Category Archives: Do This!

Do This!: Learn to Forage in Prospect Park for Edible and Medicinal Plants with Expert Leda Meredith

Foragin

If you missed Leda’s Fermentation SideTour, you can still get in on learning more about eating locally — very locally. Wild edible plants are all around, growing right at your feet — in our city parks, as the “weeds” in community gardens and backyards, even in abandoned parking lots. You just need to know where to look. At Prospect Park, Leda will show you how to safely spot ramps (a wild onion), mulberries, sassafras, gobo root, and many more natural delights. Discover the tastes and aromas of these wild, seasonal ingredients. Learn how to sustainably harvest and then deliciously prepare them! You will certainly leave with a new appreciation of urban foraging, the ultimate local food.

Leda writes the “Foraging Brooklyn” column for James Beard nominated nonabrooklyn.com and is the Food Preservation Guide for About.com. She is an award-winning instructor, teaching edible and medicinal plant classes at the New York Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Leda leads wild edible plant and mushroom tours throughout the Northeast. 

Passionate about the sustainable food movement, Leda is your guide to translating a mostly local, organic diet into something doable and fun.

Friday, April 20, 2012 | 10:00am – 12:00pm
Saturday, May 26, 2012 | 10:00am – 12:00pm

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Leda Meredith has definitely been livin’ la vida locavore. As a certified ethnobotanist and author, she is a recognized expert in the local-food movement. It’s a lifestyle that continues to gain traction, as the nutritional and environmental benefits become clearer all the time. More and more people are skipping the supermarket and heading to a farmers’ market, or picking and growing their own food. So spend some time under the sun and join Leda for a foraging tour in the park.

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Do This!: Italian Cooking Classes in Tuscany. Jet-Set to Villa Life: Eat, Drink and Be Italian!

6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Getaway at Villa Campestri

6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Getaway at Villa Campestri

Have you ever dreamed of jetting off to Italy, lounging in a Tuscan villa, inhaling the perfume of olive groves, all while sipping on a nice glass of chianti? Oh, and spending your days learning the art of Tuscan cooking and then eating your accomplishments under the Tuscan sun. Well, dream no longer — you have two months to find a flight and book this trip. The rest awaits you…

Immerse Yourself in a 6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Cooking and Tasting Experience
with Writer, Historian and Food Authority
Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Learn to make pasta, focaccie and other Tuscan Specialties

Learn to make pasta, focaccie and other Tuscan Specialties

The All-Inclusive Scoop:

  • 6 nights accommodation at Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort
  • 5 Tuscan cooking classes
  • 1 Tuscan wine tasting
  • 1 Special extra-virgin olive oil tasting
  • Visit and lunch in a Chianti Rufina (DOCG) winery
  • Guided visit to local cheese producer
  • Guided visit to Scarperia, a town reknown for its handmade knives (its twin town is Laguiole, France!)
  • Price includes all meals (including wine), travel services within the tour itinerary, service charges as well as 10% VAT

All you need to do is get there! Pack your bags and buon viaggio!

This Could Be All Yours!

This Could Be All Yours!...and a Nice Glass of Chianti

Or Bring Italy Home:
Homemade Fresh Mozzarella
Homemade Ricotta
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup

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Do This!: Molecular Gastronomy Kits to Channel Your Inner Top Chef

cuisine-r-evolution-cuisine2

Super Sweet Foamy Molecular Gastronomy Goodness

Drop a little Chemistry 101 on your batterie de cuisine! Molecular Gastronomy Cuisine and Cocktail Mixology Starter Kits that contains everything you need and are priced at an exclusive 36% discount {you can personally thank me for that one} — space-age additives, specialized tools, tips & techniques and a get-schooled DVD — to take your cooking to a whole new dimension and impress your friends and family.

Instead of watching Top Chef laying down, start spherifying, gelifying and emulsifying your next get together.

I, for one, have always been intimated to try this at home. Where to begin? What do I need? HOW do I get all space-age-experimental without going to culinary school? Mojitos that explode in your mouth, chewy Cubra Libres, mint caviar beads or tzatziki spheres, pearls of infused vodka…Molecular gastronomy is about extending the frontiers of gustatory expectation. What are Eben Freeman, Audrey Saunders, Tony Conigliaro, Joe Choi and Jon Santer’s secrets? Well one of them, to be sure, is a set of space-age tools that enables them to bind the magic of science to their whimsical libations.  It’s like a play-doh factory kit for adults. ET foam home.

MOLECULE-R Kits

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Do This!: Learn Lacto-Fermentation {Kimchi! Chutney!} with Leda Meredith

Leda Meredith's Lacto Fermentation Sidetour Experience

Leda Meredith's Lacto Fermentation Sidetour Experience

2012 is the year of #scratchcooking. Getting back to the ingredients and making things that you can hold in your own two hands and be proud of. Last weekend I took my new-found pickling love to the next level with a lacto-fermentation class {not to be confused with a lactation class}. Woah. Spicy Carrot Kimchi and Apple Chutney that I would eat straight out of the jar was the end prize. The Sidetour event took place in Brooklyn and was hosted by Leda Meredith, author of The Locavore’s Handbook and food preservationist-extrodinaire.

We spent two hours learning the difference between several food preservation techniques and rules to live by to safely avoid the dreaded botulism {good news, botulism can’t happen when you ferment so keep reading}. Leda showed us a quick hot water bath pickle to distinguish between that jarring method and the lacto-fermentation approach which was going to be our main focus. I’ll skip over the details of the pickle since I covered it in my Happy Girl Pickle Post {read more here}. Jumping to fermentation, just know one thing: this is a quick and easy project that can be done in under 30 minutes, so don’t be scared off by big long words or the idea that jarring is a day-long commitment. Get involved!

Learn to Make Kimchi with Leda {here}

Leda Meredith Makes Hot Water Bath Pickled Carrots

Leda Meredith Makes Hot Water Bath Pickled Carrots

Lacto-Fermentation defined: the biological process by which bacteria converts starches to lactic acid.

Why Lacto-Fermentation is GOOD, not scary: loaded with probiotics that help with digestion and have anti-inflammatory properties. May even fight cancer — hooray!

Stage one of lacto-fermentation: vegetables are submerged in a brine that is salty enough to kill off harmful bacteria. The Lactobacillus good guys survive this stage and begin stage two.

Stage two of lacto-fermentation: the Lactobacillus organisms begin converting lactose and other sugars present in the food into lactic acid. This creates an acidic environment that safely preserves the vegetables – and gives lacto-fermented foods their classic tangy flavor.

Key Fermentation Tips to Live By:

  • Botulism CAN’T happen with fermentation. phew!
  • Fermented foods don’t need to be canned via hot water bath or pressure canning, so can easily be made with an empty mayo jar, salt, vegetables and water. No fancy sealing jars. No sterilization. No equipment needed. But they do need to be stored in the fridge.
  • More specifically, fermented foods should not be canned in a hot water bath, as the heat will kill off all bacteria needed for the lacto-fermentation process.
  • The salt brine is the safety factor in fermentation. As long as you maintain the proper ratio of 1 pint H2O to 2 teaspoons salt, you can play around with any seasonings and veg to let your creativity safely run wild.
  • Adding a splash of whey {from strained yogurt or cheese} will help jumpstart the fermentation process {finally, something to do with all the whey from my homemade ricotta!}
  • Must use filtered water. Chlorine and flouride found in our tap water could kill the bacteria {brita is fine, bottled water may not be since many brands are just bottled tap water}.
  • Must fill the jar all the way to the top with veg and brine so everything is 100% submerged {unlike hot water bath pickling where air space is needed}.
  • Product keeps forever, but flavors will continue to develop to the point of being too pungent and mushy. Peak flavor: 3 months.
Fermented Apple Chutney and Spicy Carrot Kimchi

Fermented Apple Chutney and Spicy Carrot Kimchi

Spicy Carrot Kimchi

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Unrefrigerated Fermentation Time: 48 hours
Minimum Wait Until Eat: 1 week | Peak: 2-3 months

Yield: 1 quart or 1 liter

3 cups filtered water {brita or spring bottled}

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other non-iodized salt
1/2 teaspoon nam pla (fish sauce) OR soy sauce
3/4 pound carrots, peeled
1/4 pound daikon radish, peeled
1 scallion, white parts and some of the green, chopped
1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

  1. Dissolve the salt in the filtered water. It’s important to use filtered water because the chlorine and other chemicals in most municipal tap water can interfere with the fermentation process.
  2. Stir in the fish or soy sauce.
  3. Finely julienne the carrots and daikon radish into matchstick sized pieces. A mandoline or thin slicing blade of a food processor will make this step easier.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the carrots, daikon radish, grated ginger, chopped scallion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Pack them into a clean quart or liter glass jar.
  5. Pour the brine over the other ingredients. Press gently on the vegetables and spices to release any air bubbles. The brine should completely cover the other ingredients. If the food floats out of the brine, weight it with a smaller glass jar filled with water. If the vegetables are staying immersed in the brine, just cover the jar they are in loosely with a lid.
  6. Place the jar of kimchi on a small plate to catch the overflow that may happen as it starts to ferment. Leave it at room temperature for 24 – 48 hours until you start to see bubbles and it smells slightly sour when you remove the lid.
  7. Once you see and smell signs that the kimchi is actively fermenting, transfer the jar to the door of your refrigerator. This is the warmest part of your refrigerator but still cooler than room temperature – perfect for your kimchi to keep slowly fermenting.
  8. If you plan to store it for longer than a month, move it to a cooler part of your refrigerator (one of the central shelves rather than the inside of the refrigerator door).

Spicy Apple Chutney

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Unrefrigerated Fermentation Time : 48 hours
Minimum Wait Until Eat: 2 weeks | Peak: 2 months 

Yield: 1 quart

1/2 cup filtered water {brita or spring bottled}

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons whey* (see note below)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 cups cored and finely chopped apples
1/2 cup raisins
2 tsp. kosher or other non-iodized salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. slightly crushed coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more, if you like your chutney spicy)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds

  1. Combine the water, vinegar, honey and whey. Mix the combined liquids with the other ingredients and pack firmly into a quart-size glass jar, leaving at least an inch of head space. The liquid should come up to the top of the fruit. If it doesn’t, add a little filtered water.
  2. Cover and leave at room temperature for 2 days. You should see some bubbles on top by then, which is a sign of active fermentation.
  3. Refrigerate and leave for another week before eating. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 months. Delicious as a side, on top of meat {pork chop!}, with cheese or on its own!
  4. *The whey in this recipe is already alive with healthy, probiotic bacteria and jumpstarts the fermentation process. To make whey drain plain whole yogurt or homemade ricotta through cloth or paper filters over a bowl. The liquid that separates out is whey.

Scratch Projects {Get Back to your Roots}:
CHEESE | Homemade Ricotta
BREAD | 101: How to Make Bakery Quality Bread @Home
PICKLES | Homemade Spicy Pickled Carrots 

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Do This!: Mike’s Knife Sharpening Truck Rolls City-Style

Mike's Upper West Side Knife Sharpening Truck

A year and a half ago I wrote about the importance of getting your knives sharpened once to twice a year depending on how much of a work out they get. And now I’m here to admit I didn’t listen to my own advice. In NYC, it’s not the most convenient thing to have to lug your knives around in search of a professional sharpener. I love Samurai Sharpening in Chelsea Market, but even that is a subway ride away and requires some planning. So imagine my delight when I turned the corner onto my street this past Sunday and saw a truck I’ve been chasing unsuccessfully for the past 10 years.

Mike’s Sharpening is the exciting answer to your dull knives. Mike’s mobile business has been rolling through the streets of the Upper West Side long before the food truck craze entered our vocabulary. With man’s best friend in the passenger seat and a bright red bell hanging out the driver’s side window, he alerts the neighborhood of his arrival old-school style. Like kids run to the Good Humor man, city cooks swiftly stride down the block carrying their chopping companions in search of a honing treatment. While you sit on the curb, Mike brings your knives back to life in a matter of minutes and for far less money than speciality kitchen shops around town. When I offered my advise that he should create a twitter account to notify sharpening seekers of his whereabouts, the man of few words just smiled and shook his head. I love the charm of a man who has been sharing his skill from inside the four walls of his truck for years, with nothing but his tools and canine companion to keep him company. I just hope I don’t have to wait another 10 years until I find him again.

Care Tips for Kitchen Knives:

  1. Use A Proper Cutting Board – Most importantly, boards and surfaces made of glass, ceramic, marble etc will damage the cutting edge in the first cut {that includes cutting on dishes!}. Wooden and plastic boards are better and have a much lower dulling effect. For the best result use very soft disposable paper or card cutting boards.
  2. Store Knives Well — Keep in a knife block or drawer covered in a sheath to prevent from damaging the edges.
  3. Hand Wash Knives — After each use clean your knives with a sponge and warm soapy water. DO NOT put in the dishwasher where they can knock against other utensils or plates and damage the thin blade.
  4. Keep Knives Dry – Knives such as carbon steal knives can rust very easily if left to dry in a drying rack. Be sure to towel dry immediately after washing and use.
  5. Steel Knives Regularly — A knife’s edge has a tendency to roll to either side and even though you can’t see it, the tip loses it’s point. Taking your knife across the a steel before or after each use, will keep the edge at a point and prevent it from getting flat and dull quicker.
  6. Sharpen Every 6-9 Months — Depending on frequency of use, chopping technique and care, your knives will need a little TLC every 6-9 months. Buy a sharpening stone or visit a professional knife sharpener, such as Mike’s Truck or Samurai Sharpening, to hone the edges and your knife skills.

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8.ate@eight Deliciously Different Valentine’s Day Gift and Dinner Ideas

♥ Text Me ♥ Recipe 4 Love ♥ Table 4 Two ♥ Be Mine ♥ Cool Cat

You’ve found that special someone who likes long walks on the beach too, but you’re late to the game planning Valentine’s Day? Never fear, if you’re in need of some good inspiration to show your love, here a list of a few of my favorite ideas — whether you’re looking for a romantic night in, a unique meal out or a gift of food that is the way to your love’s heart.

♥ Labor of  Love With Your Own Hands ♥

Cocktail Kick-Off: Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
When In Doubt, Roast a Chicken: Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
When in Doubt, Roast a Hot and Spicy Chicken: Some Like it HOT Pollo alla Diavola
Spice it Up: Crispy Cayenne Roasted Potatoes
Bourbon and Flames to Heat Things Up: Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster
Bedtime Snack: Cinnamon Sugar & Dark Cocoa Almonds
Breakfast in Bed:
How To Cook The Perfect Sunny Side-Up Egg w/ Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits

More 8.ate@eight Recipes HERE

♥ Wine & Dine ♥

10s Across the Board: The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
An Aphrodisiac’s Evening: Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
Interactive Eating: Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
Butt. ‘Nough Said: Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!
Slurping is Sexy: NYC Ramen Wars: Ippudo vs. momofuku noodle bar
Smoked Meat is Sexier: 18 Meat Dishes for Men & BBQ Heaven @Fette Sau
Cozy and Romantic: August in April
Single and Looking for Love: Wilfie & Nell: Not Your Grandpa’s Watering Hole

More 8.ate@eight Favor8 Restaurants HERE

♥ Gifts A Dozen Times Better Than Roses ♥

Take a Kick-Ass Specialty Class: Sign-Up for an Underground Sidetour 
Ice Cream Gram:
Send Your Valentine an Ice Cream Gram from Milkmade
A Gift to Warm the Soul: Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Artisanal Meats, Cheeses & Chocolates! Artisanal Specialty Foods Digested

♥ Text Me ♥ Recipe 4 Love ♥ Table 4 Two ♥ Be Mine ♥ Cool Cat

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Do This!: How to Get Pickled with Happy Girl Kitchen

Let's Get Pickled!

Let's Get Pickled!

Pickles have come a long way from the days of our friend the classic Vlasic stork. It is never more apparent that just about anything can not only be pickled, but improved upon with the process. Pickling is one of the top 5 food trends this year, and in NYC, Rick’s Picks, Brooklyn Brine, and McClures have all shown us that while the classic cucumber is great, things like a whiskey sour blend or maple bourbon bread & butter is even better. And if you stray down the vegetable path you may find that creative combos like chipotle carrots, Moroccan green beans or fennel beets also make for a welcomed variety of pickled punch. It’s not just about sandwich stackers anymore.

Nothing fascinates me more than when true artisans take a kitchen-staple and reinvent the approach with new flavor combos that bring excitement to a rather standard world. Well maybe one thing fascinates me more — demystifying the process and learning that something that delighted you out of the jar can easily be made in your own kitchen.

2012 is the year of getting back to the basics and doing things from scratch.

Happy Girl Kitchen Preserves

Happy Girl Kitchen Preserves

A recent trip to Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove, CA was the perfect venue for said fascinations. Happy Girl Kitchen is run by a husband and wife team, Todd and Jordan Champagne, who had worked on local farms for years, but found the art of food preservation was fading into a thing of the past. Dedicated to supporting the local, organic food community and teaching people how to enjoy their favorite local seasonal bounty in the off-season, the couple launched Happy Girl Kitchen as a brand that offers the very best in artisan preserves, workshops and events in the Bay Area. Start with the right ingredients, add passion and creativity and you’ve got a line of products that will improve any table. Happy Girl is not only dedicated to happy fork licking, but is also giving people the tools to carry out food preservation in their own kitchens by teaching these techniques at their weekly workshops. “Teach a man to fish…” These are good people.

Beautiful Pickling Ingredients

Beautiful Pickling Ingredients

The five hours we spent happily pickling at their workshop was some of the most fruitful {pun intended} time I’ve spent in culinary education. For the first hour or so we learned about different types of preserving, the nature of fermentation, basic rules to live by to avoid flimsy {overcooked}, blue {iodized salt} or botulism-infected {low-acidity} pickles {all disappointing failures, the last of which is deadly and should be reserved as ammo for your enemies}. Do not be afraid, in the end we came away feeling confident that with great ingredients, a few basic kitchen tools and some spicy creativity, we were all destined to be pickling pros ready for market.  I would, however, suggest taking a class as you venture into the new world of pickling to absorb some of these basic guidelines — and hey, have a fun experience along the way.

Sweet! {and sour} what did you make?! Alas, we pickled baby carrots {purple, white and orange varieties}, beets {red, yellow and candied}, and a mixed garden which included carrots, beets, romanesco cauliflower and anything else we felt like jamming in the jar {lemon slices, fennel, red onion, jalepenos, etc.} producing a beautiful variety of colors and shapes.

Pickling ProcessSo in an effort to spread the good food love, I’ve included one of the recipes we learned below. Get as creative as you’d like with adding different spices, cutting carrot shapes {sticks or rounds} and veggie varieties, but please people, don’t mess with the vinegar:water ratio {follow the recipe, live to tell the story}. Let’s get pickled!

I live in SF: Take a Class at Happy Girl {here}
I live in NYC: Take a Class with Leda Meredith {here} 

Spicy Carrots {aka Spicy Rabbit}

Recipe for pint jars:
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 sprig of thyme
1-2 clices of jalapenos on bottom and top of jar
Several pounds of carrots to fill number of jars desired.

Vinegar solution:
8 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
12 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt
2 tablespoons honey

  1. Bring a large stock pot with a jar rack {if you have one} to a rolling boil {want to reach 200 degrees}. If you don’t have a jarring rack to submerge your jars, you can put rocks on the bottom of the pot so your jars are not directly on the bottom where they could crack and use tongs to submerge and remove jars.
  2. Scrub clean, but don’t peel carrots. Remove green top and any roots or bad spots. Slice the carrots so that they are the same height as the jars you are using {or if cutting rounds, cut each the same thickness}.
  3. Slice the jalapenos in 1/4-inch thick rounds and start by adding 1-2 in the bottom of each jar {depending on how spicy they are}. Add all your spices to the bottom of the jar.
  4. While packing the jars heat up the vinegar solution to a rolling boil.
  5. Pack the carrots in the jars with the thyme displayed on the side of the jar. Finish off the top with more jalapenos.
  6. Pour the hot liquid brining solution into the jars up to the fill line {where the jar curves at the top}.
  7. Using one hand, place the lid on top and turn just until the jar starts to turn with the lid. This will ensure it’s not too tight and will allow air to release in the hot water bath. You don’t want the lid to be on tight at this point.
  8. Process each jar in the hot water bath for 15 minutes. The water temperature should be 200 degrees.
  9. Remove immediately with jar tongs or water/heat resistant gloves and tighten lid slightly.
  10. Store in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks to finish pickling.

Pickles Pickles Everywhere
NYC Best: I’m In Love with Jacob’s Pickle
Do This: Take an Underground Sidetour to Get You Through the January Blues
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau

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SF Best: Cookin’, a Shop of Discord and Recycled Gourmet Appurtences

Cookin'

When you first enter Cookin’, a second-hand kitchenware shop in San Francisco, your initial reaction may be that you stumbled into an episode of hoarders. But as you delicately make your way through the narrow footpath and stacks upon stacks of well-seasoned cast iron pans, uniquely colored le creuset pots and mountains of used metal bundt pans, you quickly realize that this organized chaos is a foodie’s fantasy hunting ground.

Cookin' Glassware

Need a Clay Pot? Lots to Choose From

Need a Clay Pot? Lots to Choose From

There’s not much you could be seeking as a curious cook that can’t be found in one of the darkly lit corners of Cookin’. The shop houses collections of cookware, compiled by owner Judith Kaminsky, from treasure hunts to France, estate sale excursions and even a little snooping around at Goodwill. Some of the items are fairly new, but most could be categorized as vintage objects of desire. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it doesn’t take long to stumble upon {almost literally} something you crave for your own kitchen. And if you are looking for something specific, the shopkeeper is quick to point you in the direction of the correct pile.

A Mountain of Bundts

A Mountain of Bundts

What’s better than traveling back in time to find a gem for the cook who has everything? A gem that costs less than what you would pay at most retail stores. We perused a shelf of beautifully etched glassware and went home with several at only $6 a piece. Next time I visit I plan to come with an empty suitcase, my Christmas list and a lot more time.

Map: 339 Divisadero
Phone: 861-1854

More Reasons to Leave Your Heart in SF:
Gone Fish. ‘in Sausalito
SF Best: Bi-Rite Ice Cream Done Right
SF Best: Nopa
SF Best: RoliRoti Rolls Out Revolutionary Rotisserie

 

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Dang It’s Cold Out. Cool Things To Do, To Keep You Warm.

Finally, snow last weekend — confirmation that Winter is not extinct {although I’m starting to second guess that assessment this week}. If you’re anything like me right now then you’re looking for a cold weather distraction. If you can’t leave the city like I just did, then here’s some wintry stay-put inspiration:

Warm with Scotch | Host a Robert Burns Night Party:
Boozy Robert Burns Night w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park Scotch
Inside-Out Scotch Eggs w/ Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata 

Let Cute Bartenders Warm You | Spend the Evening at Highlands:
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails

Slurrrp & Snuggle | Ramen + Crowded Hot Spots Warm the Bod:
NYC Ramen Wars: Ippudo vs. momofuku noodle bar 

Stay Warm With Man’s Best Friend | Dine & Drink @TheBeagle:
The Beagle: A Restaurant You Should Be Loyal To 

Go Off the Beaten Track | Sign Up for a Sidetour
Take an Underground Sidetour to Get You Through the January Blues 

Stick it To Your Ribs | Eat Soul-Warming BBQ:
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau 

Escape the City From Home | Host an Easy-Prep Dinner Party:
French-Inspired
Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot 
Wild Child Broccoflower and Celery Root Soup
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Italian-Inspired
Autumn Manhattan {Herby Garnished Classic a la Tippling Bros.}
Homemade Ricotta and Melted Leeks
Bursting Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother 

Hunker Down and Stir it Up | Cook From Scratch {eat Leftovers!}:
Best Butternut Squash and Green Apple Soup
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup
Wild Child Broccoflower and Celery Root Soup

Braised Grass-Fed Beef Brisket and Polenta
Irish Steak & Guinness Puff Pastry Pie

Spicy Balsamic and Fennel Fish Stew

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Filed under 8.ate@eight, @home {recipes to love}, Do This!, NYC Best, {Drink Me}

Do This: Take an Underground Sidetour to Get You Through the January Blues

There may not be snow on the ground yet, but I for one am looking for a little inspiration to get me through January — and the 3°F with windchill is not helping matters. Enter Sidetour, an online marketplace that recently launched this Fall, promoting “authentic experiences. real people.” Or a tagline I am going to apply: really cool experiences, with really cool people we should all know more of {you, of course, do not need to be really cool, but you do need to be real and ready step off the beaten path}.

Sidetour created a platform for anyone with an expertise to host and promote unique events, allowing the host to set everything from the date, price and size of the group to suit each artisanal experience. The result? A collection of underground, undiscovered ways to fill your calendar that break the monotony of your typical social flings {we know you love Pastis, but isn’t it time to try something new?}. It’s the year of private supper clubs, pop-up anything and being the first to know about gems you won’t find in a guidebook or on any Top 10 lists. Whether you’re a native to NYC or a visitor who just tossed their Lonely Planet in the garbage in favor of an authentic experience, Sidetour plays right into the idea of bringing passion and the uncharted together to provide you with something memorable and inspired.

Brooklyn RootedEnjoy Brooklyn Rooted: an Artisanal Dinner Party for 8, with the Chef Who Won Last Night’s Chopped on The Food Network

 

 

 

 

Indian Food and Beer PairingOr Taste Flavorful Indian Food with the Perfect Beer Pairing Prepared by a Contestant from NBC’s America’s Next Great Restaurant

 

 

 

Dine with a Banker Turned MonkHow About Dining with a Banker-Turned-Monk at an East Village Monastery?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear not, if you’re outside the NYC area, Sidetour plans to expand to other cities this year. And if you’re on a January cleanse after one too many Christmas cookies, check out events that span other areas of interest beyond just food. Hey guys, these would make for great date ideas…several that caught my attention:

Explore the Epicenter of Graffiti Culture at 5Pointz

Get an Insider’s Glimpse into Manhattan’s Historic Jazz Scene

Explore Cutting-Edge Art in Chelsea with a Gallery Insider

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NYC Best: Kalustyan’s Ingredient Haven for Foodie Curiosities

4,000 Varieties of Spices, Herbs, Coffees, Teas and More

You’ve settled down on your couch with your largest unsoiled cookbook, determined to test your culinary skills and whip up a spectacularly artful culinary masterpiece. But as you scan your lofty ingredient list, you start to question where one can find avocado leaves or za’atar. Surely the local bodega doesn’t carry these items and it’s likely to be a stretch that even the two-level Whole Foods will stock such curiosities. But before your inner Julia Child is deflated, let me introduce you to Kalustyan’s, NYC’s landmark for specialty foods and spices {and the place to grab a killer falafel}.

Carrying over 4,000 varieties of spices, herbs, sweets, coffee, tea and snacks from all over the world, Kalustyan’s shelves stock pretty much any culinary ingredient your adventurous heart desires . Even the seemingly most basic ingredients, such as cinnamon, presents the option of choosing from 10 different types of stick to ground and Sri Lankan to Vietnamese. Need mustard? I count over 40 varieties on two shelves. Looking for good olive oil? Then you’ll have to start with which country you want the olives to originate from — Lebanon, Greece, Spain, Italy, Syria….

Kalustyan's is a condiment heaven

Kalustyan's is a condiment heaven

But be sure not to get lost amongst the array of choices and shelves of alluringly yellow-labeled packages, because one of the other best kept secrets at Kalustyan’s is the mediterranean deli on the second floor. If you manage to find the stairs between the stacks of airy pita and crisp halva, you’ll be guided by the scent of garlic, spiced meat and salty cheeses. Grapeleaves, falafel, hummus and baba ganoush are just some of the treats you can sample from this homemade hideout. If you’re at a loss for what specialty to select, simply ask the charming Syrian man behind the counter who will share tales of the home country and offer an opinion of his favorite dishes. As someone with a Lebanese heritage, I can assure you this is the real deal.

So whether you’re looking for a unique gift for the food-lover that has everything, or an obscure ingredient from some faraway land, Kalustyan’s is the place that every wanderlusty foodie should travel to.

123 Lexington Ave {btw 28/29th}
New York, NY 10016
212-685-3451

Store Hours:
Mon – Sat 10am-8pm
Sun/Holiday 11am-7pm

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Do This!: Local Legends: Celebrating Regional Cheeses & Wines

Artisanal Cheese Pairings

Join Artisanal and Greenmarket, GrowNYC for this very special series of events exploring the delicious bounty the New York region has to offer. The events will feature award-winning local cheese and wine makers presenting their farmstead cheeses and hand-crafted wines as you discover perfect pairings from our local terroir. Proceeds from these events benefit the Greenmarket Youth Education Project, which introduces the concepts of seasonality, local food, and sustainable agriculture to over 4,500 NYC school children each year.

Event Line-Up

Friday, October 21st from 6:30-8:30pm — $75
with Jonathan White from Bobolink Dairy and John Martini from Anthony Road Winery and Fromager Jessica Wurwarg 

Thursday, November 17th from 6:30-8:30pm — $75
with Eran Wajswol of Valley Shepherd Creamery and Ann-Marie Borghese of Borghese Vineyards and Fromager Jessica Wurwarg

Wednesday, December 14th from 6:30-8:30 — $75
with Angela Miller from Consider Bardwell and Charles Massoud from Paumanok Vineyards and Max McCalman

Sign-Up HERE

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Bobby Flay Serves Up Tasty Taco Talent at New York City Wine & Food Festival

There was no shortage of taco talent at this year’s Food Network Wine & Food Festival Tacos & Tequila event hosted by renowned master of southwestern cuisine, Bobby Flay. With a $200 price tag per ticket, the evening included the opportunity to taste a selection of taco creations from over 35 of New York’s most celebrated chefs and restaurants, with all the proceeds going to Food Bank NYC and Share our Strength. If you missed this year’s NYCWFF, you can still help raise money for these charities by bidding on a month of Farm to Table Freshocracy deliveries and other seriously delicious auction items HERE.

Tacos and Tequila

With a chilled tequila cocktail in one hand, party goers were free to sidle up to the likes of Jonathan Waxman from Barbuto, Scott Conant of Scarpetta or Kin Shop’s Harold Dieterle to name a few {full list of celebrity chefs HERE}. “What do you have for me tonight Harold?” With the swiftness of a Top Chef champion, he rattled off the list of deliciousness almost too quickly to note: “Tonight we have braised beef brisket and bone marrow tacos with radish sprouts, fried taro root, roti, and yellow bean aioli…Enjoy.” Thank you — I will and I did. The thing about an event like this, is you would be challenged to eat your ticket price in food, so being strategic about your sampling choices is key. If you jump too quickly at the tables near the entrance, you may miss a real gem in the far back corner.

Jonathan Waxman

So what was my favorite of the evening? The hands down winner for me was Scarpetta’s spiced crusted lamb neck tacos, filled with goat cheese crema, on blue corn tortillas. Everything from the richness of the lamb to the sharp, yet creamy goat cheese and the the blue corn that served as a well thought out flavor component {as opposed to strictly an ingredient vehicle}, really made this hand-held sample sing. If it wouldn’t have been a wasted “punch in the tasting card” to go back for seconds, I would have, but alas, we were on to the next…
Best innovation of the evening? Delta’s flight attendants rolling through the crowd with a cart of breath mints, hand wipes and toothpicks. Why can’t I get this kind of service on the plane?

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Do This!: Fall Cheese and Chocolate Extravaganza

Jessica Wurwarg Shares Some Great Pairing Information

Fall Cheese and Chocolate Extravaganza!

When: Saturday October 15
8:00 p.m. until the cheese and chocolate runs out…

Where: MikNic Lounge
200 Columbia St. between Sackett and Degraw
phone: 917 770-1984

What: Free Tasting {yes, FREE}
Learn about a selection of amazing cheeses and chocolates and how to pair  them with wines, beers or spirits
Did I mention it’s FREE? So get there early before the supply runs out!
Local artist, Chris Mancuso, will also be doing an on-the-spot painting.

Jessica Wurwarg (Cheese Guru)
Colleen Riley (Sweets Master)

Miki Mosman (Miknic proprietor)

RSVP to wurwarg@gmail.com so they can make sure to have enough good bites on hand.

Public Transit Directions: Take the B61 Bus or the F to Bergen or Carroll.

See Amazing Past Cheese Events with Jessica:
Historic India House Shares Spectacular Cheese and Space
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes
8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!

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Freshocracy and the Food Network Partner to Raise Money for Charity

As part of this year’s New York Wine and Food Festival, Freshocracy is partnering with the Food Network to raise money for Food Bank for New York City and Share Our Strength through the event’s online auction.

Eat. Drink. End Hunger.
Auction open September 15 – October 14!

Bidding is closed.

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Do This!: This Year’s Food Network New York Wine & Food Festival

Does the thought of stirring things up with the likes of Giada de Laurentiis, Marcus Samuelsson or David Bouley get you excited? How about the potential for a attending an Asian/Dumpling seminar with Anito Lo or a Master Sushi Rolling class with Morimoto? I personally am looking forward to the Tacos & Tequila event with Bobby Flay. What I’m referring to is just a taste of the big foodie names and events that make up Food Network’s annual Wine & Food Festival. The weekend is jam packed with 120 day and nighttime events, seminars, demos, book signings and dinners with up close access and to some of the biggest culinary names and their tasty creations. The best part about it all {besides this being foodie heaven} is that 100% of net proceeds go directly to Food Bank for New York City and Share Our Strength, two community-based organizations focused on helping to fight hunger — allowing us to literally put our money where our mouth is. Last year’s event raised more than $1.2 million for these organizations.

This year’s long line-up of scrumptious samplings and celebrity sightings is scheduled for September 29-October 2, 2011. And with tickets still available, you have not missed out on the opportunity to take a bite out of the Big Apple’s biggest food event of the year — so get cookin’! Here’s a sneak peak at just a few tastings, but see the link below for the full line-up.

Oyster Bash: Want to know if Oysters really are an aphrodisiac? Join Ted Allen and the likes of April BloomfieldMichael Psilakis and other seafood masters at The Standard for an oyster, beer and bubbly bash!

Sake Soiree: Wash those Oysters down with several sips of Sake as you learn about Japan’s signature drink, how to create Sake cocktails and perfect Sake food pairings at the sleek Buddakan.

Take A Bite Out of NYWFF:
Full Event Line-up and Grab Your Tickets
HERE

Dickson’s Farmstand Meats’ Pulled Pork Sliders @ Last Year’s Chelsea Market After Dark

Read up on last year’s events and get hungry for more fun:
New York City Wine & Food Festival Kicked Off With Good Eats
Hands On with Giada De Laurentiis at Food Network’s NYCWFF Demo
recipe goodness :: Alton Brown Does Bourbon in the Morning
Getting Tipsy with the Tippling Bros. @NYCWFF Mixology 101
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF

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Recipe Inspiration: Take the Labor Out of Labor Day Grilling

Woo-wee, this summer has flown by. In the same way I love to start BBQ season off with a bang on Memorial Day, I think a proper summer send-off is essential come Labor Day. Here are a few last minute favorites if you’re looking to make the most of the long weekend, your Weber and cocktail shaker.

DRINKS {start the party out right}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Mint Julep
Bottle of Baron {Refreshing “Island Cocktail” a la Tippling Bros.}

Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat

Stand-Out Spanish Sangria
Summer Strawberry Chilled Chamomile Tea {non-alc or a mixer!}

SNACK’EMS {your guests eat, while the grill heats}

Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa {also good as an entree side}
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon{double duty bites}

SALADS {beautiful and delicious}

Lime-Kissed Peach and Corn Summer Salad
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
The Ultimate Summer Slaw

PIZZA & BREADS {d’oh! why didn’t i try this yet}

Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas {this is what I’ll be serving! So FUN}
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot
Red Chili-Lime Cornbread Muffins

FOR THE GRILL {that’s what it’s all about}

Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs

DESSERT {life is short, eat it first}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster w/ Bourbon Ice Cream
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups
 {bottom of post}
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries{bottom of post}

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Do This!: Freshocracy Greenmarket Cooking Demo This Friday

Freshocracy

NYC’s local farm-to-table
grocery and recipe delivery service. 

The tools to put better meals on your table. 

“Freshocracy takes real ingredients, from real local farms, and wraps them in a bow with a recipe card that promises success at the table.”
— Keith Gibson, Grazin’ Angus Acres Farm

Come Meet and Try Freshocracy!

When:  Friday 8/19 from 11-1pm
Where:  97th Street Greenmarket (@Columbus Ave)
What:  Christina and Ferdinand will be running a cooking demo of a favorite Freshocracy recipe: Summer Corn-Peach Salad
Why:  Why not?!
  • Meet Christina (or just say hi)
  • Watch, taste, ask questions, ooh and ahh
  • Introduce neighbors and friends to the new farm-to-table delivery service that so many New Yorkers have come to know and love!
  • Meet the farmers who are working hard each week to bring you such amazing seasonal farm-fresh food!
  • Did we mention free food?
See What People Are Saying About Freshocracy:

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Al & Ry’s Revolutionary {Meat} Pies

A Dozen Delectable Pies

Every now and then something revolutionary comes along in the food world and I stop to think — how do I get my hands on THAT, right now? I’ve dined at many restaurants across the globe, from hole-in-the-wall gems to slick molecular-gastronomy geared establishments. I’ve visited several 10,000+ vendor food shows, crowded with purveyors looking to launch the next big trend. But my most recent discovery hit close to home {and perhaps rocked my world} because the product is an innovative twist on something I’ve been eating since the day my mom transitioned me to solid foods: The Meat Pie.

A Meat Pie Defined: A fresh baked, warm bread pocket that you can take anywhere. Growing up in a Lebanese family, we ate these little pockets of goodness often — at family functions, on nights mom didn’t want to cook, as snacks on the way to after-school tennis practice. While we only ever had two flavor options, meat or spinach, these pies were SO good, I never thought twice about wanting anything other than meat or spinach.

But on a recent trip home to Detroit, said world was rocked. A new food start-up called Al & Ry’s Meat Pies, started by a 30-something friend of mine and her boyfriend, is taking this traditional pocket of goodness and transforming it into an updated pocket of greatness.

Al & Ry's Chicken Enchilada, Tomato Caprese, Sausage & Peppers Pies

Al & Ry’s homemade meat pies are filled with a variety of meats, cheeses and fresh vegetables. Choose from Taco, Slider, Sausage & Peppers, Reuben, Chicken Enchilada, Beef Stroganoff, and Jalapeno Popper with Bacon. Meat-less pies are also available in Caprese and Roasted Veggie. AND, a new Breakfast Pie with scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and cheese just rolled off the line {hello hangover cure!}

I sampled a few of these and can honestly say I wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite from the line-up. The dough is light and airy and each is stuffed with a combination of flavors we’re used to eating elsewhere, but fits perfectly into these pockets. I bought a dozen to serve at a family barbecue, cut them in half to make them last longer — long they did not last, they were gone in a matter of minutes. The Chicken Enchilada Pies were  juicy with only a slight spicy {and welcomed} kick to them, the Caprese Pies were stuffed with the sweet concentrated flavor of sun-dried tomatoes and creamy fresh mozzarella with fresh-picked basil, and the Sausage & Peppers Pie was like having a ball game all wrapped up in a perfect hand-held pocket. I also sampled the Slider and Breakfast Pies and can attest to their brilliance. I can’t think of a better snack to pull out of the fridge after a long night at the local watering hole.

Seriously, I don’t know if I can ever look at those traditional meat and spinach pies of yesteryear the same again. Why didn’t someone think of this before?! — take the casual foods we love, and put them in a fresh handmade pocket that can be eaten on the go or whenever you want a DELICIOUS, but quick snack. The best part about them is they are all made from scratch, using only fresh ingredients, so throw some in the freezer and you have a healthy snack whenever you want. I could see these being the perfect thing to have on hand for lunch or dinner when you’re in a pinch, to serve as a fantastic appetizer for an impromptu party, or even take on the boat or to the local park for a picnic.

Taking A Bite Out of Al & Ry's Caprese Pie

Al & Ry’s Meat Pies currently only serves the Michigan area and are available for catered events, mid-week meals or late-night snacking. They are also available hot and fresh at Ye Olde Tap Room — perfect snack to wash down with a cold draft. Get ’em while they’re hot!

To Order: Email Alison or Ryan at al.ry.meatpies@gmail.com

Other Detroit Delights:
Best Breakfast: The Chocolate Gallery Cafe
Best Dessert: The Chocolate Gallery Cafe
Detroit’s Slows Bar-B-Q is Quickly Becoming a Motor City Beacon
Home for the Holidays, Having Italian to Write Home About @Bucci

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Do This!: Vote for The Chocolate Gallery Cafe for Best Breakfast

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

It’s that time of the year again — I’m calling in all my favors to get you to vote for my Aunt and Uncle’s family-run restaurant, The Chocolate Gallery Cafe, which has been nominated again for Detroit’s Best Breakfast Award.  If you live outside of the Motor City and your first response is “I’ve never eaten there,”  all you have to do is take a look at the picture above to know and trust it is well-deserved.  I’m asking for this favor not only because I think it is THE BEST, but because as a small family-run business, an honor such as this is essential to keeping the coffee flowing and the omelets flipping — so do your part and spread the love!

They have been nominated for and won countless local and national awards, which speaks volumes for the love and passion they pour into their family run business. While The Chocolate Gallery Cafe has been crowned the 1st place winner for the past two years and placed in the top 3 for the past four, it IS the undying energy they pour into their food and service that is the most compelling reason to support, visit and love this family cafe. So read on, drool over the pictures of their food, VOTE and then tell any friends or family you know in Michigan to stop by for a meal they are sure to enjoy!

The Chocolate Gallery Cafe opened its doors over 17 years ago, but got its start even earlier when a love for chocolate and hours of experiments in a home kitchen resulted in the recipe for their famous award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte. So rich it has royalty in its name. The award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte is layered to perfection, with a chewy brownie bottom, creamy chocolate mousse center all topped off with crunchy English toffee and whipped cream florets that provide the ideal contrast to its other rich layers. The answer to every chocolate lover’s quest for the perfect dessert, this torte is the jewel of my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Chuck’s boutique cafe.

Chocolate Buckingham Torte

With many food fans clamoring for their desserts and a catering business taking off, The Chocolate Gallery decided to settle on a home and open a quaint cafe in Warren, Michigan, where their talents could be showcased and enjoyed on a regular basis — breakfast, lunch or dessert!

And thank goodness, because have you ever had something as delicious as Strawberry Stuffed French Toast (pic at top)? Made from thick cut french bread, stuffed with cream cheese and fresh strawberries, heated to crispy perfection and topped off with a warm homemade strawberry puree — 100% deliciousness!

Not extravagant enough for you? Like the line between breakfast and dessert to be crossed? Not surprising that The Chocolate Gallery Cafe does too! And so was born The Very Berry Stuffed French Toast, topped with a drizzle of premium chocolate and homemade whipped cream.

Very Berry Stuffed French Toast

More of a traditionalist? How about the Fresh Blueberry Pancakes to satisfy your morning sweet tooth? Light and fluffy, they are the perfect breakfast bed for those sweet Michigan blueberries to burst with warmth on.

Fresh Blueberry Pancakes

A Menu Must: And for those of us that are just plain ‘ole egg lovers, The Eggs Benedict is out of this world. Topped with homemade hollandaise sauce and served with a side of cafe potatoes, this savory selection wins my vote.

Eggs Benedict

Hungry yet? Dreaming of breakfast or a sweet treat? Hopefully you live close enough that a visit to The Chocolate Gallery Cafe can be a reality, but if not, for now you can support this sweet cafe with a click of a button and a vote to win Best Breakfast in DetroitThe Chocolate Gallery Cafe is also available for Full Service Catering, Chocolate Fountain Rentals and custom sweet treats, including Truffles and Molded Chocolates.

Map3672 Chicago Road, Warren, Michigan
Reservations: Not Taken (Open Thurs-Sun 8am-2pm)
Phone: 586.979.1140
Photos: John Martin Photography

 

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Do This!: Summer Cheese Extravaganza!

Jessica Wurwarg Shares Some Great Pairing Information

Summer Cheese Extravaganza!

When: Saturday July 23
7:30 p.m. until the cheese runs out…

Where: MikNic Lounge
200 Columbia St. between Sackett and Degraw
phone: 917 770-1984

What: Free Cheese Tasting {yes, FREE}
Learn about a selection of amazing cheeses and how to pair  them with wines, beers or spirits
Did I mention it’s FREE? So get there early before the supply runs out!
Local artist, Chris Mancuso, will also be doing an on-the-spot painting.

Jessica Wurwarg (Cheese Guru)
Miki Mosman (Miknic proprietor)

RSVP to wurwarg@gmail.com so they can make sure to have enough good curds on hand.

Public Transit Directions: Take the B61 Bus or the F to Bergen or Carroll.

See Amazing Past Cheese Events with Jessica:
Historic India House Shares Spectacular Cheese and Space
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes
8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!

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Getting Local, Personal {and Naked} with Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43

Local Naked Cowboy Oysters from the Long Island Sound

Local Naked Cowboy Oysters from the Long Island Sound

When I co-founded Freshocracy with my partners, we set out with the primary mission of making it easier for busy New Yorkers to get back in the kitchen and cook from scratch. But our secondary mission was to delight our customers with the simple and intense flavor of locally harvested and seasonal ingredients that taste like real food is supposed to taste. You can’t argue with a sweet, juicy field red tomato when it’s picked at its peak and comes straight from the farm to our customers’ tables.

Eating local or calling yourself a locavore may seem like a new trend or matter of awareness to most of you, but there are a few trailblazers in the New York food scene who have been upholding this food philosophy since before it was a coined phrase. Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 {an East Village locavore-centric artisanal beer and food den} and founder of The Good Beer Seal, is a man everyone should know. He is an avid supporter of local farmers {check out his menu or join a small-farm CSA with pick-ups at Jimmy’s}, an innovator in planning fantastically fun food fests {Cook Out NYC, Meatopia, Taste of Tribeca, The Great New York City Shuck ‘N Suck} and an educator in what it means to enjoy good food and good beer {local oysters and beer tastings every Wed/Thurs + other local-centric events}

In honor of Edible Manhattan’s Eat Drink Local Week, I chatted with Jimmy to understand what inspired his love and respect for all things local…and then slurped down a few Long Island Naked Cowboy Oysters and cold brews at the Jimmy’s No. 43 Eat Drink Local Oyster Event to fully appreciate how he spreads the local love.

While Jimmy grew up with a sensibility that food from local farms is the freshest, getting access to it wasn’t always as easy as going to Union Square on the weekend with your resuable bags. It wasn’t until Jimmy opened his first restaurant, Mugsy’s Chow Chow, in 1994 that he started going to the greenmarket to shop, but even then the market was smaller and his menu wasn’t entirely dedicated to local ingredients. In 2002, with his lease running out he renamed the restaurant to Patio Bar and reinvented the menu to be more focused on the market. The result was amazing food, but there was still a disconnect between his diners’ undeniably positive reactions and their understanding of the local influence on their meals. In Jimmy’s words, “people thought it was weird.” The seminal moment in Jimmy’s locavore timeline came after he opened Jimmy’s No. 43 in 2005. Jimmy hired a new chef to go to the market five days a week to source their dairy, produce and meat from local purveyors. After setting a number of standards for their menu, Jimmy’s No. 43 was awarded Slow Food NYC’s Snail of Approval seal {an award recognizing quality, authenticity and sustainability of the food supply of the City of New York.} Six years later, Jimmy’s continues to serve up an inspired menu that could only be made better by enjoying one of the many fine microbrews on his bar list. His local philosophy and New Yorker’s reception of it finally converged.

But just because Jimmy uses high quality, local ingredients, doesn’t mean his menu will put a large hole in your wallet. Jimmy very smartly works with farmers to select cuts they have excess supply of, keeping his costs low while helping these small producers sell their inventory. If his regular good food menu and good prices aren’t enticement enough to spend some time sipping beers and noshing at No. 43, then swing by on Wednesday or Thursday for $2 local oyster night. If you’re lucky, Eddie Oysters, the fastest shucker in the land, will be on hand to entertain and feed you. Oyster Trivia: don’t be afraid to slurp one too many of those slippery little suckers — they are only 10 calories a piece!

The thing I love about Jimmy is the casualness of the world he has created. It’s not about didactic local teachings, but enticing a community of diners and sippers with a consistently good local food and beer atmosphere. Lure them in with a stellar menu and fantastic food events and perhaps they will leave with a better understanding of what it means to Eat Drink Local. We at Freshocracy certainly hope so too!

Eddie Oysters Gettin' Naked

More Local Goodness:
Freshocracy {and yours truly} Featured on Good Food Jobs
Summer Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
NYC Best: Purely Good Food & Wine

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Do This! Edible’s Eat Drink Local Week Kicks off this Saturday

Eat Drink Local Week 2011

Local. Local. Local. We at 8.ate@eight and Freshocracy think Local is where it’s at. Not only are there amazing foods being harvested within 250 miles of NYC, but there are amazing people doing things with this food {and drink}. This is one of my favorite weeks in the city each year — everything from local oysters to local brews are being showcased in a series of seriously summery shindigs. So clear your calendar and devour all the goodness coming our way from Edible’s Eat Drink Local Week!

Saturday June 18th — Festival of 7 Ingredients

Those are seven stellar spring foods–in this case strawberries; peas; chives and green garlic; rhubarb; lamb, oysters and yogurt–produced or farmed or fished locally. Each has delicious stories to tell, and to jump start Eat Drink Local Week Edible Manhattan is hosting a festival and tasting (oyster stew! green garlic and chive quesadillas! spicy lamb salad with pea greens!) and includes wine from Wolffer Estate in Long Island and beer from Kelso of Brooklyn.

When: Saturday 6/18 6 to 9pm
Where: OpenHouse Gallery in SoHo at 201 Mulberry Street
Tickets: $25  HERE

Wednesday June 22th — Taste of Greenmarket

The benefit of all benefits to raise money for the Greenmarket Youth Education Project. Just check out this incredible lists of chefs:

Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern
Dan Barber of Blue Hill & Blue Hill at Stone Barns
April Bloomfield of The Spotted PigThe Breslin & The John Dory Oyster Bar
Marco Canora of Hearth & Terroir
Mary Cleaver of The Green Table & The Cleaver Company
Marc Forgione of Marc Forgione
Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter
Kurt Gutenbrunner of Cafe KristallCafe SabarskyBlaue Gans & Wallsé 
Rick Hickman of The Green Table & The Cleaver Company
Lauren Hirschberg of Craftbar
Peter Hoffman of Savoy & Back Forty
Patti Jackson of I Trulli
Gabriel Kreuther of The Modern
Bret Macris of Rose Water
James Meehan of PDT
Marc Meyer of CookshopFive Points, & Hundred Acres
Marco A. Moreira of Tocqueville Restaurant
Deborah Racicot of Gotham Bar and Grill
Julie Reiner of Clover Club & Lani Kai
Aaron Sanchez of Centrico
Justin Smillie of Il Buco
Bill Telepan of Telepan
Karl Franz Williams of 67 Orange Street
Galen Zamarra of Mas (farmhouse) & Mas (la grillade)

When: Saturday 6/18 6 to 9pm
Where: Studio 450 450 West 31st Street, New York, NY
Tickets: $225 General Admission 7 to 10 PM; $350 VIP Tasting 6 to 10 PM Purchase tickets

June 26th — Beer and BBQ

Beer and barbecue at Townline BBQ in Sagaponack to kick off Eat Drink Local on the East End. Look for all seven ingredients, including a roasted lamb with yogurt and chives, smoked oysters, plenty of peas and strawberry-rhubarb something.

When: Sunday 6/26
Where: Townline BBQ in Sagaponack
RSVP: call Townline, 631.537.2271, or buy your tickets here.

JUNE 29 — Meet Your Maker

“Meet Your Maker”: a local food and drink artisan tour at the Brooklyn Brewery. In celebration of Edible’s Eat Drink Local Week Edible is teaming up with The Brooklyn Brewery, Blue Bottle, Brooklyn Winery and Mast Brothers Chocolate for a night local food tours and beers.  $15 gets you a tour of one of four businesses and a gathering at the Brewery for beers afterwards.

Where: The Brooklyn Brewery, 79 N 11th St, Brooklyn
When: Wednesday June 29th, 6 to 9pm
Tickets:
Reserve your space here.

JUNE 29 — Strawberry Social

The Strawberry Social: to raise funds for Food Systems Network NYC at La Plaza Cultural Community Garden.

Where: La Plaza Cultural Community Garden; 9th St. and Avenue C
Tickets:
 $50 Reserve your space here.

JUNE 30 — Oyster and Beer Party

A Long Island oyster and beer party to end Eat Drink Local, at Jimmy’s No. 43. This all-you-can-eat event will offer up precious Blue Points along with “Naked Cowboy Oysters,” wild-harvested bivalves named after the infamous Naked Cowboy himself (heads up, word is he will be making an appearance).  Craft beer and wine (sourced from the East End of Long Island) will be available for purchase.  Featured beer will include Greenport’s Duck Porter, and wines will be from the Paumanock region vineyards.  Notable shuckers will attempt to dethrone Jimmy’s No. 43 champ, Eddie “Oysters,” winner of the 2010 NYC Food Film Festival’s Great New York City Shuck and Suck.

Where: Jimmy’s No. 43
When: Thursday, June 30; 5 to 10pm
Tickets: $35 Get your tickers here!

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Do This!: Freshocracy Greenmarket Cooking Demo This Sunday

Freshocracy

NYC’s local farm-to-table
grocery and recipe delivery service. 

The tools to put better meals on your table. 

“Freshocracy takes real ingredients, from real local farms, and wraps them in a bow with a recipe card that promises success at the table.”
— Keith Gibson, Grazin’ Angus Acres Farm

Come Meet and Try Freshocracy!

When:  Sunday 6/12 from 12-2pm
Where:  77th Street Greenmarket (@Columbus Ave)
What:  Christina and Andreas will be running a cooking demo of their favorite Freshocracy recipe: Ostrich Tacos with Lime-Pickled Radishes
Why:  Why not?!
  • Meet Christina (or just say hi)
  • Watch, taste, ask questions, ooh and ahh
  • Introduce neighbors and friends to the new farm-to-table delivery service that so many New Yorkers have come to know and love!
  • Meet the farmers who are working hard each week to bring you such amazing seasonal farm-fresh food!
  • Did we mention free food?
See What People Are Saying About Freshocracy:

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Do This!: Get Back to Your Roots

Get Back to Your Roots

Get Back to Your Roots

There is something very gratifying about growing your own greens. Herbs, flowers, veggies, whatever. I must have acquired this love to ‘putz’ in the garden from my Italian father, who can almost always be found in this worn-out threads strolling the beds, pulling weeds, watering the seedlings and making our backyard look lush.

But there is more than just beauty to growing your own garden — it is quite a practical thing to do. During the summer, I often want to make a simple tomato and basil salad or fresh salsa for a BBQ.  But as I stroll through Whole Foods, I realize how quickly these things add up — a pint of tomatoes for $3.99, large bunches of parsley, cilantro basil and mint for $1.99 each {and 1/8 of which I actually need and end up wasting the rest}. The benefit of growing a few simple herbs that you like to use all the time is your own free herb aisle that costs you nothing more than a few seeds {or seedlings} and will last you from spring to late fall.  And let’s be honest, it’s more effort to go to the store to buy these things than it is to sprinkle a little water on your plants each day so that all you have to do is snip off what you need whenever your cooking heart desires.

Even if you don’t have much space {concrete jungle dwellers}, all you need is a few window boxes or small pots and you’re set. For most things you do need sunlight, but a few herbs will do just fine on a windowsill if that’s all you have access to.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  1. Small plastic cups and plastic wrap {if starting from seeds}
  2. Window boxes or pots {if starting from seedlings and to transfer your seeds to once they become seedlings. You can usually fit 2-3 kinds of herbs side by side in a window box depending on how long it is. And 1 herb per round pot.}
  3. Potting soil {the kind with time-releasing nutrients is great so you get the benefit of rich soil over a few months}
  4. Water {of course}
  5. Your own two hands 🙂
If you plant nothing else, plant these:
  1. Basil {really hearty and goes great on lots of summer veg}
  2. Thyme {perfect on sauteed/grilled mushrooms, zucchini, chicken. will continue to grow inside through the winter. }
  3. Rosemary {my favorite herb! will continue to grow inside through the winter}
  4. Sage {BBQ chicken’s favorite friend!}
  5. Mint {will keep coming back in your pot EVERY year. even after it dies in the winter. That’s an easy one!}
  6. Strawberries {surprisingly easy to grow in a pot. and what a treat!}
  7. Arugula {small leaf lettuce is really easy to grow in a window box — and SO much more flavorful}
  8. Parsley and Cilantro {don’t you just hate buying an entire bunch when you only need a little}
  9. Grape tomatoes {if you have sunny outdoor space for a really large pot, you will get hundreds of little juicy tomatoes off 1-2 vines. I eat them like candy!}
Tips:
If you have the patience to start seeds in a small plastic cup with a little soil, it’s awfully gratifying to see them sprout up. Most seeds only take 1-2 weeks to germinate, so even though it’s already June, you can still start some herbs that don’t need to grow as tall as tomato plants — like basil or parsley.
  1. Get a baking sheet and line it with a plastic cup or small pyrex dish for each plant. Fill it about 3/4 of the way with light, fine soil and place your seeds on top evenly spaced.
  2. Follow the directions from your seed packet, but it will probably tell you to cover the seeds with 1/8-1/4 inch of soil. Add water to soak the soil and then cover the cup with plastic wrap and use a rubber band to secure the wrap to the sides. This will create your own little greenhouse to trap moisture and heat and help the seeds grow {especially if starting in April or May before it’s warm outside}. Add more water each morning if needed to keep the soil moist.
  3. If you start in April/May before it’s warm, keep these inside, but whenever you get a warm day you can easily transfer all the cups on the sheet to a sunny spot outdoors to benefit from the natural heat/sunlight. If you’re starting now, you can place the cups outdoors. Just make sure they are covered so the birds don’t get them!
  4. Once your seeds become ~2-inch seedlings, transfer them to a larger pot with soil and let them spread their roots!
First Strawberry of the Season!

First Strawberry of the Season! (June 7th)

City Herbs

City Herbs

Sweet, Sweet Tomatoes

Sweet, Sweet Tomatoes

Recipes to Showcase Your Home Garden:
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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