{photo diary} Michael Pollan at HVCC

I’m not exactly sure how to start off this quick {recap} post about the lecture/reception/book signing heard around the local food food scene world- “Michael Pollan Visits Hudson Valley Community College” on October 25, 2011!!!! As it was such a big event for the community and the college.  For a lot of people Mr. Pollan turned the “light bulb” on modern food production and shined a light on the real food your great grandmother ate in comparison to the corn & soy-infused convenient boxed “food-like substances” advertised to and ingested by us today.

I am one of them.

{Due to legal issues, Mr. Pollan’s likeness can not be reprinted on the blog so he is the blur at the head of the table.
I was thisclose to him- EEEEK! }

Scene: It was 2006, Venice Beach California. Shopping at the Venice & Santa Monica Farmers Market by either driving my silver Vespa scooter or riding my bike along the beach’s boardwalk. Ohhh I was so hip! I was finishing up my undergraduate degree (that had taken me 11 years to complete, so don’t get me wrong I was in my early 30’s) after closing my apparel & accessory showroom. (yeah, I know…. long story. Before that I was the Director at a lovely contemporary art gallery in SOHO-then-Chelsea.) I was using this “transition” time to reconfigure my life. I was finishing my degree through SUNY’s primarily-online college, Empire State College so all my work was paper-heavy. All of my writings ended up to be about food or agriculture in someway: how farm machinery changed over human history, the history of “trash” in the US, the problem with patent law & food, Palestine/Israel Conflict in terms of access to water, food & electricity. Life works in funny ways. I didn’t know how any of this “food related” research would change my life until recently. That I’m meant to be here. Here with a severely food allergic kiddo. Here as the CSA Coordinator for Kilpatrick Family Farm. Here as local food swap hostess. Here as FSC’s Vortex Creator.

I digress, one of the books that had a HUGE effect on me during that transitional year of 2006 was The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. I read it (highlighted it, wrote in it, tore corners of it, bended pages) cover to cover in an instant. I devoured it, then made my friends devour it. Sent a copy to Boston for a dear friend. I lent copies out, never to return. Bought a new copy, Alexis has it now. I talked about it non-stop to anyone that would listen. LOVED IT. Kinda in a weird way. I started talking about everything in terms of “corn”. If you’ve read the book, you will agree with me, you’ll never look at a strand of your hair the same again.

When I heard Mr. Pollan was coming to town to speak at HVCC, I was excited for the local community but I have to be honest I wasn’t going to pull out my wallet to see him in person. I try to read almost everything he writes and I watch interviews & movies with him front & center, and that is enough for me these days (life with a toddler & two jobs). I say that but once I got “the call” (an email) from FSC’s own and All Good Baker’s Co-Owner, Britin, that I was being invited to the 20-person dinner to celebrate his brief time at HVCC I almost fainted. I screamed. I texted my husband mid-workday. What. an. honor.

The “lecture/book signing” turned into an all-out Event, with a capital “E”, when Chef’s Consortium of New York organized the pre-lecture dinner and then the fabulous post-lecture “celebrate of local foods” reception afterwards.  The Chef’s Consortium of New York is run by many fabulous chefs from our area Noah Sheetz, Nick & Britin Foster, Rebecca Joyner, Nicci Nashban Cagan, Jeff Loshinksy and others (sorry I don’t know the whole crew yet!) and they are dedicated tofarm-to-table initatives and sustainable farming in the Capital District and Hudson River Valley. We are locavore-driven. Through outreach activities and events, we show that local food is good for our health and smart for the local economy. We bring our culinary talents together to promote local food production, farm-to-table, arts, historic preservation, music and small farms.”

The dinner, which was attended by passionate farmers, writes, businesses and non-profit members of our local food community, was a start-to-finish celebration of local ingredients & community. Each guest received a swag bag, each individually painted by Nicci Nashban Caganfrom. Personally I was drawn to the place setting with the bag that had happy radishes and the mantra “cook food”. (A side note, I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to frame my bag.) We started the evening with a cheese platter and Brazilian Cheese Poufs by Ellie Markovitch. The dinner was coursed from Britin’s handmade sage and/or basil butter & Nick’s country sourdough bread with a salad of crispy sea beam (from Local Ocean),  Celriac and Green Apples on mesculn and Braised shortribs (from Gordon Farm) with collard greens and a 3 berry pilaf (sourced from Farmer Jon’s Produce). Oh and the finale of a pumpkin & honey tart by Ellie Markovitch was perfection with All Good Baker’s pie tart and Creme Fraiche, Ellie’s Traditional Brazillian Steamed Pumpkin, Shaved Green Apples, Toasted Coconut.

Britin said of working in the kitchen with the amazing group that is Chef’s Consortium:

“I have to say, the comaradarie and vibe in the kitchen was virtually electric!  When you bring together excellent food with very competent Chefs who appreciate the mindfulness and careful tutelange under which the ingredients were grown and the healthy sustenance they bring, prepared for a truly appreciative audience (not to mention the pressure of cooking for Michael Pollan), there seemed to be something magical borne in the enjoyment of something as regular as a daily meal that night.”

I didn’t personally meet Mr. Pollan as I was too scared to just run up to him and hump his leg….Excuse Me….I mean introduce myself and shake his hand. In all actuallity, I never even got close to him as I had Jillian & Liz get my book signed for me while I manned the FSC table during the reception. My 2-second interaction with him (and the rest of the table) was during the brief dinner, he asked us to go around the table and introduce ourselves. That felt good enough for me as I was most excited about meeting the lecture attendees during the reception; local people who might like to attend a food swap or get inspired by some recipes. At the reception the attendees treated to an AMAZING spread of local apps (from spring rolls to ginger sesame slaw to mini pizzas) deserts (apple crisp) and drinks (apple cider)… Since we couldn’t compete with the food samples, we gave out bundles of recipes, bound by bakers twine with a free giftie of a tomato corer/strawberry huller. We tried to be cute, we hope it worked!

The reception is kinda a blur for me so Christine is gonna forward w. the recap.….

We met incredible people as they filtered through the reception, fueled by the local foods high that spread during Michael Pollan’s lecture. If you stopped by our table, you heard about our Albany and Saratoga swaps, our resource- and recipe-packed site and probably heard me gush about how super-awesome FSC is and how everyone should come hang out with us and drink cider and make cheese and eat homemade mustard.

Ric Orlando of New World Bistro Bar (who was, with his humor & friendly demeanor the highlight of the reception!)
{All Good Baker’s Nick & Britin Foster}

The reception was a gathering of restaurants, locavores and foodies who like thinking, talking, listening, making and eating good food. That’s our kind of party! We loved meeting and talking with members of our area’s vibrant and growing local foods/DIY movement.

Maybe we’ll see some of you new folks at our next food swap (this Sunday in Albany) or out at local farmers markets (we will be the “community table” at the Delmar Farmers Market this Saturday, 9am-1pm)? We’re looking forward to it.

*Just want to throw out a big T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U to Chef’s Consortium for the opportunity to be apart of such an amazing event.*


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Christine says:

    Great recap 🙂

    Riding around the boardwalk on your Vespa? You are possibly the hippest person I know. The art gallery and showroom stuff doesn’t hurt either.

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