Join the Club However you eat, there's a dinner collective for you

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If your list of must-try destinations in New York City is dwindling, it’s time to rejigger how you think about dining out. Consider skipping your usual restaurant haunts for a supper club-style dinner in a stranger’s home—or even a dumpster (keep reading).

Paleo: Whether you are a hard-core paleo follower or just want to try eschewing grains and dairy for one evening, Cave Kitchen is for you. While Linh Kieu and David Gull appreciate the paleo resources found around town (think Hu Kitchen), they realized that it is still “very hard to be paleo and social in New York City.” To remedy their own problem, the couple launched the club “to share our love for good food while building relationship with like-minded people” from the comfort of their own dining room table. Get in on the action by filling out a membership form. From there, booking one of the twice-monthly three-course dinners (suggested donation of $45, or $60 with a wine pairing) is a snap.

Salvage Supper Club’s Josh treuhaft and Celia Lam turn ugly produce into delicious morsels. Click image to watch!

Waste Not: Meet up with the folks behind Salvage Supperclub and you could be feasting with 15 others at a table in a dumpster—albeit one set under twinkly lights and scrubbed within an inch of its life. Salvage Supperclub blossomed from Josh Treuhaft’s masters thesis at the School of Visual Arts in New York when he “started thinking about how to use food experiences to get people to waste less food” and make it an enjoyable experience to boot.

Treuhaft and chef Celia Lam, who was educated at the Natural Gourmet Institute, source food that normally is forsaken (think edible weeds from the Queens County Farm Museum, bruised apples from Migliorelli Farm, day-old bread from Bien Cuit and aesthetically unsellable carrots from Norwich Meadow Organic Farm) and keep it from ending up in the trash by crafting six course meals form the bounty. To stay up-to-date on the happenings, send salvagesupperclub@gmail.com an email.

 

Happy Screams Downtown Creamery does ice cream right

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This summer, you (pick one):

  1. Ate too much ice cream.
  2. Didn’t consume enough ice cream.
  3. Were disheartened by the general state of crappy ice cream.

Whatever your answer, Downtown Creamery is your Autumn salvation.

For $40 a month, a bicycle will roll up to your home and deliver two pints of creamy vegan ice cream made from a base of coconut milk, cashew butter and maple syrup.

Downtown Creamery ice cream is not nearly as sweet as the commercial stuff, and the ever-rotating flavors (included chocolate and toasted almond, peaches and cream, and Concord grape sorbet) are richly complex stunners. Founder Megan Huylo says she dreams up flavors through “a combination of seasonality and creative high jinks.”

Megan huylo, Founder and Chef of Downtown creamery

Huylo’s intense relationship with food runs to her pre-teen years when she battled cancer. While undergoing chemo, Huylo’s parents gave her foods like seaweed and ginger for their nutritional and healing properties. Since then, she’s embraced a balanced, holistic, mostly plant-based approach which inform the classes she teaches at the Natural Gourmet Institute and the custom cleanses, catering and wellness coaching she offers through Downtown Epicure.

If you want to take your ice cream consumption to the next level, Huylo will even design custom flavors for you, like a salty-sweet chocolate miso combination, or a labor-intensive kabocha squash blend.

Sign us up.

 
Sign up for hand delivered ice cream from Downtown Creamery!

Sea the difference Urban Sproule makes salt in the city

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Take a peek at our salt collection and you’ll find a sodium rainbow of the good stuff: pristine white Fleur de Sel finishing flakes, rough red Himalayan crystals mixed with iron-rich clay and distinctively black Hawaiian granules made with detoxifying activated charcoal.

We reach for these salts (in moderation) over processed salts because they contain naturally occurring trace minerals and elements, including calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.

But until Sarah Sproule and her business, Urban Sproule, came along, we never thought we’d have the opportunity to stock our pantry with sea salt from our very own city.

While NYC goes about its business, Sproule’s sea salt is dried on a rooftop on West 30th Street. Sproule pumps water from an aquifer on the South Shore of Long Island, where 250 feet below the surface the salt water is slowly filtered through layers of sand, silt and clay.

Sarah Sproule, the one woman (powerhouse) behind Urban Sproule.

This journey to hyper-local salt greatness was a trial-and-error process. Sproule tried waters gathered from Long Island to the Bronx and experimented with different methods of production until she settled on solar evaporation. She told us, “I fell in love with this production method because of the story each salt crystal tells. When you cook your salt you strip it of trace minerals—the very things that sets natural sea salts apart from processed table salt. When producing solar salt you are allowing Mother Nature to control the shape, size, color and even the flavor of your salt.”

Sproule now offers a virgin raw salt along with a variety of flavored versions infused with ingredients such as zippy celery leaves and Montauk squid ink (all salts are $8 for 1.5 ounces).

Sproule’s salt revolution is just getting started: In October, look for a revamp of packaging and surprising new flavors including Cave-Aged Cheddar Salt.

 

 
Where to find Urban Sproule in stores

Clean Habits: Scott Reinhardt How Gramercy Tavern's Assistant GM keeps it clean

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To walk into Gramercy Tavern is to be reminded of the bounty of New York’s local foodshed. The ever-changing front table highlights a profusion of area flowers and vegetables. The commitment to local sourcing isn’t just decorative; it expands well into the menu—making it easy to see why this spot is also a Clean Plates favorite.

Assistant General Manager Scott Reinhardt, who’s worked at the restaurant for 17 years, is part of the glue that holds the gracious staff at Gramercy Tavern together. Here, he tells us how he keeps it together—from small meals to a dedicated daily exercise practice and why absolutely you need to know what “Dock to Dish” is.

What’s a typical day of eating like for you?

I eat many small meals. Breakfast is 1 egg/cured meat/aged cheddar/toast. Lunch is at 11 a.m. and our lunch cooks put together a great meal for us with lots of vegetables. I usually skip the carbs and go heavier on the protein and greens. We eat again at 4:30 p.m. and this time I eat very light: a half portion of protein, a small amount of vegetables and a starch. Then I eat again around 7:30 p.m., usually roasted fish or chicken and a vegetable. At 10:30 p.m. I always end the day with peanut butter and bananas.

From Scott Reinhardt’s training table:”I always end the day with peanut butter and bananas.” (Photo credit: Maura McEvoy)

 

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry?

Luckily I have a steady schedule, which makes that much easier. But other than that, I just say NO to all the temptations of breads and sweets.

How do you stay fit?

I do go to the gym every day. Each week I do two days of cardio, two days of light weight training, one day of heavy weight training (with a trainer) and one day of stretching and abs. Right now I am starting to run outside to get ready for two team-building functions that I am the team captain for: Tough Mudder in October and the God’s Love We Deliver run in November. We have had a team for many years and are one of the top fundraisers for it. Last year we raised over $33,000 and had about 40 people on our team.

Any suggestions for someone eating at Gramercy Tavern who wants to keep their meal light and local?

That is so easy—everything we feature is local, and our culinary team led by Executive Chef Michael Anthony also focuses on vegetables a lot, so it’s very easy to have a light, local and seasonal meal. I really love any of the fresh fish we get from “Dock to Dish.”

*CP Note: Dock to Dish is modeled on a community-supported-agriculture (CSA) system. Chefs prepay for seafood and receive deliveries of fish (complete with details about how the fish was harvested) within 24 hours of it being brought to shore.

Watch a short film about Gramercy Tavern

Spinning Plates Dan Barber is a superstar chef—and now, author

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The trees are already showing signs of autumn and there is a certain feeling in the air that has us chucking our floozy beach reads for something more substantial.

If you’re feeling anything like us, have we got just the book for you: The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food ($30). The book is authored by local-boy-made-good, Dan Barber, who in addition to now being an accomplished writer, is also the esteemed chef of Blue Hill in the West Village and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within the nonprofit Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. Oh, and in 2009, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

So it’s with good reason we should all lend an ear to Barber’s realization that the farm-to-table movement doesn’t do enough to have a lasting impact on our food system.

Dan Barber: author, chef and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world (2009).

Coming in at almost 450 pages, this book is no lightweight, but neither are its ideas. Barber reimagines our food system and our plate centered not around meat with a few vegetables, or even grass-fed meat with local vegetables, but a new way of eating rooted in cooking with the whole farm—an integrated system of vegetable, grain and livestock production.

Barber says it best himself: “Truly flavorful food involves a recipe more complex than anything I can conceive in the kitchen. It speaks to something beyond the crop, the cook, or the farmer—to the entirety of the landscape, and how it fits together. It can best be expressed in places where good farming and delicious food are inseparable.”

Buy the book!

Street Smart Organic Avenue offers so much more than juice

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It’s been all about cold-pressed juices at Organic Avenue since Denise Mari founded the brand in 2000.

Now with 10 stores in NYC to the brand’s name (click here for locations), OA is getting even hotter (literally) with grab-and-go foods that are part of the new SPE-certified Feed Your Brain menu. OA now has you covered from breakfast’s warm steel cut oatmeal to an after-dinner chocolate mousse made with avocado, cacao, cold-pressed coffee, vanilla bean, maple sugar and coconut sugar.

Martin Bates, Organic Avenue’s CEO, was formerly the chief executive of another Clean Plates favorite, Pret A Manger, and he’s brought his business smarts to a happy, healthy new audience.

You’ll want to sit around and enjoy the beautiful space and good food

Stop in for a kimchi wild rice bowl filled with broccolini and radishes, or grab a wrap blanketed in a whole wheat tortilla or a nutrient-rich collard green leaf, like a Middle Eastern version with a smoky baba ghanouj and oregano-packed za’atar.

Even if you’re too busy to scrupulously study every label, you can take comfort in OA’s mince-no-words philosophy: “If we can’t find it organic, we won’t make it.” OA believes in a 100 percent organic, plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

All the juice and clean eating is clearly paying off: OA is set to launch six more stores in the next few months.

Check out the menu at Organic Avenue

Like Mad ACME now offers an all-vegetarian tasting menu

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ACME knows how to party. This Noho restaurant spent the first 25 years of its life as Acme Bar & Grill, a solid staple of New Orleans-style cooking.

In January 2012, a makeover, new management and a shooting star of a chef transformed the spot into the glitteringly hip ACME.

This summer, there’s even more to get excited about at this downtown spot: Chef Mads Refslund, who comes to Manhattan by way of Copenhagen’s Noma (frequently called the best restaurant in the world), has just launched an all-vegetarian tasting menu ($65), backed by his creative Nordic approach.

Chef Mads Refslund from Copenhagen’s Noma brings a nordic spin to Acme’s menu

Refslund’s thoughtful nine-course menu (see it here) is rife with unusual bits like foraged and pickled ingredients, and his way with vegetables is unlike any you are likely to see anywhere else around town. Take his summer cabbage, for instance: “It is one of the things on the vegetarian menu I like most,” he says. “We grill it for hours with hickory bark, thyme, lots of herbs, which gives it a smoky flavor, and then we serve the cabbage heart with fermented pear juice and coriander.”

Refslund is also a strong proponent of seasonality and local sourcing. “It’s very, very important to make people think about eating more vegetables and care for Mother Earth; it’s ultimately going to make the world a better place for people to eat more vegetables—and not just any vegetables, good vegetables, that are well raised, without pesticides, by small farmers.”

We think that sentiment is the hippest of all.

What is Nordic cuisine?

Clean Habits: Ashley Newsome How Roman's manager keeps it clean

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It’s only fitting that Ashley Newsome teaches fitness classes called intenSati: she leads a pretty intense life. When she’s not wrangling the team at Fort Greene’s beloved Roman’s restaurant as a manager and wine pro, she’s empowering people through movement classes, wine tastings, cycling to work and challenging the kitchen staff to push-up contests.

Here, Newsome shares some personal tips, tricks and hints.

What’s a typical day of eating like for you?

I don’t follow any sort of diet. In fact I don’t believe in them. My two rules are: think before you eat—what I like to call “eating on purpose”—and, secondly, eat every three hours. Typically I have carbs in the morning, to get them in early so I can burn them off throughout my day. Right now I’m farmer’s market crazy. This morning I made a brown rice salad with snap peas, pecorino, mint, lots of black pepper and plenty of olive oil, plus a fried egg on top. From there I get as much protein and as much green as I can.

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry?

I strive to keep my work life and my play life separate. After hours and on my days off I do not check my work email. I don’t answer work calls. If there’s an emergency I will get a text and reply only if it’s urgent. Also, I meditate in the mornings—just six minutes of elongated breathing to clear my mind. And as long as I “eat on purpose,” Roman’s takes care of the rest for me. Those guys know all the produce and proteins are coming from some of the healthiest, most-trusted sources one can get, period. Roman’s keeps me healthy.

Roman’s in Fort Greene helps Ashley “eat on purpose”

How do you stay fit?

Being a fitness instructor does wonders. I teach this class called intenSati three times a week. That does a lot of good for my body. But I also do two days of yoga and four days of cardio. It also helps that I walk or bike to work most days. And from time to time I challenge the kitchen staff to a push-up contest!

What’s your philosophy behind wine?

Well, I believe in stories. Getting to know the families behind the wine, that it comes from a real place with a real history. I believe wine should be drunk with food and, more importantly, shared with cherished friends and family. Right now I’ve been drinking this lovely wine, Salcheto, from Tuscany. It’s a light, summer red I can just not get enough of.

*CP Note: Salcheto is an ultra-natural wine grown on a self-sustaining winery with solar panels, geo-thermal heating and cooling and plenty of honeybees for pollination. The winery uses no herbicides, no pesticides and no artificial grooming (weeds grow amidst vines).
Check out Ashley’s intenSati videos

Dumpling Delight Mimi Cheng's makes dumplings to get excited about

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When it comes to problems, Hannah and Marian Cheng, the sisters behind the new Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings, have the very best kind: They are too busy.

Once you too try their superlative dumplings, you’ll understand why they can barely wrap them fast enough to keep up with demand at their East Village spot.

Dumplings are inherently juicy little pockets of perfection. But when these portable delights get messed around with (sub-par meat, questionable ingredients) they can be the opposite of a healthy choice.

Thank goodness the Cheng’s are on our side, as Hannah says, “We refuse to compromise the integrity of the dumpling.”

At Mimi Cheng’s every dumpling is cooked to order in the open kitchen, whether you choose pan-fried or the healthier boiled option. All of the recipes, including the olive oil-based dipping sauce, are inspired by the sisters’ mother, Mimi.

Sisters Marian and Hannah Cheng get their inspiration and DELICIOUS secret recipes from their mom, Mimi

Fillings include pasture-raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat from Fleisher’s (says Hannah: “We’re not into the mystery meat thing”) and all organic vegetables. The Mighty Veggie, plumped with organic kale and zucchini, free-range eggs and shiitake mushrooms is a superstar. Meat-eaters can choose from the Mimi Cheng (chicken and zucchini) or the Reinvented Classic (pork, bok choy and cabbage); all dumplings are 6 for $8 or 8 for $10.

In addition to the dumplings, you’ll find a daily choice of fresh market vegetables ($5 each). Recent options include a refreshing cucumber salad, simple pickled cabbage and sautéed broccoli with garlic and olive oil.

Mama knows a good thing when she sees it.

Mimi Cheng’s
179 Second Avenue
212-533-0391
mimichengs.com

 

 

Get Happy Why maple water is the next big thing

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Here at Clean Plates, we take hydration seriously.

Beyond the joys of fresh-filtered water, we keep ourselves hydrated with everything from fermented watermelon basil coolers to iced cocoa to silky homemade almond milk.

But drinking water tapped from a tree was a new idea we had to try on. Thankfully for us city-dwellers, we won’t need to tap any trees ourselves for this experience: Happy Tree maple water ($4 for 10 oz. and $5.50 for 16 oz.) has just launched and is available in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Last March, Happy Tree co-founder Ari Tolwin was visiting his brother in the Catskills. While the two were making maple syrup, he had a discovery, “I had no idea that maple syrup is actually made from the tree’s water,” he says, “Which is refreshing, hydrating and nutrient-rich as-is, straight from the tree.”

 

Co-founders—and Brothers—Chaim (Left) and ari tolwin (right), and brand ambassador nomi carmen

 

Happy Tree comes to you having never been heated and full of naturally occurring Thiamin (B1) and Riboflavin (B2). Tolwin and his comrades even shipped samples off to food scientists at Silliker Labs to confirm the presence of those metabolism-boosting B vitamins, electrolytes and anti-inflammatories.

If the word “maple” has you thinking of sticky-sweet pancake syrup, stop right there. This stuff is faintly sweet (it has a 2% concentration of maple sugar, versus syrup’s heavy 60 to 70% concentration) but tastes pleasantly earthy too. This new beverage is perfect for anyone watching his or her sugar intake: Happy Tree clocks in at only 35 calories and 7g of sugar per 10 oz. bottle.

Watch your back, coconut water.

 

Learn more about Happy Tree