Last Saturday, I hosted a group of 25 food bloggers and food writers at the New York Botanical Garden for an outing to celebrate the kick-off of NYBG's Edible Garden Exhibit.
Though a New Yorker for most of my life (I was even *born* in the Bronx!) I'd never before made the really rather quick and easy trip up to the Botanical Garden. In fact, for the longest time, I didn't even know it existed!
Exists, it does. And it is beautiful! Just a quick trip on Metro North (about 20 minutes from Grand Central; even less from Harlem) is a botanical paradise that feels like a mini vacation. 250 acres of gorgeous gardens, winding paths, and woodland area are available for exploring by foot or on a continuous guided tram tour. A number of events rotate throughout the year--from science talks to chef demos to celebrity book signings.
We were there for the Edible Garden, an incredible event that celebrates locally grown, seasonal food through demonstrations from food and gardening experts every day, plus four "Festival Weekends." If you're into food (and I'm sure you are because otherwise you wouldn't be here), I definitely recommend a visit when you're in the NY area (if possible, I recommend a visit on August 21st, when none other than yours truly will be the featured guest chef doing cooking demos on the Kitchen Stage!).
The other bloggers and I sat through an excellent talk by Blue Hill's Dan Barber, who shared his views that all food needs to have a story. He demonstrated this by telling us the origins of the seeds of the polenta he serves in his restaurants; polenta which is harvested and ground just a couple hours before dinner so as to preserve its most integral quality.
Dan also talked quite a bit about olive oil (after a few questions from the audience) and surprised many of us olive oil fanatics by insisting that olive oil should never be cooked with. He also noted that the only olive oil worth buying is that sold in tiny dark bottles. Otherwise, he prefers the neutral flavor of grapeseed oil for cooking.
The talk was followed by a hosted lunch at the Garden Cafe where we provided with a gorgeous reserved table set for kings (it was so pretty that as our group walked towards it, I asked the Marketing Director who was hosting us what that table was for; I thought it was for a wedding and was surprised when she said it was for us!).
After lunch, the bloggers split up, taking the next few hours to explore the gardens at their own leisurely pace. Eugene and I caught a few minutes of a Sara Moulton demo, and then headed over to the tasting terrace where we sampled local NY wines, a delicious fresh ginger soda, and a few other tasty treats.
We also came across a young man (with an absolutely beautiful voice and accent--even Eugene remarked on it!) demonstrating something called "Woolly Pockets." These cool hanging bags (in blue in the photo), made out of recycled bottles and fibers, can be hung anywhere and planted with herbs and other small plants.
They were pretty fantastic (we saw some that had gorgeous baby strawberries growing out if it) and seem like a great option for urban gardeners and others with limited ground space.
Just past the tasting terrace, we came across the beautiful kitchen gardens; edible gardens designed by a number of celebrity chefs like Dan Barber, Mario Batalli, and Martha Stewart. It was hot and we were getting a bit sleepy, so we hopped on a passing tram and settled in for a relaxing tram tour of the grounds.
The tram took us all the way up to the rose garden, where the roses were all just starting to come in. It smelled absolutely incredible in there and Eugene and I kept running around stopping to smell each rose. I loved how each one had a distinct (albeit similar) aroma. I just wanted to bottle it all up!
I'm excited to go back to the Garden on August 21st. I will be hosting two live cooking demos at 1PM and 3PM on the same stage Dan Barber and Sara Moulton appeared as part of the Edible Garden exhibit.
You're all invited to come check it out, and bring your friends and children as it's a really wonderful place for the whole family. Please let me know if you plan to go as I'd love to meet you in person!
The Edible Garden at New York Botanical Garden
June 19 - October 17
Admission for members is free; for nonmembers (per day): $30 for adults; $28 for students and those 65 and older; and $8 for children 2 and over.
For more information and event schedules, visit nybg.org or call 718.817.8700.
BONUS! Each of the bloggers that attended my event at NYBG went home with a big goodie bag FULL of food and kitchen swag. I put together an extra bag so that one of you could have the chance to win one. Details in my next post!