Monday, April 7, 2014

Ferdinando's Focacceria / Carroll Gardens

All images © Valery Rizzo

Carroll Gardens is a historic neighborhood in Brooklyn, filled with a history of Italian culture. This can especially be seen through all the family run restaurants, bakeries and specialty shops, which have been in business since 1904. Another unique character and a favorite of mine are all the religious statues in the front yards, found while wandering along the side streets. At this time of year especially when we are approaching spring and the celebration of Easter, there is a Good Friday procession not to be missed. I have only seen this performed in Italy and the fact that they still carry on this tradition through the streets of Brooklyn is why I love living here. 

Family owned Ferdinando's opened in 1904 and specializes in authentic Sicilian Cuisine. Originally it started out serving the nearby dock workers of the Red Hook Waterfront. When Ferdinando's son-in-law Francesco Buffa took over the place in 1975 he expanded the place while still leaving all of its old school charm. They are well know for their Panelle Sandwiches, made from fried chickpeas and flour, topped with ricotta and grated cheese, served in a house-made semolina roll. Most locals pair that with a Manhattan Special, a Brooklyn made espresso soda. My personal favorite though is the Arancina, I am perfectly happy just eating one of these baseball size rice balls filled with chopped meat, peas and sauce, topped with ricotta and finished off with sauce and grated cheese. Locals that have left the neighborhood still return to enjoy good food and memories here. Ferdinando's Focacceria, 151 Union Street, Brooklyn, New York. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cooking with Whole Grains / Chickpea Vegan Quarterly

All images © Valery Rizzo, cover photo Cara Livermore.

The Beautiful Spring Issue of Chickpea Magazine is out! Chickpea's Editor, Designer and Photographer Cara Livermore is such a talent and was a pleasure to work with.

Included in the issue is a collaboration I worked on with NYC Chef, Camille Becerra on a story about cooking whole grains. The shoot was also styled using gorgeous handmade ceramics from brooklyn makers CLAM LAB and Helen Levi, with all the grains sourced locally from the Park Slope Coop. I also included in this post some of my other favorite shots from the shoot.


Written by Chef Camille Becerra
Photographs by Valery Rizzo

Food Styling Camille Becerra
Prop Styling Valery Rizzo

Ceramics by CLAM LAB and Helen Levi


Pick up or order a copy for these and other amazing recipes included in the Spring Issue. Visit the Chickpea Magazine website for information about Digital Issues, Print Issues, Subscriptions or Stockists around the country where you can purchase a copy.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

In and Around Brooklyn / Winter iPhone

All images © Valery Rizzo

1. The best thing to do on a grey snowy day, stay in and read.
2. Steamed chicken with peas and fresh mint.
4. Christmas trees from Vermont at the Park Slope Food Coop.
5. Four & Twenty Blackbirds Salted Honey Pie, Gowanus, Brooklyn.
6. Making apple pie with Chef Camille Becerra at New Amsterdam Market.
7. Black walnuts from Vermont found at New Amsterdam Market.
8. Making chocolate chip biscotti with brown sugar and semi-sweet chips.
9. The original Mike's Sharpening since 1941.
10. Italian cheesecake made with Ricotta from Savarese.
11. Chinese Lunar New Year aftermath, Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
12. Lion Dance Troupe, Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
13. Silly string wars, Chinese New Year, Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
14. More silly string fun.
15. Chinatown, Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
16. Street merchants, Chinatown, Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
17. Silly string and firecrackers.
18. Raw honey, speck and brie.
19. Brooklyn band, Sunset Victim playing at The Fifth Estate, Park Slope, Brooklyn.
20. Shooting Brooklyn Slate Co. for Pure Green Magazine.
21. Gorgeous flower seeds for my garden this year from the Hudson Valley Seed Library, found at the Park Slope Food Coop


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Brooklyn Photo of The Week / Year of the Horse

Firecracker, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, 2012. Photo © Valery Rizzo

The Chinese Lunar New Year 4712 begins this January 31st and we celebrate 2014 as The Year of The Horse. It is especially significant to me because I was born under the sign of the horse. 

Not too many people know but Brooklyn has its own Chinatown in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and it is also in my opinion the best place to enjoy the celebration. The streets are covered with confetti and people firing off firecrackers and it really feels just like one big street fair. This year the festivities take place on Sunday, February 2nd and afterwards you could enjoy Dim Sum at one of the local restaurants. Pacificana on 8th Avenue and 50th street is a restaurant highly recommended by my friends, Dave and Vivian who live in the neighborhood. 

The fun takes place on 8th Avenue, between 50th and 60th Streets. Take the N/R train to 59rd Street and walk up to 8th Avenue. For more details, a full list of activities or to see if you were born in the Year of The Horse click here.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mermaid's Garden Seafood Market / Bon Appétit


I have a few photographs included in this Bon Appétit article about The Feast of Seven Fishes, featuring Mermaid's Garden. You can read the entire article by clicking here

I had photographed Bianca Piccillo and Mark Usewicz of Mermaid's Garden in the past  when they were operating as a CSF (Community Supported Fishery) but they have now opened the city's first fully sustainable seafood market in Brooklyn. Maybe you would like to serve oysters for New Year's Eve or pick up some prepared octopus salad or tuna meatballs or you might just be like me and have waited forever for a really great seafood market to open in your neighborhood so you can eat more fish. Well it's here and it's beautiful! Below are some other photos I took of the new shop at 644 Vanderbilt Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. 718-638-1910. 

All images © Valery Rizzo


Mermaid's garden also offers cooking classes, if you would like to learn more about cooking seafood. Wondering how to prepare sea urchins, why not make Sea Urchin Butter which they also sell housemade in the shop and they suggest using as a finishing touch on pasta, vegetables, eggs or toast.

Sea Urchin Butter

You'll need 2 parts unsalted butter : 1 part fresh sea urchin roe by weight for this compound butter.

Allow the butter to soften at room temperature. Place the butter and sea urchin roe in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the two are combined. You may need to stop and scrap down the sides of the bowl while processing. When combined add salt to taste. Put the butter into a container with a tightly sealing lid and store in the freezer. Allow the butter to soften for a few hours in the refrigerator before using. It's fine to do this repeatedly as you use the butter bit by bit.