Rick Bishop has worked closely with David Bouley for over 20 years, growing produce on and around his 35-acre farm in Roscoe, NY, with the chef’s creative approach to cuisine in mind. The secrets to Rick Bishop’s success are simple – dedication to his craft, knowledge (he studied soil science at Cornell University) and passion for the produce. A forerunner in the New York fresh produce revolution, Rick shares with us his favorite seasonal vegetables:
This is a little French tuber that actually looks like a tiny Michelin Man! David originally brought me some back from France about 15 years ago to plant. They thrive on aged, mature compost and yield a big September/October/November crop. A member of the mint family, they are about 1-2 inches in length and are delicious! They can be used as a crunchy little garnish on a plate, pickled, or even served warm in butter. They really act as a texture accent on a dish. Crosnes will keep for 2 months refrigerated—they are very durable, like little baby carrots.
In the fall, the potato harvest is in full swing. David tries to get quantity commitments on our larger fingerlings as early as July for his pomme purees! His favorite is the La Ratte. We grow them along the sandy banks of the Beaverkill River, which is optimal soil for potatoes because the sandy qualities prohibit diseases and allow for proper drainage. We cellar them with the soil still on them (to maximize flavor), washing them right before we sell them. Always store potatoes in a cool dark place; light is the enemy because it makes them a little astringent.
Rule of thumb: Months with R’s in them are good for watercress; much like oysters, they prefer cooler weather. They grow in cold spring water. There are a lot of old abandoned homesteads around our farm that have springs. Back in the day, settlers originally planted the watercress in these springs and it still grows there today. We pick it the day before market so it’s really fresh and crispy. It is best used within 2-3 days.
Flageolet, Cannellini and Borlotto: We have a very nice planting of these three shell beans, (all heirloom varietals) that really shine in the month of September. Once again, they like it down along the side of the river, in the beautiful bottom river gravel. We add mulch to keep them cleaner and mineral powders into the ground for flavor. The Flageolets, in particular, are exceptional.
Tri-star strawberries span three seasons and in autumn they take on a very unique fall flavor. As the weather gets cooler, they get crunchier, firmer and pointier. They almost have an apple-crispness to them—it’s like eating an entirely different berry even though it came from the same plant! They ripen slowly and get really sweet. No storage tip here because they disappear so fast when around!