Trouble at organic dairies?

It must be organic day here at, because I've got another link about organic farming! From NPR's All Thing's Considered, Farmers Say Mega-Dairies Milk the Organic System.

As organic mega-dairies with thousands of cows sprout up across the country, small-dairy farmers complain that some so-called "organic" cows don't get enough meadow time. They say the huge dairy operations are taking advantage of the system at the expense of the smaller farms that built the organic movement into a lucrative industry.

My favorite way to prepare ramps

I've been babbling about ramps for several weeks now but here's an article with pictures and instructions for gathering your own in the woods, Ramps: Wild vegetables bring fresh flavor to spring dishes. Also includes a few recipes, though my new favorite is the one I've made several times in the past two weeks (and forced some friends to make too!)

Roasted ramps and baby potatoes

Two bunches of ramps
2 – 3 lbs of the smallest baby potatoes you can find (I used ones barely bigger than my thumbnail!)
sea salt
olive oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 375┬░. Clean potatoes and place in baking dish. Toss to coat in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the oven is to temperature, place dish on rack in the middle of oven.

2. While potatoes are cooking, clean ramps by rinsing thoroughly in water and removing outer layer. Trim off ends and then cut ramps into 1" pieces, separating whites from green.

3. After ~fifteen minutes in oven, remove potatoes and toss with ramp whites (reserving greens) and replace in oven. (The idea is you want to roast the ramps with the potatoes but not the whole time because they'll burn up. I've found about half the time is good.)

4. After ~25 minutes, check potatoes. If the potatoes are almost done, stir in the greens and cook until greens are wilted and warmed (~ five minutes).

5. Remove and eat. Can be served as a side dish with a roast chicken or fish or just about anything.

Are chefs libertarians?

The blog East Meets West wonders, Are chefs more likely to be libertarians? They present two reasons they think the answers might be yes. The first, because, "chefs…are basically in the hedonism business" and secondly, "[c]hefs and restaurateurs must deal with government regulations that are often ineffective and arbitrarily enforced."

I concede their points, but I wonder — if we assume chefs are libertarians — if their reasons are causes or effects of pre-existing libertarianism. I think people who are attracted to the culinary industry in the first place are a bit off. They already eschew a traditional work environment for one filled with long hours of intense labor that's sometimes violent, often times hectic, and during most months, hot as hell. Renegades are drawn to the kitchen (Bourdain talks about this in Kitchen Confidential, I believe) so for me it more likely follows that many chefs enter the kitchen as libertarians. All the government regulations probably just push them further over the edge than they already were.

Early reports from Craftsteak

Augieland goes to Tom Colicchio's brand new Craftsteak and has a lengthy write-up about the experience, Craftsteak: 552 dashfedillian stars. He and his companion engage in some comparison dining while there.

So here we were with an aged corn-fed strip steak and a grass-fed strip, cooked at the same time by the same guy, with which to compare the merits of one to the other. Because of this opportunity alone I will forever have a warm spot in my heart for Craftsteak.

Ultimately they decide they like the grass-fed beef more than the corn-fed. Craftsteak sounds delicious. I may have to save up for a visit.

What you’re really celebrating with Cinco de Mayo

It’s Cinco de Mayo! Yay! Let’s celebrate the defeat of the French by drinking Coronas and margaritas! Wait, what? The French? Isn’t Cinco de Mayo about, well, um, maybe, Independence? Or something? It’s Mexico’s most important holiday, isn’t it?
Actually, no.
While the United States was mired in the Civil War, the French (under Napoleon III) invaded Mexico. Landing at the Gulf city of Veracruz in January 1862, they began marching toward Mexico City. Along the way, they suffered a surprising defeat on May 5 (el cinco de mayo), 1862, in the city of Puebla at the hands of a small, poorly armed, disorganized army. This was a great victory for Mexico.
But one victory does not a war win, and the French charged on to Mexico City where they installed an emperor, Maximilian, and ruled Mexico for several years. After the US Civil War ended in 1865, the United States began supporting the Mexican Republicans. By 1866 with their troops losing battles, France announced their intention to withdraw from the country. In 1867, Maximilian was executed and the Mexican republic was restored.
But don’t let this new information impede your drinking this evening. I think it’s great that once a year Americans decide to pay attention to their friends south of the border and celebrate a piece of their tumultuous history. Just don’t think you’re celebrating Mexican Independence, because you’re not. That celebration begins on the evening of September 15 (September 16 being Mexican Independence Day) and goes on long through the night. Perhaps marketing executives felt that Mexico’s most important holiday shouldn’t be cheapened by crass commercialism and beer promotions, so they picked Cinco de Mayo to degrade instead. ┬íSalud!

Feeding Desire at the Cooper-Hewitt

Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table, 1500-2005 opens today at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum here in New York City. It's on view from May 5-October 29, 2006.

A journey through the evolution of Western dining from the Renaissance to the present, Feeding Desire features objects from Cooper-Hewitt's world-class collections. The exhibition will address the development of utensil forms, innovations in production and materials, etiquette, and flatware as social commentary.

I can't wait to go see it!

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
2 East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128
(212) 849-8400