Reporters in the Hudson Valley are often called upon to write about farm-to-table events. But last Saturday’s inaugural LobsterFest at Tantillo’s Farm on Route 208 in Gardiner brought ocean-to-picnic-table dining to the region. The atmosphere was casual and comfortable, reminiscent of being invited to a friend’s backyard where fresh whole Maine lobsters were served up one or two to a plate with cups of melted butter alongside side dishes that included sweet corn from the farm, homemade coleslaw and salad of freshly picked greens with sweet red onion and green pepper slices. Iced tea and water were available, and for those who weren’t into the lobster, there was grilled chicken and black bean burgers.
But a LobsterFest is all about the coral beauties, after all, and they were delicious eating, about a pound or so each. Happy diners at picnic tables chucked shells into buckets on the tables, pleased that the forecast of thunderstorms somehow didn’t come to pass. The ice cream stand at the farm market was in operation, too; a soft-serve chocolate-and-vanilla twist was just the right ending to the meal for this lobster fan.
So what did inspire the Tantillo family to host a celebration of those tasty crustaceans brought so far from the waters in Maine where they were just the day before? “We were talking about doing an event and thought about the old Lobster Pound restaurant that used to be in Gardiner,” says Jamie Tantillo. “People who have lived in the area a long time will remember it. This was meant to kind of recreate that.”
Jamie’s wife, Jeannine, explained that the family is friends with the people who run the Massachusetts-based company, American Lobsters, who have family connections on the docks of Maine and ship fresh lobsters out all across the country. The Tantillos have purchased their lobsters for friends from the company before, and thought, why not do a LobsterFest?
No word yet on whether it’ll be an annual event; stay tuned for next summer. The 120-acre fourth-generation family farm has been operating in Gardiner since 1932, when Frank Tantillo transformed a former dairy farm into the fruit and vegetable operation it is today. Locals already know Tantillo’s is one of the best places around to get fresh seasonal produce and terrific baked goods, but who knew lobsters would be added to the repertoire? Summertime at the farm never looked so good.