By Brigit Binns
ARRIVING ON MY DOORSTEP
over the past month or so have been
samples of a grape variety that
seems eminently suited to our valley.
In Europe, Cabernet Franc doesn't often
stand alone, but here in the Hudson Valley the
climate seems to coax far more fruit and depth
from this grape. An Italian friend tells me that
in the cool, northeast Italian wine region of
Trentino/Alto Adige, Cab Franc also shines.
Since my weekend efforts over the past few months have focused almost entirely on the recession-busting Four-Family Garden - an exceedingly ambitious undertaking - I have tended to serve my Cab Francs at a sort of laborers lunch table, to reinvigorate we New Millennium farm workers and prime us for several more hours of fence-building, digging, and soil amendment before the traditional late-afternoon nap.
At these al fresco lunches, hands are dirty, faces are a bit red, and muscles are sometimes sore. Sitting at a desk does not prepare today's new agrarians for the kind of work necessary to transform a very large but long-defunct kitchen garden into fertile and productive condition. So as we chew and sip, the talk ranges from couture to manure, Plato to potatoes, actors to tractors, hay to Broadway. To fuel their increased energy requirements, I've tended to focus on pastas and grains at these lunches, and in true Mediterranean tradition, a glass of good, honest red helps the starches go down.
Suddenly, coming home to pasta after years of carb-conscious avoidance feels right, good, secure. In uncertain times there is really nothing quite so comforting. Perhaps it's because I've truly earned it this time around. Returning to the soil brings us all closer to the food we eat, the wine we drink, and the incredibly fortunate luxury of living near the slowly healing river that Henry Hudson traveled 400 years ago, with a dream.