The Maitland Mountain Farm family – Heather, Holly, Andy, baby Jett, and Peter (not pictured) - from Salem, MA remind us that local foods can be extraordinary, exceptional, and worth tracking down.
Start with “Holly’s Spicy Pickles,” considered “menu worthy” by many local restaurants. Two years ago Holly Maitland began playing around with a bumper crop of Maitland Farm’s cucumbers, and developed a product beside which any sandwich should consider itself honored. In fact, I think of lunch this way: “I’ll have a sandwich with my Maitland Mountain Farm Pickle.” Just read this ingredient list, and imagine a fresh cucumber brined in red chilis, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, ginger, mace, coriander and on.
The cukes crunch and pack a punch of flavor. They’re so delicious I’m actually serving them, wrapped in wax paper, at a cocktail party this weekend.
Duckworth’s Bistro in Gloucester and the Blue Ox in Lynn both use Holly’s Spicy Pickles in their martinis. Finz in Salem serves a relish made of Holly’s Spicy Pickles with their crab cakes. The Lobster Shanty serves them on all their sandwiches. Hunt them down: Vidalias in Beverly Farms, The Meat House in N. Beverly and Milk & Honey in Salem all sell Maitland Mountain pickles.
In 1976 Peter Maitland bought two and a half acres of land in Salem. An entire neighborhood grew like weeds around him, but Peter built a barn, started a garden, and kept raising his family.
Now his two daughters, Heather and Holly, and Holly’s partner, Andy Varela, grow beautiful, unusual produce on those two and a half acres. Set up in farmers markets this summer, the Maitland people will have sorrel (for now!), green zebra tomatoes, epazote, all kinds of beans and gorgeous little boxes of edible flowers – calendula, violets, coriander, nasturtiums, and a delicate little rabe flowers that tastes meaty, like broccoli. They’ll have New England farm standards, too.
The Maitland folks will be at the Salem, Swampscott, Gloucester, and Marblehead farmers markets. Come fall, they’ll be selling carnival-colored bunches of hard to find dahlias.
But plan ahead and mark your calendars; In October, the Maitlands will harvest and prepare their own horseradish, making one of the most flavorful local condiments you can set on your holiday relish tray.