Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

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ANDREW & KAREN'S WEB LOG - 1st Quarter 2005

"If you asked me what I came into this world to do,
I will tell you: I came to live out loud."

Critic and novelist Emile Zola

Thursday, March 31, 2005, 11:40 am This morning's New York Times held a poignant surprise for us: "Of Memories and Mole," a touching first-person account of the awakening of Verlyn Klinkenborg's palate, opening to the appreciation of new dimensions in food:

"...Then I took a bite of the black mole, stolen on the end of a tortilla from my wife's plate. It was a sudden infusion of silence. I tried to understand what I was tasting, but I had no language for it. I had never tasted so many things at once, so perfectly blended, all of them floating on what felt like a charred residue, a mouthful of mourning.

I took another bite and suddenly could not help thinking of a time when I was little and the town oiled the gravel road in front of our house. Workers laid the new oil and set out kerosene warning lamps -- dark metal globes with a guttering, smoky flame on top, which were somehow beautiful in the night. Nothing in life should ever taste like that scene, and nothing that tastes like that scene should be worth eating. But so that mole tasted to me at that moment in Gueleguetza: wonderful, tragic, impossible, and burdened by a profound grasp of reality."

In the days that we were researching and writing our book CULINARY ARTISTRY which explores the idea of food as just such an artistic medium, that such a paragraph might one day appear in The New York Times was unimaginable. It's harder to believe, still, that it appeared not in the Dining section but on today's paper's Op-Ed page.

"Oh the Times, they are a-changin'."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005, 4 pm PFLT. PFLT. PFLT.

Try to pronounce it (as a word, not an acronym), and you'll approximate the sound that AOL makes when a new email lands in our inbox.

It was startling to hear PFLT, PFLT, PFLT this morning, as we can't recall the last time we've ever received so many emails with such rapidity without any prompting on our part (e.g. sending out the latest issue of our monthly e-Newsletter).

PFLT, PFLT, PFLT. When we saw that they were all new subscriptions to our e-Newsletter, we grew worried. Surely there had to be a glitch on our Web site. It even crossed our minds that someone could be spamming our subscriber list with new prank subscribers.

While scratching our heads after the first dozen or so landed in our emailbox in quick succession, the day's issue of Manhattan User's Guide (a free e-Newsletter about all things New York and such great social commentary that we look forward to it every single day) arrived in our emailbox, with the heading "Food Notes." Now, that seemed like something worth taking a few minutes away from our presumed computer glitch to enjoy. Skimming past pieces on the review of Ruth Reichl's new book Garlic and Sapphires in this week's New Yorker and on Andrea Strong's dinner at Xing, our eyes popped to read the following:

"Best food newsletter? The one we enjoy most is the monthly from authors Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. You can read it here and then sign up for a free subscription. In this month's issue, they talk about the world's greatest restaurant. You'll have to read it to find out what their pick is."

Ah! As the PFLT, PFLT, PFLTing seemed to pick up speed, at least we could be reassured that they were not the result of a spammer nor a computer glitch just a kind word from the keyboard of MUG editor Charlie Suisman.

All day we've been hearing from our most insider friends and colleagues (from our literary agent Janis Donnaud to Morgan Stanley Managing Director Alan Jones to publicists Laura Lehrman + Andria Chin of Lehrman + Chin and Chloe Mata of Baltz & Co.), congratulating us on the write-up in MUG.

Just a few hours and more than 300 PFLTs (i.e. new subscribers) later, we are in awe of the power of Charlie's pen. As our new subscriber Bill Brophy wrote to us, "MUG is a wonderful resource. I know if something (someone) is mentioned will be well worth subscribing to."

Indeed MUG is, and indeed we hope our own e-Newsletter will be. We look forward to welcoming hundreds of new MUG readers with our April issue.

In the meantime, it's back to our emailbox. Twelve new subscribers just arrived as we were writing this. PFLT, PFLT, PFLT....

[Note: If you're not yet a MUG subscriber, you can sign up for your FREE subscription here: Manhattan User's Guide.]

Tasting plate of cheeses, with two wines, at Artisanal Restaurant

Artisanal's Chocolate-Chestnut Terrine with a glass of Banyuls

Monday, March 28, 2005, 9:00 pm "Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling down, down...."

We've had Artisanal on the brain for weeks, ever since RSVPing to a Champagne reception, cheese tasting, and cave tour with the Artisanal Cheese Center's Director of Affinage Daphne Zepos that was to take place tonight.

However, after putting in a full day's work on our wine and food pairing book, we set out in search of a cab to 500 West 37th Street...and couldn't find one. Given the pouring rain, we returned home to see if we could call a radio car. No such luck.

By the time we gave it another go and ended up in a cab (with the rain still pouring down), it was 6:30 pm and Artisanal's event ended at 7:00 pm. So, it was off to the sneak preview of the Nantucket Wine Festival taking place at Italian Wine Merchants(108 E. 16th Street, just east of Park Avenue South). We enjoyed both of the wines available for tasting the white a Marchesi de' Frescobaldi 2002 Pomino Benefizio, and the red a Marchesi de' Frescobaldi 2001 Nipozzano Chianti Riserva. "This tastes like an Italian Chardonnay," Karen told Andrew of the white. Sure enough, its primary grape was Chardonnay, blended with Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco. And while the salumi set out for guests was excellent, we were both craving grilled steak to enjoy with the red.

Our next stop wasn't hard: After being disappointed to have to missed today's event at the Artisanal Cheese Center, we went to drown our sadness at Artisanal the restaurant (Two Park Avenue, on 32nd Street). Truly, after spending all day reading about wines, it was time to drink a few more. Artisanal offers a number of cheese tastings featuring three different cheeses for $15, and two tastes of wine selected to go with each plate of cheese for an additional $10. It's a great deal for people who want to mix and match tastes. We went with the cheeses titled "Ancient Traditions," which featured a Manchego (Spanish sheep's milk cheese), Parmesan (the Italian cow's milk cheese), and Roquefort (the French cow's milk blue). They were paired with two small glasses of wine: Chinon Chateau de Ligre Pierre Ferrand '01 and Ridge "Sonoma Station" Zinfandel '01.

Afterward, we shared a Chocolate-Chestnut Terrine with Sour Orange Marmalade ($10) with a glass of Banyuls "Cuvee Leon Parce" ($11/glass). Banyuls a red dessert wine is a classic pairing with chocolate desserts, and it was delicious to taste why for ourselves! We were happy to catch a cab home, with the rain still coming down hard....

Cynthia Penney (with tulips!) and Andrew on Easter Sunday

Monday, March 28, 2005 What's Easter Sunday without roast lamb? And what's roast lamb without a great glass of red wine to accompany it? We found the latter in the 2001 Casa del a Ermita Jumilla 2001 we were served over a fabulous dinner last night at the home of our dear friends Cynthia and Jeff Penney. We toasted the occasion before dinner with glasses of a delicious Critalina Rose Brut cava.

Earlier in the day, we'd dodged the Easter Parade crowds on Madison Avenue (including a line that circled the block in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral!) to head up to Central Park for a run. At the Park, we almost literally ran into Hank Azaria, who's currently performing on Broadway in "Spamalot" and was out for an Easter run himself.

Saturday, March 26, 2005 Well, we were wrong. Cai Rintoul, the writer of the email we shared on March 24th (below), is only 18 years old (based on the subsequent email we received) and obviously someone to keep an eye on!

This morning, we were delighted to receive the following email from Patrick O'Connell, chef-owner of The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, where just last week we experienced the most extraordinary dinner (and breakfast!) of our lives, which we wrote about in our March/April 2005 e-Newsletter (which you can read here):

Dear Karen and Andrew,

Wow!  Were we ever thrilled to read the glorious review in your newsletter of your visit.  It was especially gratifying given the reference points you both have.  We immediately made copies for the staff so that they'll be aware of the impossible expectations that your readers will bring with them.  Your thorough appreciation of our efforts is inspirational and so rare. 

Thanks also for all of your assistance with my trip to Vancouver .  Barbara-jo [of Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks] has a full evening planned and there should be plenty of interviews as well.

We look forward to seeing you again before another decade passes.

Warmest regards,

Thursday, March 24, 2005 Karen's been sick, Andrew's working like mad and in the midst of it all, we received this email that brought a smile to our faces this morning. Based on our calculations, Cai can't be more than mid-20s:

Hello Mr. Dornenburg and Mrs. Page,

I would like to begin by congratulating you on your incredible series of books, which I have read with great enthusiasm and interest since I was 12 years old.  I am 5 years into building a career as a chef, and I can say with certainty that your works have brought the profession alive and have helped me more than I can possibly tell you.  I do not live in a large city, and my hometown is not well endowed with great restaurants; and so it is cookbooks, or more accurately food writing, that allows me to find kindred spirits and lets me experience the passion others feel for this wonderful calling.

It is with this in mind that I would very much like to give something back to two of my unknowing mentors.  I read in your newest newsletter that you are interested in a new book on food and drink pairings.  This is a fascinating subject for me, and in my opinion the book A Matter of Taste reigns supreme in this category.  It is written by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto, two titans of the Toronto restaurant scene.  They are both
prodigiously talented in their areas of expertise, and I assume they would be very interested to meet both of you, if they have not already had the pleasure.  In my opinion, the book gives only one half of the picture; that is a selection of recipes with the accompanying beverages, already thought out.  The question that remains unanswered after reading this book is the same question that your previous efforts have so eloquently answered…Why?  A clever reader might be able to take the ‘how to' knowledge that they present and apply it to their own menus, but there are still innumerable holes in the tapestry, aching to be filled.  I wish you all the best.

It gives me continued pleasure to read of your experiences at The Inn at Little Washington.  I have unashamedly drooled over both of Chef O'Connell's  cookbooks, and I am intent on saving enough money to make the pilgrimage to taste his food in person.  It is as always wonderful to hear of an experience there, which keeps me on the road to this obscure town in Virginia, and not Yountville for the French Laundry, as every other foodie on earth would counsel.

By way of goodbye, I would ask you to consider stopping by the restaurant I work in the next time the wind blows you past the 49th parallel.  It is called Langdon Hall, about an hour outside of Toronto, in Cambridge.  We are a proud member of Relais and Chateau, and despite our strange location, we have what I would humbly call the best hotel in Canada.

Sincerely yours,
Cai Rintoul

Monday, March 21, 2005 In today's Manhattan User's Guide (our mandatory daily read!), editor Charlie Suisman reports not only on our favorite Tuscan chef-restaurateur Cesare Casella's soon-to-be next restaurant Maremma (serving "Italian cowboy food"), but he also attests:

"Prices have gone up at four-star Per Se: menus now start at $175. Lunch this past Saturday for four: $1200. Count on Per Se to get anointed with three stars from Michelin when their New York book hits stores this November."

We can honestly say that we've never spent $300 per person for lunch. And we're grateful all over again that our friends Ashley and AJ treated us to dinner at Per Se last month!

Friday, March 18, 2005 Readers of our e-Newsletter will recall that we opened our December 2004 issue with the following quote:

"Love people, and feed them."
Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaji), in summing up the substance of his teaching for his student Ram Dass

Today, Wayne Dyer's Web site features "An Open Letter from Wayne Dyer" on the subject of "BEING THERE FOR RAM DASS," which we've included in its entirety below:

"One of the truly great men of our time needs our help. I write these words to encourage your generosity and support. Back in the 1960's a Harvard professor named Richard Alpert left behind the hectic world of academia and business and traveled to India — there he was to meet his spiritual teacher who gave him a new purpose to fulfill along with a new name. He is of course Ram Dass.

His guru told him love everyone, feed people and see God everywhere. Ram Dass became a person who lived out this mandate — he did what so many of us could only dream. He connected to his spirit and devoted his life to serving others.

In 1969 he wrote and published the signature book on spirituality and applied higher awareness, BE HERE NOW. In keeping with his commitment to love everyone and feed people, he donated all of the royalties and profits to a foundation that did, and does, just that. With millions of dollars at stake, Ram Dass simply chose to live his life as a man of service to God. After years spent in India in pursuit of a higher more enlightened consciousness for himself and for our troubled world, he returned to the United States to lecture throughout the country. He spoke to packed venues wherever he went, and as always he donated the proceeds to such causes as would keep him in harmony with his mandate to serve. He co-founded the Seva Foundation ( where all of the monies were earmarked to fulfill his mission. Ram Dass and his writing and lecture fees were the primary sources for this inspirational work.

To me Ram Dass was and is the finest speaker I have ever heard, period! He was my role model on stage; always gentle and kind, always speaking without notes from his heart, sharing his inspiring stories and always with great humor. I tell you this from my own heart; I could listen to his lectures for hours and always felt saddened when they would end. He was the voice for Applied Spirituality — his life was the model.

When he was threatened by having his own private sexual preference exposed, in a time when a closet was the only place that was even mildly safe, Ram Dass called a press conference and proudly announced his preference to the world. He is a hero to everyone who ever lived in fear of any kind of spiteful exposure. He paved the way for tolerance and love when no one else would dare to do so. Most of us could only dream of defying the conventional life and living out our inner callings to promote a cause that was bigger than our own lives — to leave the security of a guaranteed career — to leave a country where comfort was ensured; all to live in a foreign land with few conveniences, traveling and meditating for a more peaceful world. It is what St. Frances did in the 13th century and what Ram Dass did in our lifetime.

When Ram Dass' own father, who had largely criticized his son's passion as well as his unconventional lifestyle, was close to death, Ram Dass devoted himself to 100% service in those final years. He fed his father, he bathed his father, he placed him on and off the toilet until the day he died. Why? Because he felt this was his mandate. He wanted to experience true service on a 24/7 basis and know firsthand the joy that comes from giving one's own life away in the service of others. Always, for over 30 years, Ram Dass was in the service of others.

In 1997 Ram Dass was struck by a semi-paralyzing stroke and was forced to live in a wheelchair. Still he wrote of his adventure in a powerful book titled, STILL HERE. He continued to travel, though he could no longer walk, and continued to speak to audiences, though he spoke from a slowed down body but still he did it to serve others.

Now it is our turn...Ram Dass' body can no longer endure the rigors of travel. He has come to Maui, where I live and write. I speak with him frequently and I am often humbled by the tears in his beautiful 73-year-old eyes as he apologizes for not having prepared for his own elderly health care — for what he now perceives as burdensome to others. He still intends to write and teach; however without the travel — we can now come to him. Maui is healing — Maui is where Ram Dass wishes to stay for now! He is currently living in a home on Maui, which he doesn't own and is currently in jeopardy of losing. I am asking all of you to help purchase this home and to set up a financial foundation to take care of this man who has raised so much money to ensure the futures of so many others. To live out what Ram Dass has practiced with his actions. Please be generous and prompt — no one is more deserving of our love and financial support. In the end these donations will help ensure that Ram Dass and his work will reach another generation or remind a current generation that it is in giving that we receive.

If there has ever been a great spirit who lived in our lifetime, literally devoting his life to the highest principles of spirit, it has been Ram Dass. I love this man; he has been my inspiration and the inspiration for millions of us. It is now time to show him how we feel by doing what he has taught all of us to do — Just , BE HERE for him, NOW.

Please send your donations to: Ram Dass, c/o Hay House, P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018.

In love and light,
Wayne Dyer"

Kevin Zraly at the DC Int'l Wine & Food Festival on Sunday

Andrew at the Four Sisters restaurant in Virginia, under its mention published in Chef's Night Out

Copies of our books greeted us in our room at The Inn

Our first restaurant menu depiction!

Karen and Andrew during their audience with "The Pope"
(aka Patrick O'Connell) at The Inn at Little Washington

The vineyard of Pearmund Cellars in Broad Run, Virginia

Lunch at Burma in Washington, DC with Phyllis Richman

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 We just returned from several days in the Washington, DC, area and our heads are still spinning from this whirlwind trip. We won't have a chance to do it justice until we sit down to write our monthly e-Newsletter, but rest assured that our next issue will be a juicy one indeed!

After spending Saturday night in Virginia, we passed a few hours at The Washington Post's Washington, DC International Wine & Food Festival. The highlights included getting to experience to Kevin Zraly's seminar "The One-Hour Wine Expert" and meeting our email pal Eric V. Orange, proprietor of Afterward, we grabbed lunch at Que Huong (aka The Four Sisters, located in the Eden Shopping Center) in Falls Church, Virginia, which had been recommended to us by several chefs (including Patrick O'Connell and Bob Kinkead) while researching our book Chef's Night Out. We loved the spring rolls, and enjoyed two orders with our rice vermicelli salad with roasted pork.

Then we drove out to Washington, Virginia an hour and 15 minutes outside Washington, DC where we were guests of Relais & Chateaux (at whose annual conference we spoke last year) at the extraordinary Inn at Little Washington. Winemaker Robert Mondavi once referred to the Inn's chef-owner Patrick O'Connell as "the Pope of American Cuisine." In the photo above, we pay our respects to "The Pope" in the Inn's kitchen on our way to the chef's table (and yes, that's a faux altar boy swinging incense to announce our arrival!). During our stay, we had an opportunity to visit the local winery Pearmund Cellars, where we enjoyed speaking with winemaker Chris Pearmund and were wowed by his Chardonnay and Late Harvest Vidal.

En route to our home in New York City, we met up for lunch with long-time Washington Post restaurant critic (and novelist) Phyllis Richman, who treated us to our first-ever Burmese meal at Burma (740 6th St., NW on the 2nd floor, in Chinatown), which was both great fun and delicious.

Andrew at the Rialto Market in Venice, on the Grand Canal

He served us our favorite gelato at ALASKA in Venice

Karen and photographer Steven Richter next
to a waterfall sculpture at the Guggenheim

Pear and prosciutto pizza at MARKET in Paris

Friday, March 11, 2005 We've spent the past week falling in love with markets. Our first-ever visit to Venice included a stop at the Rialto market, with its colorful produce (not to mention local characters) a true feast for the eyes. And after our direct flight back to New York City was canceled, we were re-routed through Paris which allowed us an opportunity to enjoy dinner (and, the next morning, breakfast) at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's first Parisian restaurant Market. As soon as we recover from jet lag, we'll report more details about our delicious adventures.

The well-tattooed pizza maker at Una Pizza Napoletana

Our delicious trio of desserts at ChikaLicious

Chika herself drops off our petit fours and describes each

Thursday, March 3, 2005 Tonight, what began as a plan to grab a quick bite of pizza at our friend Fahrusha's new favorite neighborhood spot (which we'd heard about from her months ago and have since seen receive raves in countless media) turned into a night of delicious serendipity. We arrived at Una Pizza Napoletana (349 E. 12th Street; at 6 pm, and while we waited for Fahrusha to get there, we perused the restaurant's guest book. "Never, never, never change or diminish your ideals," wrote Arnold Rossman, who apparently cooks at Balthazar, on February 24th. "We ditched Cru for you!" admitted Claude on February 10th. Visiting chef Kevin Rathbun wrote on January 16th, "Purest....Loved it." And on December 2nd, noted book cover designer Chip Kidd drew a likeness of Batman next to his E. 68th Street address.

With so many familiar names in the guest book, should it have been a surprise that one walked through the door during our dinner? Legendary restaurant critic Phyllis Richman (who held that position at The Washington Post for more than three decades) was visiting her new baby granddaughter and the little girl's parents and aunt and uncle, and introduced us to her lovely family.

After splitting a couple of delicious pizzas (the Marinara, and the Filetti) among the three of us, we decided to walk over to our beloved dessert-only restaurant ChikaLicious (203 E. 10th Street;, which we admire as much for its warm, personal service as for its extraordinary desserts, to see how long the wait was. Bingo no line! The three of us enjoyed Don Tillman's gracious hospitality, along with gifted pastry chefs Chika Tillman's and Donna Ryan's Chocolate Cream and Banana Salad Napoleon with Ginger Milk Froth (Fahrusha), Cinnamon Baba au Rhum with Sour Cherry Compote and Toasted Almond Creme Chantilly (Andrew), and the lighter-than-air Fromage Blanc Island "Cheese Cake" (Karen). A plate of perfect petit fours followed, featuring tiny crunchy biscotti, coconut marshmallows, and chocolate truffles. On our way out, we recognized James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Claudia Fleming at the bar, whom we'd had the pleasure of meeting at the going-away party we co-hosted with Amy Scherber at Amy's Bread for Verbena's Diane Forley and Michael Otsuka. We stopped to say hello, and Claudia introduced us to her chef-husband Gerry Hayden (both formerly of Amuse). As satiated as we were after enjoying some of New York City's best pizza and desserts, we couldn't help but look forward to our next meal wherever the two of them end up next!

Thursday, March 3, 2005 This afternoon on our run in Central Park, we experienced another step in the evolution of The Gates. We were there when the infrastructure was being laid (during a 5K race on February 6 in the Park), and we enjoyed our first run through The Gates on February 18. Today, we watched teams dismantling the installation. As of March 15, it's expected that The Gates will be gone.

Four million visitors (1.5 million from out of town and 300,000 from abroad) pumped $254 million into New York City's economy during the exhibition's two-week run. Yes, The Gates will be missed.

The lunch crowd outside at Uglesich's -- while inside...

...the food is so good that dueling forks are a common sight!

Monday, February 28, 2005 Thanks to an invitation to keynote the FENI Summit on Saturday morning, we just returned from several days in New Orleans, where we hadn't been in years (and had never been together). Our mandatory first stop upon arriving was without question lunch at Uglesich's. Our friend Michael Gelb (author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and Discover Your Genius) was also in town to speak at another conference, so it turned out that we were able to meet up for lunch at Uglesich's. Michael loved the entire experience (not to mention the shrimp with grits and fried oyster po' boy) as much as we both did! Other highlights of our trip ranged from cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde to a spectacular dinner on our last night in town at Bayona to an-only-in-New-Orleans experience of breakfast at Mother's. The biggest surprise of our trip was the unexpected view into New Orleans' inner sanctum afforded by Friday lunch at The Rib Room in the beautiful Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, where sitting amidst judges, lawyers and police chiefs we dined on turtle soup and prime rib with horseradish sauce, bringing a welcome respite from the local seafood (for one meal, anyway!).

Andrew running in Central Park through The Gates

Karen running in Central Park through The Gates

Saturday, February 18, 2005 If we hadn't been away teaching at Kripalu last weekend, we most likely would have visited Central Park on the first day of The Gates' debut. We finally made it to the Park today for a run and to see for ourselves this work of art that reportedly brought 1,000,000 visitors to New York City in its first four days.

Our verdict? We love it and salute artists Christo and Jean-Claude along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg for their vision and sense of fun in bringing this unifying work of art to Manhattan. We regularly run in the Park at least a few times a week, and we can't remember the last time we heard so many foreign accents in the Park or saw so many smiles.

The sushi bar at RIINGO in New York City

Saturday, February 18, 2005 Given how much we've been traveling, it was lovely to slip away last night to a restaurant we could actually walk to in our own neighborhood!

We dined at RIINGO, Marcus Samuelsson's American-Japanese restaurant at the Alex Hotel (205 E. 45th Street, between Third and Second Avenues). While we didn't have the ravenous appetites we suspected it required, we decided to order the chef's tasting menu ($75/person, and available between 5:30 pm and 10:00 pm when the entire table orders it) so we could experience the beverages paired with it (for an additional supplement of $35/person, making it one of the better deals in town for those who enjoy putting their choice of beverage in the restaurant's hands). Now that we're researching our next book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT (Bulfinch Press, 2006) in earnest, we're welcoming every opportunity to experience both classic and cutting-edge food and beverage pairings.

The chef's tasting menu at RIINGO featured several intriguing pairings:


Trio of Tartar
Riesling, Van Volxerm, Saar, Germany 2003

Green Ridge, Dewazakura, Ginjo

Salmon - Tuna - Mahi Mahi
Carrots - Kabocha - Fennel
Pinot Blanc, Weissburgunder, Spaetrot, Austria, 2002

Short Ribs - Kobe Beef
Shiraz, Hope, Hunter Valley, Australia 2002

Duck Breast - Duck Confit - Foie Gras
Soba - Leeks - Winter Melon
Merlot, Foppiano, Russian River Valley, California 2001

Green Tea Donut - French Toast - Chocolate Cake

We loved being able to enjoy sake with our sushi, and transitioning to and from it seamlessly between the Riesling and Pinot Blanc we were served with our multiple fish courses. The sweetness of the Green Ridge sake echoed beautifully the sweetness of the sushi (which included grunt fish, which was similar to a Spanish mackerel, snapper, and jack mackerel).

It's a beautiful space, worth checking out on RIINGO's own Web site at We're already looking forward to returning to check out the sushi bar!

An unexpected visitor outside our book signing at Kripalu

The view from our bedroom at Kripalu in the Berkshires

Monday, February 14, 2005 We just returned from spending a long weekend at Kripalu in Lenox, Massaschusetts, where in honor of Valentine's Day we led a program titled "Eat, Drink and Be Married: The Relationship Between Food and Love."

We had a great time making our first-ever visit to Kripalu, and meeting the wonderful couples who participated in our inaugural program and made our own participation such a joy. We brought a rental car full of some of the best New York City has to offer from olive oils to salts to chocolates to taste, and our time together included everything from one-on-one exercises to literally blind (i.e. "blind-folded") tastings. The response to our program was so overwhelmingly positive that we just might repeat it and we'll keep you posted so you'll have the opportunity to be a part of it next time!

In the meantime, Happy Valentine's Day!

Desserts at our $20.12 Restaurant Week lunch at Picholine

Monday, January 31, 2005 We don't always take advantage of New York City's bi-annual Restaurant Week, but our lunch today with our dear friend Rikki Klieman at Picholine reminded us what a fabulous opportunity it is to visit or re-visit some of the best restaurants around town and enjoy a three-course lunch for only $20.12 or a three-course dinner for $35. Terrance Brennan (also chef-owner of Artisanal and the Artisanal Cheese Center) offered an impressive menu of two different choices for each course, and we tried (and loved) them all: the white bean soup and the venison sausage, the cod and the chicken, and the malted chocolate cake and the exotic fruit soup. The two special glasses of BV Chardonnay and Merlot available were quite modestly priced at $7. We also sampled a dessert from the regular menu which featured a garnish of three miniature doughnuts dusted with cinnamon and sugar that won all our hearts (especially since Rikki is married to the world's greatest cop Bill Bratton, so we all know doughnuts!) and is pictured above. Our visit to Picholine was such a delight that it definitely accomplished what every restaurant hopes during Restaurant Week: great word of mouth and a promise to return very soon!

Brendan Milburn, Valerie Vigoda, Karen, Andrew, Addie Tomei

Karen was served a fantasy-sized portion of Epoisses!

Friday, January 28, 2005 Uber restaurateur Danny Meyer (Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, Blue Smoke, Shake Shack) has another huge hit on his hands, a new crowning glory in his extraordinary "septinity" of restaurants: Last night we were privileged to a preview of his soon-to-open restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art: The Modern (9 W. 53rd St.), and we predict that the critical raves will soon be pouring in. Even in its pre-opening phase, The Modern already exhibits a level of excellence in its cuisine and service to which some local three-star restaurants still aspire. Is it bound to earn four stars? Our bet is that it most certainly is.

Spice House gift box featuring our book and their awesome spices

Thursday, January 27, 2005
(later) — Sure, the holidays are over, but who among us isn't going to soon be looking for a great gift idea (for a birthday or Valentine's Day or....) for a food lover in their life?

Thanks to Chicago's Spice House, we have a recommendation for you: a new gift box featuring a copy of our book THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF, along with four jars of The Spice House's fresh spices to add to the fun.

For a link to a description of the item on the Spice House's Web site, click here.

Karen wields her first-ever Burger Joint cheeseburger

Burger Joint's graffiti wall attests "Ashton Kutcher Rules"

Thursday, January 27, 2005 We're in love.

No, not with each other....Well, yes, with each other....But more pressingly this morning, with a new Top 5 favorite hamburger joint in New York City: Burger Joint, in Le Meridien Hotel, 118 W. 57th St. (bet. Sixth & Seventh Avenues). We stopped by last night after the Champagne reception for mezzo-soprano Deborah Domanski following her Carnegie Hall debut, and before heading to Preston Bailey's book party at The Rainbow Room. The flame-broiled burgers are messy (see photo above), but absolutely delicious.

Monday, January 10, 2005 In the category of "small world," we turned on the "Today" show this morning to see our friend Adam Robinson the life partner of our intuitive author friend Laura Day interviewed about his new insider's guide to the SAT test The RocketReview Revolution: The Ultimate Guide to the New SAT. Before shortly his segment, "Today" featured an interview with Allison DuBois, the psychic whose own life as an intuitive serves as the inspiration for the new TV crime drama "Medium."

Monday, January 3, 2005 In the category of "far too close for comfort," we were horrified and then quickly relieved to learn through the headlines that our filmmaker friends Laura Lau and Chris Kentis (who made last year's ocean thriller "Open Water") had been with their family at a Thai resort on Phuket when the tsunami hit but that they had survived it. They were able to hike to safety on the east side of the island. Laura emailed us that she was "devastated" by the disaster, and that the loss of life and suffering were "horrific."

We are grateful to know that our friends are safe. To aid the still-countless less fortunate affected by the devastation, we appreciate the gesture that our favorite e-zine Manhattan User's Guide today lists organizations that are accepting contributions for disaster relief.

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culinary artistry, dining out, chef's night out, becoming a chef

Nearly a decade ago, a book debuted that perfectly tapped this gestalt just as it arced from peripheral interest to trend. Since then, BECOMING A CHEF: With Recipes and Reflections from America's Leading Chefs — by Andrew Dornenburg, a chef, and his Harvard MBA wife, Karen Page — has become something of a cult classic. More than 100,000 copies have been sold and its lessons have attracted readers far beyond the kitchen....With kitchen turned into metaphor and BECOMING A CHEF the roadmap, it's easy to chart parallels to success in more traditional business milieus. Looked at from that angle, the professional skills of chefs become more complex, instructive and fascinating — putting them on par with those of business titans and mavericks.

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