Category Archives: Chefs

A Little Bourdain for your Monday

image c/o Zimbio.com

Welcome to the new week, folks! To start your Monday off right, here’s a link to a really amazing piece from chefs Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain on fast food from The Huffington Post. If you have a minute on your lunch break (or maybe during Monday’s morning meeting?) watch and be dazzled by the snark and sass of these two lovely men.

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Viva Italia!

 

Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Joseph Bastianich, and Mario Batali: three of the brains behind Eataly (photo c/o Serious Eats)

 

On Monday, in honor of Columbus Day and being Italian and all, I finally made the trip to Eataly! I’ve been reading about it for months now and figured since I have my new camera and (I hoped) the crowds have died down a bit, I thought I’d make the trek.

Eataly is chef Mario Batali’s newest venture. It is essentially a mecca of Italian food, wine, and culture in the form of meats, seafood, cheeses, wine, gelato, espresso, homemade pasta, pastries, and even books. If it has something to do with Italy, you can find it at Eataly. Chefs and specialists prepare your food and answer any questions you could have about how to cook something, what to pair it with, and other details you never even knew you wanted to know.

Sounds pretty perfect, huh? Sure. Kind of. Uh huh. Every time I picked up a block of cheese or a slice of prosciutto I thought, “Yikes, that’s expensive.” Every time I walked by a table of people snacking on salami and sipping wine I thought, “Really? You like standing in this echoing warehouse packed with people trying to enjoy your twelve dollar glass of pinot noir?” Every time I smelled something delicious I was instantly distracted by the flashing flat screen TVs advertising trips to Italy and sponsors of the market.

I began to dream of the little Italian shop in Chelsea Market called Buon Italia with endless Italian cookie imports and meats and cheeses but at standard prices served by traditional little Italian men and women who barely speak English.

Call me a traditionalist (or maybe I’m just poor?) but Eataly struck me as a glorified Whole Foods, and I’m a simple girl myself. I think for now, I’ll keep my distance.

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Oui, Oui Baby

Marinated fingerling potatoes

French food is my favorite cuisine. Hands down. And for my birthday, my parents took me to Gordon Ramsay’s Maze at The London where Monsieur Ramsay has created quite the menu. This $26 pre-fixe lunch is available year round, but right now it’s Restaurant Week and there is an additional pre-fixe menu for only $24.07. So… there’s really no reason not to go. Have you left yet? Okay, read the review first. And then go.

Tortellini of beef short rib

Maze by Gordon Ramsay at The London 54th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, New York, NY. Maze offers a standard 3-course pre-fixe meal for lunch with tapas-sized offerings. The food is French-inspired but in true Gordon Ramsay style, there is an element of comfort food and Asian fusion.

Pan seared halibut

On the menu:

Marinated fingerling potatoes with Holland leeks, poached quail’s egg, and prosciutto
Tortellini of beef short rib with escarole, trumpette royale and dashi
Cobb salad with free-range eggs and blue cheese
Pan-seared halibut with butternut squash and brown butter vinegar sauce
Boulliabaisse
Chocolate pudding with stout ice cream, pretzel, peanut butter powder
Vanilla custard with citrus fruits, brown sugar oats and mandarin sorbet

Cobb salad (minus the bacon for my veg mom)

Verdict: DEEEEELICIOUS! I read very mixed reviews of this restaurant online, but I was so impressed, as were my parents, and that’s saying something. I won’t try to run through every dish for you, but let me tell you that the sauces made these plates. My gorgeous halibut was set down in front of me and then the waiter poured the brown butter sauce over and I almost dove in head first. The chocolate pudding was also a stand out dish, and I don’t know what peanut butter powder is but I know I need more of it in my life. I went back to work in a food coma and was effectively useless for the rest of the day. In my book: success.

Boulliabaisse

Chocolate pudding

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Why Don’t You…

Dear friends,

This weekend I’m taking off and I’m leaving my computer behind. I’ll be back on Tuesday with brilliant posts about Garbage Plates and sweet cheese Belgian waffles (you can hardly stand the wait, right?) but in the meantime I leave you with this list of things that I would be doing if I was staying in town this weekend. So…

Why Don’t You…

Get your drink on all sneaky-like at a speakeasy like Dutch Kills (27-24 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City) or Please Don’t Tell (113 St. Marks Place).
Or, opening this weekend and offering free hot dogs (I said FREE HOT DOGS! Go people, go!) in the old East Side Company Bar space on the Lower East Side, Painkiller. 49 Essex Street at Grand Street

Take a culinary vacation from impending rain, use whatcha got, and pretend you’re in Australia while you eat Fairy Bread in bed whilst watching Young Einstein.

Feed your sweetheart little dollops of heaven via chopsticks at Blue Ribbon Sushi. 119 Sullivan Street

Watch Food, Inc. or Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, both available instantly on your Netflix.

Bask in the lusciousness of a $26 pre-fixe lunch menu at Nougatine by Jean-Georges (1 Central Park West); none of the wallet strain, all of the succulent flavor that this famous French chef is known for.

Nurse your Sunday morning hangover with a stack of sour cream pancakes, heavy on the syrup, at Bubby’s (120 Hudson Street). Just don’t look too ragged. It’s a notorious celebrity hangout and you wouldn’t want to miss your chance to woo Justin Timberlake, now would you? Thought so.

Happy weekend, kiddies!

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My Brush with Fame (or “The Day I Stalked the Food Network”)

After the unbelievable support from WordPress on Monday, I got a surge of confidence. I am surely bound for stardom, either as the smaller, cuter, slightly-less-off-putting Guy Fieri (taste testing diners for a living? YES PLEASE) or as the smaller, cuter, slightly-less-off-putting Rachael Ray. Today my horoscope told me that I’d meet someone who would help further my career. And the Food Network happened to be filming a segment at the Treats Truck parked right near my office. I figured I’d bump into a producer, pitch my idea for the best new food show ever, and be on TV in a matter of weeks.

The Food Network's Adam Gertler filming a segment on 38th St and 5th Avenue in Manhattan

I’m not famous… yet… but it was cool to see them filming. And I figured, “Heck, while I’m already RIGHT by the Treats Truck… might as well give them some business.” I purchased the Kitchen Sink Crispy Square, which I have to say was SLIGHTLY disappointing. It tasted like there was peanut butter mixed into the marshmallows holding the crispies together, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I think I was hoping for something like Momofuku Milk Bar‘s Compost Cookie, which has potato chips, coffee grounds, and probably some angel’s tears mixed in. It is heaven in cookie form. This crispy treat was “meh.” But lovely looking, no?

See the Whopper? Beautiful.

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Jean-Georges Nougatine

Sometimes, even as a lover of food, I forget why New York is great. It’s loud, its manic pace is constant, and as the weather gets warmer, the city gets smellier. I’m ready for a change. But then, out of the blue, I have a New York moment and I remember why there is no place like this place and how I will never be able to find another like her.

Jean-Georges with a Lady Who Lunches - a blurry camera picture because we were trying hard to be classy and discreet

When I sat down at a Jean-Georges restaurant near Central Park on Wednesday for lunch and Jean-Georges himself walked out of the kitchen, I felt like 13-year-old-Lauren would have felt if Jonathan Taylor Thomas had walked out of the kitchen. I’m not ashamed to say I got butterflies. He’s just that good.

Nougatine New York Magazine praises this little sun-filled restaurant at 1 Central Park West as “possibly the least heralded and most overlooked restaurant in town.” My good friend Becca invited me to lunch as payment for a cake I made her (seriously, does baking have its perks, or what?) and on the hottest day of an unseasonably warm April, we sat down for a posh meal where the dining room is run like a well-oiled machine and the Ladies Who Lunch throw birthday parties with Tiffany blue boxes as table favors.

On the menu:
Warm Beets and Rich Yogurt
field mache and lemon oil
Shrimp Salad
with avocado and tomato champagne vinegar dressing
Salt and Pepper Calamari
with citrus-chili dip
Roasted Red Snapper
with broccoli raab and sweet garlic-lemon broth
Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin
with miso butter and roasted brussel sprouts
Creme Caramel
with sacristan (puff pastry twisted and dipped in sugar) and citrus
Jean-Georges Warm Chocolate Cake
with vanilla bean ice cream
[the prix fixe meal allows you to choose 2 small plates plus a dessert for $26]

Salt and pepper calamari

Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin (blurry because I barely had time to snap this picture before I dove into the deliciousness)

Verdict: To. Die. For. “What’s in that, crack cocaine?” I wish I could say my dining partners and I said this only once. Everything was so delicious, warm, inviting. Each bite left all the right pleasant notes in my mouth. The portions were perfect, and I left the restaurant feeling sated and glowing. Forget the temperatures outside. I was radiating sunshine from inside. The prices at Nougatine are far more reasonable than any of Jean-Georges’ other restaurants in Manhattan, but it’s still not a cheap meal. I make it a point to seek out affordable, delicious meals in New York so believe me when I tell you this: if I had only $100 to spend on one final meal in New York City, I would take it to Nougatine.

Red Snapper

The famous Jean-Georges Chocolate Cake with vanilla bean ice cream

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Sweet Sixteen

When I was 16 years old, I was spending most of my time doing homework or rehearsing for the school play or bumming rides to the mall off of the handful of my friends who had cars and licenses. It was not a glamorous existence.

I’d say this kid is doing alright for himself at 16. Wow.

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