Let Us Eat Local 2011 Culinary Benefit

Last Wednesday, NYC’s Altman Building set the scene for the fourth annual Let Us Eat Local tasting gala. Hosted by Just Food, this all-you-can-eat culinary showcase featured dozens of the city’s most celebrated chefs and artisans, serving up farm-fresh fare made from the region’s finest ingredients.

The packed house of guests delighted in samples and sips from area restaurants, local brewers, vintners and purveyors. A few of the evening’s standout dishes included BLT Bar and Grill’s braised short rib with pickled peppers and celery root puree (chef David Craine), Print’s fromage blanc mousse with vanilla-infused concord grapes and hazelnut streusel (chef Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez), The Spotted Pig’s creamy corn soup with smoked ham hocks and corn relish (chef April Bloomfield), and Gramercy Tavern’s sweet and tangy watermelon salad with Crock & Jar smoked and pickled beets (chef Michael Anthony).

There was also an hour-long VIP wine experience curated by world-renowned Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier of Rouge Tomate, which included vintage wine tastings from Long Island and upstate vineyards, as well as exclusive food pairings.

This was an exceptionally well-run and enjoyable event (if you missed out on this year’s, keep it on your radar for 2012), with proceeds benefiting area farmers and organizations in need, and supporting relief efforts after the devastation from Hurricane Irene. To learn more about the impacts of the storm and what you can do to help, visit Just Food’s Hurricane Relief Page.

Gramercy Tavern’s watermelon salad with Crock & Jar smoked and pickled beets

Fall vegetable salad with almond cheese and balsamic reduction from Candle 79

Just Food’s honoree and award recipient presentation (photo courtesy of MetroMix)

Print‘s fromage blanc mousse with vanilla-infused concord grapes and hazelnut streusel

Just Food “connects rural and urban communities and provides them with the training and tools to create a thriving local food system.” For more information, visit JustFood.org.

How to Save Bristol Bay By Dining Out All Month at the Mermaid Inn

Have you heard that salmon might be going genetically modified?

Trying to keep most of our natural stock intact are the fishermen of Bristol Bay, Alaska, home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, which accounts for 40% of the market and a $450 million industry. But that stock is under even greater pressure, as foreign mining companies plan to dig what they’re calling “Pebble Mine,” which runs the risk of serious pollution. But, as with many causes, in NYC there’s usually someone clever enough to tag fundraising onto a menu.

Trout Unlimited, a North American conservation for cold water fisheries and watersheds, took Mermaid Inn owner Danny Abrams on a five-day trip to the area, and now he’s promised to pledge $2 of every salmon dish ordered at either Mermaid Inn locations (or the Oyster Bar), to the Save Bristol Bay campaign for the month of September.

One such dish we wouldn’t want to lose: Mermaid’s grilled king salmon with roasted beets and horseradish vinaigrette. Learn more about the cause here, or go on and continue supporting local fisheries simply by eating from them before the bears do.

Where To Head For Craft Beer Week

More than 200 beer-centric venues (bars, restaurants, breweries and beer shops) have convened for the fourth NYC Craft Beer Week, which runs until September 25th. This means that now you not only have an easy list to tag for future beer finds; you’ll also be treated to some great pairing dinners and demos throughout the week. The main event: a corralling of the city’s 20 best brewers—and city beer sages Jimmy Carbone, Garrett Oliver (of the Brooklyn Brewery) and Dave Brodrick (Blind Tiger Ale House)—for a dinner of their favorite foods and brews at City Winery on the 22nd.

But we also wanted to point you to a few of our favorite places. Below, find things like crispy oysters, corn ravioli and a Berkshire pork rack to line the belly for the city’s best suds.

Brickyard Gastropub

Ommegang lovers, sign up for the $49.95 all-Ommegang prix-fixe pairing menu here. First course: “crispy oysters” (panko-breaded with jicama slaw and wasabi aioli) paired with the brewery’s Hennepin. Their Abby Ale comes with steak frites—pan-seared hanger steak, white truffle and parmesan frites with an au poivre sauce for dipping. Then, mussels with fennel, shallots, garlic, saffron and the Witte from Ommegang; and finish with kobe beef sliders and Rare Vos.

Jimmy’s No. 43

Home to pastured pig meat and local oysters, there’ll be lots on offer throughout the week here, from a Small Brewery Dinner with Civilization of Beer-founder Sam Merritt on Monday at 7—where you’ll sample truly lesser-known breweries (“nano,” even) like Blind Bat and Wandering Star, alongside a four-course pairing dinner (tickets: $55)—to a Cigar City Brewery & Oyster Party on Wednesday, where shucking and beer will continue to flow from 6-10 p.m. in the back room.

Colicchio & Sons

There are two events to note here: a Brewmaster’s Series with Pennsylvania-based Victoria Brewing on the 20th—that includes five-course pairing—and a dinner with Sixpoint on the 21st. There, the Red Hook, Brooklyn-based brewery will pour never-released bottles for a seasonal dinner.

Gramercy Tavern

In the Tavern Room, a four-course pairing ($75) starts with St. Bernardus Wit from Belgium next to grilled and marinated scallops with heirloom tomatoes and charentais melon. Then: Germany’s Schlenkerla Helles Lager with corn ravioli with artichokes, lima beans and scallions. Next it’s onto the main event: a Berkshire pork rack with belly bacon, grilled apricots and sweet bell peppers, alongside Germany’s Uerige Altbier. Finish with a dizzying Chocolate Blackout Cake with cacoa nib ice cream, salted hazelnut crumbs and a Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout.

Birreria at Eataly

We’ve all heard about the Dogfish Head oasis at the rooftop bar, Birreria—co-led by its brewmaster Sam Calagione—but there are other great brews on offer at the megamarket. The plan, after all, was to showcase the best of American and Italian beers. So look for Moretti (a golden bottom-fermented oldie from the 1800s), Baladin (Italy’s first microbrewery), and Del Borgo, a newbie from Borgorose.

Whole Foods

Or while you’re stopping in here to celebrate beer pairing of your own at home, pick up a Breckenridge from Denver, sold here.

Dine Out to Help Local Farms Devastated by Irene

While NYC narrowly escaped the wrath of Hurricane Irene, many surrounding areas and communities weren’t as fortunate—and are still struggling with the storm’s devastating aftermath. Some agricultural areas in upstate New York that were hit hardest have lost acres upon acres of flourishing farmland due to major flooding.

Want to help? You can, by making a reservation at one of the generous New York City restaurants supporting Dine Out Irene. On Sunday, September 25, participating establishments will donate a percentage of their sales to Just Food and GrowNYC, to help affected area farmers rebuild what was lost.

There’s already several big names on board (Blue Hill,Telepan, The Green Table, Waverly Inn) and the list just keeps growing and growing. Hopefully the crops will follow suit.

Support Dine Out Irene.

For more info and the current list of establishments, visit DineOutIrene.com.