summertime can have us slipping pleasantly into long days of sunshine and sangria, letting our tanned skin and overbooked social agenda tease us into complacency.
intead let’s balance this summer’s bounty with a bit of learning. our name is farm is teaming up with agritecture this summer to offer some amazing classes in food production and susatinable farming that will leave you inspired and, well … what’s that they say about teaching a man to fish? check out their list of offerings here and read about my experience below.
I spent last night learning the deceptively simple art of cheese making at The Milky Whey event, along with a little wine tasting tutorial, that left my mind stretched as far as my mozarella ball, imagining how i will use my newfound skills (for good of course, not evil), and thirsty for more wine and wine knowledge, and then wine again.
while the event was focused on cheese making, it ended up being a beautiful collaboration between so many amazing and inspiring food-related creators in brooklyn. it was hosted at blue planet consulting, a space and project dedicated to the design, implementation, and operation of urban agriculture projects. we were greeted upon arrival by a beautiful spread of meats from mangalitsa, a pork producer located upstate and dedicated to breeding pork slowly to enhance its incredible natural flavors. their products have been called “the kobe beef of pork” a nickname i can 100% attest to its accuracy. the charcuterie was complemented by a variety of foccaccia from simon’s breads, the beautiful passion project of simon bowden. we sipped moscow mules from bruce cost ginger ale, and got slowly and pleasantly tipsy with no extra additives or flavors. which of course, means no unnecessary hangovers. at the table, we snacked on bright, red, juicy tomatoes from stone ridge farm, sprinkled with zesty sumaz from burlap and barrel, enhancing the sweet summertime flavor while educating us on the importance of getting back to the roots (or barks, or branches, or seeds) of spices. the cheese lesson began with a bit of history on cheese from janine the cheese teacher.
It was janine’s honest expertise and approachable demeanor made the lesson feel less initmidating. the most important thing, she taught us, is to use good quality dairy, which was provided to us by five acre farms and was, well, the cream of the crop.
as we dove in fingers-first to the bowls of curds. two things in particular blew my mind, even beyond having mozarella materialize from my fingertips.
1. legend has it that cheese was discovered by accident, when some true urban fashionistas carrying gunny sacks made of stomachs (yep.) tried to transport their milk. pouring it into these belly bags, an enzyme left inside it from… well, the bags’ original owners, if you will, curdled the milk and it was dead and spreadable upon arrival.
2.do you know what burrata is? other than pure magic? burrata is ricotta inside of mozarella. HOLY SHIT. i mean, of course it is, but when a cheese maker is making both ricotta and mozarella in front of you and then describes the beautiful, magical dance of creation that must happen to marry the two, my mind was racing and my mouth was watering. i feel like every time i have had burrata and sensually cut into it, letting it ooze delicately over the plate, for a minute i think, what are you, burrata? and then my curiousity is depleted as soon as the buratta hits my mouth and the whole thing is over before i know it and i’m only left feeling curiously satisfied.
after the mozarella balls were created and brined, shannon westfall, founder of vinfluence led a wine tasting curated around the very fresh cheeses we were enjoying, that perfectly complemented the fruits of our labor. shannon works with only small winemakers that are producing sustainable wines. she especially favors female vintners, and has built a dynamic repertoire of varietals that aren’t sold in stores. check out her membership program and try to catch her at a wine tasting around brooklyn soon.
my experience yesterday was as uplifting as it was satisfying. i expected a cheese making demonstration and instead was filled with so much inspiration by all of these passionate people, working to share their love of food, wines, and farming and to live their best life. i sat around a communal table of writers, bloggers, chefs, and eaters, and i realized that i was invited because i am somehow considered their contemporary. i took in as much information and knowledge as i could between bites, because my head and my heart were as hungry as my stomach. admittedly, i don’t exactly have any money to buy groceries until my shift tomorrow. i was happy to leave satisfied with my mind buzzing with exictement, ideas, and inspiration.
do yourself a favor and check out the amazing collaborative events agritecture is hosting this summer. immerse yourself in sustainable agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, and this beautiful community of creators that will feed your body and soul.