Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.

    Navy Strength Gin, Sipped in the Shanty (aka a Visit to The New York Distilling Co. in Williamsburg)

    Readers might recall the piece we did two summers ago on the fledging distillery boom in our borough. (It was called “The Whiskey Rebellion.”) Flash-forward two years and we’ve actually lost count of the number of small-batch, craft-liquor producers that are creating vodka, whiskey, and gin right under our noses, but only one, as far as we know, has it’s very own bar. We highlighted both the distillery and The Shanty in our current NY1 segment, so be sure to watch to learn more about the two unique gins they now have on the market.

    Art of the Heirloom at the Horticultural Society of New York Opens Tonight

    Even if you have brown thumbs and prefer concrete to cultivation, we’re going to bet you’ll agree the 23 heirloom seed packets commissioned by the Hudson Valley Seed Library are real beauties. Starting tonight their Art Packs will be on display until March 2 in Manhattan at The Horticultural Society of New York at 148 West 37th Street in an exhibit called the Art of the Heirloom. (There’s a preview talk from 6 to 8 pm tonight, to attend, RSVP in the comments of this page.)

    Long Island Winterfest: A Month of Specials on Music, Meals, Jazz, B&Bs and Winery Tours

    Once again the wineries, chefs and artists of eastern Long Island is thinking of you and what you’re going to do in the depths of winter. For the next five weekends the East End–and a few points closer to home–are throwing Winterfest, a collaborative,cross-cultural effort to lure you out East. Sure, the Hudson Valley has those foothills, but this semi-agrarian vacation-land shares our very own land mass, and is a short trip up the Sunrise Highway or the LIE from Atlantic Ave. Why not spend a chilly day warming up with local wine? Snuggle up in front of a crackling fireplace at a quiet Hamptons bed-and-breakfast? Listen to jazz with a view of the vineyards? Or find some great deals on true farm-to-table restaurant meals? Welcome to Winterfest.

    Sweet Strawberry Granola Goodness=Last Minute Valentine’s Gift, or Tomorrow’s Breakfast

    We’ve been geeking out on Spatzi’s Granola for a few weeks now, and not just because they Put a Bird On It! (Thanks, Portlandia.) The stuff is hand-made in Brooklyn from organic oats and other seeds and nuts and fruits, and comes in brown paper sacks at shops like Depanneur at the corner of Wythe Avenue and N. Third in Williamsburg. If you’re still scoping out a Valentine’s day gift we’d be plenty pleased with a bag of the Eat Your Heart Out Blend above ($8.25), whose sweet strawberry scent drew us from across the room. (For more anatomical heart gifts made in the borough, by the way, there’s also SugarBuilt Cookies’ V-Day line.)

    Snap Your Snack at Noon on the 24th; The Results Will Be Shown at the Brooklyn Art Library next Month

    The Art House Co-op–the folks behind the Sketchbook Project in the Brooklyn Art Library at 103 N. Third Street in Williamsburg–have launched another art project we’d like to bring your attention to. It’s called The Meal: Documenting a Global Snack, and on February 24th they’re asking photographers from around the world to participate by snapping what you’re snacking on at 12 pm EST and sending it to them as a 4×6 print by March 5th.

    Tonight, Tomorrow or Monday: Go to the Underground Food Collective Dinner at Sweet Deliverance

    A few months ago we had the pleasure of attending one in a series of pop-up dinner parties at the Atlantic Avenue catering kitchen run by Kelly Geary, the cook and caterer behind the farm-centric company Sweet Deliverance and the author of the canning and pickling book Tart and Sweet. This weekend those pop-ups are back in action, and for the second time Geary is sharing her stoves with the Underground Food Collective from Madison, Wisc.

    Our Additions to The L Magazine’s List of 11 Buildings That Would Make Great Venues

    It’s taken us a few days, but just in case you missed Lauren Beck’s great round-up of “11 Brooklyn Buildings That Would Make Great DIY Music Venues” for The L Magazine, we wanted to point your attention to it. It’s an ode to 11 beautiful buildings that, in our opinion, would be fantastic venues for any kind of party, not just a sweet underground show. We’re thinking bespoke cocktail parties, funky secret suppers or hippie potlucks.

    Vintage Brassieres, Anatomical Hearts and Other Cool Cookies for Valentine’s

    Even if you don’t think The Anatomical Heart is the coolest cookie name ever–it makes us think of this excellent Edgar Allen Poe story–you have to be impressed with the intricacy of Amelia Coulter’s icing art. We like her cookies so much we made the ones she does of Brooklyn ironwork our Winter 2009 cover–when we wrote about SugarBuilt, her cookie company, for the first time. These Valentine’s-inspired versions are bizcochito flavored–anise, orange and cinnamon–and are topped with vanilla icing and individually wrapped with ribbon.

    The Go Giants Giveaway: Win This Tiny Grill

    Each week we’ll be picking one reader of Edible Brooklyn.com or Edible Manhattan.com to win prizes like charcoal grills, Breville kitchen appliances, a Bodum French press or even a year’s subscription to our own magazines. This week’s winner will receive this killer Fyrkat 13.4-inch portable charcoal grill. (Heck, it might be February, but it’s almost grilling weather, right?) Here’s how to enter to win this week’s contest:

    How to Open a Restaurant the Hard Way

    “In dark moments—and there were a lot of dark moments—I would calculate how many cappuccinos I needed to sell to pay off, say, the plumber. The number was always in the tens of thousands.” So reads an often-hilarious piece in the new issue of Gourmet Live by St. John Frizell on his decision to quit his food mag marketing gig to eventually open a restaurant.

    Mast Bros. is Now Both Bean to Bar and Sack to Satchel

    In case you missed it the first time around, this week NY1 is airing a repeat of one of our current favorite Edible segments: The one on the beautiful new 3,000 square-foot bean-to-bar factory built by Mast Brothers Chocolates right on N. Third Street in Williamsburg. Last year we covered Rick and Michael Mast as they sailed to the Dominican Republic for cacao collection, but this story is on their homebase. If you haven’t taken one of their tours (Thursday through Sunday at 4:30 pm) or been to the really lovely new tasting room (where a new pastry chef makes cookies, cakes, brittle, truffles and other constantly tweaked concoctions) we urge you to make the trip to the Northside. Or just watch us take ours right here.

    Need Work? Need Workers? Check the First Ever Good Food Jobs Fair

    If you have any interest in becoming a cheesemonger, butcher or specialty foods buyer, running an urban farm, shooting documentaries about farm workers, writing the history of the taco, working the line in a killer farm-to-table restaurant, working to change agricultural policies, opening your own craft beer bar and grilled cheese shop or helping kids discover the joy of a watermelon radish, then have we got the job fair for you.