February 2014

Farm Aid 2013 Highlights

Farm Aid has just released a highlights video from the press event at their 2013 conference in Saratoga Springs, NY.  

GrowNYC's Youthmarket program, which has run a farm stand at Farm Aid for the past few years, is joined on the dais by Farm Aid President and co-founder Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, Farm Aid's Executive Director Carolyn Mugar.

Check out the video and learn more about Youthmarket!

Gisella Isidori Reveals Her Secrets to Making Pasta with Local Grains

Bakers are doing it. Brewers are doing it. Why not pasta makers?  We're, of course, talking about incorporating local grains like heritage wheat, barley and emmer into pasta making. As the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project continues to spread the word about the growing availability of northeast-grown grains, we can't stop thinking about the wonders they could do for fresh pasta. If only we had a fairy Italian grandmother to show us how it’s done…

Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain, clearly must have been listening to our pleas and answered them with Gisella Isidori, a fairy Italian grandmother to call our own. 

A long-time friend of Greenmarket and the New York City restaurant world, Gisella has worked for more than 30 years as an Italian food and travel consultant in both the U.S. and Italy. She also really knows her pasta. In the 1980s she ran a pasta business in NYC called Ciao Italia. Gisella also boasts a decades-old love affair with grains: spelt, quinoa, wild rice, you name it. It seems there isn’t a grain out there she hasn’t transformed into incredible pastas. 

In October, Gisella delighted GRGP by giving a class on making pasta the true Italian way in our home kitchen, and again the following day at the Union Square Greenmarket. 

We stood with rapt attention across the counter from her, as she kneaded dough with stamina, strength and precision befitting the generations of Italian women who came before her. Using no more or no less than the right proportions of flour and salt, with a little olive oil and water, Gisella tirelessly kneaded four doughs -- buckwheat, einkorn, emmer and chestnut -- making each round of pasta the perfect texture of silky and smooth. 

While her technique varied little from recipe to recipe, the results were unique to each flour's grain. The emmer revealed a nutty sweetness, whereas the einkorn was far earthier. The buckwheat was smooth with a beautiful lavender-gray tone, and then mixed with a whole wheat double zero flour for a spectacular finish in the traditional Northern Italian dish called Pizzoccheri. Gisella waxed sentimental about the dish, recalling childhood memories growing up near the Swiss border in Northern Italy, where buckwheat was a staple at her family’s table. 

Gisella comes from a generation that knows the value of good food, and lets nothing go to waste. After everything was rolled, cut and cooked, the scraps were saved—all the different pasta leftovers rolled into one ball. “Dry it out for a few days, and then grate it over a pot of boiling water” for a delicious "massa grattata,” she instructed. 

We will keep trying to get our technique down, but we can't promise we'll ever be able to give it her delizioso touch. Grazie Mille Gisella! 

Make sure you watch the video and look at the pictures showcasing Gisella's exciting pasta demonstrations!  

 

A Day in the Life: Greenmarket Market Manager Lisa Valinsky

 
5:00 a.m.: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze. 
 
5:09 a.m.: Alarm goes off again. This time, I get up, a bit sleepy. I put water on for tea, make a big bowl of cereal with thawed out berries from the freezer, and check the weather forecast. It only feels like 30 degrees, so that means I only have to wear three layers of pants today. Woohoo!
 
5:35 a.m.: Take the puppy out for a quick walk. It's quiet out there, and yes, it's feeling pretty warm (for February).
 
5:45 a.m.: Make a green smoothie to bring for lunch. It's loaded with Gajeski Produce spinach, and fills a quart-sized mason jar. Perfect.
 
6:00 a.m.: Publish a 79th Street update to Facebook, grab my compost, and I'm out the door.
 
6:10 a.m.: Arrive at market. Carlton from King Ferry Winery has arrived, so I say hello and we chat about the weather. I've found, in Greenmarket, just as in farming, we talk about the weather a lot. I also note the one car parked in our lane.
 
6:15 a.m.: Organize my stuff for the day, relishing in the relative quiet of an early Sunday on Columbus Avenue.
 
6:40 a.m.: The northern Manhattan van has arrived. Phebe is here! We start unloading tents, tables, bins, signs, and loads of other equipment.
 
6:45 a.m.: Red Jacket Orchards, one of our new producers at 79th Street, has arrived. A few phone calls and texts later, I get them settled into their space.
 
6:55 a.m.: Back to unloading the van. A table here, a tent there.
 
7:15 a.m.: Greet farmers and workers as they arrive. I chat with Nikki from Hot Bread Kitchen about a few food happenings in the city. Jerry, our compost coordinator, has arrived, so we catch up. The whole time we're talking I'm scanning through the market, keeping an eye out for anything that needs attending, or anyone who needs help. Early morning at 79th Street often leads to lots of vehicle maneuvering.
 
7:40 a.m.: Today's a coffee kind of day. I run over to World Coffee across the street.
 
7:45 a.m.: Troubleshoot, problem solve, take phone calls, answer texts, greet new vendors, and figure out placements of stands. All in a day's work as a market manager.
 
8:15 a.m.: Someone's waving for me to greet the tow truck driver. I run over to show which car needs to be relocated.
 
8:25 a.m.: Set up our information tent and display. We've got a whole bunch of literature to display, so I set up the apple crate and baskets and make a basic set up before my coworker Nicole gets to market at 10:00 a.m.
 
9:00 a.m.: Walk through the market again. I like to say hello and check to make sure everyone has shown up on time. We have two new vendors this week - Red Jacket Orchards and Mountain Sweet Berry Farm - that means it's time for a little social media. I take photos of their beautiful displays, and do some promotion on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

 
9:15 a.m.: Brainstorm with Jerry about how to get the word out more about our composting program. We fill 13 bins most weeks, but know we have a lot more people to reach. I chat a bit with a local food blogger about having her do a food demo for us this spring. She mentions dumplings, which sound like a great idea.
 
9:30 a.m.: It's market report time! I go to each producer and check them off for all types of at-market rules: arrived on time to market, tent secured, farm sign displayed, price signs displayed, purchased items sign up, baked goods ingredients sign up, and all kinds of other things. I take my time making sure everything looks in order.
 
10:20 a.m.: Rinzin from Knoll Krest hands me a lemon tart to try.
 
10:30 a.m.: Head back to our tent to say hi to Nicole, who manages 79th Street's promotions and EBT. We chat about the upcoming day, as we're planning to celebrate Chinese New Year with longevity noodles and poem writing.
 
10:45 a.m.: Brian of Gajeski Produce stops by the tent to greet us. He always checks in on Sundays.
 
11:00 a.m.: Design a sign for our new vendors, and bring it to the composting center to display.
 
11:10 a.m.: Andrew's arrived. He's our weekly volunteer, which is a huge help at this market. I start out by asking him to give breaks to farmers.
 
11:20 a.m.: Green smoothie drinking and Chinese New Year poem writing time. While writing, we have a few customers stop by to get EBT and debit/credit tokens.
 
11:45 a.m.: John from Red Jacket hands me a hot cider.

 
12:00 p.m.: Nicole and Andrew are busy preparing the noodle dish, so I make the rounds to give breaks to anyone working on their own. I break DiPaola Turkeys and Ronnybrook, Hudson Valley Duck and Berkshire Berries.
 
12:50 p.m.: Check in on the demo. It smells delicious. Our regional coordinator, Margaret, has stopped by, so we chat and I get some more social media going with photos of the noodles.
 
1:40 p.m.: More breaks! This time it's with Francesca's Bakery, Knoll Krest, and Lavender By the Bay. As I make my rounds, I check in with producers to see how the day is going, and grab a white bean and collard greens turnover from Body & Soul Bakery. The market's been hopping with this gorgeous springlike weather and lots of people are out and about.
 
2:45 p.m.: When I check in with Las Delicias, I get handed a chocolate Chunk of Heaven. It sure is. When I check-in with Divine Brine, I get handed a Devilish Dill pickle. I declare that it's my new favorite Divine Brine pickle.
 
2:50 p.m.: I'm back at the tent to find one of our regular customers. She always stops by with her two little Yorkshire Terriers, so I tell her how we're planning to do a dog portrait day this spring. We look at a potential spot for setting it up, and talk about potential volunteers. 79th Street is a big dog market, so we're hoping it'll be a big success.
 
3:00 p.m.: Nicole's off to do token redemptions with the farmers, so I stay at the tent. 
 
3:15 p.m.: Phebe is back from Columbia Greenmarket early! I start packing up the bins and chat with a few customers about the day's food demo, recipes, and Greenmarket's requirements for selling at market.
 
3:50 p.m.: Nicole is done and back at the tent, so I gather up my things and we chat about possible food demos for next week. We're always scheming with promo and demo ideas.
 
4:10 p.m.: I see a very familiar-looking puppy out of the corner of my eye...it's my husband and puppy, here to pick me up! I'm done for the day, so we wander through the market, picking up greens, eggs, and lavender sachets along the way. It's been a long day, but one with beautiful weather, and of course, lots of great food.