Elmhirst’s Culinary Corner
On a cold February day a chef, a gardener and a team leader walk into a bar…
There’s no punchline. The bar is closed and we pick a table near the window so we can see the collection of catalogues and notes in front of us. Despite the bitter cold outside, the three of us are gathered to make plans for the coming season’s herb and vegetable gardens here at the resort. The catalogues are filled with vibrant pictures of tomatoes, squash, radishes, edible flowers and herbs. The trio’s notes have wish lists, diagrams and concerns about how to best manage the farm to table approach of our hands-on kitchen garden.
“Can we stage the tomatoes, so we get a small crop each week rather than bushels in late August?”
“What about grape and cherry tomatoes? Black prince? Yellow teardrop? Zebra plum? Heirloom Beefsteak?”
“Do we really need so much zucchini? Does anybody really need that much zucchini?”
“If we plant edible flowers, will we use them?”
“Do we really have to plant radishes?”
It’s a collaborative effort. We talk about finding ways for the pastry shop to use rosemary, the bartenders to use basil or mint in mojitos, and growing enough parsley to make chimichurri sauce every week for our “Tuned Up Tuesdays” smokehouse barbecues on the boardwalk. Our conversation drifts to the communal feel of serving our barbecue beef and smoked turkey wings with fresh picked lettuce and vegetables for salad and locally brewed craft beer. It feels like the best part of eating local.
We discuss the possibility of removing a scrubby brush from the hill near the kitchen door. Tidying up the hillside and planting herbs where they can thrive in the morning sun and be within easy reach of the kitchen crew. There’s a brief conversation about the feasibility of planting sprouts in trays to be used as greens and garnishes. We agree that this is a team effort, we’ll all help water, weed, harvest and preserve what comes from the garden. There’s a long history of farming and gardening here at the resort, we’re not re-inventing the wheel, we’re re-committing to the perfect idea of the wheel.
The meeting is quick, covers a lot of ground. There’s soup to be made for the next day, striploins to be cut into steaks, wine and beer deliveries to be put down in the cellar, paths to be cleared of snow and ice, sidewalks to be salted. Even taking the time for planning ahead only gets a bit of our attention today. But the seeds have been planted. The garden will come.
Culinary Team Leader, Elmhirst’s Resort