From Farm to Table: The Terra Momo Cooking Class, Part 1

Eno Terra is part of the Terra MoMo Restaurant Group based in Princeton, NJ. This restaurant is founded on the premise of using local, seasonal, and artisanal food. It’s located just outside the home base, in Kingston. This is an ideal location, just between New York and Philadelphia, and gets to benefit from the abundance of local farms just outside these two major cities. At the helm is Chef Christopher Albrecht. They have teamed up with the Princeton Public Library to offer one of the hottest tickets in town, and it’s FREE!

Starting the series of “Cooking with Local Ingredients”, Albrecht discussed supporting local farmers; the difference in freshness between produce locally and globally grown, and buying organic food.

Most of the produce used was grown locally. Many came from organic farms. With an increase in farmer’s markets, the farm to table movement is growing stronger. Many chain supermarkets sell produce owned by large corporations, which package items to be shipped; therefore, they are not ripe yet when picked. When you buy local, the fruits and vegetables are picked when they’re ripe and are sold quickly because they don’t have to be transported far. The results are fresh, tasty food, mostly cared for by family-owned businesses who rely on the reputation of their produce. Also, when you buy local, you eat seasonal foods which are more flavorful and reasonably priced than globally grown, greenhouse produce. New Jersey is called the “Garden State”, so it would be a pity to live here and not get the freshest, most delicious food grown.

The first cooking class started with a bang. There were three recipes given, and the Eno Terra chef covered them all explaining the ingredients and techniques used in preparation. This was strictly a demonstration with the bonus of everyone sampling his creations. Need I mention it was a full house?

To start with, he made a white and a red pickling liquid. Radishes were looking good at the market this week, so he pickled them in a red liquid, which also enhanced their color. He passed out raw radish slices, and pickled ones. I don’t particularly like radishes, but I found his pickled version quite tasty. Have I become a convert?

Next up was sweet shrimp, sugar peas, garlic scapes and sorrels. The sugar peas had a great snap, and a nice aroma. The garlic scapes, which sort of look like really long scallions/green onions had a nice mild scent, and the sorrel, which resembles spinach, had a nice body to it, so you could tell they were super fresh. The sorrel paired nicely with the shrimp since they have a citrus flavor. Olive oil was used to sauté the ingredients, and it was seasoned to taste. This was absolutely delicious!

Last, but not least, he made a ribollita, which is Italian for reboiled (leftover minestrone soup was re-heated with chunks of bread). The seasonal vegetables used were Swiss chard, garlic scapes, Tuscan kale, mustard greens, zucchini, and a leek. Other ingredients used were a red onion, a celery stalk, potatoes, carrots, cannellini beans, tomato paste, 2 days old Tuscan bread, thyme, a bay leaf & basil puree. This rustic soup would satisfy anyone’s hunger, and I couldn’t stop eating it. Although I must admit, I personally don’t like the texture of “soggy” bread in soup, though I understand it’s role. I think I’ll just puree 1/4 of the beans to use as a thickening agent, and perhaps put a slice of toasted Tuscan bread on top as my version of this delish dish!

I was very pleased with this event. It’s not a hands on cooking class, but it does inspire you to go to farmer’s markets, buy the freshest fruits and vegetables, and create  healthy and tasty meals for your family and friends. I give the series two thumbs up so far, and I can’t wait for what the following weeks will bring!

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