Do You Really Know What’s in Season Right Now?
Chef Scott Fratangelo of L’inizio shares the reality of the Hudson Valley growing season.
A double dose of peaches — roasted slices and peach vinaigrette — comes with a ball of creamy burrata cheese.
photo courtesy of L’inizio
Once spring pops and it’s remotely nice out, everyone is looking for peas. My first round of peas was three weeks ago from Kevin Smith at Sycamore Farms. If you’re going to use a local farm — and you want to use them — you’re going to have to wait for things like peas.
I think, because chefs can source from elsewhere, customers may not realize what the Hudson Valley season actually is. Distributors, who source from the Carolinas down, start pushing porcini and morel mushrooms toward the end of March. For us, in the Hudson Valley, that’s like the end of a wet May. When I see peas at distributors like Riviera or Baldour, I’m just able to get pea shoots, which is the very beginning of the pea, from the local guys. Our spring is so volatile. If you recall this spring, it was nice and then we got a cold blast. It snowed and destroyed things.
Hilltop Hanover Farm just came out with all the summer squashes. Now, you’re getting beets, turnips, and radishes, which [people think of] as typically early spring. Corn and outdoor tomatoes should be here in two weeks, and we’ll get them through September when customers [think they should be eating] butternut squash. I could get tomatoes all year long, but I won’t. When I get tomatoes from Kevin at Sycamore Farms, they come to the restaurant and they’re still warm. They’ve never seen refrigeration, and that’s major. That’s what makes them mealy. When corn comes, we’ll do pasta with corn, a side dish of roasted corn with chorizo and smoked ricotta salata, and corn will go with lamb on the menu. My wife makes corn ice cream.
I’m using these Hudson Valley farms as much as I can. I want to showcase them here and talk about it as much as I can. I never say we’re exclusive; I tell everyone that too. In the middle of winter, I’m not getting anything from these guys. In July, I’m trying to get basically everything. I want to get it out that this is the Hudson Valley season.