Tapas…the word alone evokes the Mediterranean: blue-capped domes, sultry little villages, lively music and appetites, a warm and salty sea breeze, bare feet, a sun-kissed glow – the scents of cultures far away, yet so close: briny olives, oregano, tomatoes off the vine, lemons freshly plucked from a nearby tree, fruity grassy wines, pungent mountain cheese, sweet watermelon, olive oil so beautiful, you could drink it, little capers that burst in your mouth, freshly baked breads and crackers from the neighborhood community oven. Some of us have enjoyed travel to Greece, Italy, and Spain…but most of us search out exotic, ethnic ingredients – find what we crave at F.H. Gillingham & Sons – and create a Mediterranean feast at our Woodstock, Vermont homes.
Within the conclaves of Vermont’s oldest general store, amidst reminders of bygone days and a deep Vermont heritage, a treasure trove of culinary delights will daze, inspire, and trance you. Your “little plate” of tapas might include Stonewall Kitchen’s Hot Pepper Jelly and uniquely intriguing Chutneys – a no-fuss presentation over cream cheese, the pepper jelly glistens with ruby red glare. Bring this delight to your next bridge game gathering. One can only imagine small meatballs, prepared the “sweet & sour” way, using Wilkin & Sons Ltd. Tiptree Red Currant Jelly. Stud them with frou-frou toothpicks on grandmother’s crystal cut plate and folks at your family reunion will surely know you’re brown-nosing, hoping that you’ll inherit the rest of the cut crystal! Sidehill Farm’s Sweetened Apple Butter, heated slightly, smeared on grilled baguette slices, and eloquently topped with a hunk of good cheddar – well, we can’t even think of the proper words for this combination. Fill your market tote with fresh leafy, tender greens, pick up a jar of Fox Meadow Farm Chablis Dijon Mustard, take out a tablespoon of mustard and whisk in some good olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, sea salt, a grind of pepper, and a dollop of honey. Drizzle over your greens (just greens is all you need) and serve with a hearty steak or grilled fish. If you’re thinking of getting a little pickled, look no further than Lyman’s Pickle Garlic – use it just like you would garlic – sauté it in a little butter and add whimsy to your recipe. Divina and Paesana brands of roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, et al will perk up the pantry and palate – remember to keep them on-hand; they’re a divine salad add-in.
Crackers, crisps, breads, sticks are an exemplary addition to your tapas board – adding a dimension and roughness to delicate savories. Stonewall Kitchen’s Sea Salt Flatbread Crisps and Aged Parmesan Sticks (present the sticks in a vase or pottery mug!) simultaneously add crunch and refinement. Vermont’s own Lesley Stowe Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crackers and Westminster Bakers Co. Thin Wheat Crackers are both a splendid crisp for any accompaniment.
Say cheese! Mt. Vikos Barrel-Aged Feta, Vermont Creamery Fresh Goat Cheese, Lazy Lady Farm, Cobb Hill Cheese, Scholten Family Farm, Blythedale Farm, Maplebrook Farm, von Trapp Farmstead, Thistle Hill Farm, Billings Farm, Sugarbush Farm, Plymouth Artisan Cheese, Crowley, Grafton Village – need we say more?
The old saying goes…”like oil and vinegar” – although, we definitely see eye-to-eye with the wonderful array of oils and vinegars in our aisle one, aka the pantry aisle. The Olive Table’s Private Reserve and Early Harvest Organic, Handpicked, Cold Extracted extra virgin olive oil from Christianopolis, Greece takes you back to the village – an aromatic grassiness, greenness, and beautiful buttery finish is the only way we can describe this elixir. Partner it with Cavalli Balsamico…the oldest company producer of Balsamico in Reggio, Emilia. An explosion of flavor for a drizzle, cooked down for a marinade, and an ideal zippiness for your bean salad.
Storekeepers’ Note: Join us Saturday, July 16, 12noon to 3:00pm, as we host the folks from The Olive Table. An unbelievable tasting and demo, as they showcase their oils and honey, and prepare a couple of salad dressings to entice us even more!
From the Recipe Box at F.H. Gillingham & Sons:
Our Own Feta Kopanisti Dip
10oz. Mt. Vikos Barrel-Aged Feta cheese
2 pieces Divina Roasted Red Peppers
3 tablespoons The Olive Table Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Lyman’s Pickle Garlic
½ teaspoon Simply Organic Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Stonewall Kitchen Hot Pepper Jelly
Stonewall Kitchen Maine Sea Salt, to taste
Pulse all ingredients in food processor for about 1 minute. Serve with your favorite crackers, crisps, breads, and sticks!