Perhaps you’ve had occasion to bring your own bottle of wine to a restaurantâ€”probably being required to pay a corking fee. But have you ever brought in your own vegetables, and traded them for a glass of wine?
There’s an emerging trend across the pond in Great Britain whereby you can barter your homegrown fruits or veggies in return for a free glass of wine or pint of beer, with the added bonus of seeing your veggies transformed into fine cuisine. It’s certainly another way to eat local.
At Artichoke, a restaurant in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, chef Laurie Gear encourages locals to trade vegetables for vino, and the policy has proven to be quite popular. As reported in a story by Viv Groskop in The Guardian, the upscale eatery accepts things like wild garlic, squashes, curly kale, rosemary, mintâ€”even game from a local shoot, such as pheasant.
â€˜There has to be traceability,â€™ Gear told Groskop. â€˜I wouldn’t accept something if I didn’t know the person,â€™ he says.
Another English pub, called The Pigs, announced earlier this year that it was offering free pints of beer in return for locally sourced food to serve. It also accepts game, pigeons, and crayfish. At the Marksman Pub in east London, one can â€˜barter for a starter.â€™ The pub’s website lists desired items including produce, fresh cut lilies, coffee beans, and even a Phillips screwdriver set. They also need their piano tuned. The Old Stag in north Wales is another pub that will trade pints for produce.
So, as you make plans for next spring’s garden, you might want to make inquiries at your neighborhood tavern or restaurant to see if they’d be interested in your homegrown bell peppers or broccoli. I’d love to be able to bring my fresh garden-ripened tomatoes into my favorite burger joint for slicing onto a hamburger. Heck, I wouldn’t even need the free beer. Anything’s better than a hothouse tomato.
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