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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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May 01, 2014

North Fork's Fresh Fish & Loaves of Fine Breads

by Bob Banfelder

Last month's report referencing the Riverhead Farmers' Market in downtown Riverhead received a good deal of attention. Therefore, I allowed it to mushroom (pun intended) into a second foodie article covering the month of May. You'll recall that I wrote a piece for April highlighting the Long Island Mushroom Company, Inc. of Cutchogue, abbreviated LIM, which is owned and operated by John Quigley and Jane Maguire.

This month's report shall feature two specific booths at the Riverhead Farmers' Market, offering items near and dear to many of our hearts: local fresh fish and wholesome fresh baked breads for the multitude of folk. Just add your favorite wine for a worthy repast. But before you subliminally conger up Christ-like images or perhaps wonder if I am going to proselytize and/or launch my own ministry, take solace in that I but solely plan to put you on the path to fine fare. As a matter of fact, the path is short in that both stalls are adjacent to one another; that is, fish and breads. You may purchase these fresh and delectable products on Saturdays from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Riverhead Farmers' Market, located at 117 East Main Street in downtown Riverhead. After being open for only a month, the market became so popular that the town plans to expand as well as extend the operation past the projected May 17th date—on through November.

The indoor Riverhead Farmers' Market opened in February of this year at the former Swezey's department store on East Main Street. In addition to the purveyors who take pride and part in the indoor market, organizer Holly Browder said the market expects to add a few more local vegetable farms for the summer season, including Garden of Eve, Mar-gene Organic Farm, and Invincible Summer Farm. The current level of 35 vendors will increase to 50 in the summer. Browder said that after November the market may move into a different location and larger storefront on the same street.

First off, let's go fishing for fine seafood at the downtown Riverhead Farmers' Market. Easy parking is accessible at the rear of the building, which is set along the beautiful Peconic River. Be sure to take a stroll along the boardwalk before or after shopping. As you enter from the rear, you will find Meredith Daniell and her display of fresh fish and shellfish to your immediate left.

Merken Fisheries boasts a proud family-owned and operated commercial fishing business that provides sumptuous seafood from their decks to your lunch or dinner plate, not that I haven't chowed down on a seafood omelet at 6 a.m. before hitting the surf, river, or a trout stream. Whether it is breakfast or brunch, lunch or dinner, fish and shellfish have a place at your table. Meredith Daniell of Merken Fisheries in Hampton Bays brings to Riverhead the company's fresh-caught seafood from our local waters, including sea scallops just off the boat at 8 a.m. By 11 a.m., you will find Meredith purveying a tasty selection of seafood.

The commercial vessel F/V Lady J is out of Shinnecock, and captained by Captain Kenneth Jayne. His first mate (when she's not busy with other responsibilities) is Meredith Daniell. Meredith's helper at Riverhead Farmer's Market is Kaitlyn, pictured here with Meredith. What you can expect to find during the season are locally caught cod, yellowtail flounder, fluke, monkfish, ocean perch, swordfish, clams and sea scallops. Included are tuna, wild salmon, and shrimp brought in from other areas.

Among several meanings of name and origin, I guess it would be apropos to pigeonhole Meredith (taken from Welsh) as Guardian of the Sea, or at the very least, master of all she purveys. Good to go. Fine product, Meredith.


Adjacent to the fish concession at the Riverhead Farmers' Market, you will find Renée Duarte, an employee representing the Blue Duck Bakery Café. Donna and I have been dealing with Renée at the Riverhead store since December of 2012, which is located at 309 East Main Street. The company's owners are Nancy and Keith Kouris, also with stores in Southold and Southampton. So if shopping at the Riverhead Farmers' Market does not fit in with Saturday's11a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule, you have a few options. Check them out at their three locations.

The only item shy from your fish, bread, and wine repast would be a nice cheese. Well, the Riverhead Farmers' Market has virtually everything you need to prepare a fantastic spread, including wonderful cheeses. This is one-stop shopping under a single roof: fish, bread, wine, cheeses, salad greens, vegetables, gourmet spreads, preserves, Italian delicacies, ad infinitum.

Blue Duck Bakery artisan breads are truly fantastic; the selection is wonderful: ciabatta, baguette, brioche, pain pugliese, semolina, Tuscan, et cetera. There are positively no preservatives, stabilizers or dough conditioners added. Hence, these loaves are to be eaten soon after purchase. What these breads do contain are unbromated, unbleached flour, water, sea salt and natural leavenings. Rather than lecture you on the positive aspects of unbromated, unbleached flour in baking bread, let me succinctly state that the United States FDA is more concerned about special interests than it is consumer interests. Bromated flour has been banned in the United Kingdom. Of course, lots of TLC is the not-so-secret added ingredient alluded to on the Blue Duck Bakery Café's web site. Allow me to excerpt from their web page regarding what is quite germane so that you will enjoy their genuinely fresh baked breads, cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries:

[Artisan breads are created by hand in the centuries old tradition of European bakers. The technique and observation of sensitivity of the artisan baker produce distinctive and personalized loaves. Artisan bread may differ from day to day and loaf to loaf with variations in shape, color and texture due to human touch and the breads' organic nature. Each loaf is formed by hand, assessed by the eye and subject to the baker's judgment at every step.

The Blue Duck Bakery Café bakes our own signature line of artisan breads as well as the finest quality pastries and cakes. Our bakery products are made fresh daily on premises, under the expertise and direct guidance of Keith Kouris, master baker with over 25 years of experience and a graduate of the French Culinary Institute's International Bread Baking Program.

Storage for our breads: Artisan breads should be eaten as soon as possible for the best flavor and texture. After slicing and if you will be eating more bread the same day, you may store the bread cut-side down on the counter. Moisture is a crusty bread's worst enemy, so if you must store your bread, place it in a paper bag and then inside a plastic bag sealed tightly. Do not refrigerate. You may freeze it stored this way for up to one week. After defrosting, refresh your bread by wrapping it in foil and placing it in a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes.]

There you have it, folks. North Fork's one-stop shopping on Saturdays from 11a.m. to 3p.m. at the Riverhead Farmers' Market. Two suggestions to make life easier: bring a tote bag and arrive a half hour earlier for best selections.

Ah, just when I thought I was finished with this report, Tom Schlichter, outdoors columnist for Newsday, arrives at the door for a taping of Special Interests with Bob & Donna, our monthly Cablevision (Channel 20) show. Tom turns up with treats before we get started taping: a nice piece of salmon seasoned with cHarissa, an "authentic" Moroccan-influenced spice. cHarissa comes in powder as well as liquid form; package (3 oz., $6) or jar (9oz., $12). Too, both items are offered either mild or hot. I've been hearing a great deal about this spice. It is indeed versatile in that it may be used on virtually everything! For example, fish, meat (great on game), vegetables, pasta, and cheese. The seasoned piece of salmon that Donna and I greedily shared was absolutely fantastic. Vegans are in for a special treat as cHarissa when added to humus or mayonnaise will pleasantly surprise your palate. This is a condiment that positively belongs in your kitchen, for it is a winner.

And guess what? These package and jar spices are also featured at the Farmers' Market, midway on the left as you enter through the rear of the building. Look for Liz Clayton and be sure to say hello.

For further information about cHarissa, Google Tom Schlichter's Web Site:

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

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