Friday, June 29, 2012

The Science of Local Food

This week I had the pleasure of attending a food-related event that just happened to be sponsored by the River To River Festival, for which I do Marketing and Communications in my day job. The event was a panel discussion at the South Street Seaport Melville Gallery titled "The Science of Local Food" presented by the South Street Seaport Museum and The New York Academy of Sciences. Robert LaValva was the panel moderator. LaValva is the Director and Founder of New Amsterdam Market, a public community food market that takes place every Sunday in the old Fulton Fish Market and features and an array of vendors--including cheese, honey, bicycles, and kimchi to name a few. The panel featured Peter Hoffman, chef and owner of Back 40 and the now-closed Savoy (which has been re-invented as Back 40 West); Brian Halweil, Publisher of Edible Manhattan and Editor of Edible East End; and Jennifer Phillips, a farmer in the Hudson Valley.

The panel explored topics such as, is local better? Surprisingly, the answer isn't always yes. It is easy to forget about the transport and storage required to properly store food, which would make the notion of having all New Yorkers “eat local” quite a challenge.

As a New Yorker, it's also nearly impossible to eat everything in a local capacity; think lemons, cocoa, and salt.

Another interesting fact I picked up is that buying organic whole milk isn't always the way to go. Just because it says "organic" and "grass fed" doesn't mean that there aren't 4,000 cows stuffed in a big room that get fed “local” feed. Check out for a scorecard on your milk brand.

The panel encouraged people to ask questions. If you're feeling friendly during your next farmer's market visit, ask the famer about his or her practices. Just because a farmer may use pesticides, doesn't mean you should boycott their product. I learned that many farmers are using a pesticide called IPM, which is supposed to help suppress other dangerous pesticides. Start a conversation!

The discussion also explored omnivores verses carnivores. Although being a vegetarian is a great healthy lifestyle, including local, grass-fed meat into your diet isn't a bad thing. The problem is with the amount of processed meats and dairy that Americans are eating. While the sticker shock of local meat may make you black out for a minute, the panel reassured us that we don't have to spend our entire paycheck on Hudson Valley Duck meat, rather make it a special occasion and try to eat healthfully during other moments by seeking fresh, in-season produce.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tapenade Repurposed

On Saturday, Will and I had a family dinner party where we celebrated having all of our siblings in town. We made a boneless leg of lamb roast smeared with Smitten Kitchen's Pistachio Tapenade, our favorite Leek Bread Pudding, and Julia Child's Spinach Gratin (Smitten Kitchen also has a rendition you can follow if you don't have the classic cookbook).  I had made the tapenade dish with lamb chops over New Years Eve with Sarah, my future sister-in-law. It was quite a treat. 

If you don't have that extra cash for chops, not to worry, the tapenade can be quite versatile. We re-purposed our leftovers with skate that I bought from Citarella's. We simply drizzled olive oil over the fish, topped it off with the tapenade, and baked at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. We served our protein with a side of roasted kale, and leftover bread pudding.  As an extra treat, I bought some Spicy Chipotle Crab Spread and served with peppers. Not bad for a Monday, right?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Restaurant Review: Sam's and the Boston Waterfront

I took a quick jaunt to Boston this past weekend and had a delightful time. Many of you know, Boston and I don't always go hand-in-hand (I need to tread cautiously as many of my readers are Bostonians). That being said, I had a lovely visit and of course enjoyed delicious fare. 

We dined at Sam's at Louis, a contemporary restaurant that sits on the edge of the South Boston waterfront. This area has changed drastically since my departure four years ago. It used to be that the ICA was one of the only redeeming venues to visit, but now there are numerous restaurants, shops, and apartments being developed before your eyes. There are also water taxis available if you get lazy (word of caution: these are pricey). 

At Sam's, four out of the five table mates ordered the BLT, which was dressed up with candied bacon, arugula, mayo, tomato-marmalade, and a side of fries. The flavor of the BLT was quite good. My only criticism--and you may find this a outlandish--was too much bacon. I'm not kidding, strips of bacon literally kept falling out of the sandwich with each bite. Believe me, this isn't a horrible thing, but a little less bacon and a little more tomato could work nicely.

I was the outlier of the table and ordered the Roasted Eggplant Portobello sandwich. The flavor was good as well but it was served on a giant hamburger bun. Perhaps focaccia would be a better bookend. But again, not a horrible problem. I still managed to eat most of my share, which was quite generous. 

Sam's definitely had a fun atmosphere. I'd love to go back for dinner and sip on delicious cocktails overlooking the harbor. Also, after the meal you can wander downstairs to the luxury boutique Louis and browse at the pretty items you probably can't afford. Either way, worth the visit!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

BYO Gourmet

Last week we initiated a Ladies BYO Gourmet inspired by my blog and Chopped (thank you Shay, Ems, and Mak). The goal was for each person to bring a course, which was decided by votes. Each lady picked a person to make a course and then suggested three items. The rest of the team voted. If you're confused, don't feel bad (it took me a while to grasp the concept, even with a nifty Google Doc). Basically, Mak got smoked salmon, Ems got leeks, Shay got sausage, and I got kiwis. 

Despite dish confusion, the evening was a success. We all gathered at Shay's gorgeous apartment and prepped and cooked together while sipping on robust Bordeaux. Mak assembled smoked salmon with creme fraiche, mustard, and chive delicately placed on whole wheat crackers. Ems made a delicious leek bread pudding, which I had made before. This is a perfect, stick-to-your-ribs dish that makes you feel like you're eating healthy because it has the word "leeks" in the recipe title (spoiler alert: it's not). Shay went all out and created swiss chard and sausage purses that were perfectly crafted and filled with goodness of sauteed spicy sausage and stuffing. The filling was  delicately wrapped in blanched swiss chard and tied with a leek string (we were quite resourceful). I ended the meal with short cake (more carbs) topped with strawberries, kiwis, and fresh whipped cream. 

It was such a fun night and I cannot wait to continue to do Ladies BYO Gourmet in the near future. Look out for behind-the-scene photos to be featured on Facebook!