Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Festivities

If you have read some of the previous posts on Kitchen Fiddler, you know that I derive great pleasure from beautiful produce, especially when it’s from a good farmer’s market. I love seeing fruits and vegetables proudly displayed by the people who nurtured them from seedlings and tended them with care as they grew. A visit to a farm stand sparks my culinary imagination much more vividly than walking the produce aisle of a grocery store ever does, for the possibilities somehow seem greater when I encounter that which has been harvested just hours before. With that in mind, can you imagine my glee yesterday when a little farm stand arrived right in front of my apartment building?!

As I walked out of my building early yesterday morning, there were parent volunteers from the local Montessori school setting up for their Fall Festival, an annual event which takes over my entire street the last Sunday in October. I headed down the block towards Broadway, walking past the people from Bialas Farms in New Hampton unloading the bounty from their truck. But when I encountered this delightful display of miniature pumpkins and gourds, it halted me in my tracks. And I couldn’t stop smiling.

This autumn quartet was the first photograph I took that morning, and if that had been the only picture I snapped, I would have considered it a successful morning. But look at what else I found!

I’m certainly familiar with the yellow&white sweet corn which is one of the great joys of summer. However, this was bi-colored corn from a totally different palette! Have you ever seen rosy colored husks such as these? And who knew corn could have dark green kernels like this?!

I actually came home with golden beets, but these radishes were so photogenic that I had to share them with you.

My mind began to race with endless recipes involving butternut squash and roasted onions.

It felt magical to have the first glimpse before anyone else arrived, and I wanted to soak it all in.

Golden autumn light gently bathed the apples, making them glow.

Winesaps, Jonagolds, and Macouns all seemed to cry out, “Pick me, pick me!” So I did!

Unusually enough, movie snacks were also being sold at the farm stand. Peanuts in the shell and popping corn were very inviting.

It was an incredible way to start the day, walking out the door in a half-groggy state but being immediately awakened by one visual delight after another. Artichoke flowers kept company with the mini pumpkins and that crazy corn, making a very exotic and colorful trio.

By the time I returned home several hours later, the Fall Festival was in full tilt. My street was bustling with children decorating pumpkins and having their faces painted. I saw kids concentrating hard on their cupcake-decorating and candy necklace-making, and I had a good laugh as I watched some little ones playing Go-Fish, purposefully trying to reel in rubber duckies from wading pools. Winnie the Pooh had a busy afternoon being photographed with toddlers sitting on his lap while Spider Man and Big Bird mingled amongst the parents and children.


It was great to see so many happy families enjoying the glorious day, but the best part for me was definitely the stunning array of fall delights from Bialas Farms. (They set up a weekly stand on the corner of 97th Street & Amsterdam on Friday mornings.) Talk about a feast for the senses! I’m happy to report that quite a few of those autumn beauties made it upstairs into my kitchen, and I am already having a wonderful time coaxing the best flavors from these simple ingredients. I will leave you with photographs tonight, with promises of recipes to come as the week progresses. Come back soon, for I know you're going to love what I'm making this week!

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