Downtown Farmer’s Market Opens Saturday

Grand MarketThe New Rochelle BID’s  Downtown Farmer’s Market at Library Green opens for the season this Saturday at 9am – and will continue every Saturday through November 22nd.  It’s a great opportunity to purchase farm fresh produce and other specialty foods, not to mention a terrific reason to visit our downtown.  I’ll be there at 10am for the ribbon-cutting.  Come join me!

More information follows below from the BID’s press release:

Saturday, May 31st at 9 a.m. marks the opening of the New Rochelle’s Downtown Farmers Market.  The market will be held every Saturday through November 22nd from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Library Green next to the New Rochelle Public Library on Huguenot Street between Memorial Highway and Lawton Street.
This festive neighborhood market features more than 30 weekly and guest vendors selling local farm-fresh produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods and other specialty foods. The market will also showcase artisanal products and community organizations.  Shoppers can join friends and Dine on the Green with prepared foods from an assortment of Dine Downtown restaurants. To make this a great community happening for the entire family there will be free children’s activities and live music every Saturday.
A SAMPLE of New Rochelle Farmers Market Vendors
Migliorelli Farm – Migliorelli Farm is a family-run fruit and vegetable farm located in Northern Dutchess County in the Hudson Valley Region of New York. Now in its 3rd generation, Migliorelli Farm is growing over 130 different varieties of fruits and vegetables.
Pura Vida Fisheries – Rick Lofstad is the seafarer at the helm of Pura Vida Fisheries based Hampton Bay, Long Island. Rick has been selling his fish at farmers’ markets for the past 8 years.
LeBris Bakery – Jean Yves LeBris, a French born and trained artisanal bread baker with more than 50 years of experience baking. He launched a line of artisanal breads that include authentic French Baguettes, Ficelles, Italian Paesano and Ciabatta, as well as hamburger buns that have helped define and support a new, creative menu item in high-end restaurants.
Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse –  founded by Jonathan White, Cheesemaker and Nina Stein White, Dancemaker , in 2002, on a leased farm in Sussex County, NJ.  They began making artisanal cheeses from the milk of our twenty mixed-breed, grass-fed cows.  Today, they milk between 50-60 cows including their “Bobolink Blacks”, which are the result of crossing several common “modern” dairy breeds (Ayrshire, Guernsey, Jersey, etc.) with the ancient Kerry cattle of Ireland to make their cheese.
Sweet Things & Wild Thyme – Scrumptious honey, pollen and beeswax products.

R&R Farms – Specializing in Mexican produce such as pipiche, alache and two kinds of papalo and chiles.

Ready Set Sharp Knife Sharpening – Knife sharpening services turning dull to sharp blades.

Little Luscious Dessert Company – Fantastic fresh desserts by local entrepreneur featured in the NY Times.
…and many more!


Thanking Our EMTs

Noam Bramson recognizes EMS week at New Rochelle CIty Hall.

Noam Bramson recognizes EMS week at New Rochelle CIty Hall.

In a ranking of tough jobs, providing emergency medical services has got to be pretty high on the list.  EMTs have to demonstrate both technical skill and emotional composure in unpredictable crisis situations, where life itself is often at stake.  And they’ve got to function calmly in the chaotic environment of an ambulance hurtling along the road.

Each year, I have a chance to thank the Transcare ambulance crews that work in New Rochelle by recognizing Emergency Medical Services week.  It was a pleasure to welcome our local EMTs to City Hall this morning.


Food Blog: West End

Brief Refreshment at Union Avenue Liquor.

Some refreshment from Union Avenue Liquor proved essential on our tour.

Last year, I got to meet Jim Leff, who, as the creator of Chowhound, is something of a celebrity for the food-obsessed.  To my great delight, Jim spent an afternoon with me and my brother Oren, introducing us to out-of-the-way eateries along the Hudson and in central Westchester.  This week, Oren and I were able to return the favor by bringing Jim on a food tour of New Rochelle’s West End.

The West End has been New Rochelle’s immigrant gateway for generations.  A century ago, it was heavily German (and called “Dutch Hill.”)  Then came a huge influx from Calabria and southern Italy.  Today, while there is still a sizable Italian-American presence, the dominant population is of Mexican origin, especially from the states of Jalisco and Michoacan.

For our tour, we concentrated on places that cater primarily to Latino customers and might be off-the-beaten-track for Anglos.  We did quite well – sampling tacos, sopes, horchata, chile relleno, and quite a few other items in the course of a three-hour stroll.  Alas, though, we failed entirely in our grand ambition of hitting all the many restaurants along Union and Washington Avenue — done in by a regrettable shortage of stomach space.

So the following list of spots we visited should not be regarded as comprehensive or even as a greatest hits.  It’s more of a random sampling of a remarkable neighborhood, with some highlights noted.  We’ll have to schedule another tour!

La Esquinita – 102 Union Avenue (“Spanish-Style” Shrimp)

Tecalitlan – 123 Union Avenue (Our Favorite Taco)

Battalia Brothers – 176 Webster Avenue (Smoked Mozzarella, Rice Balls, Potato Croquette)

El Trigal – 214 Union Avenue (Chile Relleno)

La Flor de Michoacan – 215 Union Avenue (Horchata)

Union Avenue Liquor – 236 Union Avenue (Best Selection of Tequila on Planet)

Saccone’s Pizza – 56 Sixth Street (Lemon Italian Ice)


Remembering the Fallen

Memorial DayNew Rochelle’s Memorial Day events next week will feature both a solemn remembrance of the fallen and a festive celebration of our country.  Activities begin at 10:30am on Monday, May 26th, with a program on Memorial Plaza, followed by a parade along North Avenue and Pelham Road to Hudson Park, where the entire family can enjoy a picnic, music, and a helicopter landing at 2:00pm.

I hope you will join us, and I urge you also to visit a remarkable exhibit at the New Rochelle Public Library, which displays the photos of New Rochelle residents who gave their lives in combat.  The product of several years of work and research, the exhibit is simple, dignified, and very, very moving.  More than any fine words, these photos drive home the terrible cost and heroic sacrifice of war.  (The Library also put together this site featuring old newspaper clips.)

My thanks to the volunteers of the United Veterans Memorial & Patriotic Association for their hard work in organizing this year’s events, and also to the community groups and businesses that have provided sponsorships.


Center(?) – Right

CongressWe’re lucky to have great Congressional representatives in Westchester.  But the institution of Congress as a whole?  Not so much.  Everybody hates it.  (Well, technically not everybody – Congress does have a 16% approval rating in the latest poll.)

Except for committed partisans, most folks would probably offer a similar explanation for their disgust:  Congress spends too much time fighting and finger-pointing, instead of cooperating and leading.

It turns out that this perception has a real basis in fact.  Check out this interactive graphic from Brookings.  It illustrates political party cohesion and ideology in Congress all the way back to 1857, the beginning of the modern two-party era.  And it makes clear that Congress is indeed more polarized today than ever before, with almost no overlap between Democrats and Republicans on the ideological spectrum.

But saying “a pox on both their houses” and assigning equal blame to both sides ignores a critical factor, because almost all of the ideological polarization results from Republican movement to the right.

Back to the Brookings graphic.  Take a look at the statistics for the last thirty years, beginning with the 99th Congress, and then focus on the ideological score in the lower right corner.  That’s an index that Brookings developed to determine the liberalism or conservatism of the average Democrat and the average Republican in the House.  Zero is dead center, negative numbers indicate left-leaning views, and positive numbers indicate right-leaning views.  The higher the number, the more extreme the position.

Back in 1985, the typical Democrat in Congress had a score of -.309, while the typical Republican had a score of .311.  In other words, the two parties were about equidistant from the moderate middle.

So what’s happened since then?  By the time of the last Congress, the average Democrat had moved a little to the left, now scoring -.394, but the Republicans had lurched way over to the right, now scoring .675!

To put that in perspective, in the entire historical record, there is no precedent for such a big shift.  Republicans in Congress have more than doubled their ideological intensity in the last thirty years.  Their shift to the right is four times larger than the Democrats’ shift to the left.  The GOP’s national representatives are now more ideologically extreme than any Congressional party since the Civil War.  Wow.

Any explanation for the dysfunction in Washington that excludes this basic fact is missing something important.

To be clear, this is not a comment on rank-and-file registered Republicans or on local Republican officials – there are still plenty of mainstream, pragmatic, moderates around.  They’re just a dying (or dead) breed in DC.

Political scientists generally call the Democrats a “center-left” party, and the Republicans a “center-right” party.  How far does a party have to go in order to lose that “center” portion of the label?