By Eric Harris, Wine Steward Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant
Eric’s musings on a memorable farm dinner before he moves from BWB West Hartford to BWB Boston
I couldn’t think of a more perfect end to my Barcelona West Hartford experience than our first- ever farm dinner. Upon arriving at Eddy Farm, the universe seemed to nod in approval as the very hot afternoon transitioned into a perfect breezy evening. Our fantastic hosts Andy and Haley greeted us with open arms and welcomed us to their gem of a farm tucked away in Newington, CT. As our guests arrived they were greeted with warm smiles, sangria, and an assortment of pintxos prepared by Chef Eric Stagl of BWB West Hartford.
Jamón and melon
While everything from the farm-fresh potato chips with chive sour cream to the chorizo stuffed olives drizzled with pedro ximenez vinegar was outstanding, the clear favorite of the reception was Chef Eric’s deviled eggs soaked in pickled beet juice. As I was playfully being chastised by our guests for ruining their appetites by offering them so many delicious snacks, Chef Eric came out to welcome everyone to the special farm dinner.
After this heartfelt welcome from Chef Eric and Andy, we were ready to start the dinner. Our first course was delicious heirloom tomato gazpacho made with Eddy Farm’s organic heirloom tomatoes. The wonderful flavor of the gazpacho was matched by its beautiful yellow orange color from the heirloom tomatoes. It was finished with butter poached shrimp, fresh cucumbers, and, of course, a touch of olive oil. The gazpacho was paired with Paul Zinck Pinot Gris. The touch of sweetness and fresh fruits in the wine were supported by its nice acidity, making it a delicious pairing for the slightly acidic, slightly sweet, summer soup.
Here I am, serving delectable pintxos
As the sun began to dip behind the tree line, it was time for our second course. Chef Eric prepared a delicious fluke crudo with watermelon, sun gold tomatoes, breakfast radish, and lemon basil. Each aspect of the dish worked in harmony. A touch of sweetness, a little crunch from the radish, and the delicious citrusy, herbal, flavor and aroma from the lemon basil, all accompanying the light, clean, fluke. The crudo was paired with Ulacia Txakoli.
For anybody unfamiliar with Txakoli, it is unique wine from the Basque region of Spain. It is characterized by its strong acidity, fresh fruits and minerality, and by its effervescence. This lovely clean wine held its own with the complex flavors of the crudo without overpowering the very light fluke. Everybody also seemed to be enthralled with the traditional, flashy long pour synonymous with Txakoli.
Chef Eric Stagl
Between courses, conversation grew to a steady hum. It was nice to stand back and watch everybody having such a lovely evening. The string lights and lanterns provided the perfect glow in an otherwise pitch black field. The night really had a somewhat majestic feel to it. For the third course, Chef prepared braised pork belly, fresh from Speckled Rooster Farm in Westport over Eddy Farm’s sweet corn. Yum! This was paired with El Coto, a Crianza from Rioja. The wine’s bright fruits matched the sweet flavor from the corn, while its youthful acidity cut through the delicious, rich fat of the pork belly.
Braised Speckled Rooster Farm pork belly over Eddy Farm’s sweet corn
The last course in our dinner was grilled salmon over a sweet corn succotash. This dish was late summer on a plate. The nice char on the perfectly cooked salmon accompanied the medley of fresh veggies wonderfully. As the first bites of the dish were taken, murmurs of pleasure were heard from the crowd. The salmon was paired with the Domain Carneros Pinot Noir. The wine’s smoky character played well with the char on the salmon. We gladly obliged requests for more of the delicious wine.
The final course: salmon over sweet corn succotash
The BWB West Hartford team: Kelly, Emery, Hilary, Eric, and Anna. Cheers to a wonderful evening!
Conversations continued long after the dinner was complete. There was a sense that nobody wanted to leave. Who could blame them? The setting was gorgeous, the weather was perfect, the wine was delicious, and the company was great. As I made my way around to each table to say goodbye to the many familiar faces, I was met with a chorus of well wishes and gratitude for the wonderful evening. I couldn’t help but be filled with pride. It was yet another fantastic Barcelona event. While we packed everything up to head back to the restaurant I enjoyed a glass of wine with our gracious host Andy to celebrate a successful evening. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect last night. Boston here I come.
Photos by Anna Beyer