The Brandywine region continues to get better and better as a place to live and to enjoy what I call the local "cultural terroir." About 10 years ago, Va La Vineyards opened its doors in Avondale and started producing small-batch, high-quality wines made from mainly Italian grapes such as barbara, nebbiolo and malvasia bianco produced by their small vineyard. Over the years, owners Anthony and Karen Vietri have helped provide increased demand for locally made cheeses, which they feature in their tasting programs and sell for take-away. The past few weeks, they've gone a step further by working with pizza maker Jason Brown and his Beatrice's Inferno business. Brown has created a portable woodfire pizza oven and teamed with Va La to come up with a line of hand-made savory and dessert pizzas to match Va La's wines. On recent weekends (check http://www.valavineyards.com/ for schedule), Brown has pulled up to the winery with his pizza oven in tow and set up shop out back.
This Friday afternoon, Ella and I drove the 10 minutes to Va La, grabbed an inside table to get away from the heat, ordered two individual pizzas, and popped a bottle of Va La Castagna, made from barbera grapes grown in the vineyard 30 yards from the picture window. The pizzas and the wine were delicious as was the chattery among the hungry patrons. Brown also passed around samples of a couple of his special dessert pizzas, including a fantastic berry preserves and cheese number and another that was awash with smores, not a favorite delicacy of mine.
Today, Phil Pyle, co-chef and co-owner at Fair Hill Inn in Maryland, had on sale to the public his hand-made salumis, which normally we get to eat only as a special course when having dinner at Fair Hill. The last time Pyle had a salumi sale, the cupboard was bare in less than an hour. So we were there at the appointed 2 p.m. to be first in line to buy his Artisan Dail charcuterie, choosing a selection of lamb, spicy Hungarian, Tuscan fennel and wild boar.
On the way home, we stopped at a farm stand to buy some tomatoes in bulk to try our hand at making a corn-syrup free, homemade ketchup. We'll let you know how that experiment turns out.
Until next time...