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Bull sculpture from MoMA’s Picasso: Sculpture exhibit that I was finally able to see.

I had this really long, probably very rambly recap of the two days we spent in New York two weekends ago, but I’d rather keep this short and sweet, because I’ve realized that there are a lot of things that I need to write about and I’ll be likely mining this trip and all of the delicious things we ate and drank for months to come.

(I know, I say that about all of our trips and it’s true, but now I’m making detailed lists of all of the things I need to write about and what I’m missing from each post so I can get my act together and actually schedule content to appear on a regular basis.) Read More

Open-Face Croque Monsieur from Pastis

Despite the fact that it’s been years since we’ve been there and it’s been well over a year since it closed, every once in a while I still get a craving to go to Pastis. In spite of all of the irritations about the place–the crowds, the rather ridiculous prices, the cramped banquettes and tiny tables–every visit there would still be a pretty fantastic food experience, and I’ve even taken their lead on a few dishes and incorporated them into our normal recipe rotation.

Plus, it was arguably the prettiest of Keith McNally’s very pretty restaurant empire: lots of dark wood and penny subway tile, but not as dark as Balthazar nor as intentionally run-down as Lucky Strike. (I have yet to visit his newer places so I can’t speak to them, but I imagine they are also very, very pretty but probably not as aesthetically pleasing to me as Pastis.) While it helped that there always seemed to be a preponderance of European tourists eating there at all times of the day, you really did feel like you were being swept into a bustling bistro in a hip Parisian neighborhood and the only thing missing was being able to light up a cigarette or two while you lingered over French 75s and omelettes. Read More

Oysters three ways: ponzu sauce (top), freshly prepared horseradish (middle), and spring onion-moscatell mignonette (bottom).

Almost two weeks ago I took the Acela up to New York for a work event, and while most of the trip was extremely packed with meetings and activities, I was able to squeeze in a little time to both revisit some favorite places and cross some others off my “restaurants to visit” list in the city. The first thing I did after dropping off my bags in my hotel room was to hit up Fairway to both stock up on vinegars as well as get some room essentials that would not require me to use the well-stocked but extremely expensive minibar in my room. I then had the very difficult decision to make as to where to get dinner, but with the weather being kind of gloomy I stuck with places within easy walking distance: the main course was the steak frites at Les Halles on Park Ave, and then for a nightcap I treated myself to some oysters at The John Dory Oyster Bar which was conveniently located off the lobby of my hotel. Read More

Les Halles on Park Ave

This has been a very long work in progress and admittedly, it’s still a work in progress because the New York restaurant world is ever-changing and so you never know when a favorite will close or relocate or similar, but back in November I had the notion to create a page dedicated to our favorite places to eat in the city. To be frank, the internet needs another guide to New York like it also needs a “new” cupcake recipe, but I wanted to offer a page of suggestions that offer straightforward takes on some of those places and say if they are worth the hype or not. They are the places I would recommend anyone if they were to venture into New York, and frankly they are the places I want to go back to first when I come back to make my own visits.

A portion of the mural from the Gramercy Tavern

 

The page can be found here, and I promise I’ll have a regular recipe soon, but I wrote too much to relegate the page to a throwaway mention and a hyperlink as it stands now.

City Hall Subway station--probably the closest I'll ever get to it

City Hall Subway station–probably the closest I’ll ever get to it

A few days ago various sites were sharing photos by James and Karla Murray, authors of Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York as they were doing a ten-year update in which they revisited several iconic mom-and-pop businesses in the city from their book to see if they were still there or had caved to the whims of modern New York and closed. Sadly, many are no longer there, either being replaced with banks and Subway shops (seriously) or sitting as unused and blank spaces. Change and gentrification, especially in a place like New York, are inevitable, but it always hurts a little more when something goofy and unique is replaced with another soulless corporate box of steel and glass.

I’m angry that the glass box that replaced the M&G Diner is still going unused. Read More

Part of our to-do list in 2014

Part of our to-do list in 2014

We’re in the midst of preparations for our New Year’s Eve celebrations, i.e. our annual evening-long cooking-and-eating fest, but I wanted to drop in and wish everyone a wonderful 2014! The menu tonight is shaping up to be one of our best ever, and because one of my goals for this coming year is writing more here, I’m hoping I’ll be actually sharing it here very soon. Read More

Tortilla de patatas y finas hierbas/truita a patates amb les fines herbes

Tortilla de patatas y finas hierbas/truita a patates amb les fines herbes

I had high hopes for this tortilla, and while it was delicious and did a pretty good job of matching the idea of the final product that was in my head, there’s also much room for improvement. But that’s how cooking goes some days. The key is, of course, is to crack a few more eggs and try it again.

My initial vision was to make a Spanish-style tribute to one of the best omelettes I’ve ever had: the omelette aux fines herbes at Pastis.* It’s enormous and fluffy and comes with a side of frites, and paired with a good French 75 it’s my platonic ideal of brunch these days. While the dish as-is would be a wonderful dinner, I’m not one for making frites at home, much less on a weekday. Here’s where the Spanish inspiration came in: crumble in some high-quality potato chips (in our case, the house-made chips from Fairway) along with the herbs into the eggs, and cook it all as a tortilla, served with a big salad.

Pastis's omelette aux fines herbes with French Fries

Pastis’s omelette aux fines herbes with French Fries

Because really: if really tasty potato chips are good enough for both Feran Adrià and José Andrés to make the tortilla process a little faster, then they are good for all of us. While the resultant tortilla was tasty, it wasn’t perfectly cooked: the middle was a little runny while the exterior was just a touch too done. This didn’t bother me personally as I like runny eggs, but I’d really like to master the balance of exterior to interior doneness and make a tortilla that is as pretty as it is tasty one of these days. I’ve read that smaller pans are best, so I’ve placed a smaller nonstick on my birthday wishlist and hopefully in a few weeks I’ll be able to report on my success or lack thereof.

So let’s call this the “before” photo, and the “after” will come when I have less pan to work with and the same number of eggs. Pending that experiment, a recipe will soon follow.

Stay tuned!

*I wasn’t into eggs, much less an omelette, until a few years ago and therefore I have a very limited data set for reference. Feel free to instruct me on where to find better omelettes in the comments.

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