Thursday, May 21, 2009

Student Clubs Farm Outing

The Student Clubs program at The FCI is run by Rhonda Lynn, our Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. By joining one or all of the clubs, students have the opportunity to get to know their classmates, explore New York, and visit a variety of restaurants, farms, and wineries.

Early in May, Rhonda and students of the Italian Culinary Experience took a trip to the farm at the Center for Discovery in upstate New York. Impressively, the farm is biodynamic, a method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms. Emphasis is placed on the balance and interrelationship of the soil, plants, animals, and even the farmer as part of a whole, self-nourishing system. It takes a farm three years to get certified as biodynamic.

Rhonda was first introduced to the farm when Cesare Casella, our Dean of Italian Studies, received an award there. Chef Cesare had been working with the farm by helping them make connections with NYC restaurants, and by training some of their kitchen staff in technique. Rhonda was so impressed with the farm, she vowed to take another trip as a student outing.

A year later, the unofficial "Italian Club" was finally able to make the trip. They toured the farm with the head animal and head vegetable farmers, tasted biodynamically grown vegetables picked straight from the earth, and gathered beautifully colored eggs from Araucana chickens, a breed originating in Chile known as the South American Rumpless.

At the end of the day, the group made dinner for the farmers using the greens, herbs, and eggs they gathered. The menu included bruschetta with sautéed mushrooms, arugula, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; a frittata with goat cheese, spring onions, and arugula; fresh greens salad with mint and lemon dressing; grilled asparagus; rigatoni with summer squash and scamorza cheese sauce; and a ricotta mousse with fresh fruit.

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