Thursday, October 21, 2010

GrowNYC Greenmarket Nominated Local Farmers to Attend Slow Food Conference in Terra Madre



From the city that never sleeps and where things get done in a “New York Minute,” the Greenmarket delegates will be immersed in the Slowww way of life…

For the next few days, at least.

Applause, Applause! 
What greater honor could there be for a dedicated, local farmer and artisanal food producer than to be acknowledged as a representative for the Greenmarket at the biannual Slow Food Conference? 
It makes all those early mornings setting up in Union Square, endless hours of washing the baby lettuces, tapping the maple trees and boiling the sap, fretting over the storms and heat and water count for something. 
It’s not just the trip to Torino, Italy, nor the opportunity to mix and network with food artists from around the globe, or even all the great food tastings and samplings.
I think it’s also the recognition that all the hard work, dedication and standards of excellence in honor of fresh, local food matters.
This is important, noble work and just like the Oscar or the Emmy or the Tony, foody peers will forever have respect that you were selected.

I was admiring the pristine lettuces and sassy greens at one of my favorite Greenmarket “boutiques” yesterday when I learned from Bodhitree Farms (www.bodhitreefarm.com)
owner, Nevia No, aka the Greenmarket Goddess, that she was leaving for Terra Madre later that day.  Wowsy!
I was so excited for Nevia.  Questions spilled out of me along with the kudos.

Nevia explained that she is one of two farmers selected to attend the Slow Food conference by GrowNYC Greenmarket Farmers Market (www.grownyc.org/greenmarket.org
The other delegate is Howie and Stephen Cantor of Deep Mountain Maple, Vermont – because “the Italians don’t have maple syrup.”  No said. 
The exotic, sexy elixir is sure to cause a scene in Italy…
The Greenmarket Goddess didn’t have to explain to me why her Bodhitree Farms was chosen.   
No is usually eager to explain that Bodhi means enlightenment in Sanskrit.  A visit to her Greenmarket display with its pure, clean, variety of colorful and delicious vegetables will elevate anyone to a higher consciousness.

Greenmarket Goddess Nevia No’s Bodhitree Farms is located in the Garden State, naturally. She grows hundreds of varieties on 70 acres in Burlington County.  The Farm is a darling of all the New York City Master Chefs and Bodhitree was noted on most of the menu cards at the recent GrowNYC Greenmarket benefits.
The Farm is famous for green and hard to find Asian vegetables including baby lettuces pea shoots, mustard greens, tatsoi, mizuna and some of my favorites too are love her Hawaiian sweet potatoes grown from seed here, and shisito peppers.






  








I went back to take Nevia’s picture and Debbie said I just missed her L  She was on her way to JFK. 
So here is Debbie!  She is there every day of the market along with Nevia.











The theme of this conference is indigenous food and what we can learn from them.
Both Bodhitree and Deep Mountain Maple will have the other delegates swooning. 
I feel like I’m rooting for the home team!
Deep Mountain Maple was hailed as home town heroes in their local news:


The biannual Slow Food conference is called Terra Madre held in Torino, Italy from October 21st – October 25th.
This is the Fourth conference.

Delegates attend events, sample indigenous food, cheese, bread, vegetables, they also attend workshops,  -- brings together small food producers, farmers chefs,

Carlo Petrini started the Slow Food movement as a resistance to a McDonalds going up in Rome and as a backlash to fast food and bad food and the erosion of convivial dining. He has celebrated the importance of real, wholesome food, saying that to regain sovereignty we must rebuild it through an alliance of fisherman, farmers, livestock breeders, chefs, and academics from around the world.
Petrini recently visited the Union Square Greenmarket – and American universities as president of the Slow Food Organization and to promote his new book that highlights the future of food and biodiversity.
The new book is a follow up to Slow Food Nation (2005).  “Terra Madre – Foraging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities” is available now.

 No usually offers cooking demos for Greenmarket buyers to sample the delicious and sometimes new and curious vegetables.  She often does the cooking herself.  Sometime she features a guest cook.

I can’t wait to see what gastronomic surprises she will bring home with her, along with the great stories and learning.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Taste of Greenmarket

Sweet Taste of Success


This year’s Taste of Greenmarket was a delicious triumph! 

They say the third time’s a charm and it proved true last night for this, the third annual food tasting event to benefit GrowNYC.  
The rain that had been showering New York City for the better part of two weeks stopped.
The location of the event in the Altman building on 18th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue allowed me to walk to and from the event, which made it all that much nicer. 
But only slightly more important, J  it allowed our host, Grow NYC, to present the entire Menu’s tasting and imbibing stations  all in one room. 

It made for a dazzlingly dramatic stage for the real stars. The Food.




I counted 24-plus chefs who were working very hard – while making it look so fun and easy – creating mini masterpieces from local farm-fresh food. 

And I caught up with one of my favorite Greenmarket farmers, Morse Pitts from Windfall Farms who told me it was a wonderful summer for the crops this year, especially compared to last year’s rainy season.  We enjoyed our photo shoot for the Homegrown book at the farm last Harvest Season when we were privileged to photograph Chef Peter Hoffman there as the site of his inspired farm.  That day was also the Farm’s annual, magical Harvest event, (that I wrote about last autumn.)
Be sure to visit the farm this Sunday: (www.windfallfarm.com)
And don’t miss them at the Union Square Greenmarket every week. They still have beautiful squash and pretty pea blossoms! 

I attend the Greenmarket event to support the cause. And “my” chefs that are featured in my “Homegrown New York City” book about chefs inspired by their gardens and/or farms. 
The chefs in the book that were there last night include Chef Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, Chef Dan Barber, Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Chef Peter Hoffman, Savoy and Back Forty, Chef Patti Jackson, I Trulli, Chef Marc Meyer, Cookshop, Hundred Acres, Five Points.
Since I got the good news a few weeks ago that the Homegrown New York City book, which will be published after the Homegrown Long Island book comes out next year, is to be expanded to include more chefs, I wanted to meet new-to-me, master chef candidates who are inspired by the farm-fresh local ingredients. 
Sweet success never tasted so good! 
I met a clutch of inspiring chefs.  Their calling card was the delicious sample food, presented like bijou in a jewelry store window.








The finger food was served on compostable plates or as shooters in tiny glasses.













Executive Chef James Tracey from Craft (www.craftrestaurant.com) composed a crazy good hot Jerusalem artichoke soup with lamb sausage and pumpernickel croutons (how did they get the squares so perfectly cubed and sooo small?!) using ingredients from Paffenroth Gardens and 3-Corner Field Farm (went back for seconds!) It was spicy and crunchy first impression, followed by the delicately seasoned soup.


Marco Canora, from restaurants Hearth and Terroir, (www.restauranthearth.com) created a silky-smooth panna cotta with teeny, tiny diced autumn vegetables and crunchy, nutty spiced pumpkin seeds from Paffenroth Gardens, Bodhitree Farms, and Migliorelli Farm. 

I couldn’t admire him more: Chef Peter Hoffman, (www.savoynyc.com) was there to support the Greenmarket, naturally. 

Chef Peter was one of the culinary pioneer’s in establishing the city’s farmers markets way back when.  And today, all who see him peddling on his custom-crafted bicycle to the Greenmarket in Union Square know there will be great food served later at his two restaurants Savoy and Back Forty. 
Last night, Chef Peter served a hearty and tasty cranberry bean stew with seared squid and Trinidad pepper salsa from Maxell’s Farm, Berried Treasures, Eckerton Hill Farm, and Blue Moon Fish.  What a lineup!  See the variety of food and farms he combines into a “simple” recipe. Fantastic.

Chef Patti Jackson from I Trulli (www.itrulli.com) was busy sassily shaving fresh cheese for her Grano e fagioli with autumn greens from Cayuga Pure Organics (I love their stone ground flour for baking bread), Berried Treasures, Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, Paffenroth Gardens, and Dancing Ewe Farms.  
  





I always like to meet woman chefs – I still don’t know why there are so few of them.  In the New York City book there were only two: Chef Patti and Chef Anita Lo, Annisa restaurant (www.annisarestaurant.com)
But I am hoping to add to that category with Julia Jaksie, chef at Employees Only restaurant (www.EmployeesOnlyNYC.com)
She is so engaging; while serving up the melt-in-your-mouth short rib terrine with red Russian kale and tomato jam, she told me she grew up cooking – her father was a butcher.   She also said there is a tribe of female chefs she is happy to be a part of.  Albeit a small tribe: with herself, April Bloomfield from the Spotted Pig, The Breslin and The John Dory Oyster Bar, and a few others, it’s a good club.  I’ll say exclusive, rather than small…
The ingredients in her menu sample was from Grazin’ Angus Acres, and Migliorelli Farm. 


And while we’re on the subject, I was delighted to meet two glamorous farmers: 
Erina and Melissa (I hope I got their names right.   I thought the names would be on the business card but alas… and I can’t read my writing of course.)  Melissa is from Coach Farm where they make goat’s milk, cheese and yogurt (www.coachfarm.com)  Yes, the same Coach who inhabit my closet-full of handbags and boots and sunglasses!  This is a great story how they got into the farm business and I will tell that one on another day.  Erina had wanted to be a veterinarian and now works on the family-owned farm – not too far from the Coach farm in Columbia county, New York.
Last night these two smart farmers told me how much they support each other’s farms, how dedicated they are to making small, independent farms successful and how it’s a good career choice.

I met the playful and talented Chef Marc Forgione, Marc Forgione restaurant 


(www.marcforgione.com)  He served an amazing sopes de gallina – bean stuffed tortillas with stewed hen from Tello’s Green Farm.  It was a fabulous mix of texture and taste. 


Chef Marc just received an excellent two-star New York Times’ restaurant review from Sam Sifton, October 5, 2010 Dining In column (http://tiny.cc/ezsay)
Chef Marc comes from good stock too: his father is Larry Forgione, arguably the pioneer in creating American cuisine from fresh, local food at his aptly named restaurant, An American Place.



I missed seeing Chef Dan Barber.  But his menu creation was monitored by a dedicated team of professionals behind and in front of the table.  Before you could stop to wonder what is in those perfectly poised little glasses, you are courteously told it is Blue Hill V7 with green tomatoes and faro.  It is deceptively light and oh-so-good. The farro toast is so ephemeral.  I took another glass to taste.  Ingredients were from Blue Hill, Migliorelli Farm, Paffenroth Gardens, ad Cherry Lane Farms of Roadstown.  
Oh, and at the Silent Auction I had to buy the dinner for two and the tour of Blue Hill at Stone Barns (www.bluehillfarm.com).  I’m fortunate to have been there several times, but who could resist the kind offer and the chance to go back? And all for such a good cause.

Chef Marc Meyer served up a succulent spit-roasted pork with fresh and dried beans and kabocha squash.  It was tooo good. Ingredients were from Norwich Meadows Farm, Bodhitree Farm, Paffenroth Gardens and Cayuga Pure Organics.  

You will always enjoy a complex layer of flavors in the simply prepared meal at any of Chef Marc’s restaurants.
We especially love Hundred Acres – for the food and the variety of the perfectly appointed décor.  (Gossip Girl thought so too and shot a segment there last year!)

I was also thrilled to meet and talk to Chef Bill Telepan, Telepan restaurant (www.telepan-ny.com)
I follow Chef Bill on Twitter and on his frequent appearances on the Martha Stewart Sirius radio show.   I knew I would like him right away. 

I was also keen to meet Chef Bill because he played a leading, mentoring role for one of my Long Island Homegrown chefs: Bistro M’s Chef Mitchell SuDock, who worked with Chef Bill at Gotham Bar and Grill and JUdson Grill restaurant.
Chef Bill is all smiles and when I say I listen to him on the radio, he jumps right in to explain how much fun the segments were to do.
When I describe my book’s format of gardens inspiring chefs, he doesn’t miss a beat – telling me and the book’s photographer, Jennifer Calais Smith, who had joined me at this point, about his daughter’s harvest in their little garden! 
His food offering was apple pie with apple butter compote.  Yummm.  And the only dessert of the evening, that I could tell.  The fresh ingredients were from Locust Grove Farms, Breezy Hill Orchard and Flying Pigs Farm.

I was coming back around to the front of the room, having completed the full circle or “Ring of Food” and was heading for the wine tasting, when a chef came up to me, took my program, asked me my name and proceeded to autograph my evening’s playbill next to his thumbnail head shot. 
Like a sprightly gnome, he was off. I looked at what he wrote, addressed to me: “Enjoy the Market,” and saw that he was Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner, Wallse, Café Sabarsky, Blaue Gans (www.KG-NY.com)
So I went over to where he now was by the Silent Auction and properly introduced myself and then told him about the book.  I haven’t been to Wallse since we went for a Valentine’s Day dinner some years ago.  I told him I remember the restaurant was very romantic. He advised me to come back for a visit soon. I will do that.










I put down the $20 for a chance to win the bike knowing I wouldn’t win. But here’s Chef Mary Cleaver, The Green Table, The Cleavor Co. making it all so fun and helping to sell a few tickets perhaps.









I don’t usually sample the cocktails at events like this but the offerings were too good to pass up.  I’m a traditionalist and have a pure and simple martini every night.  However, having tasted the fresh herbal and fruit concoctions dreamed up by these alchemists, I may have to revisit that habit.
“The Almanac” featured Farmer’s Gin (a botanical, organic gin) and fresh thyme from Stokes Farm.  A tad spicy and sooo refreshing.

Leo Robitschek, Eleven Madison Park created the “Red Delicious” combining Michter’s Bourbon and apple cider from my favorite, Red Jacket Orchards. (we love the Tart Cherry Stomp!  www.redjacketorchards.com)

But hands down for taste and pure excitement was the “Prospect Park Sour” from the Clover Club (www.cloverclubny.com
 
It was quite a show watching head bartender Brad Farran and his associate, Tom Macy shake up the Michter’s Rye, Luxardo Amaro Abano and maple syrup. 

I had to ask for Brad’s autograph! 

He says he researches old time cocktail recipes and updates them using fresh and artisanal ingredients.  It’s worth it! 
This one was based on an old Ward 8 cocktail he discovered.  After two of them, I could’ve ended up in a ward too!

I can’t wait to tell my cousin Missy, who along with her husband Dallas and his family, tap their Minnesota trees and make the world’s best maple syrup: Ole’s (for Olson) that I discovered this sinful new recipe for their maple syrup. 
I could toss the amber gold straight back of course, but the addition of the rye and ingredients make it more socially acceptable….




Thank you, Greenmarket. Especially Nicole. She’s a peach.  Sorry I missed Michael Hurwitz, Director.

A bit of a commercial for Grow NYC. http://www.grownyc.org/tasteofgreenmarket2010

From their literature: Greenmarket was founded in 1976 with a two-fold mission: to promote regional agriculture by providing small family farms the opportunity to sell their locally grown, caught, foraged and baked products directly to consumers, and to ensure that ALL New Yorkers have access to the freshest, most nutritious locally grown food the region has to offer.
Greenmarket is a program of GrowNYC, a 40-year-old environmental nonprofit organization that operated Greemarkets, builds and maintains community and school gardens, provides recycling education, and offers hands-on environmental education programs.

The event partners need to be thanked too:  Edible Manhattan.  Applause, applause for a fantastic Eat, Drink, Local week, too.
The sponsors are wonderful:  from benefactors Empire Merchants, Green Mountain Energy, and Anolon to patrons, The Durst Organization, American Express, and Animal Welfare Approved to supporters: Community Energy and Natural Gourmet Institute.  And there were many donors too. 

The Greenmarket canvas goody bag is filled with really cool things including spicy popcorn from The Cleaver Co., a set of whimsical lollipop-colored “Squirrel Whisk” from Kikkerland, an Animal Welfare Approved glazed cookie that is too pretty to eat, (www.animalwelfareapproved.org), a say Yes to carrots lip balm, an Edible Manhattan magazine and lots of literature.  And a secret envelope pouch for valuables…

Thanks for a wonderful, important event.