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Not that long ago, it might have been hard to believe that a rooftop view of the Manhattan skyline would ever be framed by waning tomato plants. Last Friday’s Outstanding in the Field event at the Brooklyn Grange proved otherwise, though.
Several dozen guests visited the celebrated rooftop farm at its Navy Yard location to dine al fresco with dinner and drinks provided by Nicholas Wilber, Phil Wisner and Benjamin Towill of The Fat Radish and The Leadbelly. Despite a handful of shattered wine glasses due to windy conditions (of course, the glasses remained anchored when full), the evening went off without a hitch.
Guests who arrived earlier in the afternoon received in-depth tours and Q and A time with Grange staff including affable farmer Matt Jefferson and Anastasia Cole-Plakias. While discovering which crops remain vulnerable to pests even on the 11th floor (more than you might expect), visitors also learned about the contents of the Grange’s rooftop topsoil cocktail, which includes a calculated balance of mushroom compost, fired pebbles and the occasional organic fertilizer.
As for fauna, one honeybee hive nests at the Navy Yard location, while over 20 others have been installed in nearby areas. Chickens, and potentially even goats, are sometimes invited up top thanks to their affinity for pests.
The dinner wasn’t Outstanding in the Field’s first rodeo in the city. The “roving culinary adventure” with the mission of reconnecting diners to the land also organized an event in Queens a while back. Given the Grange’s model rooftop farm reputation, the two are a natural match in enabling urbanites to indulge in bucolic experiences.
At least they certainly did last Friday with the help of their chosen culinary staff. Menu highlights included bass tartare on a papadum crisp; a roasted carrot and hijiki salad with kale and almonds; smoked tomato orecchiette with confetti tomatoes, basil and Parmesan; and a braised heritage pork shoulder with pork scratchings (also known as “pork rinds”), wilted summer greens, creamed corn and pickled okra. The farm was on the plate.
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