Summer Farm Trip: Meadows and More

There truly were Meadows and More on this trip, as we started things out with a hike to a secret waterfall in Kingwood, NJ. We all took a refreshing dip and even found wineberries on the trail, but alas they were not quite ripe enough for the picking. Then we headed down the winding pastoral roads to Tama Matsouka’s property for a late afternoon of foraging and feasting.

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IMG_4327We made a quick visit to Meadows and More last summer and promised we would come back with a bit more time on our hands for some communal cooking. As a recap, Tama is the owner of Meadows and More, an environmentally conscious wild edibles purveyor. She and her colleagues take stewardship of the land as the most vital aspect of their business. This means they only forage invasive species and by doing so actually improve the conditions of wild landscapes and the other plants within them.

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2016-07-09 16.43.39-1As we approached the wraparound porch, several of her colleagues were busy cutting away the kernels from tender sweet Jersey white corn. We made some introductions between our crew (some servers, managers, pastry chefs) and Tama’s fellow foragers. Then the feasting began with a giant bowl of Anise Hyssop Gazpacho which was refreshing in its coolness but also in its unique flavor imparted by the hyssop. We have a lot of this sweet anise-flavored herb on our rooftop and usually we use it for sweet applications, but this savory concept will definitely get into our chilled soup repertoire.

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With our cups of gazpacho in hand, Larry (her right hand man/ landscaper) and Jade (her left hand gal) led us on a tour of the meadow, woods, and pond. There was an abundant amount of insects buzzing throughout. And around the pond the work of busy beavers was evident from their trails, tree gnawing, and dam building. Bullfrogs leapt and croaked from every direction. Strangely near the pond and property there were no misquotes. Tama assumes it is because there are so many other insects and creatures thriving that end up eating them!

Then we were back to feasting near the fire pit and it truly was an abundance of dishes which I have annotated:

IMG_9249STARTERS:

Sumac Black Raspberry ‘Lemonade’- Made with Tama’s wild sumac she now actually cultivates, it is a red powder that comes off the tree’s fruit and has a naturally sour flavor.

Anise Hyssop Gazpacho – Tomato gazpacho but instead of garlic, uses anise hyssop to impart a sweet fennel flavor.

Homemade Ricotta Bruschetta with Honey and Basil – Nick, one of PRINT.’s long-standing servers made the ricotta fresh from local milk and cream.

Gado Gado (Indonesian Peanut Sauce) with Green Beans, New Potatoes, Cauliflower, Okra – Meghan made this same dish the last time she visited Tama’s farm as a way to enjoy all the new summer vegetables.

Wild Amaranth Green Feta Phyllo Parcels- This is Tama’s recipe and they are easy to make with any wild and invasive green like amaranth or lambs quarters.

Chicken and Beef Empanadas – One of Tama’s colleagues from Argentina made from scratch.

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MAINS:

Stir-Fried NJ White Corn with Szechuan Peppercorns and Chili–  Tama’s husband who travels often to China and is a fan of the cuisine, loves this numbing spice stir-fried into the NJ white sweet corn (this was one dish I couldn’t stop eating definitely an addictive combination).

Grilled Chorizo, Shishito, Baby Onion, Zucchini Skewers – Reyna (our dining room manager) sourced this incredible fresh Chorizo from a butcher in Harlem and I got the vegetables at the market. We slowly sizzled them on the fire pit to charred perfection.

Reyna’s Tamarind Chipotle Short Rib Sliders with Refried Beans with Epazote –  As a dedicated home cook with origins in Huahuaca, Mexico, this was a dish that Reyna decided to labor over and share with us. (The leftovers were made into irresistible tacos.)

Grilled Mussels and Clams with Garlic Scapes, Dill, Lemon – I added this dish at the last moment thinking there might not be enough food….but they came out nice and smoky since we did them over the fire.


DESSERTS:

IMG_9309Juniper Berry Granita –  Tama makes this with green juniper berries and it was the perfect palate cleanser.

Shortcakes with Black Raspeberries, Gooseberries, and Whipped Cream – We were hoping to add wild berries to Chef Amy’s dessert but the birds had eaten all the native mulberries from the tree and the wineberries weren’t ready quite yet, so we made do with cultivated varieties, no less delicious.

S’Mores–  Thanks to Ruby and Alena we wrapped up the evening with the classic campfire treat!

IMG_4383As the fireflies began their subtle glow in the meadow we realized we had to head back to the city lights, sad to leave so soon from this tranquil place where nature truly surrounds and envelopes you into its rhythms.