Sunday, July 14, 2013

Some Wine, Some Bread, Some Corn and More...A Market Review For The Ages!

Many things go into shaping who we are as people and sometimes life brings you 'full circle' without even realizing that it happened. Right now is a perfect example of that inside of my life. I grew up in NH...Hopkinton to be exact and lived on a few acres of land, surrounded by trees. We had a barn where we raised some animals and a field which used to have a bunch of apple trees scattered around. For a few years we even had a massive garden along with a pretty big patch of blackberries and raspberries. Summer time was spent picking those berries with my grandmother and then selling them down at the local market. Later on that same day it was off to the pond for a swim. Each fall, we could have a feast with all the local apples and foods from the nearby orchards. The winters were spent by the fire, shoveling HUGE mounds of snow and getting ready for the spring season. Years went by and college was my escape from all of those things that I couldn't wait to leave behind. Fast forward to where I am right now...41 years old, accomplished Chef, and hopefully soon a full fledged author with my first cookbook. What is it that I am writing about? Obviously we have fantastic food and great recipes, but the real meaning behind the book comes from the stories behind the food. I have now looked at my circle and my return to a much more simple view of food. Funny how that works...Couldn't wait to get away from all that berry picking and hard work all those many years I can't wait to get back to the farms, looking at those same berries in a whole new way. My grandmother would be proud of me, she would smile and tell me it all happens for a reason and that all I needed was to watch and wait. She was right!!

This weeks visit to the market comes from the town of Braintree where I discovered even more great people and equally amazing food! For all those interested, please visit the Braintree Farmers Market website by clicking here. You can reach them over at Facebook by clicking here. Over the last few
weeks I have visited many different places and talked with all sorts of people, my biggest regret is that I wish I could have spoken at length with each and every person at the markets!! It never seems like there is enough time and again I find myself looking forward to heading back and visiting with everyone for longer. I sampled some amazing spreadable fruits and relishes, grabbed some of the first corn of the season, bought a loaf of artisan bread along with a pasture raised flank steak for the grill and lastly I discovered a true hidden gem inside a bottle of wine from  a local winery here in MA!

A good fresh baked loaf of bread goes quite a long way into making a meal memorable. The aroma, the sound of a crust breaking open and that first bite are truly things that need to be enjoyed. When I was designing the layout for the book, I decided to add in a section for extras...those little things that go with meals but are not going to be part of a typical menu. Bread making is going onto that list after my visit with Kyle from Hearth, Artisan Bread. Unlike the typical supermarket style bread, these guys make bread that is delicious and healthy, using unprocessed ingredients. I had the chance to speak with Kyle who had a bunch of samples and was attentive to each of my questions on ingredients and quality. It was a tough choice in the end...each one tasted amazing and if I had the extra money and room under the babies carriage I would have bought one of each! I ended up playing it kind of safe and grabbed a 4 Cheese Loaf. The crust was perfect and the flavor was consistent all the way through. I was so happy that I made a batch of my favorite salsa and tore off chunks to use as a spoon for lunch! Other flavors from the bakery include...French Country, Rustic Rosemary, Three Chili Cheese, Sourdough, Cranberry Orange Candied Ginger and many more. Fresh bread direct from the market which was baked that day before the sun even came up...yeah, that's what real food is all about!! Please visit them at the Braintree Market and check out their website by clicking on this link

YES!! Check the recipe for Crab Cakes that was
 posted last weekend over on Facebook!
A little further down, while grabbing a quick bite of my bread, I came across a guilty pleasure of mine. I love making fruit relish and each fall I always make a batch of my favorite which is a Cranberry Orange Relish that I pair up with Baked Cinnamon Pita Chips. I should have taken a picture or two, but as I have said in the stomach sometimes controls the brain. Deborah's Kitchen, home of "Low Sugar Spreadable Fruit and Relish, All Natural and No Preservatives". So what's a guy supposed to do when faced with a HUGE spread of samples along with a basket of little plastic tasting spoons? Yup, I went to town and had  myself a sample fiesta of flavors. Not only were the flavors amazing, but the possibilities were endless especially when you look at the all the different fruit combo's. Who wouldn't want to glaze some grilled chicken with the Fig Ginger or maybe the Sweet Red Pepper Relish on the side of a pair of Crab Cakes. The list of different products is a collection of flavors that are fun, fresh and full of WOW. Visit the website for a complete list of these tasty combos by  clicking here.

By the way, speaking of those Crab Cakes, check out the Kitchen Time page on Facebook for the recipe. It is just one of many that are going to be a part of the book!

The journey through the Braintree Market was far from over and my next stop was for some REAL Flank Steak which I was able to get from Joseph Beaulieu Jr. from J.H. Beaulieu Livestock. This is what meat is supposed to be!! Pasture raised and free from hormones and antibiotics. I grilled this up with just some light seasoning and it was FANTASTIC!! Joe does thing old school, which is how meat should be handled and packaged. You can find his amazing cuts at the market each Saturday, but make sure to get there a little on the early side because he sells out quick. If your not in the mood for beef, ask  about the pork and chicken!!

Next I moved over to visit the fine folks at C.N. Smith Farm!! I had the pleasure of speaking with John Thrasher who is part of this incredible family who have been farming for over 80 years. Far from content with merely growing crops...oh no!! This group has 90 plus acres of land and has fun things for the whole family including a Farm Animal Zoo, Green Houses, Apple Picking, Hay Rides, and they cover Halloween, Fathers Day and Easter as well. The best part is that you can pick your own EVERYTHING!! Apples, Strawberries, Peaches, Raspberries, Blueberries and even Pumpkins. I grabbed a couple of ears of corn and some raspberries for the weekend. The corn was grilled along with the flank steak after soaking the husks for a little while and the raspberries were delicious with just the right amount of tartness...the pint lasted only seconds after arriving home. I want to encourage people to check out the website and even take some time to visit the farm to see firsthand what REAL food is all about. I will say right here and now that I am looking forward to taking some time to visit, learn and hopefully photograph some of this amazing and captivating story of how good food really comes to pass. If I am lucky enough, you will see a special blog update based on C.N. Smith Farm in the near future!! All of the produce from the farm is grown right there and sold on-site or at several Farmers Markets around MA. You can also check them out on Facebook by clicking on the link!

As my morning began to wind down, I made one final stop to grab what I hoped to be a fantastic bottle of wine. Coastal Vineyards, located down in South Dartmouth MA and is the home of some great varietals including Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cab Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling and several others! I took home a bottle of Ocean Breeze which was a blend of a few different white grape types. I enjoyed a couple of glasses along with my Roasted Red Pepper Salsa and Four Cheese Bread (same bread I picked up earlier in the morning). It was a really nice and a pleasant surprise coming from a local vineyard. The fruit flavors were well balanced and refreshing. A short finish and overall the kind of wine I prefer when sitting down relaxing at home. When I was first looking at the cookbook and trying to decide on whether or not to include wine, it was a struggle. Some people have different tastes, others don't drink and trying to fit that into the menu seemed a bit of a stretch. When I visited the booth at the Market, I spoke to Trish who reminded me that we can always choose to drink what we want and I agree with her. I have now decided to add in an appendix to the book, which will list all of the different menus and then add a wine selection to accompany each one. Coastal Vineyards offers tours and tastings of their 8 plus acres April through November on weekends from 12:00 to 5:00. You can visit the vineyards website by following this link or over on Facebook if you are more inclined!

So much to see and do, so many people to talk with, so many great vegetables to enjoy over dinner!! Time isn't always on my side when working on a book which focuses on all of these things. I really enjoy telling people that this book is REAL food and REAL people!! I placed the idea of this whole project over on Kickstarter, hoping to raise the needed funds to pull off an extraordinary book...which is full of tested recipes and great stories!! We are far from our goal but I am hoping that by the middle of August we will have reached that magic number and I can thank EVERYONE who has stepped up to make a dream come true!! Please take the time to visit and pledge, each dollar brings us closer to the goal.

-Chef Sean

1 comment:

  1. you need something alternative for us anti-amazonians. ;)

    How's that Ocean Breeze? Sounds yummy