The Generous Gardeners

I had a great week visiting my gardening friends and gathering vegetables to bring to Eataly in Manhattan where The Italian Garden Project and Chef Alicia Walter have teamed up to celebrate the Italian American vegetable garden. Chef Alicia has created an interesting and exciting menu incorporating the vegetables that the gardeners so eagerly and generously shared.

Michele had just returned from spending ten days with his mother in Calabria and brought back this thoughtful gift of baked glazed figs. I’ll bring them for the dinner guests to try.

01-Baked-figs

And as soon as he arrived home, he headed out into the woods to hunt for sheepshead mushrooms and returned with some beauties…

 

02-Sheepshead_mushrooms

which he not only gave ALL of to me for the dinner…

 

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but also meticulously cleaned each one right there on the spot.

 

mushrooms

I now have a huge bowlful of these delectable wild mushrooms, Chef Alicia’s favorites!

 

05-Roma_beans

Can you believe he still has Roma beans growing in abundance?! He offered these too and I’ll stop by on my way to New York City on Saturday morning to pick them. I’ll be stopping at Tommasina’s as well to pick fresh escarole to bring.

 

06-Butternut_squash

These beautiful butternut squash were donated by…

 

strati

Saverio Strati whose garden I visited last week. Not only can Saverio garden, but you should see him polka and and dance the Tarantella!

 

bruno

I stopped at Bruno Garofalo’s today to pick up two bags full of freshly harvested Swiss chard.

 

whitefigs

One of his trees was still producing figs, luscious white ones…

 

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and he happily shared several that he retrieved using this tool he made to lower branches that were too high for his reach.

 

11-jarred_veg._and_mosto_cotto

Besides all the fresh veggies, I’ll be bringing lots of this season’s produce that’s been preserved and fully prepared and ready to serve right from the jar. My friend Mirella preserved the many eggplants that she grew this year like this. Tommasina jarred her banana peppers and Francesco gave me sheepshead mushrooms prepared this way. I’ll also bring cracked olives (my absolute favorite) as well as mosto cotto.

I’ll be dropping off the vegetables at Eataly on Sunday afternoon so the chefs can begin to work their magic for our dinner on Monday  I’ll then head to my friend Mary Ellen’s house where I’ll be staying while in NYC.  She lives just a few blocks from Arthur Avenue, the Little Italy of the Bronx. I love staying there!  So many great people and so much good food!

 

maria

I’ll be visiting delightful Maria who lives next door, as well as…

 

joseph

Joseph and Giovanina who live next to Maria. I had the good fortune of documenting both of their wonderful gardens in August.

 

arthurave

I’ll be sure to stop by Arthur Avenue Retail Market to say hello to…

 

liberatore

Richard Liberatore of Liberatore’s Garden.  Richard and I hosted an “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Growing Fig Trees” event in September. We had lots of fun meeting fellow fig lovers and answering their many questions. We’ll be holding the event again in early spring. I’ll also be teaching a fig tree growing class at the nearby New York Botanical Garden. As part of the class, we’ll take a walking tour to see some of my Bronx gardening friends’ fig trees. Dates and details coming soon!

 

pizza

I won’t leave Arthur Avenue without having a slice of possibly the best pizza in all of New York City…

 

fullmoon

at Stan Pezzi’s Full Moon Pizza. Not only does he make incredible pizza, but his zucchini blossom fritters left me speechless. He was kind enough to reveal the recipe and I’ll be sharing it, along with more about my Bronx and Manhattan adventures in next week’s post. Stay tuned!

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Comments

Mark Fabian

Mary,

I love your blog! I am so glad Alexandra Brooks shared you! So many childhood memories and memories of the smells of the foods mixed with the feelings of family and love . . . well, I could gush on, but all of we second generation Americans share the same.

I loved that photo of Bruno with his *tool*. So typical of the simple inventiveness of those men. If you need something – make it from what you have. Never a thought to run to the mall to find what is needed; they were much too frugal and practical for that.

Like Michele, my roots are in Calabria. San Pietro in Guarano, to be exact. The family name is Fabiano; when the *O* didn’t print on his Ellis Island tag, my grandfather just thought “it’s American.” Another Ellis Island story; I’m sure it happened to others.

I look forward to your next blog entry.

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