Tuesday, September 4, 2012

local love: Hutten Family Farm cherry tomatoes

It's that time of year in the Maritimes. The time when the markets are abound with loads of local produce and one of our favs right now are the fresh local tomatoes. There's just so many varieties to choose from. Big small, red, orange, green, yellow. Then there's these lil' beauts, the cherry tomato. I have only recently started enjoying the cherries, always being somewhat freaked out by the inevitable burst. Now I'm all 'bring on the cherry tomatoes'.

We got these bad boys from Hutten Family Farm, a fixture at the Historic Brewery Market. This weekend we opted to change up the Saturday morning market routine and instead went back down memory lane at the old market, the original. Honestly, it was a little sad to see it so empty. Well before the Seaport was built, The Brewery Market was slammin'. Always packed and so unique with its maze of a layout. Cool little corridors leading to cool little rooms. All filled with anything you could want. Loads of produce, fish, meat, coffee, bread, herbs, endless food options, and let's not forget the quintessential market breakfast, the cinnamon roll from Mary's Bread Basket. Oh yes, we were also there for the cinnamon rolls. Always somehow still warm, these may very well be my favorite cinnamon rolls. Although my girl Georgia's got some mad cinnamon roll skillz too. Anyway, the rolls were, as always, incredible. Delicious buttery gooey nostalgia. I admit there were few market visits where I didn't make a visit to Mary's and even now every bite brings me back. I'm glad the Brewery Market lives on.

What's also cool about the Brewery Market now is the number of farm stands and the variety of produce. The Hutten stand alone had so much so choose from like little kinds of eggplant, potatoes, plums, corn, melons (a kind of small yellow watermelon that was ridiculously juicy and delish), onions, greens, peppers, you name it. And, of course, loads of beautiful tomatoes. These tomatoes were destined for a salad as part of a backyard BBQ. We also got some Hutton corn to grill as well as spinach and garlic for the salad from another vendor, Four Seasons Farm. With a visit to our girl Jessi over at Storehouse Butchery, dinner was complete. The all local all delicious Saturday backyard BBQ: steak with blue cheese butter, grilled corn, and cherry tomato salad with maple bacon dressing. Shit yeah. And for once I actually measured something!

Cherry Tomato Salad with Maple Bacon Dressing

2 slices of thick cut bacon, cubed
2 cloves garlic
2 T. balsamic vinegar
3 T. maple syrup
3 T. olive oil
2 t. dijon
salt and pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 c. spinach
handful of basil, the more the better

To make the dressing, fry up the bacon on low to really render that delicious fat. We used Brother's bacon which I generally love, being so very smokey. However, this time the bacon was-get this-too meaty! A bacon with a bit more fat would have been perfect. (Please note: with a fattier bacon, you could likely use less olive oil.) Add the garlic and saute a few minutes. Feel free to drain off the fat if that's your thing but I simply whisked the remaining ingredients right in the frying pan and seasoned to taste. This dressing is thick and tangy and sweet and salty but, like always, feel free to adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. For the salad, simply chop up that spinach, chiffonade (oh, fancy word!) or, rather, thinly slice the basil, halve the cherry tomatoes, and toss with the dressing. This salad was killer. I swear basil and tomatoes may be one of the best food combos out there. So freakin' perfect for each other. Like chocolate and pb but that's another post all together... It would also be amazing with lil' cubes of boccaccini or some goat cheese. Or, if you're a veggie lovin' kinda person-I'll easily eat your share of bacon!-omit the meat. Vegan salad dressing. It's that easy.

So how easy is it to eat local here in NS? Pretty damn easy I'd say. One visit to a market and you're set. And doesn't it just feel right? Like the way things used to be. No million ingredients with chemical names. No factory farmed meat. No traveling millions of miles to get to your plate. Just real food grown by real people. People you can actually meet and form a relationship with. In fact, Sunday, September 16th in Nova Scotia is Open Farm Day. I can't believe I'm away for this one but it's your chance to visit one of the numerous farms, and believe me there are loads, to meet your farmer and literally learn where your food comes from. Amazing I know. So load those kids into the car (because how important is it in today's world of convenience foods to teach our kids about real food), pick a farm, and enjoy an awesome day exploring your Nova Scotia.

And if all goes to plan, I will continue to regularly feature recipes using seasonal local produce. Let's see if I can keep it up. Suggestions always welcome. I'll see you at the market.