James Beard Award-winning authors
ANDREW DORNENBURG & KAREN PAGE's Web Log
Named one of GourmetFood.About.com's "Top 10 Food Blogs" in 2006
"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)
You'll want to visit our Blog October 2 - 31, as we kick off our month-long "VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR" for our new book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT. We can't think of a more delicious or enjoyable way to introduce you to some of the most highly-praised and/or well-trafficked food-and-beverage-loving sites on the Internet!
CIA's 1998 Michael Honig "Continuum" Cabernet Sauvignon
Heirloom tomatoes Cynthia purchased at Union Square...
...turned into this delicious tomato and basil salad
Momo sure knows his meat -- including the "Gotcha" steak!
Broiled to perfect rare / medium rare, served with sweet corn
Sunday, October 1, 2006 — In celebration of our brand-new book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT, which makes its official debut on bookstore shelves tomorrow, we're making a special offer to anyone who buys the book online before October 15th. For details, click here.
We arrived home last night after dinner at the home of our friends Cynthia and Jeff in a pleasant red meat / red wine coma. The red meat in question was great stuff they'd procured from Albanese Meats and Poultry, one of those little old-time butcher shops it's hard to believe still exists after a handful of decades in business. (Apparently Momo gave the "Gotcha" steak its moniker after learning that customers who tasted it were customers for life. Cooked by Cynthia to a perfect rare / medium-rare, it lived up to its reputation.)
We also indulged in an Indian summer celebration of the best of the Union Square Greenmarket, including sweet corn cut off the cob and sauteed with a hint of pimento, and wonderful heirloom tomatoes served sliced with a chiffonade of basil.
After sharing a bottle of prosecco, we opened the bottle of 1998 Michael Honig "Continuum" Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) we'd been given by The Culinary Institute of America this spring after delivering the commencement address.
Given this morning's rainstorm and the chill in the air, it's sadly clear that summer's over. We can't imagine having seen it off a better belated farewell. Thanks, Cynthia & Jeff!
Albanese Meats and Poultry is at
238 Elizabeth Street (near Houston),
New York City. (212) 966-1788. Momo's mom ran this old-school butcher shop until she was 97. Now Momo minds the store. Yes, it's one and the same butcher shop you saw in the Robert DeNiro American Express ads.
The Sartorialist features photos of Albanese Meats and Poultry in a January 2006 Blog here.
Kicking off our dinner of tapas with a glass of cava at Solera
H-U-G-E spears of white asparagus with romesco sauce
Luscious cod cheeks with salsa verde and a hard-boiled egg
Spanish olives; Maitre d' Ron Miller shows us the pan con tomate
Decanting a bottle of Spanish red wine behind the bar
Our favorite weeknight cheese plate in Manhattan
our favorite special occasion plate that of Max McCalman!)
Saturday, September 30, 2006 — There's not much we haven't already written about Solera, our favorite (and arguably the best) Spanish restaurant in New York City. The service is warm, gracious, and inviting; the food equally appealing; and the ambiance as close as you can get to being in Spain in the middle of Manhattan. Solera has received raves from restaurant critics, and is an insider favorite of chefs like Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar & Grill.
But since we're still surprised to meet lovers of Spanish cuisine who've never even heard of Solera, we believe it's a restaurant worth celebrating again and again and again until more have!
Solera is at 216 E. 53rd St. (bet. Second and Third Aves.), New York City. (212) 644-1166. Web: www.solerany.com
A warm welcome from Kristyn Zylka of HG Marketing
Moet Hennessy's offices; talented mixologist Tina Paola
A display of CEO Cocktails (Chopin with Extra Olives!)
Chopin holiday punch with "caramel apple" foie gras tarts
Chopin Cider Mill Martini w/ butternut squash soup shooter
Chopin & Ardbeg: Smoky Martini w/smoked salmon gateau
Chopin Chocolate Decadence w/ rich banana-chocolate cake
Chopin CEO Tad Dorda (c.), Brand Manager Sarah Gorvitz (r.)
Thursday, September 28, 2006 — While we were sorry to miss seeing Ann Rogers at Audrey Saunders' Pegu Club last night due to a prior commitment, we suspect that as the founder of Tales of the Cocktail, Ann would be happy to know that we were with her "in spirit," celebrating Chopin Vodka cocktails.
After all, we both consider ourselves to be wine lovers, first and foremost. But this new, rising breed of mixologists (whom we learned consider our book CULINARY ARTISTRY something of a bible) and the innovative directions they're heading with flavors have us excited about the potentials of food and cocktail pairing.
Last night's event at Moet Hennessy only contributed to our growing excitement, offering us the opportunity to taste some of the best cocktail and food pairings of our lives.
Karen tasted two that tied as favorites: 1) the Chopin Cider Mill Martini served with a butternut squash soup shooter with nutmeg cream and spiced pumpkin seeds whose flavors melded beautifully with the martini's apple base; and 2) an improbably delicious Chopin Chocolate Decadence (improbable because we're disinclined to like anything called "chocolate decadence") served with a rich (but light as air) banana cake dipped in chocolate.
And Andrew was particularly enamoured with the combination of Chopin & Ardbeg, which created a smoky martini that played deliciously against the Scotch smoked salmon with chive crepes and cream cheese served with it.
We both enjoyed the opportunity to meet Tad Dorda, the Poland-based President and CEO of Chopin Vodka, who managed to turn us into converts to the potato vodka cause. Who knew that only 3% of vodka is made from potatoes? As "the world's only luxury potato vodka," Chopin is the roundest, creamiest, and most well-balanced vodka we've ever tasted, without any burning aftertaste that characterizes other vodkas.
Our congratulations to Helen Gregory of HG Marketing for her role in an event that achieved exactly what events like this aim to do: create converts to the cause (OK, "the brand") who will then go out and help spread the word. Last night event was so educational that we're not ashamed to do just that.
Chopin Vodka is at www.chopinvodka.com.
Creative Edge is at www.creativeedgeparties.com. Caterer George Henderson and his team did an impressive job last night.
Chopin Cider Mill Martini
2 oz. Chopin Vodka
2 oz. fresh apple puree
2 oz. apple cider
green apple slice and/or cinnamon stick for garnish
To make the pumpkin seed rim: Toast pumpkin seeds and run through food processor. Add sugar and infuse with vanilla bean in a tightly-sealed container. Dampen the rim of the martini glass with apple juice or puree, and gently run the rim through the mix.
Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake vigorously and pour into a chilled martini glass rimmed with the pumpkin seed mix. Float sliced green apple and/or cinnamon stick, and sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
Suggested pairing: Serve with a butternut squash or pumpkin soup.
Chopin Chocolate Decadence
2 oz. Chopin Vodka
1 oz. Chocolate Liqueur (such as Godiva)
1 oz. White Chocolate Liqueur (such as Godiva)
1/4 oz. chocolate syrup
cookie crumbs (blend equal amounts of Oreo cookies and vanilla wafers in food processor; store in a tightly-sealed container)
To make the cookie rim: Pour chocolate syrup onto a plate and run the rim around for a perfect edge. Dip into cookie crumbs. The rim may run into the drink, which is fine!
Mix all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass prepared with the cookie rim.
Suggested Pairing: Serve with a rich banana cake.
Our friends never cease to amaze us with all the interesting things
they're up to. Take Otho Kerr, for example, who wrote us this morning:
"Tonight, twelve of us head back to western Kenya for our second visit where we will be setting up two dental clinics and going on 'Tooth Tours.'
If you are interested in the adventures of Tabasamu (and if the technology is still available in Kitale, Kenya), follow us on our blog: operationtabasamu.blogspot.com.
I'm back on October 14th. Amani, Otho"
We wish Otho, and Dr. Trey Wilson, safe travels and the best of luck
with their laudable efforts to bring quality dental services
to the people of western Kenya.
Tulcingo del Valle on Tenth Avenue between 46th & 47th
The chips and salsa at Tulcingo del Valle
Catch your favorite Mexican soap opera over lunch!
Delicious (if unphotogenic!) chicken in pumpkin seed sauce
A colorful (if skippable) salad accompanied our...
...trio of mole poblano enchiladas, topped with raw onion
Great watermelon and disappointing cantaloupe agua fresca
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 — The great thing about New York is that even running an errand in Hell's Kitchen can turn into a peak dining experience — for less than $30 for two! — especially if you carry around the list of NEW YORK magazine's "101 Best Cheap Eats."
We did just that the other day, which landed us at the very modest Mexican restaurant (an expanded deli, really) Tulcingo del Valle (#27 on NEW YORK's list). We lucked out with our choices of chicken in a pumpkin seed sauce and enchiladas mole poblano (for which you have a choice of beef, cheese, chicken or one of each).
We love agua fresca (Mexican drinks made with fruit, sugar and water). While the canteloupe agua fresca was sub-par (made with canteloupe that was not quite ripe and not quite pureed enough), the watermelon agua fresca was extraordinary — one of the best agua frescas we've ever enjoyed.
Tulcinga del Valle is at 665 Tenth Avenue (bet. 46th and 47th Streets), New York City. (212) 262-5510. Web: www.tulcingorestaurant.com
We should probably just go ahead and install a permanent daily link to our favorite online read Manhattan User's Guide. We try to never, ever miss what's on editor Charlie Suisman's mind.
Take today, for instance:
"...Take a look at Gourmet's picks of the country's Top 50 Restaurants: nothing around here has caused the buzz of Chicago's Alinea. There are four New York restaurants in the top 10: Per Se, Masa, Daniel, Le Bernardin — all fine restaurants certainly, but all event restaurants, and all well-established — no surprises like Alinea. As for the rest of that list, Babbo, Jean Georges, Gramercy Tavern are on it — again, all wonderful places, but where are the exciting young chefs bursting out of the pack?
...If we were In Charge of Things, we'd never have installed Paul Liebrandt at Gilt (was there ever a more Reagan-era-sounding name?). Instead, we'd pair him up with pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, find a place downtown, say on Washington Street, build them an amazing kitchen, a cool-looking but unpretentious dining room, steal the Danny Meyer service playbook, and ignore food costs for as long as we could. Who knows what you'd get — it wouldn't exactly be the small, personal restaurant we dream about, but it would be some show."
You can sign up for a FREE subscription to
Manhattan User's Guide here.
On the heels of Bill Buford's disturbing report in The New Yorker that the Food Network wasn't renewing the shows of respected food professionals Mario Batali and Sara Moulton, Gourmet announces the October 7th debut of its own TV show "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie" produced in conjunction with Boston's WGBH.
Given Ruth Reichl's standards, we'll take that as some much-needed happy news this week for quality food programming.
Our thanks to our friend Lisa Wood, who thoughtfully forwarded us a link to the feature on Nobelist Paul Greengard (whom we had the great pleasure of meeting through her) in yesterday's New York Times, "A Conversation with Paul Greengard: He Turned His Nobel Into a Prize for Women," on the establishment of the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize for an outstanding female biomedical researcher:
"...Of the 184 medical Nobelists, only 7 have been women. 'I hoped
to bring more attention to the work of brilliant women scientists,' Dr. Greengard recently explained at this laboratory at Rockefeller University in New York. 'Perhaps this will bring them further recognition and even a Nobel.'"
What an inspiring example for men and women alike as to what they can do to promote the recognition of extraordinary women. Our congratulations — and thanks — to Paul for choosing to honor his mother, and the important work of women, in this manner.
Beer and pizza pairing is the topic of Jay Dedrick's piece in the Rocky Mountain News yesterday, offering up yet more proof that food and beverage pairing is here to stay!
Moderator Rozanne Gold introduces panelists Abigail Kirsch,
Louisa Hargrave, Dorothy Cann Hamilton,
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 — Wearing a stunning off-one-shoulder gown at last night's panel discussion at the Union League Club hosted by Les Dames d'Escoffier, Rozanne Gold wins our vote as the most glamorously dressed panel moderator we've ever seen.
We were happy to be able to pop in for a few minutes on our way to and from other commitments to see this line-up, which provided us with yet another woman candidate for next year's Rising Star galas (see Sept. 25th Blog): Alexandra Guarnaschelli of Butter.
The entire panel included:
Moderator: Rozanne Gold, Chef/Director, The Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co., and award-winning cookbook author
Donatella Arpaia, Restaurateur, Dona, david burke & donatella
Dorothy Cann Hamilton, CEO/Founder, French Culinary Institute
Ariane Daguin, Owner, D'Artagnan
Florence Fabricant, Columnist, The New York Times and Nation's Restaurant News
Alexandra Guarnaschelli, Chef, Butter restaurant
Louisa Hargrave, Vintner, Oenologist and Winemaker
Abigail Kirsch, Founder/Owner, Abigail Kirsch Culinary Productions
The Web site of Les Dames d'Escoffier International can be found at www.ldei.org.
In today's mail, we just received a copy of Natalie MacLean's new book Red, White and Drunk All Over. Don't you love that cover? We even enjoyed the back cover, so we're sharing highlights:
“There’s everything here: old stories and new, an inquiring mind and bags of enthusiasm.”
—Hugh Johnson, author of The World Atlas of Wine
“Teetotalers, beware! This is…bound to make a wine lover out of everyone who picks it up.”
—Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, James Beard Award–winning authors of Becoming a Chef, Culinary Artistry, and
What to Drink with What You Eat
“Abandon your inhibitions as [Natalie MacLean] takes you through the wonderful world of wine.”
—Louisa Thomas Hargrave, director, Stony Brook University Center for Wine, Food and Culture
“[I]mpossible to resist. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.”
—Michael Ruhlman, author of The Reach of a Chef and coauthor of The French Laundry Cookbook
“[B]eyond being a terrific writer, [MacLean] is also fun company.”
—Danny Meyer, coauthor of The Union Square Cafe Cookbook and author of Setting the Table
Rising Star Sommelier Arnaud Devulder of db bistro moderne
Left: The Swartland Winery Steen that Arnaud poured for us
Right: The wine's distributor Nick tells us more upstairs
Left: Chef Franklin Becker and his sous chef at their street cart
Right: Becker's irresistible mini foie gras hot dog
Chef Alex Urena of Urena serves up great raw tuna with caviar
Alain Ducasse chef Tony Esnault (r.) and his lamb lollipops
Crowds gather around August chef Tony Liu's cart for a taste of
his "soldiers" with cheese sauce, reminiscent of Welsh rarebit!
Hanging out with the team from Daniel and OpenTable.com:
Brett Traussi of Daniel, Liz Johannesen of OpenTable.com,
Andrew Dornenburg, and Michael Lawrence of Daniel
Monday, September 25, 2006 — We hope you'll plan to join us one week from today — on Monday, October 2nd — as we launch our "Virtual Book Tour" in celebration of our brand-new book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers (which is just starting to hit the shelves of better bookstores everywhere!).
Our schedules have been heating up as we move toward the book's official publication date next Monday. We were delighted to learn that WHAT TO DRINK will soon be featured in the pages of magazines ranging from In Style to Newsweek to Real Simple, and excited about the opportunity to help everyone in America bring more pleasure into their lives through something they already do three times a day: eat and drink!
We've been so busy that we're long overdue for a catch-up day to report on our latest food finds — so we'll get started now by thanking StarChefs.com for inviting us to stop by such an enjoyable salute to some of the brightest rising stars of the culinary industry at its Rising Star Revue Gala at Crobar last Wednesday night! We were happy to see so many of our favorite up-and-coming chefs among those featured.
We were just about to write that we couldn't imagine how the event could be improved when it hit us: Hmmm...Was there really only one woman Rising Star? Where were Charleen Badman of Inside and/or Alexandrea Raij of Tia Pol and/or many other women who are well-qualified for this recognition? We'd love to see more deserving women featured in the future, and can recommend the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs organization as a resource for more ideas.
StarChefs.com is at www.starchefs.com.
Food for Thought: Bill Buford's column on the Food Network in this week's issue of The New Yorker. To wit:
"'It's a conscious move,” Anthony Bourdain lamented when I spoke to him. “The Food Network is weeding out the Old Guard real-chef cooking shows like missing Molotovs — ‘Molto Mario,' Sara Moulton.”
"...For more than two decades the cost of going to restaurants or getting takeout has risen less than the annual rate of inflation — that it's much less expensive today than at any other moment in our history to pay other people to prepare our dinner. Never in our history as a species have we been so ignorant about our food. And it is revealing about our culture that, in the face of such widespread ignorance about a human being's most essential function — the ability to feed itself — there is now a network broadcasting into ninety million American homes, entertaining people with shows about making coleslaw."
MetLife, on our stroll to Evergreen Shanghai on 38th Street
Evergreen Shanghai, on 38th St. between Madison and Fifth
Entering the dining room of Evergreen Shanghai
Placing our soup dumplings on soup spoons before opening,
slurping the soup, seasoning with soy, and happily eating!
Evergreen's turnip shortcakes and preserved duck appetizers
The dining room at Evergreen Shanghai on 38th Street
For dessert, complimentary fresh orange slices and grapes
MetLife Building, on our stroll home after dinner
Monday, September 18, 2006 — We hope you'll plan to join us two weeks from today — on Monday, October 2nd — as we launch our "Virtual Book Tour" in celebration of our brand-new book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers (which is due to hit the shelves of better bookstores everywhere this week or next!).
Every week day next month, we'll "visit" another Web site on the Internet that has agreed to feature WHAT TO DRINK on that particular date. You might find an announcement, a book review, an author Q&A, or something altogether different that our host has managed to dream up!
And we're absolutely thrilled with the line-up of distinguished and popular Web sites that have graciously and good-naturedly agreed to participate in our Virtual Book Tour, which include some of the Web's most lauded food blogs — including a number of our fellow NY Times Company's GourmetFood.About.com "Top Ten Food Blogs." You'll find sites covering everything from chocolate to cocktails to Mexican food to wine — and even a quirky site or two (including one by a wine writer who blogs from bed, as reported in The New York Times), just for the sheer fun of it!
We love Shanghai soup dumplings, and have traveled all over Manhattan for them — to Chinatown, for the famous ones at Joe's Shanghai, and to the East 50s, for those at Shanghai Tea Garden. So you can imagine our delight to discover a Shanghai restaurant serving them just a few minutes' walk from our doorstep!
Last night, we were so tired we had to pass on our friend Sarah's 11th hour invitation to join her for dinner at a new restaurant we'd been wanting to try, because we consider it rather rude to fall asleep in our soup. (But she's promised a report that we can share — right, Sarah?)
Instead, we strolled over to Evergreen Shanghai for some soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, shredded turnip shortcakes, and preserved duck marinated in aniseed and cassia bark (hint: think cinnamon for the cassia).
Not only are Evergreen Shanghai's soup dumplings (officially termed "Steamed Juicy Buns with Crab Meat & Pork" on the menu, $6.95 for 6) just as good as at other better-known restaurants, but after a half-dozen or so visits to the restaurant, we've always found the service to be pleasant and efficient.
Whenever we've visited for dinner, more than half the restaurant's clientele have appeared to be Chinese...which we always take as a good sign. In fact, the restaurant's delivery menu boasts a quote from the New York Times' Eric Asimov: "If Evergreen ever did get a prize for its menu, I thought, it ought to get one for its food, too: Most Authentic [Shanghai cuisine]."
Evergreen Shanghai is at 10 East 38th Street (bet. Madison & Fifth Aves.), New York City. Phone: (212) 448-1199.
We'd like to send a special "hello" today to Michael Whiteman, whom we were flattered to recently learn is a regular reader of our Blog! Who spilled the beans? Why, his lovely and talented wife, of course:
"Have been away from my computer for several days. But it was lovely to come back to your note...and blog. Thank you!
It seems as though your blog is now part of Michael's daily reading...along with the Economist and the New York Times. Nice work!
Hope to see you soon!"
—Rozanne [Gold, the multiple James Beard Award-winning author, who is coming out with Kids Cook 1-2-3 next month!]
Celebrating Le Du's Wines one-year anniversary; Andrew Dornen-
burg, Karen Page and Jean-Luc Le Du at his gorgeous wine store
(Photo credit for photo at right: Andy, of Le Du's Wines)
Le Du's Wines is one of the most beautiful wine stores ever
Le Du's own Chardonnay, in conjuction with Au Bon Climat
Terroir (aka dirt!) from wine country on display under glass
Hog-riding oenophiles take the party outside!
Inside's trully stellar crispy corn fritters, served with aioli
Inside salad with nectarines, goat cheese and walnuts
Our trout entree, which the kitchen thoughtfully split for us
Lisa Fortunato and Charleen Badman, hard at work on the line;
Inside's kitchen wall shrine to the Mets!
The new street-level location of Varsano's Chocolates on W. 4th;
Andrew Dornenburg and Marc Varsano at the site-in-progress
Sunday, September 17, 2006 — Our congratulations to James Beard Award winner Jean-Luc Le Du (formerly of Restaurant Daniel) on the one-year anniversary of his gorgeous wine store Le Du's Wines in the West Village!
We're delighted we had a chance to drop by the store last night to help Jean-Luc celebrate, over a taste or two of some of the hard-to-find, delicious wines he carries (including several bottles of our favorite Channing Daughters wines from Long Island!).
Afterward, we headed to one of our long-time favorite restaurants Inside — which earned a spot on New York magazine's "100 Best Cheap Eats" list (as #25) — for a bite, ending perhaps the longest-ever spell we've gone without visiting the restaurant (i.e. a few months). We realized what we'd been missing with every extraordinary bite of the dishes created by chef Charleen Badman in tandem with sous chef Lisa Fortunato.
That's why we've vowed to make Inside the restaurant we visit most often over the rest of 2006. (We suspect our new favorite Moroccan Darna, on Second Avenue near 34th Street, will take a close second.) Hope to see you there! (P.S. Our congratulations to law school sweethearts Denise and Kirk on celebrating their 17-year wedding anniversary there last night! And, during this five-year anniversary month, our heartfelt best wishes to the wife and family of Junior Jimenez. No, none of us who knew him have forgotten. We'll never forget.)
As we went in search of a cab home, Andrew pointed out the soon-to-be new location of Varsano's, our favorite chocolatier. Disappointed not to be able to see through the papered windows, Karen gave the door a little push (or was it a tug?) — and found it opened to late-working owner Marc Varsano, who gave us the grand tour of his work-in-progress. We'll be among the first to return in three weeks to check out the finished ground floor space, which promises to be an even more beautiful haven for chocolate lovers than his old upstairs spot across West Fourth Street.
Le Du's Wines is at 600 Washington Street (near Leroy), New York City. (212) 924-6999. Web: www.leduwines.com
Inside is at 9 Jones Street (bet. West Fourth Street & Bleecker), New York City. Phone: (212) 229-9999. Web: www.eatinside.com Inside, which was rated #1 in New York magazine's "Top 5 Brunch Spots," is now open for brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays.
Varsano's Chocolate is at 179 West Fourth Street (bet. Sixth and Seventh Aves.), New York City. Web site-in-progress: www.kfspr.com/marc
"There’s much to love about Charleen Badman’s seasonal comfort-food menu [at Inside], not least the signature matzo brei owner Anne Rosenzweig brought downtown with her from Lobster Club."
—New York magazine, in naming Inside as having
the "#1 Best Brunch" in 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006 — Today, Chris Pearce of The Joy of Sake writes: "The Joy of Sake is coming up in two weeks, and I'd like to ask
for your kokua (Hawaiian for "heartfelt cooperation"). Can you
please send the attached e-flier to three people who you think
might enjoy this year's Joy of Sake event? We can't place ads
in the New York Times or on TV, and need the help of people
who appreciate sake to get the word out.
Thanks for any assistance you can provide. And don't forget
to come to the Sake Ohana table on September 28 to pick
up your free tasting glass.
The Joy of Sake"
The Joy of Sake is the largest sake tasting event outside of Japan, and will be held on Thursday, September 28, 2006, from 6:00 - 8:30 pm at The Puck Building in New York City.
More than 250 sakes will be featured, paired with delicious tastes from 15 leading New York City restaurants, including Bao 111, Kai, oms/b, Riingo, Sakagura, Sushi Samba, Toqueville, and wd-50. $75/pp.
For details, click here.
The cheese buffet at Picholine's celebration of its redesign
Picholine chef-owner Terrance Brennan & Andrew Dornenburg
Picholine's kitchen staff hard at work on the hors d'oeuvres
The delicious passed hors d'oeuvres at Picholine's party
"Parmesan cheese is arguably the greatest cheese in the world.
It's the only cheese with an entire cuisine behind it."
— Terrance Brennan, as quoted in CULINARY ARTISTRY
Thursday, September 14, 2006 — We have been admirers of chef Terrance Brennan and his stellar restaurant Picholine for more than a decade. We have celebrated anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine's Day, and even our friends Rikki Kileman and Bill Bratton's wedding there. We long for our annual summer pilgrimage to taste his white gazpacho, which is one of Karen's favorite dishes of all time. And thanks to Terrance Brennan, we always have aged Parmesan cheese on hand in our refrigerator.
Picholine has been the site of more than one photo shoot for our books, as well as shoots for everything from our "Chef's Night Out" show that aired on TaxiVu to our Lifetime Television interview hosted by a former Miss America. (As they'd forgotten their credit card at Picholine after dining there the night before, our Lifetime shoot was interrupted by the arrival of Kyra Sedgwick and her husband Kevin Bacon, who saw the lights and camera and good-naturedly quipped with arms spread, "I'm ready for my close-up!")
So there was no way we were going to miss the grand reopening of Picholine on Tuesday night following its recent redesign. The place looks great, with an expanded bar area, new color scheme, and new art on the walls. Based on the delicious hors d'oeuvres we sampled, what hasn't changed is the excellent caliber of the cuisine — or its emphasis on extraordinary cheeses! (Two cheese carts were at the ready.)
It was a pleasure to see Terrance Brennan and arguably America's leading cheese expert Max McCalman — both of whom we've featured in our books — looking so well, and to run into fellow author Rozanne Gold and her friend and newly-appointed online food editor of New York magazine Josh Ozersky, Martha Stewart "EatDrink" radio's Lucinda Scala Quinn, and Citymeals director Marcia Stein.
We'll look forward to returning for dinner in the weeks to come to check out the new menu, as well as the promised new bar menu and wine flights. And we'll keep our eyes open: You never know whom you'll run into next at a star-studded place like Picholine.
Picholine is at 35 W. 64th Street (bet. Broadway and Central Park West), New York City. (212) 724-8585. Web: www.artisanalcheese.com
Delicious, albeit burn-your-mouth hot, gyoza at Rai Rai Ken
The pristine steam-filled kitchen at Rai Rai Ken
#11 Shio Ramen seafood noodle soup at Rai Rai Ken
Bamn! is a new automat on St. Mark's Place
Insert quarters; remove food
Macaroni & cheese kroquettes ($2), our sole recommendation
Caracas, the tiny East 7th Street shrine to arepas
Our chicken and avocado (front) and shredded beef arepas;
Caracas' colorful wall mural above the water station
First Avenue Pierogi & Deli
Kurowycky and J. Baczynsky sell our favorite ham in the city
Sunday, September 10, 2006 — You can take it as a sign of how busy we've been that this is the first blog entry we've managed in two weeks. (Chalk it up to our racing to finish our next next book before our next book comes out October 2nd.) Luckily for all us hard-working New Yorkers, all it takes to embark on an around-the-world vacation is a few hours in the East Village.
Our mini-vacation there the other day turned out to be a reminder of how much seemingly every culture around the globe — from the Japanese to the Poles to the Venezuelans — loves little stuffed dumplings or croquettes.
We adored the perfectly cooked (i.e. crispy on one side and meltingly tender on the other) gyoza (fried vegetable and pork dumplings; $4.60) along with the bowl of shio ramen (seafood-based noodle soup topped with bamboo shoots, boiled egg, roast pork, spinach, fish cake, dry seaweed, and scallion; $6.95) we enjoyed at tiny 14-seat noodle bar Rai Rai Ken, which deservingly earned a spot (as #50) on New York magazine's "Best Cheap Eats" list.
Having passed the new automat Bamn! on the way there, we doubled back to check it out. We missed out on the whole New York Horn and Hardart experience of years past, so we were curious. We parted with a dozen quarters to be able to taste the macaroni and cheese kroquettes (surprisingly creamy and cheesy macaroni encased in a surprisingly crisp crust; 8 quarters) as well as the fried doughnuts (flat-out awful; 4 quarters).
And we sampled a couple of arepas (South American stuffed cornmeal cakes) at Caracas Arepa Bar (#96 on New York magazine's "Cheap Eats" list), a soulful hole-in-the-wall that was so packed we had to return twice before we found an open table. We took the recommendations of the nice guy at the cash register and tried the A-6 Reina Pepiada (chunky chicken and avocado salad arepa; $4.95) and the A-8 Venezuelan national dish arepa (shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese and sweet plantains; $5.25). While they were both tasty and while we can understand why many people like them, we suspect that arepas just aren't our thing.
Thinking ahead for future meals, we also picked up a dozen assorted pierogi (Polish dumplings stuffed with cheese, meat, mushrooms, potato and/or sauerkraut) from First Avenue Pierogi & Deli, which features the pierogi-making prowess of the aunt of one of the butchers down the block at Kurowycky, where we also picked up some ham. Looking forward to a ham taste-off, we also picked up some ham at J. Baczynsky (where they thoughtfully offered us a complimentary taste of their delicious cheese blintz, and their ham is a favorite of restaurateur Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy's). Both hams have their merits; they are two of our favorites in the city.
Our work schedule doesn't have a vacation in the cards any time soon...so it's especially nice to know we can escape to just about any neighborhood in Manhattan to enjoy a taste that can instantly transport us somewhere else — if only for a moment!
Bamn! is at 37 St. Mark's Place, New York City. (212) 358-7685. Web: www.bamnfood.com.
Caracas Arepa Bar is at 93 1/2 E. 7th Street, New York City. (212) 529-2314. Web: www.caracasarepabar.com.
First Avenue Pierogi & Deli is at 130 First Avenue, New York City. (212) 420-9690.
J. Baczynsky (aka East Village Meat Market and Deli) is at
139 Second Avenue (near 9th St.), New York City. (212)
Kurowycky Meat Products is at
124 First Avenue (bet. 7th & 8th Sts.), New York City. (212)
Rai Rai Ken is at 214 E. 10th Street, New York City. (212) 477-7030.
We decided to rent a DVD this afternoon, and on our way out of the store after we'd already made another selection, Karen impulsively ended up also spotting and grabbing "Friends with Money" (2006) to rent from a pile of DVDs just being returned. While we didn't recall the reviews as being stellar, we both like the ensemble cast of actresses (Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, and Frances McDormand) and wanted to check it out. Only after viewing it did we recall that it was also the work of writer / director Nicole Holofcener, whose "Lovely and Amazing" (2001) we'd admired — and which had allowed Karen the pleasure of both seeing her 1979-81 across-the-hall dorm mate Ileen Getz on the big screen and reconnecting with her.
In fact, Karen had emailed Ileen her congratulations, and Ileen had emailed back thanks and a quick catch-up, several times over the past several years upon every new spotting: as the woman volunteer handing out AIDS ribbons on the infamous "sponge-worthy" episode of "Seinfeld" (1995), in the films "Lovely and Amazing" (2001) and "Changing Lanes" (2002), and in the quirky and delightful "The Station Agent" (2003). Tonight in "Friends with Money," Karen was happy to spot Ileen as Catherine Keener's neighbor, looking thinner and more fabulous than in any of her prior roles, and looked forward to emailing her congratulations and the usual catch-up.
Except when she looked Ileen up in the Northwestern alumni directory, it shared the shocking news that Ileen was deceased. A quick Google search netted this item in the August 18, 2005 issue of Variety:
Theater, TV and film actress Ileen Getz died Thursday August 4 from cancer in New York. She was 44.
Getz was best known for her role as the humorless Judith Draper on "Third Rock from the Sun." "Ileen came out of nowhere. She was hired for a tiny role in an unsympathetic part. She dropped into our laps and instantly became a member of the 'Third Rock' family. We couldn't do without the character and we couldn't do without Ileen," said "Third Rock" star John Lithgow.
Getz worked on Broadway, at Lincoln Center, The Manhattan Theater Club and the Williamstown Theater Festival. She performed in the play "Hurrah at Last," a role written for her by Richard Greenberg, at the South Coast Rep and the Gramercy Theater. She also starred in Greenberg's "Night and her Stars" at Manhattan Theater Club.
Born in Bristol, Penn., she attended Northwestern University and then became a member of Chicago's Econo-Art Theater Company and Practical Theater Company.
She appeared in TV shows including "Queens Supreme," "Law & Order," "That 70's Show," "Chicago Hope," "NYPD Blue," "Cybill," "Seinfeld" and "Caroline in the City." Her film credits include roles in "Changing Lanes," "The Station Agent," "Celebrity," "Friends with Money," "The Next Big Thing," "Lovely and Amazing," "A Hole in One" and the soon to be released "Social Grace."
She is survived by her husband, Mark Grinnell, two children and a brother.
Belated heartfelt sympathies go out to Ileen's family and closest friends (who included Catherine Keener, for whom Ileen expressed the highest regard as an actress and as a friend). Having lived in close quarters for two years with Ileen's deep, hearty laugh and irrepressible sense of humor, Karen, too, mourns the loss at far too young an age of this talented comedic actress and long-time friend.
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