Blog: Tomato Festival 2013
Some of us get into our comfortable clothes and watch hours of television. Some of us spend the day in traffic, trekking back to the City from a weekend abroad. We all tend to unwind from the weekend in different ways. For those of us not exactly ready to say goodbye to a mid-August end of week, the folks at Food Systems Network NYC made sure to keep the weekend rolling in style. Sunday night, Chelsea Market’s The Green Table played host to the 2013 Tomato Fest with a cocktail and tasting event yielding all things ripe and red.
Food Systems Network or FSNYC is a nonprofit organization that works to provide sustainably produced food to New Yorkers through the advocacy of fair and safe growing and production. Partnering with The Green Table, a restaurant that works with local farms and serves dishes using only local, healthy and sustainable fare, the “Annual Celebration of the Tomato” was an inventive and inspired event utilizing the handheld vegetable in a variety of new ways. The two hour cocktail and tasting event kicked off promptly at 6pm, inside of a bustling Chelsea Market. Onlookers peered inside of The Green Table’s floor to ceiling windows, admiring the exclusive party inside for ticketholders, tasting some delectable chips and salsa and passed around hors d’oeuvres.
The bar at The Green Table was occupied immediately with an energetic crowd looking to sip upon some of the tomato infused cocktails being poured alongside Brooklyn Brewery’s “Greenmarket Wheat Beer,” a seasonally delicious, crisp tasting brew. Parish Hall’s Meryl LaBorde was slinging “Famous Ray’s,” a fiery cocktail combining Greenhook Ginsmiths’ gin and jalapeno bitters with a touch of basil, onion, and an heirloom tomato garnish, while The Green Table’s Rick Hickman’s “Niagara Smoke” mixed Mezcal Union Uno with Niagara tomato and chili water and a green tomato shrub for (you guessed it) a delightfully smoky finish.
The tomato based drinks admittedly paired deliciously with the food samples, passed around by young volunteers. Among the highlights were bite sized “Tomato Burgers” served on fluffy almond buns, a refreshing “Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho” which was neither overly rich or creamy, and a scrumptious “Fried Green Tomato,” served crunchy with a dollop of remoulade sauce. Our hands down favorite however were the “Whole Wheat Danishes,” filled in the center by a savory tomato jam. The entire two bite sample tasted like a perfect pizza served cold and fresh. By the time the “Chocolate Covered Ground Cherries” served with a stem and an incredibly inventive “Tomato & Plum Granita” (think the strangest Italian ice you’ve ever tasted) were served, we had already been satiated by the ripe summery vegetable.
At first glance a celebration of a singular vegetable sounds a bit peculiar, Food Systems Network NYC ensured a festive and savory cocktail party that was both casual and tasteful at once. The innovatively poured drinks brought the tomato out from the shadows of the old-fashioned Bloody Mary and into a newly inspired light, typically reserved for garnishes like green olives, sliced orange rind, and sweet round cherries. But most of all, the drinks did their job, allowing us to relax from a busy few days and wind our weekends down, in support of local business, local produce, and the sustainable initiatives that the FSNYC is so fervently fighting for on our behalf.
- Jane Van Arsdale