Oh hello there! It’s been a while. I was away in the land of the ski mountains (Salt Lake City, to be exact) for work + play for about a week.
Traveling back east on the same day as Daylight Savings Time wreaked havoc on my internal clock and it took me a while to recover. It was also disorienting to return to colder temperatures back on the east coast than I had surrounded by snow in Utah! But spring will arrive eventually, I think, and in the meantime, I’ve had a few gastronomic adventures worth sharing.
For starters, the fabled Blue Hill restaurant is hosting an incredibly unique pop-up installation this month that I obviously had to try the moment I heard about it. It’s called wastED, and it’s a collaboration between the restaurant and their many supply chain partners to draw attention to the food that’s wasted or discarded along the way from farm to fork. All of the dishes were made entirely out of food that doesn’t ever get consumed — and they were delicious, not to mention beautifully and creatively presented. (And from a frugal viewpoint, each menu item was $15; a far cry from Blue Hill’s standard $85 tasting menu.) We knew we were in for a treat when the menu came with a glossary full of terminology describing the components of an animal/vegetable/food processing endeavor that doesn’t typically make its way to the consumer. And things just got even more interesting when our waiter brought over a starter of bread — made from beer/hops mash left over from the beer making process — and then picked up our candle and poured liquid from it into a dipping bowl. That just happened to be beef tallow, an animal fat byproduct that gets thrown away during processing, but which in our case lit our table and made for a delicious olive oil alternative for our bread.
The entire night was like that: clever, quirky, and pleasing to the palate. Apparently chef Dan Barber noted that his most exciting takeaway from assembling this project was that every single supplier he approached about the concept was thrilled to participate. They all fully recognize that they’re throwing away good food, but it makes more fiscal sense for them to do that than to market it. Pretty insane. This venture is clearly the path of most resistance along our existing supply chain, and must have been a major undertaking, but who knows? Maybe this time next year all the trendy restaurants will be serving pasta trimmings! (Pasta trimmings: the leftover pieces of from-scratch pasta dough after it is cut into straight ribbons.)
Later that same week I had the pleasure of accompanying a friend as her +1 to Edible Manhattan’s first ever Good Cider tasting event. The combination of cider, gourmet bites, and fantastic views made for a fabulous evening.
She was doing social media for the event (hooray for culinary friends who make pricey events like this accessible for a frugal foodie), and I was happy to tag along and taste away to my heart’s content. Judging by the dozens of cideries in attendance, a number of which said they had only just started producing cider within the last few years (particularly the case with already established wineries that were adding this to their production resume), cider is the it drink right now. I’m partial to pretty dry, champagne-like ciders, and those were out in full force that night. The other trends we noticed were bourbon-barrel ciders, rose ciders (made in one case by adding cherries to the mix, but I think largely made by leaving some skins in during the fermentation process), and ciders made from apples collected from old, long-unused or maintained orchards. I’m also known to judge a book (bottle) by its cover (label), and was impressed with the many beautiful logos and bottle designs. Check out the curvaceous Hazlitt’s bottle!
In between the beverages, we had some nibbles of small plates from a few restaurants promoting their menus, including a newly opened cider-focused restaurant in the Lower East Side called Wassail. I could have stayed by the Gramercy Tavern table and their amazing pork bites all night…
What a fun couple of experiences! Fortunately for me, these kinds of things happen in NYC pretty much on a daily basis.