Seaport Report, June 13, 2013

BY JANEL BLADOW  |    Summer is upon us… let’s hope the action in the hood helps keep our special neighborhood afloat!

Italian food tour… The regional gastronomical tour of Italy continues this week at Acqua where Chef Ivan Beacco conjures culinary hits from Marche. Located in central eastern Italy, Marche boasts more than 100 miles of coastline along the Adriatic Sea yet remains one of the country’s least known providences. Mostly agricultural, very green and mountainous, it was rural and poor until the 1980s when it began capitalizing on its agrarian past with boutique vineyards and small craft workshops that have blossomed into major international brands (think Tod’s).

Wines and foods of the area are also little known but surprisingly delish. The most common vines are Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Sangiovese and Verdicchio, for example. Regional dishes run from local fish to homegrown olives.

Chef Beacco is presenting a four-course tasting menu – olive ascolane: breaded green olives stuffed with blended ground beef, chicken and pork; Capelli d’angelo ai ceci: angel hair pasta with Italian bacon, chickpeas and shallots; Tonno in panizza: zesty fresh tuna with black olives and tomatoes; and Crema fritta: fried custard cream with pistachio gelato. Paired with local wines, including Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi “Garofoli”, this is a sure winner for $48 a person.

The Marche menu continues through the weekend. Then on June 24 through 30, Acqua celebrates the fantastic foods and wines of the more well-known Tuscany region. That menu includes Pappa al pomodoro: thick tomato bread soup; Pappardelle alla maremmana: wild boar ragu; and other dishes. Enjoy!

Moving music… Our own Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra kicked off the summer season with a free concert at Brookfield Place Plaza (outside the Winter Garden, near North Cove, in Battery Park City) Tuesday, June 11, at 5:30 p.m. Founder/conductor Gary S. Fagin led the band in a high spirited hour of waltzes, foxtrots and tangos to get even the most flat-footed among us up and dancing. K.C.O. swings!

Shop till you drop… The New Amsterdam Market opens for its 2013 season on Sunday, June 23, kicking off with a one-day fair and exposition at the Old Fulton Fish Market (South Street between Beekman St. and Peck Slip). More than 70 vendors will be on hand to sell their crops and goods. Among the newcomers are Nutshell Projects, a small farm and food consultancy founded by NAM’s first program director, Cerise Mayo. Also featured will be a special exhibition and dairy bar organized by milk expert Dani Zylberberg and Anton Nocito of P&H Soda.

Waterfront rocks… Celebrating life and arts Downtown through music and dance is the annual River to River Festival which opens June 15 and runs through July 14 at various locations from the East River to the Hudson and around Battery Park. With more than 150 events at 28 sites all over Lower Manhattan, there should be something for everyone to enjoy. The first event in the Seaport features So Percussion, a quartet from Brooklyn, on Pier 17, Tuesday, June 18 with open rehearsal from 1-4 p.m. and a work-in-progress performance from 5-6 p.m. Check out www.rivertorivernyc.com for more events.

More free fun… The Seaport Music Festival continues Friday night, June 14, 7 p.m., with Paws on Pier 17. The fest, founded in 2002, draws crowds… Meanwhile, Art Battles, a faceoff between teams of artists, continues to color our world with street art and runs 10 days starting June 20.

Who benefits… While all this free fun is great and draws an eclectic mass of humanity to the Seaport, many of us in the hood are wondering, who’s benefiting? What is happening to our unique little corner of the city? How is all this construction, new container shops, food stalls run by vendors from other boroughs and artists from various locales going to help our community of artists, businesses, restaurants and pubs? The rumbling rages. Businesses along Front St. can barely survive with the street fenced off between Beekman St. and Peck Slip by a private developer, just to help him refurbish his million dollar residential empire. All along Peck Slip, long-time neighborhood establishments are either gone or struggling as they endure the epic construction of a park that many longtime neighbors thought unnecessary.

As New Amsterdam Market founder/director Robert LaValva recently wrote in an email announcing the 2013 season: “If you’ve been wondering how recent developments at the Seaport have impacted our long-term vision for this neighborhood, all that we can say right now is that its future remains uncertain. Several months ago the City Council voted to facilitate a proposal whose full implementation…will degrade [the Seaport’s] character and potential as an economic and cultural engine.”

And LaValva isn’t the only community leader and committed business owner in the Seaport who is questioning the intentions of the City Council, Community Board 1 and Howard Hughes Corporation.

Why, we ask, would you set up stalls selling food and drink by vendors from OUTSIDE the Seaport when so many of our local restaurants were so badly hurt by Superstorm Sandy and could have sold, say, beer or sushi or tacos or whatever, and encouraged people to wander around the hood and fill those places that are open: Seahorse, Jeremy’s, Fresh Salt, Meade’s, Acqua, Mark Joseph, Fish Market? Perhaps a community meeting could have shown these powers-that-be that our neighborhood is filled with artists and creative people who might have loved show and sell their work at a summer pop up shop. Were they asked? Doubtful.

We believe in our colorful, historic neighborhood and want to see its rich history and culture survive, not turn it into a theme park and mall with huge box stores. We are devastated about what is happening to the Seaport Museum. Please, current and future city officials, don’t allow the South Street Seaport to lose its personality.