1.03.2012

Good Eats in...Bainbridge?

When I was high school and attended camp in Cazenovia at my church’s conference center there, a boy from the Bainbridge Episcopal Church often developed inappropriate crushes on the girls there, and would call them for months afterwards, sending them weird little gifts and generally offering unwelcome attention. Until this past Saturday, that was the beginning and the end of my thoughts on Bainbridge. The village is a mere hiccup off Route 88 on the way to Oneonta, Cooperstown and Albany; a rural hamlet, not a destination.

As you know, my company has us set up in temporary offices, and so our department is mixed in with people we normally wouldn’t be. This arrangement has me sitting near a lady, we’ll call her Big Hungry Kathy, who loves to chat about local foods. You know I liked her immediately. The past couple weeks, she informed us of two unique foodie destinations in the Afton/Bainbridge area, and as I had last Saturday free, I decided to check them out.

Frog Pond Farm
is a permanent (although not year-round; they closed this past Monday) farmers market probably halfway between Afton and Bainbridge. You take the Afton exit on 88 to get there, anyway. It’s gained quite a bit of noteriety on Yelp for the cashier, who adds up your total in his head and calls it out for all to hear. This is a particularly good farm stand to bring the children, as there are friendly goats, bunnies and chickens all over the place to harass. And for mom and dad, there’s a lot of good space for some great produce. Because I visited on the last weekend of the year, and the first frost has come and gone, the pickings were a bit slim: pumpkins, apples, pears and squash. But I can imagine this place echoing the charms of my favorite, closer-by Country Wagon and Iron Kettle stands earlier in the season. In any event, I bought a huge bag of delicious Empire apples for a steal. I believe the dude called out…$4?


“Welcome to Frog Pond!”

Scooting on down the road to Kathy’s next recommendation was fun, because it turns out that Bainbridge is super cute! Look at their sweet town hall:


We’re Bainbridge. We’re cute.

My next destination was Pine Ridge Grocery, an Amish-run bulk food store and deli on Highway 206 in Bainbridge. This place was hoppin’, the lot packed with cars on this snowy Saturday. The tiny store is jammed with bulk foods, snack mixes, New York State cheeses, Pennsylvania meats (bacon!), a ridiculously well-priced deli counter, every baking supply you could ever need, fresh rolls, breads and pastries, nuts, candies and dried fruits. The amount of wasabi peas that cost me $7 or $8 in Wegmans were $5 here. What I’m saying is, I loved it there.

I picked up some fantastic homemade coffee-flavored granola from PA Amish country for $6 – a steal. And the aforementioned wasabi peas, along with the chex mix that’s coated in peanut butter and chocolate and then dusted with powdered sugar for around $3. Oh, and some excellent NYS gouda, which is funky and mellow, and made my chicken cordon bleu extra yummy last night. Then I sauntered over to the deli counter, bustling with patrons, which revealed why Pine Ridge is so popular: very high quality meats at rock bottom prices. At most area grocery stores, sliced turkey and roast beef are now up to what? $8, $9 a pound? Well, try $6 on for size, or $4 for the delectable ham off-the-bone I purchased. The peppered turkey I bought an entire pound of is extremely delicious – none of that gross texture you get with low-quality deli meats, and tons of robust black pepper and true turkey flavors.


The Pine Ridge cheese case beckons

I also bought peppered bacon, grown from pasture-raised hogs and smoked in PA. It’s fantastic. Thick-cut, not too smoky and not too fatty, this product was around $4 for a half-pound, and extremely delicious. If you want to load up your pantry for the coming winter, a road trip to Pine Ridge is definitely in order. Make sure to pick up some rolls, if they’re not sold out. The deli rolls I bought made a pillowy, light home for all those meats, and fantastic sandwiches for our Sunday night dinner.

I don’t know what puffcorn is, but I’m already regretting not buying this.

I have something really exciting happening next week, my hungries. I’m going to keep it to myself for now, but I’m visiting a very cool locale, blog-wise. And before that, I’m back up in Watertown for the weekend. Miss TI is getting her headshots done by the incomparable April McClintock, my sister is in the last minutes of her pregnancy, and I’m just due for some Northern NY R&R! So stop by next Wednesday for more yummy tricks and treats. My personality is big, my hunger is bigger!

Notes: If you’re not following @BigHungryShelby on Twitter, you’re missing out! I post meal ideas, on-the-fly restaurant comments, commentary from the food world and more. You should also join our open Big Hungry Shelby group on Facebook, where each week I share more pictures that couldn’t make it in to the blog, and you can share your favorites as well!

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