Dear Local Gourmands,
As I type this, I’m looking past the snow-covered vegetable patch behind my parent’s house in Michigan to a frozen Huron River. For the moment the flurries have ceased and a sharp winter sky has opened up with just a few pink clouds– already the days feel longer than a week ago when I was celebrating the winter solstice by cooking dinner for a couple of good old friends. I carefully pulled homemade squash ravioli from a pot of boiling water one at a time– each little one looked like a sunny side up hope for warmer days to come.
Since then I’ve been home in a cocoon of sweaters and my parent’s cooking– blinis with cured fish and caraway-infused vodka hearken back to my father’s Russian grandparents, late night slices of gingerbread invoke stories about the family farm my mother used to visit when she was a kid. At gatherings and reunions with old classmates from high school people ask me what I’m up to in New York and I tell them I write about food. In Brooklyn people are growing corn on rooftops! I report, almost in disbelief myself. In Detroit, they tell me, the city is coming back to life with vacant lots being turned into gardens. I like to think Michigan will find its way to economic recovery through agriculture– after all, we’re not that far removed from farmland or a generation with farming know how in its genetic make up. To that end, I can’t think of a better way to cross over into a new year and a new decade than turning to our local resources. At the end of 2009, if we’re already harvesting crops from on high and growing produce out of abandoned cities, just imagine where we’ll be ten years from now. We have what we need to solve the problems of climate change and food scarcity and monocropping and an industrialized food system. We also have what we need to celebrate the beginning of a new time: I’m talking about oysters– local ones. Check out the list below of restaurants around the city where you can sling back some local bivalves in honor of the New Year. May your mugs and champagne flutes run over, and you leave at least enough room to squeeze in some dancing.
To the Teens,
Friday, December 31, 8:30-10pm
72 W. 69th St. (at Columbus Ave.)
Bill Telepan’s exquisite locally sourced fare offers a sustainable (and delicious) entry into the new year. A four-course prix-fixe menu boasts Malpeque oysters, winter squash with red cabbage, tortellini and dried cherries, not to mention bossa nova table side serenades.
Friday, December 31, 6-11pm
70 Prince St.
Chef Ryan Tate has created a special a la carte menu to ring in the new decade featuring ingredients he loves but does not necessarily offer throughout the year– think squab, venison, shibumi oysters, and snails. Reservations are available between 6-11pm (a $75 four-course tasting menu will be available upon request as well).
Friday, December 31, 6-11pm
190 Ave. B (at E.12th St.)
Reserve a table between 6-8pm to spend yourself on a locally sourced menu rolled out by Chef Shanna Pacifico– Island Creek oysters, Peconic Bay scallop cerviche, and porchetta, to name a few of the a la carte offerings– before hitting the streets to party hop. Or, if you’d rather make Back Forty your one stop fete, come through after 9pm when the bar/resto dissolves into pure party mode– three drink tix at the door, oysters shuckers a plenty, a rib roast slicing station, porchetta sandwiches all around, watermelon radish slaw, deviled eggs with American caviar, and a DJ kicking tunes from 10pm-1am. $75 to get down, or $10 at the door after 11pm for non-feast revelers.
Friday, December 31, 5pm-12am
652 Union St., Park Slope
Reservations, 718) 636-6311
What does a chef who is known for infusing his locally-sourced Latin cuisine with peppers grown on his restaurant’s rooftop do during depths of winter? Invite his nearest and dearest over for dinner, naturally. A December chill won’t stop chef Jacques Gautier from pulling out the stops to serve up a spread fit for the New Year.
Friday, December 31, 6pm-4am
Jimmy’s No. 43
43 E. 7th St.
In so many ways it seems that this was the year of the oyster. From the Founded on Oyster Shells fundraiser for the New Amsterdam Market back in February to the bevy of events (so many of which seemed to involve oysters) celebrating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration– local bivalves got some much-deserved press in ’09. Ring in 2010 with one of their biggest supporters, Jimmy Carbone, at a New Year’s Eve oyster extravaganza where Peconic Bay oysters on the half shell, stewed, or baked will be accompanied by bubbly.
Of note a few weeks down the road…
Tuesday, January 12, 7-11pm
Sixpoint Beer Dinner
171 E. Broadway (btwn. Jefferson and Rutgers Sts.
Get your local buzz on at this veg-friendly prix-fixe dinner featuring pairings with an array of Red Hood brewed Sixpoint suds. Each of the four courses will be matched up with a Sixpoint gem– braised short ribs with Righteous Ale, par example– and to be sure, each course has a flexible meat/vegetarian option to keep everyone in check.
Thursday, January 14, 6:30-8:30pm
Winter Market Dinner
787 Union St., Park Slope
Reservations, Slow Food member $60, non-member $70
Rose Water’s Chef John Tucker invites diners to a communal table for a seasonal three-course meal featuring local winter ingredients (yes, the peaches may be gone, but I swear there’s plenty of goodness to be found in sweet potatoes, onions, and apples at the Greenmarket) along with wine pairings.