Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Batali Botanicals Birthdays and Bees

The fall is in full swing as the red, yellows and oranges are changing from their lively greens. Nothing like vibrant shades of color to stir the deeper joys and energy within.  A great place to see all this is the well-kept grounds of the New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG). The weather this weekend was sunny with cold and crisp air; a perfect recipe for a walk in the park.  I was in to cash in my birthday gift from my husband to see the great man himself, Mario Batali. This is close to Kee's work so he took me to the NYBG before work so I could peruse the grounds at my leisure. He would join me later for for the tastings post work.

The NYBG has been having an Edible Garden Exhibition which included a special Martha Stewart Garden Exhibit, food tastings and special guest appearances throught the week. The first part of the day on my own was spent exploring the grounds which was found to be a vast landscape of green with sections created with a special purpose. Rock gardens, Azaela gardens, waterfalls, Conifer paths, rose gardens etc. A stroll along here with some classical  piano music and some contemporary hymns on Nano created some poetic touch to the things around.

                                                     Do you see the little guy below?

After some lightning and thunder, conclusion had it that this was a chipmunk since it looked kind of like Chip and Dale from a hey-day cartoon. It'd be cute if this little thing was wearing the same aviator jacket or red hawaiian button down and talked in a high-pitched dubbing voice.

The most amazing garden exhibit was the rose garden. What incredibly well-tended and tender landscape. I think I found the secret garden...  It was a spread of arches, vines, paved ways and roses in full bloom! It was good fortune to find such a wonderful mix of roses all in one place.

Certainly, the word of this robust garden has been circulating in the bee community at the sight of so many of them doing their pollinating thing. A bee's cushy job is sticking their nose into pretty flowers that are 50x bigger than them all day long.

Butterfly's too. Here's a pretty monarch butterfly I watched for a while. I lost it for a second and when I found it again in the view, it flew right into the camera!

Taking pictures of flowers is a peaceful pleasure; the soft,silky petals, the Qtip-looking stigma and stamens and the rare wildlife that pleasantly interrupts the concentration. However, bees were not rare this day. Like on-demand TV, it was like on-demand Bee. 

There were all sorts of different colored roses in the garden as well as other flowers on the grounds.


And after perusing the gardens, it was time to get in line for the main event. First up was Mario Batali. The line started 1.5hrs before he went on. Look at this line! I was fortunate to get in line early and here you can see how long the line was. Can you tell who I am?

and while Mario was making his way in, there were a lot of inquiries surrounding about whether he was wearing his orange crocs.

The guy is quite an entertainer! Quite outgoing, pleasant and funny. He gave tips on pastas, Italian traditions spotted with subliminal advertising for his products, Eataly and his chef buddies. Took some good notes that'll hopefully help me make better Italian food in the home.

Post presentation, it was time to get my book signed and got a chance to meet the man himself. We talked about crocs for a second. I asked him,

Me: "Why orange?"
Mario: "It's the national color of Batali!"
Me: Do you approve of my crocs? (showing him my birthday shoes from the hubs)
Mario:  I approve! :)

So here we are showing off our crocs. But silly me, I seem to get caught blinking more times than not.

 So after the line died down, I got a second visit with the man and he let me take another picture.

and look at the little shoe keychain someone gave him! I shall go in search of this to add to my mini collection. He loved it.

and then it was onto the next big chef appearance. Chef Michael Psilakis, who has one of the only 2 Greek restaurants with Michelin stars internationally. And guess who hopped up on stage to greet him hello before he took off? Mr Batali. Two great chefs in one shot.

Chef Psilakis talked about his concept which was to build layers of flavors through the dish. I was a little disappointed when he said he was going to demonstrate a salad, but it ended up being quite complex,excellent and flavorful!  Here we are with the Greek Chef. I am beginning to notice that the loyalty of Greeks to their Greek traditions are really like My Big Fat Greek Wedding! He talked about being Greek, how he was raised Greek , broke words down to their roots and put it back together.  He did however mention that the windex thing was not true.

Martha Stewart Gardens

Olive Oil Tasting

Hot apple cider and pumpkin muffin

Champagne in mini cups

Wine and Pumpkin Ale Tasting
We each got samples of both but I drank all the wine, and he drank all the ale. :)

Hanging out on the green grass

And Batali's signature dedicated to:

Yuri and Lee 

Bon Appetite!

Foodie Yoodie