A "better than farm-to-table" option from Phil Hall at Westfair Online.
Robert Atkinson is impatient with Mother Nature. The 12 vegetable beds beneath the patio of the Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant in Fairfield are awaiting the seeds for their sixth year of providing homegrown ingredients to the Fairfield restaurant’s kitchen, but the New England weather has not been cooperating.
“It’s too early,” said Atkinson, general manager at Barcelona, which is at the Hotel Hi-Ho on the Black Rock Turnpike. “What we need is about a week straight of 60-degree ground temperature in a row, with the almost guaranteed no more freezes, and then we can plant. We are planting a little late this year, with the weather not being on our side. But it looks like we’ll plant in the next week and we’ll see stuff coming pretty quick.”
This will be the sixth year of Barcelona’s vegetable garden, which offers patrons the opportunity to select ingredients for preparation by the restaurant’s kitchen staff. “I always like to tell people it’s better than farm-to-table,” continued Atkinson. “It is garden-to-table, and there is no transportation because the farmers aren’t even driving it over.”
The garden is set up in three rows of four 4-by-12 beds on a hill beneath the restaurant’s patio, and a $5 surcharge is levied for the fresh vegetable selections. While the now-empty beds do not look like a cradle of agricultural bounty before planting, Atkinson insists that the quantity of vegetables to be produced is “pretty fantastic.”
“When you look at the space, it is unbelievable how much product ever comes on it,” he stated. “We start with root vegetables, chard, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, carrots, shishito peppers, kale, tons of tomatoes into the summer. We also grow tons of herbs: basil, mint, rosemary. We make good use of anything we can get our hands on in that garden and bring in.”