Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer Recap

It seems like we just started summer and now its almost over. With football season around the corner, many New Yorkers will spend their weekends in the city rather than in the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore. I too am guilty of fleeing the city whenever possible to escape the bounds of this concrete jungle for a more open environment. Open in the sense of boundaries, open in the sense of horizons. Cool beach breezes are more desirable than hot subway platforms any day in my opinion. Late work weeks and trips outside the city have kept me busy, but I do want to recap some great summer moments before the excitement of fall hits.

Early in the month, Corey (a co-worker) and I gave a beer presentation at work. We covered some basic beer knowledge that we thought it was important to know. Before the presentation we were given the opportunity to meet with chef Nick and discuss some possible beer/food pairings. During this meeting, the kitchen at Maialino prepared a variety of food to taste with our artisanal beer selection. Our first course included a bunch of our smaller, fried dishes including baccala, octopus, artichokes, and zucchini. It also included one of my favorite bar snacks--sweetbreads and mushrooms wrapped in prosciutto. We found a lot of good pairing combos, but thats probably no surprise considering beer and fried food go hand in hand. Our second course consisted of a few of our pastas including the tonnarelli, picci, vongole, and carbonara. This was definitely the hardest course to make solid pairings. Our next course was our entree course and included the spigola(sea bass), maialino (suckling pig), pollo diavolo (chicken), and spezzatino (lamb). Somehow we managed to move on to dessert where we had great success with the Verdi stout and the chocolate tort. After all said and done-- we ate some great food, drank some good beer, and made some good pairings in the process. It was an educational process that turned out to be one of my best food adventures of the summer.

It gets better! Garret Oliver, head brewer/partner of Brooklyn Brewery, was a guest speaker at our presentation. Not only was it cool to hear him speak, but Corey and I got to have dinner with him afterwards. We sat in the bar area of Maialino and the kitchen cooked for us. They sent us out an array of food including pork ribs, lamb ribs, agnolotti, picci, bolognese, animelle, meatballs and a few other goodies including dessert. Not only were we enjoying some great food and beer; but we were doing it with one of the most influential brewers in the country. Garret is a pretty big deal in the world of brewing, so it was awesome to pick his brain. Signing up for this beer presentation was the best thing I've done in awhile.

Another great summer moment was a trip to the Boardy Barn for my roommate J-blow's bday. Boardy Barn is said to be the ultimate Sunday fun-day spot with tons of beer, dancing, and smiley-face stickers. Boardy Barn is rumored to sell more beer than Yankee Stadium--I don't know if thats true; but if so then thats impressive. It was raining, but that didn't stop our 34-person party bus from pulling up to this Hampton Bays hotspot. I believe the Barn is only open on Sundays, so people flock here rain or shine. You probably won't leave the Barn dry anyway, so weather doesn't really matter. Just plan on throwing out your clothes and being extremely hungover for work the next day. The Barn brings out your inner party animal and reminds you of your wild college days. Boardy Barn is open till Labor Day so you still have some time to check it out. Whether you're on your way back from the Hamptons or you make a special trip, Boardy Barn is worth the trip and probably the best sunday fun-day experience you will ever have.

On a more educational note, one of my favorite summer experiences was on a work field trip to Liberty Farms in Pennsylvania. Liberty Farms, one of our purveyors at Maialino, invited us for a day on the farm. After a tour of the property, we ate lunch. Chef Nick and some other BOH staff made a delicious tomato salad from the 50+ varieties planted on the farm. Scallions, basil, and olive oil brightened up the salad and made it something to remember. After lunch, we were put to work. Picking potatoes, thinning beats, and picking basil were just a few jobs that I got to help out with. It was a great experience to see where our food comes from and see the care that goes into it. A farmer is a farmer because they love what they do and it really shows in the quality product they produce. If you are ever given the opportunity to work on a farm, I highly suggest it. Its back-breaking work, but there's something cool about farming your own food.

Summer was filled with a ton of great food moments from going out to new restaurants to BBQing down the shore. Fresh, local seafood at Blue Claw Seafood Market or trips to the Chicken or the Egg are going to make me miss summer.

Photos of Summer

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