During the cold winter months, we make homemade pizza almost every Sunday evening. This time of year, however, the heat of summer generally keeps us from cranking up the oven to the necessary 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, there’s an exception to every rule, and the surplus of ripe, miniature tomatoes at the farmers market these days triggers the exception to our No-Homemade-Pizza-in-Summer rule. Fresh mozzarella, sharp garlic, sweet onion, and minty basil are almost mystical compliments to the sweet and savory little tomatoes. But, please, hold the sauce. With tomatoes like these, sauce would only interfere with the magic.
Compared to much of the rest of the world, most Americans eat a fairly limited variety of breakfast foods. Cold cereal or a bagel on weekdays, and eggs and bacon on the weekends, seem to be typical breakfast menus for most of us — if, that is, we bother to eat breakfast at all.
We recently found ourselves breaking our own breakfast rut by expanding our repertoire to include earthy truffled pecorino cheese, spicy capicola cured meat, and cured tomatoes, all from our friends Jody and Luisa Somers of Dancing Ewe Farm in upstate New York. It was absolutely delicious, and we weren’t hungry again until dinner.
Of course, we kept the coffee on the menu. It’s irreplaceable.
*Okay, that’s not entirely true. The pizza was brought to me by all of those wonderful farms with all of those wonderful farmers. You didn’t actually get any. Sorry. But now you have the shopping list, so you can make it yourself. Just add yeast.
I become very attached to the farmers at my farmers market, but I become absolutely addicted to their food. Those of you who have eaten in my home, or who regularly eat the food from your own farmers market, understand exactly what I mean. There’s no comparison between food from a farmers market and food from a grocery store.
I learned recently that one of my favorite farms, Dancing Ewe, won’t be coming to the Union Square Greenmarket this year. That means I won’t see my friends, farmers Jody and Luisa Somers and their infant son Mateo, nor will I be bringing home weekly supplies of sheep’s milk ricotta, pecorino romano, merguez, capicola, or pancetta. I still have a bit of pecorino romano left from last fall, which I carefully preserved over the winter. When I’ve eaten the last bite, I know I will cry, not only for the loss of their wonderful food, but because I will miss their lovely smiles.
Perhaps my favorite food of the spring is sheep’s milk ricotta from Dancing Ewe Farm in Washington County, New York. Every Friday, on the north end of the Union Square Greenmarket, Jody and Luisa Somers can be found with their newborn son, Matteo, selling their delicious Italian style cheeses and salumi for a fair price, and giving their beaming smiles away for free. I can barely wait to get it home and drizzle it with buckwheat honey and toasted nuts. It’s enough to make me that hope spring never ends.
A trip to the farmers market this past weekend produced a crunchy sour dough baguette, fresh creamy butter, unparalleled pecorino stagianoto cheese, sublime capricollo sausage, and the season’s first beautiful breakfast radishes. In little more time than it would have taken to order takeout food, we arrived home with an embarrassment of riches fit for an imperial picnic . . . but ― in the absence of royalty― we devoured it all ourselves.
Just because I don’t always feel like cooking doesn’t mean that I don’t always eat great, fresh, local foods. Living in New York City means that I have easy access to cheeses made from cow’s, goat’s, and sheep’s milk, as well as cured meats made from pork, duck, and ostrich ― all raised and made in New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and all available at my local farmers market. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to put a cheese board together, and the expressions on my friends’ faces as they savor each bite remind me how lucky we are to have so many farmers working so hard to make us so happy.