Pausing by a row of golden-orange Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, farmer Jaime Alvarez plucked a handful off a vine and popped them into his mouth.
"They're intensely sweet," said Alvarez, the farmer and manager of the 62-acre Beach Plum Farm in West Cape May. "I always use the excuse that a good chef always tastes their food, so a good farmer should always taste his produce."
By the end of his walk around the farm, Alvarez also had checked the growth status of the watermelons, cucumbers and kale and had harvested some blackberries, blueberries and carrots.
Although the Beach Plum Farm isn't certified organic, it is run on organic farming principles, including natural pest control.
"We don't use any pesticides whatsoever," said Alvarez, joking that the insects are his best customers. "Early in the morning, we scour the whole field and remove any insects we see. The key is to remove them before they establish a colony."
The Beach Plum Farm, at 140 Stevens St. in West Cape, grows and harvests its produce for The Cape Resorts Group's restaurants, one of which includes Congress Hall's new juice bar, the Veranda Bar, which opened at the start of the summer season.
The Veranda Bar is on the open-air porch on Congress Hall, on Beach Avenue in Cape May, and is open to the public. Curtis Bashaw, the cofounder and comanaging partner of Cape Resorts, is the owner of the Beach Plum Farm.
Standing behind the Veranda Bar's bar, surrounded by bowls of strawberries, carrots, kale and more produce, Congress Hall's Executive Chef and farm-to-table expert Jeremy Einhorn explained the inspiration for opening the juice bar and what he believes makes it so popular.
"We started talking about it last summer when we had the abundance of produce from the farm, especially things like cucumbers, kale and melons," he said.
Einhorn is in charge of taking what's in season and available on the farm and using it as his canvas to concoct the colorful juices served at Veranda Bar, which are juiced on-site and by the glass.
His personal favorite juice, and also one of the best sellers, is the Beach Juice, made with pears, pineapple, ginger and beets, the last ingredient giving it a vibrant magenta color.
"It's surprisingly sweet," Einhorn said, "but it still has a little bit of earthiness in it from the beets, which gives it a nice balance."
Some other house favorites include the Green Juice, which is made with a bunch of green vegetables such as kale, cucumbers and celery and sweetened with green apples, and the Spicy Tomato, which is comparable to a gourmet-style virgin Bloody Mary.
"What people love about (the juices) is that it's just so fresh and pure, grown right on our farm," he said, adding that the juice bar sell an average of 60 to 80 glasses of juice per day. "You can get all of your daily fruits and vegetable requirements in one cup of delicious juice."
Contact Elisa Lala:
The Veranda Bar
The Veranda Bar, the juice bar on the back porch of Congress Hall, 200 Congress Place.
The juice bar is open daily to the public from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and converts to bar serving alcoholic beverages starting at noon.
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Beach Plum Farm
Beach Plum Farm,140 Stevens St., West Cape May, is open to the public for both self-guided and guided tours.
Self-guided tour are available from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday and guided tours, which are $3 per person, are available from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.
Also, for a full list of The Cape Resorts Group's restaurants, visit caperesortsgroup.com.