While busily building my stationery empire this summer, I noticed an exciting transformation happening downstairs from my office (Colonial Green in Westport). The Italian restaurant favored by the blue haired crowd had closed and serious construction was underway on a new place. Over the next several weeks, there was a buzzing of saws, table tops were painted, artwork lay arrayed on the sidewalk, and chicken wire went up in the window. I took note of the words “Le Farm” scribbled on the front window and thought to myself, this is promising. I couldn’t resist asking one of the men standing out front if he was le farmer (he wasn’t). Then I heard rumblings (and soon confirmation) that foodie darling and former chef at Stamford’s famed Napa and Co., Bill Taibe, was le man behind LeFarm. LeFarm was to be Westport’s newest outpost for farm-to-table cuisine. As a charter member of the farm-to-table club, I couldn’t have been more excited. I’d live on a farm if it wouldn’t derail my shoe collection.
Entries in farm fresh (82)
I know what you’re thinking...why is CTBites reviewing The Dressing Room? Isn't it the most reviewed restaurant in Fairfield County? Haven't we heard it all before? Think again. The Dressing Room has long been the go-to spot for a glass of wine or pre-theater meal, but it seems that Chef/Owner Michel Nischan and Executive Chef John Holzwarth have recently made some changes to their "Homegrown" repertoire.
I re-visited The Dressing Room recently at a friend's suggestion to try their new “American Tapas” menu. Just back from vacation on Cape Cod, and feeling the after-effects of the every day, all-fried seafood diet (ok, fine... there was the daily ice cream cone too), I was in dire need of a healthy veggie fix. My friend assured me that with the newly invigorated menu, I would not be disappointed... and I was not. In fact, I was blown away.
Did Fairfield County seem unusually quiet last weekend as if everybody had gone somewhere? Were you wondering where the party was? I can tell you with absolute certainty that Fairfield County residents were indeed out, but there were no cocktails involved (although now that I think of it....) This was a family friendly affair...Everybody was out picking pumpkins at Jones Family Farms in Shelton CT.
We drove up to Jones on a beautiful Sunday afternoon (of course the weather has taken a turn for the worse since then) and as we pulled into the parking lot, my heart sank. I couldn’t believe there could be this many people on a single farm. It looked like Silverman’s (and not in a good way). But all was not lost. As we left the cars in their neat rows and strolled towards the actual farm, something beautiful was revealed. The vista opened to picturesque rolling hills in the distance and what seemed like acres of pumpkin fields. And these were no half-rate pumpkins. We are talking perfect pumpkins..thousands of them. We were on Pumkinseed Hill, the Fall outpost of the Jones Family Farms.
We Fairfield County residents are uniquely lucky to have access to beautiful fresh local produce thanks to the labors of our farmers and businesses that support them via independently run farm stands. Do yourself a foodie favor and make one of these farm stands a destination this week and greet the farmer or owner by name. You’ll be surprised and delighted at your experience and wonder why you haven’t visited before. I know what you're thinking...more apples...no thanks. Read on and see what is available from the farm these days. You will be amazed by the bounty and variety. Most farm stands close after the first hard frost, so get it now while the gettin’s good.
What would you say if you could support Connecticut farmers and small business entrepreneurs, reduce your carbon footprint and enjoy a wide variety of locally grown, farm fresh food with just a few clicks of your mouse? “Bring it on!” comes to mind.
Which is just what I did when I heard about CT Farm Fresh Express. This wonderful service recently arrived in Fairfield County, bringing Connecticut grown produce, meat, dairy, baked goods and other products right to your front door.
Now, you can leave the shopping and the driving to Deb Marsden, who began her service, CTFFE, in February ’08
Local CT farms are long on butternut squash these days so it is readily and inexpensively available at all your local farm stands and markets. This fruit has a wonderful sweet creamy consistency and nutty flavor, thus lending itself nicely to soups without requiring added fat or sweetener.
When you are selecting your squash, look for fruit that feels heavy for its size and has a nice hard, deep colored skin free of blemishes. The more orange the skin color, the riper and sweeter the squash.
This is a very simple recipe that has great nuance from the curry, cumin, and lime zest. It has become a mainstay in my household every Fall.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
You know what happens when you go fruit picking. You come home with 10 pounds of fruit hoping your neighbors will want to go halfsies. What is one to do with all those pears and apples? Here is one idea from Chef Nicole:
We went fall picking last week and had a lot of Asian pears. These happen to be one of our family's favorite fruits and they can be hard to come by in the market, not to mention extremely costly. Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, has rows and rows of these delicious fruits available for picking now. It is worth the drive to this lovely orchard to pick these uniquely sweet, crunchy, delicious pears. They will quickly become one of your favorite snacks. Pick some extras to make these flatbreads. I made them for some friends and we devoured them with some nice cold white wine. It's a delicious and beautiful dish that can be made in a snap with a few little grocery shortcuts.
Asian pear, Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese (or Goat Cheese) Flatbread
Sometimes as Fairfield County residents, it is easy to get wrapped up in the daily suburban grind, a world of strip malls and meals on the go. Given all the white noise of routine life, it is nice to occasionally escape from the carpools and commuting…and head to the farm. With its open space, beauty, and serenity, you can be transported...nourished. Many of us journey to the fields as an annual Fall ritual to pick pumpkins and apples, drink cider, or get lost in a hay maze, but the beautiful farms of rural CT can offer much more than just kid-friendly fun.
Last week I attended a "Meet Me at the Farm" lunch on the Sport Hill Farm in Easton.
Dinners at the Farm has hosted its final meal for the season, but for those of you who missed out of this exceptional dining event, make sure you make this a priority for next summer. If you didn't read our post on this last spring, Dinners at the Farm is a series of dinners hosted on farms throughout CT, using ingredients that are produced locally, and benefiting organizations that support our local farming community.
I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about driving an hour and a half in the rain to The Old Maids Farm in South Glastonbury to eat dinner in a possibly mosquito laden field. But despite Dinners at the Farm's rustic backdrop, the dining experience was a perfectly run 5 star culinary affair. From the first corn fritter and warm spiced whiskey sour cider, passed as the sun was setting, to the magic of the beautiful candle-lit tent with its white clothed communal tables..it was a perfect evening.
When I reluctantly moved to Los Angeles at the beginning of this decade, I missed our annual fall apple and berry picking trip so much that I dragged a posse of ex-East Coasters and their small children to the closest orchard (two hours into the desert) to pick apples one hot October Sunday. To put it mildly, apple picking in California is a sad facsimile of the real deal here in New England. The air was heavy, we were sweaty and the only ones enjoying the adventure were the children– they didn’t know any better.
Being back in New England, where there really is a fall season and apples taste like, well apples, we recently took advantage of the pick your own trifecta: September peaches, apples and raspberries and visited Bishops Orchards in Guilford, CT.