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Now the leaves are falling fast,
Nurse’s flowers will not last;
Nurses to the graves are gone,
And the prams go rolling on.
Someone told us, a couple of years ago, that summer ends on the last day of the Delaware County Fair. That elegantly shaved Holsteins are ushered into trucks even as the beeches begin to drip with browns and duns. Well, not in 2013. This year the Gods of Summer looked kindly on us, easing apart the parentheses of the season to accommodate the remainder of August and much of September, allowing schoolchildren to return to their lessons still sporting chestnut knees. But there’s no stemming the march of time. The chill is in the wings, like an attendant servant waiting to come on and announce ‘the Queen, my lord, is dead’.
Now friends come through the front door briskly, shutting it behind them. Ice-cream sandwiches linger longer in the refrigerator. And the first glimpses of a conversation that will punctuate the coming months like a thousand commas – how to stay warm – are sighted at the register.
But the turning of the seasons affords new opportunities: to break out that Harris tweed hacking jacket and deerstalker, mothballed from an unlucky May; to twist the menu between finger and thumb, ushering in items that warm the belly and bolster a sense of community. It’s time for Soup. To roll in at lunchtime, pull up a chair, a hunk of baguette and mop up something that distills the goodness of its ingredients into a restorative and sticks sweetly to the ribs.
First up: New Brushland Clam Chowder (with Cowbella Croutons)
2 lbs or so fresh chowder clams (these don’t need to be fancy)
1 cup Star Route Farm creamy potatoes, peeled or not, cubed
2 teaspoons Cowbella butter
3 good slices Catskill Food Company bacon, cut crosswise into small pieces
1 Lucky Dog onion or 2 shallots, diced fine
2 or 3 garden thyme sprigs, stripped
1 Burnett Farms celery stalk, diced fine (we wonder if a palmful of grated celeriac would do the same thing; we haven’t tried)
A little salt (careful, clams are salty)
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup Crystal Valley milk
Half a cup of cream
Ripped Table on Ten bread and Cowbella butter for croutons
Put the clams in a heavy pot with 3/4 cup of water. Cook on medium-high until they open. Let them cool (scalded fingers) before removing them from their shells and chopping (or not chopping if they are small). Strain the broth through cheesecloth or a clean tea-towel (more on that in late November) and store the clams in the broth to avoid them drying out. Cook the cubed potatoes in salted boiling water until nearly done, set aside. Melt the butter, fry the bacon pieces till just short of crisp, set aside. In the same buttery/bacony skillet, gently cook the onions and thyme for a few minutes before adding the celery. Continue to cook till the mixture is soft and golden. Season with pepper and (easy, there) salt. Transfer to a saucepan, add the potatoes and bacon, cook briefly. Add the clams and their broth, boil then simmer for a couple of minutes until the potatoes are soft. Add the milk and cream, bring up to heat but don’t boil. That’s it.
The buttery croutons are easy. Melt butter, add rough, big hunks of crustless bread, spin ’em round a few times, bake in the oven till done.
Cold, impossible, ahead
Lifts the mountain’s lovely head
Whose white waterfall could bless
Travellers in their last distress.
September 19, 2013. Posted in Producers, Recipes, The Menu. Tags: Burnett Farms, Catskill Food Company, Cowbella, Crystal Valley Farm, Delaware County Fair, Lucky Dog Farm, New Brushland Clam Chowder, Special Soups, Star Route Farms, W.H. Auden.
Justus Schwab was an Anarchist. Didn’t know what he wanted but he knew how to get it. Or perhaps knew what he wanted but wasn’t sure how to get it; an end to wage-slavery; the abolition of the concept of private ownership; the right to wave a red flag and sing the Marseillaise in the street. But most importantly for us – in this case – the right to sell beer on a Sunday.
Reputedly a towering Teuton of a man (he might have been played by Viggo Mortensen in Gangs of New York), Schwab sported a moustache worthy of Frida Kahlo whilst fronting a saloon at 50 First Street on the Lower East Side frequented in the 1880’s by the likes of Emma Goldman, Johann Most and various ornery Communards (not in this case the 1980’s duo formed by Jimmy Somerville after Bronski Beat). The very same 50 First Street now occupied by the gallery of our distinctly not towering, Tuetonic nor moustachioed friend and collaborator Cay Sophie Rabinowitz. Osmos. Table on Ten’s food-conceptual home-away-from-home, where Cay Sophie and Christian afford us the opportunity to momentarily don the beret and hauteur of the self-proclaimed artist.
Last time it was a century of individually numbered hand pies, echoing Henrik Knudsen’s How To Make A Pie photoessay in Osmos Magazine, which featured Inez meandering through the iron teeth of a Delaware County winter looking like she’d mislaid her oxycontin stash. This time our brief was directed toward the gallery itself and the strains of protest and rebellion etched into its walls. As a tribute to the colourful history of the building, to Schwab and his place in the Social Revolutionary movement of the late nineteenth century, Cay Sophie had inaugurated the ‘Beer on Sunday’ series, featuring a performance by Brooklyn-based artist Keil Borrman, an exhibition curated by Jovana Stokic and conceptual foodish contribution by, well, us.
Which meant coming up with an idea. Between baking Chocolate Nudge Cookies and garnishing pizza with Poor Man’s Pepper.
Schwab was a provocateur and proselytizer; a man of action, but also of words. In keeping with the rococo style of the age, his political gestures were embroidered with polemical proclamations as notable for their grandiloquence as their sincerity. A celebration of Schwab seemed to call for his voice to be heard. Or in our case, eaten. In 1886 Schwab’s saloon was the subject of a boycott by the Johann Most faction of the Freiheit movement. A group of Most-aligned anarchists had taken to burning down their buildings in order to collect on the insurance; a course of action Schwab determined to be morally reprehensible. In a letter to fellow anarchist Robert Reitzel, he famously protested that “the means must not desecrate the end”.
Then it came to us. Whilst pushing an egalitarian vacuum cleaner round the attic AirBnB. Why not take Schwab’s words, dissemble them into their constituent parts, repurpose them into a meal and have everybody eat ’em? Subject his manifesto to the rigours of peristalsis! We’d been on a pasta-making bender at the time, so a few hundred 1″ letters fashioned in semolina, 00 and Last Harvest Farm egg yolks seemed within our reach. We’d rewrite his letter to Reitzel in fresh pasta, toss it into a giant pot of house-made Minestrone (nostalgic trappings of the Victorian soup kitchen) and cook up soup for all. And beer for all too! Our friends at Brooklyn Brewery responded to our call-to-arms with the enthusiasm of a greyhound making off with a pork chop; by bathing the event in beautiful beer. With this in place, smuggling a tank of propane, giant burner and several loaves of crusty bread across the Triboro Bridge was simply icing on the cake.
And so we ate Schwab. And Schwab was good. And we washed him down with many a case of Brooklyn Summer Ale.
Hamlet: A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
Claudius: What dost thou mean by this?
Hamlet: Nothing but to show you how a king may go a-progress through the guts of a beggar.
September 15, 2013. Posted in Events, Inspirers, Producers, Recipes. Tags: Bronski Beat, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Summer Ale, Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, Christian Rattemeyer, Egg In A Nest, Emma Goldman, Freiheit, Frida Kahlo, Hamlet, Henrik Knudsen, Inez Valk, Jimmy Somerville, Johann Most, Jovana Stokic, Justus Schwab, Keil Borrman, Last Harvest Farm, OSMOS, Poor Man's Pepper, Robert Reitzel, Viggo Mortensen.
In case anybody doubts what it’s all about.
So the posters are in. Limited Edition of 100, on rare double-weight french newsprint. The story of a year-and-a-bit in 196 nearly-squares. It’s all there; the frozen deep-winter trees, the first ever batch of numbered pies, the short-lived map theme for the ball jar lids (time to revive that), the blood and brussels sprouts, leek and potato (secretly shot in Hampton Court Palace), the one-and-only time we used clams, the soups, pizzas, pasta, the chalkboards and children, details from Katrin’s kitchen, the saffron monk habit (secretly shot in Phnom Penh), the birth of Osmos, Dan’s farm, Annemarie’s farm, farms and fields and hills across the county, so many tables and surfaces, the words and hands and signs and letters that speak to a febrile compulsion to communicate, so much pastry, circles-within-squares, trees, trees and more trees. And beneath it all, great heaving tectonic plates of Love, ceaselessly groining a miniature landscape of mountains, plateaus and chasms from the human granite that coalesces at Table on Ten. Without that, we’d be making sandwiches and pizza.
Undertaken by Delaware County transplant Mark Ohe, the poster is the latest in a 16-year line of collaborations as long and hairy as Banquo’s issue. It includes several books, posters, album covers, pamphlets and websites, along with all their attendant plot twists; being escorted out of a Las Vegas souvenir shop for having filthy trousers before being offered tinned cat food as a snack on the street (‘really, man, it’s pretty fucking good’); an alfresco ascent of Mount Washington in the deepest sarcophagus of winter; building a bonfire Edward Woodward would be proud of in the middle of a hayfield at the height of summer and trying to manage it with a garden hose. Mark Ohe is the original Man Who Fell To Earth. He receives all information with the quizzical gaze of a Venusian still trying to work out what these Earthlings are rattling on about half a century after having landed here in a stray space-pod. He is responsible for pretty much the entire catalogue of seminal Matador Records’ album covers, from Pavement, through Yo La Tengo, Guided by Voices and Cat Power, via Pizzicato Five, Liz Phair, Mogwai and Interpol: a body of work that saw him recently lionized in T: The New York Times Magazine, being commissioned to reproduce the Times’ emblematic T by way of a Matador-era collage of tiny hand cut T’s. We’ve thought we’d lost Mark Ohe a few times. Up Mount Charleston, in the Atacama Chile, to the peyote-bourbon mashup of Endless Boogie. But he always turns up, along with a cluster of Spock-like reflections on life refracted through the Ohe Prism.
And now he is here among us, lending the crooked pin of his eye to all things anti-fracking and (we hope) Table on Ten related. The chronicle of our parallel journeys is far from over. We have collaborations brewing, bigger and bolder than a pot of PG Tips. Further proof of Donne’s premise that ‘no man is an island’. No, nor Venusian either.
September 7, 2013. Posted in Inspirers, Journeys, Producers. Tags: Annemarie Schmid, Dan Finn Farm, Edward Woodward, Hawthorn Berries, Katrin Stelmashuck, Mark Ohe, Matador Records, Pure Love, The New York Times Magazine.