What I’ve been Up To

Restaurants:

Butter: Celebrity Chef Alex Guarnaschelli has a gorgeous dining space and her restaurant week menu was very impressive and delicious.  I peeked into the kitchen and saw Ashley from Top Chef Season 6.  We asked the waiter if she could come out and say hi.  (I told him I was a famous food blogger.)  Apparently she was too slammed in the kitchen so we were denied.  Funny that the kitchen was slammed because she didn’t look busy when I peeked in earlier, and our dessert took so long to come out that the waiter gave us a free glass of wine.

Ciano: After my Meatball Madness event I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of Shae Gallante’s new place, the name taken from one of my favorite wine’s Montepulciano. I became friendly with the Sous Chef Tyler who I’ll always remember re-instated a famous lesson to me (in reference to plating the meatballs) Fingers were meant for burning. Ciano was amazing, rich Italian food with a dining room designed by Vogue.  Tyler also gave us a tour of the upstairs private dining area and wine tasting room.  Reminded me of how the Lion restaurant has these secrete little private dining room spaces.  Of course try the meatball appetizer but don’t get the Tiramisu.  The pastry chef isn’t Italian.  Go for the Pistachio Cake with cherries, butternut squash and farmer’s cheese gelato.

James: A seriously delayed attempt at me getting to Brooklyn.  Named after the owner’s grandfather this charming little spot was participating in Brooklyn’s restaurant week.  I know a place is good when I’m desperately torn between the pre-fix and ordering off the regular menu.   But the spinach and escarole soup with garlic chips and ricotta mousse was a fine first course followed by a roast pork loin with mushroom fennel stuffing and a been stew.

 

Talks:

Is Local Agriculture Good for the Environment: The Hidden Costs of Food in New York City at the Museum of the City of NY

First of all I hate getting up to this place, dam you upper east side.  You have to walk through this seedy neighborhood on 106th street until you finally see Central Park in the distance.  Anyway, the lecture was packed.  The panel included:

Gabrielle Langholtz, editor of Edible Manhattan, and moderator

Peter Hoffman, chef and owner of Savoy

James E. McWilliams, author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly (Little, Brown, 2009)

David Owen, author of Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability (Riverhead, 2009);

Jennifer Small, owner and farmer from Flying Pigs

The main point was the debate between using more land to raise better product and feed fewer people, or use less land (factories) to produce more food of a lesser, cheaper quality.   Moderator Gabrielle Langholtz, to me is a trusted news source of publishing and advertising wholesome and sustainable food.  Edible Magazine,  is a place I go for advice on trying to live locally and greener.  With all her might she tried to get hard answers out of the panel.  What do we do?  What is the answer?  All seemed to say, ‘It’s a complicated question’ and I’m not sure we really got anywhere.  There were a lot of environmental terms that got thrown around that went over my head.  But I did relate to Peter Hoffman when he said, (paraphrased) I can buy the local trout from Brooklyn, but it won’t taste as good as the salmon I could get shipped from Alaska.  But ya know what, I have a good relationship with that salmon fisherman, he comes from a long line of responsible fisherman and while the carbon footprint might be greater, I’m getting a better product with a responsible undertone.

It seemed on more than one occasion the answer was to eat more vegetables.  The pig farmer even chimed in and said after years of raising pigs she has found herself eating less meat.  Mostly because she savors it more.  And on a little tangent, there was an episode of the Fabulous Beekman Boys where they slaughtered two pigs.  It was obvious that they developed a personal relationship with Porky and Bess and have more respect for the meat and meals provided by them.  

Hopefully one of these days I’ll finish Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and move on to James McWilliam’s Just Food as there were multiple questions from the audience that seemed to be easily answered by reading a passage from the book.

Personally, I go half and half.  I look for cage-free eggs, but in these cold winter months I’ll buy produce from Mexico.  I support local farmers not only for the mission but for their entrepreneurial spirit.  I’m looking into joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program and maybe buying some meat from the farmers market this summer.

 

An Evening With Amanda Hesser

Amanda Hesser was a food writer for the NY Times and has now started a new food blog called Food52. She is most noted for a piece she wrote where she bashed the food of Emeril.  Somehow I’m not surprised.  She’s been working hard at Food52 which is a place for people to share recipes.  The best community recipes are tested, awarded and then eventually made into a cookbook.  The first book was recently published The Essential New York Times Cookbook. I was able to get some answers out of her as an aspiring food writer.  She said the best writing samples to submit is your own original work.  Which would be my blog.  Also, she recommended reading material that is outside of your category to help you become a better writer.       


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2 Comments

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2 responses to “What I’ve been Up To

  1. Julia

    Allison – Nice post! Thanks for posting notes from the lecture you attended; sounds very interesting. The battle between buying local and buying a better product seems to be slightly similar to the debate around energy. Sure, we can switch to wind power to lessen pollution, but at the end of the day the wind doesn’t always blow, so we still need to rely on ‘dirty’ forms of energy like coal. When I can I like to support local farmers simply because the produce is great and I like supporting their business, but the extent to which I’d have to go (money wise, travel wise) to eat completely local takes away a lot of the benefits of the global supply chain. Keep up the good work!

  2. Julia – I totally agree that it’s a half and half approach. I feel like I can never completely never buy in to one or the other. All we can do is educate ourselves the best we can and make our own decisions based on what we think is right. At least for me, food politics are a little easier to understand than government politics 🙂

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