Displaying items by tag: Saratoga Farmers' Market
MINUTES BEFORE THE OPENING BELL RINGS Wednesdays at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, Julz and Marty Irion fire up a burner to warm samples of their product, a gluten-free spätzle.
The bell rings and a heady aroma fills the air. Market goers walk by, stop and smell.
Marty and Julz Irion at Octoberfest 2018.
“Would you like a sample?” Marty asks.
As the shoppers taste the dish, Marty and Julz tell its story. Spätzle is a German dish made typically with wheat, flour, and eggs. The Irions’ version is gluten-free, made with a blend of tapioca, corn, and potato flours along with local milk and eggs, and nutmeg.
Together, Marty and Julz have created a no-boil spätzle that is unique, delicious, and the only one of its kind worldwide.
Marty was born in Erlangen, Germany and loved the dish, made the traditional way. He and Julz met in 1985, and married four years later. Julz started to make spätzle for the family.
Eight years ago, the couple needed to drop wheat from their diets. They were unwilling to let go of their love for spätzle so Julz began experimenting with alternatives. She found that creating a good gluten-free version of the German favorite was not easy. The experiments stretched out for seven years.
Until March 2017. “The family sat around the dinner table that night,” recalls Marty. “We tasted it and we all said at the same time, ‘This is so good.’ ” They also realized they needed to share it, and decided on March 11, 2017, to go forth with that plan.
Vermont Spätzle Company, based in Arlington, VT, sold its first spätzle in June 2017. The Irions offer it now at 60 stores and farmers’ markets.
The appeal of their spätzle goes beyond being gluten-free. On the packaging are the words “Package to pan in 90 seconds,” making spätzle a quick and easy dish to prepare.
For Julz, perfecting spätzle has been a carefully-thought-out craft. It’s not just the ingredients that matter, she says, but also the method of combining them, one at a time in layers. She emphasizes its versatility: Her spätzle absorbs flavor, retains moisture, and is readily combined with a wide range of ingredients. Marty meanwhile focuses on his love for spätzle, a love he shares as he offers samples and stories. Both he and Julz are gratified that so many customers keep coming back.
A couple of weeks ago, on my way back from a visit to a farm in Washington County, I stopped at Saratoga Apple in Schuylerville. Nate Darrow, who owns and operates Saratoga Apple with Christine Gaud, suggested I try a Williams Pride.
It was love at first bite.
Williams Pride apples are dark red, soft skinned and have a flesh flecked with streaks of red. Their flavor is delicately sweet, like summer itself. You can find them tomorrow at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market with a range of other early apples.
But hurry. Tomorrow might be the last chance to savor these fruits of summer before Saratoga Apple’s full array of fall apples roll in.
Why such a brief season? According to Darrow, summer apples do not store well. They are thinner and go soft quickly. Unlike most of the many varieties that sustain market goers throughout the year, the summer apples come and go fast.
“We call them fragile flowers,” says Darrow. “They are meant to be savored briefly, then forgotten until the following year.”
Among the “fragile flowers” are Williams Pride, Pristine, Zestar, Paula Red, and Ginger Gold. Like a bouquet of flowers, they look pretty on a plate, offering a range of colors: deep red, bright yellow, softly sheened green.
Their flavors also span a broad spectrum: extraordinarily sweet to boldly tart.
As I bit into the Williams Pride, memories of childhood surfaced. My family lived in India for a year in 1973-74. We got fresh fruits and vegetables almost daily from a vendor we called the sabzi wallah, which translates to the vegetable seller. He would pull into our compound and call out the residents to come. We would get apples that were small, red, and sweet.
This week, the calendar shifted from summer to fall. With it, the apples of fall – Cortlands, Empires, Northern Spies, and Belle de Boskoop, among others – are filling Saratoga Apple’s bins at the farmers’ market. Apple crisps, pies, and sauces beckon.
But tomorrow I hope to fill my bag with the last of the fragile flowers, for a final taste of summer until the following year.
Erin Luciani, owner of Lot 32 Flower Farm.
On Christie Road, off Route 29, lie 500 acres, deeded to the McNaughton family in 1763. Erin Luciani and her husband purchased 84 acres of it six years ago, with a plan for Erin to grow flowers from March through October and spend winters with her husband Philip, a Navy fighter pilot, wherever he was deployed. After his retirement, they would build a home on the land.
One night, while poring through historic records that a neighbor brought over, Erin Luciani discovered the land they had acquired was Lot 32. In that moment, she knew the name of her farm: Lot 32.
Lot 32 is the Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s newest vendor. Luciani joined the Saturday market in July, after a year of selling flowers at farmers’ markets in Greenwich, Cambridge, and Fort Edward. She offers cut flowers and pre-arranged bouquets. Stop by her stall on the south lawn and pick out blooms you like. Luciani will arrange them, or give you tips on doing it yourself. The bouquets will stay fresh for a week if you change the water daily and make fresh cuts to the stems.
The freshness of the bouquets is about the freshness of the flowers. Luciani grows all of her bouquet ingredients on an acre outdoors. She starts seeding in March with heat mats and grow lights, and transplants in May. Her busiest seasons are summers and falls when she works 14-hour days, doing four farmers’ markets as well as weddings and other events.
“It’s a working farm,” she says. “Pretty because there’s flowers, but not glamorous.”
And on a rainy morning, she adds, “muck boots are not a horrible idea.”
Most of her flowers are annuals, planted close together to encourage the growth of tall stems. Many are flowering herbs, vegetables and grains, such as clary sage, millet, kale and basil.
Luciani grew up in Los Angeles and taught math and science for 14 years. Her husband grew up in Washington County. On a family visit in the winter, she fell in love with the area’s beauty.
“I love having four seasons,” she says. “It creates a rhythm for flowers, for life overall.”
Chowderfest is just around the corner … well, it isn’t, but from a planner’s perspective it might very well be.
Part of farming is planning. So, even as farmers and regulars at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market are savoring the abundance of summer produce, many also are thinking ahead to winter.
Tomatoes, zucchini, corn, beans, and eggplant are plentiful now at the farmers’ market and in backyard gardens. As the days shorten and temperatures drop, they’ll disappear.
I have to confess that while my husband likes to cook down pounds of tomatoes into sauces to can, I enjoy eating what’s fresh and in season. But every once so often I get a hankering in winter for a taste of the summer – for “fresh” green beans in the legendary Thanksgiving green-bean casserole, for sweet corn in clam chowder in early February.
So how to get these tastes of summer in the middle of winter?
One simple answer is to freeze them now while they’re at their peak flavor.
I’ve also balked at freezing too much in the past, partly because I forget what I have frozen and partly because many recipes require blanching vegetables first to preserve their flavor. Blanching requires dropping vegetables into boiling water, cooking them for a few minutes, then plunging them into ice water. It prevents the enzymes in vegetables from deteriorating. But it is a chore.
However, blanching isn’t required for all vegetables, especially if you plan to use them within six months. I’ve decided to experiment this month. I’ll freeze tomatoes in freezer bags whole, probably for a month, for my husband to can. Zucchini, I’ll shred, for winter baking. Green beans are being trimmed and frozen for casseroles and stir fries. I’ll blanch a few eggplants and save them for bharta, a softly mashed Indian eggplant dish I like.
And, finally, corn. The cold of winter and the warmth of chowder are on my brain, so I’m going to try freezing some corn straight on the cob for shucking when I use it. I’ll also trying blanching some to ensure I have sweet, crunchy “fresh” corn when Chowderfest comes.
September is a relaxing month to wander through farm country to the Washington County Cheese Tour, a self-driving, free event. The land is full of maturing corn fields, the greenest hay fields, and livestock grazing the lush pastures.
On Saturday Sept. 8 and Sunday, Sept. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can visit four farms that also participate in the Saratoga Farmers’ Market: Argyle Cheese, Moxie Ridge, Dancing Ewe, and Battenkill Creamery. While you visit, tour the farms, sample and purchase products, and
Battenkill Valley Farm & Creamery. Photo by Pattie Garrett.
Dave and Marge Randles, Argyle Cheese Farm, make yogurt and cheeses on their family’s dairy farm, which dates to 1860. In addition to NYS Fair prize winner Amazing Grace, they offer more cheese, gelato, buttermilk, and yogurt smoothies. Try breakfast, grilled cheese sandwiches, and deep-fried cheese curds.
Moxie Ridge Farm, the newest Tour cheesemaker is also in Argyle. In 2016 Leah Hennessy bought her farm from Liza and Dave Porter, former Market vendors. Today Leah continues to make goat cheese, and will debut an aged cheese. Watch hand milking, and meet the goats.
While Jody Somers, Dancing Ewe Farm, was in veterinary school, his family bought a farm in Granville. Soon he switched and studied sheep milk cheeses in Tuscany, where he met Luisa. When she came to the US and visited Dancing Ewe, she never left. Today they produce Italian style cheeses and cured meats. You can make lunch or dinner reservations.
This year, Battenkill Valley Creamery, Salem, has joined the Tour. Don and Seth McEachron produce delicious milk, cream and ice cream. In 2010 they won a prize for best milk in New York State.
In addition to Farmers’ Market members, other places to visit are:
Consider Bardwell Farm, Eastern Washington County and West Pawlet, Vermont. Angela Miller and Russell Glover produce cheese from goat and cow milk. Learn the history of the 1860 cheese cooperative; see cheese making demonstrations.
Victory View Vineyard, Easton. A perfect compliment to the cheeses are red wines handcrafted from their marquette, maréchal foch, frontenac, and other grapes. RS Taylor and Sons Brewery, Misty Bleu Farm, Hebron. The Taylors built their tap room in 2015. Three generations of the family live, brew, and cook there.
For more information on the Washington County Cheese Tour visit thecheesetour.com.
Vicki Brignati always loved to bake. But when her son Alex was diagnosed with severe allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and peas, her baking took on a different meaning.
“Her life became devoted to learning everything there was to know about food allergies and keeping him safe,” says Kristen Poulin, who co-owns Alexander’s Bakery with Brignati. “Alexander’s Bakery was created with a simple premise – everyone should be able to enjoy baked goods safely.”
Brignati and Poulin brought Alexander’s Bakery to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market this year. At their stall, located on the north end of High Rock Park on Wednesdays, they offer a range of baked goods, all of which are free of such allergens as peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. They also sell at the market’s Clifton Park location on Mondays.
Alexander’s Bakery’s goods also are vegan and gluten free. In this sense, Brignati and Poulin represent a small but growing group of prepared food businesses that are dedicated to creating foods anyone can eat.
Vicki Brignati, Alex Brignati, Kristen Poulin of Alexander's Bakery. Photo by Pattie Garrett.
Photo provided by Alexander's Bakery.
“We quickly realized that we were filling a gap,” say Brignati and Poulin.
“We have been so warmly received by people with food allergies and sensitivities. They have told us many times how happy they are that we exist. We’ve also been well-received by many people who do not have food allergies or sensitivities. They simply love our products.”
Among the favorites is a whoopie pie that also is vegan, gluten free, and made without the major allergens that plague many residents of the Capital area and others nationwide.
In addition to eliminating allergens, Brignati and Poulin try to take advantage of local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. They debuted an iced blueberry lemon cookie at the market’s blueberry festival in late July. As fall approaches, they’re looking forward to unveiling iced pumpkin spiced mini muffins and apple cinnamon granola. The latter features locally grown apples that Brignati and Poulin dry themselves.
The pair describes the summer and their decision to sell at three farmers’ markets as a big step. They look forward to continued growth through the fall and next year.
Rose Contadino, owner of Mangiamo.
As the Saratoga Farmers’ Market opening bell rings, Rose Contadino begins making pasta. Regulars and newcomers gather around the pasta board to watch the process – the sprinkling of semolina flour, the rolling of the dough into strips, and the dough’s final trip through the pasta cutter into ribbons. “It’s like a show,” says Contadino, with a laugh. “People love it.”
Contadino owns Mangiamo, one of the market’s three new Italian prepared food vendors. While the other two – Giovanni Fresco and La Dolce Vita -- make dishes to be eaten on the spot, Mangiamo offers fettuccine and pappardelle for home cooking.
Contadino arrives at the market with her dough, prepared in a commercial kitchen. As she prepares the fresh pasta, she lets it dry under a protective mesh. She offers half-pound and one-pound portions. Market goers take the pasta home, set up their pots of boiling water, and can get the noodles cooked in three to five minutes. Contadino also offers ravioli, prepared with a seasonal vegetable as filling.
“I have always made my pasta fresh and when I moved to Saratoga, I wanted to get into the food business,” Contadino says. “Nobody seemed to be offering pasta made fresh like this.”
Contadino’s parents were immigrants from the Calabria region of Italy. She was born in Stamford, Connecticut, the fourth of five daughters. Every Sunday, after church, the children, their parents and grandparents would gather around the pasta board and make noodles.
“We did it all by hand,” says Contadino. “We also grew our own food, and every summer, canned tomatoes for our sauce.”
Her business pays homage to her roots. Her pasta cutter belonged to her grandmother, and her father hand-crafted her pasta board.
The tradition of making pasta at home resonates for many around Saratoga, where about 17 percent of the population has Italian ancestry. One sign of this might be the group that gathers at the market on Wednesdays and Saturdays as Contadino cuts her pasta.
Some regulars arrive with recipes. Others send emails with special requests. And still others share stories about their own experiences. Contadino listens and enjoys it all.
My husband Jim and I love garlic. Not just the sight, smell, and taste of the bulbs, which are at their peak season now at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, but everything about the planting, tending, and harvesting of it.
We began growing garlic seven years ago, well before our backyard land became Squashville Farm. We started with cloves we got from the Row to Hoe Farm. The following year, we purchased garlic in bulk and began saving seed. By 2015, we were harvesting about 600 bulbs a year.
Photo by Pattie Garrett.
During those years, we also helped form the Friends of the Saratoga Market volunteer organization. In that capacity, we got to know local farmers, learned more about growing food, grew an increasing variety of vegetables, and began raising laying hens, meat chickens, and goats.
This spring, we became vendors at Saratoga’s Wednesday market. At our stall, just past the central pavilion on the north end, you will find lettuce, kale, chard, and other greens; a range of seasonal vegetables; eggs, chicken, and several cuts of goat meat. And, of course, garlic. This is the food we grow to eat and enjoy offering to others.
Garlic comes in numerous varieties, and we like to sample a lot of them. We do this by traveling to the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties, where we meet growers and taste their wares. We decide what to plant based on what our taste buds like.
This year, we chose three varieties, one from each of the “hard neck” families. Our Red Chesnok is a purple stripe, great for baking and eating roasted; our Georgian Heat is a porcelain, great for general cooking and longer-term storage; and our Ukrainian Red is a rocambole, known for having a lot of cloves in varying sizes and a true garlic taste.
We planted cloves in November. They sprouted in the spring. The sprouts turned into stalks that produced scapes in June, which we cut off and sold. The stalks then turned brown, telling us it was time to harvest.
As my husband notes, garlic is magical. It’s a year-round anticipation, planning, and celebration of farm-grown food.
MARCIE PLACE’S grandfather emigrated from Syria in the 1940s. Her father spent his weekends with his Syrian aunts learning to cook the dishes of his home country. In the decades that followed, he passed his passion for that food to his children.
Today, Place, owner of The Chocolate Spoon, pours her love for Syrian food into many of her baked goods at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. And even when she isn’t baking, she makes many of the dishes that her father mastered through his aunts.
“I will never try to be as good at cooking Syrian food as my father is, but honoring his heritage is a great privilege to me,” says Place. “After all, food is love.”
She especially looks forward to mid-summer when cousa comes into season. This lime-green squash is like zucchini, only lighter and a bit rounder. It is the base for one of her father’s favorite dishes – Stuffed Cousa, which is made by hollowing out the squash, filling it with a rice mixture, and then simmering it in a tomato broth.
Place shared her father’s recipe with me, and a few weeks ago, Debbie Stevens of Butternut Ridge Farm told me cousa was in season. Since then, I have been buying it at the Wednesday market from her. Kokinda Farm also carries cousa on Saturdays.
Cousa often is mixed into bins of zucchini and summer squash, which can make it hard to find. But the hunt is worth the effort.
Stuffing cousa takes a little work, but it also takes advantage of some of the best of the market’s current bounty. Imagine heirloom tomatoes, basil, newly harvested garlic, sweet pepper, and the satisfying crunch of summer squash. That’s cousa with its added touches. It emerges from its cooking broth looking a little like a sausage, and tasting sweet and spicy. Use whatever broth is left as a simmer sauce for meatballs or, as I did, for fish.
Stevens said cousa is a favorite among eastern European customers who like it stuffed. Stevens enjoys the squash sautéed, as a side.
Place’s father’s recipe is below.
Try it out!
Photos by Pattie Garrett.
WHILE LIVING and vegetable farming in Fort Collins, Colorado, Ann and Josh Carnes decided to move east, after discovering their Ramble Creek Farm near Greenwich in Washington County. Ann’s background with her permaculture degree from Indiana University and Josh’s experience as a retired lieutenant firefighter and handyman has created a well-rounded partnership in farming.
This ambitious couple became vendors at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market less than seven months after establishing Ramble Creek. They currently raise mushrooms, blueberries, poultry and livestock, and are applying for organic certification and starting a commercial kitchen to expand their products.
Ann explained, “There is an unfulfilled niche for growing and selling mushrooms.” Currently they raise a variety of mushrooms such as lion’s mane, shiitake, maitake, and blue and canary oyster, in truck-sized refrigerated coolers.
Most of their meat production is still in progress, but they’ll be offering pasture raised chickens in the near future. Beef production will start in October, and customers can pre-order turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Ann and Josh emphasize the layout of the land so all animals work together to create a happy and healthy environment. Their heritage breed Berkshire and Tamworth pigs, are “forest pigs,” which control the underbrush on the farm’s edge. In August, pork ordered through their website will be available for on-farm pick up.
When the pigs move to a different section, they wag their tails excitedly ready to take on the next spot. Ann and Josh will use wood from the cleaned-out sections and watch for new wild plants and ferns.
Young chicks and turkeys start their lives in the two barns that are on Ramble Creek’s distinct logo. After growing for several weeks, they continue on pasture. They follow the cattle in movable coops, to eat the plants the cattle haven’t grazed and scratch the soil. When the grass regrows, it is beautiful, rich, nutritious and green.
Ramble Creek Farm is as impressive as the products they offer at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. Visiting their farm showed the dedication Ann and Josh have put towards their land and their animals. Ramble Creek Farm participates at the Market on both Wednesdays and Saturdays.