Vegetable Dinner


Series of Dinners         
UPPA farm 
2019


Biodynamic methods of cultivation assume the use of wild yeasts, those that are settled with the dust on the grapes' berries. This is a crucial component in the end product - the wine, as they influence the depth, palette, and character of the taste in ways akin to the grape variety itself. Microbiological composition of wild yeast is defined by a great number of factors: this is an alchemical result of the vineyard's territorial and climatic positioning, the characteristics of its soil, and the meandering course of nearby rivers. Metaphorically, the yeasts represent the imaginary society inhabiting the land, while the fermentation process becomes a cultural manifestation of their collective activity.
 
We decided to dedicate our visit to this approach, to act intuitively and spontaneously. Local material – namely wild yeast with grapes, inspired us to expand our approach, from the focus on the tastes of seasonal products on the region - and explorer surrounding reality of terroir, local markets and neighbourhood farms. We decided that we would only cook with vegetables and dairy products to reinforce the connection between the fertile land and its cultivation


The vineyard has a small vegetable garden with local herbs and flowers, among which we found some real specialities: Himalayan grass, bells, and fennel. Local markets were bursting with apricots, peaches and cherries freshly picked from the orchards. Vegetable stalls were full of zucchini (including inflorescences), globular eggplants, and fragrant herbs. At the winery, we met a local farmer who produces goat cheese and fresh stracciatella.

Once we put it all together, we cooked without rehearsal or run-throughs, relying on stream-of-consciousness and the visual code of the vineyard on the slopes of the mountain range. The task was also to fix the connection between food and wine, so we served berry gazpacho in glasses for biodynamic red, dolma with goat’s cheese was wrapped in young, scalded grape leaves, apricot porridge was supplemented with hemp urbech - a curtsy towards another hedonistic component of the world cuisine. The repast culminated with matcha opera dessert - cakes of bright green colour cooked with almond flour, with juicy cherry berries embodying dense fruit orchards.
Once the (un)official part was over, on the last day of the tour, we grabbed a bottle of wine. It was getting dark. We lost the path, and the batteries of phones were getting depleted, but there was little use for them - the signal didn't work. We climbed through the thicket, scratching our skin with thorny branches, with a faint hope that we were moving in the right direction. The feeling of joy from the unexpected adventure was replaced by concern - whether we would run into a wild animal or snakes, whether we would fall off a cliff. After hours of wandering, we came upon a barbed wire fence - here we are, at the vineyard! This walk was a compelling embrace of the idea of using wild yeast in winemaking and a spontaneous, intuitive exploration of gastronomy

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