Dining Features

Simple Art of Cooking: Fingerling Potatoes, a Tasty Standby

The busy summer Hamptons season is long past yet, the Hamptons International Film Festival, in their 20th anniversary year, stirred up five days of excitement on the East End in mid-October. The growth of ideas for the Festival, and with the Hamptons being the agricultural community that it is, led to Growing Farmers one of the short films shown. The film, co-produced by Hilary Leff, Michael Halsband and the Peconic Land Trust, focused on “the next generation of farmers on the East End of Long Island.” It is the story of a new generation of young farmers, the struggles they face but also the future hope for farming. Many have left corporate jobs to till the soil. With the prohibitive property costs on the East End the Peconic Land Trust’s mission for saving the land made affordability possible for these young farmers.

On the Monday morning of the Film Festival, a Farm to Table discussion took place at Rowdy Hall with the aforementioned film makers, Scott Chaskey of Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett and Brian Futerman, chef/owner of Foodies in Water Mill. Laura Donnelly, pastry chef for the Living Room at c/o the Maidstone in East Hampton moderated the brisk discourse that took place. Laura announced Growing Farmers winning the Audience Choice Award for the Best Short documentary at the Hamptons International Film Festival to a large group of applauding attendees.

Hillary Leff’s vision for Growing Farmers began when she got involved with Scott Chaskey’s incubator program, and the compelling stories she heard at the farm was her inspiration for the film. Her co-producer partner, Michael, a photographer and film director, spoke of photographing farmers markets and the awareness of the wonderful produce being marketed, along with the amazing energy of young people starting farming careers, many as second careers. Poet and author Scott Chaskey gave us some insight into his new book Seedtime—The History, Husbandry, Politics, and Promise of  Seeds to be published next spring. Scott expanded on the value of the Peconic Land Trust and how they have preserved over 10,000 acres since 1983. Brian Futerman spoke as a chef and a consumer and how he relies on the products that grow out here and the importance of farmers to steward the land. Brian also spoke about the wonderful local expansion of school gardens and how there should be one in every school. The areas heritage is agriculture and more has to be done with education from early childhood for everyone to eat well.

Alex Balsam and Ian Calder met at Cornell when Alex studied agriculture and Ian studied philosophy. After college Ian went abroad for two years but reconnected with Alex who had started a small boutique farm in Amagansett, leasing land from the Peconic Land trust. As young farmers they have been producing excellent produce and the inspiration for the following fingerling potato recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine. Their full profile can be read in my new cook book Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island’s East End.
Serves 4 to 6

1 2/3 pound medium fingerling potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Niçoise olives
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 bay leaves
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

1.    In a roasting pan, toss the potatoes with the onion, olives, olive oil, wine, bay leaves and garlic and season with salt. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour, or until just tender. Uncover, stir well and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until potatoes are very tender and lightly glazed.  Season with salt and serve.

Visit Silvia’s website at www.savoringthehamptons.com to read her blogs and more recipes.

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