Met Derek Denckla : www.thegreenest.net at Chavalla's, satisfying a craving for their black bean soup (which I usually pair with ceviche de camarones... but didn't this time as Deena's admonishments against the shrimping industry are lodged in my brain... hey, what about the poor shrimpers livelihood?) Derek's asked us to blog about our process developing the apres farm tour pickling party we're doing as part of Farm City; part of the Crossing the Line festival (http://www.fiaf.org/events/fall2010/2010-crossing-the-line.shtml) We'll be feeding around 120 folks using produce and eggs from brooklyn farms, and we'll guide them to make refrigerator pickles to take home as a souvenir. I think, rather than buying canning jars I'm gonna start collecting and recycling nice jars with lids, so save me any good ones!

Over lunch we wrestled with how pure Communal Table should to be about using locally sourced ingredients... when we catered the FI:FA press launch- we used ALL local, but spent so much time foraging all over bklyn and paying top dollar for ingredients: we barely broke-even. This is a constant dilemma: how to not go broke while embracing urban agricultural and locally based artisanal product? For Farm City we're thinking of a ratio: 60/40-ish, positioning bklyn products and produce where they'll really make a difference- but not necessarily absorbing them into everything... this is not to say we won't continue to use mindfully produced goods for the better bulk of everything we do... it's just you have to strike a balance. It's a ridiculously complex equation: money + time + labor and equally as important: meaning. There're stories behind the goods and stories created with their consumption that affect experience and action- and this is the part Communal Table gets to play with!

A bulk of our discussion was about the shape of the party... menu of course is based on the farmer's dependence on sunshine and good fortune... but the feel of the party comes down to table arrangements and the materiality of the dishes. It's one show with waiters and trays to the strains of violin, another with an all-u-can-eat brass-band buffet and yet another if we set a long table down the terrace of the Old Stone House. So many hats to wear... forager, chef, designer, actor... it keeps this work engaging even when we don't break-even.

Later that same afternoon...
Preparing for the pickling part of Farm City I attended a canning workshop sponsored by http://www.foodsystemsnyc.org/
Guest speaker Sherrie Brooks Vinton http://sherribrooksvinton.com/ gave a wonderful demystifying demonstration that has me rearing to boil up a bunch of jars! I'm gonna try beets and plums and turmeric onions, and steep the last local strawberries in Vodka- all suggestions from Sherrie's book Put 'em Up!

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