Dirty Work: Lessons from Mario Batali on How to Cook a Badass Meal Using Fresh Produce

April 7, 2016 - garden totes

Welcome behind to Dirty Work, a new array of dispatches from a MUNCHIES Garden. We’re mouth-watering chefs, bartenders, and personalities in a universe of food and splash to try a succulent stadium and make whatever a hell inspires them with a rooftop produce.

In 1996, a biggest cooking uncover on radio began. The tract was simple: a young, red-headed prepare with comprehensive believe of Italian cuisine would mount behind a stove and prepare tasty Italian dishes for friends. He’d fill adult viewers with contribution on informal cooking while serving real-deal plates of food to his guest in a studio.

The show, Molto Mario, taught us about regionality, technique, and critical life lessons like salting your pasta water.

A cold autumn day on a VICE rooftop. All photos by Sydney Kramer.

Of course, Mario Batali needs 0 introduction. Pull up the lauded chef, restaurateur, and TV personality’s Wikipedia page, and you’ll learn some-more trivia on his life than what you’ll find on President Obama’s: “Batali’s signature wardrobe character includes a fleece vest, shorts, and orange Crocs.”

Today, I’m station subsequent to those famous orange Crocs on an cloudy Nov day on a rooftop during VICE HQ. In a few seconds, I’m ostensible to give the male who knows some-more about produce than we will in my lifetime a debate of a MUNCHIES garden. we wish we can keep up.

We’re here to do some unwashed work: collect uninformed spices and vegetables from a garden that Batali can prepare with for associate food nerds and Master of None creators Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang. As we squeeze a span of Batali orange-colored garden sheers and a receptacle bag, we’re prepared to explore.

Our civic garden is not distinct a uncoiffed locks of Jeff Bridges: it is wild, untamable, and full of surprises.

The author sampling uninformed lemongrass from a MUNCHIES herb garden with Mario Batali.

I start with a wildcard, and indicate to a furious carrots that grow during pointless around a roof—out-of-place shaggy immature fronds that demeanour like Victorian-era ferns experiencing an temperament crisis. Batali is intrigued. He kneels down and starts to pull, afterwards yank, a carrot a distance of a fondle poodle from a ground. The act scarcely takes him down, and a void left behind a base unfeeling is justification that a roof mud runs low above a bureau directly below it.

So with a lapdog-sized veggie in tow, we travel over to a herb garden, where Batali runs his hands by savory, rosemary, basil, mint, and lavender. we bravery a singular root of wormwood, that smells like a airflow of a groundwork inside a cigar addict’s home, for him to sample. we deeply bewail a gesture. “I consider we wish a stem,” he kindly responds as he kneels down to mangle off a stalky bit. He hands me a piece, and we ambience a botanical in silence. It is bitter, full of fennel and anise, and oppressive on a tongue. “I’d need this scrupulously strong before we could suffer it,” he admits.

We’re usually 5 mins into this tour, and I’ve managed to blow out a palates with one of a many jarring flavors in a whole garden. we fast lift a sorrel root to gnaw on and forget what usually happened. “That herb was done famous by a Troisgros brothers with a salmon plate they done called salmon du soleil. Sorrel is good since it reminds me of watermelon though being sweet,” he notes.

Harvesting beets and kohlrabi from a MUNCHIES salad garden.

This garden is a buffet, so we also representation uninformed lemongrass stems, that Batali assures me are a “most delicate” he’s ever tried. We pass by pineapple sage, lemon mint, and anise hyssop, that he suggests branch into tisane, solely for a lemon verbena, that “smells like Pledge” and “works good as a bug repellant.”

Now that we’re median by inspecting a garden, we’ve got unequivocally tiny furnish to uncover for it. Ten stairs to a left, and we’re during a salad garden, where Batali is roaming on a few leaves of piquant arugula. The immature is his favorite variety, since when in Naples, “it grows furious in a cracks of a sidewalks.” We representation some sharp mustard greens and tatsoi, though cut to a follow and fast start harvesting turnips, beets, Swiss chard, and immature onions from a cold mud for his lunch menu.

Batali grabs a small, proposal kohlrabi from a unfeeling bed and starts to work his magic. “After a initial frost, these kohlrabi get twice as sweet, even if a belligerent is frozen. If we baked with them right now, I’d absolved them of dirt, cut them in half, and offer them with soothing butter, sea salt, and a magnum of white wine. We can go on a kolhrabi and Chablis cleanse.”

He surveys a rest of a unfeeling tops and points over to a Chioggia beets. “The beet greens are a unsung heroes in this garden. My favorite raviolis are done with beet greens. You can save a greens, make beets, and offer them later. You could also plight a beets now and afterwards save them for after and offer with them with a initial prosciutto done final year that comes adult right after Christmas.” He pulls a handful from a belligerent and throws them into a bag. I’m starting to notice who is unequivocally giving a debate around here.


The heirloom tomato vines in a categorical unfeeling tract in a MUNCHIES garden.

Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang like to eat, and so far, we’ve usually got a baby head-sized carrot, a integrate beets, turnips, and some kohlrabi for them. Sorry, guys. I take Batali over to a categorical tract to uncover him some black radishes and belligerent cherries to hint some inspiration, though he stops us passed in a tracks. “Does Action Bronson know we’re unresolved out here? It’s like I’m unctuous into a hen house. Sorry Bronse’.” He maniacally chuckles, and spots a vast patch of immature heirloom tomatoes that never grown this past summer. They hang, watchful to be picked.

“In Campagna, where they grow San Marzanos, when a tomatoes are still immature and unresolved off a vines during a finish of a season, they’ll take a plant out from a roots and hang it in a cellar. The San Marzanos will solemnly develop over a march of a winter since they’re still on a vine. Isn’t that crazy?” But time is not on a side to watch these things ripen, so Batali throws out some other options. “With immature tomatoes like this, they make a somewhat sour tender immature tomato pesto that is so delicious.”

The fruits—er, vegetables—of a labor: beets, furious carrot, black radishes, and turnips.

The unfeeling bag is removing complicated and so is a cold autumn air, so we move a transport to a cruise list to consider what a Master of Lunch will do next. We dump immature tomatoes, black radishes, beets and their greens, a world’s initial Williamsburg weird carrot, immature onions, kolhrabi, immature scallions, herbs, and some chilies on a table. We step behind to take it all in.

“This is twice as abundant as we thought. I’m a kind of man who can see a bag of groceries and 200 opposite meals. we suspicion we guys had some arrange of hobby garden out here. This is a jungle of deliciousness. we consider we should substantially make something.”

Green tomatoes and scallions wait their fate.

He ditches a furious carrot—a passed ringer for poison hemlock—and brings his transport behind to his possess kitchen to remarkably emanate a lunch of carrot fritters with honey, beet, and ricotta ravioli, and Vicenza-style chard and beef polpette (meatballs) for a Master(s) of None, proof there’s still molto in Mario yet.

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