Sunday, December 07, 2014

Raising Dough for Duck Island Bread Company

Julia Child is said to have once remarked, “How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?”

It’s a question Long Island resident Robert Biancavilla took to heart when he established Duck Island Bread Company several years ago. Bob’s gorgeous European-style breads and pastries have been a fixture – and a hot commodity – at the Northport Farmers’ Market for many seasons. He hand-shapes his breads and pastries and allows each small batch of dough to develop its deep, satisfying flavors through natural fermentation and carefully nurtured starter-cultures. Duck Island's delicious offerings include brioche, baguettes, croissants, cinnamon buns and pretzel rolls, among many other options.   

I profiled Duck Island Bread Company a year ago for Edible Long Island. Bob is passionate about baking. By day, he’s an assistant district attorney for Suffolk County, but on Friday nights he shifts focus and works all night at a rented commercial bakery to shape and bake the breads and pastries sold at the market on Saturday. 
Robert Biancavilla and his wife Sherri of Duck Island Bread Company
Now, Bob is working to establish a bakeshop and retail home for Duck Island Bread Company in Huntington and has initiated a Kickstarter campaign to fund store renovations and purchase of refrigeration, mixers and a proofer. 

Check out the Duck Island Bread Company Kickstarter campaign here.  It’s a worthy cause to consider this holiday season, not only because Bob is an accomplished baker, a true gentleman and community-minded individual, but I also love the idea of the community getting behind “the raising” of a local shop that sells nourishing bread made from scratch.

Because, James Beard got it right when he said, “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” 

 ©2014 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving at the Farm: All is Safely Gathered In

Once again, we pause to give thanks. We give thanks for the good times and the blessings, and if we are really brave and honest, we give thanks for the tough times, and consider what it taught us, and how it helped us grow.  
It’s the same at Restoration Farm.  Some things thrive and some things struggle, but we give thanks for it all. As Thanksgiving 2014 approaches, we gather again at the farm to share the final bounty of the season – root vegetables, Long Island Cheese pumpkins, winter squash, potatoes, stunning heads of broccoli and whimsical Brussels sprouts that look like sleigh bells.

Head grower Caroline Fanning talks about the unpredictability of the weather, and the cold snap that has gripped Long Island.  
“I thought we’d have beautiful lettuce for the members, but it didn’t make it,” she says. “The water was turning to ice on the ground as I washed the carrots.” 
Nothing is guaranteed.  We can only soldier on, hope for the best, and celebrate and be grateful for what we have.  
Members stream in for their Thanksgiving produce. The Tin House pulses with a sense of excitement at the bounty spread before us. 

The fields of Restoration Farm will take a brief respite, but even as they anticipate slumber, they are drenched in rich, emotional colors. It is a fiery, final celebration of the season that was. 

And, even still, things grow. As I walk in the fields, Glenn Aldridge pulls the truck to a stop in front of me and opens the passenger door.

“I have sage,” he says with excitement.  He passes me a handful of fragrant, slender leaves from a basket on the car seat, which I stuff in my coat pocket.  It smells like Thanksgiving dinner. 
At Apple Trace, the heirloom apple trees planted in memory of my dad Jim are shedding their leaves, but they grew extensively this season.  Some tower over me by three or four feet.  He would be amazed at how these trees have grown. 
I revel in the crisp beauty of it all for just a little longer, think about what germinated, blossomed and was harvested since that frigid New Year’s Day when we sat around the table selecting seeds, and wonder about the season that is yet to come. 

©2014 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Farm-to-Table Feast of Pastured Berkshire Pork

It is a grand finale to summer as the extended family at Restoration Farm dines on deliciously sweet, farm-raised Berkshire pork and exquisite sides made with vegetables grown on the farm.
Head grower Dan Holmes talks about the circle of trust needed to take on a pastured pork project for the first time, and the magic conjured among volunteers each day in the spirit of raising wholesome, healthy food.   

“Beyond eating pork, you are going to eat a piece of magic,” promises Dan. 

A magical, abundant feast it is indeed, dining under an expansive sky as the sun sets and the stars emerge.   

Our stomachs full and our spirits satisfied, we look ahead to autumn in anticipation of the next chapter…  

©2014 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Catching Blueberries

The warm summer breeze rustles the mass of blueberry bushes. The lanky branches sway and the berries dance playfully, like toddlers impishly attempting to escape the embrace of a parent. It is a game. Who can be more nimble, who can stay just out of reach? In the end, we know it is inevitable we will collide and collapse in an unruly pile of hugs and giggles. 
It is what I like to call Blueberry Jam Day, that one day in July when the sun is just right, and the blueberries are that perfect shade of ebony blue. I head out early to Patty’s Berries and Bunches on the North Fork of Long Island with basket in tow. My goal is to collect enough berries for jam and baking to last me well into the winter.
Patty’s blueberries are planted in long corridors that seem to stretch on for an eternity. I’m told the best options for picking will be well into the field so I head deep into the heart of blueberry world, with only the palpable whisper of the breeze, the cotton candy clouds, the swishing of the branches, and the chirping of a red wing blackbird to keep me company.
It is a game of skill, attempting to grab these blueberries that hope to elude capture. 
But, I am the blueberry catcher, and within time, I am victorious, with a mountain of blue orbs in hand. Immediately, I return to the kitchen to begin jamming.  

It is such a satisfying thing, capturing that thrilling moment in the field within a quilted glass jar. The sugar, lemon juice and pectin are added and the berries simmer and pop and transform into thick purple syrup. 
Now you can actually taste the sun, the breeze, the sound of the birds and the excitement of the chase.
Slathered on a warm muffin or piping hot slice of toast, my North Fork Blueberry Jam can evoke smiles, giggles and delicious memories of catching blueberries for some time to come.

©2014 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved