New York Lands Its First Certified Organic Craft Beer

As health-conscious as so many New Yorkers seem to be these days, it’s hard to believe that the Empire State has been without its own brand of organic beer. Until now. This week, Smart Beer Organic Golden Ale hits shelves across the five boroughs. The non-GMO craft brew is produced an hour upriver, in New Paltz. So it comes with the added allure of being (kinda) local. But is it any good? Only one way to find out: crack open a bottle of our beer of the week.

Beyond their color, golden ales are characterized by a crisp, lighter body and muted fruitiness on the palate. They tend to be broadly accessible, appealing, even, to traditional lager lovers. Smart Beer’s entry into the category comfortably hits those marks. Brewed with orange peel and licorice root, it opens up to reveal a peppery zest, distantly reminiscent of a Belgian-style witbier. At 5.5% alcohol, it’s an easy and inviting drink. The flavor profile isn’t defined by its organic, GMO-free origins. It just happens to boast those qualities as an ancillary benefit. Don’t approach it expecting some magical new beer-drinking experience to unfold itself before you. Drink it because it tastes good, and is brewed with worthy ingredients.

When he’s not peddling his new line of libations, Smart Beer’s founder, Gabriel Heymann, spends time as a yoga instructor. “I wanted to enjoy both my social life and my healthy lifestyle,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to sacrifice well-being in order to celebrate life’s moments, and that’s what this beer is about.” That, and a pleasant buzz. Retailing within the same general range as its non-organic counterparts — around $12 a six-pack — you’ll hardly notice a tax for the organic upgrade. 

The beer arrives in Brooklyn with a bang tomorrow, as Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick hosts a launch party, starting at 2 p.m. The Smart Beer Brand will soon expand to incorporate several other sought-after styles. Pick up a sixer on your way to your next yoga class. It’s difficult to get much more Brooklyn than that. 


How ‘Bout Them Organic Farm Apples? ‘Tis the Season for U-Pick

Looking for something to do this weekend? Take in the best of fall by traipsing through rows of ripening apple trees along a backdrop of cascading auburn foliage at Fishkill Farms (9 Fishkill Farm Road, 845-897-4377). Just off of I-84 in the upstate town of East Fishkill, the family-owned farm is an hour and a half north of New York City by car and hosts weekend apple picking through October 19.

The historic apple orchard has been in the Morgenthau family for nearly 100 years, and in 2007, the third generation, Robert and Josh Morgenthau, took over operations. With over 40 acres of apples, the farm once produced tens of thousands of bushels for local markets. Today, the farm has expanded to include peaches, nectarines, black currants, cherries, and pumpkins, all of which you can pick yourself when the season is right. All vegetables are grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, and the farm remains one of the only orchards in the region to offer pick-your-own apples grown according to organic standards.

Through mid-October, the farm hosts Harvest Festival Weekends, where visitors can pick apples and pumpkins, and, after collecting their haul, listen to a live band play as they line up for apple-wood grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and farm vegetables. To finish the meal, you can scoop up some fresh-pressed cider and homemade donuts, or devour some Hudson Valley hand-made ice cream.

Admission is $5 per car for picking during peak season. Stop by soon for ecologically grown Macoun, Jonamac, McIntosh, Spartan, and Cortland apples.




Mango Ice Cream from Pagoto Organic, Dish #81

Welcome to 100 Dishes to Eat Now, the tasty countdown leading up to our “Best of 2012” issue. Tune in each day (weekends too!) for a new dish from the Fork in the Road team.

Late July is, no doubt, one of the best times of the year. C’mon, it’s peak summertime–you know, that moment during the season when it’s been hot for awhile, sure, but not yet long enough for you to be sick of it. You’ve come up with summer songs and playlists that are still playing in your head. You’ve gone to the beach (but probably not enough). And if you’re lucky like me, you may have even talked your girlfriend into getting a bicycle. It’s a blissful time, no matter your age, and the best way to celebrate is with a big, gloppy scoop of ice cream, like the mango flavored frozen dessert that I found earlier this week (on a bike ride!) at Pagoto Organic on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg.

For five bucks, it’s a little pricey (you can get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked for about four bucks at the bodega on the corner), but Pagoto’s servers don’t hold back. Not only did my “one scoop” actually consist of four smushed down into a sugar cone, the creamy goodness is extremely filling as well. The mango flavor somehow acted as a thirst quencher, too; it was juicy! To top it all off, I even managed to snag a chair at one of the tables in front of the store. I almost didn’t finish it, but then I remembered what life is like in late January and had no trouble scarfing the rest of it down.


Another Rooftop Garden. On a Truck?

Telegraphing its greenness, the St. Louis food truck Lulu’s Local Eatery is ready to sell you a sweet potato falafel.

Just how green can food trucks go? There they sit, belching diesel fumes into the torrid summer air as you wait in line for your overpriced-but-hip snack. Well, a St. Louis couple has hit on a way to make their truck greener — by growing a garden on the roof of the vehicle, releasing at least a soupcon of oxygen into the atmosphere in the process.


The couple, behind Lulu’s Local Eatery — as the truck is called — worked in organic farms in New Zealand and Australia, and returned to the Midwest intent on finding a way to green up their town with a local, organic, and sustainable agenda. While putting a garden on the roof of a restaurant is now de rigueur in certain types of establishments, this is the first time FiTR has heard of it being done on a truck.

The project was mounted via a Kickstarter campaign, though the couple is still accepting donations to improve on the project. The garden as currently constituted measures 7 X 2.5 feet, and one wonders if, as the truck flies down the road, if plants don’t come flying off. We’re sure they’ve managed to tether them securely.

Other menu items include soba noodle and Mexican quinoa bowls, power berry smoothies, and sweet potato fries.

[Thanks to @cardlyticsNYC for the link to the article in Feast St. Louis.]


EU and U.S. Sign Agreement over Organic Food

The European Union and the United States announced yesterday that starting this summer, they will consider each other’s standards for organic certification equivalent.

After several audits of both parties’ organic programs, the EU and the U.S. found that their standards for organic certification were almost the same, except for their differing policies on antibiotics. USDA standards prohibit organic farmers from using antibiotics except in the case of fire blight in pear and apple orchards; European standards allow for antibiotics to be used in treating infected animals.

This new agreement is expected to make trade in organic products between the two economies a lot smoother, and help small and medium-sized farms in the U.S. and abroad. “This partnership will open new markets for American farmers and ranchers, create more opportunities for small businesses, and result in good jobs for Americans who package, ship, and market organic products,” said U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

What might this mean for all those insatiable consumers of organic products here in the States? A flood of new chocolate, olive oil, and cheese from Europe could be on the horizon.


FDA Says ‘No’ to Drugged Up Livestock

Cows, chickens, and pigs in America are on lots of drugs — and even account for 80 percent of the country’s antibiotic consumption, Time reports.

But now, Food and Drug Administration officials have called on the ag industry to limit antibiotic use in livestock, as they think it might lead to the growth of deadly, drug-resistant bacteria: On January 4, the FDA banned farmers from using a class of these medicines in excess or for preventative reasons.

This particular group of antibiotics, cephalosporins, gets used frequently in humans to treat strep throat and bronchitis, Time notes.

The livestock industry commonly doses animals with antibiotics before they get sick, though they are not intended to prevent disease.

About 100,000 Americans die each year from infections related to drug-resistant bacteria, Time reports, and many fear that the situation will only worsen if animals routinely ingest antibiotics in their food and water.

This is not the first time the FDA has moved to enact such a rule.

In 2008, the administration tried establishing a similar regulation, but got too much flack from the über-wealthy ag lobby.


Elizabeth’s Neighborhood Table Brings Locavorism to the Upper West Side

The Upper West Side is about to get a dose of wholesome, locally sourced food. Elizabeth’s Neighborhood Table (680 Columbus Avenue, 212-280-6501) is a new restaurant working with organic and biodynamic ingredients for its menu of American comfort-food classics.

The restaurant looks like it’s been airlifted straight out of Martha’s Vineyard, complete with white picket fence, wraparound porch, and swing. Chef John Lee, who most recently worked at the also-wholesome Rouge Tomate, is at the helm. The menu includes Maryland crab cakes, Coney Island Lager beer-battered fish and chips, and a veggie burger. Dinner service starts today.

For more dining news, head to Fork in the Road, or follow us @ForkintheRoadVV.


New Fort Greene Gourmet/Organic Market is Open

Greene Grape Provisions, foodie sister of the Fort Greene wine shop, is officially open. We have long been surprised at the lack of good markets in this neighborhood, considering how many orani-yuppies reside there. It seems that Greene Grape is poised to fill the void.

EfV happens to have an informant who exemplifies the target audience, and is also quite a discriminating foodie. She is the mother of a really cute toddler who wears Vans, and a dedicated Farmer’s Marketer in the warmer months. She stopped by today and was excited to see that they stock Envirokids products, whatever those are, plus Balthazar bread and a good selection of fish, meat, and cheese. She said “They are still stocking up, but not a bad start.”

Here’s the store’s self-portrait:

We open at 7 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekends and stay open until 9 pm. Our fish and meat counters are currently open with a fishmonger and butcher available after 1 pm. The fish counter has organic Atlantic Salmon, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, tilapia, oysters, mussels and other fish. At the meat counter you’ll find New York strip steak, filet mignon, Bell and Evans organic chicken, organic ground beef, lamb chops, sausages, stew meat and deli meats from Applewood Farms. We are also serving coffee and espresso drinks and have daily deliveries of pastries from Balthazar and bread from Il Forno as well as pantry essentials like dry pasta, sauces, olive oil and vinegar.

If you want to lobby for your favorite brand of muesli or whatever, drop a line in their inbox:

Greene Grape Provisions
753 Fulton (near South Portland)
(718) 797-9463


Fort Greene Co-Op Meeting Tonight

The Fort Greene Co-Op is on its way. Tonight, the organizers will hold the first brainstorming meeting. It’s open to all those who want to discuss the vision for this poject, including the main questions, “Why do we need/want a co-op? What will it take to start? What support do we have now? What will the structure of the co-op be? What’s on our wish-list? How can other co-ops help us?”

Wednesday, January 23, 7-8:30 p.m.
The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, 85 South Oxford (btw Lafayette and Greene/Fulton.

Stay tuned at the Fort Greene Co-Op Blog.


Now Hiring: Rich Families, Stadium Opportunists, Fox

OK, kids. Time to put on your thinking caps. What chef has three restaurants in New York, at least one dog and one child, lives or works out of Tribeca, and is looking for a personal assistant?

An “Upscale-Casual Contemporary American Restaurant” is currently looking for a pasty cook. These guys toil away in windowless basements, so it might be hard to narrow it down.

Park Slope is getting an organic vegetarian take-out place, which needs some cooks.

A new wine bar thing on Ludlow is looking for “enthusiastic individual” and starting interviews tomorrow.

If it is your dream to have Gordon Ramsay and a camera crew from Fox come into your restaurant to do a version of Nanny 911, but with a lot more verbal abuse, well, this is your big moment. Kitchen Nightmares is looking for restaurants with, perhaps, horrible communication problems or whose food costs are too high to survive. Lucky you.

Prospect Heights, or should we say “THE UP AND COMING PROSPECT HIEGHTS NIEGHBORHOOD; WHICH IS SOON TO BE HOME OF THE NEW BROOKLYN STADIUM” is getting a new pizza place. The owners are looking for a chef to design the concept.

In further Prospect Heights news, Aliseo Osteria is in need of a sous chef.

The Mudspot is looking for a cook who can bake and is interested in the world of “Caffeine Sunshine.” We love this place because it feels like college. If you went to Oberlin.

Five Front is hiring cooks.

Peter Hoffman is looking for cooks at Back Forty. Perhaps it’s you who can take the place from serviceable to crave-able?

An Upper West Side family is looking for a private chef who loves making organic baby food and throwing fancy dinner party, and also doing the dishes.

Red Mango is ready to take New York. They’re hiring in the Village, Midtown, and Flushing.