Happy belated Independence Day! I enjoyed a staycation here in town over the long weekend, and explored new restaurants, gardens, and rooftops.
Yes, New York can be smelly, sticky, and disgustingly hot in the summer, but I still love it. Maybe it’s partly because I moved here at the start of summer a few years ago, so I’ll always equate this season with the excitement of exploring my new home, but the main reason is being able to utilize the city’s outdoor amenities. In the spirit of capitalizing on my favorite time of year in New York, here are my summer food resolutions:
1. Shop at the farmers market.
This one is a no-brainer. Despite my admittedly small purchasing power, I want my dollars to have as much impact as possible. To give you a sense of scale, at the family farm where I apprenticed shortly after college, 40% of the gross revenue came from sales at a single farmers market just outside of DC, in Takoma Park, MD. That market ran on Sundays from sometime in April until almost Thanksgiving, which meant that the family (and their farm interns) relied on approximately 28 days out of the year (based on 4 Sundays a month, multiplied by 7 months) to make almost half of their income. Those dollars really do add up.
Luckily, on any given day there are literally dozens of open NYC Greenmarket farmers markets across the city. The market near my apartment is on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the one outside of my office is on Tuesdays, and one just a few blocks up from my office is on Thursdays. I’d say I’m pretty well covered.
This one builds off resolution #1, because almost all of the Greenmarkets accept food and textile scraps. I was pretty good about this last market season, but am aiming for 100% composting of my food waste this summer.
3. Explore the city’s gardens.
New Yorkers can do amazing things with tiny amounts of square footage, whether it’s on rooftops, or nestled in between two buildings, or in former industrial spaces. In just the past few days alone, I’ve eaten raspberries and strawberries from public gardens (not the ones with plots that individuals rent and tend, promise!); picked mint (I purposefully picked the stuff that was growing from between the cracks in the garden path — I was basically doing them a favor by weeding) and used it to make a garden-to-rooftop (because farm to table is so passe) simple syrup for the 4th of July gathering I attended; and appreciated – from a healthy distance – an urban beehive.
In order to get to my running path along the Hudson, I have to cross the West Side Highway, and what feels like 9 out of 10 times I get stuck waiting for the light to change. Every single time I’m waiting I notice the lamb’s quarter bushes growing like, well, weeds along the side of the highway. We used to forage for that edible weed regularly on the farm — it has a delicious slightly nutty flavor and is perfect in a frittata or mixed in with other salad greens. I’m not sure that I especially want to harvest the exhaust-covered lamb’s quarters from along the West Side Highway but I’m sure it’s easy to find elsewhere. I think there are some organized foraging walks through Central Park… who wants to sign up with me?
Update as of 7/14/15: Mark Bittman and I are on the same foraging page! Great minds… 🙂
5. Dine al fresco as much as possible.
I can’t believe I haven’t yet picnicked in Central Park this summer! Evenings have had a way of vanishing lately, unfortunately, but I’m certainly aiming to eat outside during lunch every possible day. There’s a beautifully maintained courtyard at my work where the grass is practically snipped by hand, and I love coming outside and seeing people napping, eating in big groups, and otherwise lounging. I also have what feels like my very own secret garden about ten minutes away from the office that is truly magical.
It’s obviously well worth the walk. What a restorative place.
I wish you many fresh fruits and veggies this summer, and a beautiful outdoor spot in which to enjoy them!