I have been coming to Shelter Island since I was a year old. My grandparents built a house there that both they and then my parents lived in. I grew up with local food and a love of rooting out the most tasty. My dad always said I was part ferret. During my grandparents' days, we went to favorite farmstands for fruit, veggies and honey, got our fish from local fishermen and chickens and ducks from local farms. In the 50 plus, plus years since those days, thankfully not much has changed and mom and pop businesses still prevail and most of the farmstands my grandparents went to do, too.
My dad also started a large community garden years ago and he and my mom and their friends always swapped crops and had a fabulous harvest dinner every fall with all their goodies. Now that Dad is gone, Mom still frequents the local farms for most of her produce. The whole east end of Long Island, especially The North Fork, is a food basket...one stocked with everything totally fresh and local, from honey to fruits and veggies, delicious wines, fabulous breads, fish, chicken, duck, eggs and anything else your tastes desire.
Shelter Island is especially lucky to have a market, Reddings Market, that does most of the collecting for you...giving everyone more time to enjoy the beach and the water. Reddings has the most amazing, the most delicious assortment of local foods I have ever seen and tasted and an atmosphere that makes me feel like I am in someone's kitchen, and one with a harbor view to boot. Reddings is warm and welcoming with a whole collection of succulent aromas and food that is simply delicious. And, not only do they support local farmers, fishermen and food producers, they also help you grow your own by stocking a wide variety of seeds from http://www.seedsavers.org/ which is a fabulous project itself!
Sadly, I left this year right as the season opened and as the store got into full swing but I was there a few days to enjoy their fabulous homemade gelato, apple and rhubarb pie, farro with roasted tomatoes, curried quinoa and sesame soba noodle sides, and get a cooking lesson from Matt. See, that's what I mean...sweet people everywhere, never too busy to help. I had noticed quite a fleet of fishing boats in the waters off my parents' beach and wondered what was "running". The answer: fluke and Matt taught me how to prepare this fabulous local fish. Turned out just like candy if I say so myself! And no wonder...read about Matt and Ann on their website, http://www.reddingsmarket.com/. I got a lesson from the best!
While fluke is not available here and I am back to my vegetarian ways, I can reconstruct my favorite salad at Reddings, the roasted beet and goat cheese salad. It is perfect for a richly flavored summer meal. The secret is in roasting the beets...really deepens the flavors to a whole new level.
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Wash an assortment of small to medium sized fresh beets. I love to mix the golden, red and striped varieties. Splash with some olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt or herbs of choice. Roast at 350- 400 until fork tender, about 30-45 minutes. I don't peel them but you can if you like.
Take a generous handful of mesclun or arugula, the freshest you can find. Add chopped, roasted beets, crumbles of creamy goat cheese and a good handful of toasted walnuts. Dress with your favorite vinaigrette or this one:
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine orange zest, juice, vinegar and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt in a bowl. Let sit at room temperature 20-30 minutes. Whisk in oils and season to taste with more sea salt and some fresh black pepper.
or this one which you can make along with the beets
Roasted Garlic Dressing
1/2 cup peeled fresh garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon or more minced fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Put peeled garlic cloves in a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake about 25 minutes or till golden in a 350 oven. When cool-ish, put garlic cloves in a blender. Save the oil in the roasting pan for other dishes. It is delicious. Add 1/4 cup water, vinegars, miso, thyme, pinch of grated nutmeg, sea salt and pepper and blend til smooth. Add more water if you want a thinner dressing. Refrigerate any leftover dressing.
I am going to eat my salad tonight and remember this sunset and the deliciousness at Reddings. Hope you have had a good day!