ANDREW DORNENBURG & KAREN PAGE's Web Log
Named one of GourmetFood.About.com's "Top 10 Food Blogs"
Named to MUG 400 for its "distinctive contribution to life in New York"
"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)
"There is nothing under the sun better for man than to eat, drink, and be merry. Go, therefore, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with cheer.”
Saturday, June 30, 2007 — If only to experience what happens after the "evil" restaurant critic takes his first taste of the movie's namesake dish, food lovers should definitely catch "Ratatouille."
We don't want to spoil it, so we'll refrain from writing anything more, other than our thanks to director Brad Bird for including this scene.
Photo: Marvin Joseph
Pinot Noir + Salmon = A Perfect Match
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 — America's most popular seafood after shrimp, salmon has clearly rebounded from its 1970s image. But even back then, some people knew the truth. Three decades ago, while Karen sulked over the tinny canned salmon she was occasionally served as a kid in the Midwest, Andrew was swooning over the rich, buttery flavor and silky texture of the wild salmon he tasted while working one summer in a salmon fishery in Alaska.
Wild salmon has since become a seasonal staple of better restaurants and gourmet markets. With less fat and more flavor than farm-raised salmon, it continues to attract new fans on its own — to say nothing of the near-evangelical converts who have been won over after tasting it with a great pinot noir. Once you sample that exquisite pairing, you can't help but see the light: The match is about as close to perfection as you'll find.
"If you think 'salmon,' you automatically think 'Pacific Northwest,' and Oregon pinot noir with wild salmon is symbiotic," says Doug Mohr, manager and sommelier of Washington's Vidalia restaurant. He particularly likes the 2004 the Four Graces Pinot Noir Estate ($25) from the Willamette Valley. "Wild salmon eat a diet of shellfish, which translates into their meat being sweet — which plays off the natural cherrylike sweetness of Oregon pinot noir. Pinot's weight and tannin level do not overpower salmon, and its acidity cuts the richness of the fish."
At the Herbfarm, about 20 miles outside Seattle in Woodinville, Wash., customers vie for a coveted reservation to sample the celebrated restaurant's seasonal spring-run king salmon with crispy skin and morels — almost invariably accompanied by an Oregon pinot noir from an award-winning wine list. "Salmon's quality, due to scrupulous handling, has never been higher," owner Ron Zimmerman told us in a recent e-mail. "Pinot noir is by definition a wine of small lots. However, among the myriad of Oregon pinot noirs that make it inside the Beltway, Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir is a good bet."
To read the rest of our column in today's Washington Post, click here.
Salmon swim upstream in Wild Salmon's ceiling sculpture
Wild Salmon's really, really good fried calamari & sauces
Silky planked wild salmon served with sauce on the side
Our hats off to Jeffrey Chodorow for finally hitting upon what just might turn out to be a winning concept for his huge restaurant space in our Murray Hill neighborhood at 40th Street and Third Avenue that has morphed countless times from the likes of Tuscan into Tuscan Steak into English Is Italian — and is now Wild Salmon.
We had lunch at Wild Salmon the other week while researching our column for today's Washington Post on pairing wine with salmon, and were surprised to be as impressed as we were, having found reason for disappointment with every previous meal we've sampled under its roof.
The wonderful crispy Monterey Bay calamari we started with was served with not one but two delicious condiments: pickled Japanese cucumber, and lemon aioli. The planked King salmon we shared thereafter was an indulgent splurge, but considering it was the best wild salmon we'd tasted since our second-to-last trip to Seattle, we comforted ourselves with the thought that we'd saved two round-trip cross-country airfares in the process.
Having heard that our neighbors have also been burned by less-than-stellar meals at its previous incarnations, we're taking it upon ourselves to help spread the word that this space has finally spawned a restaurant worth a return visit in Wild Salmon.
Wild Salmon is at 622 Third Avenue (at 40th Street), Manhattan. (212) 404-1700. Web: www.chinagrillmgt.com
Farmer John Peterson with director
Summer Squash Carpaccio with pinenuts, mint, cheese
Burrata cheese with fresh tomatoes and watermelon
Whole stuffed artichoke -- the best of Karen's life
Over the weekend, we went to see the documentary "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" showing at the Quad in Greenwich Village, which was followed by a Q&A with director Taggart Siegel and his title subject Farmer John Peterson.
While we are glad we saw the film, it wasn't the movie we'd expected to see: We would have loved to learn more about how this struggling Midwest farm made the actual transition to organic farming and found success through community-supported agriculture (CSA).
Manhattan audiences are the best: When asked after the film whether anyone now wished to join a CSA, the immediate cry went up that we couldn't because they were all oversubscribed in New York.
After the movie, we were craving great produce — so we headed straight to August, where chef Tony Liu has an extraordinary way of bringing out the best of any vegetable or fruit we've ever encountered there. And the warmth and graciousness of Heather Gurfein and Ryan Ibsen certainly bring out the best of its dining room.
You can learn more about "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" and the CSA Angel Organics here.
August restaurant is at
359 Bleecker Street (bet. Charles and W. 10th St.), Manhattan. (212) 929-4774.
Zafra Kitchens in Hoboken, New Jersey, is worth a trip
Peruvian Purple Corn Punch, Ecuadorian Frozen Lemonade
Yuca Fries with Cilantro Sauce Presilla
Beef Empanadas, Spicy Chilean Cilantro Sauce
Ecuadorian Potato & Cheese Patties, with Peanut Sauce
"[Maricel Presilla's] food is remarkable and remarkably authentic. Eating it is a vacation. In dishes so full of the essence of Latin America that you feel as if you've flown south, every flavor is bracingly pure and unsullied."
—R.W. Apple, The New York Times
Two weekends ago, we rented a car for the day to head out to New Jersey to run some errands, and to drive to the Bronx that night to attend a surprise party for our friend Deborah Pines (organized by her sneaky, but loving, husband Tony Schwartz).
We also took advantage of having a car for the day to check out a restaurant we've long been curious about in Hoboken. Zafra was started by chef-owner Maricel Presilla, a PhD and author of books on chocolate and folk art. A native of Cuba, she brings to life the traditional flavors of Cuba and Latin America, with delicious modern twists. We loved every delicious bite (and sip!).
We can't wait to visit her more formal dining restaurant featuring "artisanal South American cooking" Cucharamama (which is around the corner from Zafra) next.
Zafra Kitchens is at
301 Willow Ave., in Hoboken, New Jersey. Phone: (201) 610-9801. Web: www.zafrakitchens.com
From an early morning beach visit last summer
Wednesday, June 20, 2007 — Some of our favorite lazy days of summers past were passed in the backyard of our friends Rikki Klieman and Bill Bratton's home in Quogue, on Long Island. We'd head to Sonny's, a great old-fashioned local Italian deli, to pick up cured meats and cheeses, which could easily sustain us most of the day while lounging beside the pool, absorbed in the day's headlines and then our respective summer reading of choice (some of which would be traded at the close of the weekend in our ongoing lending library).
It's fitting that our column in today's Washington Post was inspired by our time with Rikki and Bill, to whom we offer up our heartfelt congratulations today on Bill's history-making appointment yesterday to a second term of office as Los Angeles' Police Chief. While they traded in their home in Quogue for one in LA five years ago, we've kept our backyard tradition alive in LA and in other friends' homes on the East Coast, which we're looking forward to repeating this summer:
Our favorite meals on hot summer days are of the no-cooking variety: plates of prosciutto and other cured meats, cheeses, and slices of ripe melon or figs to nibble on while lounging at poolside with a good book. So our cravings naturally turn to Italian wines, especially whites.
"Since most Italian white wines are of the lighter, crisper, more refreshing persuasion, there are tons to choose from," says David Lynch, award-winning sommelier, wine journalist and co-author with Joseph Bastianich of VINO ITALIANO: The Regional Wines of Italy (Clarkson Potter, 2002), the definitive guide to Italian wines.
Lynch's own favorite summer dish is panzanella, an Italian bread-and-tomato salad accented with red onions, red wine vinegar and coarse salt. "My favorite coastal Italian wine is probably Vermentino, which is very herbaceous and refreshing, especially with this dish," he says. Lynch is a fan of Santadi "Cala Silente" Vermentino di Sardegna ($19).
If you enjoy sparkling wine, summer is a great time to pick up some Italian prosecco. "The prosecco playing field is remarkably level in terms of price," Lynch says. "All of your basic non-vintage bruts are around the same price, and since they're not expensive to begin with, it makes the trial and error of discovering your favorites relatively painless." Among brands he recommends are Ruggeri and Nino Franco ("especially the 'Rustico' ")....
To read the rest of our column, click here.
"William J. Bratton on Tuesday became the first Los Angeles police chief since the 1992 riots to win a second term...The Los Angeles Police Commission voted unanimously to give Bratton a second five-year term, citing his aggressive efforts to reduce crime and work with community groups that have long been critical of the LAPD's treatment of black and Latino residents."
—Los Angeles Times
"Citing falling crime rates, the Police Commission on Tuesday gave Chief William Bratton a second five-year term as top cop in the nation's second-largest city....Bratton becomes the first chief to get a second term since voters in 1992 changed the City Charter to replace the post's previously open-ended tenure and civil service protection with a five-year term, renewable once. 'We agree that Chief Bratton has provided visionary, innovative and progressive leadership for the Los Angeles Police Department,' said John Mack, president of the five-member panel. 'His is a vision of policing for the 21st century.'"
—The Washington Post
Our books have reflected our democratic love of great food, wherever it can be found. While we've written about America's finest restaurants, we're just as passionate about a fabulous ethnic restaurant...and even a great street cart!
So, we were excited to see New York magazine's list of the 20 best food carts in New York City in this week's issue here.
Our readers are sure to find some familiar names on the list, including the #1 pick The Arepa Lady (whom we mentioned in our 1998 book DINING OUT) and #7 Tony "The Dragon" Dragonas, whom we were happy to help put on the map even before that after tipping off a reporter friend at The New York Times:
The New York Times' October 15, 1992 article on Tony
Dragonas' pushcart, with the photo caption:
"Almost every day, at least some of the cooks at Arcadia trot across
the street to the northeast corner of 62nd and Madison, where Tony Dragonas, left, cooks them sidewalk fare. Having lunch recently at
the stand were, from the left, Andrew Dornenburg, Junior Jimenez,
Tony Bonner, Anne Rosenzweig and Christine Taus"
Speaking of The New York Times, we were happy to see ChikaLicious (which is featured in our book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT) given credit for starting the entire dessert bar trend. ChikaLicious co-owner Don Tillman set things straight in a recent email to us:
"We're open. Taking vacation (maintenance) 2-5 July.... The new place is called ChikaLicious Puddin', not 'Pudding.' We are however, selling shortbread 'like CRAZY' around the country, locally and abroad. They at least got that correct. See you at Puddin' in September!!!!"
"This recipe is adapted from WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. Both are award-winning authors of Becoming a Chef and Culinary Artistry. What to Drink with What you Eat is a great guide to pairing food with wine, beer, spirits, coffee, tea and is based on expert advice from America's best sommeliers. My husband and I have used this book extensively. We searched a very long time for a book such as this and highly recommend it."
—Heather Chase, personal chef (Hong Kong)
Heather reports that WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT is available at Dymocks in Hong Kong.
Chef Jerry Pellegrino pairs a salad of red
romaine and bacon with a pinot noir
(Photo credit: Katherine Frey)
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 — Those of us who eat out often — as many city dwellers do — can develop jaded palates. Happily, most major metropolitan areas boast an ever-expanding array of cuisines from which to choose, which helps keep things fresh. (We get our weekly Mexican fix by sharing a heavenly order of huevos rancheros many weekend mornings that sets us back a total of $5.95.)
Cutting-edge restaurant professionals who push us to try new ingredients and dishes and wines to accompany them definitely help, too. We admire the talents of both chef Brad Farmerie and sommelier Ruben Sanz Ramiro of Public and The Monday Room, whose pairings have tickled and refreshed our jaded palates like those of few other restaurants we can think of.
You can read more about Ramiro's pairings, and those of Baltimore chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks, in our column in today's Washington Post:
It was a wine lover's laugh-out-loud moment on ABC's "Brothers & Sisters." Sally Field and Ron Rifkin's characters were sitting at a restaurant table set with simple green salads -- and glasses of dark red wine. Unless the show's prop masters also happen to be cutting-edge sommeliers, we suspect they chose the food and wine more for their camera-friendliness than the appropriateness of the pairing.
Even though conventional wisdom points to high-acid whites, red wine with salad isn't always a laughing matter. Yes, we were surprised when a sommelier recently poured a glass of red wine with our truffle and salsify noodle salad featuring arugula, wild mushrooms, artichoke and asparagus. However, we were even more surprised to discover that the wine, a 2003 Domaine Karydas Naoussa ($25), was so well-balanced with acidity and tannin that the pairing worked beautifully.
"Artichokes and asparagus are known to be red wine killers, but the richness of the truffle dressing and the rich meatiness of the mushrooms make this wine sing," the sommelier, Spanish native Ruben Sanz Ramiro, told us. He also recommends a similar Greek red -- Kir-Yianni Ramnista ($17), likewise made from 100 percent Xinomavro grapes -- that is even more widely available.
We've since come to expect the unexpected from Ramiro. During his previous tenure at The Fat Duck, a Michelin three-star restaurant in England, Ramiro mastered the art of edgy, inspired pairing while matching wines to chef Heston Blumenthal's signature dishes, such as scrambled egg and bacon ice cream.
More recently, Ramiro brought his infectious passion for wine to the United States to showcase his offbeat wine pairings, which are developing something of a cult following, at a 25-seat lounge with a speak-easy-like ambiance in Manhattan called the Monday Room.
Its existence reflects the multiple layers of knowledge that exist in any field: First are the general rules of thumb, followed by the exceptions to the rules, followed by the field's innovators, such as Ramiro, pushing the envelope to expand both....
To read the rest of our column, click here.
We don't subscribe to cable so we've never seen the show,
but a blitz of advertising alerts us to the fact that the
new season of "Top Chef" premieres tonight.
The show's Web site features Q&As with its contestants, where we were tickled to see that our book CULINARY ARTISTRY is so often listed as one of their favorites.
The 15 contestants were polled on their three favorite cookbooks, and those mentioned most frequently were:
1) The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller
(with four mentions),
2) CULINARY ARTISTRY by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (with three mentions), and
3) El Bulli by Ferran Adria, and
On Food & Cooking by Harold McGee (with two mentions each).
In addition to commending them on their excellent taste in culinary literature, we wish the best of luck to Dale, Hung and Sara N.!
The barbecue-loving crowds at 25th St. & Madison Avenue
Perfect racks of ribs heading into the smoker
Amy Mills Tunnicliffe (c.) sets out racks of ribs family-style
Amy seasons up the plate of ribs like...well...one of the best!
Indeed, these were some of the best ribs we've ever tasted
The Mills' Bible of barbecue
Sunday, June 10, 2007 — We weren't initially planning to attend this year's FIfth Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party at Madison Square Park this weekend. After all, the rest of our next book is due, so we haven't been making many plans besides spending more time at our computers. Besides, when Andrew had gone to the BABBP to get some shots with our photographer two years ago, he found the crowds to be overwhelming.
But we received the nicest email from Amy Mills Tunnicliffe — daughter of legendary barbecue pitmaster Mike Mills, and his co-author of the barbecue bestseller Peace, Love and Barbecue — inviting us to stop by. So, we changed from our writing shorts and T-shirts and threw on something a bit more presentable over our jeans, and headed downtown at lunchtime.
And are we ever glad we did.
The event was not only delicious fun (thanks to the Masters of 'Cue like Amy and Mike Mills), but fascinating to observe, thanks to the brilliant logistics of Danny Meyer and his team. We were honored to share a rib or two with Danny as he told us how the organizers debriefed last night to ensure that today's event ran even more smoothly, setting the bar anew for the idea of "commitment to excellence." And of course USHG chefs were out in full force, including our neighbor Michael Romano of Union Square Cafe (to whom we wish a relaxing day off in the Hamptons!) and Tabla's Floyd Cardoz.
It turns out that Amy and Mike Mills are also represented by our literary agent Janis Donnaud, a Southern powerhouse who knows her 'cue, so it shouldn't have been a surprise to bump into Janis and her multi-talented husband Peter Gethers, who edited Nancy Silverton's wonderful new book A Twist of the Wrist which sets a new bar for books on expediting the cooking process without sacrificing flavor. At their urging before we left, we made our way to sample some fried fruit pies doused with powdered sugar that were indeed worth every calorie.
The 2007 Big Apple Barbecue Block Party will be over by the time you read this. But there's plenty of time to gear up for next year's party, which you won't want to miss! Web: www.bigapplebbq.org.
From our emailbox:
"I adore your book! ...Doug and I have just opened a gourmet beer and wine shop in Redmond, WA, and your book has been an amazing resource. Neither of us in an expert, but we love great food and we love the exploration of fine beer and wines. We keep your book on the coffee table in the store and refer to it constantly.
I'd like to share a little story with you of just such an occasion.
This last Friday, one of our repeat customers came in looking for a beer to serve with Salmon as he isn't fond of wine. I checked in the book under Salmon and was relieved to find that YES! there is a beer to serve with Salmon: a Saison!
I sold him a bottle of the Saison Dupont, one of our favorite Belgians. After further research I found that the fermentation process for Saison is similar to that which creates red wines. It turns out that the nose and flavors of the Saison have many similarities to a Bordeaux which is another of your recommendations. How perfect!
Thank you for working so hard to make these pairings available at a glance and thank you for including the beautiful beers of the worId! It is greatly enhancing our ability to learn quickly and to share our passion with our customers.
We'd love to sell the book in the store. Would I contact your publisher about that?
Have a wonderful day and keep up the amazing work!
Malt and Vine
Our sincere thanks to Lizzie for taking the time to write us such a wonderful email -- we wish her and Doug (and Malt and Vine) great success!
P.S. We were happy to put Lizzie in touch with our publisher regarding how to order copies of WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT in bulk for resale. If you or your business or organization would like to order multiple copies (i.e. 20+ copies) of WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT, just shoot us an email at Dornenburg@aol.com, and someone will get back to you with our contact at Hachette.
Pouring Brachetto d'Acqui at 1789 Restaurant
(Photo Credit: Katherine Frey)
Wednesday, June 6, 2007 — We'd bet that some of the best wine and food pairings of your life — perhaps port with Stilton cheese, or Sauternes with foie gras — have sweet wines to thank for their role in elevating the match.
Sweet wines perform magic with desserts, too, of course. Summer desserts celebrating sweet-tart berries, from blueberry sorbets to strawberry shortcake, harmonize with wines featuring similar flavors.
Fresh strawberries and sweeter champagnes are a timeless pairing. Raspberry-almond cake brings out the luscious berry notes in port, as it did with the 2000 Osborne Late Bottled Vintage Porto we opened the other night.
The single most dessert-friendly wine around is arguably Moscato d'Asti, and it's especially easy to taste why alongside berry desserts.....
To read the rest of our column in today's Washington Post, click here.
The day's oysters arrive at Wild Edibles by 10 am
Joe Morrissey takes a seat at Wild Edibles' bar on Third Ave.
Joe lines up his tasting notes to track what he's sampling
Joe always saves his favorite Beausoleil oyster to taste last
Tuesday, June 5, 2007 — Joe Morrissey, a 27-year-old native of Tennessee living in New York City, gets paid to eat a dozen oysters every weekday morning at 10 am. Today, we watched him do it.
Since it's rude to simply stand and stare while someone sniffs, slurps and savors their "breakfast," we took photos and asked questions.
Q. What's your official title?
A. Official title? Fishmonger, I guess. Or manager. I go back and forth.
Q. You really taste more than five dozen oysters a week? What do you taste for?
A. I taste one of each of the dozen oysters we sell here at Wild Edibles (in Murray Hill). I'm tasting for a bad oyster.
Q. What does a bad oyster taste like?
A. When you taste it, you'll know. I had a bad Blue Point at another restaurant once, and I swore off Blue Points for ages. It's more of a visceral reaction than a flavor: "Man, I shouldn't be eating this...."
Q. We love the Oysters Rockefeller pizza here.
A. We use oysters that are big and meaty and will stand up to cooking, like Beaver Tail.
Q. What do you recommend for the oyster tasting? [At Wild Edibles, you can choose 6 oysters and three tastes of wine for $15 — one of the best bargains in town for an oyster lover!]
A. Definitely 2 Beausoleils, 2 Caraquets, and 2 of whatever is best that day. Just ask me or whoever's here.
Q. And for the wines?
A. The Dr. Konstantin Rkatsiteli, which is very summery; the Sauvignon Blanc, which is really nice, and the Pinot Blanc. [Wild Edibles offers only New York State wines.]
Q. What is your favorite oyster?
A. I'm an East Coast oyster guy. I find West Coast oysters too creamy. My #1 favorite is Beausoleil, which I always save to taste last. They're clean-tasting, with nice brine to them, and plump. It's the first oyster I ever fell in love with. It probably helped that my girlfriend Janice — who, like me, also acts — was with me at the time, and that we were drinking prosecco with them.
Q. What do you like on your oysters when you're not on the clock?
A. Cocktail sauce is great...for French fries! I like oysters either straight up or with a little squeeze of lemon.
Wild Edibles is at 569 Third Avenue (near 36th Street), New York City. (212)
213-8552. Web: www.wildedibles.com
Lobster rolls made with huge chunks of Maine lobster, and
served with lemon mayonnaise for pouring and dipping
The single best orange dessert we have ever tasted:
Rose Levy Beranbaum's Orange Charlotte
It was supposed to be a dinner to toast finishing our next book at the end of May. Except that we're still racing to finish it. Were we supposed to be rude and cancel our long-standing dinner plans for Saturday night? Not on your life! After all, we still had to eat....
And eat we did, an unforgettable dinner at the home of Elliott and Rose Levy Beranbaum that just might have had the highest calorie count per bite of any meal we've ever enjoyed.
First up: Lobster rolls from Maine lobsters that had been shipped to New York the previous day. The buns were buttered and toasted and stuffed to overflowing with bite-sized chunks of lobster.
Last up: Orange Charlotte, which was the single best orange dessert either of us had ever tasted in our lives. In fact, the mere idea of an "orange dessert" isn't the kind of thing that gets our mouths watering. Until now. This one was pure heaven on a plate.
If there was anything better than the glorious food, it was the warm and welcoming company of America's "Diva of Desserts" and her husband of more than three decades!
Rose Levy Beranbaum is at www.realbakingwithrose.com.
Kurowycky Meat Products, R.I.P. (1955 - 2007)