Cooking Demo @ Bay Ridge Farmers Market

Cooking Demo @ Bay Ridge Farmers Market

Since October 5th we have a farmers market in Brooklyn Bay Ridge. It is held every Saturday from 8am-5pm  at the corner of Third Ave and 95th Street, in parking lot of the defunct Key Food. This location is temporary, a Walgreen pharmacy (another pharmacy?!) is schedule to open in the Spring 2009.

Merci à Marie Dudoy pour la photo!

So, yesterday at 8:30am I strolled down windy Third Avenue carrying a light folding table and pushing my red rolling cart filled with pans, plates, bowls, portable stove, knives and a few groceries that were not going to be available at the southernmost New York Greenmarket. I decided to make omelets because they are very versatile and I could filled them with most of any produce the market manager would like to promote. For the first course Stacey, the market director, and I gathered swiss chards, buffalo salami, buffalo cheese, garlic, scallions from the vendors and this collectage became:

The Bay Ridge Omelet
(for 2)

4 eggs
2 Tbsp of Milk
2 cups of Swiss Chards
10 slices of Buffalo Salami (or 4 slices of bacon)
1 small Garlic clove
1/4 cup of Buffalo Cheese (can be substitute for any cheese you like)
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Rince the chards and remove the toughest part of the stalk. Chop it small.
Meanwhile heat a skillet with 1 Tbsp of oil and sauté the salami or the bacon.
If you used bacon chances are that you have more fat in the pan that you begin with, that’s ok, just use it to cook the chards, if you use the buffalo salami (which is very lean) add enough oil or butter to have about 2 Tbsp of fat in the pan and then add your Swiss chards.
Add finely chopped Garlic clove and cook until chards are soft. Reserve them.

Warm a skillet (non stick is easier if you are a beginner) with 2 Tbsp of butter and 1 Tbsp of Oil.
Meanwhile beat the eggs, milk, salt & pepper in a bowl with a fork (do not use a wisk) until foamy.
Add the cheese.

Pour into the very hot skillet (but don’t let the butter take color or burn). Move it around with a wooden spoon or much better by jerking the pan very quickly with a good wrist action. Once you have a very loose scramble egg consistency add your veggies in the middle. Move it around, flip it once, let it set, and flip it onto the plate.

My grand father use to say: “Before hiring a cook ask him (at that time there was no her in the kitchen!) to make an omelet”. He would not tolerate the use of any utensil once the egg mixture was poured into the pan; it had all to be done by wrist action. The omelet had to remain soft in the middle and just coagulated in the outside, never golden, always pale. Yes! a serious “tour de main” or know how is required! The picture of my omelet above is golden, it would approve of it, but that is the way like it!

For the second demo Suzan, who works with Glenn Vickelman of American Seafood, brought me a dozen of plum & shiny “dry packed” sea scallops. Scallops that are without any additives are called “dry packed” while scallops that are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP) are called “wet packed”. I personally never eat “wet packed” scallops; I’m not a big fan of STP, I don’t eat stuff that also goes into cleaning product! Do you?

The Bay Ridge Scallop Tapas:
6 Fresh “dry packed” Scallops
Dice one small onion
Dice one red pepper very small
Dice some fresh tomatoes (yeaah, it is end of the season.)
Finely chopped garlic & fresh basil( that too!)

Heat some oil, with or w/o butter in a skillet.
Sauté onions until translucent, add red pepper. When they are soft add the tomatoes and let stew until most of the moisture is gone, add basil + garlic + salt & pepper, let is stew for a few more minutes.
Meanwhile toast slices of country or sourdough bread.

Heat another pan with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter. When medium hot place delicately your scallops in the pan and sear them for about 3 minutes or so per side -it will depend how thick they are. Do not overcook them.

Spread some of the veggies on the bread and place your scallops on top. You can cut the scallop an a half, if you have more people that scallops! garnish with a few of thin sliced scallions or chives.

I have purchased clams, muscles, scallops and haddock from Glenn Vickelman of American Seafood and so far it was all outstanding. A real pleasure to eat seafood again.

Bon, voilà for today! For a complete list of the Bay Ridge GreenMarket vendors click here and for a list of New York City GreenMarkets click here.

Llanera @ Bay Ridge 3rd Ave. Festival

Llanera @ Bay Ridge 3rd Ave. Festival

Bay Ridge is the most Southwestern neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The area got its moment of fame in the late 1970’s with the movie Saturday Night Fever. The tip of our neighborhood displays the commending Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. I moved there a year ago and truly enjoys the area despite the long commute to Manhattan.

Two Sundays ago was the yearly 3rd Avenue Festival that stretches from 68th street to about 94th. From 10-6pm local bands, choirs, food and the usual all kinds of vendors, take over the avenue. It is fun and crowded. What made my day was a Llanera barbecue next to my house. I had never seen any and I got really curious.

LLanera Vendor

As you can see the banner reads (under the name of the restaurant, that is in Paterson, N.J.): ” Carne a la llanera , sabor y tradicion a su alcance”; which I would translate by ” Meat flat plain style. Taste & tradition at your reach”. The lady chef was Columbian from Los Llanos meaning the flat plains situated at the east Andes in Northwestern Colombia & Venezuela. The name Llanos applies to both sides of the border. Since colonial time this region is famous for herding millions of heads of cattle. Their cowboys are called los llaneros. The specificity of the region is also a folkloric music: el Canto LLanero (see the youtube video below).

Llanera bbqllanera Bbq

I believe the technique used above is made up to suit the vendor’s needs for street cooking situation. In rural settings it looks like a fire is made on the ground. Then large pieces -the picture shows 1/4 side of beef- skewered to a large stick that gets planted in the ground. I am assuming that the stick is planted deep enough so it can be turned to allow meat to cook all sides.


photo linked from: www.llanera.com

We bought 3 servings and fed 8 people! The order included roasted potatoes, plantains & a spicy salsa/coleslaw type raw condiment. We got a few side orders of cheese filled arepas –fried corn pancakes– and a few grilled ears of corn. The meat was maybe a tiny bit over cooked for me, but it was really tender and flavorful. llanera bbqFrom what I could observed from the meat hanging on the sides, it didn’t look like the meat had been marinated, but it could have been brushed with some marinade for the last cooking step, when the slab is taken out from cooking hanging on the sides and placed flat on the grill. It was delicious! We wash it down with a few bottles of Tempranillo, and what a feast we had. Save the date for next year for the 3rd Ave. Festival, it is usually the last week end in September! See you then if not before. Also keep an eye for this vendor, I heard that they participate to many street fairs in the city.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Today I rode my bike into Manhattan from Bay Ridge and as I was riding over the Brooklyn Bridge I remembered that it was a day like today, late May 2005, that I wrote a song about the Brooklyn Bridge. I was still leaving in Albany and it was my first time walking over the bridge. According to the article below crossing from Brooklyn to Manhattan could be quite en ordeal before the construction of the bridge:

“PEOPLE who seventeen years ago divided an amphibious existence between New York and Brooklyn will long remember their arctic voyages in the East River during the severe winter of 1866-7. There were days in that season when passengers from New York to Albany arrived earlier than those who set out the same morning from their breakfast tables in Brooklyn for their desks in New York. The newspapers were filled for weeks with reports of the ice gorges, and with vehement demand for and discussion of the bridge, which all agreed must be built at once from New York to Brooklyn.Harper’s Monthly 1883 .

The construction of the suspended Gothic style bridge took 13 years -from 1870 to 1883, the life of 27 workers and two architects. The German immigrant architect/engineer John A. Roebling died of tetanus before the first stone was laid. While surveying the project his foot was crushed by a ferry boat. He was succeeded by his son Washington Roebling who died of caisson disease -a.k.a “the bends”- a disease that can also affects divers if then come up to the surface too fast. If you want to know all the politics & construction details of the bridge you must read the Harper’s Monthly 1883 article.

The song was inspired by the research I had done at that time. The text is reprinted below and click on the video to listen to a never released recorded version. There is another version that made it on my cd “La Garbure Transcontinentale / The Bi-Continental Chowder”. The musicians are the same: George Muscatello on guitar and Danny Welchel on percussion. It was recorded at Bender Lane Studio in Delmar NY, But I can’t remember when. Hope you enjoy!

Brooklyn Bridge

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny spring day
Hanging over the East River on a sunny spring day

Suspended lives tramping their lines
Wired above a tidal straight
Gothic towers to bridge cultures

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny spring day
Hanging over the East River on a sunny spring day

Deep in bedrock below water
Cables of steel lifting spirits
Granite towers make concrete links

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny spring day
Hanging over the East River on a sunny spring day

Trussing device pins down the land
Hell gate in sight I arch my span
Bearing the height holding the light

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny spring day
Hanging over the East River on a sunny spring day

Nicole Peyrafitte 05/12/05

Spring Meditations Places in NYC (I)

Spring Meditations Places in NYC (I)

No need to go faraway, nor to spend a lot of money, to feel a total change of scenery when you live in NYC. My childhood friend Marika was visiting from Toulouse for two weeks and I wanted her to grasp the contrasts of the megapolis. The last post, Limulus Polyphemus, came out our long walk on the beach of to Coney Island. Friday after walking over the Brooklyn Bridge we headed to Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn.

Green-Wood opened in 1838. It is the resting place of 600.000 New Yorkers and among them some famous ones: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, Lola Montez, George Catlin, Horace Greeley, Steinway and Bernard St Gaudens.

Bernard St Gaudens, was born June 26th 1816 in the village of Aspet in the French Pyrenees. This village is only 20 miles away from my birth town of Luchon. After spending time in Carcassonne, Paris, London and Dublin as a Compagnon du devoir, Bernard emigrated from Ireland in 1848 with his wife Mary McGuiness and their six months old infant: Augustus. Bernard became a successful shoemaker in NYC and Augustus Saint Gaudens (1848-1907) became the most famous American sculptor of his time. Last year I was commissioned to create a documentary performance for the 100th anniversary of Augustus Saint Gaudens death and got to do extensive research on his life and especially his French Pyrenean family. With the help of the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site staff I was able to find out where was Bernard’s final resting place.

Under a very simple white marble tombstone lay the remains of Bernard the father, Mary McGuiness the mother, and Andrew St Gaudens, the younger brother. Only Mary’s name is barely decipherable, thought she was the first buried there in 1875. it is a bit of an enigma why neither Augustus nor his brother Louis -who was also a very accomplished sculptor- didn’t erect a more significant tomb stone or plaque for their parents. Especially that Augustus and Louis made a beautiful tomb for the Stewart Family (Isabella Gardner’s father) in the very same cemetery! (see the picture below). Anyhow this is not a post about the Saint Gaudenses, though I love being carried away on that subject, and it is why I got to discover Green-Wood where I keep returning for guided tours, by the very knowledgeable Jeff Richman, the cemetery’s historian and author of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery: New York’s Buried Treasure, or just for walks like Friday with Marika.

One of the big project of the cemetery is to mark the graves with specific gravestones for the nearly 3,000 Civil War veterans buried there. Among them the Prentiss Brothers who fought on opposite sides. They were wounded and reunited on the same battleground and brought to the Armory Square Hospital in Washington where their nurse was Walt Whitman. Below is a sample –with a beautiful French name– of the 3,000 gravestones that can be found close by the Saint Gaudenses grave.

Another interesting fact about Green-Wood is that it was the very site of the Battle of Brooklyn (A.K.A. the Battle of Long Island), the first battle of the American Revolution fought on August 27, 1776 by General Washington. The Minerva below was erected in 1920 to commemorate the Battle of Brooklyn. Minerva salutes the Statue of Liberty across the harbor. This clear view is being threaten by commercial developers. The website “save the vista” provides some info.

and below is what i am looking at:

I will conclude my post today with some views of the blooming grounds of this very peaceful place. Next post will be about the Chinese Scholar Garden in Staten Island.

Photos Marika Frioli & Nicole Peyrafitte

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