Tastes of the Week

September 26 through October 2 Early in the week I enjoyed a wonderful reception at the newly-refurbished bistro La Mangeoire for new members of Les Dames d'Escoffier. It is a stellar group of women chefs, food writers, journalists, tv stars, and culinary philanthropists. Four-star chef Christian Delouvrier (formerly of Lespinasse) is happily cooking there: Highlights of the evening were the caramelized onion pissaladiere and gorgeous nuggets of fresh foie gras served atop slices of rare duck breast.

During our first night of Rosh Hashanah I experienced many "firsts" and many "best of" ingredients and dishes. My wonderful friend Dale brought her very own honey -- a wildflower honey cultivated from her own bees near Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Fragrant, graceful, full of flavor, I never want to finish it but it is impossible to stop drizzling it over everything. A kind of culinary riddle, no?

That night, too, I had the best tart ever. It was a lemon tart, slightly brûléed on top, made with a superlative crust fashioned from pine nuts, sugar, butter and some flour (I think). I will try to get the recipe from Bob Spitz (author, journalist and one heck of a baker) who was kind enough to bring this glorious lemon confection along with a fallen soufflé cake! Very generous.

And the food maven, Arthur Schwartz, brought the "best of show" chopped liver with gribenes (golden bits of crispy chicken skin) and equally fabulous vegetarian chopped liver made with stringbeans, caramelized onions and I'm not sure what else. I will get that recipe for you, too.

My matzoh balls were pretty good and my husband's citrus-y chicken and cauliflower-leek kugel were divine.

For the last four days I have been at a retreat at the Garrison Institute in a program related to my hospice and hospital work. It was a wonderful experience and a highlight of being at this beautiful monastery right on the Hudson River is the food, for it is exquisitely simple, very farm-to-table, and very delicious. Shelly Boris, the chef, has a unique way of feeding a crowd in a personal way, satisfying what seemed to be everyone's needs and desires.  We were 70 guests at every meal. Highlights included an aromatic green curry (made with tofu) and served with basmati rice; a fabulous dish of orecchiette with roasted eggplant and goat cheese; the last-gasp-of local summer tomatoes with a wonderful apple cider-mustard vinaigrette. And I always look forward to her scones, especially, the lemon poppy seed ones, in the morning.

Happy October. A month of good tastes, and recipes, to come.