In season salads

Among the locally sourced ingredients in The Sweet Life Cafe's Local Asian Greens salad is Mermaid Farm feta and local greens. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Isn’t September the best? The traffic has decreased, mopeds are fewer and further between, the nights are cool and breezy, and soon we’ll start to see the familiar faces of friends who hibernated all summer and those who didn’t consider it a work week unless it was more than 80 hours. Beaches and walking trails are less crowded and last-minute dinner reservations are not inconceivable. If you listen closely I’m pretty sure that right after Labor Day a collective sigh of relief can be heard throughout the Island.

Meanwhile, some of the Island’s best produce is still in full swing. North Tabor Farm’s mixed baby greens and Mermaid Farm’s heirloom tomatoes are among my favorite, and I suggest enjoying them now before mealy, lackluster substitutes take their place on grocery store shelves. Is there a better summer snack than a fresh, juicy heirloom tomato, sliced and sprinkled with sea salt and topped with fresh mozzarella? (Or better yet, buratta — a fresh Italian cheese made of mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid like mozzarella while the inside is creamy and soft, a new favorite that can be found at Cronig’s and Fiddlehead Farm and on the menu at State Road Restaurant).

Morning Glory’s farm stand is something of a Mecca for fresh produce. Bins are overflowing with corn, peppers, leafy greens, and more. The salad bar is a veggie lovers dream. Start with leafy greens and pile on the goods: sliced peppers, sweet corn, marinated bean salad, maple roasted beets, and croutons. There is always oil and vinegar for salad dressing purists as well as a house creation like the roasted garlic creamy dressing.

Rebecca Miller’s North Tabor Farm stand is stocked with salad greens and baby arugula as well as pork and chicken, and Chris Fischer’s Beetlebung Farm is brimming with carrots, beets, hot peppers, pears, and more.

Some Island restaurants are taking advantage of this bountiful time, incorporating fresh Island produce into their menus.

Scott Ehrlich, chef at The Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs, makes a refreshing salad with local Asian greens (bok choy, mustard greens, etc.), Mermaid Farm feta, mixed melons, crispy chickpeas for some crunch, and lemongrass vinaigrette for $12. Ken ‘N Beck, also in Oak Bluffs (where Zapotec used to be) was recently granted their liquor license. Chef Dunstan Smith regularly sources from Norton Farm and Morning Glory, so don’t miss his warm fingerling and corn salad with mustard greens dressed in jalapeno-lime aioli, $11. He also puts Morning Glory’s corn to work in a delicious soup served with (or without) seared pork belly, $13.

Just a few doors down, at Sidecar, a chalkboard boasts the farms and produce that appear regularly on the menu. A warm, breaded goat cheese patty is served with mixed Island greens, local tomatoes, balsamic glazed onions and herb vinaigrette for $11.

Flatbread Company currently sells their wood-fired pizza at nine locations, from Hawaii to Edgartown. Working with local farms is an integral part of the Flatbread mission and their Vineyard locale is no exception. The house salad is composed of Island mesclun and sweet leaf lettuces tossed with celery, carrots, toasted sesame seeds, arame seaweed. and homemade berry vinaigrette. You’ll also find Morning Glory tomatoes and potatoes on their pizzas. Specials change every Friday, but look forward to a veggie pizza like last week’s special with rosemary cream sauce, Morning Glory oven roasted potatoes, North Tabor arugula, oven roasted garlic, whole milk mozzarella, imported Asiago, and organic herb mix.

State Road Restaurant uses greens from North Tabor, mixed vegetables from Morning Glory, and eggs from The Grey Barn and Farm but they also have the luxury of their own productive garden just out back. Look for their heirloom tomatoes, a wide variety of herbs, and more as they pop up on different dishes on the menu. For lunch (or add an egg and call it breakfast), try the fried green tomato BLT with applewood smoked bacon, local arugula, and basil (their own) mayo served on toasted pugliese with housemade pickles and cumin cole slaw, $10.

Goldbud peaches are all the rage this summer. They can sell for as much as $7 a pop yet places like Fiddlehead Farm, Morning Glory, and Eden Market can’t seem to keep them in stock. Bob Skydell of Fiddlehead Farm had to impose a one-case per person rule on eager customers looking to buy his entire shipment. Goldbud Farms in Placerville, Calif. is located at 2,800 ft. elevation in the Sierra Foothills. The farm credits the hot mountain days ideal for flavor development and cool nights to prevent the fruit from ripening too fast, for the big, juicy stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines) they are known for.

At Détente in Edgartown, Chef Kevin Crowell dresses tree-ripened peaches in white truffle oil and verjus (the juice of unripened grapes, for acidity) then drapes them in melted Taleggio (a semi-soft Italian cheese) and tops the dish off with North Tabor’s baby arugula, $16. Get it soon though, Goldbuds are only expected to be around for another week or two.

Mushroom enthusiasts take note, at 7a Foods in West Tisbury, Dan Sauer is running a special sandwich, Chicken! Chicken!: local Good Farm chicken liver pate, red onion marmalade, arugula, and a locally foraged chicken of the woods mushroom, $8.95.