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Tre Piani’s Halloween

Jim Weaver, chef-owner of Tre Piani in Forrestal Village, and Dr. Jeanette Wolfe, naturopathic practitioner and owner of Planet Apothecary on Main Street in Kingston, are joining forces for what Weaver calls “grown-up” Halloween fun on Saturday, October 29.

With Tre Piani as the setting and a 6 p.m. start, festivities include live music by the appropriately named Kindred Spirit, a demonstration and tasting of fermented foods and kombucha, and a multi-course buffet of seasonal Italian fare that includes slow-roasted Berkshire pork shoulder with Bubbly Jen’s sauerkraut.

Weaver and Wolfe have teamed up for events before — “light-hearted, fun, and tongue-in-cheek,” says Wolfe. There will be a big canvas for interactive painting and, of course, costumes are encouraged. Cost: $55 per person. Full details and tickets at eventbrite.com. Search for “Autumn Alchemy Witches & Warlocks Ball.”

Brick Farm to James Beard

Chef-owner Greg Vassos of Brick Farm Tavern is no stranger to the Beard House in Greenwich Village. By my count, it will be his third time in the kitchen there when he presents a “Garden State Bounty” dinner on October 22. Naturally, it will spotlight products and ingredients from Double Brook Farm, owned by Robin and Jon McConaughy, the folks behind the Tavern as well as Brick Farm Market in Hopewell.

The farm raises, for example, Ossabaw pigs, a heritage breed, and the menu features (among many other dishes): hors d’oeuvres of Ossabaw lardo on flax-currant toast points; Ossabaw rillettes with chicharrones; pork-fat roasted porcini mushrooms with parsnips, cranberries, and Ossabaw pork powder; and Ossabaw pork with honeycrisp apples, Hakurei turnips, fermented cabbage, and sage. Ricotta for a beet dish comes from Hun-Val Farm in Ringoes, known for its single-source, Jersey-fresh milk. That milk will be deployed in the dessert of roasted pumpkin gateau with wineberry gelee, white chocolate mousse, and caramelized milk.

Cost is $175, $135 for Beard members. While dinners at the Beard House are not inexpensive, I consider them best buys. Why? Because chefs put their very best foot forward; the price of the meal includes fine wines, expertly matched and freely poured; and the meal often includes extras and gifts that are not on the menu.

For the full menu and information visit jamesbeard.org/events.

First Field’s new tomato product a sleeper hit

When Theresa Viggiano and Patrick Leger of Montgomery introduced their all-natural, premium New Jersey ketchup made from vine-ripened tomatoes back in 2012, they were perhaps mildly surprised that it was an immediate hit. It was soon followed by a roasted tomato version, by a Jersey pickle relish, and by a seasonally available cranberry sauce that sells out well before Thanksgiving each fall.

But even Viggiano and Leger express surprise at the big splash their latest product has made, metaphorically speaking. That would be First Field Pure Strained Tomatoes, which comes in 24-ounce glass bottles. “Italians call this passata” the bottle reads,
“Pure, strained, tomatoes with no added salt or seasonings.” Sounds deceptively simple, but fresh-tasting passata for sauces and soups is actually difficult to come by if you don’t can your own. Maybe that’s why First Field’s is now carried by Fresh Direct, the online grocery store.

First Field products are sold at Cherry Grove Farm, Whole Food Market in Princeton, Blue Moon Acres, and the West Windsor Farmers Market. They are also sold through first-field.com. And stay tuned: In the works are First Field pasta sauces and crushed tomatoes.

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