by Michele DeRossi
You may have heard about the recent landmark event “Fire Feast on the Farm” presented by Pitney Meadows Community Farm on Tuesday night. And if you haven't heard, listen up. This feat of an event featured 5 open fire pits constructed of cinder blocks, each featuring its own protein (clearly denoted by the turf or surf critter painted on the side of the pit) as well as it's own craft cocktail. Cooking over these open fire pits were nationally and internationally renowned chefs working with a team of locally known chefs as well as a group of culinary students, tasked with the job of creating a farm-to- table dish with as many local ingredients as possible.
Photos by Michele DeRossi
To add to the fanfare, Pitney Meadows Community Farm recently built a 42 x 148-foot Harnois “high tunnel”, a large scale greenhouse, that beautifully lended itself as the covered event space as well as the dance floor for four different local groups including the North and South Dakotas. Michelin-stars abounded at the feast, with culinary masters from New York City, New Orleans and Connecticut manning the fires on a hot summer evening in the fields. To pick a favorite station would be impossible as each represented a different style and unique taste, all with the similar thread of creativity and attention to detail.
As gorgeous as the food and drink being prepared was, the mission of the evening is just as important. The 186 acre Pitney Meadows Community Farm, located on West Avenue, and the team behind it have a vision of bringing a fully functional farm and community garden system to the city of Saratoga, including the opportunity for a teaching farm and kitchen, summer camps, nature trails and more. Fire Feast was one of what I would imagine (and hope) would be one of many successful fundraisers and events that bring people out to the farm and showcase this community-building network of programs, with an intense focus on the food, sustainability and education.
Speaking of the food, let's discuss. One of the highlights for me was the Fish Pit, featuring Pitmaster Jaime Young of Sunday in Brooklyn accompanied by local chefs Dan Spitz and Keven London and featured fish from Pura Vida Fisheries/Moby Rick's. The featured dish was a whole, grilled and smoked fork-tender striped bass with a bright and fragrant spruce butter, avocado squash chard dressed with roasted pumpkin seeds, honey, aleppo and olive oil. Accompanied by a “Spruce Tip” cocktail of gin and stone pine liqueur from the Alps, the alpine flavor and the fresh smoked fish was divine. The other seafood pit, appropriately manned by Alex Harrell of Angeline in New Orleans, featured shrimp and oysters roasted over the open fire and served with crushed cucumbers, fermented corn, tomatoes and summer herbs dressed with crème fraiche and pok pok som, a “drinking vinegar”. Nothing says summer like eating hot grilled shrimp, corn and tomatoes in the sun. Add a bourbon cocktail crafted by Henry Street Tap Room and you're golden.
The other pits featured whole roasted pig, slow roasted (we're talking 9-10 hours) apple and cherry hardwood smoked lamb and French dip style beef from Mack Brook Farms of Argyle. Cocktails featuring local distilleries, herbs, honey, cold brew coffee and even spritz's of tobacco cleansed palates and added layers of flavor to each bite. This was truly a feast and a wonderful event, a well planned and executed one with a tremendous mission of the importance of sustainable farming and education guiding it.
Stay tuned for more to come from Pitney Meadows Community Farm by visiting their website and signing up for their newsletter. And keep your eyes and ears out for locals, chefs included, to be sprucing up their green thumbs at the community plots, classes and events at the Farm on the horizon.