© Joseph Perez-Green
Smitten Ice Cream's new Hayes Valley home.
In San Francisco, unclaimed space never sits empty for long before fabulous food artisans move in. Since the city closed Hayes Valley’s Central Freeway off-ramp a few years back, it hasn’t been able to afford to develop the abandoned land—but now, it’s offering the space to creative people willing to accept a limited lease time before possible construction begins eventually. Hayes Valley Farm put down roots last year to explore sustainable urban garden strategies, and the supercool new Proxy project will infuse the funky neighborhood with pop-up cafés, art installations and retail shops. Ritual Coffee will soon begin serving seasonal espressos in one of the “pods”—repurposed metal shipping containers—along with newcomers like Smitten Ice Cream, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze flavors like Meyer Lemon Gingersnap and Brown Butter Candied Apple one amazing scoop at a time. Sadly, the rumors of a forthcoming Pizzeria Delfina pop-up are untrue—owners Craig and Anne Stoll say they’re just too busy opening up Locanda this weekend (so we’ll forgive them).
© Jason Houston for TEDxManhattan
Chef Michel Nischan
This past Saturday marked the first-ever TEDx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat
, a conference devoted to sustainable-food issues. The daylong series of 18-minute talks covered topics ranging from how farmers in Illinois
are dealing with the environmental impact of industrial dairies to how organizations like the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
are creating amazingly productive community gardens. Elizabeth Meltz, an exuberant former cook who oversees food safety and sustainability for Mario Batali's restaurant group, talked about the challenge of educating the staff about green practices: "We can barely get them not to throw out the silverware." Michel Nischan of the Dressing Room Restaurant
in Westport, Connecticut, described the efforts of his nonprofit, Wholesome Wave
, to make produce accessible and affordable in poor communities. Food & Wine proudly supports Wholesome Wave, and we're raising money now with these awesome Green Passes
to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this June.
© Jen Murphy
Baho, a local Nicaraguan dish, from Aqua.
On my recent trip to Nicaragua, I spent two days at a brand new beachfront, eco-treehouse villa retreat called Aqua. A little more than 30 miles north of the Costa Rican border or an adventurous 90-minute drive south from Granada (partly along a bumpy dirt road with feral pigs and cows dashing out into the road), Aqua is tucked away in the small village of Tola and is a yoga-foodie-surfer paradise. My treehouse villa had a super-luxe kitchen with a Bosch fridge and a wine fridge, plus a mini plunge pool on the deck looking down to the ocean. Top yoga instructors teach class on the huge yoga deck overlooking the beach and world-class waves are just one beach away for surfing. Aqua’s mission is sustainability. Juan, one of the local staff, took me on a spectacular three-hour nature hike up overlooking the nearby surfing beaches.
Much of the hotel's produce is sourced from a farm nearby Ometepe Island and there is talk of organizing sustainable cooking classes led by guest chefs from the States. There was a yoga retreat at the resort during my visit and I felt a blt guilty to be indulging in the organic Nica coffee, local brews and the incredible food like a local dish called Baho (orange-and-lime marinated carne, yucca and plantain steamed in banana leaf) while the yogis were spending the week eating vegan and even fasting some days.
A new spa and more treehouse villas are in the works for later this year. There’s also a huge golf resort, a paved road and an airport in Tola’s future. I’m guessing the secret about Aqua and this idyllic beach town in Nicaragua will soon be high on people’s travel radar.
Once a novelty, the concept of the hotel cooking class–or even in some cases cooking school–has become ubiquitous. It was only a matter of time before a resort tapped into the nose-to-tail obsession and started offering butchering programs. Starting next month the Sanderling Resort & Spa in North Carolina’s Outer Banks will hold monthly butchering workshops taught by German master butcher Frank Meusel and executive chef Joshua Hollinger (his family was in the butchering business for more than 100 years). The one-day workshops, held at nearby Weeping Radish Farm will educate guests on how to break down cuts of a whole animal with a focus on prime cuts. The first class, on November 20, focuses on breaking down a half steer and includes lessons in emulsion cooking and smoking and turning cuts of meat into sausages and hot dogs.
© Wicked Delicate
Truck Farm creator Ian Cheney and IATP fellow and collaborator Curt Ellis
Last Thursday F&W's Features intern Chelsea Morse attended "Fresh Ideas for Our Food System," a reception hosted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Society Fellows. The IATP provides fellowships to individuals ranging from chefs to farmers to filmmakers, all working toward creating a healthier and more sustainable food system. Here, she reports on some of the most interesting projects they're working on:
-Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, co-producers of the documentary film King Corn, have created Truck Farm, a functional garden in the flatbed of a pickup truck. The duo completed an East Coast school tour this spring, encouraging kids of all ages to think outside the box about urban farming.
-Just launched last week, ParentEarth.com is a new clearinghouse of information to help parents make healthy choices about their children’s food. Short videos from experts like school chef Ann Cooper and Paul Greenberg, author of Four Fish, address issues from teaching preschoolers how to compost to helping kids understand food advertising.
-Aiming to debut in early 2011, public service program FoodCorps will recruit young adults through AmeriCorps to work on farm-to-school projects, building classroom gardens and implementing nutrition education.
© Jen Murphy
Jalama Road Farm Stand
Last weekend I was in Santa Barbara County eating, drinking and trying to catch a few waves from an unexpected south swell. My friend and I drove out to Jalama Beach, which in addition to being a great surf spot is also home to the famous Jalama burger. The wind wasn’t working in our favor for surfing, but on the drive back we discovered the awesome new Jalama Road Family Farm Stand (look for signs along Jalama Road about one mile after the turn off of Highway 1). My friend and I had used the last of our cash for parking at the beach but offered to barter two bottles of wine for heirloom tomatoes, squash, peppers, pumpkins, homemade jams and sunflowers. The produce and artisanal goods all come from the Pata and Malloy families (that I later learned were the surf world’s legendary Malloys. The adorable packaging on the butter beans (which includes a recipe for hummus) and labels on the honey were created by Erin Pata, who also owns Butterbean Studios. The stand is open Fridays through Sundays from noon to 5:00p.m.
F&W's features intern Chelsea Morse has found a new life for her kitchen scraps:
Since starting a small backyard garden in New York City this summer, I’ve been looking for a safe and sanitary way to create a compost pile—without smells, pests or any other unpleasantness. I’ve heard about various under-counter compost systems, but they all sounded potentially messy. A friend recently suggested freezer composting, and now I’m hooked.
Each week, my husband and I fill a plastic bag with our biodegradable kitchen scraps that we then put into the freezer (the cold temperature keeps food from breaking down). We then deliver the frosty bag to the Union Square Greenmarket, where the Lower East Side Ecology Center receives food waste for composting four days a week, year-round. We don’t get to reap the benefits of all that good dirt we’re helping to create (the LESEC processes the waste and then sells the compost at the market), but we feel virtuous about the trash we’re keeping out of landfills—and the urban gardens we’re supporting.
I was in Brazil
earlier this week and fell hard for Rio de Janeiro and its feiras
, or markets
. I spent plenty of time wandering the aisles of Zona Sul
, the local supermarket chain, picking up cachaça
and cheese-filled pastries, but the best part was the farmers’ markets in Ipanema. The fishmonger's catch was incredibly fresh-smelling and beautifully displayed, with tiger-striped fish and pale pink eels. The fruit was also spilling over counters, the more exotic the better: papayas, coconuts
and my new favorite, custard apples
, which look like artichokes
but are filled with large black seeds and a white, creamy flesh. We took one home and ate it in the morning with granola
and yogurt for the perfect tropical treat. Does anyone know of any way to get them stateside?
© Michael Wall
No early tastings of Gerry Klaskala's winning grilled cheese-tomato sandwiches
Yes, there were thousands of pounds of tomatoes
this weekend at Atlanta’s Second Annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival
. Anyone who—like my 6-year-old-godson Max—thought that meant the world's best tomato-throwing contest was out of luck. (Maybe next year?) Still, there was every other conceivable kind of tomato treatment at this super fun event which had the added benefit of supporting Georgia Organics
. Kevin Gillespie
of Woodfire Grill
and Top Chef
fame made tomato ice cream sandwiches
. Steven Satterfield of Miller-Union
served an elegant tomato aspic. Five Seasons Brewing
created a super refreshing Tomato IPA. I got to judge the event! And taste all 26 dishes! Here are the food winners, with a few honorable mentions thrown in. (Tomorrow, we’ll feature the cocktail winners.)BEST TASTING: Aria’s Grilled Cheese with Roof Top Dried Tomatoes. Gerry Klaskala
made stellar grilled cheese sandwiches
using great long slices of Pullman bread and cutely-named dried tomatoes. MOST CREATIVE: JCT Kitchen & Bar’s Killer Tomato Jelly Doughnuts.
No, this didn’t sound like a good idea to me, but the doughnuts
by chef Ford Fry and his team were perfect and the bacon custard on the side was genius. BEST BOOTH: Holeman & Finch.
F&W Best New Chef 2009 Linton Hopkins
’ booth was tomatopalooza, with tomato plants in cages and 100 origami tomatoes hanging on a garland over the table.(BONUS) MY CREATIVE RUNNER UP #1: Abbatoir’s
. Hawaiian Shaved Ice with Tomato Herb Waters. They had a shaved ice machine going, and three kinds of toppings, my favorite being the sweet tomato chile. The finishing splash of Georgia moonshine did not hurt.
Here, 12 more food festivals
from around the world, including another tomato celebration (more along the lines of what Max had in mind).
As farmers' markets burst with tomatoes, blackberries, peaches, plums and nectarines, I unpack and dust off my summer preserving tools. I buy new rubber gaskets for my canning jars, cheesecloth for straining berries, and enough sugar to bury a small animal.
By far my favorite tool for preserving is the food mill. In years past, when making fruit jams or tomato sauce, I would simmer fruit, mash it, then strain it through a fine-meshed sieve—entirely too much work for me nowadays. With a food mill, though, I can combine the mashing and straining into one step. The resulting puree is silky smooth and free of skins and seeds.
In "The Primary Pantry" in our August issue, I preserve a whole bunch of summery things—beans, garlic, tomatoes, corn, chiles, herbs and berries—and recommended a food mill for preparing the tomato sauce and fruit butters.
At a recent All-Clad press event, I was super impressed by their brand-new food mill and wished it had been available when I was developing these recipes (in the dead of winter). The discs have tiny raised teeth to catch the skin and seeds as the handle is spun, allowing more of the puree to be passed through. The legs are rubberized for better stability and the knob feels great in my hands. Luckily, with summer in full swing, there’s no lack of fruit and tomatoes to pass through my new food mill. (I got a prototype, but you can get yours in just a few weeks—it lauches in early September, peak tomato and peach month!)