A Taste of Place: Terroir

FilippoBartollota_2936According to Wikipedia:  “Terroir is the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, interacting with the plant’s genetics, express in agricultural products such as wine, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, heritage wheat, cannabis, and tea.”

Simply:  It’s the taste of place, more complex; it is reconnecting with the flavors and textures at its roots.

Ever traveled to Italy and sworn you tasted the best olive oil or the very best table wine and wondered why we can’t find taste like that at home?

<<Here our friend Filippo Bartolotta identifies the terroir of wine at one of our wine tastings.

I recently had dinner with Eric Asimov, who is a writer of and wine critic for the NY Times. We had this wonderful conversation about tastes and the pleasure around a table. We shared similar stories of a great meal being more about the pleasure of the moments than the actual food or wine itself. We laughed over tastings and joked that we wouldn’t look for other foods to describe a dinner, rather we focus on the pleasures. We talked about the social roles of food and wine and the amplification of our senses. We elaborated on examples where we force the question and try to recreate the taste in tasting notes which describe wine like chocolate or melon and miss the opportunity to feel the experience.

I wondered if food in Italy tasted better because we were more relaxed and more focused and in tune to the experience or if it is really the terroir of the food. I suspect that it is both.

So many folks tell me that no where else can you get tomatoes like we have here on Martha’s Vineyard. I say it is because of our salty soil and perhaps the fact that they are so fresh, one does not need to refrigerate them. They really are a very different flavor than even say heirlooms that have been refrigerated.

And then we have our oysters and we pride ourselves and boast that Martha’s Vineyard has the best tasting oysters and debate ad nausea on whether Honey Suckle or Sweet Necks are better tasting. They are from the same pond only a few acres apart, but they are handled differently by two different shellfishermen. Is this terroir? Or merrior?

Heidi Feldman who is producing MV Sea Salt makes a case for her salt being the terroir (or merrior) of Martha’s Vineyard.

A meal with good friends can amplify a sense of well-being and evoke emotions and through this we discover taste like none other. Regardless, the importance of the terroir of the product supports our small artisanal production methods rather than large industrial operations. For this, I am all about the pleasure of our surroundings.

Leave a Reply

Kitchen Porch Catering | Martha's Vineyard | 508-645-5000