It's one of the most delicious, exclusive plates on all of Cape Cod-- The Chatham Bars Inn. But for those who cannot afford or who are not inclined to pay for fine dining, it's good to know some of the ingredients used in those meals are available to the public at the Cape Abilities farm stands in Brewster and Dennis.
I couldn't resist making a major produce haul at the original farm stand on scenic route 6A last weekend. The colors of the season lured me in from the road; mums in magenta, rust, cream and yellow, pumpkins of orange and gourds in yellow, green and cream twisted into odd shapes resembling heads, horns and noses.
As a radish nut, I bought my first watermelon radishes. Slice 'em up and they resemble teeny watermelons with green skins and pink flesh. The watermelon radish lacked some of the sting of a supermarket radish, but had a little more tang than the carrot shaped daikon radish used in Asian cooking and which is difficult to find on the Cape.
I also found purple and green speckled dragon beans-- the first I had seen on the Cape. I fell in love with this giant, flat variety of green bean in upstate New York.
It turns out that some of the radishes, tomatoes, eggplant, onions and more that burst with color at the farm stand are grown down the road at Chatham Bars Inn's private farm and greenhouses. The Inn purchased 8 acres of sandy land two years ago and amended it with manure, compost and food scraps and the shells of seafood to add nutrients to the soil. Since then the farm with it's full time manager has exploded with yield for the Inn's various restaurants. What the restaurant can't use, is offered to the public at the Cape Abilities farm stand on site.
Volunteers from Cape Abilities, an organization which creates jobs and support services for people with physical and mental impairment, staff the stand at the Chatham Bars Inn farm, and the original location in Dennis. The Inn farm stand is now closed for the year and will reopen in the spring. But the Dennis location is going strong and is bursting with the colors of the fall season right now.
Take a drive along one of the prettiest stretches of road in the country and see for yourself.
I wasn't planning to stop, but how could I not?
Onions and eggplant begin the ratatouille.
Mums and ornamental kale signal the start of autumn.