The Obamas are growing a vegetable garden on the White House lawn – something that has not been done since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II. Apparently Alice Waters, long devoted to promoting sustainable agriculture, and the owner of the well-known restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, has been pushing for this for years. But as Maureen Dowd reported in the New York Times, Bill Clinton installed a seven-seat hot tub instead. Bill knew how to have a good time.
You too can have a good time. And be green while doing it. If you’re not interested in helping the environment, you can do it just to be trendy. And to say you did it. Also, a lot of the restaurants that focus on sustainable agriculture are, well, expensive. So you can do it for status. And to say you did it.
Start with Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, just 30 miles from the city. The restaurant is located right on the farm, and there is no menu. They just give you a list of seasonal ingredients, which can range from lamb to fiddlehead ferns to goose eggs. They also cater to events and private parties. I went there once for a family gathering. We had a private room and were thoroughly pampered with a four-course lunch. It started with pork belly on a stick, moved on to salad, and then to lamb neck, and ended with a cake covered in flower petals. The servings were on the small side though, and once we balked at that, they brought us an extra course. Nice. I like free things. Not exactly free at a $68 four-course tasting, but whatever. I was into the extra course. Especially since it was the best chicken I’ve ever had. Those of you who think chicken is boring need to taste one that’s presumably just been killed.
In the Bay Area, Manka’s Inverness Lodge does something similar. It’s a quaint hunting and fishing lodge in the hills of Inverness, and has a restaurant, where what they cook is “raised, foraged, and fished.” They have a “Sunday Service” which sounds good even to the non-religious among us, because at this “Church of Culinary Delights,” you could eat a bowl of Bolinas spring onions served with marrow in the bone and fire grilled focaccia toasts. Bone marrow is another item that’s pretty trendy these days. I’ve never had it on toast but I grew up eating it in curries. It’s gelatinous and the texture is weird, definitely, but it’s um, I don’t know, primal. This Sunday service will set you back $58. But it will be a meal made in heaven.
And finally, Amsterdam has its own seasonal restaurant (and nursery) De Kas. The building itself is interesting – it’s an 8-meter high glass conservatory. As for the food, they offer a five-course menu based on what they’ve harvested that day. You can either eat in a fancy dining room or out in the herb garden if the weather is nice. The five-course meal will cost you about 50 euros.
And if you can’t afford these green, trendy, sustainably produced, expensive meals, you could always grow your own Victory Garden.
Photo courtesy of mercedesfromtheeighties/Creative Commons