This fourth-generation, 72-acre farm was once covered in onions, until a hail storm in 1986 wiped out most of the crop. Farmer Alex Paffenroth started realizing "what New Yorkers want," focusing mostly on root crops. Potatoes, onions, beets, sunchokes, radishes, and horseradish. Perhaps the most oooh'd and aaah'd thing he grows, though, is his Marai sweet corn, a Japanese variety that has a whole three sugar genes in each kernel. (That's apparently a lot.)
Bathtime! They rinse in big buckets before getting packed up to head off to the Greenmarket and restaurants.
One of these red vehicles is not like the other... Since the road trip was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, they provided those sweet 2012 Roadster two-seater convertibles for the ride. Distant cousins of the tractor?
Next we headed to Windfall Farm, an organic 140-acre farm in Montgomery, New York. And regarding the organic part, it's all pesticide-free, herbicide-free, fungicide-free, insecticide-free, and chemical fertilizer-free. They're really excited about squash blossoms right now. The thin, very delicate petals can't be exposed to heat after they're picked, so Windfall immediately cools them to prolong their lifespan, which is already short as is. A few days in the fridge. They're actually picked right before heading to the Greenmarket (at around 6 a.m.) to avoid wilting. What do you do with a squash blossom? Throw them in a salad or fry them in a light tempura batter and stuff them with goat cheese.
Looking for the plumpest sugar snap peas on the trellis.
Three Little Piggies
They also live on Windfall. Their average day includes such activities as rolling in the mud, eating turnips, wagging curly tails, and oinking. Okay, so that's about all they do.
Rows of arugula and other greens, as well as a fig tree on the right.
Tuthilltown Grist Mill
Once a flour mill, now a distillery. In 2001, Ralph Erenzo and Vicki Morgan acquired this property, which for 220 years used waterpower to turn local grains into flour, and converted it into a micro-distillery with the help of business partner Brian Lee. In 2003, Tuthilltown Spirits produced their first batch of vodka using apple scraps from a local slicing plant. From there, they started experimenting with whiskey.
Founder Ralph Erenzo smiles in the tasting room with his bottles. The line-up includes their Hudson Vodka, Manhattan Rye Whiskey, New York Corn Whiskey, Hudson Single Malt, Four-Grain Bourbon, and the crowd favorite Baby Bourbon. (Stay tuned for more photos of the distillery and the grain-to-spirit process in a photo slideshow on Serious Drinks soon.)
Tantillo's Farm Ride
Not too far from the Tuthilltown Distillery sits the 130-acre Tantillo family farm in Gardiner, New York. In addition to growing the rye and corn for Tuthilltown's whiskey, they grow many crops that don't necessarily turn into booze, including peaches, plums, pears, strawberries, sweet and sour cherries, apples, peppers, eggplant, beans, and tomatoes. Pick-your-own season starts in late June with cherries (which, unfortunately, weren't a plentiful crop this year) and ends in October with apples and pumpkins. While bumping along in the back for this ride, we could see the Shawangunk mountains (a.k.a., the Gunks) off in the distance.
Millions of Peaches...
We pulled over only once for a quick peach pick. It's still a bit early in the season so they were underripe, on the hard side, but surprisingly sweet.
Tantillo's Farm Market
Couldn't leave Tantillo without stopping at their little roadside market. Especially with that soft serve sign out front. (When you see a soft serve sign, you pull over. At least that's our policy). It's open from early May through November. They had chocolate, vanilla, swirl (the obvious choice), and orange creamsicle on tap. Also, rainbow sprinkles were very much involved.
Inside the Market
Baskets of produce for sale, as well as jarred jams, locally made maple syrup and honey, and a freezer full of pies.
Or you can buy them already baked for instant gratification! Just in case you were confused, this ain't an apple or a blackberry pie. Tantillo likes to embellish the top crusts on their pies. They sell around 850 pies during the Thanksgiving season (!).
Oh, and there was a tray stacked with fresh doughnuts (our doughnut radar is always on). These little sugar-coated tires were made that morning with cider from apples grown on the farm. Biting into one, for a brief second, it felt like autumn. A very brief second.
Lynn Haven's Goat Farm
Our next and final stop. The nine-acre goat farm in Pine Bush is home to many, many goats, as well as plenty of free-roamin' ducks, geese, peacocks, and a one-eyed cat hanging out too.
The one on the upper left, a Nubian goat, wins for best floppy ears.
Here's a La Mancha goat (with its stubby, basically non-existent ears) nuzzling Linda. "I don't know what I'd do without my goats," she told us. (She also has a house full of goat trinkets, quilts, and other knickknacks.)
A trio of chevre logs made on the farm. Lynn rolls them into the log shape herself. Right now she's making about 400 to 500 pounds of cheese a week.
First the goat milk drips out all the whey for about 14 hours until you're left with the creamy, luscious good stuff. Every gallon of goats' milk turns into about 1.5 pounds of cheese, mostly chevre, though Lynn also makes goat ricotta. She's always left with a bunch of whey (need any?). Some bodybuilder types stop by her Greenmarket booth to buy it. European woman also love it, according to Lynn.
Lynn and Chef Dan
He made her a special salad (you'll see it in the next slide) using her crumbly goat cheese before we left.
Goat Cheese, Strawberry, Lime, Arugula Salad
It was now 7:30 p.m. and we were sitting in the back of ABC Kitchen. (We'd be the ones caked with dirt, sweat, and sunscreen, but thankfully the lighting was soft, glowy, and generous.) Chef Kluger changed into his chef whites and was back at work in the kitchen. Some of the dishes on the ABC menu that we tried included ingredients from our outing that day. Like Lynn's soft, creamy goat cheese on this salad. The sweet, almost-raspberry-sized-small strawberries are from Rick Bishop at Mountain Berry Farm, another one we love but didn't visit that day.
Summer Bean Salad
Yellow and green beans tossed with tomatoes and hazelnut bits in a champagne vinaigrette. Simple and refreshing with some tanginess, and the toasty hazelnuts elevated it to more-than-just-a-salad. It's really hard not to fill up on salads here.
Rye Whiskey Manhattan
And to wash it all down? A Manhattan made with the rye whiskey from Tuthilltown Spirits. The garnish is almost as good as the drink itself: a trio of brandy-soaked cherries just asking to be popped into your mouth.