SWYF Find: Eataly NY

If you're looking for something food-related to do in New York - as if there weren't enough options already - you need to go to Eataly NY. Eataly NY is a vibrant Italian marketplace located near Madison Square Park that brings the notion of chain stores to a new level. With several locations already in Italy and Japan, Eataly is the latest venture by chefs Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich (probably the coolest lady ever - I don't know her at all, but feel like I do from her TV show and want her to somehow be my long-lost Italian relative...), her restaurateur son, Joe, and founder and creator Oscar Farinetti. It brings together all the essentials of one-stop, fresh shopping: seasonal and specialty produce (and a mushroom section that will make you drool), cheese shop, homemade and dry pastas, butcher, rotisserie, fish-monger, beer and wine, chocolate, gelato, coffee, teas and other specialty items. If snacking becomes a little too overwhelming, try any of the number of restaurants tucked into and around the marketplace. I'd recommend La Pizza and La Pasta for a quick bite.

Mushrooms @ Eataly (many from the U.S.)
The real reason why I was totally enamored with Eataly? (And, no, not because I almost walked right into Jimmy Fallon - NBD...) You can see, smell and taste that this place believes in good, REAL food. The partners of Eataly NY have teamed up with international advocacy and educational group Slow Food, which believes in "good, clean and fair food," to uphold the primary tenants of the eatery. While the crux of Eataly is, well, Italy, it sources and sells many local food products, including Ronnybrook Farm Dairy. AND a ton of the pasta, bread and pizza dough made on site is made from grains grown and milled at Wild Hive Farm in Clinton Corners, NY. If you want to do more than eat, I guess you could take classes from Lidia herself at the cooking school... amazing!

I've never been to Italy, but can only dream that the concept for the store was based on the farm and street markets there. I can tell you that having all these options under one roof reminded me of the Borough Market in London. (I was lucky enough to go to the UK last fall for a month, so before you call me an elitist or pretentious, it was the most frugal trip you can imagine. I'm defending myself for the sake of the next sentence.) If you're on a budget like me, it's a perfect place to people watch, look at interesting products and spend as much or as little as you want on food. Eataly NY will transport you, even if for only a few hours. My description doesn't do it justice - just go.

Bonus: If it's good weather, burn off some calories or take your lunch or snack with you to walk to the High Line.

**Eataly NY: 200 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10010 (entrances on 5th Avenue and 23rd Street). Market hours: 10 a.m. - 11 p.m. everyday. More contact information is available here and check the site for info. on respective restaurant hours.

Art + design meet function in Reinvent the Recipe Project

"Carrot Soup" - from Katie Shelly's "Picture Cook"
"Krispy Kale" - from Katie Shelly's "Picture Cook"
"Sweet Potato Fries" - from Katie Shelly's "Picture Cook"

These are just a few of multimedia artist Katie Shelly's pieces from her submission series, "Picture Cook," as part of GOOD's Reinvent the Recipe Project.

I would love to buy some of these images as posters or cards... Check out more from this cute series here or other clever submissions here. Vote for your favorites!

CT NOFA 2011: We're more than shovel-ready, we're shovel sharpened*

Saturday marked yet another successful and exciting CT NOFA Conference, held at Manchester Community College. The biggest difference to me from last year to this year? The number of fellow young farmers/farm enthusiasts/those afflicted with barnheart!

In all of the workshops I attended, all of the conversations I had or overheard among volunteers, vendors and participants, you could feel the optimism and fervor around the commitment to sustainable ag, the local food movement and, perhaps, just a keen interest in becoming more self-sufficient. "Radical Homemakers" author Shannon Hayes definitely drove this point home in the keynote address. She stressed that the so-called "parallel universe" so often attributed to a lifestyle that is less dependent on consumerism is a truly viable and indeed provides more security than mainstream (however you want to define this) connotations of success, economic means and self-worth.

This enthusiasm was further cemented with a screening of the inspiring documentary, "The Greenhorns," which follows young farmers - or greenhorns - throughout the country.  Life for these farmers is challenging, messy and full of economic uncertainty according to outsiders, but the greenhorns love their jobs and their lifestyle. Beyond the documentary, The Greenhorns is a movement and network of hopeful, young and farm-lovin' people who are ready stake a claim in land, grow some food, build community and encourage change. (*Thus the paraphrased tagline of The Greenhorns movement for this blog post). I really, really, really encourage you to see the documentary and/or hold a screening at your home, university or other venue. And, The Greenhorns site itself contains a wealth of information and other fun things for aspiring farmers and growers, including an awesome guidebook, maps of current projects, events and much, much more.

I can't stress enough how important it is for us to take back our food system, and, in doing so, invite others to become a part of it, learn, share and grow together. It's possible and it's already being done; this mindset is certainly growing. The Greenhorns, NOFA and organizations of the like already provide resources for like-minded and equally curious individuals in how to grow food and community. It's up to us to seek out these tools and band together.**

**Interested in knowing more about food? Check out the new "Calendar" feature on the site. If you have any additions, e-mail me.

SWYF Finds: Titles to add to your book/cook shelves

Image from Vegetarian Times store

Healing Foods Cookbook, a special by Vegetarian Times: I think the months of February and March are the dreariest weather-wise, and perhaps the most boring, colorless ones on the local food front. You've probably started to tap into your canned goods, and potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables are losing their appeal. At least, these were my thoughts until I came across the Healing Foods Cookbook, a special issue of Vegetarian Times*. It has amazing, healthful recipes that make you want to get into your kitchen and cook. There's a list of "25 Foods You Need" - including the lesser known adzuki beans, buckweat, chamomile, chia seeds - with mouthwatering recipes to accompany each one. Also in the issue: heart-healthy soups, hearty root vegetable dishes and an entire gluten-free section. I would argue that this issue should be a staple in any vegetarian kitchen, for anyone wanting to begin, maintain or continue a healthy lifestyle, or for those who want to build and expand their veg repertoire with versatile recipes. *Note: This is only on stands until March 7, so go to your local bookstore, or get it here!

Image from Storey Publishing
Put 'em Up! (Storey Publishing, 2010) by Sheri Brooks Vinton: Never has canning and food preservation been so cool, kitschy and practical. Released in 2010, Put 'em Up! offers up tips and techniques to beginning and experienced canners, or those interested in learning about food preserving. Vinton mixes classic preserved recipes with lesser known ones. As I was reading it, I became so excited for new projects - and summer foods - for the upcoming year. Other reasons to get Put 'em Up!? It's so fun to look at! The detailed illustrations and beautiful images of canned goods (I have a little obsession with mason jars) with enlarged, handwritten tags. Vinton's commentary is also extremely thoughtful and approachable, which will put new food preserves at ease. Put 'em Up! is a great resource for anyone interested in becoming more self-sufficient - and adventurous - in their approach to food and in the kitchen. And, according to her Web site, Vinton is "working on two more Put ‘em Up!  books which will offer more tips, tricks and recipes for 'preserving local agriculture.'"

Image from Chronicle Books
Farm Together Now: A Portrait of People, Places, and Ideas for a New Food Movement (Chronicle Books, 2010) by Amy Franceschini and Daniel Tucker: This book reaffirmed my love of farming, working in the dirt and affections for the people of whom I've had the great fortune to meet during the last few years. Franceschini and Tucker profile amazing individuals and organizations who live and breathe good food and the desire to expand the enthusiasm behind the "new food" movement. Anyone who accuses this movement of being elitist needs to read the book. The authors went coast-to-coast to research and interview farmers, community organizers and agricultural groups from a broad range of political, economic and social backgrounds. Thanks to Franceschini, Tucker, contributors and the farmers who were profiled for this inspiring, hopeful and on-going literary gift.