I love ice cream in all its forms: the traditional type made with cream, sherbet or sorbet made with water and Italian gelato made with milk. I love all the traditional flavors: vanilla, chocolate, coffee, butter pecan and, of course, the fruit-based flavors. So when I was invited to a tasting to choose from the new flower- flavored gelatos, I could not resist. Off I went last Sunday to discover "Indulge" in Rhinebeck, the headquarters of Artigiani del Gelato, where artisanal gelato is made daily from locally sourced fruit, herbs and dairy. Artigiani del Gelato is the brainchild of Mauro Sessarego, Professor of Beverage and Customer Service at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. This creative Italian really knows his way around gelato.
My first encounter with this "wild leek" or "garlic of the woods" was two years ago when local friends came for dinner and brought me some ramps, which grow wild on their property every spring. I enjoyed the mild but distinctive flavor—especially in omelets. So when I received an invitation to attend the Ramp Fest in Hudson last weekend, I drove up to see what the 16 different chefs—who came from as far away as Manhattan and Great Barrington—would create with them. I was impressed by the artistic and rustic atmosphere of Basilica Hudson and by the crowds of people enjoying the offerings from table to table. If I had one criticism of the tastings offered, it was that while almost all of them were delicious, most of them were so elaborate that the specific flavor of the ramps was lost in the process, and they could have been replaced by onions or leeks without much difference. For me, the most interesting tastings were from
For those who do not want to spend a great deal of time but would like some fresh, home-cooked meals: there are a few shortcuts I like to use when I do not have the time or inclination to spend hours in the kitchen. Here are three of them.
• Pepperidge Farm Pastry Shells are served fresh from the oven with a wide variety of fillings. In today's brunch recipe, I filled them with scrambled eggs. I have often used them for an appetizer filled with sautéed mushrooms or scallops in cream sauce, and sometimes for a dessert filled with fresh or cooked fruit.
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.