Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash carpaccio - a brilliant idea from the new Empire Hotel restaurant in New York via The Wall Street Journal. But one might need an industrial lunch meat cutter to try at home!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

8 Course Menu, One Hot Philadelphia Night

Chef Nicholas Elmi.
Photos By Dimitra DeFotis
I was honored to be a guest at a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Philadelphia dinner at the petite Laurel Restaurant.

Our party of eight spoke briefly with owner-chef Nicholas Elmi, who was named reality television's Top Chef in 2013. He told us the restaurant has applied for a liquor license, though it remains BYO for now. So each household brought at least two wines. There was alchohol left over - and much tasted and tossed.

Some highlights:  The first course, at left, was one of my two favorites: a light vegetable start, with nearly indiscernible slices of razor clam. With smoked trout roe, green tomato gelatin, cucumber and ponzu, accompanied by Pol Roger 1999 champagne. Some of our wines needed to be on ice -- it was 90 degrees and we were outdoors.

Second course was pink and blue: Foie gras with rhubarb, granola. The Chenin blanc was too heavy - I enjoyed a Sauternes. I think sweet-and-puffy grains belong in breakfast bowls - whole wheat berries might be better.

By the fourth course, with enough bottles tasted to lose count, I was never happier to eat starchy gnocchi - a light ricotta version. It was served with pickled spring onion, potato espuma. It was served with two Italian red wines. And there were still four more courses.

Gnocci, Tuscan & Altesino 
Brunello di Montalcino
Next was a risotto with Australian truffle, which is a new phenomenon that is already $1,100 per pound. But Chef Elmi said Australian truffle is $300 cheaper than the typical truffle. Less fragrant, still earthy. He said it wasn't ready for harvest for years. My review: it's fine but still not fabulous. See the photo of the biggest mound of truffle I will ever see on my plate.

My notes, at this point, say "Lord Have Mercy." This was my other favorite course: fish from the Carolinas, called Walu. Peach Chanterelle, Swiss chard, seaweed butter. Two white wines.

Subsequently there was duck. There was a tiny loaf of bread, and there was a lot of water. The rear garden was pretty.
Tokaji Hugarian dessert wine.

Dessert was just what the doctor ordered: caramelized white-chocolate pudding, almond and cherry. Port and a Sweet wine served. I begged for a coffee. Amazing experience.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tanoreen: Olives, Lemons & Za'atar

The fates sent me to Brooklyn instead of Wall Street tonight.
I love an adventure and "Fell Back Alone" listening to World Party, staying on the train to Bay Ridge and Tanoreen - a Michelin-rated bib gourmand Middle Eastern restaurant. It won't disappoint unless you can't handle red wine, heavy spices and the next table's raw kibbeh.
I had a cumin-spiced lentil-butternut squash spread, "a Gaza specialty," and mhammara, a red pepper, walnut, spicy spread. (It's similar to the Turkish salsa-like appetizer spread esme, but not as chunky nor sweet-sour.)
Accompaniment: za'atar toasted flatbread. And a nice French Pinot Noir (Cote du Rhône).
Innovative Palestinian Chef Rawia Bishara, with recipes influenced by the Mediterranean and Middle East, is a well-kept New York foodie secret. Her new cookbook is number two to Ottolenghi's latest cookbook. Check out "Olives, Lemons & Za'atar,"a beautiful cookbook. Only complaint: the index doesn't cross reference traditional names, which is what you find on restaurant menus.
Tanoreen's menu and website has Bishara's interesting story: she started the restaurant later in life, in the 1990s, with inspiration from her mother, a teacher-cook. Bishara says:
"What I truly loved and respected about my mother’s cooking and indeed the woman herself, was that she somehow “colored outside the lines” and enlivened her life and therefore her food with many creative flourishes."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Plenty of Veggies

Just in time for Great Lent, a lovely cookbook: "Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi."
Recipes are very simple: eggplant with pomegranate, za'atar and buttermilk sauce (pictured); beet, orange and olive salad; caramelized fennel with goat cheese; quinoa salad with dried Persian lime ....
Chef Yotam Ottolenghi also wrote a Jerusalem cookbook.
Separately, a new take on grilled cheese, Sfakianopita, a Greek flat bread, which seems to be a version of the famed plakotiganites yiayia prepared but no one can duplicate. The recipe was featured on an episode of the Cooking Odyssey on PBS, which maintains a fabulous list of Greek recipes

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Grape Leaves Stuffed To Perfection

Oh hello, Chef James Beard!
Even though people have been stuffing grape leaves for centuries, along with other veggies and leaves, the latest post from Beard Bites offers up something novel, something new! Grape leaves stuffed!
The recipe , with tomato, is adapted from Claudia Roden's classic cookbook on Middle Eastern cookery. Seems Beard has a new cookbook out, but Roden has interesting cookbook updates too. The simple Asia Minor/ Greek /Turkish version -- called "yalandzi" -- with rice, spice, olive oil and leaves, is superior, in my opinion.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yogurt Cotton Kandaki

Yiayia would have been perplexed at yogurt-and-lemon-infused cotton candy, but boy, that's the tastiest, most inventive Greek sweet I have consumed in ages.
And it just might be Lenten, too. Karidopita, baked with real honey to connote the consistency of flourless chocolate cake, but with the taste of walnuts and spices, cannot be Lenten!
Those desserts capped an otherwise just-okay meal last night at Anthos, the midtown restaurant opened by a guy named Michael Psilakis, one of New York's most celebrated new chefs since Mario Batali. Inventive twists on Greek themes are his thing; he also runs Kefi on the Upper West Side. My peeve: his salads are unpleasantly salty. No matter. The New York Times loves him Q&A here and review here, and Esquire named him Chef of the Year. He still buys tea and spices in Astoria, for the photographers anyway. I don't know how he'll do in Midtown in a recession, especially with a $35 prix fixe promo.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Istanbullda Birkadin

That means I'm a woman in Istanbul. And what an amazing city Istanbul is! There is no way I can see the modern art museum, and Topkapi might fall off the list too. On Monday, after visiting the Phanar, which is nearly on the water and a 10-minute cab ride from anything important to tourists, I wandered in the neighborhood. Lots of very old, brick-and-wood buildings being restored, but others very run down. I was told the "Fener" neighborhood is the most religiously conservative neighborhood in Istanbul; nearly every woman sported a headscarf and long coat over long dress. Fascinating too: a man selling garlic from a makeshift cart, hawking to second and third-story customers. From there, I hopped into a cab with two English speakers headed to Taksim Square -- they wouldn't let me pay -- and capped all this off with a walk from Taksim through the shopping street, Istiklal Caddesi (second photo here). The boys would love because a small red trolley runs up and down the street at very long intervals. I bought lots of little, Turkish things today: rose water (for a face toner or food flavoring), some antique post cards and Turkish music. (Books are very expensive here $50+) Huge New Year sales here. I found hand-knit baby booties from a villager selling on the street.
Had dinner by myself, wishing I had someone to talk to. But traveling alone means you meet more people, and experience more instead of concentrating on your companion. I asked in stores twice about places to eat, and landed in a bustling mezze taverna -- a "meyhane" -- the kind of place where locals have small portions of pan-seared fish, pickled greens that look like miniature olives leaves, spicy puree of tomato and raw onion, with raki diluted in water. It was perfect.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


In search of a frappe coffee this morning, I wandered into a Greek-owned take-out place on Wall Street called "Koyzina Kafe."

The front counter was lined with Nescafe coffee tins. Despite its Greek name, in Greek script no less, the only Greek food in the place was Fage-brand yogurt with cherry, strawberry or honey.

They serve frappe, but only iced, pre-made with milk and a decent amount of sugar.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ganesh in NY

Missing India, I dragged a friend today to Chennai Gardens, on 27th Street, for a veg meal of dosa, uttapam and a little halwah for dessert, Tamil Nadu style with almond and cardamom flavor.

Only in New York, it was kosher too. The neighborhood offers a tailor who will make jootis and a grocery with chai masala spices, rotis and packaged curries. Plus elephant-god Ganesh statues in brass for sale everywhere!

Even ABC Carpet & Home has gone Indian with a wall of Ganesh, remover of obstacles, in marble or wood, a floor-to-ceiling wall of fake-orange marigolds, stacks of hand-stitched Indian bed covers for $500 each and Indian jewelry (gemstones, gold and silver) at absolutely ridiculous prices.

I am thinking about Jaipur most. But I found a site where you can see its Rajasthani turbans, forts and even the Gem Palace in a Gem Palace video.