Michael Pollan spoke to a full house, in a small, hot, sweaty hall at Public Farm 1 in Long Island City over the weekend. After waiting in line for close to an hour and being turned away as I was 2nd in line to the door I was furious. I took matters into my own hands and used alternate measures I'm not at liberty to discuss to gain access to this event.
Public Farm One is beautiful space, part art (moma), and part urban farm project. The roof top terrace is utterly gorgeous with sleek modern designed tubes housing plants. The farm project is 100% sustainable by use of solar energy and rain collection barrels for irrigation. There is even a small chicken coop tucked away built with recycled materials.
Michael Pollan's theme for this particular lecture was on taking the plant's perspective. He spoke of how grass wants to be cut; it wants more sun and more room to breathe. He spoke of the relationship between an orchid and a bee and how the bee thinks it is stealing the nectar. The plant is actually seducing the creature into the flower where pollen from the plant will attach itself to the leg hairs of the bee and thus the bee will do the work and pollinate the flowers.
Mr. Pollan touched base with some topics covered in The Omnivores Dilemma. He spoke of his time on Polyface Farm with Joel Salatin. He discussed farming methods used by Joel making his farm 100% solar & sustainable and beyond organic. Grass fed cattle are penned by easily moved electric fencing. The cattle eat the grass in this patch; the cattle are moved to another section of pasture. The "cowpies" are left behind to sit for three days before bringing in the chickens. Three days is just enough time to let the maggot grubs get nice and fat. The chickens have free range at their favorite food while also scratching and spreading manure around which in turn helps the grass and earth. Basically Michael was stating it's time for a change, we know how to do this, and Joel is leading the way.
The most exciting part of the evening actually came during the Q&A at the end of the evening. Michael announced that no he does not have another book in the works but he is taking it upon himself to write a manifesto to the next President of the United States declaring the food system needs to change. (see video below)
Get this guy in office already.
I was disappointed with the number of people that did walk out both during the lecture and during the q&a.
It was a great evening and I was more than excited to bear the heat and listen to Michal Pollan's gospel. This guy is motivation alone to change the way you look at what is on your plate.
Sometimes it pays to be late. The vendors at the Union Square Greenmarket were packing up just as I arrived. I saw these zucchini flowers being tucked away and knew I had to act fast. I lucked out, the vendor gave me her 12 remaining flowers for $2.00 which is a great bargain. These lovely flowers are usually the highest price starters on most respectable menus.
I used The Fat Red Baron's (ahem, Batali) recipe for this. The Baron did suggest goat cheese ricotta which sounds delicious but, I opted for some fresh, local, farm house cow's milk ricotta instead.
12 zucchini flowers 1 cup ricotta 1 egg 2 scallions (thinly sliced) 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg sea salt & black pepper to taste
Mix thoroughly & get ready to stuff. Each flower took about 1 tablespoon of filling.
A second set of hands is suggested in stuffing these flowers. A pastry piping bag would have also done the trick. Be sure to inspect inside each flower for renegade insects that may be attracted to the sweet pollen.
These baby's were fried in OO on medium high heat and do need to be served immediately. A quick tomato salad was served along side, inspired by a dish had at Il Panino, created by the lovely & talented Marissa Iocco.
3 field tomatoes, rough dice 1 cucumber, half moons 1 tablespoon of capers handful of fresh basil, cut chiffonade juice of half a lemon splash of unfiltered good GREEN olive oil sea salt & black pepper to taste
Let the juices mingle at room temp in a nice bowl. After a few minutes you'll have some really intensely flavored red juice which I saved to drizzle over the hot zucchini flowers. I grilled the rosemary focaccia which was a most excellent choice to sop up the salad juice.
The stuffed zucchini flowers came out wonderfully. The flowers had nice caramelization with the cheese oozing out, making them really out of this world. We were popping these in our mouth like candy.
An excellent meal served on the balcony with some bubbly Chistalino, a Prosecco style rose wine.
Over the Williamsburg bridge and through the woods...
I mean through the boroughs.
Just thought you might like to see the bounty. It's a nice 10 mile ride round trip by bike to the awesome Union Square Greenmarket. Unbeatable selection of freshness from upstate.
I had one casualty on the ride back, I lost one egg, which isn't bad considering I'm carrying a stuffed messenger bag bombing down the Williamsburg Bridge. Also picked up a bag full of delicate zucchini flowers, jersey field tomatoes, a bag of carrots, rosemary focaccia, and fresh ricotta.
Is the buckwheat soba noodle under appreciated because of it's bleak brown color? Maybe it's not as bright and lively as it's brother Mr. Udon or as common as it's cousin Mr. Ramen but Sir Soba does have some advantages.
I think they have a bit more flavor than other noodles with the slightly nutty undertones. They are also gluten free, if that is one of your needs. Most importantly though, buckwheat soba noodles are better for you nutritionally, with higher sources of fiber, iron and protein. I also really like the texture of them, fully cooked they are a bit chewy and sticky, it's nice trust me.
You'll want to either start this dish in the morning or the evening before hand as these soba noodles will need to marinate in this dressing to achieve their full taste-tacular potential.
For the dressing:
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs honey
3 tbs rice wine vinegar
3 spring onions 1 tbs chopped ginger
2 tsp black pepper
I really recommend purchasing the mini Cuisinart processor if you want to get serious about making great creamy homemade dressings, it's a magical tool.
Pulse all the dressing ingredients in your processor until you have reached a smooth consistency. In a large bowl have ready 1 package of Buckwheat Soba noodles cooked, ready to be dressed with said dressing. Mix thoroughly because these noodles like to stick together. Cover and leave to marinate in your fridge as long as possible.
Phase II About an hour before you are ready to eat.
I first made some quick Asian inspired pickles for this. Slice 1 cucumber into thin half moons, salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Wash off salt, in a small bowl add 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, a dash of sesame oil, 1 tbs sugar and 2 tbs water. Mix well, add half moons to soak it up while prepping the rest of the meal.
Cut the squash into a thick julienne and let steam until just cooked.