Friday, January 24, 2014

Mid-Winter Random Bites: Canned Tomatoes & MCG Update

We are at the halfway point of winter, and it's been a cold one here in the Northeast.

First I will start with an MCG Update:

The higher-ups at the Militant Community Garden did not invite us back to be gardeners for the 2014 season.

Yup, it's true.

They got wind of my witty posts about growing my own vegetables, and the shenanigans that go along with being in a garden with these "folks".

To their defense, we did not volunteer at their Halloween Spooky House Hay Ride (4 hours mandatory), or at their Santa's Christmas Playhouse Boutique (also mandatory 4 hours, 8 hours total). We did however, mulch all their giving garden beds as part of our community service to satisfy half of the volunteer hours.

We pay $100 to rent these plots, plus our time, seeds, plants and all the labor my husband and I put into it!
I guess we felt their weird rules were just not a good fit for us and that we shouldn't have to participate in their holiday crap (and I think the feelings were mutual).

On Sunday, I received a passive aggressive email, saying that "if we satisfy our remaining volunteer hours, then they will think about "inviting" us back to garden".

After much thought, we decided to pass. Gardening should be fun and positive, and with all their negativity, it's a wonder anything grows there!

I really love having a bountiful garden, so I am now searching for another place to grow (it has to be fenced in for the deer, groundhogs, rabbits, etc., and must have normal, nice people).

I will keep you posted.

Don't be sad. :(

Tomato Tasting:

You've met our friends Dan and Fred from Razza in Jersey City.

We had the pleasure of attending a canned tomato tasting at their place.

Yes, canned tomatoes.

Dan (a James Beard nominee), is always coming up with new ideas and techniques for cooking and baking. He makes his own butter (it's ridiculous); ferments his own vegetables; bakes different types of breads (the latest one made w/ malt); and now trying out new tomatoes.

Sourcing from local is very important to these guys, using farro from Pennsylvania instead of Umbria; all vegetables from New Jersey farms; their beers are mostly from NJ, NY and PA, even their tomatoes are sourced from domestic suppliers.

The latest, Chris Bianco's own brand of tomatoes from California Bianco DiNapoli (from the famous Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix).

We tried 11 different unmarked cans, rating the tomatoes on viscocity, color, texture, seeds, acidity and overall taste.

Some heavy hitters from the pizza world were there (including me?). Mark from Pizza a Casa cooking school in Manhattan, and Scott from Scott's Pizza Tours in NYC, all weighed in on their faves.

And the winner is..............................drumroll please.

Alta Cucina, from California.

We were also treated to amazing pizza and vino. This is truly the best pizza on the planet.

People are talking.

Good stuff.


Alicia said...

I always say ,when one door closes, another one opens.
You know the most interesting people!

Katie C. said...

Sorry to hear about the garden. We are on a list waiting for a spot in one of our community gardens. We just don't have enough sun to grow all the stuff we want to grow at home. As it is, we put in a raised bed for the tomatoes in the front yard which looks a bit odd.

I am interested to know if the winning tomatoes were packed in juice or puree. America's Test Kitchen did a test and they said that overall the tomatoes packed in juice were more tasty. They also said that most imported tomatoes were packed in puree ... something about import taxes being less? I don't remember exactly.

mil said...

Dil and Hen,
Sorry to hear about your expulsion from the "garden"..
You put in so much time and effort and enjoyed the hard work.

Patsy said...

Stacey, the MCG was not worthy of celebrity growers like you and Henry who are invited to top chef tomato tastings. They're just jealous!
Looking forward to your posts from your new garden.

Susan..... said...

I am sorry to see your garden go (I just loved all the drama) but I had to chuckle because something like this could only happen in New Jersey.

Natalia B said...

I'm sure you'll find another (better) place to grow your vegetables, although I think the people at MCG are crazy for not wanting you to remain there.

Hmmm.. chef tomato tastings sound great! I recently took a class at Eataly (one of my fav NYC places) and after my many comments during class was encouraged by the chef to return for an olive oil tasting class. All those tastings sound like great fun & you learn something too!

Terrah said...


I'm sorry for your loss but really, it doesn't seem as though it really was a loss. I take that back: It was THEIR loss, on several levels. Some relationships aren't meant to go the distance.

But I enjoy your posts so much! And speaking of growth, I can always count on your posts to make me feel that I'm growing, culturally speaking. I also feel spiritually well feed.

Bravo to you, Stacey!

Stacey Snacks said...

Thank you for that lovely comment!


Kendra said...

I will miss the hilarious posts about the MCG, however, I am confident that you will find wit and humor wherever you will plant your new seeds.
Looking forward to new adventures!
Love your blog!