The location for the weekly Highland Farmers’ Market at 199 Route 299 (just across from the State Police barracks), is easily accessible, situated right on a well-traveled stretch of highway that serves people driving to and from New Paltz and other surrounding communities in addition to Highland. And, there’s plenty of parking in the back.
The land belongs to Lou Olson, whose Luigi’s Infused Oils office is located at the site. Since the office was already there, he said, why not open up the site to others and start the market? Highland’s Events Committee under chair Kate Jonietz sponsors the events and Olson, along with Luigi’s sales rep Lura Bolde, help with bringing in some of the vendors.
The market will be there every Wednesday afternoon from 2 to 6 p.m. through Oct. 8. Some vendors come every week, while others make it there on a bi-monthly schedule.
That’s part of the fun of a farmers’ market; never knowing exactly what you’ll find other than lots of locally sourced, delicious fresh food and perhaps the opportunity to try something new that your local supermarket doesn’t carry.
Luigi’s Infused Oils
Formerly in construction, Olson started Luigi’s Infused Oils four years ago, and now sells five flavors of infused olive oils (basil, oregano, hot pepper, sundried tomato and garlic) along with a plain oil and a garlic-infused vinegar. The olive oil is imported from Italy and infused here in the Hudson Valley with locally grown ingredients.
Accompanying the oils are a selection of sweet and spicy sausages and Italian cheeses. The smoked mozzarella is lightly smoked. The flavor is wonderful, creamy and rich, enhanced by the smoked flavor without being overpowered by it. The texture, too, is just right, without the rubberiness found in some processed supermarket mozzarella or that overly soft quality that some fresh mozzarellas have, fine for cooking with but not for snacking. Luigi’s Oils offers a non-smoked mozzarella, too, and variations rolled with sundried tomatoes or prosciutto. Luigi’s is at the market every week.
Wilklow Orchards, located across from the high school on Pancake Hollow Road, is represented at the market every week with an abundance of fruits and veggies along with jams, cider donuts and other baked goods, including some gluten-free options. The blueberries and raspberries look as perfect as if styled for a magazine shoot, and they cost less than the ones I purchased a day earlier at the supermarket. The same can be said for the tomatoes.
There is the unusual to try, too: gooseberries and currants, and white eggplant. Then there’s the tart yellow-green “Lodi” apple, which turned out to be similar to a Granny Smith — and just as good thinly sliced in a grilled Swiss sandwich.
Barry Bliden of Gary’s Pickles, newly relocated to New Paltz on South Ohioville Road, has been in the pickle business for 28 years, he said. The supplier makes the pickles to his specifications and delivers a fresh batch every week.
Gary’s Pickles offers a full sour, half sour, hot and spicy (which is a half sour spiced up with red pepper flakes) and a bread-and-butter pickle, available in pints, quarts and half gallons. The difference between half and full sour? Bliden said the half sour still retain their cucumber taste and are slightly garlic-y while the full sour lose the cucumber taste and have a full-on dill and garlic flavor. Both are equally crunchy. And delicious. Samples are offered, which led to an eventual purchase, of course, because who can choose between the more traditional full sour and the spicy afterbite of the hot and spicy half-sour? Not me.
Freshly made sauerkraut and marinated mushrooms are available as well. Gary’s Pickles can be found every week at the Highland market.
Second Chance Farm locally raised meats
Charlie Godfrey is the meat man at the Highland Market, offering beef, pork and whole chickens. He runs the farmer’s market in Milan, too, outside Rhinebeck, where the Second Chance Farm he runs with wife Kim is located.
Godfrey’s stand at the market has numerous cuts of steak, ribs, chops and some occasional lamb available along with mini smoked hams, ham hocks and bacon. His smoked meats are done without nitrates, using celery seed for the process (which acts as a natural nitrate, he said). And the beef is grass- and grain-fed, which results in the meat retaining the best characteristics of both (better marbling for flavor but still lean).
Marc Stopkie has been in the wine business for more than 25 years. He and his wife, Lori, took over the Adair Vineyards in New Paltz in 1997. At the Highland market, Marc is offering a variety of wines for tasting, available by the single bottle or several at a discount. Adair Vineyards is unique, he said, in that they not only own the vineyards and make the wine but grow the grapes for it. And if any of their products use fruit not grown on site, it’s sourced locally; peaches from Hudson or currants from Staatsburg.
The Mountain Red is nicely dry, not unlike a Pinot Noir in flavor. Made from a blend of Frontenac, Millot and Foch grapes, it’s aged seven months in barrels and retains a hint of oak.
The Black Currant Kir Rouge, served chilled, is a surprise to one who normally drinks dry reds, because although Stopkie describes this one as “a fruity red cocktail wine,” it’s rich in fruit taste without being overly sweet. It inspired me to try the Kir Peche, also served chilled, made from a blend of Seyval and Vidal blanc grapes (90 percent) and ten percent Peche wine (made from local peaches). The Kir Peche is light and refreshing with just a hint of peach. Stopkie recommends using it as the base for a white Sangria, and I can see serving it with a crab and shrimp seafood salad or grilled fish with a fruit salsa.
The wines are only available until they’re sold out, and then Stopkie brings in the next selections. He’s at the market every other week.