Late this summer Pagliacci’s managers traveled up to the Skagit Valley to tour Viva Farms, the source of the butternut squash used in our Butternut Sage Primo. Viva Farms, a farm incubator started in 2009, provides new farmers with the resources they need to succeed, including access to land, equipment, training, marketing, low-interest loans and access to grant funding. They also grow great produce.
The purpose of gathering so many managers up in Skagit Valley was two-fold: To meet the people that grow the squash each store roasts daily for the Butternut Sage Primo and to make the preserved lemons used on the Tuscan Kale pizza. Unfortunately, the visit occurred just a couple of days after the massive late summer windstorm that hit Western Washington on August 29th. While some of the crops hadn’t fared well, and the farm stand had been destroyed, the managers were still able to tour the squash fields and hoop houses, picking raspberries and tomatoes. Because lunch and the making of preserved lemons were to have occurred in the farm stand, they had to be moved over to the nearby Washington State Agricultural Center. One of the farmers from Viva Farms delivered an excellent home-cooked lunch made with Viva Farms produce. Managers enjoyed zucchini rellenos, enchiladas, tamales, two fresh salsas, and kale salad with a berry dressing. Dessert was two crisps: one berry, one rhubarb.
With full bellies, the managers lined up to make preserved lemons. Matt Dillon, the James Beard award-winning chef behind Sitka & Spruce, The Corson Building, London Plane, and Bar Sajor, had previously taught Pagliacci how to preserve lemons. The ingredients are simple: Meyer lemons, salt, jars, and time. The managers cut, squeezed, salted, and jarred many cases of lemons. Time does the rest of the work. Perhaps you have noticed the beautiful jars of lemons on display in one of our locations. Not only are they beautiful, but their smooth yet intense lemon taste will become an integral flavor compenent when blended with fresh ricotta and pepper on our Tuscan Kale pie.
Connecting to the land, to each other, and to some of the special ingredients that go into Pagliacci’s pizzas was a remarkable way to spend a day together.