Ever since I first had this dish in a restaurant in Madrid in the 1980s, I have wanted to bake a fish in salt. I remember the head waiter bringing a mountain of hardened golden salt to the table and then cracking it open to reveal a moist, evenly cooked and fragrant whole fish. I am still not sure just how much was due to the novelty of the presentation and how much to the flavor—but I have always considered it the best fish I have ever eaten.
When I received a press release from Clinton Cheese and Provisions that these young men were coming for a book signing of their cookbooks, I knew I had not yet been to this new gourmet shop, which took over the premises from Wild Hive. I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and headed over there last Saturday. Little did I know what discoveries I was about to make …Where were you raised? We are both from very rural communities, where we each cultivated a strong desire to live in the Big City.
Erik Morabito and Erin Cafarelli, two Italian American foodies, have opened a charming cheese shop at the old Wild Hive building at 2411 Salt Point Turnpike in Clinton Corners. They carry many unique items, house-prepared foods (including pizza), coffee and tea, specialty items and, of course, a variety of local cheeses. They also carry D'Artagnan duck products, poultry and eggs from Thunderhill Farms, Meili fresh produce, Wild Hive flours and grains, Hudson Valley naturally raised products, breads from Red Devon and many other hard-to-find gourmet items.
Sarah Sproule started harvesting sea salt on her rooftop in Manhattan in 2012. Today an 8′ × 12′ Evaporation House with rows of shelving holds 500 evaporation trays of sea water that are filtered throughout the process of evaporation to crystallization. Every tray is harvested by hand, and the crystals are sun baked on locally made organic clay tiles. Every salt crystal is produced and hand-packaged in New York City. A variety is sold at Clinton Cheese & Provisions.
Mortgage Lifters are amongst the most flavorful heirloom tomatoes. They are red and pink and so big that they average two- to four pounds each. During the Great Depression, an out-of-work Charlie Byles, looking for alternative means of earning money, decided to develop a large and meaty tomato that could feed entire families. Byles planted three Beefsteak, three Italian and three English tomatoes in a circle surrounding a German Johnson Tomato. He cross-pollinated the German Johnson with pollen from the other nine plants in the circle. He saved the seeds, and for six years, he repeated this process. When he was satisfied that he had grown a stable meaty tomato, he sold the seedlings for $1.00 each, which was a hefty sum back in the 1940s. The tomato was so popular that people drove hundreds of miles to purchase the seedlings.
Where were you raised? On the Atlantic coast of France. The beaches of Brittany—at Quiberon, exactly.
Ah, you must have been raised on fresh fish! Yes, my father was a fisherman, and we ate fresh seafood most of the time.
I guess it is because Hervé Bochard (chef-proprietor of Les Baux) is from Brittany, the French home of the artichoke, that he seems to procure the very best artichokes and prepares them so well. We always order them when we find them on the menu. Some friends and Gerard and I alert each other when we see it in the menu.
Roasting is probably the easiest cooking technique, with the most satisfying results. Your oven does most of the work while you spend time on the side dishes or dessert. Roasting involves cooking food in an uncovered pan in the oven. It is a dry cooking technique, as opposed to wet techniques like braising, stewing, or steaming. Dry, hot air surrounds the food, cooking it evenly on all sides. Depending on your recipe, you can roast at low, moderate, or high temperatures. It is the ideal method for large cuts of meat or poultry: rib roasts, ham, whole turkeys or chickens, or tenderloins. Smaller cuts, such as boneless chicken breasts or fish fillets, tend to dry out in the oven (they're usually better sautéed). Roasting is also ideal for dense vegetables such as potatoes, beets, and winter squash, as it concentrates their natural sugars and intensifies their flavor.