SOHAIL ZANDI AND SARA ELBERT ARE THE BRAINS, AND THE MUSCLE, BEHIND BRUSHLAND EATING HOUSE. BOTH FRESH FROM THE NEW YORK CITY HOSPITALITY HUSTLE, THE PAIR FLED THE RAT RACE TO MAKE CHEESE ON A VINEYARD AND DO ADULT THINGS. AFTER FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE COUNTRY WAY OF LIfE AND THE PICTURESQUE CATSKILLS REGION, TOGETHER THEY OPENED THEIR MOUTHWATERING BISTRO.
"People come up here a lot and on their drives they see all the farms. It just makes so much sense and it’s easy to get stuff," Sohail says. "Like today we ran out of tomatoes because I’m a bad planner, and Sara was able to run five minutes away and get us a bunch from a farm stand."
Sohail says this kind of hyper-local produce simply tastes better, too. "I think sometimes there is a lack of appreciation about the way things taste. Food is supposed to taste good when you eat it," he says. "I wouldn’t totally compromise that for ethics only, but I think you can blend the two. A lot of the time it naturally overlaps, in that the things that taste the best are the things that are grown the closest to us."
The chalkboards inside Brushland Eating House also pay a kind of homage each dish and its origins - like this Burnett Farm Summer Corn salad. "As a restaurant we here are to showcase and support this area," Sohail says.
Sohail also recommends making your own pickled jalepenos for this dish as "they are a great condiment to keep in the fridge - pickled jalapeno gimlets? Taco topping?! Yes!"
makes 6 servings (or a nice big bowl for an Indian Summer party!)
- 1 lb. Ricotta
- 5 ears sweet corn
- 1/4 cup quick-pickled jalapeno slices, chopped (recipe below)
- 1/3 cup quick-pickled jalapeno juice
- 1 red onion, small
- 1/2 cup mint, chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
- 1 tsp. aleppo pepper
- 2 tsp. salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Butter, for slathering corn
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Remove husks & silk from corn, then rub generously with butter. Wrap each ear in a sheet of tinfoil, placing all five on a baking sheet.
- Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until kernels are tender and your apartment is heavy with the scent of buttery corn. Open foil and allow corn to cool while you mix the other ingredients.
- Place ricotta in a medium mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, olive and 1 tsp. salt, stirring to combine. Transfer seasoned ricotta to serving bowls of your choice - one big one for family style gatherings, or split evenly over six individual servings.
- Shave corn off the cob and add to a second mixing bowl. Toss with jalapeno juice, chopped pickled jalapeno, aleppo pepper and remaining salt, to taste.
- Spoon corn mixture over ricotta. Garnish with black pepper and mint.
QUICK PICKLED JALEPENOS
- 1 lb. fresh jalapenos, whole
- 2 cups white wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp. salt
- Slice jalapenos into 1/4 inch rings. Pack them into a quart-sized glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- Bring all other ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan.
- Pour the liquid over jalapenos, filling the jar. Cover with lid and allow to marinate at room temperature for at least a half-hour, and up to 24 hours. Place
- in the fridge, where they will keep for up to 6 months.