by Andrew Rudansky
It was a celebration of foods, both local and organic, at the second annual OktoberFeast at the Amber Waves Farm on Saturday, October 15. The party, overlooking fields of some of the still-to-be harvested produce, featured not just food from Amber Waves but also from many other local-area farms.
All of the food at OktoberFeast came from farms within a ten mile radius of Amber Waves farm’s Amagansett location. From the pork, taken from a pig raised at Mecox Bay Dairy, to the potatoes grown at Quail Hill Farm, everything in the meal was decidedly South Fork.
Even the beer enjoyed at the party came from the local Montauk Brewing Company and Southampton’s Publick House Brewery.
According to Amanda Merrow that was precisely the point. Merrow, along with Katie Baldwin, is one of the co-founders and farmers on Amber Waves Farm.
“Part of the idea for the OktoberFest party was born out of the want to support our friends in the food community and to showcase the harvest of what everybody had at the moment,” said Baldwin.
Over 150 people showed up to the public event to enjoy the passing of the summer season in the company of neighbors, and to sample some of this year’s local harvest.
Iacono Farm in East Hampton, Sunset Beach Farm in Sag Harbor, Balsam Farms in Amagansett, Carissa’s Breads in Amagansett and Milk Pail Farm in Water Mill, were among the farms that donated food for the event.
“We got very lucky, all of the members of the local food community were very generous with donating the food,” said Merrow.
The completely local menu featured foods to satisfy a fall appetite like pulled pork sliders, BBQ chicken, grilled striped bass, red cabbage coleslaw, German potato salad, sweet potato soup, soft pretzels and apple cider cupcakes.
Each dish was associated with a particular local farm, with the key ingredients of the dish coming from these farms.
Amber Waves, for example, provided a simple fall green salad of kale, shallots and a light lemony dressing.
“Kale is one of the raging things out here now,” said Merrow. “Kale Caesar salads are beginning to become very popular in restaurants, and they are really easy to make.”
The pulled pork sliders were undoubtedly the most popular offering on the menu. Merrow said she was disappointed because they completely ran out within the first hour. The sandwiches were made from the shoulder of the pig, and smoked at the South Fork Kitchen in Bridgehampton.
The pork was served on pink peppercorn brioche buns that gave the dish a bit of spice, while also giving the meal additional color.
The German potato salad was a delicious side, with potatoes provided by Quaill Hill Farms. The addition of bacon and vinegar, hallmarks of the “German” potato salad, really made the dish sing.
Another popular dish was the red cabbage cole slaw provided by Balsam Farms. The cole slaw was made with an apple olive oil that made the dish sweet without being overly sugary.
The most surprising item on the menu was the chocolate mocha brulee in egg shells with orange liquor, which from all accounts were the highlight of the night. The perfectly cut, then hallowed out, egg shells filled with delicious chocolate mousse, were both aesthetically pleasing and absolutely delicious.
“We wanted to include dishes that would represent the fall,” said Merrow, “with a tweaked German theme.”
With the festival the farmers at Amber Waves are trying to show that locally grown food can, and should be enjoyed throughout the year.
“We eat like this all the time and we wanted to share the local foods message with the community,” said Merrow.
Amber Waves Farm is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) non-for-profit located on eight acres on 375 Main Street, Amagansett, behind the Amagansett Farmer’s Market.
Merrow and Baldwin started the organic farm in the spring of 2009, and so far have had three successful growing seasons since they opened.
“This year we had an abnormally good growing season with several hot, dry spells,” said Baldwin.
Long Island vineyard owners had been raving about this year’s unusually warm summer, and the great effects it had on the local grape crop. Baldwin says that the produce at her farm fared just as well.
“The cabbage was looking good, potatoes were looking good…it was a particularly great year for the garlic and the summer wheat,” said Baldwin.
Merrow concurred about the size of this season’s bounty, and the quality of the food. Adding that despite worries about Hurricane Irene and a small case of late tomato blight caused by heavy rains in June, the harvest was well beyond expectations.
“A new food movement has already started on Eastern Long Island,” said Baldwin, who mentioned the number of new farms, like her own, that have sprouted on the South Fork in the past few years. “It’s very exciting. The community is definitely new, and the people in it are very young, a lot of them in their 30’s.”
“Really this is all about the enjoyment of the story of food,” said Merrow, as she looked around the party. “Knowing who grows your food, and where.”