It was hot and muggy all Memorial Day weekend, but the rain waited just long enough to keep the crowds sitting pretty on picnic blankets at Governors Island. Most of them had come to check out the island’s inaugural food event, the 5 Boro PicNYC, hosted by Food Karma Projects. The same team that has held two-day tasting events like Pig Island and CookOut NYC filled the island’s Colonel’s Row with blues bands, hot sauces, a chicken coop, and about 20 food vendors serving up small bites.
There were about as many tents serving drinks as there were food. Offering pints of Sweet Action, Brownstone, The Crisp, Redd Ale, and cans of Apollo and Bengali Tiger, local brewery Sixpoint blew through pallets of kegs to cool down the sticky crowds. Madria Sangria was also on site, offering a red wine sangria to chill out with. For food, restaurants tried to outdo one another with exotic and outrageously good sausages. With homemade duck pate and lamb merguez sausages from Alobar, blood sausages and veal sausages from Vandaag, and kielbasa from Peels, the majority of the eats on the island were not for the faint-of-grease. Fortunately, Brooklyn Grange farm was fixing up salads with their freshly cut spicy baby greens mix.
The event’s co-sponsor, Jarlsberg cheese, offered one of the day’s hottest attractions: a centrally located station serving three types of grilled cheese, cheese cubes for snacking, and other cheese-related items. Combinations, including kale and caramelized onions with the signature Swiss cheese, were fired over open grills and cut up to serve three lines intersecting the station; none required too long of a wait. Other oddities included a coop of heritage hens on display from a chicken-raising radio host named Bucky Buckaw. He’d brought his own flock of bantam hens and a small case of eggs to demonstrate “the transformative power of micro-flock chickening for empowerment, aesthetics, ethics, and, most of all, FUN!,” according to his business card. An adjacent table held composting how-to pamphlets from the nonprofit Earth Matter.
A stage hosting local bands throughout the day, including the Brooklyn Blues Project, occasionally grew too loud, so a bike ride around the island was the perfect way to refresh, recharge, and exercise off some of that fat. And just across the island, at Picnic Point, which overlooks the Statue of Liberty, was another oasis of urban livestock raising—one that’s always on the island. The composting learning center run by Earth Matter is home to a great many chickens wandering freely, and to two baby goats. The center has been dubbed the “Hot Chicks Room,” thanks to a sign donated by Amy Poehler last spring. It still stands, amid a growing flock of chickens pecking on compost piles. The goats, chickens and scantly growing leafy greens in the space make up just one of Earth Matter’s composting centers; it also coordinates the Fort Greene Compost Project. The perfect way to cap any picnic in NYC? Petting goats, admiring chickens’ flashy feathers, and being reminded of the earth’s eventual renewal of all that you’ve consumed.