Stonegate Farm, in the town of Newburgh, is three acres of innovative, organic, heirloom variety farming right on River Rd., in the residential neighborhood of Balmville. The owner, Matthew Benson, a photographer, author and agricultural philosopher as well as a working farmer, believes that in a perfect world every neighborhood should have access to its own farm.
Stonegate is a testimonial to the possible. A derelict property several years ago, the lushly landscaped acreage is now an extraordinarily beautiful compound of large and small buildings, unusual varieties of precisely planted produce, fruit trees and bushes, chickens who roam freely throughout the grounds, and bees who create their honey in houses worthy of its Queens. In the summer, Stonegate is a vegetable, fruit and flower CSA (this year there are 38 shareholders) and this Saturday, June 15, the Farm is hosting it annual potluck dinner and barn band party, featuring the indie band, The Mommyheads. Admission to the potluck dinner at 6:30 and The Mommyheads barn concert at 8 is– Bring a dish!
On Saturday morning, kids 4-8, from 10:30-11:30, can join a $10 tour of the farm with Farmer Sarah to learn how veggies grow. Stone gate is at 4 Stonegate Drive (off River Rd.) in Balmville. For more information, and to sign up for the kids’ tour: www.stonegatefarmny.org
Blessed are we in Newburgh—at the epicenter of at a 30 mile (and often much less) circumference of farmers markets, with seasonal and organic produce not found elsewhere. The bonuses are many: being outdoors, meeting the farmers, finding out exactly how the food was grown and a chance to get a literal taste of a neighboring community. Starting with Beacon, we’ll file weekly market reports throughout the summer. Let the excursions begin!
BEACON FARMERS MARKET
Every Sunday now, 11-3,on Red Flynn Rd. down by the train station, and right on the River. Immediate impression: definitely an upgrade from previous years, more vendors and more interesting products. Dog-friendly and of course, kid and baby friendly. (But, if you’re attached to either of the latter, be prepared for much admiration and age, name and other questions). Lots of parking available. Extra points: the great kid’s playground and shaded River park, and community River Pool is right down the road, at the other end of the train station. For updates: www.thebeaconfarmersmarket.com
More vendors will be appearing throughout the summer, and at the June 1st Sunday market there were more under-canopy vendors there than are listed here—including a bottled soda stand, a local beer purveyor, a Middle Eastern pastry and skewered meat vendor, a French pastry person, a honey and maple syrup stand—but the following stands, local to their core, called out to me with strongest siren song.
FLOUR CITY PASTA
Mangia! Organic hand-made dried pasta, beautiful beige ribbons, most subtly flavored with vegetables, herbs and spices. On Sunday, Lisa Lionette represented the stand of superb pastas, made in small batches in Pittsford, NY. For pre-market shopping and recipes, see their website: flourcitypasta.com
EDGWICK FARM CHEESES
EDGWICK FARM CHEESES
On nine acres in Cornwall, NY, Edgwick Farm produces an ever-growing number of goat cheeses –possibly due in some part of their frisky, happy, personable goats (check their website for farm tours) who seem to know that their milk will be turned by very skilled cheese makers into superb ricotta, feta, flavored, herb-marinated..and more. Rich, rounded cheeses, beautifully aged. Sought after by local restaurants for all the reasons you can taste at the Market. www.edgwickfarm.com
ALL YOU KNEAD BREAD
ALL YOU KNEAD BREAD
If you’re a bread person (i.e., would go to the ends of the world for the real thing), you may have already discovered All You Knead breads, sold at Adams in Newburgh and at their own bakery and shop in Beacon. Extraordinary, slow-risen, additive-free breads, with crust, chew and texture, in a myriad of different flours, shapes, forms and some with fillings –gorgonzola walnut, jalapeno cheddar, cranberry/walnut/raisin/currant, olive, nut, jalapeno cheddar. At the June 1st Sunday market they had a full selection including Pullman loaves, baguettes, ciabatta—from wheat grown in Millbrook, NY– as well as pastries, turnovers, cinnamon buns, bagels, bialys, croissants, rolls. You can’t eat fast enough to keep up with these people. All You Knead is a Hudson Valley treasure. – 308 Main St., Beacon, 845-440-8530.
Representing the Obercreek Farm CSA, a small farm in partnership with Common Ground Farm, was Rebecca Hener and her pouch buddy, the irresistible six-month old Raleigh Hener. Equally seductive were the baby Asian greens, an incredibly tender mélange of baby greens that, right out of the bag, were the perfect energizing snack on a way-too-hot day. Once home, the rest of the bag was drizzled with the oil from Edgwick Farm’s marinated goat cheese. Rebecca says her favorite way of eating these tiny, sweet greens is for breakfast, on top of a piece of toast (see All You Knead). Later there will be tomatoes from this farm—highly anticipated if the Asian greens are any indication of Obercreek’s standards. www.Obercreek.com
A coffee roaster in Beacon, Tas Kafe is quickly becoming the coffee of choice in The Valley’s high-quality restaurants and shops. Having weaned myself off an 8-10 cup a day habit eight years ago, I avoided this stand until, drugged with heat, I succumbed to a black, no sugar, no milk iced coffee—a revelation. Dark, smooth, rich, no over roasted/burned/Starbucks taste. At the Tas Kafé stand and at the shop (the name means “cup of coffee” in Haitian Creole), the fair trade, organic coffee menu includes beans from Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Ethiopia all roasted on the premises. Meet Tas Kafé here on Sunday or at the shop, 504 Main St., 845-522-1510 www.taskafe.com
A thousand acre farm in Tivoli, NY, and one of the first stands at the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC, Migliorelli is the go to greens and everything else farm. I got two pounds of slender, tender rhubarb—a score, it turns out, as rhubarb season is almost over, as is asparagus, those first two harbingers of spring. And a big bag of mixed lettuces—a huge amount of truly toothsome leaf lettuce. This space is not large enough to enumerate the selection on Sunday—just some of the 130 varieties of fruits and vegetables grown on the Farm—including broccoli raab, which the Migliorelli family is credited with popularizing in this country. According to David at the stand: Whole Foods recently tried to strike a deal with Migliorelli, a contractual agreement for all of their produce. But then where would that leave all of us little people, and restaurants and farmers markets? Migliorelli, bless them, rejected Whole Foods in favor of, well….us. www.migliorelli.com
Everything pickled—really. Cucumbers (half sour, Kosher sour, new, sweet..), vegetables, mushrooms, olives. Tapenade, hummus and artichokes too, and, of course, the very popular pickle pops. Tasting encouraged! It’s great to pucker up without having to drive to the Teaneck, NJ store. www.picklelicious.com
NEW CONFECTIONER FROZEN DESSERTS
NEW CONFECTIONER FROZEN DESSERTS
Burdened with bags, and with no extra hands or mouths in tow, I was unable to sample any of the treats and sweets at this vegan frozen treat stand—created, I suspect, for the increasing number of Hudson Valley vegans–some number of which are my immediate friends and vibrant specimens of human beings they are. But, definitely: a return visit next Sunday! The ice creams and sorbets are made from coconut milk and organic soy milk and sweetened with agave in a myriad of organic ingredients and flavors-both standard and offbeat; The sorbets are made from fresh fruit and berries. www.newconfectioner.com
COMMON GROUND FARM
COMMON GROUND FARM
Even in the wilting heat, Common Ground had an array of luscious greens which made choosing among the lettuces almost too difficult. . My final choice, something I did not know: Panisse lettuce, heads of light green ruffled leaves that could be an organic bridal bouquet. Sweet and delicate, the leaves were munching material all the way home, when they met up with some tomatoes, organic coconut vinegar and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. All the lettuces and more will keep on coming through the summer, along with potted herbs, and a variety of greens. Located in Cold Spring, NY, Common Ground is a NOFA pledged farm (no sprays or pesticides are used), with some very innovative growing techniques. www.commongroundfarm.org
BLACK FOREST FLAMMKUCKEN CO TRUCK
BLACK FOREST FLAMMKUCKEN CO TRUCK
Say Flamm or Tarte Flambé—or pizza which a flammkuchen somewhat resembles but not really. A traditional specialty of Alsace and Germany’s Black Forest region, Flammkuchen is an oval of flour/ water/ salt/yeast/ olive oil dough which is topped with sour cream, smoked bacon, pork, Gruyere, mozzarella, mushrooms, pickled ramps—not all at the same time!—and then slid into an extremely hot wood-fired oven to emerge as a cracker crisp crust, smokey ingredient topped Flammkuchen. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the flamms are too delectably elegant to be put into any known category. These flamms, created by Andrew Chase and Conny Chase of Pleasant Valley, NY are the result of several years of research travel, sourcing ingredients and testing doughs and topping combinations and are now sold out of their notably handsome truck which houses the essential wood-burning oven. Intoxicating woodsy smells created a line at The Market (see the full menu at blackforestflammkuchen.com ) and word passed quickly to Newburgh: Beginning this past Wed, the Flamm truck will now be parked outside the Newburgh Brewery every Wed. (Trivia Night) from 4-10. And, beginning soon, every Thursday from 6 to 8 The Flamm Truck will be parked outside the Huguenot Farms CSA pick-up at Safe Harbors, 117 Broadway. Flamm Fans: a cult in the making.
You say taco, I say taco, but, really, what do we mean? To aficionados of cross- country fast food chains, it’s a corn tortilla shell–sometimes hard, sometimes soft- -with a multitude of often fanciful fillings–a gringo’s interpretation, Mariachi-style. But to Mexicans, a taco is a humble thing, a very small, soft corn tortilla, heated on a grill, filled with diced meats or poultry, then folded over and eaten, often in multiples, as a savory snack.
Most of the U.S. lacks a local connection to autentico tacos, with a few exceptions, notably southern California, Mexico’s neighbor, with its large Latin immigrations. And to 30,000 residents of Newburgh, where the majority of the population —48%- -is Hispanic, the taco is both ubiquitous and authentic —no surprise to anyone who has walked the bodega-rich blocks around Washington’s Headquarters or shopped in the Latin food markets on Broadway. We live in Taco Town.
After three weeks of trolling for tacos, walking and driving around the City of Newburgh’s 3.8 square miles, I finally gave up on a definitive list. Thirty? Forty? Tucked into tiny storefronts and bodegas, those taquerias just keep on coming. And the menu keeps multiplying. Where there are tacos, there are often burritos and tortas, irresistible distractions. Ultimately, I narrowed the list down to three sources, places that consistently promise and deliver. Expanding that list is up to you, fellow taco seekers—a savory way, not so incidentally, to get to know your neighbors and be nourished by them.
A summary of the quarry:
According to the Real Academia Española, the word taco originally meant “plug” and refers to rolled paper or cloth patches for a musket ball. In culinary vernacular that translates to a small, pliable corn tortilla, usually doubled for sturdiness to support its fillings, your choice—Hold the muskets! –of diced or shredded pork, chicken beef, or tongue showered with diced onions and cilantro. At an average $1.25 a taco, it’s no surprise that many people order three at a time, cuddled up on a paper plate with a side packet of sliced radishes, lime wedges and –if you ask—a little cup of hot sauce.
A big, soft pillow of comfort food, burrito means “little donkey”, an endearing reference to its rolled up shape that, at least to the name-giver, resembles the ear of a little donkey. An eating burrito is a large, about 8”, flour tortilla filled with meat, chicken or vegetarian options, often rice, beans, tomatoes and lettuce, then folded into a big fat square and steamed or briefly grilled. A big burrito needs a big mouth—or a knife and fork.
A torta is the Mexican equivalent of a Dagwood sandwich—large enough for both Dagwood and Blondie. A split bolillos–an 8” oblong of soft crumbed, crusty bread –is spread with a thin mayonnaise and then generously filled with diced or shredded beef, pork or chicken, and layered with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, plain or pickled jalapenos, small black beans, avocados and queso fresco, crumbed white cheese. Prices vary from $6 to $8 and fillings vary, depending on the maker, but in any language, A Great Sandwich.
THE BROADWAY TACO TRUCKS
Two white trucks and one blue truck park and serve on mid-Broadway, on their own time. The white trucks, which look like they could use a mechanical overhaul, appear so erratically they, perhaps regrettably, were too elusive to make this list.
But the Big Blue Taco Truck, Tacqueria Lucas, shows up pretty regularly now, sometimes every day for a week, other weeks, three or four days. Parked across from the cemetery on Broadway, you can’t miss it. The seriously big deep blue truck is a canvas for terrific visuals—a Mexican Wayne Thiebaud must have rendered the pop art torta, tacos and burritos on every surface of this tacqueria on wheels.
The order window is so high you can’t see what’s going on in there but either a smiling man or woman appears to take your order, then disappears and, not so long after, appears in the window again with your to-go food, which most customers seem to eat while socializing on the sidewalk.
Ask about the prices before you order—they’re not posted and, as it turns out, they are the highest in town: $1.95 for a taco, $5 for a burrito and $8 for a torta. All three are worthy renditions of themselves and possibly warrant their prices because of the Truck’s extended hours. The owner swears that he’s there Sunday through Thursday, from afternoon until midnight and on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m, until to 5 a.m. the following morning. Really? “Yes, for the people who go out dancing.”
Tacqueria Lucas, 845-401-3696, Regular appearances through the week, across from St. Patrick’s Cemetery (between Prospect St and N. Robinson Ave.). Through the night on Friday and Saturday.
Several blocks up Washington St. from the Re-Store, Azteca Market is like a little Mexico all lit up for a fiesta. It’s a full-on Hispanic grocery, with a parking lot next door as large as the market itself. And, either through the market or via a door on the parking lot side, it’s all tacos, all the time. Right inside the side door two men command a large griddle non-stop, heating tortillas and filling them with your choice of diced beef, chicken, pork or tongue. If it’s take out, you’ll get your $1.25 tacos in a bag with a green sauce and a hot sauce and a packet of sliced radishes and lime wedges. If you choose to eat in, you can sit in the large back dining room, with a big TV turned to a Spanish station and tables full of local families.
Either way, a stop in the grocery section is imperative. For anyone with the slightest interest in Mexican cooking—or just in some of the ingredients—Azteca is a goldmine. All the fresh white cheeses, sausages, cured meats, canned and boxed goods and fresh produce of the rural Mexican table are here as well as an entire aisle filled with dried peppers of every degree of heat and a bakery section with sweet and non-sweet breads of every size and shape –including bollitos, for those who want to make tortas at home. The counter persons, who speak about as much English as I speak Spanish (close to zero) are invariably friendly and helpful, and very adept at sign language.
Azteca Market, 215 Washington St., 845-565-0717. Market open all day, Mon.-Sun.
Tacos from 5 p.m., until 10 p.m., Mon-Thur; from noon until 11 p.m. Fri., Sat., Sun.
You know this place, right? It’s the large, glass windowed full-service restaurant on mid-Broadway. Inside there are large, tiled floor rooms with both tables and booths, a notably extensive menu of Mexican favorites, a largely Hispanic clientele, a lovely staff who sweetly accommodate the gringos who don’t speak Spanish, and a partially open kitchen where the magic happens. It is tempting to want to sit down. But stand firm for now. Order take-out at the open kitchen widow where you can watch as the adept cooks turn out dishes from the huge menu for both the diners-in and the takers-out. Tacos are $1.25 apiece; tortas, with a choice of 14 fillings, are $5.99; and burritos are $4.00 for beef, $3.79 for a vegetarian filling. Once you get a literal taste of the place, you can understand why Los Portales is so popular—and on weekends, it’s jammed. Just stay calm and carry out.
Los Portales, 295 Broadway, 845-565-6666. Open every day except Mondays.
Tacos are great walk-around food, but you might consider walking them home. Along with weeknight take our dinners, a weekend party could become a literal fiesta. Stop by to Los Portales for large orders of tacos, burritos or tortas–—or any mix of the three. And it is absolutely necessary to add an order of guacamole. Even if you think you make a killer home made version, Los Portales’ voluptuous, chunky, jalapeño–studded guacamole is the closest to perfection I have ever had in this country or in Mexico.
Go home, gather a group, move outside on a balmy night, program Pandora or rent “Searching for Sugar Man”. And—is this really necessary to say? —don’t forget the Margaritas. Or this Sunday, May 5th: Cinco de Mayo.—SUZANNE HAMLIN