Day four of spring and it's snowing like crazy outside. Perfect night for a vertical scotch tasting.
And wouldn't you know, there was one scheduled that very night at Nancy's Airfield Cafe (NAC).
If you live within fifty miles of Stow, Massachusetts and you haven't been to Nancy's, you've got to go. You'll feel you discovered it yourself--it's that kind of place.
It's a study in contrasts: a neighborhood bistro without a neighborhood; a locavore's top-pick without the hype; and an ordinary-looking building in an extraordinary setting.
Getting there is half the fun.
And it's the perfect bicycling destination (Sunday brunch anyone?).
To get to the cafe, you drive over hill and dale and then down a long deserted road ending in a parking lot. And there it is--quiet and isolated from any hint of suburban sprawl, in a private airfield of all things.
Behind the restaurant is the airfield, spread out against a backdrop of trees and hills and sky, and nothing else but the wild blue yonder. It's lovely.
The vibe inside the restaurant is casual and friendly, and sometimes downright homey. But I've been there, too, when it feels formal depending on who greets you at the door.
The decor is part 1960s lunch-counter (a hold-out from former iterations of the restaurant), with Formica and other artificial-looking things (I’m not sure if there actually are plastic grapes and flowers but it gives that impression); and part cozy kitchen. There's something curious over the windows, a kind of valence that looks like roofing shingles. Maybe you can see what I mean from this picture.
Then there's this crazy beautiful mural over the bar (see it above Nancy's head in the photo?), which isn't really a bar but a counter with a few stools where Nancy's friends can hang-out and talk to her while she's cooking.
The lighting is very nice and soft, and during the day natural light streams in from all the windows.
Right outside the restaurant's windows you can watch small planes come and go. Sometimes you see the airplane owners loading-up their families and their suit cases for a weekend jaunt over to Martha's Vineyard or Cape Cod. Or you might see them shoveling-out their planes after one of this winters many snowstorms, or watch the field manager tool around on a Segway, checking on things out on the airfield. Sometimes an ultralight buzzes by with its giant lawn-mower-in-the-sky sound; or a helicopter-in-training lands; or a hot air balloon floats by. All of it makes for interesting, unusual and not un-pleasant viewing for the NAC diner.
Owner and chef, Nancy McPherson, is gregarious, fun, and loves to cook. You can tell she cares about the food she serves and wants us all to love it--which we do!
The vertical scotch tasting began with a power point presentation by Joe Rappa and Scott Lewis from Wiliam Grant & Sons Private Distillery . Joe and Scott walked us through the tasting of 6 single malts, in ascending years, three Glenfiddichs and three Balvenies.
But after the first fifteen-year-old Glenfiddich, which I thought harsh, the others were all good. Did you know that the color and a lot of the flavor of single-malts derives from the type of cask it was finished or aged in--sherry, bourbon or port? Neither did I.
Nancy had prepared a menu to complement the different single-malts, not that I would ever drink single-malt with dinner but the pairing was spot on. She managed to sneak in some scotch into everything she made for that dinner.
Flight #1, the three Glenfiddichs, was paired with a plate of honey and scotch-glazed brie, and fennel seed crusted Atlantic salmon with orange jus. The fifteen-yr. old, the eighteen yr.-old, and the twenty-one-yr. old all went down easily.
Flight #2 was sipped with venison stew with toasted barley. The deer had been shot right outside the restaurant (deer have been menacing the café’s garden) rendering a hyper-local edge to this course. There was also a nice chunk of duck breast on a skewer with a tangerine-caramel drizzle. Yum.
Dessert (yes, there was dessert!) was scotch-infused vanilla ice cream with a chocolate glaze that must have had some scotch in it, too, but by then it didn’t matter.
Cigars were enjoyed outside.
I think there will be more events like this at Nancy’s. Hope to see you at one.
On my easel~Magic Hat 2
4 days ago