Newtown was expanded ten fold this year. For Chef Lewis it's always special to see a resident's excitement when he passes by with big baskets of just picked lettuce from the garden. It seems like it's more exciting for Chef too. 
Having studied and worked in Vermont, Chef Lewis is no stranger to using local ingredients and is energized to bring better food to the seniors he serves at Maplewood.


It'll be exciting to see how the Maplewood farm to table initiative continues to unfold and hopefully it will inspire other large institutions to think local too.
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