From micro breweries in Brooklyn to beekeepers (including on the roof of the Waldorf Astoria) and urban farmers in Harlem not to forget butchers and fishmongers, New York City is buzzing with food and drink producers.
With Eat the CityA Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers and Brewers (Crown, July 10, 2012) Robin Shulman tells us parallel stories of today's players and New York's rich past feeding and quenching the thirst of its residents.
She took the time to answer a few questions.
Q: Robin, did idea of 'Eat the City' germinate in your head from the get go as combination of past and present in your narrative of food in New York City history?
From the time I started writing, I knew I wanted to tell the stories of the distant and recent past to show how we got to the present, and so I researched both present and past. Very little of what is happening today is actually new.
Q: Do you see a continuity in what is grown, produced, caught in New York now and what was as far back as 16th-17th century?
Certain aspects of the city’s ability to produce food are decided by geography. New York is a city of islands, so fishing and processing goods that come in through the port—such as sugar, coffee—are obvious ways of producing food. The climate and soil of the city are amenable to producing all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Immigrants have continually come to this place from many other places, and brought with them their own techniques and traditions for producing wine and beer and meat and every other food imaginable. So in surprising ways, there is continuity. That’s what I try to show in the book.
Q: What has been added to the mix in our 21st century?
Recently, I think, people have been making a more self-conscious attempt to create neighborhood-based, handcrafted foods. It’s something that used to exist in the city but is coming back in a new way.
Q: Besides 'Willie' and his vegetable gardens in Harlem, have other strong figures put their stamp on the city's food map?
Yes, I write about many of them!
Q: How does Tom Mylan manages beer and gin while teaching 'Dating with Butchery' classes at The Meat Hook?
You know, I never attended that class, so I don’t know.
Q: Is story on immigrant butchers from old Fourth Street Market tale of 'slaughterhouse in France that required apprentice to drink warm blood of first lamb he killed' true?
That’s his story, yes. It wasn’t possible for me to confirm this with the slaughterhouse where he was employed in the ‘40s, but other butchers talk about similar rituals.
Q: Is Beekeeping as much a therapy, a way to stay grounded for Andrew Cote as it is a way to make a living?
Other beekeepers mention tending hives as a way to stay grounded, but Andrew, a fourth-generation beekeeper, did not.
Q: Do you think cities like Newark or Camden would benefit from vacant lots being turned into vegetable gardens?
Those cities are already turning some vacant lots into vegetable gardens—as are cities across the country with vacant space.
Q: Are oyster eaters of today shocked when they learn that in 1800's oyster houses advertised all you can eat for six cents oysters named Jamaicas, Amboys and Rockaways?
Q: How powerful were the German beer barons that you portray in the book?
They were really at the center of neighborhood life. They were some of the biggest employers and owners of real estate. They were often involved in politics. Jacob Ruppert, one of the subjects of my beer chapter, became a congressman and also owned the New York Yankees, and his family also partnered in a half-dozen other semi-industrial concerns, and many local saloons.
Q: Can historical sights such as beer halls of past centuries still be seen around NY?
Yes, and there are still old breweries, especially in the old German neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Bushwick.
Q: Is anyone offering walking tours of the hotspots you feature in the book?
Several different tour groups offer historical brewery tours of the city. But for most of the other foods, not that I know of—not yet!
I hope this fascinating book wets your appetite for New York edible treats.
The short Eat the City trailer video (above) puts a face on some of the people featured in the book.
It took an e-mail this morning from someone in France informing me that they were off until next Monday to remind me that August 15 is a holiday in France.
August 15 originally marks the assumption of Mary. The August 15 week-end and week has turned into one of the busiest times for travel during the summer season.
Catholic processions take place as France.fr site notes:
"In Paris, on 14 August, Catholics organise a river procession on the Seine around the Islands of Saint-Louis and the Cité. The Festival in honour of Mary in Puy-en-Velay and the international procession in Notre-Dame du Puy are also famous."
This holiday probably means that I will not hear from many people I plan to see or visit during my 2 weeks visit there until Monday.
It also shows that after 20 years in the U.S some holidays have fallen off my radar.
(* image of 'Assumption of Mary' procession from France.fr site)
While looking for tax rebates offered for purchases of hybrid, plug in-hybrid and other energy efficient vehicles, i discovered fueleconomy.gov from U.S department of Energy.
Besides tax rebate issues, the site allows you prior to purchasing a vehicle to compare up to 3 different cars side by side on fuel efficiency.
Going on a summer holiday trip, you can see your own vehicle fuel efficiency as well as how many gallons you will use and what the cost will be thanks to My Trip Calculator option of the site which also gives you distance involved, time it will take and driving directions.
I tried it with Verona (NJ) as departure and Washington D.C as destination.
Results: My small Nissan Versa is listed at 29 MPG which means that I would use 7.9 Gallons of Regular Gas at estimated $3.72 per gallon for a final cost (each way) of $29.53.
Distance of 230.2 miles would be covered in 3 hours and 42 minutes.
If you have 2 (or more) vehicles in your home, it might be worth checking them side by side as this option is offered and you will know what's best ride.
New Energy Efficiency Labels as one above coming to dealers lots with 2013 models should also help us while car shopping.
Life's a gas, could be an hybrid for Green Day # 236
Some bartenders tend to frown when you order a Mojito and any other drink that involves muddling fruit or garnishes.
No mixologist needed here for this first receipe i am happy to share from Foolproof Freezer Cookbook (Kyle Books, USA edition, August 2012) by Ghillie James.
What can I say—it’s my favorite drink and now I’ve made it into a dessert!
Don’t be tempted to add more alcohol, as it will take forever to freeze (or, depending on how much you’ve added, it won’t freeze at all!)
Makes 23/4 cups (enough for 4)
zest and juice of 8 to 10 limes (you need 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons lime juice)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white superfine sugar
juice of 1 large lemon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon white rum
15 large young mint leaves, very finely chopped
In a saucepan, place the lime zest and sugar with 2/3 cup water and heat gently until dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, juice the limes and lemon and pour into a pitcher. Add the sugar syrup, rum, and mint and stir.
Pour into a 1-quart container (a tall container is best if you have one; you can then just insert a hand blender to blend it halfway through) and freeze for 4 to 5 hours, or until semi-frozen. Beat with a hand blender or a fork to break up the ice crystals. Return to the freezer. If possible, beat it again—the more you do, the finer the sherbet will be. Freeze the sherbet again until frozen.
Remove the sherbet from the freezer just before you want to use it and serve in little glasses, topped with some extra mint.
(* Recipe from Foolproof Freezer Cookbook by Ghillie James-Kyle Books, US Edition, August 2012-reproduced with permission- Photography by Tara Fisher)
Note: Oily fish like mackerel and sardines are delicious with hot spices. Try them with harissa or curry paste, which cut through the richness of the flesh. Whole fish cook well on the grill (barbecue), but there are a few tricks to getting the best result. See page 13 for more information about cooking fish.
6 small or 3 large fresh mackerel—ask your fish supplier to clean (gut) them and to remove the heads
1 tbsp harissa paste
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
3 large or 6 small oranges
11 oz (300 g) radishes
1 red onion
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the fish under cold running water to remove any blood, then dry with paper towels. Slash the flesh 3-4 times on each side for small fish or 5 times for large fish.
Mix the harissa paste, 1 tablespoon of oil and plenty of salt and pepper, then rub this all over the fish. Marinate in the fridge for a few minutes (or up to 3 hours), while you make the salad.*
Cut the top and bottom from each orange, then, using a serrated knife, cut away the skin and pith. Take care to follow the line of the orange flesh, so that you don’t trim too much of it. Cut into thin slices.
Thinly slice the radishes and the red onion. Toss in a serving dish with the oranges, vinegar, and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Before you begin cooking, check that your charcoal is glowing white hot, or your gas grill (barbecue) is preheated to 400ºF (200ºC). Use a heat-resistant brush to oil the grill rack, then cook small fish for 3 minutes or large fish for 5-6 minutes on each side, until charred and cooked through. If your grill has a lid, then you can use it here. Test with a knife—the flesh at the backbone should flake easily. Toss the parsley leaves through the salad, then serve with the fish.**
*About harissa—This feisty paste of dried red chiles, garlic, and spices is originally from Tunisia, but can be found in specialty markets and some supermarkets. As an alternative, stir 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 crushed garlic clove, and ½ teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander into 1 tablespoon chili paste or sauce.
**Cooking fish on the grill—Inevitably, some fish skin will stick to the grate. Oiling helps, but if you plan to cook a lot of fish it makes sense to invest in a grill basket for fish—a wire cage with handles that sandwiches around the fish and can be turned easily. Oil this too. Alternatively, heat a grill pan (griddle) on the grill. That way the fish flavor won’t be transferred to the grate beneath.
If it rains—Preheat the broiler (grill) and cook the fish on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, turning carefully once.
(* Recipe reproduced with permission from publisher, excerpted from Fresh and Easy by Jane Hornby - Phaidon Press, Spring 2012- Photographs by Stephen Joyce, Illustrations by Emily Robertson)
This is my basic braise, because it is laughably quick and easy. You can cook vegetables for serving with a few minutes of extra work, but if you’re lazy or pressed for time (or both), you can just cook the beef in the pressure cooker and prepare a side dish separately.
2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1¼ lb braising beef in four pieces
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated but unpeeled
2 carrots, quartered
2 celery ribs, quartered
8 oz smallish potatoes, unpeeled and halved
2 teaspoons flour
2 teaspoons brandy
14 oz canned chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mixed herbs,such as herbes de Provence
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour in enough vegetable oil to generously film the base of the pressure cooker, and heat to medium-high.
Brown the beef all over, for just a couple of minutes per side, to get some color into it. You will have to do this in at least two batches.
Pour off the excess oil from the pan and turn the heat down to low. Add 1 tablespoon fresh oil. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Stir briskly, scraping the base of the pan to dislodge the browning residue, then add the flour and stir well until it begins to take on a little color. Stir in the brandy and let it sizzle for a moment.
Put the beef back in, turn the heat up to high, and dump in the tomatoes, vinegar, herbs, wine, and seasoning.
Clamp on the lid. Bring up to full pressure, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the steam vent gradually.
The braising liquid can be reduced if you wish, in order to concentrate its flavor. Remove all the solid ingredients and simmer the liquid briskly for 5 minutes or so, then return the meat and vegetables to the pan and reheat quickly.
Note: the carrots and celery shouldn’t be served, as they are included to give flavor and will have cooked to extreme mushiness. If you want to have edible vegetables in the stew, cut up an extra pair of celery sticks and carrots. Cook the beef and vegetables for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and vent immediately. Put the additional celery and carrots in. Clamp on the lid.
Bring up to full pressure, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Discard the long-cooked vegetables before serving.
(* Recipe from '80 Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker' by Richard Ehrlich, Kyle Books-May 2012, Photography by Will Heap, shared with permission of publisher)
After showing the sweet side of I Love Corn (Andrews McMeel Publishing, June 2012) by Lisa Skye with Peach Rhubarb Corn Cakes recipe, here's something to cool off on a hot summer day courtesy of Guillaume Thivet, executive chef at Cadaques in Brooklyn.
Fresh Corn Gazpacho
Executive chef Guillaume Thivet | Cadaques Brooklyn, NY
Summer is my favorite season. I was born in the southwest of France, and we get a lot of influence from Spain, spicewise. I remember eating gazpacho like people eat bread in France. One day I decided to elevate my standards and create this unique gazpacho. Everything about it reminds me of my home. The flavors are unexpected. The jalapeños make it spicy, but the creaminess of the corn gives it a nuttiness, which makes for a fantastic combination. It has an intense flavor from the corn but is still a refreshing, light, summery cold soup. I suggest eating it with a thick slice of grilled country bread rubbed with garlic and brushed with olive oil.
2 small ears corn, unhusked
1 medium-size tomato, seeded and chopped (preferably Jersey fresh)
3 cups tomato juice
1 large unpeeled cucumber, diced
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves, for garnish
• Preheat the grill to 325°F.
• Grill the ears of corn with the husks on for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the husks are burned, turning every 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the ears from the grill and let them cool.
• Remove and discard the husks and then slice the kernels from the cobs. Measure 1 cup and either discard the rest or set it aside for another use.
• Combine all the ingredients, except the basil, in a large bowl and stir until mixed together. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Author Note: This recipe is great to make a day in advance, so the flavors have more time to meld together.
(* Recipe from I Love Corn by Lisa Skye/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC-June 2012, all rights reserved)