Delivering East End agricultural products into the hands of consumers on the other side of Riverhead can be daunting. Moving produce takes oil, and that’s assuming you can find a truck to move it. But Satur Farms seems to have figured out a way. The Whole Foods way, that is.
Beginning in mid-June, Satur began to ship its salad mixes to Whole Foods Markets on Long Island and in the city. Among the first to receive the greens are the Manhasset and Jericho, LI, Whole Foods stores. Markets in the ultra-hot Chelsea, Tribeca and Bowery Manhattan neighborhoods will also receive the salad fixings, and the local leaves will be the only bulk salad the store offers, says Fred Kasak, Whole Foods’ senior produce and floral coordinator for the Northeast region.
What’s in the leafy mix, dubbed “Tender Sweet Local Baby Lettuce Blend?” Offered both loose and in plastic packaging that will display Satur’s name and its Cutchogue location, the mélange contains greens like mesclun, arugula, wild arugula and baby spinach.
“Their freshness and smaller scale give [the product] a great flavor,” says Kasak. “It’s rare you can really tell something about the product just by the name, but in this case, I think it really works.”
“It’s a nice big move,” says Paulette Satur who confesses that she will be “winging it” to see which of the farm’s other products catch on with Whole Foods customers. “We’ll learn with them and see how it works.”
Satur Farm, 3705 Alvah’s Lane, Cutchogue; 631.734.4219; saturfarms.com
Food Service Goes Local
It’s not just supermarkets that are jumping on the local foods bandwagon. So are large institutions like hospitals and retirement homes which traditionally have relied on corporate food service providers to provision their kitchens.
Take Peconic Landing, a 320-resident retirement community in Greenport, and Southampton Hospital, a major medical center on the South Fork.
At Peconic Landing, executive sous-chef Jean-Paul Hascoat, urged on by a passionately committed resident dining committee, is creating menus brimming with tomatoes, seafood, strawberries, squash and other locally harvested items. The Southold Fish Market, Braun’s and Sep’s are among the East End purveyors who supply Hascoat.
The chef, a 45-year-old Southold resident, prepares roughly 300 dinners nightly. A typical summer vegetable order could involve as many as 150 ears of corn and 3 bushels of broccoli.
“I’m very interested in supporting locally grown,” says Hascoat. “You can assume freshness right out of the fields, into the sink and onto the table.”
As for catering to elderly residents’ taste preferences, Hascoat says that’s not a problem. “The elderly are not as choosy as most people think,” he says.
Meanwhile, at Southampton Hospital, food and nutrition director Sheryl Bahamondes is introducing locally created products to the hospital’s cafeteria menu, such as Water Mill based Hampton Coffee. She has plans for much more, including local apples, bread and veggies. “Being on the South Fork, there’s so much here,” says Bahamondes.
Peconic Landing: 1500 Brecknock Road, Greenport; 888.273.2664; peconiclanding.com. Southampton Hospital: 240 Meeting House Lane, Southampton; 631.726.8200; southamptonhospital.org
Sang Lee Markets Meat
Known for its high-quality organic vegetables, Sang Lee Farms in Peconic is not thought of as a source for hamburger meat or a bunch of pork chops. But Karen Lee says the farm is staking out a claim to be the North Fork’s purveyor of choice for locally raised meats.
No, there won’t be cattle grazing on the North Road. Instead, Lee is importing certified natural meats—ranging from bacon to chicken—from the Hudson Valley to sell at her farm stand.
The meat is provided by farmer Steven Winkler of Lucki 7 farm in Rodman, NY. Winkler raises about 20 steers and 1,000 hogs and chickens on his own spread, but he’s also assembling meat from nearly 50 other farms in the area to ship to Sang Lee.
All the meat comes from conventional grassfed cows. No antibiotics or animal proteins are used to raise the animals, which are pastured outside.
“They’re happy cows and hogs,” says Lee. Beef is priced at $4.50 to $12 per pound depending on the cut. Chicken and pork go for around $8 per pound.
Why expand into meat when Sang Lee already enjoys such a thriving produce business?
Explains Lee, it’s a business decision, pure and simple. “I had customers asking for meat that was organic or natural,” she says.
Sang Lee Farms: 25180 County Road 48, Peconic; 631.734.7001; sangleefarms.com/index.htm
Microgreens Sprout in Cutchogue
The dainty yellow flower topping the Sechuan button appears deceptively benign. Biting into the bloom it’s easy to savor its lemony flavor and liquidy sensation. Then your mouth explodes into a bolt of fire as your tongue quivers and your lips grow numb. Licking a battery might be more pleasurable.
Though it is the most pyrotechnic microgreen, the Sechuan button, which originates in Africa and China, is just one of about a dozen sprouts (most far milder and exotically savory) that have been cultivated since February in a lush 30,000-squarefoot greenhouse in Cutchogue. The facility—a delicate forest of Lilliputian shrubs—is operated by the Dutch company Koppert Cress. Exotic specimens like feathery sisho leaves (from Korea and Japan), diminutive mustard cress (Japan) and floral Tahoon cress (Himalayas) dwell in the Cutchogue facility. Plucked from trees by Tibetan students, the Tahoon cress evokes the taste sensation of wet autumn leaves touched by wild onion.
“We look for ancient varieties of aromatic herbs that are so difficult to find no one else has them,” says Nicolas Mazard, the French-born manager of Koppert Cress’s U.S. arm. Nurtured in a cotton-like substance, the plants are designed to be delivered fresh to restaurant kitchens.
High-profile New York City eateries, including Aquavit, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin and Anthos, incorporate the vegetables into dishes like carpaccio of tuna with daikon cress and shiso purple.
And while the taste of the plants is distinctive, so is their culinary history.
Take borage cress, which hales from the Middle East.
“In the old times, they used it to make you sweat,” Mazard explains with a grin.
Koppert Cress USA: 3000 Marcus Avenue, Suite 3W4, Lake Success; 516.437.5700; koppertcress.com
Catapano Dairy is going blue. No, we’re not talking election-year politics. We’re speaking of cheese, like goat’s cheese to which mold has been applied, then aged.
Developed by Michael Catapano, Peconic Mist boasts a sharp Roquefort-type taste but offers a bit drier mouthfeel than the classic sheep’s milk curds. It rounds out Catapano’s existing selection of creamy chèvres and crumbly fetas. And judges at the recent American Cheese Society meeting awarded it first price in the blue-veined category, the second such award for Michael and wife, Karen.
On the South Fork, dairy farmer Art Ludlow rolled out a cheddar last spring. But the big news for the Bridgehampton farmer—as it is for many growers on the East End—is the skyrocketing cost of fuel.
Take the cheddar. It retails locally for about $24 per pound. And despite the fact that Ludlow says his fuel costs have spiked 30 percent in just one year, he’s reluctant to raise the price of the cheddar—or that of any of his other cheeses—to try to recoup some of his expenses.
With 12 dairy cows, keeping feed prices under control is critical as well. But mounting feed costs—they’ve gone up 50 percent—are a nagging concern, Ludlow says. Ludlow’s solution is to mine the local farmers markets for additional revenue.
Explains the dairy man: “If I’m at the farmers markets, I can sell cheese for the full retail price.”
Grey Horse Tavern
What do you do with a horse that demands a seat at the bar?
If you’re a bustling Bayport tavern during the 1950s and ’60s, you allow the steed in question—Hanko, the grey horse, residing in a barn on the property—to belly up to the bar, dunk his head in a goblet full of suds, and slurp down his favorite lager.
A half-century later, if you’re two South Shore women mindful of the tavern’s history and you’re passionate about sustainable, Long Island-produced foods, you renovate the 140-year-old, two-and-a-halfstory structure with a wraparound porch, and christen it the Grey Horse Tavern.
With a tavern room sporting a copper-topped bar, plus four additional dining areas, the eatery opened in May
“It’s a tragedy what’s happening to the farm and food system,” says Irene Dougal Carbocci, who, with her partner, Linda Ringhouse, restored the former Bayport House to glory.
Years ago, the tavern was operated by Hans and Katie Rohde, and the grey horse was a star customer. Opening when the railroad reached Bayport in the late 19th century, the building served as a restaurant, inn and livery for vacationers traveling to the town.
These days, sustainability is on the menu—literally. Imprinted on the bottom is a statement that the eatery supports local farms, sustainable fisheries, and natural and humanely raised meats and dairy items. Organic products are used whenever possible.
Diners can choose from items including a roasted garlic appetizer, a formidable ploughman’s plate, baked Blue Point oysters, a BLT with a farm fresh egg on top, and a Niman Ranch hanger steak, not to mention a mojito with locally picked mint.
There’s even a Hans and Katie’s sandwich: roast beef—with horseradish cream, of course.
Grey Horse Tavern: 291 Bayport Avenue, Bayport; 631.472.1868; greyhorsetavern.com .