2006_02_food_flypig.jpgWe were seduced by Applewood the very first time we visited, even before we ate a bite. It was warm and inviting, almost like a small farmhouse, made super-cozy with a crackling fire in the fireplace. Then we tasted the food and we were smitten. Farm-fresh seasonal ingredients, prepared with delicacy, care and creativity by Chef David Shea, are the centerpiece of Applewood's menu, but also their entire philosophy. David and his wife and partner Laura have don't only use locally grown and produced ingredients, but they have actually developed relationships with their producers. One such producer is husband and wife team Mike Yezzi and Jen Small of Flying Pigs Farm.

Flying Pigs joined forces with Applewood to create a five course "meet the farmers" dinner, and Gothamist was fortunate enough to be seated at the table with the farmers, who had just arrived from their farm in Shushan New York. They explained a bit to us about their history and philosophy. Having started with 3 pigs, and very much learning on the fly (yes, pun intended), they now raise approximately 270 pigs, who are given a wholesome diet, plenty of room to roam, and a comfortable place to sleep. The pigs are small heritage breeds, which tend to yield more flavor and moisture, as evidenced by some of the dishes served over dinner (pork from Tamworth pigs was featured that night, along with lamb from the farm.

2006_02_food_pork2.jpgIn addition to selling Flying PIgs products at the Grand Army Plaza and Union Square greenmarkets, Mike and Jen helped to create Farm to Chef, a collaborative between small local farmers and chefs. Through this program, restaurants in New York City are provided with high quality local products from farms without having to run through a more traditional supplier. In addition to Applewood, Blue Hill, Hearth, Il Buco, and others participate in the program, which has been held up as a model for other regions.

Overall, the evening felt like we were having dinner at a friend's house (we even ran into someone we know), albeit a friend who made roasted pork loin and leg with caramelized apples, red wine braised lentils, red cabbage with cider glaze and braised lamb shoulder with potato gnocchi -- he was even kind enough to share the recipe!

This was the second "meet the farmer" dinner -- check Applewood's site for upcoming events and be sure to stop by the Flying Pigs Farm greenmarket stands. Generally they are at Union Square on Fridays, 9 a.m.—5 p.m. and
Saturdays, 8 a.m.—3:00 p.m., and at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn on Saturdays, 8 a.m.—2 p.m. Tell them Gothamist sent you!