As a farmer who sells free-range chicken, pastured pork and grass-fed beef, Matt Soldano of Southtown Farms loves the idea of a three-day weekend devoted entirely to grilling. As a veteran of the Iraq War, he also knows there’s more to the holiday than back-yard barbecues. Much more. A U.S. Marine Corps vet, Soldano was deployed to the Al Anbar Province of Iraq in 2004. His unit was charged with defending the outer perimeter of the Abu Ghraib prison. He was lucky enough to make it home alive, to New Jersey, albeit suffering from severe PTSD due to a traumatic brain injury suffered during his tour of duty.
At first, he wondered if he could ever find civilian work that would suit him. Then, he discovered farming. He started with just a few chickens but knew he was on the right path and with some help from the Farmer Veteran Coalition was able to start Southtown Farms in Mahwah in 2010. “When I am working with my animals and working on my land … I feel very good about the direction my life is going. I am proud of what I do. I enjoy the fact that day by day I am bringing healthy, safe, and clean food to my community, ” he says.
This week, he is bringing 7 varieties of his whole hog sausage (“all meat, no weird stuff”), dark-meat chicken leg quarters designed for the grill, boneless skinless chicken breasts and grass-fed beef for hamburgers. His meats are raised free of antibiotics, hormones and grain diets. Matt is committed to raising all of his animals in the “free-est” environment possible. These days, his worst enemies are the coyotes and bears who sometimes get too close to the perimeter of his farm. This weekend, he encourages people to “go out, fire up the grills, and have fun,” says Soldano. “But make sure that at some point during the weekend, you pause and make a toast to our fallen heroes.”
Hosting a barbecue? Why not let Christiane Backstube‘s supply the dessert? So excited to have this new bakery join our ranks at the CFM. Baker Christiane Kirchgaessner who has worked at such fine NYC kitchens as Wallse and Danube makes authentic German and Austrian pastries and tarts made using local fruits and preserves whenever possible. Brace yourself for a line!
Also new this week: Arlotta Food Studio sells organic, extra virgin, first cold pressed flavor-infused olive oils (rosemary, basil, etc.) as well as balsamic vinegars and tapenades. Their olives are harvested in their own groves in the San Joaquin Valley, but their oil is flavor-infused in New York using local ingredients. They will soon be adding pasta to their repertoire – made with local eggs and flour.
Bien Cuit Bakery from Brooklyn is also back this week. This bakery is known for its epic fermentation (up to 68 hours for some loaves) that makes their breads so distinct.As luck would have it, Consider Bardwell is bringing their Danby Raw Goat Sardo cheese this week. Aged between 6 and 8 months, this piquant cheese is inspired by Italian cheeses like Asiago & Piave. A perfect match for a dense slice of Bien Cuit miche. Also a nice accompaniment to the spring radishes Morgiewicz Produce will be bringing.
Dug up this collection of genius grilling recipes from Food52.
Have a lovely weekend!
food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)