Category ... Restaurant Reviews
May 29, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
When Charlie Burd texted me that our beloved friend chef Suvir Saran had partnered with Roni Manzumdar to open Tapestry in Greenwich Village, New York City, I lost no time in making a reservation. It's been too long since Suvir's acclaimed restaurant Devi closed and I feared we might lose him to San Francisco where he had been planning to open another restaurant. I was overjoyed to have him and his marvelous food back in NY. And as his chef de cuisine, he brought Joel Corona back with him!
The three of us are pictured here in front of the restaurant after having tasted a wide variety of utterly marvelous dishes on the menu.
I should mention that I read the blog posting of my dear friends Karen and Andrew Dornenburg who had stopped by the week before for drinks, and mentioned an exciting one called "Smash the System"-- a combination of bourbon, sweet cherries, muddled orange, and espresso, which was inspired by some of Suvir's favorite flavors. As these are some of mine as well, of course I had to try it and of course loved it! There is also a carefully thought out selection of wines to complement the food. My choice with diner was the Malbec.
The food defies categorization. Suvir has a background of Indian cooking, and he is a brilliant master of the subtlety of spices, however, no one would call the food Indian--it goes way beyond the limitations of one ethnic cuisine. And he has found an ideal collaborator in Chef Corona. The blending of their finely tuned sensibilities results in food that is uniquely exciting, dimensional, and flavorful with just the right amount of heat to titillate the taste buds without overwhelming other ingredients. Sharper heat is used where the intensity of other ingredients can support and benefit from it, for example the fire behind the garlicky aioli is a delightful surprise.
I've made Suvir's spicy friend chicken from his cookbook Marsala Farm, even making a pilgrimage to Kalustyan's for the dried rosebuds, so was very happy to see it on the menu. The deliciously crunchy batter surrounds moist chicken, which is spiced and seasoned throughout. It is accompanied by his fabulous peanut coleslaw.
Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country
The chicken, duck, and goose eggs, which appear as accompaniments to several dishes, and are cooked just right so that the yolk becomes a golden sauce, come from Suvir's upstate NY farm. Deliciously deviled eggs stand on their own and have never been better.
One of my favorite dishes featured cauliflower and pappardella noodles so silken we were sure they were made with rice flour, but not. The most surprisingly compelling experience of the evening was the black garlic: smoked, deep fried, and then enlivened by a light touch of balsamic vinaigrette. I want to have this every time I return which will be often!
For dessert, the individual Pavlova's, adorned by passion fruit and seasonal strawberries, were heavenly.
And after dinner, Suvir introduced me to some of his friends. I was thrilled to meet Francis Mayes, who wrote the wonderful book Under the Tuscan Sun, and her poet husband Ed.
Tapestry is located at 60 Greenwich Avenue, corner of west 12th Street. It is open for lunch and dinner (oh joy)! Welcome back Suvir, to a huge success.
Oct 24, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
Moving to the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania on the edge of the Poconos Mountain range from Manhattan, New York has had its pluses and minuses. On the plus side: the beauty of country living, the quietness of our woodsy homestead, and working in my dream baking kitchen. On the minus side: long drives to shops and services, blowing leaves, shoveling snow, and the limited number of interesting restaurants which most often require an hour's drive.
You can imagine our great joy and astonishment when we discovered a fantastic restaurant a mere 30 minutes away. Woody and I were doing a book signing for The Baking Bible last month at the Monroe Farmers Market when Chef Nicola Messina stopped by and introduced himself. He asked for my advice on publishers for his future book. It turned out that, as a classically trained chef, not only has he worked at some of the best restaurants in the world, including Louis XV in Montecarlo, we had many chef friends in common. After exchanging several stories, I said I would be delighted to look at his manuscript and to visit his restaurant.
Momentos, located across from the Stroudsburg mall, appears at first glance to be a pizzeria but turns out also to be a first class but cozy restaurant. Chef Nicola opened Momentos about a year ago after running a pizza restaurant for several years at a nearby location.
As soon as Elliott, Woody, and I sat down for our first experience of Nicola's cuisine, Nicola introduced his wife Melisa and daughter Nicky (who is also the restaurant manager), and told us that he insisted on inviting us to enjoy a tasting menu with wine pairings.
While we awaited our first entree, Nicola sat by me to show me his manuscript. We then experienced something unusual: After pouring the wine, Nicky swirled it in each glass. It was a charming touch to release the flavor for our first sip. (Talk about service!)
Our second course, a golden flow of egg yolk in a delicate ravioli-- a Chef Nicola creation which I had first fallen in love with at Tony May's famed San Domenico in New York City several years ago. It turned out to be Nicola's creation when he was a chef there. Nicola's chef personally came out to adorn each ravioli pillow with truffle butter and grated Parmesan Reggiano.
Each course was beautifully plated and presented and astonishingly delicious. We felt like we had landed in paradise. A truffled risotto, followed by a pork medallion and jewel-like timbal of autumn vegetables, followed by one perfect and flavorful diver's scallop and one baby artichoke heart, topped with a contrasting salinity of tiny capers and an intense demi-glace.
The finale was a happy surprise of three small and perfect desserts prepared by Chef Nicola's pastry chef: vanilla bean panna cotta garnished with strawberries, a limoncello cheesecake, and a raspberry sabayon, which we all passed and shared.
We all left blissfully content, without being over-stuffed, and determined to return for the November white truffle tasting dinner.
Sep 25, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
ELLIOTT AND THE FLATWARE AWAITING OUR MULTI COURSE DINNER
Several years ago, I introduced my cousin Marion Bush to Dan Barber at his extraordinary restaurant Blue Hill in Tarrytown, NY. Marion is a gatherer and purveyor of wild edibles and lives fairly nearby so I suspected it would be a perfect union. A few weeks ago Marion and her husband Marty, Elliott and I met at Blue Hill for dinner. We were served a vast array of amazingly imaginative dishes, each presented artfully in/on equally unique presentoirs. They arrived and were described at such a fast pace it was all we could do to document them while enjoying consuming them but with the "division of labor," (Marion writing and me photographing and crying out "don't touch it yet") we managed to do it. Here is just a mere fraction of the highlights (I missed photographing the little glass of cantalope tears as I was so stunned by the intensity of the very essence of the melon that I forgot to take the photo):
VEGETABLES FROM THE FARM WITH BABY FENNEL FRONDS
RADISHES WITH POPPY SEED BUTTER & POPPY SEEDS FROM THE POD
BABY KOHLRABI WITH MARIGOLD PUREE AND RASPBERRIES
"NEEDLES IN A HAYSTACK" GRISSINI
DEEP-FRIED LONG ISLAND WHITEBAIT ON SKEWERS
Continue reading "An Evening of Exquisiteness at Blue Hill" »
Aug 15, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
photo credit Owen Daw (our tall and wonderful grandson)
Our granddaughter, Haley, is a Paralympics swimmer training for the World Paralympics in 2016. The Toronto Parapan North American Summer Games gave Elliott and me the opportunity to cheer our Haley on her road to Rio.
We decided to break up the drive by overnighting in upstate New York, about 4 hours from Toronto. When we arrived at the motel in Victor, NY my heart fell when I saw that it was nestled between Wendy's and Taco Bell and despaired over what Elliott and I could possibly find to eat for dinner. But it was late afternoon and coffee was my first thought so I asked Suri (my iphone voice of wisdom) where the nearest Starbucks was located (the lesser of all coffee possibility evils). To my delight it turned out to be only 1-1/2 miles away in one of the largest malls I've ever encountered.
We entered the part of the mall that housed a vast food court with all the usual fast food type of eating possibilities. Starbucks turned out to be located a few steps away from Williams Sonoma, and in a moment of inspiration I went in and asked the manager for a restaurant recommendation, figuring that someone working in this food centric store would be our best bet for good advice.
Between assisting paying customers, he graciously made two recommendations, so within short order we found ourselves at Compané Bistrot in nearby Fairport and experienced, to our total amazement, one of the most perfect restaurant dinners we've had in many months!
We entered through a very lively and noisy bar but to my vast relief were seated in one of the quiet side rooms were we were offered a small paper bag containing a few slices of ordinary looking and tasting bread. But when we dipped the bread in the accompanying plate of olive oil, graced by a little spot of balsamic vinegar and a dusting of Parmesan, it metamorphosed into ambrosia. I don't remember ever tasting a better olive oil and I have tasted many! I would have been content to have made that our entire dinner, especially accompanied by one of the best sauvignon blancs I've ever tasted: Matua Valley, from Marlborough New Zealand described as fresh fruit aromas of stone fruit lemon zest, and a hint of gooseberry. It was the gooseberry that grabbed my interest and though I'm not sure I detected any of the suggested flavors, it did offer the classic fresh and slightly grassy flavor of the varietal that I adore.
We went on to share an appetizer of fried calamari with small pickled cubes of Kalamata olives and cherry peppers, accompanied by both aoli and tomato dipping sauces, The calamari was perfectly cooked and minimally breaded and the garnishes provided just the right amount of added zing.
We also shared a main course of lemon shrimp with linguini in a cream sauce--just enough to cloak the pasta, and also containing little cubes of fresh tomatoes. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the flavor of the entire dish was absolutely fabulous.
Elliott and I were both stunned to discover that our fortune had taken the leap from fast food restaurants to this spectacular meal.
I used Waze to navigate back to the hotel and it took us through beautiful country roads which was a world away from the highway we had taken to get to the restaurant. What an unexpectedly great start to our vacation.
Update: Haley won 1 bronze, 2 silver, and a gold medal!
Aug 08, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
It has been fourteen years since my last visit to Japan when I was researching Wasanban sugar for an article for Food Arts Magazine. It was my last memorable tempura experience. In Japan, the tempura coating was an impossibly thin crisp veil through which one could see the fish or vegetable and I longed to experience it again. When I read in the New York Times that Masao Matsui, a renowned tempura chef from Tokyo, had been tempted out of retirement to open in New York I was eager to experience his rendition of this fine art.
Chef Matsui started in the restaurant business in Japan when he was 18 . Reviews highlight how over the years he has perfected his zen-like tempura mastery to achieve a batter that is as thin as possible--just thick enough to coat the ingredient. Each ingredient glistens through its light and crisp coating, which he refers to as "My Tempura." Over the years he has owned several tempura restaurants in Tokyo.
In July, we were in New York City to attend a memorial get together for my dear friend, colleague, and editor Gary Tucker for Food Arts magazine. Everyone who attended was invited to bring an appetizer. Our contribution was Pepperkakors, a spicy cookie from The Baking Bible which makes an appealing appetizer, especially when coated with a soft goat cheese. Some of us also contributed special memories about Gary.
After the memorial was over Woody and I went on to dinner at Tempura Matsui.
We were given an exceptionally warm welcome from the hostess and then were ushered to our seats at the tempura counter where we could enjoy seeing the master and his sous chefs work their magic. Chef Matsui serves his guests with a prix fix, Omakase experience with several stages for tonight's dinner. Omakase transalates as "I will leave it up to you." Before our eyes, we watched the preparation of the oil, the precise mixing and testing of the batter, and the wooden boxes bearing Chef's choices for us to relish.
Every course was served in an exquistely unique vessel. This first course was sea urchin with Japanese yam and wasabi.
Over the next two hours was a fascinating dining experience of 9 small courses, with Chef personally placing his "My Tempura" delicacies on our serving platters. Some of our favorites were the scallops wrapped in nori, the maitaki mushrooms, and the seasonal fish kisu.
Continue reading "A Dinner Made by a Legend ~~ Tempura Matsui" »
Jun 13, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
I have to admit that I try to avoid noisy restaurants and these days it's hard to find ones that aren't. But one of my exceptions is Bea McNally's Irish Pub & Eatery on 109 Grand Avenue in Hackettstown, NJ., and that is thanks to chef Matthew Newman.
Prior to arriving at McNally's, Matt was chef at the highly rated Yellow Finn at the Jersey Shore. And we are so fortunate to have him now closer to home. His burgers are fantastic. He uses top quality ingredients including the brioche bun.
We were so lucky that at our first dinner at McNally's, one of the sous chefs over-fried the calamari. Despite this, they were so delicious with their cornmeal crust, we informed the wait person (anonymously)! At the end of our dinner, out came Matt himself, bearing his signature Irish soda bread pudding with caramel drizzled vanilla ice cream. It was nothing short of fabulous. And that is how we got to know this terrific chef and delightful person.
Ask for Matt and tell him Rose sent you. And the bread pudding is not to be missed.
Apr 25, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
To conclude our Denver trip to Craftsy, we invited Jen and her husband, John, for dinner at The Fort. They picked us up at the hotel and Jen and I were both wearing our hand-knit sweaters.
Located in Morrison, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, a 30 minutes drive from the city of Denver, when darkness falls, one can see the sparkling lights of Denver in the distance.
Almost as soon as we were seated, my dear friend, Holly Arnold, owner of The Fort, sat down to join us. It was Holly's father, Sam Arnold, who created the Fort in response to a request from Holly's mother to build him a castle. And it was here, in this incredible setting of the American old west, that Holly spent her childhood.
Holly treated us to my favorite bison bone marrow to accompany our dinner of elk chops. (Julia Child was said to have once ordered a second helping. I tried that on my second visit and then was too full for the rest of my meal. I knew better this time.)
Holly also regaled us with delightful stories of the history of the Fort which was created by her parents. She also gave a tour to show us the many photos of the family (including her pet bear Sissy), dignitaries including Boris Yeltsin, George Bush, and Bill Clinton, and food world people including Julia Child, which populated the restaurants' walls.
We had the pleasure of meeting John, "The Mountain Man," who is a weekend presence at the Fort. He is a extraordinarily skilled leather-worker and when he showed me the rose barret, Holly exclaimed that since it was my name, she wanted to purchase it to offer to me. But the "Mountain Man" said with his eyes that the gift was coming from him.
To my delight, Holly gave me a copy of her father's leather-bound "Frying Pans West" television cooking series with its companion cookbook. Sam was a dear and long-time friend so this was very special to me.
Sam Arnold's Frying Pans West cookbook & DVD's
Photo credit: Jenn "Knitty Baker" and Woody Wolston
Apr 04, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
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
May 11, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose
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.
February does not provide the most vibrant scenery but the floral arrangement offered a promise of spring to come.
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.
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:
BUTTERNUT SQUASH "VELOUTE" Hearts of Palm, Ginger, and Pine Nuts
Continue reading "Ode to Exquisite Dining Chez Per Se" »
Aug 22, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
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.
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.
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:
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" »
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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.
Apr 11, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
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" »
Jan 15, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
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.
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!
Apr 10, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Restaurant Reviews
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" »
Feb 02, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Special Stories
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.