Journal entries from October 2013

Lunch at the new Red Farm, Upper West Side

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Craziness on a rainy Halloween afternoon!  How do all these people crowding into Red Farm know the place has opened?  Red Farm is so squeaky new it isn't even serving dinner yet, but if Joe Ng and Ed Schoenfeld thought they were going to manage a soft lunch-only opening, they were very much mistaken.
Food people are pouring in; today it's John Besh at one table, Chris Cannon and Josh Wesson at another. And isn't that the actor,  Tom Skerritt, in that booth over there?

It's wild insanity, and enormous fun. Strangers pass tidbits from one table to the next and pour out glasses of wine.  (The Ruggine Josh Wesson's drinking is lovely; slightly fizzy, it's an unusual wine that's perfect with this intensely flavorful food.) 

The food itself is fantastic.  These soup dumplings:
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are huge, floppy, juicy creations that are almost unimaginably light. They're so satisfying and delicious that if I'd eaten nothing else I would have left a happy woman.
But that would have meant missing the vegetable pancakes
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a fantastic riff on mu shu that redeems this too-often ordinary dish.
And you definitely do not want to miss the pork chops:
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slightly charred, the crisp edges taste of lemongrass and garlic, and come perched on a mound of the most wonderful fried rice. 
Dessert? The fruit plate was as pretty as that tuna salad which started off the meal. (See above.)


Note from Chicago

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At Frontera Grill with the wonderful Rachel Joyce (author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry).
She landed from London, hungry for Mexican food. Favorite dishes: Mexico City quesadillas, smoked ruby shrimp, garnachas de pato.  And those beautiful Scarlet Waves. 


Things I Love

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A surprising new product for the Hudson Valley.

This is from the farmstand at Etcetera Farm, in Harlemville. 


The Chocolate Babka!

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So rich it drips chocolate and butter on your fingers when you cut it. So flaky it's more croissant than a cake. And so delicious... it is irresistible.
Mimi Sheraton told me that the babka from Breads (on 16th Street) was the best babka in New York. And I agree!


Notes from the Road: Seattle

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Had a lot of great food in seafood city, at restaurants with wonderful names. We had drinks, warming our hands by the fire as we ate lovely beef tartare, sparked with cod roe and tamed with asian pear at Joule. Then on to The Whale Wins, where we ate an entire array of vegetables, roasted marrow bones and a most fantastic piece of pork shoulder (among other wonders).  A great night of crudo and pasta at Anchovies and Olives.  But what I’ll remember most is an early afternoon feast at Taylor’s Shellfish in Melrose Market.

The Olympia oysters are superb right now: small and plump, with that coppery flavor that resonates in your mouth like a bell.  Shigokus - their deep shells so filled with oyster liquor that you slurp them down as both food and drink. Dungeness crabs - so sweet. So rich. So satisfying.  And finally a little dessert of geoduck sashimi, the only seafood I know that’s crisp enough to chew.  

All I could think, as we sat there, eating with our hands, was this: If I lived here, I could do this every day.  Reason enough, I think, to live in Seattle. 


Notes from the Road: Los Angeles

Here for a panel on California Cuisine.  Interesting multicultural, inter-generational conversation.

Later I had dinner at Bucato, in Culver City, with a big group of friends. We sat outside, surrounded by huge heaters shooting flames into the air.  To a New Yorker, just  being here is a kind of Los Angeles dream: the chic people walking in, the balmy air, the fantastic fire.

But the food here is a surprise. The best dishes are all carbs. Superb breads, some crusty, some soft, warm and pliable, served with a variety of fats: goat butter and whipped lardo both make an appearance.  I could happily spend an entire evening munching on these. 

But that would mean missing the pastas, which are in a class by themselves. Portions are small, the hand-rolled shapes strangely soft and seriously sexy.  My favorite was macaroni di busa, a sinuous Sardinian shape, dotted with pungent little crumbles of white ragu that make it clear the starring role belongs to the pasta.

Afterward we had a serious hunk of ribeye, and I spent the rest of the evening chewing happily on the bone.




Things I Love: Small Wonders


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They're tiny - maybe two and a half inches high - and I use them for everything.  To hold olives on a cocktail table. As a perfect little egg cup. Or a vase for wild flowers on the kitchen window (or the dinner table.) To stash a few sprigs of parsley in the refrigerator.

And of course, they' feel so wonderful in your hand that they're perfect when I want a little sip of wine. 

The potter, Daniel Bellow, calls them "babies." I just call them useful. 



Things I Love

A Perfect Salad Bowl

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This vintage Dansk salad bowl was one of the best gifts I've ever received. It's a majestic creature - ten inches in diameter - and large enough to hold greens for a dozen people. But even if there are only two of us for dinner, the sight of this beautiful bowl sitting on my table is enough to make me happy. 

You can often find bowls like this on EBay. But my favorite place to shop for vintage Dansk kitchenware is Neven and Neven Moderne, a wonderful antique shop specializing in mid-century modern furniture, in Hudson New York. 



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About this journal
Where am I eating? What's for dinner tonight? And what books have I been reading? For a look at what's going on in my life lately, take a look at this journal, which I try to update on a regular basis.