Grist For The Mill


A few weeks ago, when East Moriches jam-maker and writer Joan Bernstein told me what Mark Twain once said about cauliflower, I remembered how fun wintertime locavorism can be. “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education,” the American icon opined about this brainy crucifer that Bernstein suggests mashing like potatoes or mixing into mac and cheese.

And while those with a corn and tomato fetish may consider winter as fallow, this issue delivers much evidence to the contrary.

We follow late-season pumpkins to their final destination: cover-worthy soup from Fresh Hamptons in Bridgehampton, the fund-raising pink porcelain dolls at Pumpkintown in Southampton, or a herd of Mangalitsa hogs in Aquebogue that can chew through 300 pounds of pumpkin a day. A young farmer brings his first chickens to the killing cone in the name of “acquiring animal protein,” while the innovative farm-to-food pantry program conceived by Springs resident and community activist Eileen Roaman inspires even more late-season apple, turnip and greens-buying by Long Island Cares, the region’s largest food bank.

As Marilee Foster explains, for Sagaponack farmers whose fields stretched to the ocean, “fishing season began when the potato crop was in and lasted until the first snowfall.” These haul-seining Renaissance men and woman (who could work a plow and an oar) may not be around any more, but we can still honor their seasonal opportunism.

“I’ve learned to use what’s in season, when it’s in season,” says Carissa Katz, whose hyperlocal Springs household favors slow-cooked disks of winter squash, browned Peconic bay scallops and baking trays of “cauliflower bits, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.”

Our bounty is magnified by those food and drink makers blowing our cold-season flavor palette wide open. Hampton Coffee Company created a mecca for “coffee epiphanies” in Southampton. Channing Daughters winemaker Christopher Tracy has entered the “vermouth revolution in America” with five triumphant recipes so complicated and alluring, it’s hard to know how not to drink them. Martha Clara’s 2007 port-style Clusters rings of “bright cherry fruit” but is just right for fireside swirling.

And, in a sod field across from its new brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company has sowed the region’s first crop of malting barley that, if all goes well this winter, will be turned into about 60 kegs of suds next year. “It’s not a tremendous amount of beer,” says owner Rich Vandenburgh, “but my attitude is, ‘you gotta start somewhere.’”

We couldn’t agree more. And we wish all our readers a bountiful holiday and New Year.


Brian Halweil
Follow me on Twitter: @BrianHalweil