Charm Of The Farm


You can see Chris Kurth's Siena Farms stand from blocks away as you walk toward Copley Square, the banks of sunflowers blazing before the facade of Stanford White's Boston Public Library. It's always been the nicest stand at Boston's nicest farmers' market, one of a gratifyingly large number of markets all over the city.

I take any chance to go out and see his farm, which grows vegetables and salad lettuces and herbs for many local restaurants--and most of all for his wife, Ana Sortun's, wonderful Oleana restaurant, in Cambridge, which serves Turkish and eastern Mediterranean food of such freshness that you don't need any of the Spice that is the subject of her very good book, though she makes a very strong case for the spice mixes she makes (and sells) using peppers and spices she directly imports.

I had even more fun getting to visit Chris's farm with Kevin Kertscher, of Indigo Studios (and husband of a former Atlantic colleague), in the paradisal South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Kevin makes everybody he films look good and sound smart, though in Chris and Ana and their farm, named for their adorable towheaded daughter, he didn't have to work very hard. You can see for yourself in the first of four videos we'll have on the site, in a new Farm to Table series.

Me, another matter. He did tactfully omit the jungle-gym swinging Chris and I did to get up to the rafters of his barn, where Ana and he string braid after braid of new garlic to dry--instead of a ladder, he uses a chin-up bar and jumps, so I did too. Kevin does show me somewhat compulsively sniffing a green tomato from a new crop. I've become tomato-leaf-obsessed lately. "The smell of summer," Chris poetically calls it; I thought the stem end smelled just like a full tomato sauce, and was very glad to see Harold McGee defend the use of tomato leaves in sauce, even if we've all been taught they're toxic. He takes the risk in his own kitchen, and I plan to in mine too.

I hope you'll take the video as reason to go straight to a farm stand, even if it, and the staff, aren't quite as picturesque as Chris and the Siena Farms crew. For ideas of what to cook with the abundance, consult our recipe library--and watch for the next episode, when I visit Ana in the Oleana kitchen and see her use leaves you would never imagine would be great to eat and are. Not tomato, though. She does cook for the public, after all.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
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