Bitter Potatoes and Vanishing Greens
A few weeks ago I was at the Schenectady Greenmarket, buying some locally raised winter vegetables and a dozen green eggs. The kids like to bring the hard boiled green shelled eggs to school and freak out their friends and teachers.
Generally, I’m a creature of habit. I know which farms I like at the different markets for specific products. Often, I don’t even remember the farm names, but simply remember the table’s location at the market.
That part is bad, I know.
But on this fateful trip, I happened to see a sign written in chalk on a small blackboard that was propped up against a crate of sweet potatoes. The sign proposed that these were the best sweet potatoes ever. It was an audacious claim, so I felt compelled to stop and ask, “So what exactly makes these the best sweet potatoes?”
Honestly, the first response I got was totally lame, “Well, nobody has ever complained.”
But I pushed for more. And it turns out that this relatively new farm in Easton, NY has two fields. One by the river with a rich fertile soil, and another at a higher elevation with a sandy soil. Apparently sweet potatoes thrive in a sandy soil with great drainage. Luke, who works this land with his wife Cara, apprenticed at Roxbury, so they’ve learned from some amazing farmers.
Intrigued, but not necessarily entirely convinced, I took home their sweet potatoes and made them according to my time tested technique.
Yeah, those were actually the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had. No joke. The skins were so delicate, their natural sweetness was pronounced, and they just had a great depth of flavor.
I was so excited to get back to the Greenmarket and take a picture of the sign, interview the farmers, and put up the whole story on All Over Albany so you all could share in these amazing tubers…
…except they’ve sold out for the season.
Bitter. I cannot even tell you how grumpy this makes me. Mostly it’s a selfish kind of grumpiness, because I don’t have any more of their sweet potatoes. And it’s going to be a long winter with just regular awesome ones and not super-awesome ones. It’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle.
Despondent over the loss of the sweet potatoes, I almost missed the few small bags of tender winter greens on the table. I’d never seen these before. They’re called claytonia, but also go by miner’s lettuce and winter purslane. Every week there are only a few bags available, and they generally sell out soon after the market opens. So the early bird gets the delicious salad mix.
I dressed mine simply with sea salt, good olive oil from Adventure in Food Trading and good French apple cider vinegar from The Cheese Traveler. And a little side salad of these delicate leaves with their tangled tendrils of stems really made a dinner of leftovers feel like a much fancier affair.
Cara also told me their carrots were pretty special. And they certainly looked beautiful. But Luke is the boastful one who wrote the note on the chalkboard that first drew my attention to this great farm. Cara is a bit more reserved and yesterday Luke was nowhere to be seen.
Together they make a great team. Seriously, you should check this place out. They sell at Schenectady, Saratoga and Glens Falls winter markets. Plus they have a CSA that you can sign up for in 2013. Their 2012 shares all sold out. And I imagine they may sell out of their remaining vegetables before the spring ones arrive.
Next winter, though, I’m stocking up on those sweet potatoes early. Because somehow I forgot that even winter storage vegetables aren’t always around forever.
I hate learning things the hard way.