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.

From the entrance of Inventing Abstraction.

From the entrance of Inventing Abstraction.

One of the things I miss most about living in Manhattan is being able to go to the Museum of Modern Art whenever I felt like it. Getting the single membership was one of the most frugal things we did when we lived in the city; between Michael’s free access to the Met through his Columbia post-doc and this membership, we could partake in a magnitude of art without having to spend a ton of money on admission fees every time we had the inclination. Keeping the membership following the move was my way to maintain a tie to the city, to give us a concrete reason to return again and again.

So we go with some regularity these days, though not at the same clip we previously did. I’ve been able to catch most, if not all of the special exhibitions that have caught my eye: from Century of the Child to Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen to Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Artto Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914. Recently opened is Inventing Abstraction, an impressive survey of artists from Kandinsky to Mondrian to Duchamp who all through their various connections to each other took the early lessons of Cubism and turned it into what we would call abstract art. There’s a lovely playlist that accompanies the exhibit that you can listen to in a special room off the main exhibit, but you can also access it here if you’re unable to make it to New York before April.  Read More

 Pickled Ramps, Day 1

The end of winter/beginning of spring is a rough time to have blog friends who live in places like California. They torture you with their tales of how amazing the weather is and with their gorgeous photos of Meyer lemon trees and budding strawberries, telegraphing tales of warmth to us suckers from the Rockies to the East who have to suffer through the indignities of the winter-spring transition that usually means lackluster fruits without an end in sight. Even with the relatively mild winter we had here, this can be a rather frustrating process while we wait for spring produce and weather warm enough to finally start planting things. One benefit we do get this time of year, however, is ramp season, but because we aren’t allowed nice things for very long, that season is cruelly short.

It’s been almost a year ago to the day since I’ve last had my hands on some ramps: having taken the day off to catch the Copa del Rey final between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, I headed down to Union Square that morning to get what I figured would be the last of the ramps of the season and to finally try the pizza at Eataly. I think I ended up taking a good $12 worth home and we made salsa and pesto and all kinds of good things. (That was also the day that Michael told me that the job he wanted and eventually got was available once more, but it’s best not to get into that particular memory.) With us no longer being a mere two subway rides away from my favorite greenmarket, I had resigned myself to having a ramp-less spring this year, as Google searches came up with a lot of ways to build a ramp, but not to buy wild leeks locally. This, to be honest, didn’t surprise me all that much. Read More


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