Sliding Into Autumn, Fork In Hand
Visiting the Union Square Farmer’s Market always adds to an adventurous Saturday in New York. If you haven’t yet experienced this vast bazaar of local produce and artisanal treats, not to mention the courteous growers and vendors who drag their bounty all the way into the big city, now is the best time of year to patronize this priceless urban resource. This is when the last of the heirloom tomatoes overlap with the first butternut squash and honey crisp apples, and the overall color scheme of the market pops with foliage-like tones. It gets the mind and belly in the mood for richer, heartier meals paired with earthy and robust local wines.
Our table is no stranger to transitional cuisine, and it has been patiently waiting for this gorgeous Indian summer to run its course, and for the soups and stews to begin staining its cloth once again. Deb and I stand prepared, one finger on the Cuisinart button, another on the pulse of the New York State wine scene, and together, we intend to unleash gastronomic greatness by tapping into that 14th Street treasure trove, and inventing as we go.
Some of her cherished recipes of the past, worthy of revisiting every autumn, include a multi-textured Brussel Sprout, Delicata Squash and Smoked Sausage Sauté, the “impossible not-to-love” Thai Style Sweet Potato Soup with Spicy Mexican Chorizo, and a Slow-Cooked Black Bean Soup that can be tweaked in countless ways. Using these recipes as a platform, anyone can start the creative wheels turning, and slip into autumnal culinary mode with the sensibilities of a true gourmand.
The tricky part is perhaps choosing local wine to suit the season. But if you’re the adventurous type (and are prepared to do some tasting), the challenge quickly becomes pleasurable. If you’re not as comfortable in this department, we’ve got you covered. As tremendous advocates of the New York State wine appellations, Deb and I pay our fair share of visits to the wineries that count, and keep our collective ear to the ground to discover the up-and-comings. I’ll end off here, by mentioning some favorite local bottlings, available in the market now. Happy dining!
Benmarl Winery Cabernet Franc ’10 ($18)
From one of the greats just north of NYC in Marlboro, NY, this serious peppery, smoky, black currant-laden, Francophile’s Cabernet proves that the Hudson River Region is about to break as a real player in the wine market.
Shaw Vineyards Merlot ’06 ($25)
Steve Shaw is a veteran wine grower on Seneca Lake, and is one of the only Finger Lakes producers who holds back his wines until they reach full maturity. His licorice, tobacco and blackcurrant-driven ’06 Merlot is available in the retail market retail market, and may also be ordered in different vintages directly from the winery.
Channing Daughters Blaufrankisch Sylvanus Vineyard ’10 ($20)
Our good friend Christopher Tracy crafts numerous varietal wines at Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton. If you’re in the mood for something “autumn-ish” but on the softer side, try this tiny-production, game-friendly red made from an Austro-Hungarian variety that finds itself right at home grown on Long Island.