Sunday, September 19, 2010

Foodie Events - Mark your Calendar

'Farm to table' eating is 'uber-cool'. We get to support our local farmers, encourage sustainable agricultural practices and enjoy food that simply tastes better. While it may come with a heftier price tag, our tip is to attend some of the 'locavore' events around town this month, flirt with one of the chefs, brewers or vintners, and bat your eyelids for a free meal at one of their restaurants. Below are a handful to get you going...

Good Food Festival: Sunday, Sept 19th | MPD | All Day: Tickets from $20
Basis and the Feed Foundation co-host the first Back to Basis Good Food Festival in celebration of the season's harvest. 30 local farms and chefs collaborate to feature food during the day and a seasonal farm to table dinner in the evening. Participants include: Simple Kitchen Gardens, Sprout Creek Farm; Minetta Tavern; Gramercy Tavern and Colicchio and Sons.

Harvest in The Square: Tuesday, Sept 21st | Union Square Park | 7:30-9pm: Tickets from $125
Features signature dishes from restaurants around Union Square. Microbrews and wines from New York state will be paired with each dish. All meals will use produce from Union Square's greenmarket. ABC Kitchen, Almond, Devi and Pure Food and Wine are some of the participating restaurants. Money well spent if you can't get into ABC Kitchen.

Edible Eat Drink Local Week: Sunday Sept 26th - Oct 6th | Various NYC Restaurants | voluntary contributions
GrowNYC and Edible magazines present their second annual Eat Drink Local week (technically 11 days). Local chefs and farmers are hosting farm feasts, wine tastings and even an afternoon at Sotheby's heirloom vegetable auction. Eat out at local restaurants that support the greenmarket such as Cookshop; The Green Table; Mas and Telepan. We love The Green Table's Basil Smash with organic gin and fresh basil from Satur Farms.

Taste of Greenmarket: Wednesday Oct 6th: Chelsea | 7-10pm | Tickets from $175
Market inspired dishes and seasonal cocktails from 30 of New York's chefs and mixologists including Blue Hill, The Breslin; Marc Forgione; Il Baco, Employees Only and Gotham Bar & Grill. Worth the ticket price if you're a NYC foodie who needs to sample everything.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eataly - A Food Lovers Orgy

I've had more quickies with Eataly than Don Draper had in Season 2. Admittedly, the vicinity of my office to this Italian gastrodome compels me to sample every delectable morsel. I've indulged in 'dirty' one month aged parmesan cheese; wrapped my finger around 5 different types of San Daniele prosciutto; thrown back shots of warmed hazelnut chocolate and bitten into chewy Italian bread with the gluttony of a recovered celiac.

But these culinary experiences are not why I am salivating. I could fly to Rome for a weekend or eat at any one of Batali's eight New York restaurants and experience the same sensory pleasures. Eataly is much more enlightening than that.

Eataly smashes together two incongruous philosophies, commitment to everything Italian and commitment to everything local, sustainable and seasonal. I'll leave it up to the foodies to debate the success, but as a nutritionist who loves to eat and is an advocate of the green movement, Eataly kicks the Greenmarket and Wholefoods off its smug 'green' pedestal. It offers local produce in one small area (no more traipsing around Union Square for the perfect apple), it is cheaper (yes, who would have thought), you can pick up olive oil that is so grassy you'd think it had been infused with medicinal marijuana, you can buy beef from the same supplier as Minetta Tavern's famed black label burger AND it offers a concierge service that only Jetcard carrying moguls are used to - the Vegetable Butcher!

The Vegetable Butcher will prep, clean, scrub and chop your vegetables. I've had onions diced, bell peppers sliced, fava beans shelled and carrots peeled and julienned. The cost - it's free! And what a brilliant idea for Batali. Use your sous chef's downtime to stimulate more spending and get kudos for encouraging Americans to eat their greens; perhaps Batali should start consulting to the White House.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vegan for 21 Days?

That's exactly what the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine would like you to do. This Labor Day marks the start of their 21 day Kickstart Campaign where vegan meal plans and recipe ideas are sent to the subscribers. The Committee estimates ~30,000 people will participate. As most of you know, I'm protein, protein and more protein, but I do recognize the potential health benefits and reduced carbon footprint of a vegan diet provided it is fruit, vegetables and vegan protein not vegan cookies, pasta and pizza.

Could I do 21 days? It would be a challenge, but I could commit to one day per week for 21 weeks (yes, it's cheating but it's a start!). I've listed my top five downtown vegan restaurants for their culinary choices and vibe that's more 'Gwyneth' than San Francisco environmentalists.

Organic Avenue - 116 Suffolk Street and 43 8th Ave (between Jane & Horatio). Known for it's organic juice fasts and raw food this is a 'pick-up' joint versus cafe. Ideal for grabbing freshly pressed green juices, coconut water and almond "mylk" smoothies. Their kale salad and chia tapioca have inspired some of my own recipes. What's Cool: All products are organic. If they can't get organic they don't make it. All juice bottles are recyclable. What's Not: The $350 price tag for a five day juice fast, the $2 deposit for each juice bottle and the $20 delivery charge. But if you have money to burn or live locally, Organic Avenue's juice and food products are a great addition to a healthy eating regime.

Bonobos - 18 East 23rd Street. Organic and raw food salad and 'burger' bar ideal for a quick lunch. Raw salads packed with greens, cabbage, sprouts, carrots and beets and drizzled in a sweet basil dressing and topped with sea vegetables that makes you feel like a nutrition goddess. Their coconut bell pepper soup is exquisitely silky and delicious. What's Cool: House-made coco chai - fresh coconut milk blended with Indian chai spices. Beats a shake shack milkshake any day. What's Not: Scoop too much of their nut meat on your salads and you'll be adding in more calories than a Big Mac (of course, the calories are far better for you).

Pure Food and Wine- 54 Irving Place. The pioneer of the haute cuisine raw vegan food movement in the city. Think heirloom tomato and zucchini lasagna; beet ravioli with pistachio cream and salsify noodles with almond butter sake and oyster mushrooms. There is no gluten, tofu or seiten on the menu (ie no fake meats). What's Cool: Organic sake on tap and drinking a Tamarind infused martini in the garden on a balmy Summer evening. What's Not: The Chelsea Market outpost is always out of wheatgrass Saturday afternoons.

Eataly Vegetarian 'Restaurant'
- 23rd and Fifth Avenue. Part of Mario Batali's new gastrodome, Eataly. The vegetable 'restaurant' is designed to showcase seasonal fruit and vegetables, principally sourced from local farms. The menu is small but exquisite. The mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and served on toasted polenta are to die for. The warm vegetable salad will be a staple of the health conscious, yoga matt carrying downtowners (or those aspiring to be). Admittedly this may be vegetarian not vegan but on my two visits there was no dairy in sight. What's Cool: Unpretentious, no reservations required. One can turn up in gym gear and still feel welcome. What's Not: It's a mosh pit. This extremely busy and bustling bazaar usually means a 10 minute or more wait for a table (to be fair, they turn quickly) or gather with the vultures waiting for a stool at the bar.

Angelica Kitchen - 200 E 12th street - it's been around longer than two NYU students but this organic vegan restaurant continues to be one of the most influential restaurants in the city. It is the 'farm to table' restaurant using ingredients harvested less than 48 hours ago. Menus change daily with dishes such as tomato saffron broth with yukon potatoes, fennel and leeks, corn bread with miso tahini and Moroccan spiced dressing over organic vegetables and brown rice. What's Cool: It's BYOB (how rare in the city) with no corkage fee and you can feel extra smug that you are helping local organic farmers. What's Not: Cash only and forgetting to BYOB.

Others of note: Organic Grill; Blossom and Snice.