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.
Every year around this time I go a little nuts making strawberry desserts. Witness last year's strawberry sweets frenzy: Mini Strawberry and Rum Pies, Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle, Strawberry Basil Sorbet. And those are just the ones that made the cut to become blog posts.
Over Memorial Day weekend I went my friend Karol's new apartment in Williamsburg for her housewarming BBQ potluck, which promised lots of food and merriment on a big beautiful deck. Her potlucks usually draw a big crowd, so I decided to make not one but two strawberry rhubarb tarts.
I picked up a large container of first-of-the-season Jersey strawberries and rhubarb stalks from the Greenmarket. And had ambitious plans of getting up early on Sunday morning to make the tarts without rushing. The waking up early part, um, never happened. Fortunately, I found out, you can really make these tarts in just two hours from start to finish, including the galette dough.
Years ago while in culinary school, I spent a summer interning at Food & Wine. Food writing was my dream future career and I was ecstatic to spend a good part of my work days in their test kitchen. Until this week, even after many years of working in the food world on both the cooking and writing sides, it had been the only test kitchen of a major publication that I had seen.
So I was pretty thrilled to join a behind-the-scenes tour that Cookbook Create was organizing for food bloggers in the NY area. Yesterday, a big group of us visited the offices and test kitchens of Bon Appetit, The Daily Meal, and Food52, who graciously hosted us and prepared samples of recipes they've tested for publication. Of course, in addition to peeking inside the beautiful kitchens, it was a great way to learn about how the different publications operate.
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.
Breakfast, Drinks, Recipes
I've been making smoothies non-stop these past few weeks. Maybe it's in anticipation of all the ripe late spring and summer fruits that will soon be in the markets. But lately my breakfasts have been looking more like the smoothie above instead of this or this. And that's a very good thing.
Until blueberries are in season, I'm making do with the the frozen kind. Frozen berries can often be too bland, so I was pretty happy to come across these, from Stahlbush Island Farms in Oregon. They're incredibly plump and tasty for frozen berries, plus the packaging is biodegradable to boot. Win win.