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Category ... Restaurant Reviews

My Birthday Cake at the Lincoln

Apr 04, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

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As so many people asked the inevitable question: who is baking your birthday cake?here is the answer:

To begin with, we had an astonishingly delicious dinner at the Lincoln Ristorante at Lincoln Center. This was my first visit for dinner, having had a glass of wine at the bar awhile back accompanied by an assortment of bread and one of the best olive oils I had ever tasted.

I have to confess that I had made a serious error by reserving at the Smith at Lincoln Center and only discovered this when I called the Lincoln to tell them that after driving 2 hours from NJ we were still caught up in traffic. They had no reservation whatsoever under any of the names I always give (usually just Rose as spelling my last name over the phone is always an exercise in irritation. My cousins Bill and Joy Howe, who were meeting us, also having driven a long distance, were already at the Smith wondering why I had chosen such a noisy and casual restaurant for my birthday dinner albeit they reported that the people there were absolutely lovely--even when they discovered that none of us was staying for dinner!

But the Lincoln came through for me. I could tell that they didn't recognize my name as being in the food profession but they did recognize my sincerity and panic. So we sat down to dinner in the elegant and quiet dining room. Elliott and I chose the special of the evening which was a dry-aged rib steak, the juices and beef marrow added to the panzanella salad accompanying it, along with that above mentioned fabulous olive oil.

The star dish of the evening, however, was ordered by Bill. It was a tian of eggplant and zucchini slices with a tangy tomato sauce that caused Bill and me to turn to each other (after I got to taste it) and pronounce it to be the quality of taste we are always looking for in Italian food. Up until that point I was entirely incognito but that ended when Bill got the idea that if revealing my identity as a food writer we might find out the secret to the sauce.

Chef Jonathan Benno arrived at our table and graciously explained that they used San Marzano tomatoes but that it was the technique that gave it the extraordinary flavor. Then I remembered (from experience) that the secret to its intensity is seriously reducing the juices to the near dry consistency.

We ordered one dessert to share but thoroughly enjoyed the three that arrived. thanks to pastry chef Richard Capizzi. The birthday cake was:

Tortino al Gianduja con caramello al pompelmo chocolate cake, hazelnut praline, gianduja ganache, salted caramel-campari crema, grapefruit variegato gelato

Ode to Exquisite Dining Chez Per Se

May 11, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

Thomas Keller is one of my top favorite chefs. I've had amazing experiences both at The French Laundry in Nappa, and at Per Se in New York City so it seemed like the perfect place to celebrate my partnership with Gary Fallowes of NewMetro Design and my new Rose™ product line. And it was indeed a glorious dining experience. It was also a celebration of my imminent move from New York to Hope, New Jersey where eating like this will be happening much less frequently.

Per Se is located in the Time Warner building from which we had an excellent view of Central Park, where I grew up.

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February does not provide the most vibrant scenery but the floral arrangement offered a promise of spring to come.

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We were offered a glass of Jose Dhon blanc de blanc champagne tasting delightfully of apple and accompanied by the classic Per Se tartar of salmon cone, and gougères.

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We then proceeded to order the five course tasting menu but what arrived was more like double the number. And each one was superlative blend of balance and finesse. The menu descriptions speak for themselves:

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH "VELOUTE" Hearts of Palm, Ginger, and Pine Nuts

Continue reading "Ode to Exquisite Dining Chez Per Se" »

Yet Another Reason to Return to Il Buco

Aug 22, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Restaurant Reviews

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Every time I lunch at my favorite neighbor restaurant Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria I go with a plan to order what I loved on the last visit and invariably am tempted instead by the latest addition to the menu. Fortunately, the bread basket is always available along with excellent olive oil but if butter is requested it is my favorite from Vermont Butter & Cheese.

Last week my friend David ordered the short rib panini. I suggested not to as the sandwiches are huge and enough for two, but boy am I glad he ignored my advice, generously sharing the delectable sandwich with his mom (visiting from Los Vegas) and me. These were the best short ribs I've ever tasted. They were amazingly flavorful, moist, with a slightly gelatinous quality so prized from this cut of meat, but the tops were peppery and crunchy. David must love me as he handed over the last piece, and I loved this dish so much I didn't protest. The ribs were accompanied by an assortment of miniature pickled vegetables, perfect for offsetting the richness of the ribs.

When we asked manager Danny Freeman how the short ribs were cooked, he explained that they were brined in a honey and spice brine for 50 hours before roasting covered. To create the crunchy topping, a cast iron pan was heated on the cooktop, the pepper spice mixture added, the short ribs set on top, and then returned to a very hot oven to crisp.

Danny also sent out an octopus starter--another item we never would have ordered as usually it is tough. Not this one--it was my favorite thing of our lunch--well at least it was on par with the short ribs!

We did order one dessert--the deliciously smooth and creamy chocolate budino. It came with a very thin sliver of chocolate cookie with a most intriguing flavor that turned out to be Calabrian chili powder.

Needless to say, none of us ate dinner that night.

A Neighborhood Gem

May 26, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Restaurant Reviews

Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria (Market & Restaurant)

What a joy to discover that the neighborhood has a new and exceptional restaurant a mere 7 minute walk away. Donna Lennard's Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, located next to it's sister restaurant Il Buco, at 53 Great Jones Street just off the Bowery, is a real treasure of fabulous food and appealingly rustic Italian ambiance. What a rare treat to find every dish I've tasted, creatively and lovingly prepared (from the house made salumi, to the exquisite pastry) and just what it should be in the best of all possible culinary worlds. Even the cappuccino (which I so often find disappointing in restaurants) was perfection.
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Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria boasts a stellar crew which includes Executive Chef Justin Smillie who served as Chef de Cuisine at Jonathan Waxman's Barbuto; Pastry Chef Keren Weiner, formerly Pastry Sous Chef at Gramercy Tavern, and Chanterelle; Baker Kamel Saci from Bordeaux, who prepares the restaurant and market's outstanding long-fermentation breads, all made with organic flour; General Manager Luca Pasquinelli, formerly the Wine Director at Mario Batali's Babbo, and Manager Daniel Freeman who chefed at the famed L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at the Four Season's Hotel. Is it any wonder that the food is so extraordinary!

Here are some details and photos of my recent delights:

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THE BEST FRIED BABY ARTICHOKES EVER, BLANCHED IN SALTED LEMON WATER, THEN STEEPED IN OLIVE OIL BEFORE FRYING TO A SUCCULENT GOLDEN CRISP

hey are blanched in salted acidulated water then steeped in extra virgin olive oil. Then drained off and fried.

Continue reading "A Neighborhood Gem" »

The Dutch

Mar 24, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Restaurant Reviews

My New Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant

The Dutch, located in Soho in New York City, on the corner of Prince and Sullivan, is a mere five-minute walk from my house (and a 30 second walk from my favorite butcher Pino). My first visit, a few weeks ago, was for an early dinner. I was so smitten by the crisp fried oyster slider on an exquisite brioche roll I knew I would return again soon. My next experience was lunch. I began with a selection of the oysters of the day, two from the East Coast, two from the West Coast, each exquisitely briny and sweet with a lovely lingering aftertaste. I had no desire to corrupt their pure ocean flavor with any of the usual accompaniments.

Next, both my friend and I ordered the famous fried chicken. We could've ordered just one to share as it was a most generous serving of an entire half chicken. It was the best fried chicken I've ever tasted--juicy on the inside, with a perfectly golden brown and crunchy, fantastically flavored crust, so even when I was full I continued nibbling on little bits of crust alone. The crust was mildly spicy with a touch of paprika and cayenne which gave it a gorgeous russet hue.

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Photo Credit: Noah Fecks

My friend Marie Lyons, special event planner for the Dutch and also the nearby Locanda Verde, joined us for a short visit. She encouraged us to try the chicken, telling us that chef Andrew Carmellini searched all over the country to find the very best chicken for this dish. Clearly his hunt proved to be successful. My friend David finished his entire chicken but I packed enough of mine to serve as dinner the next night! The recipe appears is chef Carmellini's exciting new book American Flavor!

Chef Carmellini most graciously has given me permission to share the recipe on this link:

Fried Chicken.pdf

We were both too full for dessert so my heart fell when the wait person set the table again with new forks--a sure indication that dessert was on its way. It's a real testament to pastry chef Kierin Baldwin that we plowed through most of the two pies, for which she is justifiably famous, in short order. Our favorite was the lemon meringue poppyseed pie.

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Lemon poppy seed cake is my signature cake but I never thought of making a pie version. There were poppy seeds in the pâte sucrée (cookie crust), and in the meringue itself. The pie was accompanied by a delicious buttermilk ice cream (sitting on crunchy crumbs made from the same crust), and thin slices of poached lemon, along with a little of the poaching liquid as sauce. Pure bliss.I can't wait to go back again!

Paris in West Village New York City

Jun 04, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Restaurant Reviews

My dear friend Marko Gnann never fails to alert me to anything new in pastry in our town--and he is a discriminating critic! So when he told me about Bosie, a tea room minutes from my home, saying I sampled selflessly - purely for research. Pastry chef Damien Hergott was at Ladurée and Pierre Hermé in Paris before coming to NYC to work for David Bouley, I lost no time in running over for an exploratory visit. I just had to have the Ispahan pastry I had enjoyed years ago in Paris.

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This exquisitely crafted pastry is a rose macaroon filled with rose buttercream, lychee, and fresh raspberries. Was that a real drop of dew on the rose petal? No--it was a perfectly piped little dew drop of glucose syrup. I was enchanted.

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The packaging was as amazingly tasteful as what it contained--a beautiful design on the outside with four petals opening to a plain white interior so as not to compete with the pastry.

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I would not have thought to ask, but thorough Marko, ever the investigative reporter, unearthed that the name Bosie was the nickname Oscar Wilde gave to his lover. Don't you just love knowing this?!

Check out the site and you will see a stunning choice of teas as well as lunch items and an intriguing array of pastries. I can't wait to try the Montebello: pistachio dacquoise, pistachio mousseline, raspberries--just up my alley!

Veritas: I Speak the Truth!

May 21, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Restaurant Reviews

Veritas (a name derived from the Latin phrase in vino veritas--in wine [there is] truth, has long been one of my favorite New York restaurants. I've enjoyed its quiet, intimate ambiance, its extensive wine list, its close proximity to my neighborhood, and the wonderful cuisine. So when I discovered recently that it had changed owner and chef-ship, and the New York Times awarded it 3 stars, I was eager for a revisit.

I couldn't resist the lobster and bone marrow first course--rich but amazingly easy to swallow. Going from the frying pan of richness into the fire of wooly pig, my main course was a delicious, succulent, maple- glazed pork loin.

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It wasn't until after finishing our main courses that my cover was blown when my cousin Bill Howe couldn't resist telling chef-owner Sam Hazen, who was standing nearby, that I write cookbooks. What a charming man! I could see, even before we were introduced, that he radiated interest and enjoyment of his profession. Next out came pastry chef Emily Wallendjack, followed by an impressive dessert tasting for the table. (I suspect that's why my cousin dropped my name but he's forgiven! As a highly successful NY corporate headhunter he delights in seeing the reception I receive from fellow chefs. I have to add that food professionals the world over are among the most welcoming to colleagues.)

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Emily is a highly talented pastry chef. She is a graduate of the CIA, and has worked under the famed Pierre Hermé and Johnnie Iuzinni.

The tasting consisted of 4 desserts off the menu. Although they sound incredibly complex, which is high risk in the hands of a less talented pastry chef, each was a perfect harmony of textures and flavors:

1. Apple crisp with Armagnac soaked prunes, spiced apple butter, crème fraîche ice cream (crème fraîche made in house), Saigon cinnamon, and finished with an apple chip. (My personal favorite)

2. Hazelnut crunch bar with devils food cake, feullatine gianduja crunch, praline ganache, hazelnut chantilly, chocolate sheets, and allepo caramel.

3. Dark and stormy sticky toffee pudding with ginger-lime ice cream, Goslings rum toffee sauce, and fresh lime zest.

4. Brioche cranberry bread pudding with cranberries poached in star anise, candied pecans and orange vanilla crème anglaise.

A Terrific New Newton Restaurant Discovery: Andre's

Apr 11, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Restaurant Reviews

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This is a bit of a story so I'll begin with the punch line in case I lose you part way through!

April 2, I was too sick from my head cold to be able to go out for dinner. I held out until shortly before we were due to leave and then gave in when Elliott suggested that if I couldn't taste what was the point of going. So I moved the reservation to a week later and missed a very special birthday cake made by chef Andre de Waal for both me and his dynamic maitre d' wife Tracey who, coincidentally, shares the same birthday!

What an amazingly delicious dinner we had one week later when my taste buds were restored. Since we're both trying to moderate our calories, Elliott chose just a main course but when I saw that the special foie gras of the day was sautéed fresh foie gras, I succumbed instantly. It had a tangerine reduction glaze that was magnificent. But along with my foie gras came house cured salmon for Elliott--the dish he would have chosen had he been planning to have an appetizer. And it was superb.

We eagerly awaited Elliott's chicken and my loin of lamb with maple glaze but to our surprise along came an exquisite dish of perfectly cooked branzini. This fish course was followed by a most unusual salad with a horseradish dressing, so beloved by the clientele chef Andre bottles it for sale.

The chicken turned out to be the best we've had in years--free range organic from a farm in upstate New York. The mashed potatoes were amazing and turned out to be made from Idaho potatoes with butter and cream. We had to take a doggy bag as we were only able to eat about half but then a special dessert appeared: the mini croquembouche shown above, filled with an utterly delicious milk chocolaty cream and glazed with the traditional caramel that holds it together, then encased by the magical spun sugar. Just one more I kept saying as I popped yet another one in my mouth until we came to the last one and I said: "This one's yours." "No! It's yours." Elliott replied and I did not contest it.

On my way out I couldn't resist giving a big hug and kiss to chef Andre and wife Tracey. I wasn't alone--I noticed another guest who followed us doing the same.

How charmed we were to see this talented young couple rejoicing in their profession and giving it 100 percent of their generosity, enthusiasm, and skill. If you live in the area, do not miss it. You may well run into us, as we surely will be back. And do check out chef Andre's website and blog.

Now here's the story behind the story of how I learned about Andre's.

Continue reading "A Terrific New Newton Restaurant Discovery: Andre's" »

The Famed Steak at Minetta Tavern

Jan 15, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Restaurant Reviews

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My protegé, dearest friend, and restauranteur David Shammah and I wanted to dine at Minetta Tavern for the longest time after seeing rave reviews especially focusing on the steak. We were discouraged because it never seemed possible to get a reservation no matter whose name we dropped. FInally we bit the bullet and took the reservation most people would never consider: 5:30 pm. I really don't mind eating that early--especially when the food is heavy. I can manage to skip lunch and not go to sleep feeling uncomfortable.

I have to say the steak was so amazing I didn't notice how very noisy the place was until I returned for the hamburger that is (though that too was delicious). The little cast-iron pot of potatoes puréed with cheese called Aligot, which gave them a wonderfully stretchy quality, was dreamy. Maybe it was the impossible to resist roasted marrow bones pictured above with the steak and the perfect Balthazar baquettes, together with the richest steak I've ever tasted, not to mention those potatoes, conspired to make me feel slightly queasy by the end of the meal but without regrets. In fact I returned with Elliott--twice--for the special "blue ribbon" burger crowned with deeply caramelized onions! (The first time the french fries were the best I had ever tasted anywhere--they were perfect. But the second time they were slightly tough rather than crisp though still melting soft inside.)The burger is too good to disguise with ketchup but I did accept the offer of mustard for the fries.

The desserts loodek very promising, especially the soufflés, but so far I haven't had room even to consider a taste.

Elliott says next time to call him after I order for us as he can't tolerate the sound level but then neither can I.

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Here's a photo of the lovely historic paintings of the west village and a small glimpse of drawings of celebrities beneath them I took before being reproached gently but firmly that "policy discourages taking photos of the walls." Luckily policy doesn't attempt to discourage photos of the food as they would have trouble instituting it--especially with us New Yorkers!

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Ode to Exquisite Excellence: Daniel's COI

Apr 10, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Restaurant Reviews

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Photo of the Original Cake at the Wedding, Epiphany 2007

Those of you familiar with the Deep Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake in RHC already know what a fan I am of chef Daniel Patterson for whom I made this cake. I made the cake in the kitchen of his then newly opened restaurant Coi (pronounced kwah) but it wasn't until last month, on my first return to San Francisco since making the cake, that I had the pleasure of experiencing a full dinner there. (When I asked for walking directions from the Prescott Hotel the concierge said: Coi! An excellence choice! I smiled and said: I know!

I have followed Daniel when he was chef at two other San Francisco restaurants, the last of which was Frisson, but Coi is the first one he owns and he has already opened a less formal second restaurant, Il Cane Rosso (the red dog) in the Ferry Building. Coi is an arcane French word which means homey. The restaurant is indeed that but it also is a rare combination of comfort, elegance, and exquisite deliciousness.

A dinner at Coi is an experience--a unique adventure. Daniel is the soul of originality married to idealism, intellect, and artistry. He has a finely tuned sense of balance of textures and flavors. I couldn't begin to know how to duplicate the mysteries of a single dish we enjoyed except, of course, the lovely dinner rolls, perfectly round, soft, and wheaty, with a fine crisp crust.

Because Daniel's plating is equally exquisite I'd like to share these photos and description of each from the Spring menu.

Continue reading "Ode to Exquisite Excellence: Daniel's COI" »

Doggy Bag Fit for a Piggy: Moi!

Feb 02, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories


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When I saw Gael Green's writeup on her blog Fork Play on Danny Meyer's newest restaurant Maialino in the Grammercy Park Hotel I lost no time in making a dinner reservation to enjoy the suckling pig from which the restaurant derived its name.

I always knew in my heart that pig potential was far greater than any rendition I had yet to experience--after all, that Chinese farmer and son in Charles Lamb's tale had to have a better reason to burn down their farm than the dry flavorless meat suckling pig so often turns out to be.

Yes!!! Braised in rosemary, garlic, and white wine, with crackling skin true to its descriptor--it was rich, succulent, and perfectly fabulous. And, the potatoes had imbibed the delicious juices!

Our exquisitely charming waitress (and the service could not have been better) suggested an excellent and affordable burgundy from the Alto Adige. The restaurant was packed (including Danny and his family) so it was especially impressive that no one in any way suggested that the two of us give up our four seat banquette in which we were happily ensconced for all of three hours. I was so ridiculously content I didn't even manage to feel too guilty!

We were seated close enough to the panini station to smell the enticing aromas emanating from it and the promising aromas from the coffee station caused me to break my no coffee at restaurants rule (as it invariably disappoints even at the best of them) to end the dinner with an excellent cup of capuccino served with a chocolate biscotti--so delicious I didn't for once add any sugar whatsoever to the coffee and didn't miss it.

But I can't close without mentioning the divinely creamy and intensely pistachio ice cream, fiore di latte ice cream, and refreshingly palate cleansing campari/grapefruit sorbet (which when combined with the fior de latte was reminiscent of the best possible popsickle).

We walked out into the cold January night air and felt no chill--we were radiating heat and happiness. Forgive me for raving--I just couldn't help myself.

P.S. And while I'm in raving mode I might as well confess that Erika's linguini alle vongole (clam sauce) first course was also the best I've ever had including my own.

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