I’m kinda getting used to this wild concept of seasons. I’ve been averse to any temperatures that range outside of warm to hot for the past three years. I flee New York once winter sets in. But I have to say that Fall is becoming ever more appealing. This past weekend, the season was truly celebrated at Stone Barn’s Harvest Fest. Saturday morning was kicked off with a dozen or so vendors selling their food wares: homebaked apple pies and biscotti, spice roasted nuts, Dan Barber’s ground pork sloppy joes (deliciously seasoned but I could have used a bit more sloppy in the mix), hearty autumn soups, chocolate, breads and savory pies.
A bluegrass band was playing to a courtyard filled with parents and kids two-stepping to the tunes. Hay stacks were piled everywhere. And the misty morning put everyone in the eating mood. I was working with my friends Michael and Diane Otsuka, who are opening their new baking shop today. They were selling gorgeously crafted mini savory pies. Diane used to be the chef of formerly acclaimed Verbena. I hadn’t been living in New York then, so I wasn’t familiar with her cooking. But I managed to work my way through each of her vegetable pies at least three times over and kept coming back for more. Her pies packed so much flavor into three bites. Ratatouille with feta, a mild curried sweet potato, baked beens with kale, and collard greens with garlic and lemon. It was a whirlwind tour for your mouth through the Mediterranean, with stop-overs in England for a touch of Indian inspiration, and a a final landing in the South for some hardy greens and smoky beans.
I’ve worked with Michael for the past few years, occasionally crossing paths in our part-time catering careers. He is so passionate about cooking and creating the perfect product. About a year ago, he started telling me about his plans to open a business where he and his wife could once again work together (they used to co-run the kitchen at her restaurant). I am so thrilled that they have come up with such a delicious product to sell. And not only are they selling savory pies, but Michael has been working on creating breads with alternative flours. I sampled every loaf he had to offer on Saturday and loved every bite…and I’m not a bread girl. I don’t crave it, I don’t need it, I usually don’t love it. But I kept finding myself inching back towards the cutting board and not so sneakily finishing off the scraps and ends that had been pushed to the side! So maybe I do enjoy breads after all…
Celebrate Fall and the launch of Flourish Bakery. It’ll get you in the mood. Bring on the pumpkins, the sweaters, the cider…and please throw in a bean pie for good measure!
And for a little more background, check out Florence Fabricant’s write up: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/dining/30bake.html?_r=1