The seasonal produce of Western New York is our reward for surviving winter. I eat my first lush tomato still warm from the sun, and somewhere the last pile of dirty parking lot snow melts away. Mowing down a cob of festival corn, the flavor makes it easy to remember it was grown in Eden. When I stand over the sink with my second Niagara County peach of the day, Western New York tastes blessed.
Local restaurateurs are determined to work with local farmers to capture that delicious moment. It might already be too late to enjoy some of these dishes, but that’s not an error. That’s the point.
When I looked for the most compelling dishes in town reliant on seasonal, local produce, I found myself drawn to a group of restaurants that I’ve taken to calling New-School Buffalo places. They work with local farmers to an unusual extent, and treat the vegetables and fruit they receive with the care Michelangelo had for his paints.
Vegetables aren’t a “side” here – they get a starring role.
[LEARN MORE about these New-School Buffalo restaurants at buffalonews.com/newschoolbuffalo ]
Here are highlights of this season’s crop:
Beet and fennel salad with cedar yogurt
Roasted, pickled and raw Oles Farm beets tossed with Golden Hour Farm arugula and radishes, and roasted fennel, yogurt flavored with oil made from tender cedar boughs and berries, and hibiscus gel. $9, via Buffalo Proper, 333 Franklin St., 783-8699
Squash blossom with pullet egg
Oles Farm in Alden provided squash blossoms, eggs and tomatoes for this egg-stuffed blossom flash-fried in a tempura coating and served over tomato crema. $11, via The Black Sheep, 367 Connecticut St., 884-1100.
Cold corn soup
Tower Farm or other Niagara County sweet corn, stripped from cobs, simmered with cob broth and refined for intense corn flavor, and accented with crab. $9, via Carmelo’s, 425 Center St., Lewiston, 754-2311.
Roasted peppers, burrata cheese, anchovy crumbs
Plato Dale Farm peppers are roasted in a wood-fired oven, with milky fresh burrata cheese and crispy anchovy-infused breadcrumbs over Arden Farm tomato jam. $11, via Elm Street Bakery, 72 Elm St., East Aurora, 652-4720
Eggplant caprese strata with artichoke
Vegetables in Patom Farm hay
15 kinds of Wierzbic Farm and Wilson Street Farm vegetables dressed in a hay-flavored glaze, with sauce of hay-smoked egg yolks and yogurt flavored with hay ash. $14, via Rue Franklin, 341 Franklin St. 852-4416
Prunes with labne
Ripe Heirloom Valley prune plums simply accented with labne, house-made yogurt cheese, sea salt and Arden Farm honey. $8, via Black Iron Bystro, 3648 South Park Ave., Blasdell, 240-9830.
Pinzimoni, Green Goddess tonnato
Oles Farm Romano beans, green and wax beans from Yager Farms, chiogga and golden beets, purple and yellow carrots from Golden Hour Farm, Native Offerings Farm fennel, with Green Goddess tonnato dressing. $8 via Marble + Rye, 112 Genesee St., 853-1390.
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Email Andrew Galarneau at firstname.lastname@example.org
Story topics: Andrew Galarneau/ arden farm/ black iron bystro/ buffalo proper/ elm street bakery/ farm to table/ Golden Hour Farm/ Marble + Rye/ Native Offerings Farm/ New-School Buffalo/ Oles Farm/ Plato Dale Farm/ restaurants/ Rue Franklin/ The Black Sheep/ Tower Farm/ trattoria aroma/ vegetables