By Loren Mayshark
Recently, I had the good fortune to attend the annual fall farm to table dinner at the Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua Institution. It perfectly symbolized the close relationship we have with the farmers in western New York through the food we eat. The community that was shared between the hard working farmers and people who work to produce the food and wine we enjoy was invigorating. Being there reminded me of how lucky we are to be so connected to such a flourishing agricultural scene in Chautauqua County.
Chautauqua County is becoming a destination for people who are interested in local food. New establishments like The White Carrot, which is committed to fresh local foods to the point that they have their own garden and source everything they can locally, are elevating the level of the farm to table restaurant experience that visitors and natives can enjoy. This fall they will be offering an array of winter squash including: acorn, butternut, and blue hubbard. They will also be proudly serving locally sourced Adirondack Red and Adirondack Blue potatoes. Of course, they are passionate about serving a cornucopia of garden preserved vegetables.
Forte, a restaurant on Third Street in Jamestown, is leading the way when it comes to locally sourced food. Their seasonal menu utilizes the local fare that is available and to take it one step further, they have a daily special that usually features fresh local food that they are able to get in on short notice. They work hard in order to offer their guests the best local food experience possible.
On Chautauqua Avenue in Lakewood, restaurant owner and chef Ryan Thayer has a commitment to sourcing food locally. His restaurant, the former Scallion Bistro will reopen soon as Craft Burgers and Brews and will continue that commitment to local and handcrafted food, beer and liquor.
We can all participate in this exciting resurgence of local sustainable agriculture this fall by visiting some of the many restaurants offering local seasonal fare. We can also experience it by raising a glass of beer from breweries like Southern Tier in Lakewood, Five and 20 Spirits and Brewing in Westfield, and 7 Sins Brewery in Ripley that source locally grown ingredients whenever possible. Or perhaps you’re more at home swirling a glass of wine from one of the many wineries that use fresh grapes that you can smell while driving on Route 20 with your window down on a crisp autumn afternoon.
For those looking to add some local flair to their holiday dinners, Abers Acres is a USDA Certified Organic farm that offers pick-your-own fruits and vegetables. It is a great place to get lovely pumpkins for your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and also specialty vegetables like delicata and carnival squash. Additionally, they are a participant in the CHQ Local Food bean project which focuses on growing rare native American heirloom beans including Ankara and Cherokee Trail of Tears varieties.
Farmers markets and farm stands are an excellent way to get in on the action. Here are a few places that will add some pleasure to your autumn:
- Green Heron Growers offers classes on food preservation. Green Heron growers can also be your source for grass-fed beef, shitake mushrooms, and organic chickens, which can add a healthy twist to your holiday meals. Location: 2361 Waite Corners Road, Panama, NY
- Peterson Farm has fresh pies and all sorts of delicious produce. The farm is conveniently located just off the Strunk Road exit on Route 86. It is a worthwhile stop for anyone who wants to experience one of the best farm stands in Chautauqua County. But it is a must for those with Swedish heritage. The Peterson family holds tight to their Scandinavian roots offering a plethora of delights including Swedish pearl sugar, crisp breads, and Korv (meat, potato, and barley varieties). Location: 3260 Fluvanna Ave, Jamestown, NY
- Hickory Hurst Farm is run by Adrienne Ploss who has a wealth of knowledge about horticulture, which she is happy to share. During the summer months the farm stand, which rests right on route 394, is an explosion of colors. They offer organic herbs, vegetables, berries, and cut flowers. In the cooler weather there is an attractive collection of gourds and other fall fare. Ploss intends to stay open all winter with fresh organic eggs and chickens as well as some other choice agricultural products. Location: 4083 W Lake Rd, Mayville, NY
- Reverie Creamery is open year round, offering cheeses from across the globe as well as their own unique creations. They are an important part of demonstrating a value added local agriculture product because they use NY grass fed raw milk. Their tasting room is also a fun attraction for visitors to consider. Location: 3943 New York 394, Mayville, NY
- The Biodome Project is the result of passionate gardeners and artists Angela Caley, Ryan Peterson, and Bill Thomas. They have created a place where local artists and artisans can sell their wares in a setting that is alive with plant life. Aside from growing various herbs and veggies like basil and kale using their custom hydroponic and aquatic systems, the Biodome also sells local produce from a variety of sources including CHQ local food which will be featuring Non-GMO Heirloom Blue Corn Meal this fall. It is a fantastic place to shop for produce for your holiday meal and you may be able to pick up the perfect Christmas gift while you’re there! Location: 207 Pine Street, Jamestown, NY
- CHQ Local Food is a local delivery service that connects farmers to members of the community and area restaurants. While the regular weekly service ends in October, CHQ Local will offer a special Thanksgiving delivery with fresh turkeys from Good Grass Growers and an assortment of winter squash, root veggies, and select seasonal herbs. They also offer an array of food at The Biodome Project throughout year-round.
- Farmers Markets: Several communities have weekly farmers markets that run through fall and winter.
For more information on the farms, markets, and restaurants in Chautauqua County, visit www.tourchautauqua.com.
When he is not bartending or freelance writing, Loren Mayshark spends his time cooking and mixing cocktails for family and friends or attempting to get better at the often frustrating sport of golf. He is a regular contributor to The Jovial Journey, a website dedicated to food, drink, and travel in Chautauqua County and beyond.