The idea for Tangra Summer came about a few months ago. My friend Chitra Agrawal, founder of The ABCD's of Cooking and a cooking teacher who specializes in Indian food, had suggested we team up to create a pop-up dinner to celebrate local food in Brooklyn. A farm-to-table dinner with a twist. Instead of New American cooking, we could combine our respective backgrounds in Indian and Chinese cooking and create a cross-cultural vegetarian dinner highlighting seasonal food in Brooklyn.
It took me about half a second to say yes. And so Tangra was born.
Named after a Calcutta neighborhood home that was the birthplace of Indian-Chinese cuisine, Tangra will be held once a season to celebrate farm fresh produce. Our inaugural dinner, Tangra Summer 2013, will debut August 25th at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, a Dutch farmhouse that dates back to 1652 and is New York's oldest surviving structure. The dinner will take place inside the historic farmhouse, with dishes served family-style, featuring vegetables grown onsite from head Wyckoff gardener Jason Gaspar and beers from our sponsors Big Alice Brewing out of Long Island City.
One of the best things about living in New York is that you are constantly discovering new fascinating and bewildering facts about the city. Did you know there are rice paddies on Randall's Island? A still-running 19th-century power plant at Pratt University? A rooftop garden with beehives at the Waldorf Astoria?
The last one I just learned about last month. And luckily, I got to see it first-hand as part of the Urban Agriculture Conference sponsored by The Horticultural Society of New York. A few weeks ago I posted about our trips to Battery Urban Farm and Riverpark Farm; now we'll head up 625 feet over Midtown Manhattan.
Earlier I shared a post on Battery Urban Farm in lower Manhattan, where I went as part of last week's Urban Agriculture Conference. One of our other visits that day was Riverpark Farm, overlooking the East River.
Granted, the East River and the FDR aren't the first locations that come to mind when you think of farms and fresh produce. But Riverpark, opened in 2011 as part of Tom Colicchio's Craft Restaurants group, somehow makes it all work.
What's most impressive about this farm is that it's completely modular, with vegetables and herbs growing inside 7,000 milk crates, all of which can be easily transported. For two years farm was located on a stalled construction site at the Alexandria Center, before finally being able to settle into their new home at the riverfront plaza earlier this month.
Although this blog is dedicated to mapping Brooklyn, occasionally I'll venture across the bridges to report on noteworthy places on the isle of Manhattan (and further afield.) Last week, I attended the Urban Agriculture Conference, which focuses on sustainable farming in urban environments. As part of the 2 1/2-day event, conference goers got a chance to visit some of the farms that are sprouting up around Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. The Brooklyn tour was full by the time I registered, but as it turned out, the Manhattan trip was wildly interesting from beginning to end, starting with at 10am visit to Battery Urban Farm.
Until last week, I had no idea there was a 1-acre farm that sat on the edge of the financial district. It's mainly an educational farm, with site-sponsored programs and plots of land for schools to teach kids about where their food comes from. In addition to the neat rows of lettuces, kale, and radishes for food production, there's also a fun teepee area where kids can play with seeds and plant vegetables of their own choosing. In the spring and fall, the food goes toward school lunches, while in the summer the crops are sold through a farm share.
Fun fact: the farm is shaped like a turkey, as a tribute to Zelda (named after Zelda Fitzgerald), the wild turkey that has been roaming Battery Park for the last decade.