Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Farm-to-Table, Restaurant Setup, and Flaccid Asperagus

It don't get fresher!
 While it's post hoc ergo propter hoc to even suggest the correlation as causation, it just so happens that I now live in a city of which university students are a major demographic - and because they're such a driver on the market, we have a fairly well-settled farmer's market.

Now, I could go a long way out of my way and explain why that particular run-on sentence makes, well, sense, but that's out-of-the-way.

A major part of the awesomeness of the farmer's market isn't the ability to acquire things I can get at the supermarkets - it's the ability to acquire the things that I can't. Duck eggs, brioche, promises nobody intends to keep...

What I was surprised to find, though, were the butchers offering farm-to-table meats. Fresh produce I was expecting, as well as a weekly supply of the sort of greasy delights that qualify as carnival food... but supremely, ultimately fresh meats is a new one to me.

Now again, the main problem is that I simply don't have the time for the market. You need to get in very early to get the really good stuff, and that leaves me with getting about 4 hours sleep. Plus, let be honest, the costs aren't comparable. It's worthwhile for things like free-run Duck Eggs, Rabbit, or those peculiar fishes which, in spite of being in season, are not at the local Sobeys. But for everything else, the convenience of the supermarkets is just too much to bear.

Now, having said that, there very much is a quality differential, which ties into our next topic. For all its minor setbacks and waiting, the process of launching the Vault has actually been deeply inspiring insofar as tweaking my own restaurant designs. Obviously, I'm a few years away from my own launch. I've still got to go off and finish my Red Seal, never mind pulling down a few years of experience besides. In that respect, the plans I've been making for several years now are all highly tenative - mostly concerning themselves with matters of style, rather than outright figures.

That having all been said, the experience of having access to all this very good food has been a major motivating factor in my decision to build relationships as directly as possible with growers and producers themselves. Not out of any real hatred for the middle men, but more out of a desire to keep everything as local as possible. After all, restaurants as an industry have impressively large greenhouse gas footprints. It would be nice to minimize that, where possible.

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