Jim Perillo navigates the weekend bustle on Cooperstown's Main Street and ducks into Pioneer Alley. The aroma of fresh coffee and fruit pies leads him to a single-story brick building with double doors thrown open.
Inside, he finds the Cooperstown Farmers' Market. It's home to more than 30 vendors every Saturday, open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through December. Crimson apples fill wooden crates. Booths are stocked with emerald bunches of kale, bright orange carrots, and plump squash. Growers and producers from within 50 miles of Cooperstown offer jams, bread, and meat cuts.
Perillo fills his bag with Daikon radish, a small melon, Maitake mushrooms, onion, and a goat cheese ricotta. He'll char the mushrooms and onion to serve atop Brioche toast. As Perillo browses, he samples stone-ground mustard and farmstead cheese. "Fall makes everything crisp," he says. "You can go more rustic with your food, a bit more on the comfort side."
This excursion is research for Perillo, the executive chef at the Otesaga Resort Hotel. Back in the kitchen, he'll craft dishes like a tart filled with honey cup squash from Weaver Family Farm and Spurbeck's aged cheddar for the resort's Hawkeye Bar & Grill. For now, he simply enjoys the best place to discover the homegrown gems of Otsego County.