That word irritates me more than it should, because it’s just a typical pompous foodie buzzword that will go out of fashion as soon as people understand that “local” doesn’t necessarily mean good quality, inexpensive, carbon neutral, kind to animals, or any of the other ideas that people have when they see it emblazoned across a food article headline. I am very familiar with the efficiency of our transportation system in this country and would be willing to bet that it’s cheaper and less damaging to the environment to ship many of our foodstuffs across the country, on modern, fast, efficient trains, than to have a crusty old farmer drive his smoke-belching pickup truck loaded with a few hundred pounds of peaches and heads of lettuce to a green market in an upper-middle-class enclave. And at five bucks a pop, those peaches better taste fantastic and have aphrodisiacal properties to boot.
So, imagine my surprise when I found myself ranting and raving to Tommy:eats* about a local farm stand, really a small farm in the middle of a small suburb. Abma’s has some first-rate produce, although I don’t bother with most of it, because I can find good stuff at other, closer places. What they have that is unrivaled by any local competition is fantastic heirloom tomatoes. And if that weren’t enough, the last time I bought some tomatoes from Abma’s, I grabbed a chunk of mozzarella and discovered that the fine folks running this place know a thing or two about making cheese. I haven’t had mozzarella like this since…I have no idea. It was fantastically creamy, without any of the toughness or graininess that I find unpleasant about the commercial stuff and some of the supposedly real cheese that people claim is genuine. But back to the tomatoes. They are uniformly ugly, with horrible crevices that look like they have some terminal disease. Of course, they aren’t diseased, and even if they were, tomato blight isn’t bad for humans. They also have names, but I have no skill at remembering things like that (I have a similar problem with cheeses).
Go to Abma’s, buy a few of their heirlooms, a chunk of mozzarella and maybe a head or two of their excellent greens. My favorite is the Boston lettuce, but the other stuff is pretty good, too. Make a vinaigrette for the greens, drizzle some good olive oil on the tomatoes and mozzarella (don’t forget the salt), open a bottle of Zinfandel, and have a great meal.
*Of course he knows about Abma’s. He knows everything about the food scene in Northern New Jersey.