A City Farmer, A Chef & A Host

Ben Leventhal asked me to co-chair an event with him for July 24th at our home.  The event was going to take place at 11 homes that evening around the city.  Each home would have a chef from one of the restaurants who signed up for this to come cook in your home, a city farmer (and yes there are many) and a host.  How could I resist?

More important, the event was meant to support two important organizations; Just Food and The Sylvia Center.  Just Food connects with communities to make fresh food more accessible to all NYers.  The Sylvia Center is a garden-to-table program that educates young people to understand good nutrition through healthy eating. 

At our home we were incredibly lucky to have Andrew Carmellini prepare us an amazing meal.  He is also a super nice guy. Here he is with LIz Neumark, who can not be described in one sentence but for this event I will say she is the woman who began The Sylvia Center.

Our city farmer was Karen Washington from La Femilia Verde.  A salt of the earth human being who has taken her passion for good healthy food to her local community in the Bronx.  An advocate for green markets to build healthier neighborhoods.  She is impressive to say the least. 

We had a group of 14 people.  Some people I knew while others just chose which home they would love to go to and ended up at ours.  A really nice group of people.  SO…what did we eat?

Gazpacho shots
 We began with a peach vodka cocktail and some passed starters.  Shots of gazpacho.  I love that.  Just a nice long sip.

Beef tartare crostini.  Not for everyone but I have always been a fan.

Thinly sliced raw fish.  A crudo on crostini.

Our first course used Karen's organic eggs from her farm.  One perfectly cooked sunny side up egg on top of a local eggplant agro-picante with few pieces of shaved Parmigiano and a few bitter greens under the cheese.  Eggs that are fresh like that have an entirely different taste.  Mixed together with a roasted eggplant mixture is a nice summer starter.

We had two pastas for the next course which was served family style.  Sweet corn ravioli with smoked local tomatoes, hen of woods mushrooms and a little bit of truffle.  Wow.  Super sweet kernels of corn stuffed into a thin pasta is pretty spectacular.  Tastes like summer.

The other pasta was a mixture of clams, baby squid, ruby red shrimps and long spiral pastas which really hold the sauce well.  Yum.

Our second round was grilled Block Island swordfish with roasted artichokes, new potatoes and peperonata and a hint of lemon.  Another classic Italian summer dish.

Many don't love quail but I like it.  Roasted quail served with an organic polenta, swiss chard, chanterelles and roasted caramelized black missions figs. 

This dessert was so good that I literally licked the plate clean.  A blueberry compote on a honey upside-down cake with a butter milk cream on top.  The cake was incredibly moist.  I tried to just have a bite but before I knew it I had the whole thing!

All of our wine this evening was donated from Bedell Cellars.  White, red and rose from 2010 and 2011. 

Loved the whole evening.  Big fan of both Just Food and The Sylvia Center.  Glad to see so many people supporting their efforts around healthy eating.  What I really liked is how there were eleven of these exact same type of meals taking place around the city the same night.  Very well organized and efficient which says something about the organization too.  I'd most definitely do something like this again. 

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