Monday, September 27, 2010

BYO(E)B to Paris: That is Bring Your Own Empty! Bottle to Use at the New Water Fountain in Paris

In an effort to curb the obscene amount of plastic bottles generated from bottled water consumption, Paris’s public water company, Eau de Paris, has introduced an experimental water fountain gushing with the bubbly - not champagne - but sparkling water, or “Eau gazeuse”. Before you get too excited dreaming about free-flowing Perrier, note that this is public tap water with carbon dioxide added. Fair enough, as that is how most seltzers and club sodas are made. The Paris water supply comes from both groundwater and river sources which are then filtered and processed producing clean water.

This is wonderful for the environment as the French are known for their high consumption of  bottled water. Part of Paris’s Climate Action Plan drafted in 2007 is to increase tap water use and decrease bottled water use. Critical, as the water utility estimates that somewhere in the order of 500,000 cubic feet of plastic water bottle trash is generated in the city every year.

Paris has over 950 public water fountains around the city. The new fizzy water fountain is in the Reuilly Garden (Jardin de Reuilly) in the 12th arrondissement out by the Bercy,  Austerlitz and Lyon train stations. Situated on the site of a former freight train station, the park is now home to a variety of plants including roses, bamboo, heathers, as well as playing fields, a central lawn covering over an acre, and a reflecting pool. The new water fountains have six taps offering both bubbly and plain water - avec and sans gaz.

If you find yourself in Paris, walk or catch a Metro to the Jardin de Reuilly to sample the new fountains, but make sure you bring your own bottle, or two. The closest metro stops to Jardin de Reuilly are Montgallet and Dugommier.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Green Day in NYC: Part 2


......there I was at Dickson's Farmstand and remembered my poring spouts. I walked towards the Tenth Avenue entrance of the Market and found what appeared to be a not so large storefront stacked with glassware. I felt a pang of disappointment thinking this was an outlet store for cheap glassware and dishes. How wrong I was. Beyond the glassware, the store opened up into a beehive of customers and kitchenware.

Bowery Kitchen Supplies, for both professionals and home cooks, is an orgy of cookware and utensils. I found not just one, but four choices of pouring spouts for my olive oil tasting and managed to get out of there with only my six spouts - it was close though, as every aisle and shelf had either a useful, beautiful or intriguing item calling my name.

By this time I had worked up a hunger and while there were numerous choices I opted for The Green Table specializing in organic and local foods from area farmers. They serve organic meat as well as organic vegetables and beverages. The farms they purchase from include Hawthorne Valley Farm, a biodynamic farm in upstate New York, Flying Pigs Farm, Old Chatham Sheepherding, and many others. For people such as myself that must regrettably steer clear of caffeine, The Green Table offers a refreshing Iced Upaya, which is spiced Rooibos (pronounced roy-bus), a South African legume tea.

Satiated, I left the Market and headed east on 15th street passing The Rudolf Steiner Bookstore offering the largest selection of Steiner-inspired books in New York City, and The Tibet House, an educational center promoting Tibetan culture including a lending library, art gallery, and courses.

Fifteenth Street dead-ends into Union Square Park which seems to have perpetual green market stalls as well as craft and gift vendors. Consider Bardwell Farms makes especially fine raw milk goat cheese from goats fed on pesticide-free pastures in Vermont and you will find their stand towards the north end of the park.

On this fresh September day their was a two-day open air exhibit, Sukkah City 2010, with twelve unusual and creative Sukkahs. Sukkahs are temporary structures built as part of the seven-day Jewish agricultural and harvest festival Sukkot. Traditionally Sukkah’s must be constructed using natural materials especially on the roof, and celebrants eat meals and sometimes sleep in the Sukkah for the duration of the festival. View the Union Square Sukkahs here.

One last stop before making my way back to my lodging was to Astor Wines & Spirits, south and east of Union Square. On my way I stopped to quench my thirst at Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgium chain of restaurants serving natural and organic foods with locations all over Manhattan. This one, at Fifth Avenue and 8th Street, was right on my route and I could get a take-out Mint-Lemonade made with organic agave nectar instead of sugar.

Astor Wines is a large store stocked with a huge assortment of wines and liquors, including organic varieties. I was on the search for organic gin to go with my just purchased organic Q-Tonic. I was in luck. Midwest organic grain farmers are getting into the specialty liquor market and there were multiple brands of organic gin as well as vodka.

I opted to try Farmer's Gin, since they serve it at The Green Table. It is made in the United States with certified organic grains as well as Juniper, Elderflower, Lemongrass, Coriander, and Angelica Root.

As soon as I am home I will rustle up some organic limes so I can  mix up a fully organic gin and tonic - results to follow....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Green Day In NYC

The train from Vermont to New York City is neither high-speed or even regular-speed, but tragically a slow-speed, making public transit between bucolic Vermont and New York City limited and difficult. Fortunately the Dartmouth Coach has started a daily service to New York City making the trip not just easy, but luxurious.

After arriving and  relieving myself of my bags, I set off to enjoy the afternoon - a glorious September day in Manhattan - sunny, with a slight breeze and bright blue sky.

My first stop was Kitchen Arts & Letters. If you are a cook or foodie who loves books this is your spot. Floor to ceiling cookbooks, wine guides, food memoirs, books about kitchen design, nutrition and food storage cover this not very large store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. You can find DVDs of Julia Child’s television show that I vividly remember watching as a young girl on New York’s Channel 13. I was really too young to appreciate the knowledge she was imparting, but coming from a home where no one cooked anything except frozen fish sticks and grilled-cheese sandwiches, I marveled at her kitchen prowess, her voice (which I loved) and found her comforting - like a relative I should have had but didn’t.

Kitchen Arts & Letters has two full shelves of books about the politics of food - not just the more well known books like Food, Inc. (which if you haven’t, you should read - or see the film), but a variety of lesser known but no less important titles.  They also have books for travelers - books highlighting food in different countries as well as right there in New York such as a guide to New York Markets (very useful). Beyond the cookbooks and wine guides, the serious cook will find out-of-print and foreign books available as well.

Next stop was the Idlewild independent bookstore, already a favorite haunt of mine, not just because they sell my Traveling Naturally Guides, but also because they are a specialized store focused on one of my favorite subjects - travel. Organized by country, Idlewild sells not only an excellent selection of guidebooks, but also literature from each country. People living in the city can take advantage of their ten-week language immersion courses concentrating on conversation.

Out of Idlewild I headed west on 19th street to 9th Avenue. I could have stopped at any number of restaurants and shops along the way. When I was a kid in New York, West 14th up through the 20s was not such a great area. Now it is a happening scene. Beautiful tree-lined residential streets are mixed with interesting, often trendy, stores and eateries.

Instead of getting distracted, I kept my focus. I was on the search for olive-oil pouring spouts for a Spanish olive oil tasting I am hosting next week and a cook-extraordinaire, cookbook-writer friend of mine had tipped me off to a kitchen supply store in the Chelsea Market on 9th and 15th St.

The Chelsea Market, a former Nabisco factory, was transformed in 1997 into foodie heaven. Specialty, gourmet and green eateries dot the refurbished factory intermixed with stores selling  books, liquor, housewares, and gifts. The Oreos may be gone but there are plenty of devilishly delicious treats to eat at almost every turn.

Chelsea Market Baskets offers an eclectic selection of baskets, gourmet treats, chocolates, housewares and baby items. I was delighted to see they carried three favorite products of mine. LA Organic olive oils from Cordoba, Spain (not Los Angeles as the name might imply); Askinosie chocolate made in small-batches with organic sugar and goat milk – it is incredible!; and Q Tonic, the best tonic water I have found made with organic agave syrup (no sugar or high fructose corn syrup) and real quinine.

I did not shop at Dickson’s Farmstand meats, but went in to survey the organic offerings. Set up as an old fashioned butcher shop, Dickson’s sells organic and local meats including beef, lamb, pork, goat and poultry, all raised without hormones, animal by-products and prophylactic antibiotics. If you want fully organic ask for which meats are certified........

continued tomorrow in Part 2...

Friday, September 17, 2010

One of the Seven MUST-Read Eco Travel books

The Green Earth Guides are listed in 7 Must-Read New Eco Travel Books - Read the full story here.

Stay tuned as I am putting the finishing touches on Traveling Naturally in Switzerland - what a country!! and I am about to enter the world of Apps! A whole new way to convey and receive information in this fast moving digital world and excellent for traveling.

I am heading to New York City next week and looking forward to visiting some of my favorite haunts like the Babycakes Bakery (I don't even like cupcakes but I dream about  theirs! Gluten-free no less), Idlewild Travel Book store - a treasure trove of good reads, and Food Liberation, a cute little health food store with an excellent gluten-free section and delicious fresh smoothies and juices.

Food Liberation, 1349 Lexington Ave (and 90th St.), NYC 10128; Tel: 212.348.2286