Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wine and Cheese

I am most fortunate to know lots of wonderful people. One of my most favorite is the young lady who helped me challenge my notions about healthy eating and who introduced me to the Weston A. Price Foundation. I have not asked her permission to use her name, and she is a very private person, so let's just call her my angel and leave it at that.

Anyway, my angel and I decided that we needed to get together and visit some agricultural operations. We picked the new farm connected to Sally Fallon; the P.A. Bowen Farmstead. Now, my angel lives in Washington, D.C. and she is right in the heart of it. Following my GPS instructions, I got to tour some interesting parts of the inner city. It was interesting to me to see so many people outside on a dreary February Saturday morning. Where I live, you just don't see folks outside en masse. You might see one or two people tending to chores and perhaps some children out riding bikes in the yard, but you just don't see lots of people out walking places, leaning on porch rails and socializing outside in the dead of winter. I recognize that many of the people I saw may not even own cars and rely entirely on public transportation. I saw many of those rolling grocery carts being pushed along the sidewalks: some filled with laundry and some with groceries. Almost no one walked alone. It reminded me of the year I lived in Chicago and I suspect D.C. has moved strongly in that direction. My angel does not own a car and while she occasionally rents one, she relies on public transportation for 99% of her travels.

I knew that there would not be a farm tour on the day we were visiting the Bowen Farmstead, but we were primarily after groceries that we could not normally find at home. I was seeking chicken feet for use with my chicken stock. My angel was just looking for whatever looked good.

I did not see chicken feet in the freezer when we arrived, but I did find some scrapple (liver pudding) that had NO fillers! I cannot tell you how exciting that was. I did ask about the chicken feet and low and behold, the gentleman running the counter went back into the rear of the store and found me some. He also found some pastured chicken eggs for my angel. She stocked up on some of the frozen ground meats as well.

Then we sampled some of the farm cheese. Oh my, oh my! Wonderful raw milk stuff this was. I seem to remember sampling four different types. I purchased a wedge of Creamy Dreamy Cheddar and a wedge of Barely Blue. What I really liked was the arrangement in the refrigerator. Each wedge was lined up behind a dated label so you knew exactly when it had been processed and how long it had aged. Since the dairy herd is in it's resting period, these cheeses may be some of the last of last year's products. All the cheeses were aged over 60 days.

Also in the coolers was Kombucha. I purchased two bottles. Yes, I know, it was crazy; but they were flavors I had not yet found locally, I was thirsty and I didn't feel like going out to the car to find the bottles I had brought along.

But something was missing and my angel pointed out that with such wonderful cheeses, we needed wonderful wine. That's when we discovered a card on the country for a little winery, which the store fellow told us was not too far away.

Well, thank the Goddess for my little Magellan GPS or we would have been forever lost in the farmland of Eastern Maryland. But we did have faith in the little gadget and she did a stunningly good job of directing us to The Romano Winery. What's interesting is that the only clue that there may be a winery there are the neat rows of grapevines you see as you come around the corner. There was no sign. There was no obvious building that appeared to be a wine tasting room or even a production area. But there was a fellow on a tractor and we turned into the driveway and drove up the hill to what was clearly the family home. We drove past a garage like building that had a neat little collection of bee hives out front and I wondered if perhaps they also brewed mead.

We parked, got out and actually called the number on the card. The lady who answered the phone advised that they were not open today which we understood. But as we were discussing what we could do with out time next, up the driveway came the gentleman on the tractor. We told him how we had found the place and why we had come. He asked us to hold on for a moment, dashed into the house and returned a few moments later. He told us to just go right in and his wife would set up for us.

So, we rang the doorbell and were greeted by the most lovely person. Her name is Jo-Ann and it turns out that the chap on the tractor was her husband, Joseph. She welcomed us into her home and did an outstanding job of leading us through the tasting of their wines. I have to tell you, these folks have made some very good wines. My angel and I purchased several bottles. We also purchased honey. We got to visit their former garage, now converted into a production room. Neat folks. Neat place. Highly recommend it.

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