A Conversation with the Author of ‘Long Island Food’

An interview with Ketchum’s own Tom Barritt, Managing Director of the Communications Training Network and author of Long Island Food: A History From Family Farms & Oysters to Craft Spirits. Published by History Press, the book is part of their series, American Palate, which seeks out hometown writers to chronicle their local food culture.

Available for purchase at Amazon.com

Available for purchase at Amazon.com

Tom Barritt was not setting out to write an academic history of the food of Long Island, New York. Rather, the journey was a suburban boy’s search for his hometown food culture. Long Island Food provides a fascinating account of one of the nation’s most diverse, and perhaps least understood culinary regions. Tom hopes that his stories of local pioneers and modern day food artisans will offer a unique, single narrative of Long Island’s culinary past, present and future.

Tom grew up in the 1960’s on meatloaf and TV dinners, not realizing the edible delights hiding just off the Long Island Expressway. While his friends raved about niche areas like Napa and the Hudson Valley, Tom explored close to home and after many weekends researching and talking to locals, he began to discover the deep history of the region and learned that the food culture of today is very much rooted in the past. Throughout, he found that at the heart of Long Island food were stories about people.

“If you just write about ingredients, you’ll find something is missing. You need the personal element,” Tom said. “Food tells us a lot about traditions, but there is always a person at the heart of a food story bringing it all together.”

Exploring the Agricultural and Seafood Bounty

Farming and seafood were two major sources of food that sustained Native Americans and European settlers and still remain an integral part of Long Island’s food culture today. Tom focused on stories of individuals advancing Long Island’s food traditions in new ways. The Terry family has cultivated land on Orient Point at the tip of Long Island’s North Fork since the 1600s. But, in recent years, they found that their business model of wholesale produce was becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. They decided to take their produce directly to the public and started a network of more than 15 farmers markets on Long Island, none of which had existed before. The Terry family changed the way Long Islanders shop for produce and revitalized their historic family farm.

Barritt photo_farm market

Tom also investigated the Long Island oyster industry which harkens back to 1900 and was one of the most prominent oyster centers in the world. As is often seen in the fishing industry, the waters were overfished and the supply depleted. The industry went through significant decline. The Blue Island Oyster Company is an example of a business that is revitalizing oyster production in the Great South Bay.

Wine and Spirits

It’s only in the past couple of decades that Long Island has become known for fine wines. While a new sector for the region – now represented by dozens of wineries – it is built on Long Island’s early family farming foundations. Long Island’s very first winery was started 40 years ago by a couple interested in cultivating European-style grapes. Hargrave Vineyards was simply a farm supporting a single family, started on the site of an old potato field. The family had no idea their personal passion for wine would pave the way for the burgeoning wine industry that exists today. Now, diverse vintners and distillers have flocked to the region. There is a sparkling wine house on the East End. The company, Long Island Spirits distills vodka from the iconic Long Island potato and also produces Rough Rider Bourbon, a local product named in honor of Long Island resident, Teddy Roosevelt.

 

Image featuring Rough Rider Bourbon from The Winebow Group

Image featuring Rough Rider Bourbon from The Winebow Group

Tom said Long Island’s modern artisans are advancing the food history of the region through their passion and enthusiasm. “There is a real personal imprint food artisans are putting on their product today that reflects where Long Island has been in the past but also where it may go in the future.”

 

Long Island Food was published by History Press and is on sale on September 14, 2015. It is part of their series, American Palate, which seeks locals to write about native food culture. Tom was discovered by the publishing company through his blog, Culinary Types. Culinary Types is a food blog Tom started nine years ago. He will be speaking about Long Island food at local venues throughout autumn, including a speaking event at the Suffolk County Historical Society, on October 24.

Millennials May Whine, But We Definitely Wine!

September marks the end of summer and the start of the busy school season. For most, this means a packed schedule, hectic mornings – the works, but did you know it’s nearly mandatory to enjoy a glass of California wine? Most Millennials will be partaking, but that’s only because wine has become their new drink of choice.

September marks the start of California Wine Month and as most Gen Y-ers head back to campus, it’s more than likely you’ll find a bottle of vino in the kitchen. In light of the recent earthquake Northern California experienced, it’s a better time than ever to support wineries from the Napa Valley, in particular.

Source:

Source: www.discovercaliforniawines.com

Ronan Stafford, Canadean Wine Report analyst, helped Jezebel break down the statistics for this story:

Millennials above the legal drinking age guzzled up 25.7 percent of wine by volume in the U.S. in 2012. This is higher than the global average of 20.6, but lower than the 41.4 percent of wine by volume consumed by U.S. citizens aged 55 and up.

Additionally, Melissa Saunders, owner of the wine importer, Communal Brands says:

“Historically, wine has been marketed to older generations and came with a huge pretense. But this generation is blowing all of that out of the water. They don’t care about the pretentiousness of a wine, they want something that is authentic and speaks to them. This is a huge marketing opportunity.

Source: www.enjoyart.com

Source: www.enjoyart.com

Wine has traditionally been viewed as a classy, refined drink – not necessarily one marketed towards college students. However, times (and tastes) are changing and the wine industry is making new and creative adjustments to appeal to their new audience. Although some argue the wine industry is one step behind in their marketing schemes, 20 million Gen Y-ers have yet to turn 21, so better late than never to get started.

A recent article from CNBC featured an Oregon winery seeking “this real interaction between form and function”and it’s packaging pinot noir in a can. The wine costs $6 per can (or $24 for a four-pack) currently available on the Union Wine Co website as well as in stores in Rhode Island, Maryland/Washington D.C., Ohio, Illinois, California, Hawaii and Oregon.

“We’re certainly focused on keeping it real and removing the pretense that surrounds wine,” said Ryan Harms, owner and winemaker of the Union Wine Co. The winery is based in Tualatin, Oregon, roughly 30 minutes outside Portland. “While all that ceremony may be good and attract a group of consumers, it can be off-putting and can keep new consumers from entering the wine category.

Source: unionwinecompany.com

Source: unionwinecompany.com

Will you be grabbing a can of pinot?

 

Dog Days of Summer

Note from the editor: While our headquarters is in New York, Ketchum is a global agency. Please indulge our U.S.-based team of summer fellows to share in their love of one of the foods that’s associated with our 4th of July holiday. If you live outside the states, please let me know about your country’s hallmark holiday foods and we will gladly feature your story on @ppetite. Amy

Fourth of July weekend is always one of my favorite times of the year. There are so many reasons why this last weekend was amazing – family, friends, fresh air, but one dish really sets the holiday apart. We’re all obliged to indulge in a hot diggity dog.

I love this entree option, but it did make me wonder – where did the delicious dog come from? According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, “Sausage is one of the oldest forms of processed food, having been mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as far back as the 9th Century B.C.” There is still some debate as to whether Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany created the hot dog or Johann Georghehner (a butcher living in Colburg, Germany) but it is believed that the North American hot dog was inspired by the different variations of European sausage from butchers of all nationalities.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, we at Ketchum wanted to embrace some hometown favorites from past Fourths!

Frank First

As a proper Bostonian, I have to boast about our ballgame treat – The Fenway Frank. I’ve found there’s no place better to get a hot dog in the city. Don’t worry, locals don’t order “a frank” we still order it as a “hot dog”.

Fenway Park - Home of the Red Sox and the Frank!

Fenway Park – Home of the Red Sox and the Frank!

Jacksonville’s Gem

Olivia Wilson, Ketchum’s San Francisco’s Brand team Summer Fellow, recommends Hot Dog Hut for all visitors in the Jacksonville area. “My favorite place to get a hot dog is in Jacksonville Beach, Fla – Hot Dog Hut! It’s a super cute little hut right off the main drag of beach bars and about a block from the Pier. They have tons of toppings but personally I tend to stick with a simple hot dog with onions and ketchup! Definite must try if you’re in Northeast Florida.”

Park Dog

Alyson Barnes, Senior Account Executive in Ketchum West’s Food & Nutrition Practice Group, can vouch that the ball parks she’s visited have lived up to expectations: “Nothing says summer has arrived quite like the first bite of a hot dog at a baseball stadium. From Skyline in Cincy, Nathan’s in the Bronx, and brats here in SF, the hot dogs around the league are as diverse as the teams themselves!”

Alyson's own shot of her favorite ballgame treat!

Alyson’s own shot of her favorite ballgame treat!

 

Dressing Up the Dog Across the Pond

If you won’t be stateside for America’s birthday, London has a pretty phenomenal option. Bubbledogs is a very small restaurant that specializes in gourmet hot dogs and champagne. It sounds like a crazy combination, but I highly recommend it! Just be sure to make a reservation in advance.

A fancy twist from across the pond

A fancy twist from across the pond

 

Hot dogs are an integral part of American culture. Did you know “Hot Dog” was Mickey Mouse’s first spoken word? Whether you were in a ball park or a backyard, we hope you enjoyed the dish of the day!

Quick and Creative: Why Quinoa Makes the Perfectly Packed Lunch

Like most collegiates, I love my university. I can speak at length about classes, clubs and extracurricular activities. But, I never thought I’d be so excited to talk about my school’s food. I attend Boston University and I’m proud to say that among its many accolades, another area where BU truly excels is in its cuisine. Instead of having to choose between bad options like when my parents went to school, my biggest dilemma in the dining hall is limiting myself to only one dinner entrée.

I’ve been lucky enough to dine in an amazing space for the past two and a half years, but when I studied abroad in London this past spring, the dining hall unfortunately did not travel across the pond with  me.

One of my favorite London drinks!

One of my favorite London drinks!

On the weekends, my peers and I enjoyed traditional English pub food – freshly battered fish and chips finished with a crisp cider, which was a delicious option, but not always the healthiest. After a month of pasta and peanut butter sandwiches, I started to research a better lunch option to pack for the work week. Quinoa was the perfect solution.

Source: un.org

Source: un.org

I was originally attracted to quinoa after reading that the UN deemed 2013 the International Year of Quinoa due to its incredible nutritional value. Although quinoa, pronounced “keen-wa” has only recently become a popular item in nearby grocery stores, it’s been a major food crop in other countries for centuries.  It was a staple in the pre-Columbian culture in Latin America and is still a dominant crop for the Quechua and Aymara peoples of the rural Andes region of South America, where in the Quechua language quinoa affectionately translates to “mother grain.”

Source: realfoodforlife.com

Source: realfoodforlife.com

Prepared either creamy or crunchy, quinoa is a great dish for anyone with an active lifestyle. It is incredibly easy to make as it can be boiled – or easily reheated in the microwave with water – for simply ten minutes. For anyone preparing their own lunch, it holds incredibly well. Quinoa is packed with many health benefits (which you can read more about here), but what I love is that it keeps me full for the entire afternoon.

Sarah 4

Source: cookinglight.com

Quinoa’s best asset is that it allows for creativity – even if you’re new to the cooking scene like me! I  enjoy a kale and quinoa salad sprinkled with sliced almonds and feta cheese, but often I would chop up various vegetables the night before, add some olive oil before lunch and enjoy an entirely new creation! There is nothing worse than having the same boring lunch that you had the day before, but with quinoa one package can provide a base for a week’s worth of lunches while also giving you the option to change spices and additions from day to day.

Here is a delicious recipe from the National Honey Board (client) to get you started on your quinoa quest. What is your favorite combination? Please feel free to comment with new favorite recipes!

Fruit and Mint Quinoa Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

Source: honey.com

Source: honey.com