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Archive for the ‘Environmentalism’ Category

One Sunday matinée of Milk-n-Honey + One Monday night Foundry Theatre Free-Range Thanksgiving = Whoa! Amazing!

Sunday was the final day in the inaugural run of Milk-n-Honey, a multimedia theater piece put on by LightBox at 3-Legged Dog Theater. After interviews with eaters, chefs, pickers, doctors, food scientists, dumpster divers, farmers, and more, they came up with a series of short vignettes following a collection of stories about how food affects all these people.

Two supermarket clerks crushing on each other figure out if going on dumpster diving, urban foraging dates are romantic or gross. After regaining his taste buds from a jellyfish sting, a flavor scientist searches for the elusive flavor of light. A Mexican man takes a new job in America as a picker, trying to make the money to send back to his family while coming to terms with what it means to be living in the United States illegally. A sugar fiend gets diagnosed with diabetes, and tries to learn to navigate the supermarket without going into diabetic shock.

These stories were told in a dynamic, mobile set – supermarket shelves on wheels were whirled around to create evocative spaces. A camera mounted to a supermarket cart added a degree of meta-awareness to a scene unfolding directly in front of you.

An after show cafe featured homemade brownies by the Lower East Side Girls Club and a presentation from NYU students in an Oxfam Chapter about the Farm Bill.

After being an audience-member at Milk-n-Honey, I was thrust into the spotlight at The Foundry Theatre’s fully participatory Free-Range Thanksgiving.

Ten playwrights had been commissioned to write short plays for the event, and each of them, paired with a director, were charged with turning a dinner table of strangers into the stars of the premiere of their new work.

Each table was named for one of the plays, and sitting at “And Only Now Is It As Clear As It Has Ever Been,” I was not sure what was coming for me from award-winning playwright Carl Hancock Rux. What I was sure of was that I should take advantage of the copious amounts of free NYS wine that were provided, and get a little smashed. That was the whole idea of the event! Get everyone smashed and acting. A high school drama geek’s wildest fantasy.

When combined with a surprising and seasonal menu prepared by Chef Eric Hunter with food from Golden Earthworm Organic Farm and Roxbury Farm, and an audience made up of writers, actors, directors, and food activists, it was an exciting and totally original night.

I learned that I like Lily Flower, a pickled-tasted bundle of petals added to the salad varietals and doused with grapefruit-lemon thyme vinaigrette. To describe the savory back-of-tongue feelings from the miso-marinated local greens I drew back on the Milk-n-Honey flavor scientists’ explanation of the way our tongues and noses decipher tastes and memories. The dessert, homemade gingerbread with poached apple-rosemary sauce, was as delicious as it sounded, and possibly even more so at ten minutes to midnight and some number of bottles of wine in, as it was served.

So, congratulations to LightBox and The Foundry Theatre! These were fantastic and innovative events, and completely proactive at involving people from many and varied experiences with food, eating, living, and performing.

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Everyone’s favorite proof-that-I’m-down (circa 10th grade), Adbusters, is gearing up for this year’s BUY NOTHING DAY.

From the website: Driving hybrid cars and limiting industrial emissions is great‚ but they are band–aid solutions if we don’t address the core problem: we have to consume less. This is the message of Buy Nothing Day.

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My first instinct was, yeah! I can do that! I, who always toy with the idea of forcing my students (high school aged) to carry around a garbage bag all day to get an idea of how much waste they generate; I, who was the only 7th grader who brought her lunch in a tupperware (seriously, I think I was); I, who co-led a petition campaign to bring back the milk carton recycling in 5th grade. I can do that.

But then I looked at the calendar! Buy Nothing Day is scheduled for Nov. 23rd… the day after Thanksgiving. The day that is, in fact, when my family is celebrating (due to schedular conflicts and such). Isn’t it called Black Friday? I guess that’s the idea. Nobody’s impressed if Buy Nothing Day coincides with, say, Ash Wednesday.

I think my surprise is more commentary on me as a self-deluding, shopaholic New Yorker (of course, I’m a New Yorker when it comes to shopping but a Brooklynite when it comes to everything else. God that’s sick.) than it is commentary on Adbusters and their campaign. Of course they picked Black Friday! That’s the whole idea! Take the most shopped day in the country and take the shop out of it! Not since Mr. Larsen’s poor supervision lost Dwight T. his finger on the lathe saw, has “shop” been so forcefully removed from regularly scheduled programming!

(I know, that didn’t make any sense. I’m sorry. Being forced to act on my purported beliefs makes me all nervous and flustered!)

So for many, Nov. 23rd is a paid holiday. Nothing makes us want to consume like a paid holiday! I’m not even working for this money! And they’re giving it to me! I need to get rid of it as quickly as possible! Oh god there are only 31 shopping days left until Christmas! HELP ME BABY JESUS!

I know the feeling. I do.

In fact, just this past Monday, I had a surprise paid holiday in the form of a Veterans Day off that I never got the email about. After I ate my breakfast alone in the dark, empty office, what did I do? Did I visit an old folks home to spread cheer? Did I pick up litter on subway platforms? What do you think I did? Obviously, I shopped! By lunchtime I was toting a new coat, a huge bag of assorted crap from Bed Bath Beyond, and some other stuff. I don’t even remember what.

So perhaps it’s not such a bad idea to force myself to buy nothing for a day. My new roommate keeps the sabbath and every Saturday, as I am exchanging dollars for brunches and swiping debits for cutesy clothes, I take a minute to appreciate her way of doing things. In a hypothetical way. And then I go…………..that’s right. Buy more stuff.

Personally, I already know that on the 23rd I am definitely going to have to buy at least a ferry ticket. But I think it shouldn’t be too hard for me to not buy anything else. What you do, that’s up to you! Get up at 4 AM to stand in a 3 hour line to get a discounted Elmo Giggle & Shake Chair?

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Never too young for the joys of a vibrating chair.

 

Or will you wake up at noon, cover your turkey-bloated face with zombie makeup, and stagger around to scare the consumers?

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Braaiiins…..J Crew Scarves…… Braaiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnsssss……Stuuuuffff…..

 

It’s like, it’s never really a good time to Buy Nothing. That’s the whole point, right? And it’s not that we shouldn’t EVER buy ANYthing. It’s that sometimes, it’s easy to get lulled, so absolutely buying nothing on the most buy-happy day of the year is a way of taking a stand. It’s like deciding to start your crash diet on the day of the Iowa State Fair. You will miss out on lots of bargain-priced Fried Oreos, but you will have proved something important to yourself.

They even have a facebook group!

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There’s a lot of talk these days (particularly this day) about environmental awareness, specifically about global warming and fuel crises and whatnot. This is not unlike my grade school days, but our big issues were rain forests and endangered species. Drowning in water-bourne pathogens from the floods that will destroy my borough are scarier than pandas, so in a lot of ways, I’m glad these issues are coming up now.

So, in the spirit of celebrating both environmental soundness and my fondness for burritos, I introduce Habana Outpost, “the first solar-powered restaurant and market place in New York!” The restaurant, located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, is largely an outdoor patio, festooned with solar panels and picnic tables. In this magically sustainable courtyard space, you’ll find the kitchen/truck in which the food is prepared, a mural depicting energy transfer from the sun to the restaurant (and the surrounding power grid) and happy patrons eating Latin-inspired food and drinking $2.50 beers.

When I visited two Fridays ago, I went with the Veggie Burrito, which quite literally was filled with rice, beans, queso fresco, lettuce, salsa and cactus. Yes, cactus. It was alarmingly similar to sauteed aloe. So, while it was delicious, it was a really, really weird texture. I washed that down with a $2.50 Six Points. The dark one. It was great. And all of those things were consumed on and with biodegradable cornstarch utensils, plates and cups.

Habana Outpost is a truly delightful dining experience, combined with innovative environmentalism. It shows Brooklyn that we can party like we do while being environmentally responsible. Be sure to look into the people-powered smoothie maker and open marketplace on the weekends during the day. Maybe also check out Habana Cafe and Habana To Go in the City.

Habana Outpost
757 Fulton Street
Ft. Greene, Brooklyn

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

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Zaytoon is a new Middle Eastern restaurant on Vanderbilt and St. Marks. There’s another branch of it on Smith Street that I guess does okay. The Prospect Heights branch is recently opened, and I’d heard good things from a neighborhood friend. But maybe she’s never eaten Middle Eastern food ever before. Ever. Or maybe she has some disease where on her tongue crap tastes like filet mignon. It’s a mystery. Keep reading for an in-depth review of this new potential hot spot!

Okay – in the interest of total disclosure: when we first got there (me, mooseknuckle, and one more friend), the waitress came over and said ‘what can I get you gentlemen?’ In case you don’t know, pizappas is a lady. This waitress didn’t know, so maybe you don’t either. So as I proceed to write this scathing review there is always the possibility that my experience was taint(haha)ed from the very beginning. But whatever. Here goes….

I started out ordering a sampler platter. You know, the middle-easterners, they love their mezze. So I got the Zaytoon Combination Plate with (my choice) yogurt cucumber salad, fatoosh, babaganoush, stuffed grape leaves, and mujaderra.

Yogurt Cukes: these guys were near the best of the bunch, which is not saying much. A watery concoction that would have been an OK sandwich dressing did not hold up on its own. The topping of low grade feta did not help matters.

Fatoosh: In general I am a big fan of fatoosh, a salad featuring sour flavor from lemons and sumac, and toasted pita bread. What I was served didn’t actually seem like fatoosh. I think they might have accidentally substituted Israeli Salad, as it was a slightly soggy pile of cubed cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. No pita bread. So it was either a bad Israeli Salad or a really bad fatoosh.

Babaganoush: This shit tasted sweet! Not sweet like scoring free tickets to a G&R tribute band show. Sweet like the jujubes that are the only candy you have left 2 weeks after Halloween. I don’t know what the shit was wrong with it but it tasted bad and like eggplant candy. Not in a good way. Dudes, check your recipes.

Stuffed Grape Leaves: Passable. They weirdly had like one slightly hard chick pea in each stuffed leaf. wtf?

Mujaderra: When made well, this is a delicious concoction of rice and lentils topped with fried onions. When I passed this shit in the display counter on my way to the bathroom, I knew before I tasted it that I had made a mistake in ordering it from Zaytoon. However, when I asked the waitress to switch it a mere 3 minutes after ordering, she said it was too late. Bummer. No comps even. So when it gets to the table, I found that it was cold! Usually served warm to room temperature, as you may know when rice is cold it gets hard. One bite of hard, cold rice was enough so that I didn’t venture any further into this dish. And there weren’t even any fried onions on top!

So that takes care of my meal. It stank. Mooseknuckle got a shawarma sandwich that was OK. Except for that it was a wrap! Like, a 1995 looking wannabe gym bunnie type of wrap. Like, that fad when they thought that if you put a chicken ceasar salad in a wrap it made it healthy. But anyway. He liked it medium. In my opinion the meat was a little overdone.

Friend #2 got kibbe that were ginormous! Like the size of nerf footballs. So if you’re into portions, go for that one. The flavor was too heavy on the cinnamon and the texture was too mushy in the middle but it was at least recognizable as kibbe. Of the three dishes ordered, it was the best.

The bread is delicious, but extra breads come 50 cents a pop. Their little way of keeping Atkins’ dream alive. And no matter how delicious freshly baked pita bread is, it loses a bit of its luster when dipped in babaganoush that tastes like an eggplant had a baby with a sugar cube and then stepped on it. Then ate it and puked it back up. Then died and its body decomposed with the puke. Then a cat ate the decomposed puke body and shat it out on your plate and drizzled it with olive oil.

So, screw you Zaytoon. I hate you. I’m never going to eat at you again. PEACE!

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