With autumn so near at hand, you’d think the excitement would be winding down in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden. Most vegetable gardens in New York are offering up the last of their produce right about now, while green thumbs stow their trowels for the next spring planting. But at the NYBG, the best of the season is still ahead of us! In fact, the atmosphere is nearly humming with anticipation for the peak event of the summer: Mario Batali’s Edible Garden Festival. And while the legendary chef’s top culinary minds have inspired plenty of palates during Family Dinners throughout the season, it’s Mario himself that will treat your tastebuds for September’s pièce de résistance.
Now that the Family Dinners have come and gone, I got to wondering what might end up on Mario’s menu. And when you think of Italian cooking, you don’t have to be shy about it: your mind leaps straight to the tomatoes. Plump and delicious, blushing red (or yellow, or purple), they take center stage in so many of the dishes we’ve come to love. Still, while picking my way through the Family Garden in recent weeks, I thought to myself, “Why let the tomatoes hog the spotlight?” They’re delectable–don’t get me wrong–but Italy’s culinary history encompasses so much more! Mario knows this better than anyone. And when his acclaimed chefs first planted their vegetable plots, they dotted the Family Garden with leafy greens, pungent onions, and herbs enough to make your spice rack green with envy. And the peppers! So many peppers, in myriad shapes and colors.
read more »