My Summer Job at Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco: Part 6

My name is Sinclair Welch, currently a sophomore at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies concentrating in Food Systems. Prior to my studies at UVM, I attended the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, where I received a culinary degree. This summer I am working for Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco in their South Norwalk offices with Farah Masani, a farmer and the Director of Culinary Procurement helping with food sourcing, inventory, distribution and farming. I will be writing weekly blogs to give you a peek at what goes on behind the scenes.

Last Friday, I drove up to Cherry Grove farm in Newtown, CT to meet Joel Thompson, one of the many farmers that supplies fresh produce to Barcelona. At the farm, Joel showed me around his three fields where he grows produce, and then he took me to his blueberry field where he has 450 blueberry bushes.

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There, Joel and I spent a few hours picking what seemed like an endless supply of blueberries. There were so many berries that Joel and I were able to spend the whole time working on only a couple of bushes. We were able to pick 40lbs of blueberries for Barcelona in one afternoon.

This is the last week of my internship at Barcelona, as I will be returning to The University of Vermont in August. During my time with Barcelona, I learned all about farming, purchasing, distributing and warehousing for restaurants. I enjoyed my time here so much that I will be back again next summer to help Farah.

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My Summer Job at Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco: Part 5

My name is Sinclair Welch, currently a sophomore at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies concentrating in Food Systems. Prior to my studies at UVM, I attended the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, where I received a culinary degree. This summer I am working for Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco in their South Norwalk offices with Farah Masani, a farmer and the Director of Culinary Procurement helping with food sourcing, inventory, distribution and farming. I will be writing weekly blogs to give you a peek at what goes on behind the scenes.

Rooftop Garden Update
A lot of work has gone into our garden since we planted on June 1.  Our cucumbers had to be trellised and our tomatoes staked.  In fact, we had to care for our tomatoes in a variety of ways.

There are two different kinds of tomato plants — determinate and indeterminate. Indeterminate tomato plants (also known as “vining” tomatoes) grow up to ten feet tall and produce fruit throughout the season. They will continue to grow and produce fruit until they are killed by the first frost.

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Determinate tomato plants (also called bush tomatoes) are more compact and grow only three or four feet tall. They will stop growing once the fruit has ripened on the bud, but all of the tomatoes ripen around the same time.

We have both types of tomatoes on our rooftop garden. These kinds of tomato plants require different care. Indeterminate plants should have the “suckers” pruned so that they can use their energy to grow “up” and not “out.” Suckers are the small shoots that grow out of the joint of the plant. Since they grow like a vine, indeterminate tomato plants require lots of staking. Determinate plants, however should not have the suckers pruned and don’t need to be staked because of their bush shape.

We staked our tomatoes using the stake and weave technique, using one stake for each planter and then looping the string around each stake. We used three strings each, eight inches apart.

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A month and a half after planting, we have our first signs of corn! We have lots of green tomatoes and we are seeing the start of our cucumbers and peppers.

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We have trained our cucumbers to grow vertically on a trellis made of twine. This makes it easier to harvest the cucumbers and keeps them off the ground, which helps protect them from pests and disease. This technique also helps us save space, which is limited on our roof top garden.

We’ll have lots of great pictures when we harvest – so watch for future blogs.

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My Summer Job at Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco: Part 4

My name is Sinclair Welch, currently a sophomore at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies concentrating in Food Systems. Prior to my studies at UVM, I attended the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, where I received a culinary degree. This summer I am working for Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco in their South Norwalk offices with Farah Masani, a farmer and the Director of Culinary Procurement helping with food sourcing, inventory, distribution and farming. I will be writing weekly blogs to give you a peek at what goes on behind the scenes.

Barteca directly sources their food locally, nationally and internationally. We work with producers and farmers in Spain to import meat, cheeses and olive oils. This directly sourced food comes together in our small warehouse in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Most of our cheese comes from Forever Cheese, a Long Island based company that sources genuine cheese from Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Croatia. My favorite is Mitica Mahon. It is a 4-month aged cows’ milk cheese that is made exclusively on the island of Menorca. It is a moist cheese that has a mild, nutty taste and can be used at table or for melting.

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We purchase some of our oil directly from La Boella in Spain, where they have cultivated olive trees for more then eight centuries. Our charcuterie is sourced from New England Charcuterie, who purchases naturally raised New England pigs to make Chorizo Seco. We source our Jamon Serrano and Iberico ham from Monte Nevado in Spain.

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The Jamon Iberico is featured in our Quail Egg Crostini with Foie Gras Butter and Iberico Ham, as well as on the cheese and meat plates. Barteca’s direct food sourcing and personal relationships with our suppliers ensures quality products and reasonable pricing. Small farmers and businesses benefit from our support, and our guests benefit from the fresh, quality ingredients they enjoy in our restaurants.

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My Summer Job at Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco: Part 3

My name is Sinclair Welch, currently a sophomore at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies concentrating in Food Systems. Prior to my studies at UVM, I attended the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, where I received a culinary degree. This summer I am working for Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco in their South Norwalk offices with Farah Masani, a farmer and the Director of Culinary Procurement helping with food sourcing, inventory, distribution and farming. I will be writing weekly blogs to give you a peek at what goes on behind the scenes.
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At our Barcelona Fairfield location, we have a garden where we grow fresh vegetables and herbs for the restaurant. In our six raised beds we grow our signature pardon peppers, radishes, cucumbers, chives, Asian greens, basil, many other herbs, and flowers. Each Friday, Farah and I go to the garden to harvest for the restaurant, allowing us to have the freshest ingredients possible for the weekend.

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Our first radish harvest of the season yielded lots of beautiful veggies. These radishes went from the garden to the Fairfield kitchen, and then onto your plate later that night.

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Here we are at the Fairfield garden with kids from the Giant Steps School in Southport, CT. We taught them how to grow and harvest different plants, and how to maintain a garden. In a single day, we will harvest an entire bed, turn the soil and then replant something new to harvest the next week. Sometimes we use a “cut and come again” technique when harvesting, which is where you cut the plant two inches above the soil to ensure it grows back quickly.

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My Summer Job at Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco: Part 2

My name is Sinclair Welch, currently a sophomore at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies concentrating in Food Systems. Prior to my studies at UVM, I attended the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, where I received a culinary degree. This summer I am working for Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco in their South Norwalk offices with Farah Masani, a farmer and the Director of Culinary Procurement helping with food sourcing, inventory, distribution and farming. I will be writing weekly blogs to give you a peek at what goes on behind the scenes.

Every Thursday I go to the Westport Farmers’ Market with different Barcelona Chefs and Chef Mike Hazen from Westport’s bartaco to select fresh, local ingredients for our restaurants. At the market, vendors sell everything from fresh greens, pickles and tomato plants to local Connecticut cheese, iced coffee and brick oven pizza.

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Tomorrow, June 26th, Chef Mike will be featured in the Westport Farmers’ Market’s “Chef at the Market Program.” From 10:15 to 11:00 he will be preparing a market taco. The recipe and pictures of our market taco will be featured on CTbites, a Fairfield County food blog. The market taco will be featured on our Westport bartaco’s menu during the summer months, to help connect our guests to local farmers and local food.

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Fairfield Green Food Guide Writer Analiese Paik, me (Sinclair Welch), Barcelona’s New Haven Chef Frank Proto, Farah Masani, and local Farmer Patty Popp, with a selection of local produce from the Westport Market…bringing our chefs and our local farmers together.

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