Focused on seasonally, organically, locally and ethically sourced dishes; this blog is interspersed with posts on gardening, seed saving, soap making and Food Ethics.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
GrowWNY Blog Post - Farm Fresh is All in the Family
Article featured on GrowWNY - Part of the charm of the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market is the vibrant interaction its vendors have with its buyers. Some of these buyers are not just the families, couples, and individuals who come week after week for their home kitchens. They are also the chefs and owners of some of the best restaurants and pubs here in the City of Buffalo. One of these restaurants is Betty’s, which has a long, close history with Tom Tower and his 200-year-old family owned and operated farm located in Youngstown, N.Y.
Betty’s, named after owner Doty Hall’s mother, opened in 2004 and has since served some very fine and tasty meals in its open and eclectic space. It sits hidden from view off Elmwood Avenue on the jutting corner of Virginia and Cottage Streets. The red brick and green trimmed restaurant uses every square inch of the property to its fullest. More so since the renovations to update the back of the property to include a bar, secondary dining room, and outdoor seating along the south side of the building.
Hall, tucked behind the prep counter in the kitchen, was a delightful combination of soft, sweet, and robust, moving about the kitchen in smooth efficiency. Washing and slicing lovely heirloom tomatoes, she quickly plated an on-the-spot creation, using the last of ingredients to create a cold and delicately flavored salad. Hall's summer medley salad used corn and tomatoes from Tower's Farm, avocados, lime juice, and locally sourced cilantro and mixed field green lettuces.
While Hall created the salad, Chef Richard Sabele prepped and served a traditional New Orleans Crab Boil Vichyssoise made with Tower's Youngstown yellow potatoes. Chef Sabele has been here in Buffalo for the last two years, moving from New Orleans, where he worked in a number of culinary settings, primarily fine dining. When he moved into the area, he looked to Craigslist for job opportunities and found a listing for Betty's. He applied, saying, “I figured it was my kind of place… I wanted to get back to comfort food.”
The vichyssoise is a favorite comfort food in New Orleans. Chef commented, “The best part is all the veggies and the salty spicy seasonings.” The potatoes are the base ingredient and once well cooked in the seasonings and cream, are purred and served chilled and lightly garnished. The authentic crab boil spice was difficult to find and needed to be specialty ordered, as it wasn’t something that could be locally sourced due to its uniqueness.
Tower, long time friend and neighbor to Carroll, came in to make a special delivery with his assistant Lauren, of a large selection of his heirloom tomatoes and his famous peaches. Tower has a great infectious boyish smile and it was easy to be swept along with his short bark of a laugh and comfortable manner. After picking up dishes of food, the conversation continued at the bar where the banter slid into talk of family and stories of a vegetable cart and how some things change, and some things stay the same.
That’s how Betty’s is. Its rich history shows its switched rolls from shoe repair shop, to lemon juicer, to furniture repair. It’s been a grocer, a hardware store, a florist, and a delicatessen three times in the last 30 years. It’s centered in a thriving neighborhood made-up primarily of families. Betty’s was created and named in tribute not only to Hall’s mother, but also to, as Carroll and Doty say, “…mothers everywhere.”
Here you find a family that cares and that extends out to the family of vendors at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market and yet further to you and your family as they continue to make both the restaurant and the market outstanding representatives of the family-centered hometown feeling that is the very heart of Buffalo.