August 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Last night, I had the pleasure of dinning with a couple of old friends, who appreciate food as much as I do, so I let Paige drive our dinner choice. Her pick? The Fat Radish, and it was not disappointing.
The restaurant is in the lower east side, but you would never find it just strolling around. It resides on a street with no other open restaurants or shops. It is for the outsider, a bit uncomfortable to walk down a dark street that is totally closed up, but Paige and Christopher have been living in this neighborhood for several years, and they move comfortably and confidently down the block to the restaurant. I love it from the entrance, which is dimly lit and yet not at all dark feeling because of the light white washed feel and the rustic decor that bespeaks its farm to table approach to food and wine. We were welcomed by the comforting and inviting smell of roasted summer vegetables, as if ratatouille was the latest fragrance from Pottery Barn Home.
We start at the bar. The wines by the glass are interesting, and this makes me happy as I order a glass of Gavi di Gavi, a crisp minerally white from the Piedmont. This is a popular choice these days, I often have customers request it, so I am always glad to try a new one that may find its way onto my shelves.
It is surprising to me that they actually have two Gavi’s on what is a short though good list by the glass. I take this as a good sign that they are thoughtful about their choices because it is a great choice for food. It is a white that is interesting despite its seemingly simple appearance. On first tasting it, it seems relatively easy, nice but not noteworthy, but as it comes up to temperature a bit, it releases some interesting floral aromatics and shows the complexity of both a toasted nutty note on the finish along with a briny mineral flavor that makes my mouth water and my stomach call out for food.
We ordered a couple starters, Dukkah on naan, which I had never even heard of before. I quickly grab my iphone and look it up. Thanks to technology, I learned that dukka is a Buddhist term loosely translated into “life is suffering,” but it is tied to understanding the four noble truths and understanding that all things are temporary. Most translators resist translating the word because of the impossibility of doing justice in English, and this linguistic difficulty is telling when I try to describe to you the dish, which I think shares the name. I should say that dukkah, spelled with an h at the end is an Egyptian spice blend of seeds, nuts, and spices that are ground into a rough powder….nothing at all to do with the Buddhist term, but We really tried to create some interesting connections….maybe it was the Gavi, but that was the thread of my thoughts. At any rate, the dukkah on naan was innovative and flavorful, and it was surprising.
The best plate of the night was the zucchini and tomato starter, simple but perfectly cooked and so satisfying. That is the thing about summer vegetables, sourced locally, they are so fresh that they taste alive.
All of the main courses were delicious, too, each one with a variety of vegetables, greens, and fresh herbs. The meals are simple, but they shine because the ingredients are of the very best quality.
August 19, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I wish it were easier to keep up with this blog, but I am going to skip the self-criticism and move directly to a description of my brief food journey to New York City.
It has been a series of mishaps that have brought me here, beginning with a food show, that was last month, (don’t ask, it is too embarrassing), then I was early for my 9.45 am train that actually departed at 9.12 am (again, don’t ask), safely arriving in Penn Station, I left my papers and sun glasses on the seat before I navigated the subway (and, yes, my sense of city savvy was diminished considerably when I realized that I left the sunglasses behind). Okay, but here I am in New York, so my mission is to eat at as many restaurants as possible, seeking new combinations, inspiration for new menu ideas, new products, and fabulous wine pairings. It is a tough job, but I will do my best for you.
Before strapping on the feedbag, I ventured on a short run to build up am appetite. Have you been on the Highline? Up till now, I had only heard about how great it was, and now I know.
From the crowded Highline, I headed to the Hudson River Park, which is aptly named winding along the Hudson, so cool. Having burned sufficient calories, I am ready for some food and wine!
Pastis is not new, and it is one of many brasserie style restaurants in New York. I am not alone in my love of all things French, and it is conveniently located across from my hotel in the Meat Packing District. It has a welcoming atmosphere, and the moment you walk through the door you are transported to Paris…I wish I were being adventuresome, but I go for the favorite…
That is right, and I challenge you to find a better choice! Their salad niçoise has a nice balance of arugula for crispness and peppery flavors with the salad’s other salty and sweet combinations, like the shaved fennel and olives, or the seared tuna, with its char and salt with the sweet bell peppers roasted in olive oil. Yes, I admit, fresh tuna is taking the salad to a different level, fancier than the canned tuna that traditionally adorns the plate, but simply put, it tastes good, particularly when the chef gets that charred bit on the outside, which compliments the other flavors so well. With my salad, I am enjoying a simple cotes du provence rosé, which I have said enough about before, but will just add that the freshness of this simple refreshing wine paired with the acidity of the salad makes me feel nourished and cleansed in equal parts. A satisfying, if simple, meal. The surprising thing about the is combination is the fennel and the rosé, these two flavors make me want to roast up some fennel, gratin style, and just smear it on some crusty french bread, thickly cut, and smothered with French butter with Fleur de sel and a glass of rosé….maybe that will be on the menu at LPG next week….
more later from the Chelsea Food Market!
April 30, 2013 § Leave a Comment
As much as I adore Newport,it is so nice to go adventuring beyond the bridge when the Gestapo is not watching. As luck would have it, I was able to sneak out without detection and head to Boston. Have you heard of this town? It is fantastic, to put it plainly.
You may detect a little sarcasm in my voice, but that is directed at myself. I grew up in Massachusetts, in a small nearly rural town called Oxford. We went to Boston on rare occasion for one of two things: a Red Sox game and/or a meal in the North End. Now, in my parents defense, both are a worthy day trip, by themselves, and when done in tandem, well that is a damn good day. That said, I grew up thinking of Boston as a sport’s town with a damn good plate of pasta….but there is much more to this dynamic city, and I am beginning what I think will be a long love affair with its culture, history, beauty, food, and people.
Today, I returned to the city after a brief hiatus, and I felt the energy and strength of a city aware of its recent events and defiant of the possibility that such an event would slow it down. The sun shone lavishly on the Commons, where the trees are in bloom, the street buskers are playing music, the children are playing sports that involve a wide variety of balls and wheels and an abundance of shrieks of pleasure (yes, for those that know me, I found that part mildly annoying, but I was trying to move through the world in a spirit of love and peace), and the dogs were….well, it is spring, enough said.
So, I walked, as this city calls one to do. From the far reaches of the North End to the Urban Outfitters on Newbury…meandered through Beacon Hill, and who would not want to live there with its comforting brick brownstones, and narrow passages, sweet boutiques, oh, and that sandwich at the Paramount piled high with fresh roasted turkey and avocado…yes, I am inspired, which is why I do this, so I will add this sandwich to the menu for summer! mostly because I want to eat it! Did I mention the sweet potato fries? yeah, that good, and it gave me the energy
to complete my French homework (okay, I was close to done…but I did not skip!).
After walking till the blisters were unbearable, I found a stool at Drink, a lively bar with a small but interesting wine list, a ver accommodating staff, and a delicious menu of bar-bites.
To borrow from Fletch, if this phot were at all legible….you would see a fabulous glass of languedoc white, yes I will find it, and a plate of smoked salmon pierogies….yummmmm… a great day in beantown…
March 18, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The truth is that I installed a kitchen in the gourmet shop because I thought that I could relieve myself of the stress, expense, and hassle of finding decent prepared foods for my customers, but what I did, in reality, was create a third job for myself. Okay, we live and learn. Good news is that people seem to like it, but ( and, of course, there is always the other part, right?) I am seriously overwhelmed by how much work this is. I am just barely getting the stuff cooked in time for the afternoon lunch, so I will have to take a hall pass temporarily on the posts that I promised. I am going to get there, but for now I better just get the food cooked, and try to do that well. Always new challenges that keep me striving to do all of this better for you and for myself….all for the love of food and wine, it is my mission;)
I am about to revise the menu for spring veggies…send me your favorite soup recipes. Please, keep it simple! I won’t make anything with more than 7 ingredients( two of which are salt & pepper), and if making it requires that I hunt for days for some esoteric ingredient only found in the underbelly of the dragon, save that one for someone more courageous than me!
February 24, 2013 § 3 Comments
I decided today that I had to get the pizza “down,” so to speak, so I started with the dough, paying a little closer attention to the amounts of flour and water, and waiting for the yeast to fully pitch before tossing it into the mixer with the flour, and letting the dough properly rise for a full hour before baking. The toppings, as usual were simple–gravy (that is what we always called tomato suave at my house), Parmesan, cured black olives, fresh Greek oregano, and tallegio. I set the timer on my preheated oven, and low and behold…it came out quite good! We cannot rush these things, lesson learned, and I assure you I will continue that same practice because the lofty dough was just right.
Sorry, late again with this post. As I mentioned this new kitchen is kicking my &$)!?, but I am getting there.
Going to tackle beef stew tomorrow…it will be ready to go home on Tuesday, so pop in and grab one for dinner with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
February 23, 2013 § 3 Comments
Running a small business is no simple task, but sometimes keeping things simple is precisely what one needs to do. I just realized that I should probably follow up with another post, now that things have quieted down a little bit. It is the quiet lull in the middle of the day, when I finally have a minute to think.
Okay, I will be honest, I have no idea what I am doing, just seemed like Newport needed some yummy quick lunch items. Having spent a month in France last fall, where there are so many wonderful cafés where one can sit, snack, have a glass of rose, and do so in comfort with the company of others from the community, maybe strike a conversation at the community table. They do it in even smaller spaces then mine, so why not, right? Well, that was just what I thought, and now I am quickly learning how much work it is.
That said, I am having a lot of fun. I am working on mastering Thomas Keller’s quiche recipe, recreating Grandma Rose’s pizza, coming up with hearty soups to warm the core on cold days, create panini ideas, fresh salads, and, yes, I am trying, to also run the wine shop…it is a challenge, but who needs sleep?!?
I have learned a lot in the last few weeks, but the best lesson is from a local food hero, Jake Rojas, who advised me to…well, keep it simple…(you know the rest, right?); so, that is my plan for now. I will keep working on the soups, quiches, frittata, pizza, and panini (and a few extra things here and there), and when all that feels comfortable, I will make some additions. Yes, I mentioned tartine, well, yes, I may try to add that next week.
In France, every cafe has one, and it changes frequently, but I am thinking about a pain bagnat, which is an open face sandwich with canned oil packed tuna, hard boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, olive tapenade, fresh tomatoes and crisp lettuce, caper vinaigrette…kind of salad nicoise served on an opened baguette…not a bad idea, I think…but, other than that, I am going to stick with the menu items that you have been enjoying. I will keep trying new ways to improve upon them!
I know I had mentioned some take home items, for now, I will have roasted chickens, almost always, and on occasion roasted porkloin or beef tenderloins, with a galette, which is a simple potato cake made with copious amounts of butter and salt, as a potato should, and quite frankly, wants to.
I am in lpg most mornings until 2, and then you can find me most afternoons in the wine shop. It is a bit like business yoga, I need to stretch out on both sides so I stay balanced. In an effort to do so, I had a glass of rose with my quiche…and that worked out quite well;)
Thanks so much for all your feedback and support while I am exercising these new muscles! cheers, m