Friday, July 15, 2011

Gettin' Out

Friday, July 15, 2011

47.6° here on the mountain. Windless and quiet except for two crows fighting over something at the compost pile. Karl the Wonder Dog had his morning walk and already returned to slumber while the rest of us toil away at getting ready for another day at the nursery.

Sometimes gardeners need respite from knees-on-the-ground, weed pulling, planting, watering duties and last night Gail and I headed out to Claire's Restaurant in Hardwick with friends Jerome and Julie. When we moved to Marshfield in 1989, Gail got a job working for Jerome the Florist in Barre and Julie was a designer there. Although they only design with each other at holidays now, the friendships are as strong as ever and brief times together result in lots of laughs and storytelling.

Claire's has been around for several years and it has a history worth learning about. Just learning about the restaurant's namesake who passed away in 2002 is important to understanding what you'll likely experience as you walk inside for the first time. It's an integral part of Hardwick's agricultural rebirth and it's a story that makes me smile. If you are interested in how the Hardwick area has changed, I highly recommend a favorite read of mine authored by Cabot resident, Ben Hewitt. The book is titled The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food. Claire's is part of the rebirth and the vitality.

Anyway, it had been a while since the four of us met at Claire's so I checked their website before heading out. The tomato salad with haricot vert, merlot lettuce, feta and garlic chips sounded just great and I knew in advance I'd couple it up with more excitement. The rainbow-like tomato salad (click on July) involved products from Pete's Greens, Hazendale Farm, Bonnieview Farm, Mystic Morning Farm and Rowan Farm. I couldn't wait.

Gail and I arrived first and we got seated and scanned the elaborate menu of the day. Wait! No tomato salad. I asked the waiter if it was available and mentioned seeing it on the July website listing. He brought back disappointment as it wasn't available. Maybe just a "Thursday" thing. About that time Jerome and Julie arrived and Jerome and I started with the roasted beet salad with golden, red and Chiogga beets, goat cheese, spiced and toasted pecans and a dill horseradish vinaigrette. Not tomatoes but I can assure you it was a salad we will never forget. Terrific! Gail and I had mussels from Maine, Jerome had a chicken dish and Julie had pork. The evening ended with black raspberry cheesecake and coffee, smiles and hugs. We know we'll all meet there again soon.

I would recommend Claire's but I am me and you have to make your own decision. Some say it's too expensive but regularly bringing different local foods to the table in proper fashion does cost money and we have always had good meals. For me it's on the noisy side and even with last night's guitar duo it was a tad noisy for my tired auditory system. Just the same, the temperature was pleasant, the service excellent and the presentation just what we wanted. If you're going to be in the Hardwick area, give Claire's a try. Make a reservation for sure.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where Gail has the car and truck packed and I am receiving an evil eye to get going. Come see us today if you are out and about! The daylilies are blooming and we have begun digging from the field too. We help everyone grow their green thumb!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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