Posts Tagged 'Local Restaurants'

Miya’s Sushi

“because man cannot live on rice alone”

The menu at Miya’s Sushi in New Haven is more like a novel. Each item on the menu has a paragraph beneath explaining where the ingredients came from. There are pages expressing the philosophy of the restaurant, which is to bond people and culture with sustainability in mind.

In working towards this goal, Miya’s Sushi is not your average sushi. There are rolls with cheese, chutney, nuts, white pine needles, and peanut butter. The weirdest thing about this sushi is that it works. As for fish, Miya’s does not use typical sushi components. Over one third of all caught fish is used as food for aquaculture. Miya’s, therefore, offers many herbivorous fish that are much more environmentally sustainable. You will see tilapia, catfish, carp, bluegill sunfish – fish that not only are used less often in sushi but are also caught locally. Check out fishchoice.com to see how to find sustainable seafood in Connecticut. Miya’s also has a whole section of the menu devoted to sushi made from invasive species. Every time they make those sushis they’re helping ecosystems rebuild themselves appropriately.

Over half of Miya’s menu is centered around local, organic vegetables. Miya’s is the largest buyer from the Yale Sustainable Food Project. The menu reads, “Fortunately, the most delicious ingredients tend to be the most sustainable too!”

Image

Advertisements

Claire’s Corner Copia

Claire’s Corner Copia is nestled on the corners of Chapel and College Streets in New Haven. The vegetarian restaurant, founded by Claire and Frank Criscuolo, is committed to sustainable and organic food. 10% of the restaurant’s profits are donated to charities. The food, ranging from smoothies to omelets to sandwiches to quesadillas to enormous baked goods (and so much more), can’t be beat.

I think that, usually, when you hear about a great vegetarian restaurant that uses local ingredients, the first thing that comes to mind is man that must be expensive. But I have to say, as a student who goes out to lunch in New Haven a lot, I don’t find Claire’s much more expensive than most other options. What’s more, I think that the quality of the ingredients and the causes that Claire’s supports is reason enough to pay an extra dollar.

Claire’s is currently working with The Growing Connection, a foundation whose mission is to bring food gardens to schools and teach students how to maintain them. Through the foundation, Claire’s is working with Barnard School and Jepson School, two magnet schools in New Haven. I think that Claire’s is very conscious of the cost of eating organic ingredients, as their goal is to give children the skills to grow their own food in their own backyards.

Although not all of Claire’s ingredients are local (especially not all-year-round) the restaurant does use local farming when possible. Many of Claire’s ingredients come from Urban Oaks Farm in New Britain, CT. I also admire the restaurant’s dedication to sustainability through its use of organic produce and its environmental initiatives. These initiatives include switching to a low water use dishwasher and to Energy Star lighting.

Claire also has three cookbooks, Claire’s Corner Copia Cookbook, Claire’s Italian Feast, and Claire’s Classic American Vegetarian Cooking. There is also an assortment of recipes on the restaurant’s website.

While I was at Claire’s, I picked up a booklet titled The Earth Dinner that was propped up on a stand near the door. Earth Dinner, a creation of Organic Valley, celebrates eating sustainably, locally, and organically with others. The idea of sharing food and conversing about where that food came from is essential to Earth Dinner. Inside The Earth Dinner booklet were quotes from authors, chefs, foodies, celebrities – anyone you could imagine. Here are some that I found especially exceptional:

“One cannot think well, love well, or sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf

“It’s difficult to think of anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” – Lewis Grizzard

“My definition of sustainable cuisine is rather simple. Sustainable cuisine means nurturing that which nurtures us.” – Michael Romano: Chef, Union Square Café

“We started out to save the family farmer and now it looks like the family farmer is going to save us.” – Wilie Nelson

“Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.” – Elizabeth Berry

“In 1950, average Americans spent over 30 percent of their income on food; in 2000, about 10 percent. In 1950, the farmer received over fifty cents of every food dollar spent; today, less than twenty cents. Consumers spend less of their income on food than ever, and farmers receive a smaller percentage of that lesser portion.” – Ronald Jager, The Fate of Family Farming

Farm People are Friendly

I figured that the best place to start my exploration of local eating would be at square one: a farm. I chose to work at the Yale farm, which sells its organically grown produce to restaurants in New Haven. The farm has volunteer hours on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:00 to 5:00, which are open to Yale students and members of the community. I learned two things very quickly at the farm. First, farm people are friendly – volunteers and farm managers alike were eager to help and give guidance. Second and more importantly, I learned never to step on the garden beds – a rule that seems obvious to a veteran farmer but foreign to a new volunteer.

The first project I assisted with was to aerate the soil with tools called broad forks, giant pronged instruments that dig into the ground and loosen the soil. After broad forking, we neatened the soil with steal rakes.

Next, I helped move the chicken coop, so that the place where the chickens were living could be converted into additional gardens. After corralling the chickens into a smaller area, we moved their coop down a hill to a spot tucked out of the way. The harder part was carrying the chickens to their new home. The trick to holding a chicken is to have a firm grip so that he/she relaxes. You can even grab chickens by the feet; after a few seconds they hang calmly. Watching the chickens interact, I saw the original meaning of the phrase, “top of the pecking order” – some chickens clearly had powerful personalities and knew how to get what they wanted.

For more information on the Yale farm or its main customer, Miya’s Sushi, check out their websites:

http://www.yale.edu/sustainablefood

http://miyassushi.com/