reprint of 2005 article from website of Simone Rathlé at http://www.simonesez.com/point-harvest.shtml
Produce at Their Fingertips
Adirondack Harvest Provides the Freshest Goods to The Point and Lake Placid Lodge
Once a week, a local Adirondack farmer makes a delivery of fresh-picked produce and goods to the kitchens at The Point and Lake Placid Lodge. Local hydroponic microgreens. Local wildflower honey, artisanal cheeses, and fruits in season. Even eggs, meat, and poultry, all free-range and hormone-free.
Do these acclaimed Relais & Châteaux resorts in the Adirondack northwoods have a fairy god-farmer? No. But they do support Adirondack Harvest, a farm co-op now flourishing in the region, supplying restaurants and shops, promoting farm stands, and helping local farmers increase their distribution and markets. In fact, Chef Kevin McCarthy of The Point and Chef Ken Ohlinger of Lake Placid Lodge both serve on the board of Adirondack Harvest. The program, after all, is in their best interests and very dear to their hearts. As Ohlinger says, "Simply put, it’s all fresher because its source is so much closer. It was picked yesterday."
Both chefs also appreciate the relationships they are developing with "their" farmers, and knowing just where the food they serve is coming from. "It helps to build community," says Ohlinger. "I’m a local guy, and I like having a personal connection to the people I live and work among. I may be Executive Chef at an exclusive resort, but there’s no need to be aloof from the community - in fact, it would be foolish, given the bounty they provide." Lake Placid Lodge orders its potatoes and root vegetables from Steve Tucker of Tucker Farms. The potatoes, in particular, are stored in bins for up to a year, so that the local variety is available year-round. Other crops, like the twelve different microgreens Ohlinger orders from Eve and Don McCormick of Laughing Duck Farm for salads and garnishes, are grown in greenhouses, extending their availability as well, despite the relatively short northern growing season. Steve Hendrix, whose farm is in Keyesville, NY, supplies a mouth-watering variety of cow’s milk artisan cheeses, from Gouda to Boursin. Peter Blaso of Shady Tree Farms in Saranac raises hormone-free, grass-fed cattle. One is ear-marked for Lake Placid Lodge, where Ohlinger will butcher it himself.
Kevin McCarthy, too, raves about the quality. "I use as much local product as I can get my hands on," he says. "The quality and flavor are hugely different than something that has been shipped on a truck from California last week." One of McCarthy’s favorite menu items during the summer growing season is simply called "100%-50 miles," meaning 100% local product from within a 50-mile radius of The Point. The variety of the plate changes weekly; on a given week in high summer, it might include pickled ramps, beets, peas, tomatoes, organic mozzarella, and so on. "With this availability of fresh local product," confesses McCarthy, "my food has become much more simplified. There is no comparing the vibrant, clean flavors of something picked that day, as opposed to last week."
Through Adirondack Harvest, McCarthy has also connected to the supplier of one of The Point’s most unusual products: the duck eggs it offers as an alternative to farm fresh eggs at breakfast. The proprietors of Trilithin Vineyards had established a flock of khaki Campbell ducks specifically to eat the weeds among the grape vines; somehow they hadn’t anticipated the ducks would lay eggs, and at a rate far greater than they could personally consume. Today, they deliver six-dozen duck eggs a week to The Point, where guests love the rich wild flavor - over-easy, baked, poached, or in omlettes. At dinner, they might show up in a Truffle and Duck Egg Custard served in a Duck Egg Shell with Duck Leg Confit and Asparagus Froth.
Chefs Ohlinger and McCarthy are determined to see Adirondack Harvest grow into an even stronger and sustainable year-round business for the member farmers. "Ultimately," McCarthy points out, "the program benefits the farmer, the kitchens, and the community." To that end, both chefs meet with the co-op members on a monthly basis to represent the restaurant point of view. They help the farmers understand what a professional kitchen is looking for from all aspects - pricing, packaging, and ordering times, as well as their culinary wish lists. As a current fundraiser, a six-course dinner for six is being raffled off on the Adirondack Harvest website, www.adirondackharvest.com, to be created and served by Chef Kevin McCarthy in the lucky winner’s home. Naturally, it will consist of as much local product as possible, all donated by The Point, with profits going directly to the co-op. Talk about a win-win situation.
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