ANDREW & KAREN'S WEB LOG - JUNE 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 (1840-1902)
Andrew's celeriac salad with chopped oyster and caviar
Rikki's sea bass tartare with foie gras toasts
Warm watermelon with tomato, pistachios, balsamic vinegar
Karen's duck entree
was a feast for the senses
Andrew's lamb featured a welcome touch of summer: melon
The Modern's panna cotta, rich with vanilla bean
Court TV's Fred Graham good naturedly shows us his dessert
Stephane Colling surprised us with a taste of YuZu wine
Thursday, June 30, 2005 — The Modern just keeps getting better and better — although we almost didn't have the chance to find out last night.
When our friend Rikki Klieman found out she was coming to town from Los Angeles for her work at Court TV, she mentioned that at the top of her list of new restaurants to try was The Modern. We made plans to meet up with Rikki and her Court TV colleague award-winning legal journalist and author Fred Graham in its less formal Bar Room, where we'd never dined before but were confident would feature the same great cooking of chef Gabriel
However, we hadn't counted on The Modern being so incredibly popular on a rainy Wednesday night in June. When we arrived, we realized we might have a hard time hearing one another — and thought perhaps we might be able to move to the dining room to prevent our having to find another, quieter restaurant. The unsmiling woman at the door (who corrected Karen's lousy French pronunciation of service director Thierry Choquet's name when Karen asked if he was in, then sent us off to the bar instead of letting him know that we'd asked for him) all but assured us that changing our reservation from the Bar Room to the more formal dining room would be impossible. But when Andrew mentioned our plight to wine director Stephane Colling, he somehow made the impossible possible.
The incredible dinner that ensued proved beyond a doubt that chef Gabriel Kreuther is pushing himself and his cuisine to new gastronomic heights. The most improbable delight of the evening was a middle course the kitchen sent out for us to try of warm watermelon (already a first for us!), tomato, crushed pistachios, and balsamic vinegar. The warmth seemed to transform the fruits into vegetables to make this "salad" work — deliciously!
Each dish merits its own paragraph, but with a looming book deadline, we're afraid the photographs above will have to suffice as each's proverbial "thousand words." Speaking of photographs, we offer special thanks to Fred Graham for his good-naturedly supporting our quest to photograph our meals, and not picking up his fork until he'd shared a peek at what he was eating. What a great sport!
The Modern's dining room is warmed by the presence of ever-alert and always charming service director Thierry Chouquet, who inevitably manages to make us and all our first-time guests feel so welcome (and who consistently manages to be gracious even when our lousy French accents butcher the pronunciation of his name), and wine director Stephane Colling, who always manages to dazzle and delight us with his wine recommendations — with last night's ringer being a lightly sweet and refreshing white wine that turned out to be Japanese yuzu wine (the label of which features what looks like a talking orange but is in fact a cartoonish depiction of this
"rare, expensive Japanese citrus of mysterious provenance").
The Modern is next door to the Museum of Modern Art at
9 W. 53rd St. (bet. Fifth and Sixth Aves.), New York City. (212) 333-1220. Web: http://www.ushg.org.
The Baked Alaska at Bette
Laura about to enjoy a bite of the Valrhona Chocolate Pudding
Wednesday, June 29, 2005 — Last night we ended up having dinner at Bette again (see June 18th, below, for our description of our first dinner there). There's both good news and bad news to report.
First, the bad news: Karen's beloved chocolate / oatmeal / almond / malt truffles — which delighted her like no other petit fours since Cello's glazed doughnut holes — are no more. They apparently weren't as popular with others as they were with Karen, who will surely mourn them the rest of her dining days.
Now, the good news: Somehow, we totally missed the two pasta dishes on the menu the first time around, so last night we ended up having both. Both were absolutely perfect: perfectly cooked, perfectly sauced, and perfectly wonderful. Having dined out so much recently, our jaded palates don't throw around adjectives like "perfect" very often at restaurants (let alone brand-new restaurants), but last night these two pasta dishes warranted it. Bravo to last night's pasta guy (or gal)!
And under the heading of "small world": While we had a different waiter last night, our adorable waiter Craig from our last visit (the Rocco DiSpirito lookalike) stopped by our table to say hello. When we mentioned that we'd written about him on our Web site, he replied that someone else had already emailed him about it!
Bette is at 461 West 23rd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, New York City. (212/366-0404).
Intro to Wine and Cheese Pairing at Artisanal Cheese Center
Cheese master Max McCalman explains the recommended
order of tasting cheeses
The infamous steak tips at Elaine's
Tuesday, June 28, 2005 — Last night we fought the rain to make it to the Artisanal Cheese Center at 37th Street and 10th Avenue by 6:30 pm for "Cheese and Wine 101" with Picholine's legendary maitre de fromage Max McCalman. The Center regularly leads classes for the public on all aspects of cheese, but this was the first time we'd had the pleasure of attending one.
We arrived to find a plate of eight cheeses, four glasses of wine, and a glass of water set before each place setting. Baskets of sliced bread were also provided as palate cleansers. Last night, the cheeses we tasted included Bouc Emissaire (a goat's milk cheese from Quebec), Brillat Savarin (a cow's milk triple creme cheese from France), Serpa (a sheep's milk cheese from Portugal), Kuntener (a cow's milk cheese from Switzerland), Matos St. George (a cow's milk cheese from California), Pena Blanca (an "assertively flavored" cow's milk cheese from Spain), Hoch Ybrig (a fabulous Gruyere-like cheese from Switzerland), and Blaui Geisskase (a raw goat's milk cheese from Switzerland). The wines included a 2003 Nora Rias Baixas Albarino from Spain, a 2002 Omaka Springs Chardonnay from New Zealand, a 2000 Sierra Cantabria Rioja from Spain, and a 2001 St. Francis "Old Vines" Zinfanadel from Sonoma.
Max is an entertaining and enlightening instructor, and taught us more about cheese than we suspected possible in a two-hour period. In addition to extolling the nutritional virtues of cheese ("our near-perfect food," with more nutrition per ounce than an egg!), Max explained how goat cheese (which apparently seems to turns some people off from being more experimental with cheese — something incomprehensible to two goat cheese lovers!) is the easiest for the stomach to digest, followed by sheep's and then cow's milk cheeses.
There were "Cheese and Wine Score Sheets" provided so that we could rate the cheese and wine pairings we tasted on a scale ranging from +2 ("A marriage made in heaven!") to 0 ("Nothing lost and nothing gained") ) to -2 ("Disaster"). The exercise proved that while some combinations definitely rose to the top (or sank to the bottom), personal tastes vary. We both loved the Bouc Emissaire with the Spanish Albarino, which was the highest rated pairing of the night for us (a +2). However, Karen preferred the combination of the Chardonnay with the Brillat Savarin (a +1.5), while Andrew preferred the wine with the Hoch Ybrig. If you love cheese as much as we do, we suspect you'll find the cheese classes at the Artisanal Cheese Center are a not-to-be-missed pleasure.
After class, we grabbed a cab to the Upper East Side to meet our friends LAPD Chief Bill Bratton (who'd just delivered a graduation speech) and his wife Court TV analyst Rikki Klieman and a table of friends for dinner at Elaine's. We've been to the restaurant a number of times, and it always surprises us how much of a scene it still is (with journalists at one table, politicians at the next, and actors at the next), and how its perfectly fine bar food too often takes a bad rap. We're not about to nominate it for any culinary awards any time soon, but over the years, we've developed a wacky fondness for the restaurant's steak tips (pictured above), plates of which formed a nearly unbroken chain around our dinner table last night (except for a couple of people including Andrew, who found his chicken with lemon sauce and butter-soaked green beans better than they had any right to be!). Last night's prosciutto and melon appetizer, which we shared, was also surprisingly good, featuring perfectly ripe melon wrapped with tender and flavorful prosciutto.
The Artisanal Cheese Center is at 500 W. 37th Street, 2nd Floor, with the entrance on 10th Avenue, New York City. (877) 797-1200. Web: www.artisanalcheese.com
Elaine's is at 1703 Second Avenue (bet. 88th and 89th Streets), New York City. (212)
Blue Smoke's spicy "Peel 'n Eat" shrimp appetizer
Chilled Gazpacho with guacamole and cilantro
Smoked Organic Chicken with mashed potatoes
Kansas City spareribs with a side of cole slaw
A nice Danny Meyer touch: wet naps and toothpicks!
Blue Smoke's key lime pie, and grasshopper brownie sundae
Sunday, June 26, 2005 (late afternoon) — There's still another week left of Restaurant Week 2005 for you to be able to take advantage of the incredible deal at our favorite barbecue restaurant in Manhattan, Blue Smoke: a three-course lunch for only $20.12.
While participating restaurants aren't obligated to offer the menu on the weekends, Blue Smoke featured its Restaurant Week menu front and center on its regular menu today. We were surprised by the huge portions served, especially of the terrific "Peel 'n Eat" shrimp.
The meats are where the restaurant really shines: both our ribs and our chicken were moist, flavorful and delicious. The ribs were perfectly cooked (and Andrew knows his ribs, having gotten his start in the kitchen of Chris Schlesinger's Cambridge barbecue joint the East Coast Grill!), and so well sauced that there was plently left over for the unsauced chicken.
Vegetables reflected a broader spectrum of culinary attention, from the perfectly cooked and seasoned green beans to flavorless and textureless mashed potatoes that had clearly been sitting in water too long before being served unseasoned.
Even if you turn up your nose at Blue Smoke's vegetables, you're not likely to go hungry. In fact, we'd bet you'd enjoy this meal deal as much as we did. You've got 'til Friday, July 1st (the last day of Restaurant Week 2005), to take advantage of this and other opportunities to check out some of New York City's best restaurants at bargain basement prices.
Blue Smoke is at
116 E. 27th Street (bet. Lexington and Park Aves.), New York City. (212)
447-7733. Web: www.bluesmoke.com
For a full list of Restaurant Week 2005 restaurants, click here. To make your reservations via OpenTable.com, click here.
Carpaccio of Black Sea Bass at The Tasting Room
Chilled Sorrell Soup with Farmhouse Yogurt and Almond Oil
Montauk Blue Fish with Grits, Garlic Chives, Paprika
Duck Breast with Beets, Roasted Carrots and Red Cabbage
Selection of American Farmhouse Cheese, Walnut Bread
One of the best summer desserts in New York City:
Eckerton Farm Wild Cherries, Pound Cake & Mascarpone
Egg and Fontino Bruschetta with Asparagus
Truffled Egg Toast at 'ino in Greenwich Village
Sunday, June 26, 2005 (early afternoon) — An article in The New York Times today ("Yesterday's Special: Good, Cheap Dining") blames skyrocketing real estate costs in lamenting the disappearance of solid, reasonably priced neighborhood restaurants. Today, we're happy to celebrate two that buck the trend.
We adore The Tasting Room, but given that its Lower East Side location is a little off the beaten path for us Midtowners, we don't seem to make it there as often as our admiration would warrant.
However, we paid a visit last night for an early dinner, and our palates were handsomely rewarded. Standouts included the Sullivan County Moulard Duck Breast with Formosa Beans, Roasted Nantes Carrots, and Fresh Organic Red Cabbage ($13); the selection of four American Farmhouse Cheeses ($12); and what now takes its place as one of our very favorite desserts in Manhattan: Eckerton Farm Wild Cherries with Pound Cake and Mascarpone ($7).
Given that this wine bar and cafe offers a dozen wines by the glass (most at a reasonable $6-$10/glass), we were able to taste nearly half the list over the course of our dinner. Standouts included Larner Vineyard's refreshing Malvasia Bianca (which to describe as a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling doesn't do it justice), Channing Perrine's Sauvignon Blanc, Powers' jammy Syrah, and Dashe Cellars' Late Harvest Zinfandel, which was a hit with three out of four of the cheeses on our cheese plate.
This morning took us to Christopher Street in the Village to run an errand, and we passed the infamous Stonewall Inn, which was raided 36 years ago tomorrow, prompting riots and spurring on the gay rights movement. From there, we strolled on to 'ino at 21 Bedford Street for brunch. The restaurant's $11 brunch menu includes coffee, tea, orange juice and your choice of entrees. We highly recommend the Truffled Egg Toast pictured above, which is rich with egg yolk and truffle oil. It's doubtless the single most decadent brunch item in New York for the price!
The Tasting Room is at
72 E. 1st St., bet. First and Second Aves., New York City. (212) 358-7831. Web: www.thetastingroomnyc.com
'ino is at 21 Bedford St., bet. Downing and Sixth Ave., New York City. (212) 989-5769. Web: www.cafeino.com
"A Selection of Oysters" (with a glass of Sancerre, of course)
at The Four Seasons' $25 two-course "Bar Lunch"
Karen's "Farro with Summer Vegetables and Chanterelles"
Steve's "Tuna Burger with Mango-Papaya Salsa"
"Peach Trifle, Sauternes and Vanilla" at The Four Seasons
NYC's best strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries —
and a bowl of cherries on ice
— at Inside
Friday, June 24, 2005 — "An embarrassment of riches" is what it's called when we find ourselves needing to write about the three spectacular places we ate today, while we still haven't mentioned our fabulous spur-of-the-moment dinner two nights ago at Ixta (48 E. 29th St. bet. Park & Madison).
Ixta chef Linda Japngie's cooking is so good that we typically just let her order for us. We've never been disappointed — especially not the other night after tasting her fried squash blossoms stuffed with cheese, her duck tostatas, her mini charred beef tacos, her shredded pork on white sweet potatoes, and her tamales — not to mention some of the crunchiest and most delicious soft-shell crabs we've ever tasted. We've grown very fond of her wacky Ensalada de Noche, which features crispy calamari, jicama, banana, lacquered pecans and chili lime crema. It is uncannily good. We picked up a postcard on our way out advertising Ixta's "Express Lunch" for $7.95 (including free delivery) — happy news for those of us who live in the restaurant's delivery zone!
Speaking of deals, Karen was hosted for lunch today by her Harvard Business School sectionmate Steve Wilson, who'd recently mentioned that he'd heard about one of the best lunch deals in Manhattan — the Bar Lunch at The Four Seasons restaurant (99 E. 52nd Street) featuring two courses for $25 — and invited her to check it out. The highlight was definitely sitting in this spectacular room for a couple of hours and being soothed by architect Philip Johnson's shimmering metal curtains, which ripple skyward almost hypnotically. A close second was chef Christian Albin's food, which was refreshingly flavorful and satisfying. Lagging far behind was the service, which was worthy of neither the room nor the cuisine. Still, it wasn't so bad that one wouldn't return to enjoy the other worthy aspects of this legendary restaurant — especially at this price.
We kicked off our evening by interviewing restaurateur and co-author of Vino Italiano Joseph Bastianich at Otto (One Fifth Avenue). Last month, Joe took home two of the James Beard Foundation's highest honors at its Awards gala, and he didn't waste any time tonight in sharing some of his award-winning hospitality with us: He poured us several glasses of wine (including some of his own stellar wines from his wineries; all available at Italian Wine Merchants) to enjoy with an array of Otto's small plates — from thinly sliced meats to pepperoni pizza to one of the best dishes in Manhattan: an outrageously good Parmesan panne cotta served with a small salad.
To cap off the evening, we paid a visit to Anne Rosenzweig's restaurant Inside (9 Jones Street, bet. W. 4th St. and Bleecker, and bet. Sixth and Seventh Aves.). We were delighted to find New York's best strawberry ice cream (i.e. Inside's own!) on the menu, served with fresh strawberries — and just as delighted to be served a bowl of fresh cherries on the side, simply because chef Charleen Badman thought we should try them. They all harmonized beautifully with the glass of ice wine served to us by Bill Flatley.
Our "embarrassment of riches" might be guilt-inducing if we weren't confident we'd run most of it off tomorrow morning in Central Park!
Ixta is at 48 E. 29th Street, bet. Madison and Park Aves., New York City. (212) 683-4833. Web: www.ixtarestaurant.com
The Four Seasons is at 99 E. 52nd St., bet. Park and Lexington Aves., New York City. (212) 754-9494. Web: www.fourseasonsrestaurant.com
Otto is at 1 Fifth Ave., on 8th St., New York City. (212) 995-9559. Web: www.ottopizzeria.com
Inside is at 9 Jones St., bet. W. 4th St. and Bleecker, New York City. (212) 229-9999. Web: www.insideonjones.com
Andrew Dornenburg on our brewery tour with Garrett Oliver
A selection of Brooklyn Brewery's fresh beers on tap
Garrett Oliver has us sample the Blanche
Thursday, June 23, 2005 — If you don't think you like beer, just wait 'til you meet Garrett Oliver. He's bound to make a beer lover (or at least a beer respecter) out of you.
This afternoon we paid a visit to the Brooklyn Brewery, where Garrett serves as brewmaster. Before today, we knew him only as the author of the IACP Cookbook Award-winning book The Brewmaster's Table. After our tour of the Brewery (which included a tasting of the soft and creamy Brooklyn Blanche beer), we headed out to lunch together at Planet Thailand (which also included tasting more beers, of course) and got to know him as one of the most passionate people on the subject of beer we've ever had the pleasure to meet.
But don't take our word for it. Pay a visit yourself! The Brooklyn Brewery is easy to reach from Manhattan via subway, and provides tours every Saturday afternoon from 1-4 pm.
Brooklyn Brewery is at
79 North 11th Street in Williamsburg. (718) 486-7422. Web: www.brooklynbrewery.com
The display case at 'ino in Greenwich Village
Making magic in the kitchen at 'ino in Greenwich Village
The single most delicious thing $2 can buy in New York City
Jean-Luc Le Du, Andrew Dornenburg and Tom Donahue at
600 Washington Street — the future home of Le Du Wines
Tuesday, June 21, 2005 — After meeting with sommelier Daniel Johnnes this morning, we strolled from Montrachet in Tribeca toward 600 Washington Street, soon to be home of Le Du Wines, an exciting wine store being opened by Restaurant Daniel's former sommelier Jean-Luc Le Du.
But on the way, we happend to pass 'ino, the tiny restaurant that packs a big punch at 21 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village. It had been more than a year or two since we'd last been there, and with Uptowner Anne Rosenzweig singing its praises to us just last week, we were compelled to pop in.
We'd forgotten just how amazing those little panino are. Still only $2 for an open-faced "sandwich" of a crouton topped with fresh ricotta cheese, crushed tomato, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, we're convinced it's the single most delicious thing you can buy in Manhattan at that price. (Have another suggestion? Please let us know at Dornenburg@aol.com.)
Nothing we ate at Pastis over our very enjoyable lunch with Jean-Luc lived up to the memory of that bite. We won't wait until the opening of Le Du Wines, (highly!) anticipated in August, to return to 'ino just a few blocks away!
'ino is at 21 Bedford St., bet. Downing and Sixth Ave., New York City. (212) 989-5769. Web: www.cafeino.com
Monday, June 20, 2005 — How is it that we didn't find this email in our emailbox sooner? (We've been experiencing a number of other email snafus as well. If your email seems to have gotten lost in our emailbox, we hope you'll resend it.) Our apologies to Patricia S. for just today responding to her email of last month:
Dear Ms. Page,
My name is Patricia S., and I am writing because I
admire your work. I am an aspiring culinary professional who has read
all of the books you co-authored with your husband. I joke with my
friends and family that they are reference guides for my life. You are
a successful business woman who has made the culinary world work for
you and I am inspired by your passion for food, business and
philanthropy. You are an amazing role model for young women like me
entering this profession.
While I feel there are many avenues within the food world to explore,
I feel lost. I have my B.A. in sociology and a
culinary certificate, and in August I will be
traveling to France to study for three months. I
will be returning to the U.S. in the fall with no real idea of where my
career will take me. I am passionate about the hands-on aspect of
food but know that I do not want to work the line in a high end
kitchen. I have interned at a culinary magazine but felt it was not
the right fit for me either. Ideally, I want to be able to help
people using food as a vehicle.
I know you must be extremely busy and I apologize if this email comes
at a bad time. I am writing to you to see if you have any
advice for young women like me. I want to be able to combine my own
love for food, business and philanthropy as you have but I do not
really know where to go from here.
Thank you very much for your time. You demonstrate that it is
possible to combine your diverse interests in a successful career and
give me hope for my future.
Karen thought her response to Patricia might be instructive to other young women (and men!) seeking their way in the culinary field:
I apologize for the delay in responding to your lovely email. Thank you for your very kind words. And my congratulations to you for already having taken such important steps to make your vision of becoming a successful culinary professional a reality.
In truth, at this point, that is the most important thing you can do: Put yourself in the path of people, organizations (e.g. Chefs Collaborative, City Harvest, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Slow Food, etc.) and causes that are of interest to you, and see how you can add value. Reach out to as many people as you can, and hone in on what interests and excites you most. You will find your fit, I am confident.
When I spoke to a group of women college students and recent alumnae at Northwestern University this past spring, I shared the following 10 tips on career management, which I thought might be helpful to you, too:
1) Follow your bliss. Listen to the small, still voice inside you — and what it says it would be most interesting and exciting to do. If you're going to get up every morning and work 8-12+ hours before you go to sleep, you can't just like your work. You have to love it. People who love what they do definitely have an edge.
2) Know yourself. Then you'll be able to sense when that small, still voice changes, and you can change your path accordingly — i.e. get a new job, join a new company, or change industries altogether. Make sure you're doing something you're passionate about.
3) Know your strengths. Identifying, developing, and leveraging your unique strengths is what will allow you to succeed professionally.
4) Know your weaknesses. These are the things that can trip you up if you're not careful.
5) Always go the extra mile. In any task you're assigned or any project you take on, do it to the best of your ability. Make excellence your trademark.
6) Recognize and seize opportunities. Keep your eyes open for what intrigues you (e.g. burgeoning trends, people or companies that are rising stars), and hitch yourself to them.
7) Help others succeed. You'll develop new capabilities in the process — plus the people you help will remember you, and will be helpful to you.
8) Add value at every opportunity. Offer your energy, your ideas, your network. It will come back to you tenfold.
9) Toot your own horn about your accomplishments — albeit tactfully. Let others know what you're doing and how to reach you (e.g. business card, resume, Web site).
10) Have fun! All work and no play leads to burnout. Take regular days off during the week, and annual vacations.
I hope you will keep me posted on your progress — and on what sounds like a fabulous time ahead cooking in France! If you haven't already, you might also want to join Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (www.womenchefs.org), a wonderful organization of women in the industry (not just chefs and restaurateurs) which can be supportive of you while providing you with an invaluable network of contacts.
I'm rooting for you!
Very best wishes,
If others have advice to share with Patricia and others like her trying to forge their paths in the culinary world, we'd welcome hearing your thoughts at Dornenburg@aol.com so we can share them in this space.
Our favorite new salad: Bette's Green Bean, Fennel and
Black Radish Salad with
White Truffle Dressing
Parma Ham and Watermelon (with thin breadsticks)
Lobster Gazpacho (served on a bed of ice)
Goat Cheese Cake, Lavender, Honey and Berries (with a peek
of the Valrhona Chocolate Pudding with Dark Coffee Short-
bread at left)
Karen's new favorite petit fours in Manhattan: they're
chocolate truffles made with oatmeal, almonds and malt
We've added an arrow to indicate the location of the flush
button on Bette's $3000 "Purist Hatbox" toilet
Saturday, June 18, 2005 — Poor Bette. Saddled with a high-profile owner (Bungalow 8's lovely Amy Sacco), in a high-status building (London Terrace Towers, whose residents include Chelsea Clinton, Teri Hatcher and
Annie Leibovitz), and its fair share of pre-opening snafus (including a well-publicized gas leak caused by an inept plumber), does it even stand a chance of getting a fair shake when the critics soon descend upon the just-opened restaurant?
We'll soon see. In the meantime, since a friend invited us to join her for dinner there last night, we were able to form a few initial impressions of our own — which are surprisingly enthusiastic.
First, we really admire the restaurant's design, which boasts some very savvy touches. The dining room is split from the bar by reflective glass which serves to make each more intimate. The bathroom fixtures are striking, although even the little posted sign wasn't enough to allow Karen (a card-carrying member of Mensa, mind you) to locate the flush-button on the fashionable Kohler toilet without assistance from her friend who was waiting outside the door. (Believe us, you'll thank us later for the arrow pointing it out above.)
Second, we adored our waiter Craig, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Rocco DiSpirito (on whose radio show we'd just been guests last week, so both faces were clear in our minds). Craig could easily pass himself off around town as Rocco's little brother. He was professional, with a command of the menu and the wine list that was impressive for such a new restaurant, yet loose enough to share his keen sense of humor. (In pointing out the resemblance, we urged him to tell us his name so we wouldn't be tempted to call him anything else. "I get told that I look like him all the time," Craig laughed. "Go ahead — call me Rocco.")
And the food evidenced its chefs' pedigrees: Tom Dimarzo and Arlene Jacobs both cooked under Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and their dishes are deliciously of the season. While the lobster gazpacho last night featured a too-pungent dose of raw garlic for our taste, we all fell in love with the deceptively simple green bean salad. They also won our hearts with the goat cheesecake, not to mention the petits fours Karen is most out-of-her-mind about since Laurent Tourondel started serving doughnut holes modeled after Krispy Kremes five years ago at Cello: truffles of chocolate, oatmeal, almonds and malt. (They reminded us of Abby Dodge's fabulous Soft Chocolate-Almond Oatmeal Cookies featured in her equally fabulous book The Weekend Baker.)
We look forward to returning soon for another taste of summer.
Bette is at 461 West 23rd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, New York City. 212) 366-0404.
Anne Rosenzweig of Inside with Andrew Dornenburg
Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin
Andrew says hello to Jean Francois
Bruel of Restaurant
Daniel, Surbhi Sahni of Devi, and Florian
Bellanger of Fauchon
Friday, June 17, 2005 — There was indeed a great gathering of chefs at "The Great Gathering of Chefs" yesterday afternoon at the Time Warner Center, which celebrated the publication of photographer Alan Batt's two new books featuring them, which you can read about here.
The first we ran into was David Waltuck of Chanterelle, with whom we'd had a terrific conversation just the other week about food and wine (and sake!) pairing in tandem with his sommelier Roger Dagorn. We also bumped into Michael Anthony of Blue Hill, Charleen Badman of Inside, Cesare Casella of Beppe, Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin, Anne Rosenzweig of Inside, Suvir Saran of Devi, and a triumverate of three of the most talented pastry chefs in New York City, sitting side-by-side signing books: Jean Francois Bruel of Restaurant Daniel, Surbhi Sahni of Devi, and Florian Bellanger of Fauchon — just the sight of whom was enough to raise our blood sugar levels!
It was especially nice to have a chance to catch up with Anne Rosenzweig, who shared tips as to where she's been eating lately, including Hearth (where she recommends "anything on the menu — it's all to my taste") and Prune in the East Village; 'ino and Pearl Oyster Bar in Greenwich Village; and Shun Lee "on the West Side."
We took newlywed journalist Bill Boggs' happy glow as a sign that marriage is agreeing with him. Congratulations again, Bill! And congratulations to Laura Lehrman and Andria Chin of Lehrman + Chin for pulling off the logistical coup of gathering 125 chefs!
And speaking of happy glows, arguably the happiest we saw at the event was that of pastry chef Julie Fether of Stephanie Pearl Kimmel's restaurant Marche in Eugene, Oregon, who was in New York and happened upon this great gathering of chefs — as well as the two of us in front of her on the escalator!
Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton
Allison Dubin and Christopher Tracy lead a tasting for us
Our photographer Michael Sofronski gets some great shots
for our next book on food and wine pairing
Sculpture of Marilyn Monroe caught in breeze!
Thursday, June 16, 2005 — Our thanks go out to winemaker Christopher Tracy and manager Allison Dubin (also Christopher's wife) of Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton for showing us such a great time at the winery this week when we were out doing research and getting some shots for our next book.
Three months ago, wine writer Howard Goldberg wrote in The New York Times that "Mr. Tracy is starting to break out of the pack of East End winegrowers to become a pacesetter on the Island."
Indeed, we were so impressed with the wines we tasted that not only did we purchase several bottles to take home (including a couple of bottles of the beautifully fruity and dry 2004 Channing Perrine Fleur de la Terre Rose, which we enjoyed last night as the perfect accompaniment to
Rafih Benjelloun's Cornish Game Hens with Pomegranate, Honey and Roasted Almonds), but we also joined the Channing Daughters Wine Club, through which we'll receive
two different bottles of their newest releases of wine in the mail six times a year.
Channing Daughters wines are carried by many of New York's best restaurants, including Restaurant Daniel and Jean Georges. To learn where you can taste Channing Daughters wine near you, click here.
Since 'tis the season for visits to the Hamptons, we strongly recommend paying a visit to Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton — not only for the gorgeous wines you'll taste, but for the gorgeous sculptures created by owner (and fellow Harvard MBA) Walter Channing, whose works grace the grounds!
Channing Daughters is at
1927 Scuttlehole Road in Bridge- hampton, New York. (631) 537-7224. Web: www.channingdaughters.com
Thursday, June 16, 2005 (Part IV) — If life were like "Joan of Arcadia" (a television show on which teen star Amber Tamblyn has Divine Encounters which take the form of strangers she meets at school or at the bus stop), this week's episode would have us wondering aloud why we blog, and in the final sequence, opening this email which we received yesterday from an 18-year-old cook from Toronto:
"Hello again Mr. Dornenburg and Mrs. Page,
I was taking a moment today touring some restaurant and food blogs when I
came upon the update on your Canadian dinner. What a feast! I was very
excited to see some of the most interesting and delicious products Canada
offers, some of which are made mere minutes from my house, playing centre
stage in a dinner hundreds of miles away. I am very pleased to see that our
artisans are being so well represented in New York. As for the wines, you
were treated to some of the nicest vintages Niagara has yet to produce. I
live quite close to the Cave Springs vineyards, and it is a charming and
beautiful place; the wines are largely underappreciated because of the more‘Old World' techniques. Thank you very much for writing this up; I am sure
it makes a lot of people very proud....The best part for the both of you; at the end of the day, it is all
research, yes? I cannot imagine a better way to become inspired about wine
and food then cracking a perfect bottle and spending an evening enjoying it.
All the best with the new book,
(P.S. Thank you for sharing your food and wine experiences with all of us!
Your blog is really great, and it is wonderful to see photographs of the
plates. It is a connection to where food is going in New York, without any
pretension or judgement. That's priceless.)"
Wednesday, June 15, 2005 (Part III) — In today's Ottawa Citizen, Rod Eade has a terrific article titled "Ottawa Takes New York" and subtitled "Beckta Dining & Wine wows American opinion makers at a dinner to showcase Canadian wine and food" about the June 9th dinner mentioned below, which features some great behind-the-scenes color. You can read it here.
Chef Stephen Vardy and owner Stephen Beckta of Beckta
at "Eat, Drink Canada" at Eleven Madison Park
The Free Form Nova Scotia Lobster Lasagna
A selection of Canadian artisanal cheeses, including the very
orange (and very delicious) 15-year-old Forfar Cheddar
Friday, June 10, 2005 (Part II) — We were guests last night of Pamela Wallin, the Consul General of Canada, at an exquisite tasting of some of Canada's best foods, wines, and cooking held in the private room of Eleven Madison Park in New York City. "Eat, Drink Canada" was hosted by Stephen Beckta, a former manager at Eleven Madison Park who now runs the restaurant Beckta Dining & Wine in Canada's capital city of Ottawa, which has received extraordinary accolades across North America. He brought two of his restaurant's top talents, chef Stephen Vardy and sous chef Che Chartrand, in from Ottawa to collaborate with EMP's kitchen on last night's feast.
Highlights included a mind-blowing seared Quebec foie gras and Digby scallop with Indian summer jellies, rhubarb jam and chocolate blini, as well as a delicious freeform Nova Scotia lobster lasagna, not to mention a selection of Canadian artisanal cheeses. The wines were equally impressive, with standouts including the 2003 Cave Spring Riesling, and the 2003 Chardonnay from Peninsula Ridge and the 2002 Chardonnay from Cave Spring. (It was also a pleasure to meet Amy Meyer, whose company BouquetduVin.com is introducing exceptional Canadian wines to the New York area and beyond.)
Beckta Dining and Wine is at
226 Nepean Street in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (613) 238-7063. Web: www.beckta.com
The delicious steamed pork buns at Momofuku
pours our wine at Khyber Grill
The heaven-sent Gewurztraminer at Khyber Grill
Friday, June 10, 2005 (Part I) — We've got a backlog of delicious tastes to report. The first is the simple, yet delicious, steamed pork bun we enjoyed for lunch on Wednesday at Momofuki (which means "lucky peach"), a tiny spot at the corner of 10th Street and First Avenue which was recommended to us by Paul Grieco of Hearth.
That night, after a long, hot day of discussions with various sommeliers around town that had us ending up in the far East 50s and craving a good glass of chilled wine, we wondered where to eat for dinner. We stopped by one restaurant where our chef-friend turned out to be off that night, so we found ourselves wandering down East 58th Street between Second and Third Avenues. In the distance, we spotted a familiar face standing outside Khyber Grill (230 E. 58th St.): Bikky Sharma, who at other restaurants had previously led us to some of the best wine pairings we've ever enjoyed with Indian food. We succumbed to fate, and went in to have dinner.
Never did we dream that the evening had in store for us one of the most memorable wines we've ever enjoyed in our life: a 2002 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer from Alsace. This wine was so excruciatingly delicious that both of us have been thinking about it hourly since we first tasted it. The aroma and flavor of ripe melon, bananas and other tropical fruit in this off-dry wine are unforgettable.
Paired with our deliciously spicy starters and tender sweet scallops at Khyber Grill, we were in heaven. Khyber Grill truly lived up to its mission printed on its wine list: "At Khyber Grill, we are as passionate about our wine list as we are about our cuisine. Our mission is to demonstrate how Indian cuisine, in its complexity, is perfectly suited to partnering with exciting wines. Layer for layer, the right wine can stand up to, and indeed dance with, each spice and each ingredient in our dishes." We already can't wait to return to Khyber Grill for another taste!
Momofuku is at
163 First Ave. (at 10th St.) in the East Village, New York City. (212) 475-7899. Web: www.eatmomofuku.com
Khyber Grill is at
230 E. 58th St. (bet. Second and Third Aves.), New York. (212)
339-0090. Web: www.khybergrill.com
Heather Urich at the Sarcoma benefit
Dan Aykroyd entertains at the Hammerstein Ballroom
Tuesday, June 7, 2005 — Photos from Monday night's Sarcoma Foundation of America's Spring Benefit at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Our hats off to Addie and Gary Tomei for their efforts on behalf of this important cause. To learn more, click here.
Standing in front of Macy's...making a political statement
Monday, June 6, 2005 (late night) — Karen shot the photo above through the rain-flecked window of our taxi on the way to the Hammerstein Ballroom tonight after realizing that his T-shirt didn't simply bear the "Banana Republic" logo as she'd first thought. Look closer.... [We just hope our friends who aren't Democrats think it's as funny as we did.]
Ed McFarland butchers a 25-pound halibut at Pearl Oyster Bar;
Andrew with Ed (middle) and Tony Bonner (right) in the kitchen
Friday, June 3, 2005 (afternoon) — How much do we love Rebecca Charles' Pearl Oyster Bar? It's almost as much fun to visit with the great guys in its kitchen (including Tony Bonner, with whom Andrew worked at Arcadia, and Ed McFarland), as we did this morning during a photo shoot for our next book, as it is to eat at this incomparable Greenwich Village restaurant at 18 Cornelia Street!
Pearl Oyster Bar is at 18 Cornelia Street, bet. W. 4th St. and Bleecker, New York City. (212) 691-8211. Web: www.pearloysterbar.com
Serena Bass's adorable grandson Max
Surbhi Sahni's luscious mango cheesecake at DEVI
Friday, June 3, 2005 (morning) — Does Indian food in New York City get any better than DEVI (8 E. 18th St., between Fifth and B'way)? After dinner there last night with fellow cookbook author and caterer extraordinaire Serena Bass and her lovely family (including adorable and well-behaved grandson Max, who demonstrated the cutest penchant for sucking on fresh lemon wedges!), we think not.
Gracious chef-partner Suvir Saran (who, with co-chef Hemant
Mathur, is responsible for some of the very best Indian food we've ever tasted) stopped by our table briefly to mention that he'd just sold his next book (on the heels of his terrific Indian Home Cooking). Then he headed out with DEVI's talented pastry chef Surbhi Sahni to the French Culinary Institute where Surbhi was apparently a finalist for an award. Based on the oohs and ahhs we heard around our table for Surbhi's Mango Cheesecake (above) and other delectable desserts, our bet was on her!
Devi is at 8 E. 18th Street (bet. Fifth and Broadway), New York Citymee. (212)
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