When it is fall in Malone, "road food" can have a somewhat different meaning. It's not fast food. It's fresh food -- available from the side of the road.
This is a time of year when the farmers markets are at their fullest. Find a picnic table and feast on the freshness all around. Here are some tasty places which showcase our farm country at its peak.
Every Wednesday afternoon until mid-October, the farmers market at the Malone Airport is in full swing. People mostly think of their kitchens when they imagine getting something from a farmers market, but there's plenty of things that we can eat by simply standing under the right tree at the right time.
Like tomatoes fresh off the vine. My husband can eat those little cherry-sized ones like a bunch of grapes. Other "hand food" available are grapes, apples, and strawberries. And yes: tomatoes are fruit. So are cucumbers.
I find the Malone market to be full of unexpected pleasures, like bunches of cut flowers or bags of fresh doughnuts. The scent of the fresh vegetables mixes with the baked goods for a farm kitchen appeal.
If we have a room or cabin with a kitchenette, we have all we need for a fantastic salad, easy vegetable relish tray, or some fresh-off-the-farm hamburgers or pork. The difference in taste (especially with pork, where distance from the farm is a crucial element in juiciness and tenderness), is a phenomenal experience all by itself.
The farmers market at the airport is not the only place to find tasty food, because there is a farm stand at the intersection of Routes 11b and 30, with a wide variety of tasty choices, from apples and melons, all kinds of decorative gourds, including pumpkin, and vegetables of all kinds.
There's a fine selection of mums -- the upstate fall flower. These sturdy flowers appear everywhere at this time of year, because they shrug off frost and just keep going.
Somewhat like us.
There's also a popular spot next to the Market Barn antique store, with cornstalks, pumpkins, local produce, and flowers.
Learn more about local delicacies with The Glazier dog, a hometown staple.
The Amish in the Dickinson area (only ten miles to the west) are also a reliable presence at the farmers markets. Homemade has a special pull, because it is both fresh, and made with fresh ingredients.
At times when we are surrounded by industrial food and so many ingredients added (not for flavor, but for its keeping qualities), these items that are whisked from field to kitchen to us are becoming rare treasures.
There's plenty of homemade bread, jam, and pastries, which can make for a delightful, and economical, meal with dessert. Jam is a particular favorite of mine, because homemade jam has so much more flavor and variety than the supermarket options. I narrow my selections between concord grape, blackberry, and finally settle on elderberry. For today.
Jam became popular back in the days when every farm family canned their fruit bounty, as a way of having it year round. Fruit is a tricky keeper. But for fruit lovers, the concentration of jam and, for fruit without a lot of body, jelly, is a magical option.
A meal that is built from things from here and there has been nicknamed "grazing," and there isn't a finer way to spend a colorful fall day. It is very relaxing to browse through all the possibilities and pick and choose as our appetite requests. There's always another option, another combination to put together.
Dickinson pie has passed my husband's taste test and is now a regular supplier for this time of year. This apple pie is mere yards from the orchard, and was baked within days, I'm sure. Because it is that good!
Dickinson also has pick-your-own berry places, roadside quilts and handiwork stands, and some bucolic scenery with sheep grazing in the fields and river overlooks. A great place to spend a fall day.
Craving old-fashioned food? Get some century old recipes with Happy Heritage Thanksgiving.
Freshness and cheese is a classic oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp. Cheese is usually aged to its peak. Nonetheless, there are forms of cheese that are better when local and fresh, and any time is a good time to visit the McCadam Co-op Farm & Cheese Store.
That's because they have all kinds of goodies on hand. Sweets are covered with their classic old-fashioned candy and local honey. Savory is amply handled with the entire selection of McCadam cheeses.
Once upon a time, a country store had everything, and this store upholds that tradition. Camping and hunting needs, jerky and trail mix, garden supplies and bird feeders; it's all here, and possibly in forms we've never seen before. I love browsing with that distinctive country store scent of root beer and paper bags and the whiff of dairy in the cold cases.
But what makes certain friends declare a "cheese emergency" and head for the store is their cheese curds. Now this is where fresh means something. This very first stage of cheese processing packages the curds once separated from the whey. Other cheese go on to other careers, but cheese curds stop right there. At the store, they are placed in bags right from the plant and are incomparable examples of its nickname, "squeaky cheese."
Since I have to be gluten free, fine cheese is what I now put my beloved jams upon. I can make a meal of cheese and fruit and sausage any time. It's a hiker combination, a quick picnic, the kind of food that adapts easily to a cooler in the trunk or a part of the backpack. No matter our destination, our freshness stops will supply wonderful sustenance.
Of course, cheese curds are an important part of Adirondack poutine.
Compared to other seasons, fall can seem on the short side. So we must make the most of it. Be sure to enjoy our harvest.
Put these places on your ADK must-visit list!