The Edible Garden Local Food Festival

29th June 2009

I ventured down to the New York Botanical Garden for the first time ever today. It is AMAZING – totally out-of-this-world! I can’t believe I’ve lived this close for so many years and never been. This weekend they opened the summer-long Edible Garden exhibit with a festival about local food.

I saw demonstrations by chefs from two of my all-time favorite restaurants: Gramery Tavern in New York and The Dressing Room in Westport, CT. Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern replaced Tom Colicchio as head chef in 2006 and was recently nominated for a James Beard Award. Before his time at GT he worked with Dan Barber to open Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Michel Nischan of the Dressing Room is a James Beard winner and wrote an amazing book called Homegrown. It was the first book I bought about the local food moment (technically it’s a cookbook), and it’s clearly inspired me. He gave a great demonstration today and talked a lot about the need to preserve biodiversity. This was a swoon-worthy, all-star cast in my book!

MSHerbs Conservatory

I also ventured around to some of the other Edible Garden exhibits including the new Martha Stewart Herb Garden (pictured above), the Irwin Perennial Garden, the Howell Family Garden where they teach local school children how to grow vegetables, and the Home Gardening Center where I found myself very envious of the beautiful raised beds. I also stopped by the book-signing and picked up a copy of Heirloom Tomatoes by Amy Goldman.

In the afternoon I took a tram around the entire property and saw the beautiful library, magnolia and oak collections, as well as Peggy Rockefeller’s Rose Garden. I also did the full tour of the Haupt Conservatory, which reminded me a lot of the conservatory at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.

I am excited to venture back to the Botanical Gardens throughout the summer for their Thursday night Edible Evening events. I’m most excited about August 20th, when Slow Food Nation’s Josh Viertel is hosting an event called Preserving America’s Food Tradition. The events in August also feature a Waterlily Concert on the Conservatory lawn – I can’t wait!

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