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Edible Gardens: A Culinary Spa Experience

I have an obsession with gardening and this idea that all things gardening are beautiful (for example: I think I look really cool dirty – until I see myself). Oddly, that goes well with a culinary job, especially one in a test kitchen. Last week, I got an opportunity through work to visit the amazing New York Botanical Gardens exhibit called The Edible Garden.

The NYBG is a 250-acre plot of land in the Bronx that was developed by contributions from the titans of early 20th century industry (Carnegie, Rockefeller, Melon, etc). Without the special culinary exhibit it is pretty wonderful. The exhibit, however, features multiple sections that take you through half the park. Sections include a container garden where the most ordinary garden items are paired up in great, unexpected ways and are pouring from giant pots. For urbanites, this is a lesson to you (used to be me, too) that ANYTHING will grow in the right pot. Featured are eggplant, exotic pineapples, English peas, corn, and fantastically beautiful tomatoes.

There is a children’s garden that has the standard vegetable garden feel but, if you are like me, that feeling is better than a day at the spa. The smells of the dirt and plants all coming alive... I could have laid down in the rows.

The highlight of the exhibit is the stadium kitchen (my term), which features demonstrations from a litany of well-known chefs like Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich. Each of the demos has a tie-in to the “roots” of food – i.e. where it comes from and how it becomes what gets put in front of us as a table. I’m a huge fan of this idea, knowing where our food comes from and in turn, realizing where some of our “food” comes from. Go see this exhibit (through October 17, 2010). It’s a spa day for your senses!