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Two Very Different Ways To Eat "Green" in NYC

Two Very Different Ways To Eat "Green" in NYC

Although communal eating has been deeply embedded in almost every civilization’s cultural traditions, the thread of this narrative seemed to have been lost in the whiz-bang of modern life.

But after decades of drive-through convenience altering our landscape and waistlines, New Yorkers seem to have became fed up. They have planted gardens (about 600 community gardens take up 32 acres of parkland in New York City now thanks to GreenThumb and Garden Preservation Program, founded in 1978 and 1984, respectively) and started buying food at farmers’ markets (there are now more than 130 in the city, 20 of which are year-round) and when they dine out, they want fresh and local, as well as delicious, original fare.

Photo Credit: GreenThumb

In New York City, a plethora of well-regarded restaurants are devoted to delivering healthy dishes to their hungry acolytes. Here are two very different options — one for the eco-mindful carnivore, established in 2003 but reinvented in look and menu in January 2016, and the other, a vegan-friendly new-kid-on-the-block with an infamous “sister” business.

HEARTH

The James Beard Award-nominated chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Marco Canora is beloved for his hearty embrace of local, flawlessly executed snout-to-tail Italian-influenced cuisine. At Hearth in the East Village, Canora’s approach to cookery, as an unabashed carnivore, exploits every vitamin and mineral that can be coaxed out of an ounce of flesh and bone. His menus focus on nutrient density, quality fats, fresh and seasonal produce sourced from NYC Greenmarkets.

Photo Credit: Hearth

"Growing up in my mother's kitchen upstate, fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden were all I knew. So as a chef, it didn't make sense to do anything else but source the best possible local ingredients available to us. Since we opened in 2003, sustainability and responsible sourcing have been at the heart of our philosophy, and over the years we've developed incredibly close relationships with the family farms and purveyors who provide for us. When we revitalized Hearth's interior and menu in January 2016, it was an opportunity to clarify our ethos as well; to not only source the best quality, most nutrient-dense ingredients available but to also do away with chemically processed cooking oil and refined sugars and mill our own grains. Above all, we cook simple, whole, real food that is not only delicious by its very nature, but makes you feel good.”   

Photo Credit: Hearth

At Hearth, the chefs mill their own flour and polenta in the kitchen from heirloom grains. It (almost) goes without saying that all animals and fish are locally and sustainably raised. But Canora is more than just a farm-to-table automaton, carting out fiddlehead ferns for diners to fawn over.

Photo Credit: Hearth

Photo Credit: Hearth

He’s a force of nature. Canora cooks every part of the animal, and pairs it with unexpected, unsung offerings from the fields to delicious effect. (Offal scaredy-cats and picky eaters emerge from Hearth delighted by the Variety Burger, a mixture of brisket, chuck, hearts, liver, or the Skate Wing with wood sorrel).

His culinary powers are such that he managed to pioneer the bone broth craze (nutritionists claim its nourishing and healthful properties do everything from preventing osteoarthritis to improving sleep to helping aging skin look younger). Canora turned drinking bone broth out of coffee cups with add-ins of turmeric and mushrooms into an economically viable and aesthetically attractive proposition with his take-out window Brodo, which is attached to Hearth and just for broth-based meals, a West Village brick-and-mortar broth shop (and plans to launch national delivery service this Spring), and a cookbook (Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook, Clarkson Potter). In addition to Hearth and Brodo, Canora runs Zadie’s Oyster Room.


Hearth is located in the East Village at 403 East 12th Street. 646-602-1300.

abcV

Everyone’s who’s anyone eats their veggies these days. Meatless Monday rules your Instagram feed. Parents are naming their children Kale.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of the most accolade-laden French chefs in the world, has opened several eateries recently, including The Inn at Pound Ridge in suburban New York, The Pump Room in Chicago, and JG Tokyo in Japan. None was as hotly anticipated, however, as his relatively humble 75-seat plant-based eatery within New York’s go-to home shopping emporium, abcV, which opened in February of this year.

Photo Credit: abcV

Paulette Cole, CEO and creative director of abc carpet & home, created the spot with Vongerichten, their third venture together. abcV holds a special place in their hearts, and represents a new road on their own omnivorous journey, one reflecting their belief that a plant-based diet is better for the body and the planet.

Their carefully executed vision focuses on so-called “high vibration” fresh, organic foods that have not been overly processed or chemically altered. (Adherents of “high vibration” diets believe it is more personally health supportive and sustainable for the planet than the typical American diet.)

The menu comprises a completely non-GMO and organic array of vegan and vegetable-centric dishes that pamper the taste buds without polluting the body or earth. Think house-made kombucha, matcha tea, plant-based milks and herbal elixirs made with organic produce and named for the state of mind they are meant to support and encourage, i.e. Joy and Spirit. There’s a dosa topped with yogurt, avocado and sprouts, an inviting kabocha squash dip with tahini, sumac, mint and pita.

Photo Credit: abcV

Executive chef Neal Harden explains the great lengths to which abcV goes to adhere to every aspect of green cuisine. “We embrace green at abcV in a number of ways. Firstly, you can’t get more green than a diet based around plants, and, specifically, locally grown plants,” Harden tells New York Makers. “A lot of the year a large amount of our products are pushed on a cart by two people from the greenmarket two blocks away. Additionally, we love to use whole plants. For example, we sautee chard greens and save the stems for a separate dish of vegetable stems. We create fresh food each day for our guests, and anything extra we eat ourselves at our family meal. We try to leave the trash-bin empty.”

Occasionally, some of the items on the menu do require more far-sourced tropical ingredients and gonzo kitchen creativity, but will still align with abcV’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

“At abcV we use some tropical things, such as coconut/mango/avocado to complete the balance of a plant based diet,” Harden explains. “I am still focused on utilizing the best local produce and have substituted some more close-to-home superfoods such as wild Maine blueberries or wild sea buckthorn from Canada in place of things like acai that are imported.”

Photo Credit: abcV

abcV’s soothing, carefully curated interior was designed by Cole and her team of abc designers to nourish the mind and spirit, with a spacious, airy room featuring whites and shades of sunset. A porcelain bar etched with the words of a Native American blessing greets visitors quietly and sets a tone of joy and reverence, reflected in the happy, but never rowdy, buzz of eaters.

abcV is located at 38 E. 19th Street. 212-475-5829.

There are so many ways to reinvigorate our connection to the earth and each other.

And for hungry New Yorkers, the daunting task of finding the lost thread of our ancient communal food narrative – and how it connects us to each other and the planet -- has never been more delicious.

Dig in!