FRESHDIRECT From Wickham’s & Satur Farms

FOUR YEARS AGO, I LIVED ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE OF MANHATTAN on an avenue called York – a stone’s throw from the East River and a million miles away from everything else, like my work place on the west side, the subway, and affordable groceries. Even then, I didn’t cook much since supermarkets were pricey despite mediocre offerings, like picked-through produce and prepared meals you nuke in microwaves. Thus, by default, my diet consisted mostly of gyros from a tiny Middle Eastern place called Pyramida and pizza from across the street.

Relief came in the form of FreshDirect, from which I ordered everything from ravioli to ice cream; beer to broccoli. Nowadays, I don’t miss the Upper East Side, but sometimes I reminisce about Sunday morning FreshDirect deliveries.

Fast forward to summer 2010. I still don’t own a car and am living in a supermarket-less zone once again. (Midtown.) But no matter where your or my address is, the rules of the food game has completely changed so that frequenting greenmarkets and buying into customizable CSAs gains you greater karma and awesome points than attending the latest restaurant opening. Given the warm public sentiment toward seasonal, organic, and local foods, eating healthy and preparing meals yourself is not only socially acceptable, it’s nearly obligatory.

Admittedly, it’s a good trend, and the commercial push for fresh, local food is much easier to support than fad diets or cosmetic surgery. So, naturally, when FreshDirect invited me to join them on a tour of two Long Island farms with whom they work closely, Wickham’s Fruit Farm and Satur Farms, I was excited. I even asked if they’d mind inviting photographer Jennifer Causey along to capture the day on her bad-ass professional camera. (I know Jennifer through her blog Simply Breakfast and I’m a huge fan of her food photography. While I took my own photos, I’m featuring Jen’s today. You can see more of her farm photos here.)

Our first stop was Wickham’s Fruit Farm on Long Island’s North Fork. They’re a 13th generation farm that’s been around for over 300 years. Name any fruit and Wickham probably grows it: peaches, rhubarb, apples, nectarines, ten different varieties of plums, and even kiwis (for fun, not for sale). They’re growing melons too, like cantaloupe, specially for FreshDirect.

We stopped in Wickham’s tomato greenhouse to hide from the heat and picked sweet, marble-sized tomatoes from the vine. Later, we found shade under a cherry tree. Prime cherry season is over, but we arrived at the tail end so a few ripe, red stragglers were still biding time between the leaves. I think that was my favorite part of the day – plucking cherries from a cherry tree. Guess I’m not over the fact that my cherry hand pie baking effort ended so disastrously.

Afterward, we stopped by Satur Farms owned by husband-and-wife team Paulette Satur and Eberhard Müller, who opened Le Bernardin and was once chef at Lutèce, which closed its doors in 2004. Satur Farms is known as a salad specialist, especially mesclun, and grows everything from edible flowers, herbs, and micro greens, to “long, white leeks” of which Paulette seemed particularly proud. The couple supplies friends who helm some of New York City’s top restaurants, like Gramercy Tavern and Daniel. They don’t sell at greenmarkets, so FreshDirect is their only retail customer.

Motivated by the desire to offer their seventy farmhands year-round employment, the couple migrates to Florida every winter to continue their growing business while their North Fork-based operations cease temporarily. I can barely keep myself employed, so the thought of Paulette and Eberhard choosing to maintain their seasonally-dependent business throughout the year for the sake of their employees has stuck with me.

While Paulette led the tour of Satur Farms, Eberhard made us lunch: striped bass escabeche and several salads prepared with cauliflowers, beets, and arugula picked just that morning. For dessert, the couple served macerated peach and round, buttery shortbread cookies.

After lunch, the FreshDirect group thanked our hosts and said goodbye. I went to shake Eberhard’s hand and he asked me about my work, so I told him that I write and produce an online video series for those who don’t know how to cook. “Ah, then that’s a show for me,” he replied good-naturedly. Maybe, I thought, except that you and Paulette don’t own a microwave, which, for the most part, is essential to the Stupidly Simple Snack series.

Just kidding. amy july 22, 2010

FreshDirect is offering a 20% discount to you guys on everything in the local department. Secret code: SUPPORTLOCAL

* Limited time offer. Expires August 31, 2010. May not be combined with any other offer. All standard terms and conditions apply. Limit one use per customer/account. Residential orders only. Void where prohibited. Offer is non-transferable.

Photos by Jennifer Causey. Blueberry photo on homepage is my own.

July 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Healthy, Long Island, specials for abc readers. 1 comment.

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.

Good Friends & GREEK SALAD

I RANG IN MY 21st BIRTHDAY IN ATHENS on a hospital bed. (I got in the way of a Greek driver so he fractured my pelvis with his car.) (more…)

February 18, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Healthy, Philadelphia, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos. 11 comments.

Eating the Pounds Away | ZAGAT SURVEY

equinox adTHE NEW YEAR USHERS IN a slew of resolutions, with the pledge to revamp eating habits a frequent list-topper. For advice on how to watch waistlines but still enjoy eating out, we asked three fitness instructors for their strategies as well as favorite restaurants where they put them into practice.

Steve Feinberg, the founder of Speedball Fitness, warns against speed when it comes to eating. “It’s better to eat slowly so that your stomach has time to register that it’s full.” He also suggests focusing on protein and vegetables while avoiding overly processed foods. “I am always aware of what I’m eating,” he says, but stresses that being conscious of what you eat shouldn’t translate into being anxious about what you eat.

Feinberg’s favorites include NoHo’s Quartino for its light Italian plates prepared with vegetables and seafood; the “extremely tasty” vegan fare at Pure Food and Wine in Gramercy Park; Back Forty in the East Village for fresh, locally sourced ingredients and organic beers; and Whole Foods for its variety of healthy grab-and-go snacks and meals.

Kristi Molinaro, who heads Equinox gym’s 30/60/90 high-intensity interval training class, knows that it’s a challenge to eat healthfully while keeping up a demanding schedule. “I don’t want to eat before teaching class, but when you’re teaching numerous classes a day, you end up not eating much and having things like coffee instead. When you get home, you’re ravenous so you eat all the wrong stuff.” Her solution? “Think like an athlete…you have to keep your blood sugar stable, and you need to eat a small meal every three hours,” she advises.

Some of her favorite stops include Bread on Spring Street (“the best tomato soup”), the Upper West Side’s Gennaro for its manageable portion sizes, and Woo Lae Oak, a SoHo Korean barbecue spot, where you can add sauces – and extra calories – at your discretion.

Finally, even if you’re watching your weight you can still enjoy foods that aren’t typically thought of as particularly diet-friendly. Patricia Moreno, founder of intenSati, likes vegetarian fare from her favorite restaurants Josie’s and Gobo, but she’s also able to maintain her dietary focus at Mexican restaurants like Rosa Mexicano by skipping the chips, cheese and sour cream while sticking to grilled meats and protein-laden fajitas. And she wouldn’t turn down a good T-bone either. Her secret? Share the steak and sides of grilled vegetables with dining companions.

(Eating the Pounds Away first appeared on ZAGAT.com 1/13/09. Photo by Equinox.)

September 9, 2009. Healthy, ZAGAT SURVEY. Leave a comment.

Ortine Grows Its Own

Kalamata Olive PizzaKalamata Olive Pizza at ORTINE | 622 Washington Ave, Brooklyn | 718 622 0026 | offManhattan.com

I FIRST VISITED Ortine in February when it was drizzly and cold, which made the brightly lit glass storefront all the more welcoming. Small and sparingly decorated, the café opened around Christmas in Prospect Heights and soon gained a following among neighbors and freelancers who come in for its warm at-home feel, free WiFi, and bottomless cups of coffee. (more…)

August 22, 2009. Bottomless Coffee Cup, Healthy, Prospect Heights. Leave a comment.

ORTINE Grows Its Own • offManhattan.com

Kalamata Olive Pizza

Kalamata Olive Pizza at ORTINE | 622 Washington Ave, Brooklyn | 718 622 0026 | offManhattan.com

I FIRST VISITED Ortine in February when it was drizzly and cold, which made the brightly lit glass storefront all the more welcoming. Small and sparingly decorated, the café opened around Christmas in Prospect Heights and soon gained a following among neighbors and freelancers who come in for its warm at-home feel, free WiFi, and bottomless cups of coffee. (more…)

August 22, 2009. Brooklyn, Brunch, Healthy, offManhattan, Prospect Heights. Leave a comment.

Green Canteen Eats Well, Feels Well

Chopped Salmon and Avocado Mini BurgerChopped Salmon & Avocado Mini Burger at GREEN CANTEEN | 106 North 6th St, Brooklyn, 718 387 5900 | offManhattan.com

IN JUNE, Wiliamsburg topped off its brimming selection of eateries with the opening of Green Canteen. The spacious, über-green restaurant is silver LEED certified thanks to its commitment to use 100% wind power for energy, a solar tank system to heat its water, and savvy design (skylights!), which makes the most of natural light. To further reduce its ecological footprint, even the communal table was fashioned out of a ceiling beam from the building itself. (more…)

August 22, 2009. Healthy, offManhattan, Williamsburg. Leave a comment.

GREEN CANTEEN is closed (updated 8.28.09)

Front BoothsChopped Salmon & Avocado Mini Burger at GREEN CANTEEN | 106 North 6th St, Brooklyn, 718 387 5900 | offManhattan.com

IN JUNE, Wiliamsburg topped off its brimming selection of eateries with the opening of Green Canteen. The spacious, über-green restaurant is silver LEED certified thanks to its commitment to use 100% wind power for energy, a solar tank system to heat its water, and savvy design (skylights!), which makes the most of natural light. To further reduce its ecological footprint, even the communal table was fashioned out of a ceiling beam from the building itself.

But eco-friendliness aside, it’s the Mediterranean menu, starring the likes of antipasti, pizza-like flatbreads, and hummus bowls, which will determine whether curious passersby will become repeat customers. It is a restaurant, after all, so I stopped by to taste the goods and bask in the sun-filled space where chief operating officer Mike Hewitt was on hand to share his take on Green Canteen’s place on New York City’s culinary stage.

oM: Green Canteen is the latest from Brad Blum who used to head major chains like Olive Garden and Burger King. Are there similar plans to expand on this new restaurant concept?

MH: We want to be able to transfer what you see here onto the road and create more Green Canteens throughout the country. Of course, we want to be careful to walk before we run by making sure we have the model correct. But we feel that America wants to eat this way. More than the architecture, it’s all about the food. You can savor great tasting food and feel good afterward.

oM: It feels very communal.

MH: A lot of our food and seating is shareable. We’re trying to create this community where diners can hang out, enjoy their meal and meet new people, like at the communal tables.

oM: Given Green Canteen’s commitment to using fresh ingredients, does this mean the menu will be seasonal?

MH: We might have a couple of seasonal items here and there when possible. We also want to make sure we keep staples so that people know what they’re getting when they get here. If they come for a certain hummus bowl, then we don’t want to be switching things up too much on them.

oM: So what sets Green Canteen apart from other restaurants that offer healthy and organic alternatives to, say, fast food?

MH: Green Canteen’s concept has been nationally tested and it’s done really well. We don’t even use the words “health” or “organic.” It’s really all about “Eat Well. Feel Well.” Some of it might be organic; some might not. But it’s about how you feel after you eat here. It’s about offering food with low glycemic indexes, low sodium, low carbs. The food really tastes good but it doesn’t weigh you down.

Chopped Salmon and Avocado Mini BurgerTomato Mozzarella Basil FlatbreadoM: Sounds like a lifestyle.

MH: It’s a lifestyle—exactly. A lot of people seem to want to eat this way and live this way.

oM: How did you decide to start in Williamsburg?

MH: Williamsburg’s a very progressive neighborhood. We feel that we’re a progressive brand so it fits hand-in-hand. There’s a savvy clientele here. We wanted to cater to them and see what they think of it. It’s a demographic test. People know what they’re purchasing here and they’re willing to pay a little more for a top quality product that’s sourced in a better way.

oM: Does this mean you use local farmers?

MH: Yes, we use some local farmers and sustainable products. It’s also about what we do with the food once we get it. The preparation is very simple and honest. There are no fryers in the house. There are no processed foods. Just clean, honest food.

August 22, 2009. Brooklyn, Healthy, offManhattan, Williamsburg. Leave a comment.