Other vegetables on Ross’ winter menu are likely to be Swiss
chard and a variety of root vegetables with short ribs and
polenta. He expects to accompany a pork chop with stewed
local beans in demi-glace, along with roasted tomatoes,
Tuscan kale, pickled onions and peppers.
Harvest in Madison, Wis., has a longstanding relationship
with local farmers who provide everything from cold-frame
spinach to pheasant in the winter. “It’s definitely more
challenging, but it doesn’t seem that challenging anymore,”
says proprietor Tami Lax.
Some of Harvest’s producers store squashes, garlic, onions
and root vegetables for the restaurant. To supplement those
cold weather crops, the restaurant freezes summer berries
and cherries and roasted tomatoes for accompaniments
through the end of March. Other products the restaurant
processes to use in the winter are apple and pear butters and
ciders and maple and sorghum syrups.
Two dishes Harvest is likely to again serve this winter are
breast of pheasant, glazed with honey and blackcurrant and
accompanied by spinach, gold turnips and blackcurrant
sauce; and pan-roasted pork loin chop with red-wine-braised
cabbage, potato parsnip galette and apple/juniper sauce.
local when it makes sense
Beatrice & Woodsley in Denver uses local ingredients
in winter “as much as possible when it makes sense, and
organic, except when it’s prohibitively expensive or the
quality is not as good,” explains Pete List, executive chef.
Colorado lamb and other local meats are available in winter.
Produce is List’s biggest challenge, although he is able to
depend on greenhouse tomatoes, spinach and greens, as well
as potatoes, onions, winter squash and pumpkins.
Some of the dishes he plans to serve in late winter are herb
and garlic roasted leg of lamb with rustic ratatouille, sweet
onion soubise and corona bean brodo; and whole roasted
Colorado striped bass (farm-raised) larded with garlic and
served with housemade merguez sausage, green spelt,
braised greens, preserved lemons and tomato syrup.
A few of List’s dishes are made with his many vegetarian
customers in mind. One winter favorite is his winter squash
mole—spiced winter squash, pickled beets and chevre. The
squash mixture is surrounded by mole negro and candied
pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Chefs also are realistic about just how local they really can
be when surrounded by frozen ground. “People are dreaming
if they think you are not affected by weather,” says Carole
Peck, chef/owner of the Good News Café and Zeeburger in
The rule of thumb that only ingredients produced within a
100-mile radius of your restaurant can be considered local
needs to be expanded, Peck says. For instance, she considers
her wild-caught salmon from Nova Scotia and smoked
salmon from Maine to be local.
Helping her stay local at least in early winter are farmers
who provide cold storage for hardy vegetables and apples
and greenhouses to grow lettuces.
Cassoulet is one winter dish Peck makes in three variations:
regular with local duck, vegan with local dried beans and
seitan, and vegetarian with black beans. She serves her
grilled salmon in the winter with braised celery root, leeks
and kale in carrot broth.
producers understand goals
Farm-raised game, such as elk, is a popular winter dish at
Forage in Salt Lake City. Co-chef Bowman Brown serves
various cuts with preserved wild berries, along with celeriac.
Brown grills trout from a small local farm on juniper embers
and accompanies it with wild parsnips, fresh cream and
pickled edible flowers. He is able to store savoy cabbage
until April in his root cellar. One preparation is to accent it
with smoked butter and toasted grains.
Desserts also incorporate local ingredients at Forage: winter
squash sorbet with yogurt and dried honey, textures of
potato with salted caramel ice cream, and preserved pear
with parsnip ice cream and coffee.
“We have very good farmers/producers that we work with
who understand our goal and go to lengths to keep our
pantry stocked all year,” Brown says. “This means traveling
back in time 150 years and thinking how the folks back then
thought, which is summed up by simply, ‘Plan ahead’.”
FREELANCE WRITER CAROLYN WALKUP HAS WRITTEN ABOUT CHEFS, RES TAURATEURS,
FOOD AND BEVERAGE FOR A COUPLE OF DECADES.