Ikea Gets into the Hyper-Local Game

635925890195816807-242942337_Header.jpgAt first glance, it might seem like an affordable furniture company has very little to do with the farm-to-table movement. But where others might see apples and oranges (or apples and bookshelves, as the case may be), Ikea sees opportunity.

The brand recently partnered with Space 10, a “future-living lab” and exhibition space in Copenhagen, to produce an environmentally sustainable hydroponic gardening system (called “The Farm”) made primarily using Ikea products like LED lights, shelving, and plastic bins. All told, 80% of the materials in The Farm come from Ikea’s product lines.

Ikea plans to roll out the new hydroponic system in their in-store cafes. Those cafes have historically been known more for Swedish meatballs, lingonberry jam and baked goods than for fresh produce, but that may change in the near future. Although food sales represent a very small portion of Ikea’s overall revenue, they ultimately plan to market The Farm to restaurants and home gardening enthusiasts interested in producing more of their own vegetables. If the hyper-local movement is any indication, this market will continue to grow in the coming months – and Ikea may just be on to something.

To read more, click here.

Hudson Valley Real Estate Eating Up Our Produce

North of New York City, a battle is brewing between real estate and family farming.  A boom driven by City residents seeking refuge in greener, quieter locales is displacing our local food system.  Since 1982, real estate developments have transformed more than 471,000 acres of New York farmland, according to the American Farmland Trust data.

For example, Elizabeth Ryan’s Stone Ridge Orchard is not for sale–but she’s been offered millions for the land.  And her lenders think “it’s a bad business decision, not to cash out land for houses.” Ms. Ryan has support, though; a group of New York City lawmakers has teamed up with another preservation group, the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, to create a plan to preserve the region’s existing food system. As part of the initiative, lawmakers are seeking for the first time to set aside money in the municipal budget for the preservation of farmland in the Hudson Valley. “The risk to farmland is a risk to healthy food for New York City residents,” Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick, Democrat of Manhattan, said.

New York City is plighted by urban food desserts, and farmers markets are helping to alleviate that problem.  As such, Mr. Garodnick has proposed spending $50 for a conservation easement program that would pay farmers the development value of their land and impose a deed restriction to permanently protect the property from development.

“This modest, but visionary, strategic investment will make the city a national model of how to create a more equitable and secure regional food system,” said Steve Rosenberg, executive director of the Scenic Hudson Valley Land Trust.  To read more about the proposal, including May De Blasio’s position and the concerns of a declining farmer population, click here.

Padoca: Creative Bakery on the Upper East Side

Padoca BakeryTheir Success…“Padoca” is the Brazilian term of endearment for local bakeries.  Usually, these bakeries are fixtures of the community and run by familiar, friendly faces that know everyone in town.  Marina Halpern, who hails from Sao Paolo, owns New York’s Padoca Bakery, which opened at the end of June. The kitchen is in the hands of Rachel Binder, previously the pastry chef of Maialino, and from Israel originally.  TaraPaige Group worked with Marina and Rachel on conceptualizing, defining, and developing the business, and we couldn’t be more proud of what the duo is doing:

Pao de queijo—authentic Brazilian cheese bread puffs—are sold alongside sabich sandwiches—an UES favorite.  No cronuts here, but the bolo de coco is far superior—a traditional Brazilian cake with a hint of lemon and light and moist with coconut milk.  The drip and espresso are provided by Nobletree Coffee, which owns farms in Brazil and roasts in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  The made-in-house juices include pineapple-mint and an emerald bottle of kale, apple, and spinach, among others. It’s all good—seriously, all of it. The chicken empadinhas—think snack-size pot pie—haunts us. And with the cold weather coming around the corner, the bakery is starting to launch their soups. Thank goodness; having tasted those during recipe testing, we advise that you try them as soon as possible! The team has done a terrific job of balancing sweet and savory fare to provide something for everyone.

The space was previously a Wok n Roll Chinese restaurant, but you wouldn’t know it!  The bakery is now an inviting, comfortable setting with playful touches, much like the food. A beautiful set of windows overlook St. Catherine’s Park, and the walls and ceiling are clad with reclaimed wood. It’s hard not to feel at home in the space. The swing seat lights up children with excitement, and teapot pendant lamps add an accent of whimsy.  Whether just stopping in or looking to sip coffee with a friend, you’re going to be taken care of.

Take AwaysThe bakery-cafe segment in New York City is tough!  Between deli’s, bodegas, patisseries, and third-wave coffee shops, it takes more than muffins and iced coffee to survive.  That’s why it’s key to differentiate your brand by bringing something new to guests.  And that’s what Padoca Bakery has done.  Marina and Rachel have creatively integrated Brazilian, Israel, and American influences into a sweet, petite place at home on the UES with delicious treats and lunch fare priced affordably in a wonderful atmosphere.  We’re can’t wait to see Padoca grow into the community fixture it’s destined to be, and the type of place the Upper East Side so dearly needs.

Padoca Bakery: 359 E 68th St, New York, NY 10065 http://www.padocabakery.com

James Beard Award Chef and Restaurant Finalists Announced

After months of deliberation, the James Beard Foundation has finally honed in on the selection of finalists for this years’ Chef and Restaurant awards.  The awards will be held May 4 in Chicago–the first time outside NYC in 24 years! Here is a quick review of the local talent that made the cut:

  • Batard, nominated for Best New Restaurant
  • Jim Lahey, nominated for Outstanding Baker
  • Maison Premiere, nominated for Outstanding Bar Program
  • Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, nominated for Outstanding Chef
  • Ghaya Oliveira, Daniel, nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Christina Tosi, Momofuku, nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar, Per Se, and The Spotted Pig nominated for Outstanding Restaurant
  • Marea, nominated for for Outstanding Service

To see the complete list, click here.

Per Se Alums Open Fine-Casual Hawaiian

Chef Chung Chow, Jin Ahn, and Gerald San Jose all met while working for Thomas Keller at the New York City fine dining institution, Per Se.  However, they’re no longer dabbling in French or American classics.  The trio has moved on to open a Noreetuh: a 42-seat, upscale-casual restaurant in the Eat Village focused on Japanese, Korean, and Filipino cuisines and where those three meet–Hawaiian.

Jin Ahn has assembled an impressive wine list with an emphasis on Burgundy and Bordeaux, but has kept the selection largely under $150.  Chow’s cooking reflects his upbringing in Hawaii and Japan with such dishes as pork croquettes, garlic shrimp over sticky rice, and crispy mochi waffles.  The menu is priced between $5 and $22, reinforcing the current trend of the return of casual dining, albeit with a fine-dining tweak.

To read more about Noreetuh, click here.

Le District to Partially Open This Week

The giant French market, bakery, cafe, and restaurant, also known as the French Eataly, is set to be partially open this week in the Brookfield Place in Battery Park City.  Over the weekend, the Cafe District opened up to the public serving pastries, espresso, and candy.

Much to the delight of Francophiles around the city, this is also the first US location of the Paris-based candy store, La Cure Gourmande, which is now open inside the Cafe District.  Guests will have to wait until Wednesday, however, to get a taste of chef Jordi Valles’ brasserie cooking at Beauborg.  The final portion of the project, a 28-seat tasting menu restaurant called L’Appart will not open until May.

Le District has slowly been releasing details about the project to excite guests.  In case you missed any of the previous reports, here are the highlights:

The space is divided into four districts: cafe, restaurant, garden, and market.  While separate physically, guests will be able to interact with the spaces with some degree of cohesion; for example, guests can purchase a steak at the butcher and have it cooked on the grill before leaving.  Also, the salad bar will switch over to a chocolate mousse bar at 4:00p.m.  Inside the market, there’s a wine bar, rotisserie, fishmonger, bakery, and cheese shop.  In addition to the 30,000 square feet inside, Le District will also have 7,000 square feet of outdoor space, with 250 seats overlooking the Hudson.

To read more about Le District, click here.

Russ and Daughters to Open Café in Jewish Museum on UES

Russ and Daughters, the quintessential appetizing store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, will open a new outpost this spring in the Jewish Museum. The collaboration will bring a second outpost of the Russ and Daughters Café to the Warburg mansion, with 75 seats of sit-down, full-service dining as well as a take-out retail counter in a Solomonoff Architecture Studio-designed space.

The Jewish Museum was founded in 1900 and moved into the Warburg mansion in 1944. The Museum has been an ever-growing and evolving collection of art reflecting global Jewish identity since then. Works of modern and contemporary art are regularly presented in exhibitions that represent an unparalleled window into the Jewish culture for current and future generations to enjoy.

Russ and Daughters, which was established in 1914, will serve its signature selection of cured fish, bagels, knishes, salads, and egg creams in the new space. The appetizing store and brand have been family owned for four generations, and just recently branched out with its café, also located on the LES. This is a great moment in the history of both institutions and the Jewish cultural history in NYC.

To read more, please click here