Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Juneberry picnic

The tomato had been complaining that life on the terrace was too quiet and so, to broaden its horizons, I took it for an outing to the little park between the bridges in DUMBO. With the temporarily suspended subways rattling overhead as they cross the East River-which-is-a-strait on the Manhattan Bridge, this is possibly the noisiest park in the world. All conversation must be accomplished in the lulls between trains. Tomatoes must hold their little yellow tongues.

The tomato, a seedling that came up from last year's fallen Mexican heirloom cherry tomatoes, was one of four that I rescued and potted in the spring. Now it was ready for the handover to Ellen, who met me at the park, berry bags and picnic at the ready.

A very important part of this picnic was this: Silver Berry wine, vintage 2009. Made by Ellen from the fruit of the Autumn olive (pernicious weed and maker of heavenly berries, apparently) it was uncorked, sniffed suspiciously by the cellar mistress, and decanted.

It was the first non-grape wine I have ever drunk, and I've waited a long time. Pretty much ever since reading Cider with Rosie as a little girl. Dry, fragrant - but of a scent I do not know - reminding me of cider, but also of sauvignon blanc. And decidedly alcoholic. Delishish.

To accompany the sheeps' milk cheese ('Ewephoria') that she had bought, Ellen produced her sweet chile jelly, which reminded me a lot of the one Vince and I enjoyed at the 2 Goats Deli in Nieu Bethesda.

My pork belly rillettes were decent (finished at 1am this morning after seriously long cooking) fatty and creamy enough, but I think next time I'll add some juniper berries.

I brought the last of the field garlic pickles. I wish I'd made more.

And then on to the main event.


I picked here two weeks ago, and now the low trees were loaded with soft purple fruit, whereas then they had been mostly scarlet. I like the flavour of both. Red is still sweet, but purple is very juicy.

Vince arrived on cue, camera in hand, to shoot pictures for later use.

And we made friends with curious strangers.

Eventually, sticky and full of sweet berries, we called it off, and I must now decide what to do with the haul sitting in the fridge. Pie? Maybe. Ooh: Individual, little pies, like mince pies. Yes, that's it. And It. Ellen also gave me a delightful little jar of It jelly, that she'd made from the leftover red fruits after she'd made It last year.

And then home through the cobbled streets, up the hill, along the Promenade, under the tilia blossoms just opened, up the stairs, into the little apartment.

And onto the terrace, to give everything a good drink.


  1. What a lovely event! As always, your picnics look delicious. I look forward to a photo of those little pies.....

  2. Now this was a nice picnic, as all yours are. If your weather was as lovely as ours yesterday it must have been a perfect picnic.

    I love that you post early in the morning, it's a little treat for me before I hop in the shower and begin my day. x jane

  3. are bustelo cans some sort of tacit convention for tomato plants? as only a 1st-year serious veg gardener, i have seen a disproportionate number of cans with "cafe bustelo" housing tomatoes.

  4. I just recently found your blog and am loving it! Your outing to the park sounds lovely and like the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Cheers!

  5. rachel, ah yes. I'd better get cracking.

    flwrjane - perfect weather it was, too...

    donna - well, I think it's the cans themselves. It seems such a shame to throw them away. I've had a long time idea of plastering a wall somewhere with them, stuffed with flowers - but Thomas at A Growing Tradition got going before I ever planted my first tomato in one. They're just natural-born flowerpots, I think.

    Hello little owl? - glad we picked yesterday and not today :-)

  6. There are picnics and then there are-
    stylish feasts.
    Little pies!

  7. You are too modest...the rillettes were delicious. That being said, I think juniper berries are an inspirational addition. Will you forage them?

  8. I swear! This is the first time I have ever, in any way, witnessed a tomato plant being taken on a picnic!!!!!!!!!!! What are you and yours smoking???? Eh??? I know, from experience, that living in Brooklyn makes you kinda' weird, but come on!!

  9. No, actually, I arrived on foot.

  10. dinahmow - little pies are baking right now!

    ellen - thank you...eeeeeh! I never thought of juniper berry foraging! I ate them once, from Christmas garlands. They were soft and sweet.

    Mountain Thyme - lol. I gave the plant to Ellen to take home. The park was our meeting spot. But I think every picnic should have a...well, potplant.

    Beence, it's variation of the broomstick. Male witches (would that be wizards?)arrive on cues.

  11. I came back to suggest the wine be featured on Drink This and choked on the exchange about cues/broomsticks.

    (And Beence would be a warlock.)

  12. Wow! I was definitely camped out for a bit, just to the right of you and closer to the water on my big beach blanket. Too funny!

    Not sure how you managed to catch a picture of those two lovebirds in front of you without their hands all over each other. They were amusing (and sort of revolting for a cynic like me) and soooo lovey-dovey.

    What a great picnic -- thanks for sharing! :)

  13. What a lovely tale of a picnic. And gawd, I'm missing New York, you lucky thing!


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