HOLTON FARMS • Grocery Stores Are Dead To Me

Holton Farms CSA mapOliver the doorstop in my new homeHOLTON FARMS Family-owned farm run by eighth generation farmers who offer New Yorkers produce from the source. Buy from their roving farm truck or get first pick through a customizable CSA Select program.

I moved apartments last week – with Jason and all the furniture that came with him. It’s not easy to pick up and peace out when you’re trying to relocate with a bed and KitchenAid, though. Somehow, we managed and I only threatened to break up with him once.

The new Midtown apartment has a kitchen with a window – Think: Stupidly Simple Snacks with sunlight – and twice as much space! But it doesn’t feel like home yet. Admittedly, Midtown caters to commuters, tourists, and office workers, which is as far from that traditional neighborhood feel as you can get. There are few grocery stores and the closest market isn’t affordable by any standard. Oddly enough, however, there are three 99 cent pizza places within a two-block radius. So, to counter my Midtown blues and inevitable pizza addiction, I decided to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) to support a farm and bring fresh greens to me.

•  •  •  •

I randomly spotted Holton Farms massive white farm truck vending vegetables by Union Square last week. I loved that I’d just learned about them on Twitter and there they were! Like a food truck, but with fresh produce. To my happy surprise, I came home to find an email from Holton Farms offering Amy Blogs Chow readers a 5% discount on their CSA program. Top secret code: HFAMY.

That’s the story of how I moved into a new apartment and joined a CSA. I haven’t placed my first order yet, but their FreshDirect-like online ordering screen looks pretty nifty. Now, all I have to do is learn to cook everything… amy june 1, 2010

Follow @holtonfarms on Twitter.

Photos: (counter-clockwise) Holton Farms CSA Select Drop-Off Locations / My pig and a view of the Chrysler Building from window of new apartment / a zucchini photo from Holton Farms on Facebook

May 31, 2010. Tags: , , , . Healthy, specials for abc readers. 3 comments.

A TINY ICE CREAM SANDWICH STORY

Ice Macaron J' Chanceux Macaron square by Amy CaoIce Macaron Story by Amy Cao on TastingTable.com
J’ Chanceux Macaron 202a mott st, nyc, 718 916 5119

I RECENTLY BEGAN WRITING FOR TASTING TABLE, a beautifully-designed daily email that delivers the best of food and drink culture to adventurous eaters everywhere. (Free to subscribe here.) My first write-up, on ice macaron by J’Chanceux Macaron in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood, went up last week while I was traveling and eating through western New York for my next story. I suppose it’s safe to say a writer-blogger’s work is never done, but I wouldn’t wish to have it any other way.

Read my ice macaron piece on Tasting Table. You can also click on the right-hand image to enlarge. Cute, huh?

Happy Monday, Everyone! amy may 11, 2009

May 17, 2010. Tags: , , . Dessert, Nolita, Tasting Table. 5 comments.

ABC on CNN • Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

Green Pirate Juice Truck owner Deborah Smith and lemonade
“ALL YOU NEED IS A GIMMICK IN THIS WORLD,” I heard a security guard say rather cynically in Times Square the other day. He was commenting on Matt, a self-described 32-year-old deadbeat from Connecticut, who had been invited to perform his signature dance move in Times Square to launch YourSingapore.com‘s new tourism campaign. Don’t know Matt? He’s a YouTube sensation. You know, that guy who gets paid to travel the world and dance ridiculously.

•  •  •  •

Yesterday, CNN featured Amy Blogs Chow in an article called Food 101: Seeking Clues In The Kitchen, to remark on the alarming prevalence of 20- and 30-somethings who don’t know how to cook.

•  •  •  •

With the flood of attention food bloggers have garnered lately, I find that some themes repeat. First, as far as your mom’s concerned, the blood of Gourmet will forever be on our hands. And, to many above the age of 40, we’re raging exhibitionists who are incurably narcissistic. New York Times recently examined the amateur food photography phenomena in First Camera, Then Fork, which made an example of bloggers, like Nora Sherman, who compulsively point-and-shoot their meal before eating it. Whichever way it’s sliced, food bloggers’ desire to break bread virtually has emerged in the mainstream, but not always in a positive light. After all, I didn’t set out to be known for what I can’t do, like cook.

But what the likes of food blogs, cooking shows, Jamie Oliver, Michelle Obama, Amy Blogs Chow and Stupidly Simple Snacks try to show is you can turn lemons into lemonade. Food bloggers make celebratory meals out of breakfast! Whether we’re newsworthy, however, depends on the writers who report on us. I can empathize with experts who bemoan the rising popularity of amateurs. For those who went to lemonade making school or own industrial juicers, my creations might be too pulpy, too sour, too sweet. They’re not perfect, but I’m learning. amy may 11, 2010

Photo: Green Pirate Juice Truck owner Deborah Smith photographing the lemonade she just made for our GP lemonade snack video.


May 11, 2010. Tags: , , . random. 1 comment.

THE BORGATA • Gamble Lounge Eat Repeat

The Borgata Water Club SunroomGypsy Bar at the BorgataMichael Mina Seablue, The BorgataSmoked Salmon Pizza at Wolfgang Puck

THE WATER CLUB AT BORGATA atlantic city, new jersey, 800 800 8817 click here for reservations

I CAN COUNT THE NUMBER OF TIMES I’VE BEEN IN A CASINO ON ONE HAND and, still, I’d only need two fingers. When I was twelve, I spent a weekend wandering Foxwoods with my mom and sister while waiting for my dad to beat his opponent in a chess tournament that’s hosted annually there. I was too young to gamble then, but even now I’m not inclined to. So what does a non-gambling, non-clubbing, and non-chess playing twentysomething do in a casino?

In March, the Borgata invited eight bloggers, including myself, to experience their Water Club hotel and fine dining restaurants in Atlantic City. In 48 hours I learned 1) eating is always an option. 2) lounging at one of Water Club‘s five picture perfect pools is too. And 3) Conan and Seinfeld will entertain you.

•  •  •  •

To the delight of my insatiable sweet tooth, we were invited behind-the-scenes of Borgata‘s pastry kitchen where former White House pastry chef Thaddeus Dubois chatted about George W. Bush’s love of pie. Chef Dubois also showed us how to make a chocolate bunny:

Izakaya at the BorgataIzakaya scallophttp://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/pNsgRsqKg-0&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0

The weekend focused on visiting and tasting dishes from each of Borgata‘s six name restaurants. Saturday began in the Water Club‘s Sunroom with a shot of blueberry mint Greek yogurt smoothie and a bite-sized tower of smoked salmon. It was then I decided smoked salmon is my new favorite food. This conviction was bolstered by smoked salmon with creme fraiche pizza at Wolfgang Puck American Grille where Executive Chef Aram Mardigian stretched and kneaded pizza dough before our eyes as we scooped Parmesan flatbread and pizza slices into our mouths.

I knew I’d never make it through the day if I didn’t pace myself, so I sampled everything, but devoured nothing. I helped myself to second bites of dishes I liked, but declined to clean my plate when it came to overly well-done filet mignon at Bobby Flay. But where Bobby falls short on steak – at least on that particular day – he compensates with a dramatic lobster bar and lounge area designed to accommodate large parties and facilitate “chance encounters” should that be what you’re looking for.

After our steak stop at Bobby Flay, we headed next door to SeaBlue where executive chef Anthony Amoroso modestly downplayed his Iron Chef triumph over Morimoto. “I was lucky to get an ingredient I was comfortable working with (branzino, a Mediterranean sea bass),” he said. I turned my focus on the trio of Seablue signatures before me: tuna tartare, pillowy lobster corn dog, and a kind of caviar parfait. Like Bobby Flay, where showy design elements trumped taste, SeaBlue‘s clubby, electric blue-and-lavender bar area, where we sat, is a little distracting. Then again, you would probably reserve a table in the main room, which is set apart from the bar, for dining.

Amoroso puts palates at ease with food to please everybody: shareable platters, “tasting trios”, red meat, and pot pies, in addition to the bivalves and crustaceans you’d expect to find. I like the idea of having a girl’s night out here. But, in practice, it’d be hard to hear you over the din on a Saturday night and a place called SeaBlue ought to be less cave-like; more open air.

The last restaurant stop, Izakaya, introduced live scallop (pictured left), chewy fluke usuzukuri, braised oxtail gyoza, and sweet Nigori sake into my life. At this point, I figured my stomach was filled with enough food to last a week, but when my fellow food blogger – raw fish-adverse Eric Smith of Geekadelphia – squirmed at the sight of yellowfin tuna, I happily cleaned his plate of sushi too.

• • • •

By hiring the likes of Michelin-starred chef Anthony Amoroso at SeaBlue and inviting food bloggers to experience the culinary offerings in Atlantic City, it’s obvious the Borgata team is working to elevate their dining experience above afterthought (and its current reputation as a way to pad stomachs for the drinks ahead). Coming from Manhattan, the Borgata is not a dining destination. But the convenience of having it all – Water Club‘s stunning spa and swimming pools, Wolfgang Puck‘s smoked salmon and creme fraiche pizza, a performance by the likes of Jon Stewart, and Izakaya‘s sparkling sake – under one massive roof makes the trip worth taking. amy may 10, 2009

• • • •

NOTES • I was joined at the Borgata by (my new favorite person) Jess Rossi of Fries With That Shake, Ben Kessler of super sandwich blog Unbreaded, endearing Eric Smith of Geekadelphia, Miss Elizabeth Halen of Foodaphilia and a professional cake baker, and Scott Reiner who pens The Wine Explorer for the New York Daily News.

The Aces Train provides direct train service between NYC and Atlantic City.

All photos are my own except for Immersion Spa pool and Borgata lobby photo.

May 10, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Atlantic City, Blogs, videos. 2 comments.

Soul Food and CITYMEALS-ON-WHEELS

Waffle and syrup at Sylvia's in East Harlem, NY
CITYMEALS ON WHEELS Citymeals-on-Wheels raises private funds to ensure no homebound elderly New Yorker will ever go a day without food or human company.”

SYLVIA’S 328 lenox ave, nyc, 212 996 0660

ABOUT ONCE OR TWICE A MONTH, I VOLUNTEER WITH CITYMEALS to deliver food to elderly New Yorkers who aren’t able to grocery shop and/or cook for themselves. I find Citymeals to be an “easy” nonprofit to volunteer with because they offer flexible volunteer schedules (you sign up to deliver meals only when you can – no pressure), which works well for someone like me with an unpredictable work schedule. I’m also fond of Citymeals’ Young Professionals chapter which convenes on a designated morning every other month so volunteers can meet each other, deliver meals together, and brunch after. About once a month, the Young Professionals are also invited to happy hour gatherings for a reasonable drinking fee.

Last Saturday morning, Jason and I wandered north to deliver meals with other “young professionals” in East Harlem. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning – just as the weekend heat wave rolled in – and we were with good company, which made the act of wandering around the projects a less daunting task. After delivering the food, which took about an hour, we headed to Sylvia’s, an old-school soul food restaurant on Lenox Avenue.

Since returning home from my two weeks in Texas, I’ve been on the lookout for classic southern dishes like chicken fried steak and fried chicken with waffles. I found the latter at Sylvia’s, which satisfied at the moment. Genius that I am, I forgot to eat breakfast so was ravenous by the time the sweet tea, biscuits, mac & cheese, platters of fried chicken and waffles arrived. The fried chicken breading was well-seasoned, but the meat wasn’t particularly tender. I would have preferred the waffles with more butter, cream – something – that wasn’t in the batter. I enjoyed the mac & cheese the most, but probably wouldn’t make the journey back to East Harlem just for that.

Still, brunch was filling and a great success after a morning of braving small elevators, ringing doorbells, and delivering food. In true trooper-style, my dining companion Heather attacked the last waffle. Waste not, want not – right? amy may 5, 2009

May 5, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . East Harlem, Soul Food/Southern. 1 comment.