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Gazette Gardener: Great way to spend a day

Gardenworks, Steininger’s make Salem an enticing destination

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
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The fourth Gazette Gardener road trip is as much a venture for foodies at it is for gardeners with a stop at Gardenworks Farm and Steininger's Restaurant in Salem.
The fourth Gazette Gardener road trip is as much a venture for foodies at it is for gardeners with a stop at Gardenworks Farm and Steininger's Restaurant in Salem.

Hats off to the readers who told me about Gardenworks Farm and Steininger’s Cafe. My husband and I had a delightful time looking at art, gifts and plants; buying artisan cheeses, fresh berries and meats; and eating at Steininger’s, which could be a destination all on its own.

Bring a cooler; this is as much a foodie’s trip as a gardener’s idea of a great way to spend a day.

The first stop on our fourth road trip this season was Gardenworks Farm, 1055 W. Hebron Road (Route 30) in Salem, Washington County. From Saratoga Springs it is a 40-minute drive through rolling farmland and worth it.

The current owner is Meg McEachron Southerland, third-generation farmer, and she is committed to running a productive enterprise that includes several endeavors — you-pick blueberries and fall raspberries, cooking demonstrations, a gift shop, annuals and perennials, dried flowers, workshops and a marketplace of local produce, cheeses and meats as well as pies, cookies and cheesecakes. In addition, they host art shows and book readings by local artists, authors and photographers.

Gardenworks Farm

WHERE: 1055 W. Hebron Road (Route 30), Salem

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 27

MORE INFO: 854-3250 or www.gardenworksfarm.com

Steininger’s

WHERE: 191 Main St., Salem

MORE INFO: 854-3830 or www.steiningers.com

For dates of special events, visit the Web site at www.gardenworksfarm.com. In the coming weeks, they have a fall wreath-making workshop using colorful everlastings they grow; they have Jon Katz coming to read from his new book, “Soul of a Dog”; and they are planning a cheese talk and tasting as part of the Washington County Cheese tour.

Plenty of activities

You’ll enjoy all the activity as well as the big red barn that’s the hub of the business. It is an old post-and-beam cow barn that dates to the 1850s. The second floor, where farmers once stored hay, now houses an art gallery, a display of old farm tools and is where hundreds of flowers — yarrow, statice, globe thistle, nigella, poppy seed pods, wheat and amaranth — hang to dry.

The first floor is where you’ll find the locally produced foods, such as honey made by a retired state police officer, mustard made in a former jailhouse and bread made by a Shushan fellow who always wanted to bake in a wood-fired oven and now does. Every item has a story, and owners Rob and Meg Southerland eagerly share them with you.

For fun with the kids, you can pick your own berries from four acres of fields. Call ahead to see when the fall raspberry-picking season begins.

The next stop was Battenkill Creamery, a short distance south on Route 30, where you can buy milk, yogurt and other dairy products, including ice cream. I understand from local sources that their chocolate milk is delicious.

Expressing love through cooking

If you continue on Route 30 into town, you can stop at Steininger’s Chocolates and Cafe, 191 Main St., for lunch or tea.

Bring your appetite; this restaurant has a wonderful menu and is especially known for its homemade soups and chocolates. There are four different soups offered per day. When I was there, the choices were cream of tomato parmesan, golden squash, borscht and a fresh green bean with bacon.

The restaurant is a tribute to the late Frieda Steininger, who “was a very good cook” and shared her recipes with her daughter, Constance, said her grandson Xavier, who is the restaurant’s chocolatier. Constance runs the kitchen today.

“My grandmother expressed her love through cooking,” Xavier said, adding that many of the recipes served are hers. The restaurant has a European feel from floral tablecloths, to the Viennese music playing in the background, to the menu offerings such as Kaffee Schokolade, a combination of Vienna roast coffee and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and cinnamon or the Chambord pie — raspberries marinated in Chambord and swirled into vanilla ice cream on an Oreo cookie crust and topped with Steininger’s own rich hot fudge.

Xavier is responsible for the fine handmade chocolates behind a glass display case. He learned the art from his grandmother and a Swiss friend and has mastered a number of his own chocolate combinations, such as a tart and sweet lemon truffle and another he calls peanut butter addiction. You’ll also find crocant — a butter almond brittle between two layers of chocolate.

The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They serve lunch to 4 p.m.

If you have another idea for a road trip, let me know. I’m always up for a new adventure.

Happy gardening.

 
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