I turned 51 this week. It wasn't a milestone, but I figure it is better to celebrate it than not have it. The last few years, I have been able to celebrate my birthday with dinners at well known restaurants. Three years ago, I had on my 48th birthday one of the most memorable meals of my life - my second visit to elBulli. It was a dream! Two years ago, for my 49th, I had another wonderful meal at Alinea, with whom I share a birthday. Last year for my 50th, I ate at home (it was a Monday night), but the weekend prior I enjoyed two incredible meals - one at Studio Kitchen for the first collaboration between Alex Talbot and Shola Olunloyo and the other at Aldea, a restaurant that anyone who reads this blog with any regularity will know is one of my absolute favorites. Though some good friends took my wife and I out for a lovely dinner this past weekend, the dining wasn't quite up to my recent high standards, but then very little is.
This was to be a quiet birthday, one to cook at home for. While my meal, again, was not quite of the caliber of those previous birthday meals, it was a meal I enjoyed very much nevertheless. We started with some pan-seared merguez sausages from Dancing Ewe Farm. They were reminiscent of a good chorizo, though made of lamb rather than pork. The sausages were extremely tasty, as one would expect of sausages made from a recipe personally given to the farm by Daniel Boulud himself.
My next course was pappardelle with fresh shiitakes and Sheldon Farm ramps in a Parmesan cream sauce. While any number of mushroom varieties would work well here (morels would have been particularly seasonal), the shiitakes were outstanding. Zehr & Sons Farm grow terrific mushrooms that they sell at the Saratoga Farmers Market. I had originally wanted their beautiful oyster mushrooms, but they had already sold out by the time I got there. Regardless the dish was a delicious and a big hit.
I followed with a CVap ostrich fan roast (via D'Artagnan) that had marinated in olive oil, garlic, rosemary and Parmiggiano and was finished on a natural hardwood charcoal grill. I cooked the ostrich for about 4 hours in the CVap at 125ºF before searing it on the grill. The CVap cooked the meat to uniform perfection and was one of the most umami rich and delicious pieces of meat I have had in some time - probably since Fabio Trabocchi's lamb at The Four Seasons. The ostrich was served with Parmiggiano dusted roasted Saratoga Apple asparagus - the first of the season for me.
The nice thing about having a dinner like this at home is that I can break out some outstanding bottles of wine and not worry about breaking the bank as that bank had already been broken! On this night I opened a 1982 BV George de la Tour Private Reserve Cab to accompany the merguez and the pasta. The color was a classic brick red, but the wine was still drinking beautifully with soft tannins and a remarkable retention of fruit. For the ostrich, I opened a 1997 Gaja Barbaresco, a wine that was nothing short of brilliant. Full of black cherry and other red fruits it held just a touch of wood, great acidity and perfect balance. This proved a perfect bottle for the evening.
A birthday dinner is not complete without a birthday cake. My wife made a wonderful one for me - Julia Child's Queen of Sheba cake - a complex chocolate cake made with pulverized almonds, unsweetened Bonnat chocolate and a few other ingredients. Having to work the next day, we refrained from a dessert wine (hey, I'm not getting any younger!).
Even though I didn't dine in one of my favorite restaurants, this was still one of my better birthdays. It was nice to relax and to cook and I was quite pleased that the dinner came out as well as it did. Fifty-one wasn't so bad after all.
These fiddleheads are from Kilpatrick Family Farms. Many of my other favorite farms were back back today as well. It's always good to see old friends, but I was also excited to see a new vendor at the Saratoga Market - Dancing Ewe Farm with their wonderful Italian style cheeses. Their fresh sheep's milk ricotta is a personal favorite.
We were supposed to be home. The original plan was to get an early start, spend a portion of the day at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., head into Manhattan for an early dinner at Pulino then home. The plan was initially derailed by an extended shopping trip to Fairway (we went for bagels and "a few things") and even more so by an estate sale across the street in Ridgewood, where my wife bought 4 beautiful concrete planters for $20 each.
Although we were getting a late start, we still planned on going to the Science Center and Pulino until I got a call from my sister, Elizabeth, to see if we were back from New Orleans yet. She herself had just returned from Cabo on Thursday. I didn't think she was returning until Saturday. She was in the process of making stuffed artichokes and "meat in the gravy" and since we were still in NJ invited us over. As much as I wanted to try Pulino, how could we refuse? I was amazed that she undertook that degree of cooking without any assurance of company. We spent a couple of hours at the Science Center before heading upriver to her apartment in Fort Lee.
Not wanting to arrive empty handed, we went searching for a pastry shop along the way and hit paydirt at Giorgio's on Washington Street in Hoboken, where I picked up some cannoli and sfogliatelle-like "lobster tails" that were stuffed with cream.
We finally made it to my sister's. Knowing that we were coming, she went out to supplement her meal with some fresh mozzarella from A&S in Wyckoff (smooth, creamy and delicious), Italian bread with sesame seeds, olives and her own fried red peppers. Paired with a little pinot grigio, this alone could have made a satisfying supper, but then came her stuffed artichokes. Elizabeth makes them similar to the way my mother did, but with her own little tweaks. Stuffed with bread crumbs, herbs, Parmesan and chunks of provolone, they were magnificent. So was her "gravy over maccheroni. She made meatballs and braciole and also included sweet Italian sausage, all marvelous and my definition of comfort food, especially with a little ricotta added to the pasta. The pasta was served with a home-made red wine given to her by a friend. It was surprisingly good.
The pastries also turned out to be very good and just the right ending component for this wonderfully spontaneous meal. Thanks, Sis!
It had been more than a month since I had been at the Saratoga Springs Farmers Market. I already knew that Zehr and Sons Mushroom Farm sold wonderful fresh shiitake mushrooms, but now they had fabulous oyster mushrooms too. At $10 for a box, they are not cheap, but they are generously portioned, beautiful and delicious. I bought a box and determined to use them simply.
I made them with pappardelle pasta. I took the mushrooms, probably about a pound, broke them up into smaller pieces and sauteed them dry in a wok, initially over low heat and gradually increasing it. As the mushrooms started to cook, I added a squirt of EV Arbequina olive oil and 3 shallots sliced thin. As these items cooked I added a tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary and 4oz of butter. The sauce was finished with half a cup of goat's milk yogurt from Gillis Acres Farm (we also made it to the Tory Farmers Market), a cup of fresh-grated Parmagiano-Reggiano and fresh-ground pepper. The pappardelle (500g) was cooked to al dente and finished in the mushroom sauce with s ladles (about a cup and a half) of generously salted pasta water. It was simple...and quite delicious in the way much Italian food is.
Another gem from The Vermont Butter & Cheese Company, this ash-ripened aged goat's milk cheese was creamy and ever so slightly piquant. These hand batched cheeses aren't ubiquitous, but well worth buying when found. I have yet to try any of their products that I haven't enjoyed. This was purchased at The Upper Valley Food Co-op in West Lebanon, N.H.
Yes, cereal. Not just any cereal, though. Frankly, I don't care for most cereals on the market. They are generally too high in carbs and simple sugars for my taste and either lack good texture or good taste. However, this cereal, Heritage Heirloom Whole Grains High Fiber from Nature's Path really stands out.
First of all, it is delicious with or without milk and with or without fruit. I like it best with non-homogenized whole milk from the nearby Battenville Creamery. It stays crisp in milk and has great flavor without being too sweet. While it has 24g of total carbohydrates per 30g serving, only 4g are sugars with 6g dietary fiber. The cereal also contains 4g per serving of protein. All in all, not bad for a breakfast cereal. While I believe the term "certified organic" has lost a lot of its meaning, all in all, I still prefer to eat "organic" than not. This is certified organic. The grains this is made from include wheat, spelt, oats, barley, millet and quinoa.
It seems fitting that with the Winter Olympics ongoing in Vancouver BC, my taste of the week would come from Canada. We purchased it, though, in New Hampshire at the Upper Valley Food Co-op while visiting our son for Dartmouth's Winter Carnival Weekend. While we can get other, less satisfying Nature's path cereals locally, for some reason this one isn't carried near us. As a result, we took advantage of the generally excellent Upper Valley Food Co-op and bought 5 bags of the cereal, unsure when we would return. Of course, the cereal was not the only item we purchased there. Their cheese department has a wonderful selection of Vermont and New Hampshire cheeses, many of which are hard to come by elsewhere and they carry a wide selection of my favorite beers - those from Unibroue, especially Fin du Monde. I was both surprised and taken aback at their seafood counter though. They have beautiful product and go so far as to employ a labeling system for their different seafood products as to whether they are considered sustainable, threatened or unsustainable, which I applaud. I was shocked, however, to discover that they actually sell fish that they have labeled as "unsustainable" such as Chilean Sea Bass and others. I queried the saleswoman about it. her response was that as a member organization, all they could do is educate, thus the labeling system. If members want specific product, they have to sell it! I asked her if they would sell Panda meat if members requested it? She didn't answer. I don't understand why an organization generally devoted " to supporting social and environmental responsibility" as they say on their website doesn't act even more responsibly when it comes to selling fish at risk of extinction or fished by processes destroying ocean ecosystems? What concerns me the most is what kind of chance do these fish or ecosystems have if even the "good guys", the people who are supposed to be doing things responsibly, don't act responsible?
Some very good friends are visiting us this weekend from the Philadelphia area. In addition to themselves, they brought a number of lovely things with them including some beautiful cheeses, crackers and Dalmatia fig spread that they brought from the Ardmore Farmers Market. Amongst the cheeses were the creamy, smooth and delicious Delice de Borgogne and the rich, blue St. Agur. Each cheese served atop La Panzanella Rosemary Croccantini was marvelous. The Delice was also lovely with a dollop of the fig spread. I'm looking forward to sampling some of the other delights they brought as well.
I'm still scratching my head though, as to how these lovely foods from France and elsewhere, as wonderful as they are, can come from a place outside of Philadelphia that calls itself a "farmers market." I fear that the term "farmers market" is being co-opted, like so many other terms that start off meaning something specific and wind up becoming relatively meaningless. While that has yet to become commonplace where I live, it appears to be all too common elsewhere. In my point of view a "farmers market" is not a "farmers market" unless it is selling only foodstuff directly from the farms from which they were grown or raised. That definition can be stretched to the production of artisanal food products so long as they are sold directly by the artisan. Anything else, though it may be a wonderful market, is quite simply not a "farmers market." This opinion in no way is meant to disparage The Ardmore "Farmers Market" or other markets that sell items like the wonderful ones our guests so kindly brought. It is a fine market, however, It should call itself something other than a "farmers market," lest the term continue to lose all real meaning.
I recently took the opportunity to buy a goose for the holidays from Mary Pratt of Elihu Farm at The Saratoga Farmers Market. The goose was an American heirloom variety - a Buff. I cooked it following instructions from Julia Child with a variation in that rather than steam it in a Dutch Oven, I cooked it in the CVap oven. As wonderful as the flesh turned out, the fat was even more special. I could not make enough roasted potatoes when they were cooked in the fat along with some salt and ground cumin.
Frankly, I think the holidays have become too commercial with too much of an emphasis on consumption.That being said, this is the biggest shopping day of the year, so if you are going to shop Amazon anyway, I would ask you to consider going through my affiliate site by clicking above. If not, then please ignore this and forgive the intrusion.
Consider Bardwell Farm located in West Pawlet, Vermont just over the border from Washington County, N.Y. has generated a reputation for making world class cheeses from both goat and cow milks. I recently had the chance to visit the farm and at the same time observe both the making of cheese and the making of a quality video as Michael Crupain of The Dairy Show was there to film the process.
The picturesque and bucolic farm is owned by Angela Miller, Russell Glover and Chris Gray. The engaging Peter Dixon, formerly cheese maker at The Vermont Butter and Cheese Company is the head cheese maker at Consider Bardwell.
The cheese are made from milk the farm's own Oberhasli goats and from the nearby Jersey Girls Farm. Dixon makes a a number of different cheeses, but his favorites are the firmer, aged cheeses, like the cow's milk Rupert he was making in the photos above. To make these harder cheeses, it is important to cut the curds into extremely small pieces to get out as much liquid whey as possible. Softer cheeses are made from larger curds. Dixon is fastidious in his cheese making, making sure that all the little details are right and that his cheeses are consistent from batch to batch, or at least as consistent as an essentially natural product can be. His attention to details like the pH of the whey/curd combination shows through in the fine quality of the finished product as does the quality of the base milks.
Stay tuned to The Dairy Show for more on the process and the farm including what is sure to be another outstanding video.
Fresh peanuts from Mississippi, purchased in New Orleans at the Crescent City Farmers Market and brought home to New York, were fried in olive oil and salted per a recipe in The Fanny Farmer Cookbook. These wonderful peanuts, unlike anything in a can or a jar, were a revelation. They made an otherwise very good, home-cooked Pad Thai into an outstanding one and were quite delicious on their own.
Roughly the same size and with many of the same vendors as the Saturday market on Magazine Street in downtown New Orleans, the Tuesday Market at Tulane University Square near Audobon Park somehow felt a little more energized to me. Perhaps that was because the day was a little warmer or because I started to get a better handle on the market and its products or perhaps it just was. Whatever the reason, my wife and I enjoyed the market and loosened our purse-strings to purchase a few items to bring home with us including some beautiful fresh lemongrass and ancho chiles from Nicholas Usner's Grow.Farm in Bush, Louisiana (they also had some beautiful cardoons and persimmons I would have loved to buy), mayhaw and other jams from Whitewood Farms, a creole tomato (local heirloom) and fresh, green peanuts and pecans from The Indian Springs (Mississippi) Farmers Association. We tasted their boiled as well as the green (fresh and raw) peanuts. The boiled peanuts were great, but appeared much less likely to survive our trip home. The green peanuts made us understand how peanuts got the name "pea" as they tasted very much like green peas. I would have loved to buy much more including some fresh shrimp, meats and cheeses, but we could only carry so much and heavily favored those things we could transport more easily and safely.
Crescent City Farmers Market - New Orleans, Louisiana
The fourth annual Starchefs International Chefs Congress has arrived and is already through one jampacked day. While I will come back and go through the various demos and presentations, I will do my best to present a quick synopsis in words and photos.
The morning, sunny and beautiful, made for a day that would ordinarily be meant to spend outside. Fortunately, the activity inside at the ICC, made me forget the beautiful early autumn day that we passed up.
With most people shaking off their early morning cobwebs, Nils Noren and Dave Arnold played with some of their favorite toys and techniques, showing off a Roto-Vap, centrifuge and agar filtration to come up with a variety of very cool dishes.
More techno wizardry was provided by Richard Blais, who highlighted the Isi whipper amongst other toys to create a thoroughly modern rendition of a classic breakfast.
After the traditional welcome and trends report from StarCefs editor-in-chief, Antoinette Bruno, brothers Matt & Ted Lee gave a keynote address tlaking about what makes American food special. They were also the emcees for the day.
The opening presentation featured 4 heavyweights of the industry with Clark Wolf moderating a discussion with Norman Van Aken, Charlie Trotter and Emeril Lagasse delving more deeply into their individual views of what American cuisine is.
David Bouley followed with a demo displaying the influence of Japanese ingredients and technique on his own cooking.
Lunch was followed by more Japanese cooking as Kaiseki master, Yoshihiro Murata, showed why his cooking and style are so respected as well as how non-Japanese cooking has and is influencing his cooking.
Dr. Nathan Myhvold and Chris Young next wowed the audience with a demo derived from their upcoming blockbuster of a book showing the science behind cooking as well as detailed techniques for using the modern chef's technological arsenal as well as some more traditional techniques.
Reminiscent of Morimoto's epic dissection of a monkfish at last year's ICC, April Bloomfield took apart a special 50 pound milk-fed piglet from Quebec in a tour-de-force demonstration using the belly to create her dish.
The official day finished with Pierre Gagnaire using American ingredients to prepare dishes a la minute.
Washington County (N.Y.) has developed into a truly significant cheese making destination. Always a dairy stronghold, over the past ten years it has blossomed into a high quality cheese center. If any one had any doubts, this past weekend's Washington County Cheese Tour would have dispelled them.
Liza Porter cutting samples of cheese
The tour covered five cheese makers spread with-in a relatively short radius. I started my circuit at Longview Farm in the Town of Argyle. Run by Liza and David Porter, this farm overlooks the Hudson River Valley with incredible views. They make both cow's and goat's milk cheeses of excellent quality. Their chevre, creme fraiche and feta are staples in my house, while their hard cow's milk cheeses are superb as well. Hi Rock, a gruyere-like cheese is a particular favorite and would make an awesome grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese. Producing cheese since 2004, their quality has steadily improved and is now as good as any.
Dave Randles talking cheese
From Longview and their French Alpine goats, I drove on to The Argyle Cheese Farmer. Marge and Dave Randles' cheeses and dairy products, made with cow's milk, are very good. I especially like their cheese curds, but their most notable product for me is their yogurt, in particular their Greek style yogurt, which is what I think the Greek makers of Fage Total Yogurt were looking for when they built their plant in nearby Johnstown, N.Y.
Sweet Springs Farm is located on an historic homestead in Argyle that takes a long drive down a narrow dirt road to get to. Jeff Bowers' Nubian goats and cheese making facility make a worthwhile destination. Bowers' chevres and his wonderful, rinded, White Lily are outstanding cheeses. White Lily, named after one of the farms first goats, is one of my favorite cheeses - period. Like Longview and 3-Corner Field Farm, Sweet Springs is making a blue cheese as well. Unlike the others, Sweet Springs is a blue-rinded cheese. The others are blue veined.
On my way to 3-Corner Field Farm, I stopped at Sheldon Farms to pick up some corn and had a terrific chorizo quesadilla for lunch. After relaxing a bit and tasting the cheeses of Warren County's Nettle Meadow Farm (I love Kunik) available for tasting at the store, I continued to the farm, where I found the biggest crowds of the day. I have been a fan of this farm for quite some time. They started by raising excellent lamb and over time Karen Weinberg, her husband Paul Borghard and their daughters turned into world class cheese makers as well. I am particularly fond of their Shushan Snow. Their sheep's milk yogurt and ricottas are awesome as well. In addition to great product, 3-Corner Field Farm is amazingly picturesque with rolling hills and frisky sheep working on producing next spring's lambs.
Technically a ringer on this tour, since the farm is actually located just across the border from Washington County in West Pawlet, Vermont, Consider Bardwell Farm was my last stop of the day. Producers of both cow's and goat's milk cheeses, they are perhaps most well known for their semi-soft and hard cheeses such as Dorset and Manchester, Consider Bardwell Farm's cheeses are probably the most widely available of the cheeses from the tour. They can be found in a number of high end cheese shops as well as top restaurants around the northeast including Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
While these comprise some of the most well known cheese makers of the area, this list is not exhaustive as the county is the home of other fledgling enterprises as well as some more established ones. One cheese making farm notable by its absence from this group is Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville, N.Y. They are particularly well known for their Italian style sheep's milk cheeses, with their ricotta having achieved prominence and featured in Mario Batali's Babbo.
The work is hard, but appears to be paying off for these cheese makers as well as the region. While many of the farms' visitors were local, it appeared that at least as many had traveled to the area specifically for this event. I, for one, will continue to watch the further development of Washington County's growing cheese making tradition with a growl in my stomach.
Nestled in the hills of Washington County, N.Y., just outside the Village of Argyle, Mack Brook Farm raises grass-fed mostly Angus cattle on approximately 300 or so acres of land with a herd of about 50 at this time. The farm has been family owned since the 1920's, but until 2003 was primarily a dairy farm. Since that time Kevin Jablonski and Karen Christensen have been building a herd and a reputation for finely marbled and delicious grassfed beef - yes, I said, finely marbled grass-fed beef. The cattle feed on natural grass in the warmer months and "bailage" or bailed hay from their farm in the cooler months, a process that Jablonski says results in the marbling. Over time, it has not just been the size of the herd that has grown, but also the size of the individuals within the herd, with their average animal topping out at over 900 pounds dressed weight.
I toured the farm the other day with Kevin Jablonski. Our first stop was to visit the cows, their calves and the breeding bull. While the stock is not entirely Angus (it is mostly so), it does contain a bull who is a descendant of the original Scottish Angus breed. The recently acquired bull was brought in to return the stock to prime grass-eating characteristics. In the United States, corn-fed beef has been bred to be tall and narrow, easier to fit into feed lots and confinement. Traditionally, cattle best suited for their natural grass diets have tended to be shorter and squatter. Mack Brook cattle are nothing if not short and stout! While it can be tempting to think all cattle are alike, this is clearly not the case. In addition to the physical differences between cattle bred to eat corn and those more suited for grass, there is a big difference between cattle bred for meat vs. those bred for dairy purposes. Beef cattle tend to be larger, incorporating their feed into muscle mass and fat rather than pouring their calories into milk production.
From the cows and calves and an overprotective mother, we proceeded to another lush field to visit the heifers (females who have not yet bred) and steers (castrated males - they are castrated by banding their scrotum beneath their testicles at birth, preventing their development). These animals tended to be a bit more skittish, but ultimately proved very curious, slowly gravitating towards us as we stood still in the field. The animals are beautiful with full, shiny coats and powerful muscles evident underneath.
While Jablonski and Christensen have not pursued an organic designation secondary to the expense associated with obtaining it, the animals are raised in an organic fashion. Jablonski and Christensen do not use pesticides, herbicides or non-organic fertilizers on their land nor do they administer antibiotics or hormones to their animals. They do, however, vaccinate their cattle, something that Jablonski said, was enough to turn off one dogmatic potential meat purchaser. The irony is that vaccinating the cattle is safer for them and everyone else without adversely effecting the quality of the meat or indicating any lapses in how the animals are raised. Taking offense to vaccination simply doesn't make sense from either a scientific or humanistic perspective.
The cattle of Mack Brook Farm are extremely well taken care of. One certification Jablonski and Christensen did go through the trouble and expense of obtaining is that of being Certified Humane. This process not only looks at the conditions on the farm, but where and how the animals are slaughtered. Jablonski explained that they bring their animals to slaughter at a slaughterhouse literally five miles from the farm, an important step that Jablonski feels makes a big difference in the ultimate quality of the meat, since stress of travel, which he says has a direct effect on meat quality by reducing the marbling, is kept to a minimum.
When I asked Jablonski if the animals ever stayed in a barn, he told me that they always remain outdoors on the land and seem to be quite happy for it. Unfazed by the winter cold, the animals are free to take shelter from the wind and the elements in surrounding woods. By not staying in a confined barn, they have a much greater tendency to avoid illness and remain healthy.
Mack Brook beef is not a supermarket product. To get this meat, one has to invest a little effort in addition to a little money. Mack Brook meat is not sold in supermarkets nor do they have a direct presence at Farmers markets. For the time being, they neither ship nor take credit cards. To get this beef, one must either go to the farm, buy it from select stores (Sheldon's Market, Salem Garden Works, Green Pea Local (in Greenwich), Four Seasons (Saratoga), Wild Thyme (Ballston Spa) and The Green Grocer (Clifton Park)) or get it through John Ubaldo's Mountain View Farm, (who brings it to Farmers Markets in Westchester), order it from a CSA through Leweis-Waite farm or get it in NYC through The Farm-to-Chef Express. One well-known NYC restaurant that has taken the trouble to use Mack Brook beef is Gramercy Tavern.
Growing slowly, Christensen and Jablonski are happy with the pace of their business. While there is room for further growth both in terms of what their land can sustain and what they can personally manage, they are afraid of expanding too rapidly. They would rather sacrifice some potential sales in the short term, to make sure that they are able to provide a quality sustainable product for the long term.
Called "The Beauty of Hebron", these light pink colored beauties are an heirloom variety developed locally in the 19th Century in the Town of Hebron by Edward Coy and Rachel Campbell and became an international favorite by the time of the turn into the Twentieth Century before becoming nearly forgotten by the midpoint of the century. According to Wikipedia, the potato is currently RAFT list of threatened North American foods. I bought them from Sheldon Farms at the Saratoga Farmers Market. Albert Sheldon has re-introduced these potatoes to the area, but this crop is so new that even he couldn't give me an idea of how they might be best used!
I decided that I would see for myself how they should be prepared. I would bake some and boil some and then compare. I coated a few in olive oil and salt and roasted them in the oven at 350ºF for about 45 minutes. Before I boiled the remainder, I tested and tasted one from the oven - it was incredible! Like a medical study with results too significant to ignore, I aborted the rest of my experiment and put the remaining potatoes in the oven to bake. The potatoes required no additional flavor adornment, though I am sure they could carry any number of enhancements quite well. The result can be seen here:
So long as I can get access to them, this is a potato that I will happily and eagerly stock in my pantry. I may even try boiling or mashing them some time.
When we left to visit our friends in the Hamptons on Monday, I tried to bring some good fresh mozzarella from A&S Italian Deli in Wyckoff, N.J. only to discover that they were closed. I was tempted to go through Fiore's in Hoboken, but it was too far out of our way and I wasn't sure that they would be open either. After we arrived in the hamptons, I was thrilled to learn that there is an Italian Deli there that makes an outstanding fresh mozzarella - Villa Italian Specialties in East Hampton. For my sons birthday, we bought a couple of still warm, fresh mozzarelle (actually fiore di latte as mozzarella refers most accurately to mozzarella di bufala) and some coiled Italian cheese and parsley sausages.
The creamy, burrata-like mozzarella was served simply, dressed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and a little fresh basil. The flavor was outstanding with the tang of a perfect mozzarella, while the consistency was perfectly creamy with just enough firmness to cut through it smoothly.
The mozzarella was served along with a tomato and basil salad...
and the sausages from Villa...
Delicious! Both the mozzarella and the sausages were as good as any that I've had in or around the City, which is saying something.