Reception menus increasingly feature local foods

Friday, January 18, 2013
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Executive chef Matthew Barton at the Gideon Putnam Hotel prepared a display made up of all New York cheese. Here, onion chutney, chili dusted goat cheese, ewe's blue and harper's field cheddar.
Executive chef Matthew Barton at the Gideon Putnam Hotel prepared a display made up of all New York cheese. Here, onion chutney, chili dusted goat cheese, ewe's blue and harper's field cheddar.

Brie from France and prosciutto imported from Italy would be elegant additions to any wedding menu, but a growing number of brides and grooms are opting for ingredients produced or grown much closer to home.

Menu items like a New York state cheese board, a regional heirloom tomato platter and local microbrews frequently appear on reception menus at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs.

Executive Chef Matthew Barton makes regular trips to the nearby Saratoga Farmers’ Market to stock up on regional edibles, including loads of fresh produce. He seasons his dishes with fresh herbs grown in a garden right at the Gideon.

Many brides and grooms ask that regional items be labeled as such on the reception menu, so guests will know that they are enjoying foods from the area, Barton noted.

When featured in a reception’s menu, regional fare might up the price slightly, but it’s worth the money, he said.

“Typically, it’s a better product. You get the traceability,” he explained.

Regional produce and cheese are the stars of a colorful salad made by Adam Savage, executive chef at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing. The ingredients: roasted red and yellow beets, aged local goat cheese, toasted pistachios, citrus segments and arugula leaves.

The numbers of wedding parties requesting such regionally rooted dishes is steadily increasing, he confirmed.

“I think more of the public is starting to understand what a carbon footprint is and what sustainably harvested food means to the environment,” he commented.

Brides and grooms who book with Black Diamond Caterers of Saratoga Springs regularly request regional specialities, even though the majority of the couples travel from out of town to marry in the Spa City, said chef Heidi Hoyt, co-owner of the catering company.

“They want to give their guests foods that represent the area and are from the area,” she explained.

Hoyt bakes all of her confections with New York-grown and -milled flour, seeks out cheeses from the Hudson Valley and Vermont and serves beers brewed in Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls. The eggs she bakes with are laid by chickens that roost just a few miles from her kitchen, and the poultry featured in her elegant entrees is transported a short distance, from Vermont.

Wedding receptions held in the Capital Region are perfectly situated to take advantage of an incredible bounty of locally produced and grown foods that rival fancy imports.

“I never feel that I’m at a loss when I serve a bleu cheese from Jasper Hill [in Greensboro, Vt.] as opposed to one from France,” Hoyt commented. “The region just has so much to offer ... the orchards, the fruits, it’s just a prime area for agriculture.”

 

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