Tastes of the Week

Tastes of the WeekJan. 16 through Jan. 22, 2012

Trend of the moment: Escarole -- you heard it here first. You will find it braised, grilled, steamed, stir-fried, in salads, shredded, roasted, stuffed...everywhere.

I just love, love, love Bon Appetit's "faux shrimp" cocktail made with -- no, not surimi -- but with a head of fresh cauliflower, in the new February issue. Not sure why it tickles me so, but I can't wait to try it. The recipe comes from Chef Kevin Roberts from "The Black Sheep" in Richmond, Virginia. According to the chef, it is a dead ringer for the real thing: Cauliflower florets are briefly poached in water seasoned with crab boil spices, onions, garlic and lemons, and then served with cocktail sauce. The recipe alone is worth the price of the mag.

We were entertaining out-of-town guests this weekend and decided to go to Junior's in Times Square for a certain kind of New York experience. Before going, New York food maven Arthur Schwartz mentioned that the hamburgers were awfully good. Would never have imagined but my burger was fabulous! A perfectly-cooked rare cheeseburger with smothered onions. Juicy beyond all get out, great flavor, affordable. Good beets, pickles, slaw and a very nice waiter. And while the cheesecake at Junior's is excellent -- and certainly famous -- we were lunching with another famous baker... Anne Kabo from Margate, New Jersey.  It is her recipe for cheesecake that is featured in Radically Simple. Check it out; it's sublime.

Am enjoying a crate of honeybell oranges sent to me by my friend Evan Nisenson. The oranges come from Florida and are seductively sweet, intensely perfumed and actually silky in texture. I can think of no finer gift in the middle of winter and I am very grateful. I eat at least one a day. (And I share them, too.) The season is almost over (Jan. 30th) so hurry, hurry.

The finest "bruschetta" in the world is found at abckitchen. It is chef Dan Kluger's kabocha squash and goat cheese seasonal offering -- and that is almost over, too. Hurry, hurry.

Had a lovely authentic "tea" at the Colony Club with a dear friend who is a member. Fireplaces and a wonderful harpist. It reminds me what a wonderful way this is to entertain and so I think you should consider it. Little sandwiches, wonderful scones and clotted cream, tiny pastries. Tea.  (Currant-oatmeal scones based on a recipe from Joanne Rosen, lawyer and baker extraordinaire- under January 2012 recipes)

Instant party: Go to Barbounia (corner of Park Avenue South and 20th Street) and order the grand mezze of dips and spreads with freshly-baked Middle Eastern bread (more like Turkish pide than pita) and olives. Drink some Greek wine or a Spanish txakoli (from the Basque region) like we did last night.

Good friends told us that they had an amazing meal on Saturday night at the Gentleman Farmer on Rivington Street on the lower east side: Rabbit cassoulet; venison bourguignon, and a lusty cod dish with a root vegetable puree. Ostrich, wild boar, snails, are available, too. 20 seats only.

Dying to go back to Tony Zazula's Commerce restaurant (we had our Thanksgiving there) and to Drew Nieporent's Corton. Also eager to try Danny Meyer's newest venture -- North End Grill with super-star chef Floyd Cardoz at the ovens. I want their Grilled Clam Pizza now!

Happy tastes of the week to you.