One of the things I love most about living on Long Island is the availability of locally sourced ingredients. Thyme On Your Side Artisan Market and Café in Bethpage is one of those establishments that puts locally sourced ingredients at the forefront of their conceptual development and output. The owner, Kristina Grimes, is a 25-year-plus veteran of the catering and food industry. She developed her love for the culinary arts in the BOCES program at her high school and graduated with an Associates Degree from the Culinary Institute of America in the Culinary Arts. Her passion and dedication to not only the food she creates but the food industry as a whole is inspiring.
Grimes works to promote local growers and locally made food products not only by carrying these items in her storefront but also by holding a weekly farmers market right outside her doors on Broadway. The market runs every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the Bethpage Chamber of Commerce to celebrate her commitment to offering locally sourced products to her beloved community.
On the day we visit Thyme On Your Side, we order pancakes for Daniel and John. The batter is made-to-order and is skillet-baked to perfection. Grimes tells me that this particular recipe’s roots lie in her own favorite dish from a café in upstate New York. She has worked tirelessly to perfect its duplication in her own kitchen and feels that it is darn well close.
Grimes makes everything on her menu from scratch and works to do so in a healthy, all natural way. The only fried dishes on her menu are cooked and created by her own mother, who feels that every menu ought to have some diversity between the healthy and the fried. I like options and therefore tend to agree.
Grimes’s menu relies heavily on locally produced ingredients and, as a result, the availability of the ingredients often dictates the menu’s development. The menu is in constant rotation as ingredients become available based on the seasons. When something isn’t able to be located, the dish simply isn’t made and is instead replaced by a new item made with in-season ingredients. It is truly an inspiration for those who want to eat well and eat locally; Grimes’s ingenuity allows for both.
I order the homemade veggie burger and welcome the thick patty and grainy bun it arrives on. The pancakes are gloriously tall and the boys anxiously await the stream of syrup that will soon cover them. Daniel and John choose to eat at the butcher block counter that overlooks the street outside. I sit with Matthew at an adjacent table and I contently watch their amusement at their prime eating and people-watching location.
While we eat, a boisterous group of ladies come in. They proceed to move the café tables around to accommodate their jovial group. Their laughter and merriment is infectious and we watch as the ladies make themselves comfortable in this welcoming place. I inquire whether this is a regular occurrence and I am told that they are a group of women who attend bible study down the road and make this their every-Tuesday lunch spot. I am comforted by their pleasant nature and apparent happiness. I can tell that this place plays a role in their lives; that it feeds their spirits as well as their bellies. It certainly fed mine.