Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hazelnut Struffoli

All images © Valery Rizzo

Happy New Year everyone! another year has passed and as we look back at all the things we have achieved we also look forward to starting the next year with new and even better goals of achievement, exploration and expansion, whether they be personal, career or family focused goals. 

For the New Year I made my first ever Struffoli, to enjoy with friends and a nice bottle of Prosecco. The urge came to me while shopping with my father for our Thanksgiving feast and we came across these bright Castella neon rainbow sprinkles in one of his favorite Italian specialty shops in Bay Ridge, Coluccio. Traditionally Struffoli are a Neoplolitan Christmas dessert which are little balls of dough (think of doughnuts) which are fried and drenched with a mixture of honey, sugar and lemon juice, formed into the shape of a wreath and then showered with colored sprinkles. I also had a jar of Brooklyn Honey left over from my CSA share this year which I thought would be perfect to use. I found a nice video and recipe from Giada De Laurentiis which I liked because it mixes roasted hazelnuts with the dough balls to give it that extra special something and also adds lemon and orange rinds, vanilla and dry wine wine to the dough mixture for flavor and tones of citrus. I then substituted organic cane sugar found in bulk at the Park Slope Food Coop, instead of the white granulated sugar in the hopes of somehow making it a bit more healthy. I also highly recommend a deep frying thermometer as well as making it with family and some good music as the rolling of the dough balls can be tough without help. I heard my aunt Tina had a team of people helping her and I seriously was in the need of a team!

I also made the Struffoli in memory of my beautiful zia Carmela who I have fond childhood memories of with me seated in a highchair in the upstairs kitchen watching her make her Struffoli. I will truely miss her letters from Italy she would try to write to me in the English she remembered after moving back to Italy and so this was also for Carmela who passed away last year at the age of 96.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Food Polaroid, Small Works Exhibition at Soho Photo

Photo © Valery Rizzo

Normally I post information related to exhibitions on my other photography blog, which is more for updates about my other, non-food related photography projects and assignments, but I thought since the photograph chosen to be part of The Small Works Exhibition at Soho Photo in Tribeca was of a bowl of Lychee some of you here might be interested as well.

The juror for the this year's Small Works Competition was Karen Marks. Karen, whose vast experience includes selling photographs for some of the most prestigious photography galleries, is currently the Exhibitions Director of the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City.

I have always wanted a reason to frame one of my original polaroid images, so please join me if you can for the opening or stop by the show when you have time. I know its not in Brooklyn but its just over the Bridge.

Soho Photo Small Works Exhibition

February 8 - March 6, 2012

Opening Reception: Thursday February 9, 6pm

15 White Street, New York, NY, 10013

Gallery Hours: Wednesday thru Sunday, 1 - 6pm

Saturday, December 10, 2011

iCi Restaurant, Fort Greene

All images © Valery Rizzo

In November I photographed iCi Restaurant in Fort Greene, an on going project to be continued next year. For now we concentrated on the food, chef and owner portraits and next year we will be shooting the interior and exterior of the restaurant as well as some farmer portraits since the food at iCi is sourced from local farms.

A French restaurant, opened in 2004 by owner Catherine Saillard a wonderful woman from Provence, with the idea of serving food produced locally from small farmers to the community. Catherine would not feed anything to her customers that she would not feed to her own children in respect to the environment and the quality of the produce. iCi is good casual farm-to-table organic dining.

Every four weeks they change the menu based on the availability from the market and what the growers are producing for that season. The idea is fresh, local and seasonal food paired with rare and unusual wines. All wines are biodynamic and natural wines, which they choose the same way they choose their food, meaning that they are sourced from small vineyards and responsibly produced by people that care about the land.

iCi’s chef Nate Courtland is an amazing talent, magically whipping up dishes which are pieces of art. Some of the dishes seen here are Steamed Bouchot Mussels, Bouillabaisse, Ricotta Tartine, Croque Madame, Radishes with Butter, Short Ribs, Housemade Ricotta Cavatelli, Warm Chocolate Pumpkin Brownie with Seasonal Ice Cream and Panna Cotta.

For more about iCi and directions click here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Grown in Brooklyn Arts for Transit Exhibition

All images and video © Valery Rizzo

Ready for viewing! The MTA Arts for Transit Exhibition was just installed a couple of days ago in the Atlantic Avenue subway complex featuring nine of my photographs printed as Duratrans by an amazing printer right here in Brooklyn, Digital Plus, on film generously donated by Kodak and housed in 45 x 66 inch lightboxes. It can be found near the Q and B lines and will be on view for one year.

The Exhibit is called Grown in Brooklyn and highlights Brooklyn's local farms and purveyors of fresh produce that I have met over the last couple of years. It feels so good to support local agriculture and to see my work printed so large and brilliantly. For a full press release and addition photos and info about the Arts for Transit exhibition click here.

I would like to thank Jeffrey Heehs from Kodak for donated the film, George Uenishi from Digital Plus for printing the images so beautifully and most of all Lester Burg the curator for the MTA Arts for Transit, for recognizing my work and supporting Brooklyn's agriculture and good food.

Brooklyn Slate Company

video © CamLin Productions

I came across this small local company called Brooklyn Slate in Red Hook Brooklyn, that creates small batches of beautiful black and red slate cheese boards as well as other products all produced from natural slate sourced from their family quarry in upstate New York. A collaboration between two food obsessed Brooklynites, I just love the rustic look and feel to this product, the packaging and of course the story behind it and the fact that its local. I am sure after you see this amazing video about how Kirsty Hadeka and Sean Tice the founders of Brooklyn Slate source and manufacture their slate you too will be as inspired as I was to own one of their special boards.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Brooklyn Made Wine, Whiskey, Gin and Beer

All images © Valery Rizzo

This month I have been shooting a few assignments and working on an exhibit so I have not had that much time for recipes, but not to worry I have plans in the making to bring you Grandma's Meatloaf, Winter's Chicken Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger and Hazelnut Struffoli.

In the meantime I wanted to direct you to the feature I recently shot for Nona Brooklyn in November, which was a special experience for me. I got to visit Red Hook Winery and Sixpoint Craft Ales in Red Hook, Kings County Distillery in Bushwisk and finally Breuckelen Disitillings in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Each place was special in it's own way and although there were some similarities in the processes they were also each one uniquely different from the next. I love the idea that especially in Brooklyn now there is a return to a time when we lived off the land and things were crafted by hand with care and appreciation, which also connects us as a community. It is truly amazing what these artisans do and even more amazing that its all being done right here in Brooklyn. To see the full 65 image feature on Nona Brooklyn click here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grown in Brooklyn MTA Exhibition and New Food Photography Book

All images © Valery Rizzo

I wanted to share a couple of exciting things happening at the moment. First I am going to be having an exhibition for the MTA called " Grown in Brooklyn" and it will be installed in the coming weeks as Duratrans within 45" x 66" lightboxes at the Atlantic Ave Subway station, in Brooklyn. A collaboration between the MTA, Kodak, who is supplying the film and Digital Plus, an amazing Lab and gallery here in Brooklyn that will be printing the entire exhibition. 

There are eight boxes in total and for those of you that don't live in New York I have posted the line-up of images above. The show is all about the Farm to Table movement and the urban agricultural currently happening in Brooklyn. Represented in the work are farmers from Added Value Red Hook Community Farm, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Tenth Acre Farms, Beekeeping, Tabletop food shots and a business, Nile Valley which uses only fresh organic produce.

I will let you know when the exhibit is up and hopefully have some shots of the installation to show you.

Photo © Lara Ferroni

Also I will be one of the many photographers profiled in this lovely new book, Food Photography : Pro Secrets for Styling, Lighting & Shooting by the amazingly talented photographer and author Lara Ferroni. Seen here together are the UK and the US versions and are available for pre-order on Amazon along with her many other titles. I was honored to be asked to be a part of this book...thanks Lara.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Blue Moon Bash at Southpaw to Benefit Farmers

Painting © Sally Mara Sturman

I wanted to take a moment to tell you about an event at Southpaw in Brooklyn, this Sunday November 6th from 3-8pm. It's the Blue Moon Bash, which is an all day event of music and food to benefit farmers Ray Bradley of Bradley Farms and Kira Kinney of Evolutionary Organics.

100% of profits will be donated to Ray and Kira for flood relief from Hurricane Irene. Both suffered devastating damage to their farms and lively hoods. Eight bands, one dance company, Alex's famous clam chowder (from Blue Moon Fish), great food and drink donated by local farmers and restaurants, and fab raffle prizes to boot!. $20 donation. Please come by and support your local farmers in need of help! For more info, to buy tickets or make a donation see!

My husband's band Sunset Victim is playing at 7:15 but come early for tastings from local restaurants Palo Santo, Amy's Bread, Blue Moon Fish, Blue Apron Foods, Aliseo Osteria Del Borgo, Cato Corner Farm, Baker's Bounty, Court Street Grocers, The Vanderbilt, Flatbush Farm, TCHO Chocolate, Butter Lane, Williams Fruit Farm and beer lovingly provided by Brookyn Brewery.

Admission is Free for kids under 12. Families are welcome and there will be a supervised kids activity area.

The beautiful painting above was created by Brooklyn artist Sally Mara Sturman. Visit her Esty shop to see more of her paintings and ceramics.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dekalb Market

All images © Valery Rizzo

Hello everyone, my latest photo feature for the fabulous Nona Brooklyn is live and on the site. Nona is all about good food, meaning local, artisanal, sustainable and/or traditional food and drink made by people with a passion for what they do. November's feature is about Dekalb Market, a community of makers, artists, farmers and chefs all housed in a collection of salvaged shipping containers. To see the full here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm

All images © Valery Rizzo

While working on an exciting exhibition project, which I'm hoping to tell you about as soon as I can, I needed to shoot more horizontal photographs as I usually shoot most things vertically and the subject was Eagle Street Rooftop Farm. If you haven't been it's probably one of the most magical places I can think of in Brooklyn. Located across the East River in Greenpoint, it sits on top of a warehouse roof and is a 6,000 square feet organic vegetable farm with bees, rabbits, chickens, butterflies and birds. They offer a CSA, a farm market, workshops, you can volunteer your farming skills and they also supply fresh produce to area restaurants. Anyway I can’t say enough good things about this farm and especially co-founder and director/farmer Annie Novak, she simply amazes me and all that she does! I bought home with me an assortment of hot peppers, the farm’s homemade hot sauce, oregano, two kinds of kale, radishes, lots of mizuna and green and purple basil.