- Gwynedd Stuart
There’s a couple called Matt and Clare and they live in Madison, Wisconsin, where they make and distribute small-batch artisan preserves. They have bright-white peppermint smiles and look just as happy as can be gazing out from a framed photo that sits on a shelf at Lincoln Park farm-to-table concept Blue Door Farm Stand, where their sticky-sweet jars of spreadable love are sold alongside other handcrafted food items from the region and beyond.
Listen. I’m sure Matt and Clare are very nice people—there’s nothing wrong with having bright-white peppermint smiles!—and I’d leave them out of this entirely if Blue Door didn’t seem nefariously like it was crafted around their photograph. What would the Matts and Clares of the world want? Better yet, what do the people who wish they were the Matts and Clares of the world want?
The short answer: The season’s freshest local foods served up on sandwiches and in salads and cold-pressed into juices, plus shelf-stable artisan foods like jams and sauces—good for your body and good for the little guys and gals out on the farm. (Also, a soundtrack of Belle & Sebastian, the Decemberists, and one Ben Gibbard band or another doesn’t hurt.) “Our philosophy at Blue Door Farm Stand is simple,” their website says. “We believe in the seasons dictating what’s on the table.”
Now, I don’t know from cold-pressed juice, but at $9.50 a pop I think you’d be hard-pressed (wink!) to find a pricier example of fruit in its drinkable form. As for the season dictating decisions, I played along and ordered their Grown Up grilled cheese, Red Hen bread piled with three cheeses with basil, rosemary-infused honey, and tomato, because, hey, it’s tomato season. But the sad, pink slices on this particular sandwich told a different story. A story about things that are mealy and completely devoid of flavor. Yes, we had a colder-than-normal winter, a chilly spring, and a really mild summer, and I’m sure that hasn’t done much for this year’s tomato crop. Perhaps the produce’s quality should dictate what ends up on the table, no matter the season.
Unseasonably cold midwestern weather can’t be blamed for the rest of the sandwich’s problems, paramount among them that it wasn’t really a grilled cheese sandwich. The bread was dry and lightly toasted at best. The cheese—of which there wasn’t much—was just barely melted. It’s one of the most disappointing grilled cheeses I’ve ever had (granted, grilled cheeses don’t usually tend to disappoint).
The roasted beet salad, which I’d hoped would consist predominately of beets, was instead a heaping pile of gritty arugula plated with four slices of beets, then sprinkled with goat cheese and candied nuts. A balanced bite was good, but there were far too few because there wasn’t enough beet to last through what had to have been a pound of arugula.
I really enjoyed my Penrose beer—there’s a nice little selection of local and regional craft beers in bottles and cans—but alas, all in all, Blue Door, I’m not sure Matt and Clare would approve.
Blue Door Farm Stand, 843 W. Armitage, 773-935-2583, bluedoorfarmstand.com