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Sagra at Hill Farm & Sheet-Pan Salmon
I’m just back from my final trip for the year and while I could not be happier to be home, I had some pretty incredible adventures this fall and I wanted to share one of them with you, along with some other things I’m excited about right now. First things first, agrotourism!
My friend Kathryn Arffa recently started Sagra, which is described in their beautiful own words as “Sagra is a celebration of place, people and harvest, an opportunity to connect with each other, the sources of our food and the people who thoughtfully grow it.” And, well, mission accomplished…
Their newest location Hill Farm in Sunderland, Vermont was picture perfect. First and foremost, I had no idea how close parts of southern Vermont are to Hudson! It was a gorgeous leaf peeping and peeking drive fully on back roads. Before you know it, you’re pulling into an old dairy farm where the newly opened restaurant, garden and farmhouse are surrounded by the Green and Taconic ranges.
We were greeted by aloof (but, lovable) alpacas and enthusiastically by Hickory the farm dog, who I wanted to take home. Dinner was cooked in their newly renovated barn by former Blue Hill chef Chef Austin Poulin with produce expertly grown by their farmer Nicole. If you’re interested in rolling up your sleeves, there are ways to get involved with farm activities and other programs such as natural dyeing to preservation classes. I took a farm tour and it was truly special.
Our night was capped around a roaring fire and the next morning we were treated to a beautiful breakfast right downstairs. I didn’t want to go and I certainly cried when saying farewell to Hickory, but he knows I’ll be back! I bet it’s gorgeous there, covered in snow.
Hickory - Dream Dog
I also visited the new Wildflower Farms, the new and first Auberge property here in the Hudson Valley, which was also quite beautiful with a view of the Shawangunk Ridge. Their values align to Sagra’s in terms of reconnecting with nature and utilizing on- property farming to support the restaurant.
In non-trip related news, I’m deep into Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, the most incredible novel by Gabrielle Zelvin. I realize I may be a bit late to the game, but I don’t care, I’m truly just happy I showed up. Please read this book, it’s for everyone.
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Also, please check out the lovely Angie Venezia’s newsletter Home Cooking Diary. I was honored to be included in her write-up this week.
Last, but not least, I unexpectedly had dinner next door last week and Kelly had already planned on making a salmon recipe of mine from a newsletter LONG ago, and I was reminded of how much I loved it, so I’m sharing it with you here.
Sheet Pan Salmon with Fennel Salad on Top
1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes
4 to 5 large shallots, peeled, ends trimmed, quartered, root to stem
1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds, pounded with a mortar and pestle
½ teaspoon chili flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling the salmon and salad
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 (6-ounce) salmon filets
1 fennel bulb, tough outer leaves discarded
1 lemon, halved
3 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint or basil or a combination of all three
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the tomatoes and shallots on a large sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, ground fennel seed, chili flakes, and season well with salt and pepper. Arrange them in 1 layer, leaving 4 spaces for the salmon fillets to be added later. Roast until the tomatoes begin to collapse and the shallots begin to soften 15 to 17 minutes.
Add the salmon to the sheet pan skin-side down, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a bit more of the olive oil. Roast until the fish is opaque and cooked through about 12 minutes more.
While the fish cooks, thinly slice fennel stems crosswise and place in a medium bowl. Squeeze with lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste.
When the fish is cooked, remove from the oven and scatter the fennel salad on top of the mixture and top with herbs. Season with flaky salt if you like. Serve from the pan or plate if you’re feeling fancy! Kelly did!
Have a beautiful weekend!