Learn About Edible Plants of the Caribbean at the New York Botanical Garden
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Learn About Edible Plants of the Caribbean at the New York Botanical Garden

May 14, 2023


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Attend the talk with Jessica B. Harris and Jamaica Kincaid, pick up a whiskey sampler for Father's Day, and more food news.

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By Florence Fabricant

The African American Garden at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx has inspired a program on June 17, during the weekend before Juneteenth, to highlight the plants and foods of the Caribbean. From 10 a.m. until noon, there will be a conversation between the scholar Jessica B. Harris and the writer Jamaica Kincaid about the edible plants of the Caribbean, followed by a panel discussion about sugar moderated by the food historian Scott Alves Barton. The event will be held in the Arthur and Janet Ross Lecture Hall. Free registration is required, which includes grounds-only admission to the garden.

New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard (Bedford Park Boulevard) 718-817-8720, nybg.org.

If you’re not above offering your father a cliché-adjacent gift, consider themed, brightly iced cookies from Biscuiteers bakery in England, now available for delivery in the United States. Among the assortments are a tool kit with small chocolate butter cookies shaped like a hammer, saw, drill, wrench and more, $58. Cars, golf, gardening, bike racing, a gin-and-tonic, and dogs represent other collections, starting at $40. Delivery, $19.98, is promised within three business days.


Leave a jar of one of the new V Smiley Preserves labeled the Grandes Dames of Fruit on a counter, uncovered, and you won't need a scented candle. Each of the varieties of jams named for an influential maker of preserves is as much about intense fragrance as flavor. V Smiley, a native of Vermont, grew up on a family farm, went to the West Coast to pursue a career in art, became a cook and then returned to her family farm in New Haven Mills, Vt., to further develop her jam company, now in business for 10 years. She has dedicated lavender-blackberry-rhubarb jam to Jane Grigson, cherry-rose hip-hibiscus to Christine Ferber, and red currant-raspberry geranium to Pam Corbin. That one is my favorite. The honey-sweetened jams with lip-smacking tartness and some texture come in jars that have labels showing drawings and brief bios of the women.

The Grandes Dames of Fruit, $18 for six ounces, $49 for a gift box of three, vsmileypreserves.com/jam-conserves.

To recognize the characteristics of various whiskies takes experience. A good place to start is a special one-off whiskey sampler for Father's Day from the Crafty Cask, which sells monthly tasting kit subscriptions featuring different categories of alcoholic beverages. American single malt, corn whiskey, bourbon, rye, blended hopped whiskey and Irish whiskey in two-ounce samples from craft distillers, are in the box along with basic instructions, guides and a video to download.

SipScout Craft Whiskey Exploration Kit by the Crafty Cask, $90, thecraftycask.myshopify.com.

The introduction of balsamic vinegar to the American market some 40 or so years ago made sweet vinegar a pantry staple. A new one, a rosé from De Nigris 1889, a balsamic maker in Modena, Italy, is a perfect gift for summer. Made from ancellotta grapes, a red varietal native to Emilia-Romagna and usually used for blending in lambrusco, it's pale gold tinged with pink and delicately sweet. For a salad dressing, its richness and slight viscosity mean that less oil is needed. Trace it over a fluke crudo or ripe strawberries. Use it to mellow the mignonette. Add it to sparkling water and you have a refreshing nonalcoholic spritz.

De Nigris 1889 Sweet Rosé Wine Vinegar of Modena, 16.9 ounces, $7.49 at Whole Foods stores, $7.99 at instacart.com.

Sometimes it only takes a couple of recipes for a cookbook to secure a slot on my shelf. So it is with "Beach Eats" from Coastal Living, a quarterly magazine. Cucumber gazpacho with blue crab and plenty of herbs is one. The refreshing tangerine-elderflower spritzer, for which the buzz can be muted by using nonalcoholic sparkling wine and elderflower syrup, is another. A third is the crispy flounder piccata with salsa verde, an easily scalable dish that is as alluring at room temperature as it is served hot. There are other recipes, like the green grits and the grilled avocado with pickled red onions, begging for attention in this sunny seasonal cookbook filled with water views. Invited to a beach house? Gift-wrap a copy for your host.

"Beach Eats: Favorite Surfside Recipes for Every Occasion," edited by Katherine Cobbs (Coastal Living Magazine, Meredith Operations Corporation, IPG Publishing and Licensing, $30).

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Florence Fabricant is a food and wine writer. She writes the weekly Front Burner and Off the Menu columns, as well as the Pairings column, which appears alongside the monthly wine reviews. She has also written 12 cookbooks.


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