Now is the time to reap the rewards of living in Western New York, writ in delicious living color across the plates of area restaurants.
The rest of the year, the fields of California, Chilean air freighters and Canadian hothouses may dominate your menu, but this is our season.
The farmers of Western New York are reaping what they have sown. Support them by buying their superior fruits and vegetables at their stands and farmers markets.
Then in the evening look for a restaurant that takes their work seriously. We asked some of them to do their best with the best of the season, and here’s their most fetching bids for your attention.
*Local cheese plate ($13) from Daniels
174 Buffalo St., Hamburg, 648-6554
Chef-owner Scott Donhauser’s plate features Caprese, Moonshot Gouda and Red Wine Brine Cheddar from First Light Farms, apple-horseradish jam using Dan Tower Farms apples, candied Marcona almonds, marinated local pears, housemade fennel sausage, and housemade nut and seed bread.
*Spaghetti squash soup ($8) from Billy Club
228 Allen St., 331-3047
Chef Scott Crombie takes spaghetti squash from Plato Dale Farm, roasts it with scallion oil and thyme, then purees it for the soup’s base. Then it’s accented with chunky bacon lardons, oatmeal crumble, butter braised leeks, cipollini onions and sherry vinegar.
*Mexican street tomatoes ($11) from Marble + Rye
112 Genesee St., 853-1390
Chef-owner Michael Dimmer is using the last green tomatoes of the season, from Weiss Farms, at the center of a seasonal salad. Battered and fried slices are joined with roasted corn, pickled onions, cotija cheese and crema.
*Escallop of Stillwater lamb ($35) from This Little Pig
4401 Transit Road, Clarence; 580-7872
It’s lamb season at Stillwater Farm in Boston, NY, and chef-owner Jeff Cooke Jr. is serving lamb scallops with Crispin apples, purple tomatillo and apple cider reduction over eight-grain kale risotto. The cider is pressed from apples grown on his family’s land and pressed on a wooden, hand-cranked cider mill that’s done the job for generations.
*Grilled figs with prosciutto ($15) from Bacchus
56 W. Chippewa St., 854-9463
Chef-owner Brian Mietus frills fresh figs till sticky-sweet, then wraps them in imported prosciutto di Parma. They’re served with roasted onions and gorgonzola fritters, and baby arugula greens.
*Roasted cauliflower appetizer ($10) from Elm Street Bakery
72 Elm St., East Aurora; 652-4720
In the restaurant’s front kitchen, Dan Borelli and David Murphy roast cauliflower from Finger Lakes Farms in its massive wood-burning oven. Then it’s accented with agrodolce, a sweet and sour vinaigrette, and snowed under with shaved montasio cheese.
*Wood-roasted heirloom peppers ($9) from Grange Community Kitchen
22 Main St., Hamburg, 648-0022
A variety of heirloom peppers, from Plato Dale Farm and Weiss Farms in Eden, are roasted in the wood-fired oven for this appetizer, then perched on a bed of hummus-like cashew tahini and seasoned with paprika and ras el hanout, a North African spice mixture.
*Fresh tortellini and pork belly ($14, pictured as main photo) from Tempo
581 Delaware Ave., 885-1594
Executive Chef Eric Nessa bought buttercup squash at the North Tonawanda Farmers Market, roasted and pureed it as the stage for tortellini filled with housemade ricotta. The dumplings surround a cube of pork belly, crisped up and glazed in bourbon-accented New York State maple syrup. Accented with sage and pumpkin seeds.
*Look back at Andrew Galarneau's last centerfold: