A Spirited Earth Day 2016 @ the Garrison Institute
On April 13, the Garrison Institute hosted Fresh Company’s seventh annual Earth Day dinner: A Spirited Earth Day. This year’s event featured author Max Watman and our adaptation of the great Chinese banquet. Guests were greeted with wine, beer, and a classic cocktail: the Singapore Sling. The Singapore Sling offered a refreshing (and stiff) counterpoint to the chile-adorned hors d’oeuvres that featured pork belly buns, Newburgh shrimp cakes, and a variety of dumplings.
Guests took their seats as Chris Marblo, executive director, and Linda Downey, events manager, welcomed everyone to the Garrison Institute. Our own Executive Chef Shelley Boris then spoke about how trips to Chinatown inspired the Chinese banquet menu: first to Manhattan growing up in New Jersey, now with her own family to the new Chinatown in Flushing, Queens.
Shelley then introduced Max Watman, who gave a humorous and nuanced talk on the recent trendiness of farms and farm-to-table cooking. He encouraged the audience to embrace the lasting cultures present in these seemingly flimsy trends, while dismissing the exploitative and careless attempts of cultural voyeurs to profit off the trend cycle. Max remarked that farming had been around for 12,000 years, and he remains confident that it will be a vital part of human culture as long as we need to eat.
After a brief Q&A session, the guests eagerly approached the Chinese banquet. They were greeted by Shanghai spicy chicken topped with scallion, jalapeños, and Szechuan peppers. Next on the line was the five-spice roasted duck with black vinegar on a nest of wheat noodles (that were soaked in tomato water and red chile oil). Rounding out the banquet choices were rice cakes with fresh bamboo shoots, leeks, chives, and black mushrooms as well as a cabbage and kale salad. We all cooled down with ginger, Thai tea, coconut, and mango ice cream pops made by Zora Dora before enjoying coffee and sesame cookies.
Overall, it was a very informative, good-humored, and filling night.