FRESHDIRECT From Wickham’s & Satur Farms

FOUR YEARS AGO, I LIVED ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE OF MANHATTAN on an avenue called York – a stone’s throw from the East River and a million miles away from everything else, like my work place on the west side, the subway, and affordable groceries. Even then, I didn’t cook much since supermarkets were pricey despite mediocre offerings, like picked-through produce and prepared meals you nuke in microwaves. Thus, by default, my diet consisted mostly of gyros from a tiny Middle Eastern place called Pyramida and pizza from across the street.

Relief came in the form of FreshDirect, from which I ordered everything from ravioli to ice cream; beer to broccoli. Nowadays, I don’t miss the Upper East Side, but sometimes I reminisce about Sunday morning FreshDirect deliveries.

Fast forward to summer 2010. I still don’t own a car and am living in a supermarket-less zone once again. (Midtown.) But no matter where your or my address is, the rules of the food game has completely changed so that frequenting greenmarkets and buying into customizable CSAs gains you greater karma and awesome points than attending the latest restaurant opening. Given the warm public sentiment toward seasonal, organic, and local foods, eating healthy and preparing meals yourself is not only socially acceptable, it’s nearly obligatory.

Admittedly, it’s a good trend, and the commercial push for fresh, local food is much easier to support than fad diets or cosmetic surgery. So, naturally, when FreshDirect invited me to join them on a tour of two Long Island farms with whom they work closely, Wickham’s Fruit Farm and Satur Farms, I was excited. I even asked if they’d mind inviting photographer Jennifer Causey along to capture the day on her bad-ass professional camera. (I know Jennifer through her blog Simply Breakfast and I’m a huge fan of her food photography. While I took my own photos, I’m featuring Jen’s today. You can see more of her farm photos here.)

Our first stop was Wickham’s Fruit Farm on Long Island’s North Fork. They’re a 13th generation farm that’s been around for over 300 years. Name any fruit and Wickham probably grows it: peaches, rhubarb, apples, nectarines, ten different varieties of plums, and even kiwis (for fun, not for sale). They’re growing melons too, like cantaloupe, specially for FreshDirect.

We stopped in Wickham’s tomato greenhouse to hide from the heat and picked sweet, marble-sized tomatoes from the vine. Later, we found shade under a cherry tree. Prime cherry season is over, but we arrived at the tail end so a few ripe, red stragglers were still biding time between the leaves. I think that was my favorite part of the day – plucking cherries from a cherry tree. Guess I’m not over the fact that my cherry hand pie baking effort ended so disastrously.

Afterward, we stopped by Satur Farms owned by husband-and-wife team Paulette Satur and Eberhard Müller, who opened Le Bernardin and was once chef at Lutèce, which closed its doors in 2004. Satur Farms is known as a salad specialist, especially mesclun, and grows everything from edible flowers, herbs, and micro greens, to “long, white leeks” of which Paulette seemed particularly proud. The couple supplies friends who helm some of New York City’s top restaurants, like Gramercy Tavern and Daniel. They don’t sell at greenmarkets, so FreshDirect is their only retail customer.

Motivated by the desire to offer their seventy farmhands year-round employment, the couple migrates to Florida every winter to continue their growing business while their North Fork-based operations cease temporarily. I can barely keep myself employed, so the thought of Paulette and Eberhard choosing to maintain their seasonally-dependent business throughout the year for the sake of their employees has stuck with me.

While Paulette led the tour of Satur Farms, Eberhard made us lunch: striped bass escabeche and several salads prepared with cauliflowers, beets, and arugula picked just that morning. For dessert, the couple served macerated peach and round, buttery shortbread cookies.

After lunch, the FreshDirect group thanked our hosts and said goodbye. I went to shake Eberhard’s hand and he asked me about my work, so I told him that I write and produce an online video series for those who don’t know how to cook. “Ah, then that’s a show for me,” he replied good-naturedly. Maybe, I thought, except that you and Paulette don’t own a microwave, which, for the most part, is essential to the Stupidly Simple Snack series.

Just kidding. amy july 22, 2010

FreshDirect is offering a 20% discount to you guys on everything in the local department. Secret code: SUPPORTLOCAL

* Limited time offer. Expires August 31, 2010. May not be combined with any other offer. All standard terms and conditions apply. Limit one use per customer/account. Residential orders only. Void where prohibited. Offer is non-transferable.

Photos by Jennifer Causey. Blueberry photo on homepage is my own.

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July 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Healthy, Long Island, specials for abc readers.

One Comment

  1. pat mc namara replied:

    Amy, If you visited satur why didn’t you say anything about the signs on the neighbors lawns about how we are being killed by their diesel fumes dust noise and pollution? They do run the farm here all winter and truck up produce from Florida and fly in produce from other countries. You people only report on the bull they hand you and the food they serve you. As for being good neighbors they fail big time plus you only see one side of them all sweet but there is a nasty and mean side that is hidden from you writers. Fresh Direct should interview all us neighbors. Satur is Satan Farm

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