Sunday, September 18, 2011
Admiring the Fruits of Labor at The Brooklyn Grange
Last week, Meg and I had the pleasure of attending an end-of-the-summer party at LIC’s famous rooftop farm, The Brooklyn Grange. Invited on behalf of We Heart Astoria, we were only too happy to accept and couldn’t wait to see this acre-long urban farm in the flesh (or soil rather).
The party was held in conjunction with Open House New York and the General Consulate of Israel, for which the initial tie-in seemed far-fetched but upon further research, it made a lot of sense, as we found out that the farm’s irrigation system is supplied by an Israeli company. How cool and how appropriate, especially if you think of the collective farming system in Israel, which they call a Kibbutz.
Our experience started when we walked up to the top floor of this industrial LIC building. We climbed up 2 flights of stairs, stepped outside into the fresh air, and took in our surroundings. It was amazing and really a sight to see – rows and rows of beautifully maintained crops, set in the middle of a city skyline. Even though it was a contradiction of sorts, it was also very beautiful.
Still very much in awe, we walked around a bit, and got acquainted with new friends including Udi, a representative from the Israeli consulate that invited us there, Anastasia, one of the farm’s founders and her colleague who volunteers at the farm each day. We joined a little tour of the farm, which Anastasia graciously led and the rest of the evening was spent relaxing, listening to the lovely live band and experiencing the New York sundown like never before.
A big part of the evening was the food of course, which was supplied by the farm and prepared by the wonderful Nolita restaurant, Balaboosta. Having a natural tie-in with the Israeli Council, Balaboosta is run by Israeli born chef, Einat Admony, who’s famous for her nouveau Israeli cuisine. Not surprisingly, everything was super tasty and we enjoyed the following delightful bites:
Stuffed Collards – A beautiful little bite sized dish, offering a veggie alternative to the traditional stuffed cabbage, it was wrapped in collards and stuffed with an all-veggie mixture of rice and various garden vegetables. I loved that it was hearty without giving you that too heavy feeling. I also enjoyed the new spin on this dish, which inspired me to try something similar at home in the future.
Fried Olives – Being a sucker for all things fried, I was very excited once I spotted these cute little fried balls of heaven. Slightly warm, they were a pleasure to bite into, consisting of dark kalamata olives that were conveniently pitted. Dousing them in a creamy yogurt sauce also helped further sweeten this already delicious deal.
Fried Okra with Cauliflower – Yet another fried treat were these beautiful little cauliflower heads paired with fried okra and topped with a creamy mayo dressing. While I usually don’t like okra, this one was crunchy on the outside and soft and delicate on the inside. It provided a nice little bitterness when paired with the more neutral cauliflower. I think the slightly spicy mayo sauce is what made this dish sing, and it almost reminded me of something Asian.
White Peach Sangria – This delicious special drink of the night served us well, and I loved its sweetness and the fresh white peaches that floated on top, further flavored with fresh herbs such as basil and thyme. It had a really, sweet, tart, and earthy taste that was wonderfully delightful.
As you can tell, we thoroughly enjoyed our evening and want to thank the General Consulate of Israel for inviting us. Toda!