Tastes of the Week

From July 4 to July 10th, 2011 At the home of David Rosengarten, the food expert's expert, we were treated, on Saturday night, to a regal dinner based on the foods of Greece.  Extraordinary from end to end -- three kinds of feta from different regions of Greece, crisp-tender baby artichokes, a dozen mezedes, lamb-stuffed peppers and homemade spanakopita, demitasse cups of the artichoke-poaching broth, yogurt marinated chicken on pita with 16-hour dried tomatoes (so amazingly intense and sweet), more yogurt, indigenous honey and almond cake for dessert.  Twelve different wines, including a horizontal tasting of an indigenous wine/grape "Assyrtiko" from the island of Santorini.  David said this wine is at the forefront of a big trend. The wines (from different producers in Greece) are dry, minerally, big, complex.  One tasted like a dry malvasia, said my husband. The guest to my left, Don Bryant from the extraordinary Bryant Vineyards in California, said he liked #3.  (I'll ask David which that was and will let you know.) I decided any man who makes $1000 wine (per bottle) and has a waiting list!, probably has a good palate and I finished my glass of #3.

Retro and deliciously old-fashioned Italian "family food" at Cavallino Nero in Mays Landing, New Jersey.  Great angel hair pasta with freshly steamed clams, garlic and parsley, and good veal francese.  Even more retro was the price of a large glass of Chianti for $6.00 a pop.  Nice cannoli and a very sympatico waiter.

Fabulous strawberry pie from the Garrison Market in Garrison, New York.  Say hi to the pastry chef, Eric, if you go...and you should. It tasted super-saturated with strawberry flavor yet with the bright acidity that comes from rhubarb but alas it had no rhubarb in it! The other pies, peach and apple, looked great as well.  Ask for a piece with your morning coffee, otherwise buy a whole pie.

Great homemade zucchini bread from Aunt Anne in Margate, New Jersey.  "Zip code baking" for sure as the zucchini came from an  organic garden just two block away.  It was moist and spicy-sweet from nutmeg and cinnamon.  Delicious with yogurt and bananas for breakfast.

The BEST knockwurst from the local supermarket in Cold Spring, New York.  Griddled until the outside was crisp and a bit leathery -- slathered with Polish mustard.

Great summer corn vigorously rubbed with a fistful of fresh basil leaves, sweet butter, and coarse salt.

Gigantic fresh raspberries tossed with tiny ice cream-filled profiteroles, dusted with powdered sugar, at the home of friends in Garrison.

A summer peach, gently warmed by the sun on the window sill.

An ice-cold glass of New York City tap water.

Food News & Views

Saturday night we had a fabulous time eating dinner with David Rosengarten at his home with 10 guests from France (including the COO of the famed Dorcester Hotel Group --the Plaza-Athenee, Bel-Aire Hotel, Le Meurice, Beverly Wilshire, the Palace -- you get the idea) and his friend Sylvia Golden who is his business partner.  Not only was the town house one of New York's most beautiful, but the food that night, the most deliciously incongruous.  As many of you know, David Rosengarten is one of the most esteemed foodies in America.  As author of The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook (one of my favorites) and several others, including David Rosengarten Entertains: Fabulous Parties for Food Lovers, he was one of the Food Network's first stars beginning with the trendy show, "Food News & Views," which he hosted with Donna Hanover. (I was a guest on the very first show!) Later, David hosted the award-winning program "Taste."  This particular evening, David wanted to treat his Gallic friends (including a handful of children) to a very decidedly American dinner. In that spirit, we began with tequila-based Bloody Marys (into which a celery stalk and a pickled okra was inserted), oyster shooters, the most amazing crab cakes, the size of softballs, adorned with chipotle mayonnaise and a winning slaw with a background of cumin.  Although we were only twelve, there were two styles of brisket, smoked ribs, carrot pudding, half-a-dozen barbecue sauces, homemade potato chips, and dozens of wines including a Kistler Chardonnay and several credible reds from Long Island.  (In 1980, I "smuggled" a bottle of Kistler in my handbag back from a trip to California.  It had still not arrived on the East Coast and I was sure this was going to be a contender in California's burgeoning wine portfolio.)

For dessert, we had what David considers the best rum cake made in America (will get you the info soon) and our contribution which was a restaurant size cheesecake from Juniors (not so far from where we live.)  There was enough cheesecake to feed all of Paris (they eat small portions) and it was a huge hit.  In our neck of the woods, a cheesecake from Juniors is considered a locavore food! Francois, the COO, brought Sylvia (the evening's host) copies of several of Alain Ducasse's cookbooks -- Ducasse's restaurants are housed in several of the company's hotels.  Ducasse's newest book is not yet available in America and is as impressive as the new Noma cookbook (Rene Redzepi, Noma's chef, was voted the world's best chef this year.)  There was lots of talk about the hotel world, food world, about Paris and Morocco, about India, and most interesting for us, David's upcoming new business ventures --  including, hopefully, a new tv show. More about that as it unfolds but, for now, I will ask David to share his sources.  You won't want to miss the rum cake, brisket, and David's favorite barbecue sauce. The New York Times once said of David..."He explores his subjects so thoroughly that he makes instant  experts of his viewers." Ditto, his dinner guests.