Tag Archives: farm

My First CSA Meal!

In my attempts to eat more locally grown food, I bought a fruit and vegetable share from the StoneLedge Farm CSA (Community Sourced Agriculture).  CSA’s are fun because every week you are brought something different and you’re kind of forced to work with what you have which inspires much creativity!  In this week’s order I recieved:

Rhubarb – a spring time favorite that has a sour flavor (I’m planning on using if for a strawberry rhubarb pie)

Radishes

Red Sail Lettuce

Buttercrunch Lettue – very smooth and creamy

Mizuna – an oriental green

Suehlihung Mustard

Garlic Scapes- These are the young seed head of the garlic plant.  The farmer remove it to help the plant put more energy toward producing the actual bulb.  Amazing garlic flavor and use as you would regular garlic.

Sage with edible flowers

So here’s what I did.  I saw that I had half of a potato left over in my fridge so I thought this would serve as a good base for the dish.  I have never cooked with garlic scapes before but as mentioned, you can use like regular garlic.  So like any good culinary student I started my pan heating up with a little vegetable oil and started to saute the garlic.  Just as they were browning I added thin slices of the potato to cook through and crisp up.  Next I saw the mizuna.  It tasted pretty mild so I added it in at the end and sauted lightly.  I finished it off with some sage and garnished with the flowers.  Oh and because I’m Italian and I can’t have a meal with out cheese I had some Ricotta Salata in my fridge and crumbled that on top too.
The results were supurb!  I was worried that the garlic scapes were starting to burn but they actually ended up being a great crispy texture.  The potato and mizuna worked really well together as they are both mild flavors and I liked how the potato was the foundation for the dish and helped fill me up.  The cheese was also a nice touch with it’s unique gummy texture and still fairly mild.  The sage leaves and flowers were the perfect added punch to end the show and the flowers were so pretty to look at.
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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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New Years Eating Resolutions

Rather than go for the old January stand-by article on ‘Healthy New Years Eating’ and ‘Get Yourself in Shape for the New Year!’ I’ve decided to share my eleven eating and drinking hopes for 2011.

1.  Eat seasonal – I’ve always realized the importance of this but it wasn’t until recently when I just bought some frozen berries at Trader Joe’s and canned tomatoes over the summer, that I’ve actually acted on this mantra.  In the long run I’ll save money for not being a victim of a high mark up, and save the environment by reducing a potential high carbon footprint on food shipped from Chili.

2.  Host a ‘perfect pairing’ dinner party – By early 2011 I will have completed my culinary studies including a six week wine studies course.  This year I will make a strong effort to apply my knowledge to really understanding how wine and food were meant for each other.  This task will be completed by creating a three course ‘perfect pairing’ menu for some friends and myself.

3.  Eat at a foreign restaurant – At this point, there aren’t too many cuisines I haven’t tried.  But I think Turkish and Ethiopian are still on the list.

4.  Give myself recipe freedom – One of the things my school keeps reinforcing is, ‘don’t be so recipe driven.’  I hope to use recipes as a springboard for my own creativity rather than an instructional guide.

5.  Visit a working farm – There is nothing like seeing first hand where food comes from and getting an appreciation for the people who work hard to bring it to us.  

6.  Make a carbonated beverage – Soda makers were the absolute IT gift this year, once they’re back in stock I’m buying one on sale and making some healthy carbonated experiments.

7.  Read a book on food science – While I was never very good at science in school, I always found it interesting.  I think being a great chef requires knowing a little more about the scientific reason behind how food reacts to cooking elements.

8.  Use my new Kitchen Aide Mixer at least once a month – This will include making fresh pasta with the attachment, grinding my own meat (another attachment), and if I get really ambitions try and use it to bake some bread.

9.  Organize my food magazines – Yes I’m one of those people who have piles and piles of food magazines from 2009.  I have some great recipe organizers and hope to find time to consolidate and archive.

10.  Support artisan food makers – To me, these people express the highest level of creativity and bravery.  They are also usually pretty cool people.  This past year I met a beekeeper from Brooklyn, bought artisan ice cream from a farm in Ohio and got hooked on chili mango ice pops.

11.  To continue to appreciate the vast culinary universe, to never feel like cooking is a chore; to never lose the sense of joy I get from setting a plate down in front of a guest, and try and live each day for the love of food.

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Peace Love and Pasta!

That was how Chef, Scott Conant of Scarpetta signed my NY Cooks – 100 Recipes from they City’s Best Chefs cookbook which I received at the book’s panel discussion over the weekend as part of New York City’s Wine and Food Festival.  Somehow the pasta gods joined forces and a reservation opened up for early Sunday evening (the best time for Italian Sunday Dinner).

One of the topics on the panel discussion was how has the economy effected your business.  Many chef’s including Scott replied that the ego has gone out the window and really making the guest feel welcome and taken care of  has prioritized in economic turmoil.

Walking into the magnificent dining room of Scarpetta the feeling of being welcomed could not have rung more true.  At least 4 different people welcomed our family and hoped that we enjoyed our dinner.

One of the inspirations for Scarpetta, which in Italian means ‘little boot’ also happens to be the shape taken on by bread when you dip it into olive oil.  Scarpetta encourages the bread bowl throughout the entire meal so you can gather up the last bits of the incredible sauces on the plate.  And indeed I did!!

Also encouraging was the ability to share plates to ensure maxium tasting abilities.  A nice touch was the division of the dish onto two sharing plates as seen below with our pasta course.

We of course had to try the signature spaghetti dish with a portion of the proceeds of the dish going to City-Meals-On-Wheels.  That accompanied by the seasonal flavors of Pumpkin Tortellini!  Second course was split between the Imported Turbot  served with root vegetables and pumpkin seeds, and the Sicilian Orange Spiced Duck.  For dessert, Pear and Almond Tart with Ginger Gelato accompanied by some Limoncello and Fragoli Strawberry Liquor.

Some of my favorite “Nice Touch” moments were the simultaneous unveiling of our dishes from under the ceramic food lids, folding of the napkins if you got up from your seat, constant flow of water, a visit from General Manager, Jeffery Tascarella, the restaurant support for farm-fresh ingredients, and I noticed that the bartender brings your drinks from bar to table upon your tabling being ready.  Ultimate “Nice Touch” was of course Scott Conant visiting our table at my request to the waiter.

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NYC Wine + Food Festival — 100 Mile Brunch

100 miles north of NYC on a 60 acre plot of land sits Katchkie Farm, a year-round organic farm owned by Great Performances catering company.  This year was their third harvest and lucky for us they participated in the New York City Wine and Food Festival by preparing a Sunday brunch at the Fire Museum downtown.

Upon entering the 3rd floor event space you were greeted by the sound of banjo’s and fiddles from Bluegrass band Citigrass, manificent table settings and an overwhelming feeling of the Great American Fall Harvest.

The event really drove home the importance of Farm to Table eating.  Chris Harkeness, Executive Chef of Great Performances spoke about his envy of current culinary students who are learning how to source food from local farms whereas his 1980s education focused on being a worldly master of knowing how to source and access food from all over the globe.

Each morsel of food was better than the previous.  Knowing the people behind your food and message of Farm to Table magnifies the satisfaction level beyond measure.

Here is a link the menu

Fresh Osysters provided by Widow's Hole Oyster Company, featured with a Un-Bloody Mary's

Fresh Osysters provided by Widow's Hole Oyster Company, featured with a Un-Bloody Mary's

New York Dairies Cheese Collection and Faicco's Salami

New York Dairies Cheese Collection and Faicco's Salami

Fresh veggies with Butternut Squash Soup, and Lasagna with the Farm's Fresh Tomatos, Eggpland and Squash

Fresh veggies with Butternut Squash Soup, and Lasagna with the Farm's Fresh Tomatoes, Eggplant and Squash

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