Real Local Farms to Real Tables: Drovers Grill & MD Wine, Co.
I first discovered my little restaurant in Poplar Springs in the summer of 2010 when the trees were lush and the farm land was in full supply. Atop of a hill in an historic Maryland location on the National Pike, I was surrounded by Maryland farms and horse and wine country and immediately felt the need to integrate into the local community.
My vision of the cuisine was of the local experience found at a small villa in Tuscany where most of the menu was local and fresh. I planted a healthy herb garden right behind my kitchen so that I could literally jog outside to snip fresh basil, parsley, thyme, mint, etc. to season a dish. Local growers tell me what they have and deliver it, or I go to their farm and chose what looks best. The beauty of being the chef and owner is that I can decide on the spot what the menu will be so that what’s best at the local farm is what’s appearing on my menu.
My bar manager and mixologist, Jen, loves my herb garden for her beverages and will trot out to the deck for fresh mint for her juleps and mojitos and we both discovered that mulled basil is fantastic with certain Gin Martinis.
Local doesn’t always mean preferable, however. My first efforts at relying upon certain local suppliers did not match the quality of what my guests needed, and there were other challenges. Time stoppeth for no chef, and I have to weigh the costs of going to a local farm versus picking up a phone and having the produce magically appear. Thankfully I have a wonderful wife who can help on occasion, but please don’t ever ask about last year’s spinach harvesting. Let’s just say that rain, muddy soil, a tractor ride, and my wife and kids made for a spicy spinach delivery!
Local asparagus and strawberries are on my menu and fresh herb infused oils and salsas are replacing heavier sauces. My garde manger cook, Bennett, created a house-made sorbet dessert using local strawberries and I added a tequila strawberry sauce and our fresh mint for garnish. I can’t wait for the tomatoes!
Additional posts by Kevan Vanek
- If Vivaldi Composed with Food-, 04 Apr 2013 in Wine & Dine
- Valentino to Valentines, 04 Feb 2013 in Wine & Dine
- Holiday “Woes”- Slow Down and Enjoy the Ride, 06 Dec 2012 in Uncategorized
- Seasons Change: Let’s Fall- my Mom’s Best Meatloaf Ever, 17 Oct 2012 in Wine & Dine
- To Create or Discover?, 13 Aug 2012 in Wine & Dine
- Wine in the Poplars, 12 Apr 2012 in Wine & Dine
- Seasons of Wellness, 02 Feb 2012 in Health & Wellness