Monday, September 05, 2005

Why I keep reliving summer vacation, part 1

Our band of itinerant eaters stopped for a night on the border of Maine and New Hampshire to visit Marlene's cousin Anne and her family. Their small town home is surrounded by creeks and canals that feed the estuaries around Portsmouth. In their neighborhood remains well preserved textile mills from the 19th century and an old countinghouse that monitored commerce on the ancient canals.

Anne, Zach, McGill and Grace keep hens that provide their eggs. We fried them sunnyside up for breakfast in a bit of butter. I'd never had eggs this fresh before, and was shocked at how rich the yolks tasted compared to commercial eggs. Perhaps it's the diet of kitchen scraps their hens eat, but fresh backyard eggs are definitely superior.

Green eggs from Araucana hens, the small one on left is from a bantam hen

In this place of strong traditions and historical continuity, people still fish the salt creeks for shad in the spring and pick wild summer berries in the woods as countless generations before them have done. Vainly dodging bloodthirsty horseflies, deerflies and mosquitoes is another timeworn woodland tradition we didn't care for, so we opted out of that wild blueberry adventure and instead crossed the state line to Saltbox Farms to fill up on the domesticated variety.

Diaphanous dragonfly

Red and golden raspberries

Domesticated blueberries

Saltbox Farms
321 Portsmouth Ave
Stratham, NH

We chose Saltbox Farms in part because a county fair was open right down the street. Unlike my local (suburban) Orange County Fair, which features vendors hawking hot tubs and home mortgages as soon as you enter the grounds, the folks in Stratham County take their animal husbandry very seriously. In the rabbit pavilion, they held a bunny hurdling contest, where handlers nudge their leashed rabbits to hop over a series of wooden obstacles that increase in height with each round. For reals - I'm not making this up. Think I'll find this sport at this month's Los Angeles County Fair?

Shady carny rides and French fries

Happy potato chip eating goat

After a long afternoon of driving, we arrived at Matt's childhood home outside of Albany, NY, where his retired parents have a beautiful 18th century farmhouse. His dad Richard is a beekeeper, and mom Marianne keeps the garden beautifully well tended. We picked red currants from her bushes, and she made us raspberry and currant jam to take home: flavors and memories of our summer vacation to savor months from now.

Homegrown currants

Richard harvests honey seasonally from different flowers in bloom at the time. His early summer honey tastes lighter than the dusky, late summer variety. Fantastic honeys with great character. A more complete post about his honey coming at some point.

Have I punished you enough with vacation pictures? DiFara's pizza and chocolates from Jacques Torres in Brooklyn coming next!


Blogger KirkK said...

Great pic's - nothing like food in season, isn't it! I look forward to the next part.

9/06/2005 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

wow, professor...those are some amazing pictures! i love the picture of the dragonfly!

9/15/2005 08:24:00 PM  

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