It’s funny–when I was looking for restaurants to add to our New York itinerary, I largely relied on old favorites first but then took advantage of the time of year and started plumbing the best-of-2015 and 2016 eating guides. I didn’t get very far because Adam Platt’s Where to Eat 2016 gave me way too many places to even consider for a two-day stint, and so I populated my custom Google map accordingly.
Initially for Saturday brunch I wanted to go to Corkbuzz down by Union Square, since we also had plans to wander around the greenmarket in the morning for old time’s sake. Unfortunately they no longer do Saturday brunch so that was out the window, so instead I suggested a place from the brunch section of Where to Eat: Cosme. Platt describes it as “the ultimate in gourmet brunchtime pleasure” and the menu seemed pretty enticing so I was sold, and oh, what pleasure was in store for us.
Getting a reservation for when they open may seem like an amateur move, but we had been up for hours at that point walking around all over so we were both close to starving by the time we came in just after they had opened their doors so personally I was beyond caring at that point. Cocktails were ordered–a Paloma for Michael, and a drink called the Striptease for me–and then I went with the chilaquiles with chicken and salsa verde while Michel got the duck enmoladas (enchiladas enrobed in mole sauce). Both dishes were outstanding, mainly because of their sauces; the salsa verde was light and tart and played well against the tortilla chips, chicken and creme fraiche, while the mole was incredibly refined. I had ordered something similar at a restaurant here in Fell’s Point that was similar, but couldn’t hold a candle to what Michael had before him.
The drinks were also fantastic, with the Paloma being a particular favorite: reposado tequila, house made grapefruit syrup, seltzer and a little lime juice made it both refreshing and the perfect brunchtime drink. More on that in a bit.
Of course after the fact I started doing a little more reading on where we had eaten and realized that we had, if not randomly, at least a little obliviously had eaten at one of the most acclaimed new restaurants in the city. My head had been swimming from all of the places I had earmarked so specific details about each one were minimal at best. (Cosme had been associated with “good brunch” and that’s about it.) When we entered the restaurant I noticed all of the cool cookbooks they were using as decoration on the open shelving, and my eye was drawn to Mexico From The Inside Out, a title I’ve had my eye on but had yet to pull the trigger on getting. It wasn’t until I was doing my post-brunch reading that I realized we were in the author’s first New York restaurant and that oh yeah, his Mexico City place is ranked 20th on San Pellegrino’s 50 Best Restaurants in the World.
Suffice it to say that by the weekend after our trip, I had put together a menu for Saturday night from a cobbled-together selection of Enrique Olvera recipes found online as well as figured out how to at least attempt to replicate the Palomas we enjoyed. The Chicharrón Tacos in Salsa Verde were good (the salsa was just like what I had enjoyed at brunch) and the tortillas were surprisingly easy to make from scratch. The Scallop Aguachile was a lot of work–so many ingredients cut into brunoise!–but totally worth it even if I might cut down on the amount of serrano when I make it again.
I ended up doing a little bit of a riff on Olvera’s Paloma; given that neither Michael nor I are big on salt-rimmed glasses at home, instead of making a grapefruit salt I instead did a grapefruit-based salt air using the leftover grapefruit I had from making the syrup. It’s a technique I learned from José Andrés as he does something similar for margaritas that are also very, very good.
If February is getting you down and you’re thinking of warmer climates, give this drink a try–it’s light and bright and will at least help you pretend you’re on a warm beach or sitting by a pool for a little while.
Paloma with Grapefruit Salt Air
adapted from Enrique Olvera’s Cosme
Makes one cocktail
2 oz reposado tequila
1 1/2 ounces grapefruit syrup (this recipe is a good one!)
Juice of 1/2 lime
Soda or sparkling water
Grapefruit salt air (recipe below)
In a cocktail shaker combine all ingredients save for the sparkling water and grapefruit salt air and shake until the shaker is cold. Strain into an old fashioned glass, top with a couple of ounces of soda water, and then top with some grapefruit salt air.
Grapefruit salt air
Adapted from José Andrés
Makes enough for 6-8 cocktails
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, strained of pulp (2-3 grapefruit)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon soy lecithin (get it here)
In a tall, narrow container combine all ingredients. Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients and keep at it until bubbles begin to form on the top of the juice. Using a spoon, carefully collect the bubbles and place them on top of your cocktail of choice.