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
Given everything that’s going on in my newly-adopted city, it feels frivolous to post about food and recipes as if everything is awesome which is why I’ve been a bit quiet around here. It’s definitely been a surreal few days, from meeting Bryan Voltaggio and getting his latest cookbook at the Orioles game on Saturday to then being detained for a bit towards the end of the game, and then of course the events from earlier this week. You can still feel a little tension in the air, even around my neighborhood–everyone is trying to look out for everyone else and make sure they’re doing OK, which seems to be the dominant. Being as new to the city as we are, I feel ill-equipped to write about it at length, but here are some really thoughtful, interesting perspectives from people who understand the city and its dynamics far better than I do.
Of all of the positive pictures that have begun circulating on the internet as the city both cleans itself up and continues to protest, this lady (and the others who were burning sage along with her) has been giving me all of the feels as I write this. Read More
I’m pleased to announce that The Manhattan [food] Project has become a blogging partner of The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project, and as such you’ll start seeing more content around sustainably-sourced seafood and ways to enjoy it at home. Both Michael and I do what we can to buy as much sustainable seafood as we can and during the week we stick with tried-and-true favorites like trout, skipjack tuna, striped bass, and Pacific cod, while on weekends we may also indulge in some bivalve action. Since our move we’ve also been eating quite a bit of local rockfish and though it is a bit of a strange fish to get used to from a cooking perspective, it’s extremely delicious.
The mission of the Project is to band together bloggers who want to help promote the message of sustainability when it comes to seafood, and moreover inform and encourage consumers to be asking for more sustainably-sourced seafood at their local stores. The market is an extremely confusing one, because it isn’t so simple as buying certain fish and avoiding others; sustainable fishing practices are also scrutinized to ensure that the surrounding aquaculture is disturbed as little as possible. Monterrey Bay’s Seafood Watch is an exhaustive source on identifying the best fish choices out there, while Greenpeace publishes an annual scorecard listing the best and worst retailers to buy seafood across the country. The latter has wrought some serious changes over the years regarding what consumers have available to them in-store; most notably, Trader Joe’s earned a ranking of 17th out of 20 chains evaluated back in 2008 while as of 2014 they have moved up to fourth on the list and have a “Good” rating. Read More
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a fantastic article in which a writer for Vice’s food site invited a French sommelier to test out some wines that are blatantly and shamelessly targeted at women. The results are exactly what you think they would be, as the tasting notes from both Perrine Prieur (the sommelier) and Gray Chapman (the writer) are hysterical. Prieur has no qualms in declaring one red “like a bad tank that hasn’t been cleaned, that they’re just throwing shit into,” while Chapman slayed me with several quips that I won’t spoil for you here.
It might seem like an easy premise for a bunch of laughs–ooo, the fancy French sommelier doesn’t like mass-produced wine–but it’s pretty clear that Prieur came to this experiment with an extremely open mind and was just crestfallen every time the alleged varietal was revealed to her. More importantly, she made a point of showing Chapman several wines in her own shop that were less expensive and more complex than any of the ones that were part of the taste test, and that’s the reason why Prieur has rocketed onto my list of favorite lady sommeliers along with Gretchen Thomas of the Barteca restaurant group.*
I’m not sure what it was that made me think making salt-cured beef in the fridge was a perfect idea for a chilly January weekend, but all I do know is that when I took out our copy of Hawksmoor at Home one Thursday morning before breakfast and I flipped open to that page, my stomach growled. Audibly. It also seemed so simple and the flavors so perfect to this time of year, since you grate up quite a bit of celery root and throw in some rosemary springs to meld with the salt and brown sugar–I mean, it was practically begging me to give it a try. Michael was sold on it pretty quickly, so over lunch I went out in search of ingredients and was able to place a lovely, just-over-one-pound piece of tenderloin into the cure and then into the fridge and I could feel very pleased that half of my Saturday dinner prep was well underway.
We’ve been in Baltimore for a month as of yesterday, and while there are adjustments to make like finding new food and wine stores and getting accustomed to driving around in a real city, overall the move has been a very positive one. We were mostly unpacked by the time New Year’s rolled around largely thanks to Michael going through box after box during his time off work, and even now we just have to figure out where to hang and/or place the remaining pictures we have stashed around the apartment.
(We also have to get used to living in a city with an actual football team again, and moreover living not that far from the stadium. We were spared the brunt of the excitement this year but I imagine next fall we won’t be making many plans to venture out on Sundays unless it’s to places we can walk.)
Don’t let the passing of Labor Day fool you: summer is most definitely still in session through most of September and we’re about to experience the warmest temperatures we’ve had all season this week, so I have no problem promoting a refreshing, summertime beverage despite it being past the acceptable date to wear white. Besides, in just over a week we’re going to Spain, and specifically going back to Barcelona and Caldetas/Caldes d’Estrac, and while I am naturally planning many ways to eat our faces off I’m also really looking forward to indulging in a few gintonics while we’re there too. Unlike here where at most places a G&T is simply some gin, tonic water from a beverage gun and maybe a wedge or wheel of lime, but in Spain it is most definitely a cocktail.
Typically served in wine goblets instead of highballs, they also tend to be made with the little single-serving bottles of tonic water rather than stuff from the aforementioned beverage gun, and good, bottled tonic water is something special. As Danny Castellano noted in the episode “The Desert” of The Mindy Project, “tonic water’s tonic water, okay? It’s refreshing, it’s crisp. It’s the tiniest bit sweet.” A good gintonic lets that part of tonic water shine, and the addition of juniper berries and wheels of lemon and lime just make the tonic all the more flavorful.
If you need further proof that the Spanish gintonic surpasses all other versions of the drink, just see the delightful standoff that took place some time ago between Mario Batali and José Andrés on Twitter:
This is a recipe for a very simple but highly flavorful version of the G&T, and it’s worth finding a container of juniper berries in addition to a little four-pack of good tonic water (Fever Tree is delicious) to while away the remaining weeks of summer, and to embrace those rare and overly-warm autumn days. As it always does, winter is coming–let’s all take a step back to enjoy the warmth.
makes 1 cocktail, adapted slightly from Made in Spain by José Andrés
- 2 oz gin
- 1 200 mL bottle Fever Tree tonic water, either Indian or Mediterranean style (Michael prefers Indian-style, while I love the Mediterranean)
- 1-2 leaves lemon verbena (optional but awesome)
- 3-4 juniper berries, slightly crushed
- 1 lemon wheel
- 1 lime wheel
In a large goblet or wine glass, combine gin with tonic water and ice and add garnishes as desired. Serve immediately.
For added effect, aerate the tonic water by pouring down the spiraled handle of a bar spoon or from a great height.