Nestled along Mountain Avenue in North Caldwell, NJ is Matarazzo Farms. This local gem is one of the few remaining working farms in Essex County, and the closest one to Montclair.
At this time of year, the most visible thing at Matarazzo Farms is the abundance of pumpkins. Set up on stands along the roadside, they make the farm hard to miss. There are round pumpkins, and oblong pumpkins, pumpkins for eating, and pumpkins for carving. They’re all there.
And knowing our Montclair audience, here’s the most important thing: there are dozens of pumpkins that are the same size and shape. (So those among us who like to line a porch, walkway, or buffet table with uniform pumpkins can find the perfect matching collection with ease!) Don’t miss the huge selection of gourds in a wild collection of colors and shapes.
The autumn magic continues inside the farm stand where a bounty of seasonal produce beckons to go home with each customer. The colorful peppers had me thinking chilis and curries. The carrots and ginger had me thinking carrot-ginger soup. And there are still a lot of Jersey Fresh tomatoes for that last perfect salad caprese of the season. There’s okra for a great gumbo, and beets which are great for salads but also a favorite of the juicing crowd.
Did I mention apples? Jonnymacs, Empires, Delicious, Grannies, and a handful of other varieties. Dice some into pancake batter, make an apple crisp, or just nosh on an apple or two every day. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, two or more must keep the whole hospital away, right?
My favorite discovery? The white radishes! Obviously different in color and appearance than their bright crimson cousins, these gems pack a bit more of the bite radishes are known, making them a brilliant new addition to the ordinary apple pecan salad.
When it first made the rounds on restaurant menus in the mid-90s, the mixed greens with apple and pecans (or walnuts) salad, dressed in bleu cheese was ground breaking. Now it’s a cliche, and what's with the candied nuts? So why not spice things up a bit!
Thinly sliced, these white radishes are the perfect contrast to the sweet-tart taste of the apples. The farm stand had some unusual greens including mustard kale that was a great addition to the salad. Instead of the usual bleu cheese, I picked up some local honey at Matarazzo's to make a honey-mustard-vinaigrette. Sweet - tart - spicy - crunchy - the end result was a tango of taste that never would have been discovered had I not stopped at Matarazzo's.
Once I realized how easy it was to get to the farm I made this a regular foodie destination. Anyone who has driven Francisco Blvd in Little Falls from Upper Montclair to get to Route 23, knows there is something on the other side of the highway – that’s Mountain Ave! Going in this direction, Matarazzo's will be on the left. If travelling from Montclair on Bloomfield Ave take the first right after the large Exxon Station in the Caldwells, that will set you on Mountain Ave.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, check out what else I found at Matarazzo's:
Of course people with less of a sense of adventure can find Matarazzo Farms at the Montclair, Ramsey, and Newark Farmer’s Markets.