Sunday, October 11, 2009

Golden Tickets/100-mile Brunch

*UPDATE* did a little write up about me, click on the picture to check it out!

I have never won a thing in my life. When I played softball in 8th grade, I managed to hit the ball once all season, and somehow the ball boomeranged back, hit me on the shoulder and I literally tagged myself out. This past week my luck turned, I was the winner of Edible Manhattan's raffle for two tickets to the NYC Wine and Food Festival's Great Performances Farm to Table Table 100-mile Brunch. Did you know that 100 years ago people used to eat more oyster meat than beef? Yesterday's brunch was filled with all kinds of fun facts like this, but the best part of all was the food. Every dish tasted fresh and flavorful, and everything from the bread to the vegetables to the cheeses came from within a 100-mile radius of New York.

My sister and I walked into to the sunny room at the top of the New York Fire museum and went straight for the Widow's Hole Oysters from the North Fork. They were briny and sweet, and washed down with the unusual Un-Bloody Mary (vodka flavored with tomato consommé rather than juice) they were the perfect first taste of the meal to come. At our table bowls of Katchkie Farm pickled vegetables were calling our name, but the tangy mounds of carrots, beet and peppers didn't distract us for long. We picked up some refreshing basil infused iced tea at the juice bar and then headed over to the main buffet.

As we stood in line we sipped on sweet butternut squash soup that was so creamy and thick it was almost a puree. Although I was disappointed that it didn’t come with the homemade spiced marshmallows the menu promised, the rich, nutty flavor of the squash was delightful on its own. To my surprise the beautiful Katchkie Farm lettuces were not a centerpiece, they were actually meant to be eaten and salad mix-ins like marinated zucchini, fuchsia radishes and lentils were beautifully presented in glass cubes. This was the salad bar of champions, what most of us dream of finding at the all-too-standard New York salad bars. I am still trying to figure out how the poached eggs in the Eggs Benedict were so perfectly runny and how the Flying Pigs farm bacon stayed so crispy, despite the fact that they were at a buffet. The hollandaise was luscious without overpowering the eggs and the fluffy English muffin’s was the perfect vehicle for the leftover yolk and sauce. The fresh parsley and lemon sauce added a wonderful brightness to the flaky and tender pan seared hake and the fried cauliflower florets were amped up with the surprisingly piquant and sweet Katchkie Farm tomato jam.

And then there was the 100-mile lasagna, ah, the lasagna. It was hearty and comforting, slices of tomato, squash and eggplant, layered with just enough cheese and noodles to make it decadent but not overly rich. My sister and I spent at least twenty minutes discussing what kind of noodles were in there, but I am pretty sure we just wanted an excuse to get seconds. It all felt like a dream, a dream of creamy cheeses and fresh bread, of cracked wheat pancakes with New York maple syrup, and of zucchini bread with apple peach chutney. Like all good dreams, it eventually ended, but not before dessert. There were spiced financiers studded with poached pears, and mini peach and honey panna cottas. Big bowls of popsicles resting on bed of ice were passed around. By far my favorite dessert, the popsicles showcased the goodness of local fruits, they were sweet and juicy, with just enough texture to make me feel like I was actually eating pieces of fruit. Although we are ringing in the autumn harvest, these popsicles tasted just like summer, sweet and refreshing.

Yesterday I realized how many unique and varied ingredients are available from so nearby and now all I want to do is explore the options and create my own 100-mile menus. The truth is, food isn't and never has been a one-person experience, food brings people together, it unites families, friends and strangers alike. But eating is not what it once was; we now have a greater responsibility than we ever have, to make smarter more sustainable choices. So, I won something for the first time and all I can think about is how it is time to give something back. I know I want to do what I can to make the best choices for the environment and myself. So I encourage anyone and everyone to embark on this journey with me, like I said food brings people together. Let’s come together to bring about positive change.


Kathy K-L said...

Oh how I wish I have been there. Sounds unbelievable!!

Rose said...

Awesome! How fun! :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a blast!!!! Perhaps one day you will be able to put an event like this together on your own!!
You're on you're way to success, that's for sure!

Anonymous said...

Sounds amazing!
I love the centerpiece of apples! I might even use that idea for my upcoming wedding!