The farm-to-table practices of Black Cat Farm-Table-Bistro and Bramble and Hare are well-known guiding principles for the restaurants. In the growing seasons, the Black Cat Farm grows most of the vegetables and meat for the savory dishes for the restaurants.
What is lesser-known is how other parts of the restaurants find inspiration in and incorporate vegetables from the farm, too.
It is uncommon to associate dessert with vegetables. Yet, recently, a parsnip panna cotta with beet creme fraiche and passion fruit sorbet was on the dessert menu. Both the parnips and beets came from the Black Cat Farm.
Pastry chef Thomas Vigil says that an alchemy happens when parsnips and cream combine. When making desserts with parsnips, he generally grates the parsnips, simmers them with cream or other dairy, strains the grated parsnips, and incorporates the parsnip-infused ingredient when making the desserts.
If you patronize Bramble and Hare restaurant, the odds are good that you will see Griffin Farro mixing drinks at the bar. Griffin tries to regularly incorporate seasonal vegetables and herbs from the farm. He says that an issue that comes up when doing so is the form that he uses in cocktails.
Vegetable puree has a fresh taste but also a short shelf life of one to two days. Syrups made from vegetables have a concentrated pure taste and last longer but sometimes contain sugar, which is in disfavor with some customers.
When Griffin opts to make vegetable syrups, he generally starts with equal parts vegetable, sweetener, and water. He tastes the syrup constantly as he makes, adjusting proportions as it cooks. Most often, he adds water, if he adds anything. He then adds them to cocktails and to tonic to make sodas.
Sometimes, he uses vegetables as an accent or garnish in his cocktails. For instance, he might chop carrots and simmer them until sweet, then macerate the strained carrots in absinthe. Griffin currently uses these macerated carrots in a cocktail on the menu called “Skokan’s Garden.” This cocktail consists of tequila, Amaro Albano, carrot syrup, and grapefruit juice.