A Locavore's Holiday Brunch

Every year I host a holiday brunch. In my diminutive apartment, friends perch on stools, garden chairs, my oversized sofa, whatever seating I can pull together. The party always lasts hours past the end time on the e-vite, and this year was no exception.

holiday brunch guests

But this year, because of the 250-Mile Diet, my preparations took a little longer than usual. For example, I had to make the crackers to go with the quince paste and cheese because there isn’t anywhere to buy crackers made from local ingredients. That was kind of fun actually. Now I know how to make crackers.

Here’s what we ate:

holiday brunch spread

Blue Cheese Dip (made with Old Chatham’s Ewe’s Blue) with Watermelon Radishes

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Crackers with Quince Paste and Harpersfield Rosemary Tilsit

Assorted Homemade Pickles (Bread ‘n’ Butter, Cornichons, Pickled Sour Cherries, Spicy Carrot Pickles)
Wild Ginger Cookies


holiday brunch spread continued
Buttermilk Soda Bread
Old Chatham’s Hudson Valley Camembert
Agro Dolce Pumpkin
Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce and Braised Apples
Cherry Clafouti (from frozen CSA cherries)

Local wines included Shinn’s Red, Wolffer’s Chardonnay, and Paumanok’s Riesling.

There are hardly any leftovers, which I take as a compliment. But interestingly, the single most commented on food item in today’s brunch was the watermelon radishes. These are turnip-like and homely on the outside, but cut them open and they are a vivid pink. watermellon radishesThey are only available late fall, early winter, and very early spring. I served slivers of them with the dip and they looked and tasted spectacular. All I had to do was peel and slice. So there it is, folks: a simple, raw vegetable stole the show even when placed alongside much fancier foods. If that’s not an advertisement for local, seasonal eating, I don’t know what is.

holiday brunch guests2

Friends with NYC’s newest locavore, Lola

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules


4 responses to “A Locavore's Holiday Brunch”

  1. acmeplant says:

    I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there; the menu sounds superb. And I’m so glad to have your cornichon recipe!

  2. Miriam says:

    What a lovely gathering. This entry really brings home how you manage to eat locally with grace and gusto.

    The pickled cherries…did the recipe come out of an Elizabeth David cookbook? I made some this past spring but around here nobody appreciates them except me :(. I served them alongside a roast chicken, with an apple-walnut chutney.

    Those watermelon radishes look wonderful.


  3. ledameredith says:

    The cherry recipe was from Marion Brown’s book, ‘Pickles and Preserves’. It is called ‘Luta’s Brandied Cherries’, but there is no brandy in the recipe. I gather “brandying” is an old-fashioned term that refers to a process rather than actual brandy. I’ve tried other pickled cherry recipes before and found, like you, that I was the only one who appreciated them. But these were a hit with everybody yesterday. Here is the recipe:

    “Luta’s Brandied Cherries

    This is an old-fashioned and grand recipe for brandying cherries.
    Red sour cherries
    Wine vinegar
    Sugar (Leda’s note: I made these before starting the 250. Now I would use local honey instead)
    Pit the cherries and measure them. Mix with an equal quantity of wine vinegar. Place the mixture in a stone crock and cover. Let stand for 48 hours. Drain off the liquid and discard it. Alternate layers of equal parts of cherries and sugar in the stone crock (Leda’s note: I used a glass jar) and cover. Stir the mixture once each week. The cherries are ready to serve in 3 months.”


  4. Miriam says:

    Thanks, Leda. I’ve saved your recipe, and will make a small amount next spring. The recipe I used calls for sugar, wine vinegar, and cloves. This mixture is boiled, allowed to cool, and poured over cherries in their jar. They pickle for a month, and are then ready – if anyone is willing to eat them! Maybe the cloves aren’t a good idea. I would like to see if your recipe goes over better.

    By the way, cherries left over from making Visniak are always welcome…I suppose you can say they were pickled in vodka.

    And as for that cute pumpkin Lola, tell her folks from me that with babies, the more you eat them up, the plumper they get. Everyone’s eyes were on her in the photos!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *