I broke my own rule: If a place is known for a thing, you get the thing. At Schlesinger’s Steak House in New Windsor, you get Schlesinger Steak. They don’t put it in the name for nothing. And at Quattro’s Farm Store in Pleasant Valley, you buy the poultry and game meats from the animals that they raise on the farm. There’s even a special roadside sign with a long-tailed brown bird on it advertising “Pheasant – Fresh – Smoked – Ducks – Geese – Turkeys” and a neon sign in the window with two birds facing off. Welcome to Pheasant Valley.
Did I get my goose? Duck? No luck. The thought flew out of my head when I pulled up in front of a placard trifecta: “Hunting Supplies” – “Savage Arms” – “Team Glock.” They made another sign indicating not to inquire about public restrooms seem quite serious. The market shares the building with Quattro’s Hunting Supplies, and rifles are visible through the window.
Turns out that Quattro’s is a serious market, cluttered with racks and refrigerated cases, warm and welcoming. Overlooking the cash register by the door are baskets brimming with bread baked fresh daily. The smell pervades all transactions and undoubtedly encourages many last-minute purchases.
Nearby are cartons of jumbo-sized wild turkey eggs, looking rust-speckled. There are smooth cappuccino-colored pheasant eggs and duck eggs, too. There are plump, fresh mozzarellas in tight plastic wrap, and perimeter shelves teeming with colorful cans and jars, eclectic domestic and imported goods curated by someone with excellent taste. Ditto the beer cooler, which contains an excellent selection of microbrews, and a cheese fridge featuring the best of New York State and beyond. Spices in small plastic deli containers are stacked five high – green and pink peppercorns, red paprika – and the display obscures the piece de resistance at back: a deli counter sporting a stunning meat case.
The case is filled in part by products from Quattro’s Game Farm. According to the Eat Well Guide (www.eatwellguide.org), Carmella Quattrociocchi founded the farm in 1942 and operated it with her mother; husband Frank ran the farm store. A third generation of Quattros now runs the show, raising chickens, ducks, geese, pheasants and turkeys both domestic and wild: New Holland Whites, which can grow to over 40 pounds, Bourbon Reds and Eastern Wilds; venison too. The cage-free and pasture-raised animals eat antibiotic-free vegetarian feed, wheat, oats, barley, rye, alfalfa and corn. When the animals eat well, you will, too. Those dozens of dark venison sausage links just waiting to be plucked up and wrapped in white paper? The best I’ve ever had. I hear rumors of wild turkey summer sausage, goose pastrami and turkeys smoked on the premises.
They do not dry-cure in-house, but do stock a secondary display’s worth of finest-quality Italian salamis and – bless my heart! – speck. Speck is a juniper-cured, cold-smoked aged ham with a thick fat cap protecting its ruby-red meat, and this is the first time that I’ve seen it outside of the Italian/Austrian borderlands.
A tray of majestic, hand-hewn Porterhouse steaks turned my attention, and then the hunky short ribs. There were long, dark and handsome flank steaks. It was everything that you’d need for a beef Bacchanalia. I looked back at the sausages, nestled next to their sweet and hot Italian friends. It was close to sensory overload.
Luckily, everyone behind the counter is kind, knowledgeable and courteous. Ask for suggestions and recipes. They can help the willing.
I was a hopeless case. I spent $65. That included a Harpersfield Farmstead cheese, made in New York and flavored with hops. This surprising semi-hard exhibits a pleasant bitterness that begs for beer.
No first-time pheasant, sure, but I’ll be back. It was worth the long drive down Route 44 to be able to recommend this treasure, heretofore hidden from me. Those lucky enough to live nearer the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market can get their Quattro’s fix there; and if you’re in New York City, stop by the Union Square Greenmarket for a selection of best-sellers.
Just don’t run afoul of the rule: Get the fowl.
Quattro’s Farm Store, open seven days a week, 2251 Route 44, Pleasant Valley; (845) 635-2018, QuattrosFarm on Facebook, @QuattrosFarm on Twitter. Read more about local cuisine and learn about new restaurants on Ulster Publishing’s dinehudsonvalley.com or hudsonvalleyalmanacweekly.com.