Say farewell to peaches with Peach Donuts at CloverKND on Friday

Clover Food Lab_Peaches

Remember those late snowstorms we had in April? They affected the stone fruit harvest by freezing the buds that had already formed on the peach trees. Only a few farms were able to get peaches. One of those was Lookout Farm in Natick. We waited to serve them until they were coming to us really ripe and beautiful. You might have tried them on our Oatmeal or Yogurt and Granola. Now the peach season is coming to an end.

Enzo’s going to be making buttermilk donuts with local peach glaze on Friday at Clover Kendall in honor of our Coffee event with Derek Anderson of Speedwell Roasters.

Come to the event and you’ll get 2 donuts with your coffee. You can also Pre-order a box of donuts here. Limited number!



You’ve been eating local…


That’s Danya and Matt of Queen’s Greens Farm in North Amherst. They’re the ones responsible for the beautiful red leaf lettuce you might have had this summer, and for the beets we’re featuring now in the Hungarian beet sandwich. It’s been our best summer yet in terms of percentage of the menu that’s sourced from this region.

We’ll do another one of these in the height of autumn, and I think it will be similarly interesting. Great job Chris and the kitchen for securing these amazing relationships!


Cheddar Cheese (breakfast sandwich, popover breakfast sandwich, Tomato Sandwich, BBQ Seitan, Brussel Sandwich at MIT)
Grafton Village Cheese, Vermont

Eggs (Breakfast Sandwich, Popovers, Egg and Eggplant)
Chip-In Farm, Bedford, Mass (occasionally will substitute other local farms)

Milk (Popovers, Milk for your coffee)
Mapleline Farm, Hadley, Mass

Yogurt (Yogurt w/Granola and Fruit)
Sidehill Farm, Hawley, Mass

Potatoes (French Fries w/Rosemary)
Swazlawski Farm, Hatfield, MA

Peaches (Oatmeal, Granola, Agua Fresca, Lemonade, Soda, leaving this week)
Lookout Farm, Natick, Mass

Asian Pears (Oatmeal, Granola, Lemonade, Soda, launching this week)
Lookout Farm, Natick, Mass

Eggplant (Egg + Eggplant Sandwich and Platter)
Next Barn Over, Hadley, Mass  (will begin to substitute with CA eggplant this week when local supplies end)

Red Peppers (Pepper Relish Sandwich)
Next Barn Over, Hadley, Mass 

Cucumbers (Chickpea Fritter, Egg and Eggplant)
Next Barn Over, Hadley, Mass (will begin to substitute with CA cucumbers this week when local supplies end)

Summer Squash (Pepper Relish Sandwich)
Next Barn Over, Hadley, Mass 

Beets (Beet Mint Feta Salad, Beet Sandwich, launching this week)
Queen’s Greens, Amherst, Mass

Lettuce (BBQ, BLT, Heirloom Tomato Sandwich)
Queen’s Greens, Amherst, Mass

Tomatoes (Tomato Sandwich, Gazpacho Soup, Chickpea Fritter, Egg and Eggplant, Breakfast Sandwich, BBQ, BLT)
Queen’s Greens, Amherst, Mass
Lindentree Farm, Lincoln, Mass (will switch to Backyard Farms tomatoes from Maine when local field tomatoes end this week)

Seaweed (seaweed salads)
Ironbound Island Seaweed, Schoodic Peninsula, Maine

Apple Cider Vinegar (dressing for salads)
Dwight Miller Orchards, Dummerston, VT

Kochere coffee (from Ethiopia)
Roasted by Barismo, Somerville, Mass

La Trinidad coffee (from Costa Rica)
Roasted by Speedwell, Plymouth, Mass

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, Westport/Somerville, Mass
Berkshire Brewing Co., South Deerfield, Mass
Mystic Brewing Co., Chelsea, Mass
Notch Brewing Co., Ipswich, Mass


Hungarian Beet Sandwich launches, with late summer beets

Local Food

Danya from Queen’s Greens called to say she had a bumper crop of local beets. We said we’d buy them all.

We’re going to run the Hungarian Beet Sandwich. It’s launching tomorrow. We ran this back in February with Michael Docter’s Winter Moon Roots beets, and we had a lot of customers hoping it would return.

A little history. Megan (HR Director) came up with this sandwich based on a suggestion from an MIT customer from Hungary. Megan researched Hungarian food and came up with a recipe we all loved. Try it, even if you think you hate beets. I know how you feel. I used to hate them too.

The Hungarian beet sandwich has:
-cream cheese dill spread
-twice cooked beets (roasted, then fried, not oily at all), tossed with caraway right out of the fryer
-toasted chopped walnuts
-fresh cabbage slaw with thinly sliced white onion and paprika

Click here to watch the training video.


Join us for St. Botolph’s Launch at CloverKND


These two are the reason we have beer at Clover. We started talking to Dann and Martha back in 2009 about making beer to sell to Clover. They started talking to us about all the problems the beer industry was having with sourcing locally. They introduced us to Andrea at Valley Malt, and to a bunch of the other amazing brewers in New England.

Join us Thursday 9/25, 6pm at Clover Kendall Square for the launch of Pretty Things St. Botolph’s Town Beer. They made this beer as an homage to the Northern England region of Yorkshire. Did you know St. Botolph is the name for the original Boston in England? 

First 24 folks in the door will get Pretty Things pint glasses!


September is hot pepper season in Massachusetts


September means fresh peppers in Massachusetts, which means our Hot Sauce 101 class is back. You’ll learn how to make Clover’s hot sauce featuring local hot peppers, coriander, garlic, and vinegar – and if there’s time – some other versions of hot sauce too. You’ll leave with a jar of fresh hot sauce to take home.

This class came about three years ago when Danna and Chris, two customers at the MIT truck, who were addicted to our hot sauce, begged us to teach them how to make it. Enzo’s teaching, which means it will be a good time.

Wednesday, September 17, 4pm-5pm

Clover Kendall Square, 5 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA
$35 for general public. Free if you’re a CSA member who picks up your share at Clover.
Click the lefthand tab of the website to sign up.


Would you buy this?


We’ve been thinking of ideas for Whole Foods. Thanks to all who filled out our survey last month. It’s now closed, but we’ll have another one next month.

This is one idea that came out of some of our early discussions about Whole Foods. Could we make something portable? Something that would appeal to kids? Something that could highlight local, just cut ingredients? And maybe something that could replace chips in satisfaction and crunch?

We used Clover Brookline Village as a test site for these snack cups. Chris sourced some beautiful produce, and cut them into bite-sized pieces (in this picture you can see watermelon radishes from Winter Moon Roots). We picked 8 of our most popular spreads and dips (that’s Hungarian cheddar spread in the picture). In Whole Foods, we imagine either:

-A bar featuring locally sourced vegetables and dips, where you could assemble the cups yourselves
-A select number of the cups, pre-packed and delivered to Whole Foods every day


Communicating with environment


Early on I set a course of transparency for Clover.

In 2008 this mattered to a few customers. Now in 2014 it matters to more of you. I think in 2020, when Clover is sweeping the nation, I think folks simply aren’t going to tolerate opaque food systems. In my view this world of smoke and mirrors that has dominated food for so many years is an old world, eroding before our eyes. If Clover can have a role in accelerating that erosion I will be proud.

Food has always been and still is cultural. But it used to connect people. In a deep way. You grew food with friends and family. You traded food with those you depended upon. You shared meals with those you loved. Roll the clock back 100 years and almost everybody in this country knew exactly where their food came from. And no, they weren’t hipsters.

I think that transparency in food, being able to see what is going on, is intimately related to the ability for food to connect people.

We thought from the beginning that the environment at Clover should reflect our values. The expression of that has evolved over the past few years, sometimes in surprising ways. We stumbled into window painting. And then we started finding these awesome shadows that are cast by our logo. I’ve started snapping pictures whenever I see this type of thing. Here’s one from Kendall. It’s beautiful, right? The sunlight is blasting right through Clover into our restaurant.

Have you noticed other aspects of our restaurant design that reinforce transparency? Anything you think we should do more of?


Clover shortbread


Ali, who manages our catering program, kept getting requests for dessert. Our policy on desserts is simple. We make the highest quality, most delicious desserts, and we only offer them on special occasions (Whoopie Pie Friday, cupcakes on employees’ birthdays, etc). That way no one gets addicted to having an indulgent dessert every day of the week.

Ali begged and begged us to think of something for all the folks asking for desserts for catering. Ayr said, what about shortbread? It’s buttery, delicious, it pairs well with coffee, and it won’t degrade in quality if it’s out for a few hours at an event.

Chris developed a beautiful recipe, and we’re playing around with interesting flavors: cinnamon and sugar, Aleppo pepper, lavender. Trays of these are starting to leave the HUB bound for catering events.


Loading dock graffiti


That’s our loading dock at Clover HUB. As we’ve been getting busier what once felt like too much space is starting to feel tighter. We have a standing meeting of our Corporate team Thursday afternoons. This past week we met over at the HUB so that we could help figure out how we can organize the loading dock for better efficiency. Somebody, Megan?, came up with the idea of drawing lines on the floor to designate a walk-way, and usage. This isn’t dissimilar from what many factories end up doing.

So being Clover we didn’t spend too much time arguing about where the lines should land. We took our best first shot. Made sure it didn’t cost a lot (spray paint cans and string). I expect we didn’t get it right. But that’s OK. We’ll learn what’s right and what is not. Then iterate. Try again. Learn. Iterate. And in a month we’ll know exactly how this should be laid out and we’ll call in one of those companies that does parking lots. One of our employees already told us he has a friend who does that sort of thing.

This is how we evolve quickly. We test ideas in a way that failure is cheap, then we learn from those mistakes and repeat, getting better and better each time.


Tasting coffee with the wizard


George Howell reminds me of a wizard. He has bright blue eyes and white hair, and he has a magical understanding of the atoms and aromas and textures that go into coffee.

Ayr and I went to George Howell’s roastery last week with the goal of tearing apart our coffee methods (hot and iced) and seeing if we can make them better. We want to apply science to the things we’ve already been learning by direct observation of customers. Specifically we’re looking at the effect of various factors (grind size, water temperature, volume of coffee) on taste, body, mouthfeel.

It was a surprise to all of us that a lot of this stuff has never been studied in serious ways. So we’re embarking on a bit of an adventure, and we’re really excited to have George and his team at the helm. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be posting on our findings, and testing some of them on you at the restaurants. First up: is cold brew coffee evil?