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New York: Farm to table in Lake Placid

Asgaard Farm & Dairy in New York’s Adirondack Mountains is pretty picky about the products it will sell.

Caitlin Aherne (who makes caramels — and soap — from goat’s milk at the farm in Au Sable Forks, N.Y.) said the proprietors recently fed an entire batch of below-standard goat cheese to the pigs, which must have been pretty nice by piggy standards!

When visiting the Asgaard stand at the farmers’ market in Lake Placid, N.Y., this September, I sampled cheeses that had passed muster, then bought a treasure to take home.

My sister and I were squired to Lake Placid’s market by Dave Hunt, executive chef at Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort’s Generations restaurant in Lake Placid. He buys some supplies for Generations from these farmers, reflecting his passion for natural foods and sourcing locally when possible.

Besides, the food is good.

Especially when it comes with maple syrup.

Dave is a big fan of cooking with the syrup, which certainly qualifies as local. He took us to a Cornell University sugar maple research station outside of town.

Cornell — aiming to encourage the development of New York’s maple industry — researches best practices, provides educational programs and offers self-guided or, by pre-arrangement, guided tours for visitors.

Lake Placid is preparing its first full-blown Maple Festival for the last weekend of March 2014. For the event, Dave is planning an MMMMMMmmm Maple tasting event, “featuring maple producers and chefs [creating] wonderful dishes that include maple syrup, sap, even bark or twigs,”

BTW, Lake Placid and the Cornell research site are in New York’s Adirondack State Park, a relatively undeveloped swath of land about the size of neighboring Vermont — a state already known for its syrup.

We sampled local produce and experienced Dave’s way with food at Generations. The Farm Tour Tasting Menu, designed for two to 12 diners, is available by prearrangement.

The deal is that the chef (Dave) comes to the guests’ table to discuss personal tastes and diet requirements, then he prepares a customized five-course dinner.

Ours included a salad of yellow beets, spinach, heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumber and goat cheese, with a dressing featuring — what else? — maple syrup.

Not everything could be local. The centerpiece for our meal was salmon and shrimp cooked at the table atop a hot slab of pink Himalayan salt (which rested on a matching cold slab of salt). The seafood was perfectly cooked, but not salty.

Generations is planning new experiential dining options; it also offers cooking demos and cooking classes.

David Hunt and Michelle Asselin at farmers' market in Lake Placid

Dave Hunt, head chef at the Generations restaurant in Lake Placid’s Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, and Michelle Asselin, owner of Harmony Hills Farmstead, Malone, N.Y., seen at Lake Placid’s farmers’ market.

The farmers’ market at Lake Placid, N.Y.

The farmers’ market at Lake Placid, N.Y.

Lake Placid maple sap boiler

The impressive machinery used to boil down maple sap during syrup production as part of Cornell University’s sugar maple research program at the Uihlein Field Station outside Lake Placid, N.Y.

Restaurant, Lake Placid, New York

Exterior of the Generations restaurant, which is part of the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Salad with yellow beets, maple syrup dressing, Lake Placid, New York

Salad of yellow beets, spinach, heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumber, goat cheese, with a dressing featuring maple syrup. The dish was served as part of a customized Farm Tour Tasting Menu at the Generations restaurant, at the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Lake Placid, N.Y., Generations restaurant, salmon and shrimp dish

Salmon and shrimp cooked à table atop a hot slab of pink Himalayan salt, served as part of a customized Farm Tour Tasting Menu at the Generations restaurant, at the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid, N.Y.

This blog and its photos are by Nadine Godwin, BestTripChoices.com editorial director and contributor to the trade newspaper, Travel Weekly. She also is the author of “Travia: The Ultimate Book of Travel Trivia,” which was published by The Intrepid Traveler; it can be purchased at http://intrepidtraveler.com/travia-release/