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*What I REALLY meant to say at the “Interesting Women of Nantuck

This morning, I attended an annual breakfast with some of the most amazing women alive, let alone on Nantucket.  I so enjoy this opportunity each summer–it beyond stimulating hearing about all the incredible projects and life achievements that these extraordinary ladies share.  The one drawback...

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36 Hours in NYC

Posted by admin | Posted in Culture, currentVintage, Food, travel, Wine | Posted on 30-10-2009

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Elisabeth on Thompson St in Soho

Elisabeth on Thompson St in Soho

DAY 1

1 pm:  We landed at JFK and proceeded directly to Il Buco at 47 Bond St., for what would begin copious consumption of Italian food & drink over the next three days.

If the charming miss-matched farm house décor that inspired Nantucket’s Sfoglia isn’t enough, one whiff of the hearty aromas emerging from the kitchen and you’d understand why….

To Eat:

*Cavolonero Salad—A black kale Caesar

*An Olive oil tasting of various aged Umbrian and Sicilian oils

*Butternut squash polenta—to die for!

*Pappardelli with mint & zucchini—so fresh and yummy

To Drink:

A glass of Pecorino—a peculiar white wine from the Marche.  Full-bodied enough to stand up to a hearty luncheon, with enough mild acidity to cut the rich oils

CHECK IN:

Tribeca Grand—We were terrified checking in, fearing that upon seeing our “Booked on Priceline” status, the reservationist would stick us in a first floor room by the elevator.  But no, we were most delighted to be booked into a top floor room far from the elevator,  with terrific views of the rooftops of Tribeca.

It should be noted that the Tribeca Grand is a sister property of the Soho Grand and both are a bit of a scene.  Whereas at the Soho Grand, the scene is mainly in the bar, at the Tribeca Grand, the lobby IS the bar and, being an atrium hotel, you can look down at (AND HEAR) the bar from every floor.  Since the hotel is only 8 floors high, every room, while being quite spacious, has the potential to be a noise nightmare, given the atrium design.  However, the TG cleverly has white noise speakers mounted above the hallway entrance to each room and another mounted above the doorway inside the room.  So, no matter what the chaos is down below, you will be pleasantly oblivious.

I was afraid the TG would be a little tired, since it’s days as a hot hot spot have passed, but it still draws an interesting mix of European and domestic travelers and we found it to be plenty boutique-y. and an awesome location.

ERRANDS:

Carmine St Shoe Repair—I dropped off a bag of shoes & boots in various states of disrepair to Michael, as I do every trip to NYC.  I rented a lace on Carmine St for a month a few years back, and he still thinks I live in the neighborhood.  No matter how many pairs I bring, they are always ready the next day.  One of the many things I love about nyc.

Crown Jewelers, W. 8th St at 6th Ave—I stayed at the Washington Square Hotel for a couple of weeks once and this became my home away from home jeweler.  They have resuscitated and strengthened a number of my estate finds.

NYFD Bull

NYFD Bull

PRE-THEATRE BEVERAGE:

Marseille, 9th Ave & 44th–Lucky for me, my Godparents from NC were also in nyc.  They are Uptown-types, so we met in Hell’s Kitchen for a toast at this French Brasserie in the Theatre District and caught up at the bustling bar.

THEATRE:

God of Carnage—The Tony-winning all star cast ends their run in the month of November.  While there are a lot of talented people in the world, I cannot imagine another ensemble as tight or with the chemistry (as they self-destruct) of this one featuring Marcia Gay Harden, James Gandolfino, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels. It became very clear to me why Marcia Gay won the Tony.  Catch it while you can.

DINNER:

Locanda Verde, 377 Greenwich St (corner of N.Moore and Greenwich)—Ken Friedman (Spotted Pig, Rusty Knot) and Robert De Niro’s new place in the Greenwich Hotel.  Gorgeous high ceiling, exposed brick and giant paned windows; swish, but casual.  Tiny round bar tables could barely hold all we wanted to eat & drink.  We were pleased to see the sommelier who we met at Cru last winter.

*Cotechino Sausage crostino with pickled ramps on ciabatta

*Pumpkin Agnolotti with brown butter, sage and amaretti

*Roasted Brussels Sprouts with pancetta and pecorino

*Giant rigatoni stuffed with a duck ragu

To Drink:

06 JERMANN Mjzzu ‘Blau & Blau’ (Italy)–90% Franconia, a.k.a. Blau-fraenkisch, and 10% Pinot Nero or Blauburgunder (hence the name).  Elegant & harmonious; slightly fruity with a hint of herb and menthol.  Perfect with the slightly sweet Fall flavors of our meal.

DAY 2

BREAKFAST:

Room Service—coffee and oatmeal w/ bananas

11am:  currentVintage buying appt.

Israeli SB

07 GALIL Sauvignon Blanc, Israel

LUNCH:

Capsouto Fréres, 451 Washington St

Charming, old school restaurant with white tablecloths and waiters in black vests with crisp white shirts & aprons.  They are known for an awesome variety of soufflés and an unusually large selection of Israeli wines.

To Eat:

Wild Mushroom & Cheese Soufflé

Salade Nicoise

Fig Soufflé with crème Anglaise & coffee

To Drink:

07 GALIL Sauvignon Blanc, Galilee

Even knowing that CF is known for their Israeli wine list, I was reluctant to try this sauvignon blanc.  I wasn’t sure it would stand up to and/or complement the rich fare…and, I wanted something plus francaise.  Nevertheless, our practically mute waiter nearly insisted that I should have this and I did, and he was so right!

Interesting and fuller-bodied, citrusy & herbaceous with a subtle mineral backbone; it was like none other that I have enjoyed. It was delicious.

3pm:  Apple Store, Prince St, Soho:  I think of some reason to have an appt. at this store every time I go to nyc, even if the appt is at midnight!  It’s just such a cool place and there is an army of young, passionate Apple people to help with your quest for whatever.

This time I got the 3Gs, but other free appointments have been to learn how to sync my phone & computer, etc.

5pm:  Hair Salon—Carmine St, again.  $25 and better than Frederic Fekkai

DRINKS & DINNER:

Crosby Hotel—Owned by a boutique hotel group from London, the Crosby had just opened a few days before.  The décor is English quirky & eccentric:  outsider, folk and modern art, such as a wall-mounted installation of vintage telephones.  The scale keeps it from feeling cluttered.  We enjoyed overpriced wine and beverages at the uncomfortable low Indian mirrored tables and at the comfortable grand bar on luxe bar stools.

Civetta, 98 Kenmare (near Crosby; betw Mulberry & Centre). Friends Ron and Colleen Suhanosky who own Sfoglia in Nantucket and New York are consulting partners in this homey but swank Italian eatery in Nolita.

Downstairs drinks in the red velvet-curtained lounge in a semi-private booth were comfy and easy with excellent service, even if the bar was a bit of a décor disconnect from the restaurant upstairs.

To Eat:

Once we were seated, we were treated like Royalty, which is always nice.

Arancini with sausage & fontina, Mussels w/ fennel, Lemony Risotto, Orgasmic Bolognese.  As if that wasn’t enough, they had the nerve to send out a tablefull of sinful desserts, which were all amazing, from what I can remember.

DAY 3

BREAKFAST:

Room Service—coffee and oatmeal w/ bananas

11am–Fort Greene Flea Market—We went ALL THE WAY TO BROOKLYN and what a mistake.  It was freezing cold and threatening rain, so any vendor with a brain was at home or at the movies.  Only about a dozen vendors showed up, which were mostly interesting, but the whole experience including tamales lasted about 20 minutes.

Errands—The Chinese “wholesale only” store on 28th St. that sells boxes of 24 blinking bling rings for $12.

LUNCH:
Joe’s Shanghai, Pell St (betw. Mott & Bowery)—the famous, delicious, perfect for a cold blustery day soup buns…yum.  So unbelievably savory good and so ridiculously inexpensive.  Even a can of diet coke is only a $1.

4pm:  Facial with May at the Styling House, across the street from Joe’s.  $45 facial ($65 with collagen).

Lie down on the least comfortable terry towel-covered cot in the back room of the salon for 2+ hours of tending and maintenance and you will walk out looking 10 years (or so) younger.  Sometimes, it is significantly more than 2 hours, because there are two cots and she does two at a time.

OPERA:

Tosca at Lincoln Center—Majestic setting for world class talent and sophisticated, international patrons.  The pageantry and grandiosity are spellbinding, but three Acts is a lot for my weary self.

Cesare Casella, Owner Salumeria Rosi

Cesare Casella, Owner Salumeria Rosi

DINNER:

Salumeria Rosi, 283 Amsterdam Ave. (73rd / 74th St)—My friend Cesare Casella’s place; it is chic but cozy, and spot on in every way.  Cesare is also the Dean of the Italian Culinary Institute!

To Eat:

Pontormo salad of greens and scrambled eggs, antipasto platters of salumi and cheese, heirloom bean salad. This is THE PLACE for salumi and cheese and beans;  don’t miss the Il Parmacotto prosciutto (eel PAHR-mah-KOH-to).  This is also the place for the best lasagne I have ever had—AND, it is in an appetizer portion—how awesome is that at midnight?

To Drink:

I always dine at the tiny little bar, where you can see each bottle of wine available by the glass and discuss little tastes of each with the super fun and knowledgeable (and handsome) Rafael, til you find what you’re looking for.

NIGHT CAP:

A late-night glass of Perrier Jouet in the VIP hotel guest section at the Tribeca Grand.  Saturday night is not exactly locals night (and maybe no night is at the TG), but it was nice to have a spacious, comfortable spot from which to watch the goings on.

DAY 4

BREAKFAST:

Room Service: coffee, oatmeal

12pm:  JFK:(

http://www.salumeriarosi.com/experience_experience.php

http://www.ilbuco.com/

http://locandaverdenyc.com/

Gourmet & Me

Posted by admin | Posted in Culture, currentVintage, Food, Nantucket, travel, Wine | Posted on 06-10-2009

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Mahogany Duck, Gourmet January 1991

Mahogany Duck, Gourmet January 1991

Many in the food and wine world are mourning the closing of  Gourmet magazine after more nearly 70 years of publication.  What does that mean for the cerebral epicurean?  How does that reflect on the populist palate?  What does it bode for the future of print media?  How could they do that to Ruth Reichl?!  For me, it is more sentimental…

By chance, Gourmet magazine changed my life.

I found my reluctant self in Clemson, SC in January1989.  I had taken a couple of years off from school while playing around in Nantucket, and now it was time to return, finish courses and graduate.

I was in a somewhat ideal living situation.  The apartment at 8 Lakewood Terrace was nothing to brag about, but the location was great and I shared the space with two absentee roommates.  The $88 each/month was such that my girlfriends didn’t mind paying just to have a place for the two weekends a year their parents came to visit.   So there I was, alone in my capacious cinder block 3 bedroom apartment, wondering how I was going to abide a year in this small college town.

My friends and I were a few years older than the average student and having ‘been there, done that’ with the party scene, we were searching for entrée into a new social context.  We liked to go to restaurants but, other than Los Hermanos (the local favorite Mexican place where I worked in a peach tiered ruffle Mexican dress), there were few options beyond boiled peanuts and beer.  An invitation came to me in the form of a subscription renewal card to Gourmet, intended for the previous tenants.  I had never heard of Gourmet magazine, but as the proud owner of the Silver Palate cookbooks and having dined at 21 Federal, et al on Nantucket, I was certain that the “Magazine of Good Living” was for me, ie, I had a lot to learn.

Without hesitation, I checked the box, wrote my check for $10 and mailed it in.  In retrospect, I’m surprised I did not overnight it, so electrified as I was at the thought of possibilities the magazine would bring…(probably because there was no overnight delivery back then.  Think about it—in 1989 there were no cell phones, pc’s–or even affordable cashmere sweaters.)

Gourmet, July 1991

Gourmet, July 1991

I cannot remember the first issue exactly, but I know I read it cover to cover.  The Paris Journal, The London Journal. Salzburg, Bangkok, Sydney and Maui.  Guides to all of these places I had not yet been. I struggled through Gerald Asher’s Wine Journal and memorized reviews of Gotham Bar & Grill. This was not always enjoyable, given my lack of worldly experience with fine wine and New York dining, but I must have had a sense of foreshadowing, given what a big part both play in my life today!

“Gastronomie sans Argent”—that was more my style—and I always looked for the little clock symbol, indicating a quick preparation, since the reality was that even those recipes would take me hours to complete.  From fondue parties to New Years Eve feasts, Gourmet represented the lifestyle I wanted to lead.

50th Anniversary Issue, January 1991

50th Anniversary Issue, January 1991

Although I had no knife skills—or even knives–I had a party to test my kitchen prowess, and my new friends loved it.  We made it a regular event;  I spent all of my tips on cooking ingredients and my guests brought bottles of Taylor and, if they were feeling spendy, Gundlach Bundschu, to drink.

I subscribed to Gourmet all through the 90s and continued my self-taught education as a home cook.  Thus, it is not surprising that Gourmet recipes were a big part of  my portfolio when I was hired to open a ‘gourmet’ sandwich & coffee shop on Nantucket in 1994.  I continued to mine the Gourmet files when I joined another restaurant, Provisions, and, less than a decade after the first subscription, began my Provisions Catering business.

From the beautiful photography to the exotic destinations to the lofty musings to the black & white restaurant ads for La Cote Basque and Le Perigord in the back, I relished it all.  Eventually, I got to many of the restaurants and destinations that Gourmet had first introduced me to, but more importantly, I came to understand the essential Gourmet message:  the appreciation of ‘good living” as a way of life.  At Provisions, good living included our homemade cookies, soups and fresh bread, as well as the most esoteric hors d’oeuvre I could dream up.  It includes organic produce, fresh sushi and abstaining from jug wine.  It has resulted in a greater appreciation for Bartlett corn, South Carolina peaches and Juice Bar ice cream.  It has led to pleasures of the table I may have never known.

These days, I own currentVintage,  a wine & vintage boutique, and spend several months a year traveling to interesting destinations all over the US and beyond, particularly New York.

Yes, Gourmet magazine changed my life.

Well-tested recipe for Mushroom Croustades, Gourmet 1990

Well-tested recipe for Mushroom Croustades, Gourmet 1990

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