It’s become an annual tradition here at the YSFP to kick off the fall semester of Chewing the Fat with a cheese tasting run by our friends at Caseus. We work with them to pair Yale Farm produce to local cheeses, introducing participants to the best of late summer’s harvest as well as the products of neighboring cities and states, making sure to talk about the stories that go into each item on the plate. Seating is always very limited, as we want to make sure to encourage conversation and question-asking while we eat— so if you missed it this year, here are some images from the afternoon!

No shortage of New Haven food events or local dishes worth tasting​

With the onset of spring, so began the food events that kept me very busy. At the Chef to Chef: Picnic Battle for the Planet, I emceed as Jason Sobocinski from Caseus Fromagerie Bistro and Bun Lai of Miya’s Sushi engaged in a friendly competition where they both crafted delicious and sustainable picnic fare.

Their dishes had to include beets, goat cheese and a baguette. After the 15-minute competition, Chef Bun Lai was crowned the winner at the Nature Conservancy’s event celebrating Earth Day on April 21.

Then it was on to the fifth annual Iron Chef Elm City competition on April 22 where Chef Ben Gaffney of Atticus Bookstore-Cafe was crowned the champ. To see the rest of the column and Chef Gaffney’s dessert recipe using the “secret” ingredient, please click here 

To see my food and travel column archives, please click here.

Don’t Miss “Chef to Chef: Picnic Battle for the Planet”

Join two exciting New Haven chefs for a special picnic with The Nature Conservancy after the Rock to Rock Earth Day bike ride April 21 in New Haven. And…I will emcee this sustainable picnic throw-down!

Get ready to rumble (and celebrate), Earth Day style!

It won’t be just any picnic when New Haven chefs Jason Sobocinski from Caseus Fromagerie and Bistro and Bun Lai from Miya’s Sushi get together for The Nature Conservancy’s Picnic for the Planet after the Rock to Rock Earth Day bike ride.

About 1,000 riders will join Rock to Rock, which benefits organizations that are working to create a greener, healthier New Haven community.

At the Rock to Rock finish line in East Rock Park at 1 p.m., the two chefs will engage in a light-hearted, friendly “Picnic Battle for the Planet” to craft the most delicious and sustainable picnic dish. Bun and Jason will be working with a palette of ingredients chosen by Facebook friends of The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut and donated by Elm City Market. To help decide which ingredients they use, visit the Nature Conservancy’s Facebook Page

Along with the picnic, the Conservancy is fielding a team of rider-fundraisers at Rock to Rock to support its Long Island Sound Program, which aims to protect and restore one of the Northeast’s most valuable urban resources. Conservancy Trustee Todd Miranowski has generously offered to match, dollar for dollar, the total amount of donations made to “Team Nature Conservancy Rocks!” up to $10,000.

“The Nature Conservancy is so grateful to Todd, Jason, Bun, the organizers of Rock to Rock and everyone who is making this possible,” said Frogard Ryan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “I’m passionate about good food, and all good food starts with nature – from cheese to sushi. This exciting Picnic for the Planet event will bring attention to the many ways Long Island Sound – and all our lands and waters — feed our bodies and our souls.”

The Nature Conservancy launched Picnic for the Planet in 2011 to nurture people’s connection to the planet and the food it provides. Last year’s Picnic for the Planet was a great success with thousands of people joining more than 600 picnics in 61 countries on all seven continents.

This year, in addition to the hosting New Haven picnic, the Conservancy is hosting picnics around the world including in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C. International picnic sites include Beijing, China; Arusha, Tanzania; and Melbourne, Australia.

Picnic for the Planet is part of The Nature Conservancy’s All Hands on Earth campaign, which aims to build an active, global community for the environment and provide everyday ways for people to get involved in creating a healthier planet.
 Check out this video of Jason


Check out this video of Bun



·         Rock to Rock/Picnic for the Planet
April 21, 2012
8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
West Rock and East Rock Parks in New Haven, CT

Chef Jason Sobocinski

Chef Bun Laii

Recipes courtesy of Caseus Fromagerie Bistro Cookbook

                                            caseus zeppoles

Zeppole is a traditional Italian pastry that is usually made during the Feast of St. Joseph. At Caseus, we make them year-round, changing the flavors with the season. Our most popular are simple lemon zeppoles—light and crisp on the outside, with a warm, slightly dense, and chewy dough center. The secret to this dish is to use great ricotta and never to use a mixer or even a spoon or spatula. Your hands make for the least amount of work on the supersensitive dough.

Feeds: enough For 1 medium-sized group or 1 serious donut lover!

2 quarts peanut oil

1/cup sugar

21/8 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

Zest of 1 lemon

2 cups fresh ricotta

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

2 cups powdered sugar

In a deep heavy-bottomed pot, heat the peanut oil to about 375°F.

Combine the dry ingredients (minus the powdered sugar) and lemon zest in a bowl. Make a hole in the dry mixture and add the ricotta, vanilla, and eggs inside of the well you’ve created. Combine with your hands, mixing gently until just slightly sticking together.

Ball loosely by pinching a golf-ball-size glob into your fingertips.

Quickly, but very carefully, drop the globs into the hot oil. Do not add more than five globs to the pot at a time. Fry until nicely golden to dark brown and puffed on the outside. They should take about 5–6 minutes per batch.

While hot, toss the zeppoles in a bowl of powdered sugar. Serve imme­diately. The dish is best when eaten within minutes of coming out of the fryer.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake

This is a traditional New York–style cheesecake with chèvre added. The key to the lightness of this cake, which I learned from my former bosses at Chestnut Fine Foods, is to allow it to rest in the oven overnight after baking. When you turn the oven off, the heat doesn’t dissipate immediately. If you can be patient and leave the door shut, the cake continues to bake very slowly and produces an amazing light texture that cannot be beat!

Feeds: approximately 12 (1 cake)

3 cups graham cracker crumbs, hand-crushed chunky

3/4 cup (11/3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

11/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature

1 pound fresh goat chèvre, room temperature

1 pint sour cream 2 cups sugar Juice of 1/2 large lemon 11/2 teaspoons vanilla

extract 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 6 eggs

(The earlier you get these two cheeses out on your counter to warm, the better)

for the crust:

Use your hands to crush the graham crackers so they are chunky and incorporated with the melted butter.

Coat 9-inch springform pan with butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 1 inch up the sides.

Wrap the pan in foil halfway up the sides so that it is watertight along its bottom edge.

for the filling:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, blend all the ingredients, minus the eggs, until smooth. Then add one egg at a time, waiting until each egg incorporates fully into the mix before adding the next.

Blend again until smooth, stopping the mixer every so often to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so that there are absolutely no lumps.

to make the cheesecake:

Gently pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Place the pan in a larger pan and fill with enough water to come 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake in the oven for 11/4 hours, then turn the oven off. Do not open the oven door. Allow the cake to sit in the oven overnight, or at least 8 hours.

Remove the cake from the springform pan. Refrigerate the cake over­night or for at least 6 hours. This cake improves if allowed to sit around, and is at its best the second or third day after baking. Serve with berries, peaches, or just about anything. It’s sweet and tangy and delicious.