Living in the city, it can be difficult for urban dwellers to be in touch with the origins of their food and beverages. Of course, there are many restaurants with exquisitely-prepared dishes inspired by cuisines all over the world, as well as a plethora of grocery stores that offer us more consumer options than we could ever imagine. However, there still exists a lack of connection from the original agricultural process that goes into the ultimate finished product.
While New York City may be far from an agrarian utopia, there are still many farmers markets open to the public that can provide some form of insight into the food and its original farming process. The Union Square Greenmarket is a fine example of one. This Greenmarket operates on the north and west sides of Union Square Park, and is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. There are many different vendors set up around Union Square Greenmarket, and they sell anything from organic red garlic to sheep’s milk soap to lemon catnip plants. One can visit this market for a simple stroll and casual observation session of the people and products, or to sample different foods and speak with the vendors about the farms where the food originates and what to do with it.
Alex Elman Wines, first released in 2011 and now available in New York, offers “correctly made, honest, authentic, and organic wines that are approachable and affordable to the American consumer.” The wines are exceptional. They are selected based on easy drinkability, are easily paired with food, represent the lesser-known wine producing regions of the world, and most importantly, they’re made without harming our environment. The woman behind the wine is just as exceptional and awe-inspiring as the wines her brand offers to consumers.
Eldridge Street, on the Lower East Side, has changed yet remained mainly the same for as long as many of the longtime residents can remember. The neighborhood is mainly comprised of Chinese and Dominican families, combined Chinese and Spanish grocers, and underground nightclubs that only locals can spot. Slowly, with the opening of a few art galleries and other day-businesses the neighborhood has begun to change. Nestled among residential buildings on Eldridge Street between Delancey and Broome is the small specialty bakery, Panade Puffs & Pastries and we mean SMALL—the bakery is a whopping 250-square feet.
So much controversy lies in foie gras production. Some say it is inhumane, the way the animal is force fed until their livers fatten up to produce the meat-like butter, while others say “yum.”
Foie Gras production began in ancient times when the Egyptians realized that geese overfed themselves and their liver became very tender, with a melt in your mouth feel to it. They began force feeding these animals with balls of grain. By the time production moved to the New World in the 20th century, the process became more industrialized where they used metal tubes and they were kept in more crowded cages.
Cynthia Jorge, marketing director of one of NYC’s top steakhouses, is an inspiration to all women trying to make it in a male-dominant field. She grew up working in the hospitality industry since she was 15 years old; holding jobs as a hostess, cocktail waitress, coat check and bartender. She attended Boston University and received a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. Cynthia began her career at a PR firm that focused in hospitality. She learned fast and was quickly on the way to the top.
“Fortunately, because I’m a people person, my clients absolutely loved me,” said Jorge. “PR, on the other hand, wasn’t really my forte, because it was too much office time and not enough face time.”
Chef Robbie Wilson knows how to fuse.
His renowned cuisine is recognized as being both globally-influenced and elegantly understated. A born and bred Texan, the toque likely attributes his willingness to combine diverse ingredients (think Philly Steak Eggroll with Cheez Whiz and Fritto Pie with Waygu Beef) to his impressive and well-traveled resume. Having manned the line at some of the world's most highly praised restaurants (including Maison Trois-Gras, Craft, the French Laundry and Matsuhisa), Wilson has recently moved to Nashville to work as Culinary Director of the acclaimed M Street Entertainment Group (Virago, Whiskey Kitchen, Tavern, Kayne Prime).
Matt Marks knows how important coffee is to everyone, and he’s striving to roast and serve the best there is. The co-owner/partner of Forty Weight Coffee Roasters and Forty Weight Cafe describes coffee as his dream and something he believes in. The pride he and co-owner Andrew Ballard have in their product is present everywhere in this young company.
Forty Weight Coffee is available at stores across New York, and at Forty Weight Cafe in Park Slope. It can also be purchased on the Forty Weight website.
We had the opportunity to talk to Matt about his business. Here's what he had to say about being a true coffee connoisseur!
How did Forty Weight Cafe get started?
Forty Weight Cafe is the flagship of parent company Forty Weight Coffee Roasters, which was my best friend and roastmaster, Andrew Ballard's dream come to fruition. Andrew and I became co-owners/partners in 2010. His expertise and our dedication to artisanal roasting is evident in every cup we serve and every bag we sell.
Discussions about the cafe started in March, 2011 and we finally opened in November. It was a long and windy road indeed.
What’s your role at the cafe?
As owner and general manager I am responsible for virtually everything. From selecting and ordering coffee and espresso to purchasing new springs for our port-a-filters, I have my hands and head constantly full.
What are some challenges you face in the coffee market?
Once you get to the upper echelon of the specialty coffee world with the likes of Stumptpown, Counter Culture, Intelligista, and Handsome Coffee Roasters, it's a real challenge to stand out in a group that is doing such amazing things. These companies have a lot more resources than we do, which they wisely focus on marketing and shine. Once you get to a certain level in specialty coffee, everybody is producing amazing stuff. With everybody producing amazing stuff, marketing and shine can go a long way in getting your coffee into a customers hands. I mean I'm not complaining, good on these companies for acquiring the dollars to do this, but this is probably the biggest challenge our poor little grassroots company faces.
In the heart of the West Village on a curved street off Seventh Avenue, Commerce Restaurant serves their famous dishes for two, “too infamous for the hips” coconut layer cake and classic cocktails to guests in their speakeasy-esque location. They also don’t take their guests' cash.
The decision to only accept credit and debit cards was made in June 2009 by the owner, Tony Zazula, who was inspired by an American Airlines flight.
“They had just announced that it was the introduction to their cashless cabin. I thought ‘how smart,’ and we were doing 85 to 90 percent of our business in credit cards, in any case,” Zazula explained to us. “We seemed to be spending a great deal of time on the remaining 10 to 15 percent that was being paid by cash. Accounting, record keeping, security and convenience were the main reasons that we made this decision.”
Now that winter has come and gone, and the warm weather approaches, it is now time to start exploring where to shop for your local produce. Forget about the supermarket, why settle for the not-as-fresh ingredients?
It is no news that farmer's market have increased in popularity throughout the last decade. New York now is ranked number 2 in the country for having the most farmer's markets; we now have over 500 markets throughout the entire state.
For farmers, it is a great opportunity to get themselves out there and market their fresh produce in the community they sell to. It also helps them raise their reputation and gain popularity. For the customer, it allows them to purchase seasonal items of quality. Here are the latest New York farmer's markets coming to a neighborhood near you!
Frank Bruni, ex-critic for the New York Times, announced that he has gout on his blog yesterday.
Gout is a kind of arthritis that happens when uric acid accumulates in the blood and eventually causes joint inflammation. The Symptoms are painful and men are more prone to get it than woman.
In his blog post today, that was beautifully written, Frank Bruni shared his story which you can read by clicking here. Frank Bruni is not the only food writer to be diagnosed with Gout. Back in 2009, Josh Ozersky also discovered that he suffered from this chronic condition. Gout, can be managed by eating healthy, controlling weight and getting proper nutrients.