Va La’s Zafferano

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Anthony Vietri does not make a lot of wine; neither does Anthony make many types of wine. So a new, limited release from Va La is worth noting, and just as summer is reaching its midpoint, we have another one in Zafferano.  Like all Va La wines, it’s made with a combination of estate-grown grapes - this time, in the style of an “orange” wine.  Orange wines leave the juice in contact with the skins before being separated (hence the color).  I’ve had several orange wines before, French and Italian, and I have found their style to be as varied as wines designated “white” or “red.”  Not surprisingly, therefore, the Zafferano manages to stand apart from other orange wines just as Va La’s other wines stand apart from more traditional white and red.

Version 2

The first thing I noticed was the deep, rich color. I actually delayed smelling and tasting it just so I could stare at it. The nose of this wine is of some fruit, but I don’t know what type of fruit it is.  It isn’t red fruit, black fruit, stone fruit, or berries.  The closest thing I could think of would be watermelon, but an intensely scented and flavored watermelon.  I mean, like the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted.  Then, I smell flowers - honeysuckle in particular.  Once I tasted it, I was surprised how those sweet aromas were combined with a taste devoid of sweetness.  In other words, this wine could pair beautifully with any local food the summer spurs you to eat.  So, combining a gorgeous scent with a dry taste, properly chilled, makes for an incredibly refreshing glass on a summer afternoon.

And that’s exactly what we did. 

Posted by Kevin on 07/16 at 05:59 AM

You Must Return Here With A Shrubbery

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Several years ago, I was enjoying a drink (at a now-shuttered restaurant) so much that I complimented the bartender on my cocktail.  He nodded in agreement and replied, “Shrubs are cool.” I am ashamed to admit I had no idea what he was talking about.  (That’s not entirely true.  There was muddled thyme in my cocktail, so I assumed he was referring to that.)  Only very recently did I connect that statement with the Martha Washington Raspberry Shrub served at City Tavern, even though I have walked by the sign advertising said shrub at least a thousand times.

Needless to say, I am an extremely late-comer to the possibilities of fruit shrubs.  (For those readers who truly are the last people on Earth to learn of them, shrubs are fruit-based syrups mixed with vinegar.) One day several weeks ago, I decided to experiment with some underripe strawberries, using this recipe.  After a little more research, I came about this from Michael Dietsch. Taking Dietsch at his word, I used the cold method for my next shrub.  However, I wasn’t using strawberries this time; I was using rhubarb recently picked from our garden.


The result was definitely more flavorful, and Dietsch is absolutely correct that the acid mellows in time, but this shrub did not have the viscosity of the cooked one.  I am confident enough in the cold method to use it for any other fruit, but given the texture of rhubarb, I think I would use the “hot” method in the hopes it might further break down and exude its juices.  Nonetheless, Dietsch’s cocktail recipe was much better than the previous, and it made a delicious cocktail with club soda and Bluecoat Gin

Posted by Kevin on 07/13 at 06:30 PM

Unionville Vineyards

Saturday, January 03, 2015

I’d first read about Unionville in reading about the Judgement of Princeton and, of course, through Carlo De Vito’s East Coast Wineries blog.  This reading prepared me for the quality of wine.  What it did not prepare me for was the gorgeous countryside adjacent to the Sourland Mountain Preserve.  This is some of the most idyllic wine country we have seen in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey. 

Unionville is actually four separate farms making wine under one moniker and winemaker, Cameron Stark.  As a result, the wines vary greatly in style, from dry whites to ports.  Each tasting constitutes eight wines, so we were able to sample a large portion of that variety.  The tasting room is a gorgeous, bi-level, repurposed barn, and our server was knowledgeable and amiable.  It is so nice, and more rare than it should be, to have a conversation about the wines we were tasting.  We came away understanding the particularities of Unionville wines as well as a better understanding of winemaking in general.


Everything we tasted was of excellent quality, and if I didn’t leave with more bottles, it was only because there are so many excellent local wines and so few square feet in my house.  Therefore, I am always looking to take away the bottle or bottles that were most unique to that winery.  To my tasting, the Unionville’s chardonnays were the distinguishing wines: they had the most subtle hints of oak I have yet tasted, and the most prominent citrus flavors.  However, I wouldn’t want to reduce my description to only those terms; there is far more to them.  The Pheasant Hill Chardonnay, which came home with us, is so complex and varied that it deserves a long, slow sipping (and savoring) over a multi-course meal.



Posted by Kevin on 01/03 at 02:42 PM

TheScience and Art of Colonial Brewing

Friday, November 05, 2010


Philadelphia has a long and lush brewing history. Come to the Kite and Key this Saturday, Nov. 6th from 2-5pm to learn about Ben Franklin’s colonial brewing methods from awesome Franklin Institute science folks, who are also bringing some Ben artifacts and info on our founding father’s drinking habits. A brewer from Yard’s will be on had to demonstrate the science of brewing, and Kite and Key will offer Yard’s pint specials.

Kite and Key Restaurant and Bar
1836 Callowhill St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Posted by Erin on 11/05 at 02:43 PM

SNAP is here!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


During these hot and steamy days, you might be dreaming about fall campouts, fireside chats, and the smell of drying leaves. Lucky for you, SNAP, the new liquor for Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, has hit the shelves early. Experiment with this sweet and spicy treat - lighten it up with a refreshing summer punch and think warm and toasty for the Fall. A few recipes, below:


Posted by Erin on 07/29 at 05:10 PM

Support Mill Creek Farm with Free Local Beer and Food

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Come one, come all, and hurry - today is the last day to RSVP for the Yelp! Philly Homegrown Party. Check-out the architecture at CITYSPACE, enjoy a cocktail and a mini-makeover in the Beauty Parlor room, and if you have a little too much fun, Zipcar will take you home, for free! All donations from this event will benefit Mill Creek Farm. Who else will be there? Supper, National Mechanics, Franklin Mortgage, ROOT, Organic Spirits, Tierra Mia Organic Nail Spa, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and more.

Yelp! “Philly Homegrown Party”
Saturday March 20th 8-10pm
CITYSPACE, 2200 Walnut St. Philadelphia
RSVP and information: Click Here

Posted by Erin on 03/17 at 01:45 PM

Green Drinks Philly on Weds. Feb. 3rd!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Green Drinks Philly meets the first Wednesday of every month at Standard Tap in Northern Liberties. Open to anyone who considers themselves any flavor of environmentalist (that’s you, local eaters!), Green Drinks is an opportunity to hang-out, drink, and network with like-minded Philadelphians. Not only is Standard Tap a beautiful building in a convenient location, they source ALL local beers! Hurray! Join this international green drinking movement. And if you don’t happen to live in our fair city, find a Green Drinks in your town HERE.

Standard Tap
6:00 - 9:00 PM
2nd & Poplar St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Tel: 215 238 0630

Posted by Erin on 02/02 at 04:56 PM

Good News! Root is back on the shelves!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


After the holidays, it got impossible to buy Root on the shelves of our local liquor stores. FINALLY that situation has been rectified and Wine and Spirits is back in stock. You can purchase Root at these locations:

2nd Street
12th Street
19th & Chestnut
Society Hill
17th & JFK
Manayunk Main Street
South St

If you haven’t already found your favorite Root recipe, try some of the recipes features on the Art and the Age of Mechanical Reproduction website HERE.

Posted by Erin on 01/21 at 03:59 PM

Kick off BFBL week!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

bfbl banner

It’s almost Buy Fresh Buy Local Week, one of my favorite weeks of the summer!  smile

As the press release summarizes, BFBL Week is “over twenty-four fun, food-filled events to highlight the benefits of locally grown food, family farmers and sustainable agriculture.”  This year, several organizations and BFBL chapters collaborated to produce a regional calendar for southeastern PA; the events are scheduled 12-20 July, and the full event listing is here at

Everyone should come to the Kick-Off Party on 13 July (3-7 pm), which will be exciting this year because White Dog Community Enterprises and Farm to City are hosting it in the nifty, newly-rejuvenated Philadelphia Brewing Company building in Kensington!  Come support the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign!  If you aren’t already enjoying the new but loved PBC brews, this would be a perfect time to try them for the first time, and in case you want something to eat along with your drink, there will be chili made from local ingredients by Feast Your Eyes catering.  We’re also featuring local musicians and other local treats.

The following are some ideas for optimal enjoyment of the Kick-Off Party:
—bring your own cup for the beer (up to 16 oz.)
—remember that the brewery is accessible by public transit (the York-Dauphin stop on the El, or the 5 bus)
—volunteer for the event!  We need many volunteers for event setup, monitoring, and cleanup—and volunteers will get in free.

If you would like to volunteer for the event, email Joanna Pernick (joanna [at] with your name, phone number, and preference for an early or late shift.

Posted by Joanna on 07/02 at 04:41 AM

Dinner for one

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I think the main reason why the universe gave me a family for which I am responsible, is so that I stay in line. 

I have once again proven that, if left to my own devices, I surely would subsist strictly on a diet of red wine, peanut butter, salsa, crackers, refried beans and the internet.  Behold, my dinner:

mikaela's dinner


This is what happens when I eat alone.  Having no responsibilities to feed my only son a nutritious dinner, nor to remind my boyfriend how lucky he is to have a partner who cooks fabulous meals, clearly means one thing to me:  LAZINESS.  I won’t let this deter me, however, for I have actually convinced myself that this meal was a good choice, not an irresponsible one. Readers of this site will be with me I know, once I point out that this meal is comprised almost completely of local ingredients.

Aw yeah, just what I need:  reinforcement by way of rationalization to continue with this ridiculousness.

The wine is Chaddsford Winery’s 2006 Pinot Noir 25th Vintage.  It’s said to be a “light, delicate red with a mouth-filling combination of fruit and earthiness,” and I must whole-heartedly agree.  At about $15 a bottle, it’s my favorite, stand-by local red wine.  And that adorable little jar is filled with a sweet and sassy Rosemary Rosé herb jelly from Little Isobel.  The texture was a bit more watery than I’m used to, but the flavor was absolutely refreshing.  The unique labels and little sprig of Overbook Farm-grown rosemary suspended in the jelly really makes this product a local gem.  The crackers are not local and not remarkable.  They simply served as a vehicle to get the jelly to my mouth, and to cleanse my delicate and sophisticated palate in between sips of wine.  Ahem.

I’m thinking of using this dinner-for-one theme during One Local Summer.  But first, I suppose I’ll have to get rid of that family.

Posted by Mikaela on 05/17 at 03:02 PM

Kennett Square, Part One

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On Saturday, M and I made a pilgrimage to Kennett Square in Chester County.  I’ve been wanting to do this trip for some time, and when some of my in-laws gave me money at Christmas expressly to buy mushrooms (at my request), I knew it was time.

I’ll talk about the mushrooms in part two, because here I’d like to talk about the vineyard we visited.  Stargazers Vineyard and Winery ( embodies what Farm to Philly is all about—local, good food (or, in this case, drink) made by people who are interested in local, good food.  Stargazers has an additional draw, which is that they are deeply committed to sustainable farming.

Although we had to borrow my parents’ car to get there (it’s near Coatesville), it was well worth it.  The vineyard is open to the public Sundays from 12 to 5. The first thing we noticed was that the roof of the winery has a quilt of solar panels blanketing it.  Also, one side of the roof of the main house has windows for passive solar collection.

Alice and John Weygandt and Brian Dickerson (who, with wife Jennifer, are now the General Managers and are being groomed to take over at some point) were on hand to greet us.  Knowing we have a particular interest in sustainable housing, the Weygandts kindly showed us how their “envelope” house regulates the temperature using a double north wall and a solarium on the south side.

We talked about the farm markets in which they participate (Brian had just returned from Headhouse), and their efforts at sustainability.  Their grapes are not organic, because our climate makes mold a stumbling block, but they are surprisingly chemical-free.  Their website has a short page about their work in this department that’s worth reading.  The solar panels we saw cover the electricity for the winery and their house, and Alice Weygandt said they sell the extra to the Energy Coop. 

We went down from the farm house to the winery.  (The house is designed in such an architecturally unusual and energy-saving way it’s hard to think of it in the same category as my family’s damp and drafty farm house in Wales.)  We had a tasting of several of their very reasonably-priced wines, including a warming port-like Tinto Forte, a lovely Chardonnay, and a Pinot Gris that they’re not making again (so we bought three bottles!).

As always, it added just that extra zing to the wine to know that what we would be drinking for months ahead was grown and made by the people who stood in front of us.  There’s just nothing like shaking the hand of the farmer who feeds you!

Finally, we both used their bathroom.  I wouldn’t normally mention the toilet, but even this had evidence of their interest in the environment.  The water for the sink is ingeniously looping into the tank for the toilet, and it involves two kinds of pumps, and let me just say, it was awesome.  Use the bathroom when you go there.  Let’s leave it at that.

We have already enjoyed some Pinot Gris we gave my parents (as a thank you for the loan of the car) with dinner at their house, and we will likely enjoy every bottle with some local veggies on the table as well!

Posted by Eliza on 01/17 at 11:01 AM

Local Vino Steps Up…

Saturday, November 24, 2007

...says this article in today’s Inquirer.  I’m still searching for some go-to wines from the region.  Any favorites that are must tries?

Posted by Lauren on 11/24 at 06:00 PM

James and Sly Fox Beer Dinner

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

James' Cornish Hen

On Monday, September 17, 2007 at 6:30 p.m., Chef Jim Burke of James is teaming up with Brewmaster Brian O’Rielly of Sly Fox Brewery for James’ Inaugural Beer Dinner.  This five course dinner will be made with local/seasonal ingredients and will be paired with local beers from Sly Fox.  The menu will feature the following dishes and beer pairings:

Hors d’oeuvres
The chef’s selection of hors d’oeuvres will be paired with Sly Fox’s Saison Vos, a Belgian style ale brewed with German Pils malt, hopped with East Kent Goldings and fermented with a special proprietary yeast that gives it a dry, spicy character.

1st course
Mussels in soppressata broth with olive crostini, which will be paired with Sly Fox’s Pikeland Pils—a light-bodied, Northern German style Pilsner brewed with imported German Pils malt and hopped with German and Czech hops.

2nd course
King salmon confit with crisp apple salad and potato rosti, which will be paired with Sly Fox’s Phoenix Pale Ale, a medium bodied American Pale Ale brewed with British Pale and Crystal malts and hopped with Centennial and Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest.

3rd course
Poularde, which was recently awarded Best Entrée by Philadelphia Magazine, served with a wild mushroom fricassee.  The Poularde will be paired with Sly Fox’s Octoberfest, a smooth, medium-bodied, malty brew made with German Vienna malts and German hops.

4th course
Pork loin with melted shallot and fennel jus, which will be served with Sly Fox’s Incubus, an Abbot Style Triple brewed with German Pils malt and invert sugar.

Beer mousse, almond cake and brown butter pears served with Sly Fox’s Instigator, a classic, full-bodied German-style doppelbock brewed with German Munich and Roast malts and Hallertauer hops.

The price for this event is $65 per guest, tax & gratuity not included.  Seating is limited.  For reservations, call Kristina at 215-629-4980.

824 S. 8th Street


Posted by David on 09/12 at 07:59 PM

Home Sweet Homebrew

Thursday, August 16, 2007

beerThe other day I ran across a notice that Seven Bridges Cooperative (an organic homebrew company out of California) is sponsoring the 2007 National Organic Homebrew Challenge!  All entries must be brewed using malt, hops, and adjuncts that are verified organically grown and non-GMO.  Yeast must be non-GMO.  It made me wonder what kind of effort it would take to brew beer from locally grown ingredients. 

Certainly, if you’re going to make a fruity beer, you could use locally grown fruit in the production.  But what about the barley and hops?  Or even other beer additives, like wheat or oats?  Beer making used to involve only locally grown ingredients, so surely there must be a way for local homebrewers to get their hands on local grains, no?

The nice folks at Wine, Barley & Hops Homebrew Supply in Feasterville do say that making beer from locally grown ingredients can be tricky, but it’s possible.  In some cases, you would really need to grow your own.  They do sell hop plant root cuttings in the Spring, so it’s possible to grow your own hops.  There are plenty of places to buy various types of hop plants on the internet and some great growing tutorials

There may or may not be a source for locally grown malting barley, but it seems easy just to grow your own.  Not any old barley will do, you understand.  I’ve found some good sources for seed: Chin Ridge Seeds and Amazon. Malting your own barley doesn’t seem too difficult.

There are a million different things you could probably grow to facilitate making beer from locally-grown ingredients.  I even found a great article about planting a beer lover’s garden.  I may just need to incorporate a few things into next year’s garden.

Posted by Nicole on 08/16 at 01:52 PM

Buy Fresh Buy Local Happy Hour at James

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bruschetta and Vegetable Spoons

The folks at Buy Fresh Buy Local asked Jim and Kristina Burke of James to host a happy hour to kick off the summer.  Jim and Kristina had a better idea:  “We said, why not the whole summer?” Kristina said.

And that’s what they did. 

Every Tuesday this summer, James has hosted a Buy Fresh Buy Local happy hour from 5pm to 7pm.  The specials include:

• Half off of all local draft beers, including Philly’s Sly Fox Royal Weiss and New Jersey’s Flying Fish;
• Half off of all cocktails made with fresh fruit sourced from Green Meadow Farm, including and the B&B made with Philly’s Blue Coat Gin and local blueberries and the insanely popular Strongberry Lemonade made with local strawberries and lemons; and
• Free bites made with farm fresh, local ingredients!

Last week, the free apps, which change every week, included focaccia made with sweet cherry tomatoes from Green Meadow Farm.  But one of the more impressive selections was the diverse platter of bruschetta and vegetable spoons.  The diced beets, also sourced from Green Meadow, had an intense fresh-from-the-ground earthiness.  The Country Time Farm pork pate bruschetta was smooth and satisfying.  The Vineland, New Jersey spinach topped with ricotta cheese, however, stole the show—deep, rich, meaty greens without any bitterness.

There are only a couple of these summer happy hours left at James, so make sure you stop by.  But don’t worry if you miss out; James’ commitment to fresh local ingredients lasts all year-round.  Chef Jim Burke admits it can be challenging to source locally during the winter months, but he doesn’t mind.  “It makes you more creative,” he says.

824 S. 8th Street
(215) 629-4980


Posted by David on 08/06 at 09:55 PM

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Support a local farmer, crave the freshest produce, worry about what's in or on your food - whatever your reason for eating locally grown and produced food in the Philadelphia area, Farm to Philly is probably writing about it. We're focused on where to find it, how to grow it, and what to do with it!

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