Thursday, October 13, 2011
All-Weather Farming and The Best Arugula I've Ever Tasted
I spent last weekend in Maine for an Indian summer last hurrah. It was an unexpectedly balmy 84 degrees and I felt disappointed that I didn't get to wear the sweaters I'd packed, but I ate some incredible food.
My first meal was dinner at the venerable Fore Street in Portland, and my first bite of salad exploded with a rich, peppery heat. I had to put my fork down and look at the plate. It was an arugula salad; what was the big deal here?
The big deal, it turned out, was the farm where the arugula came from: Laughing Stock Farm in Freeport, about 20 miles north of Portland. I sent the farmer, Lisa Turner, an e-mail to arrange a visit.
I found her packing a shipment of fall veggies in her barn. Lisa is an all-season farmer in a part of the country where farming in all seasons is a practical impossibility, or so you would think. The ground is frozen rock-hard for four months. Temperatures dip below -20! There's a good reason no one wants to visit Maine anytime after November 1 (except to ski): It's God-awful cold.