Tastes of the Week

October 9 through October 16, 2011 As promised, below, is the recipe for the salmon dish featured in Al Hashulchan -- Israel's number one food mag. It was chosen as the best of the 100 recipes offered in this month's issue. Lovely with a glass of sauvignon blanc to integrate all the flavors.

A lovely vegan carrot cake at GustOrganics on 6th Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets. Good coffee, too. It's an interesting place -- an open-to-the-street cafe -- full of plants and wooden tables with an appealing full menu if you happen to be in the neighborhood; or happen to be a vegan!

Lunch with the beautiful Ellie Krieger of Food Network fame at Boulud Sud. It was a wonderful meal that made me wistful for the first New York restaurant that fused the flavors of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It was actually a restaurant I created for a client more than 25 years ago when I was chef/director of the Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co. The restaurant, which still exists, was called Cafe Greco and Tom Valenti (of upper west side fame) was our first chef. Times have changed yet my prediction about Med-Rim cuisine is happening. Daniel Boulud did a masterful job incorporating the flavors of za'atar, ras el hanout, tahini, eggplant, chickpeas, a baccala-inspired falafel, and much more, into his beautiful French style of cooking.

We had one of the best and most celebratory lunches imaginable at the Four Seasons restaurant on East 52nd Street. We hadn't been for so many years and wondered why. The Grill Room at lunch is "the place to be and be seen." While Kissenger and I.M. Pei were clearly out of town, there were power-broker tables for sure. But the real pleasure was the food. It felt contemporary yet nostalgic, for its essence reminded me of the food I have been longing for.  Extraordinary bay scallops (the real ones!) on polenta with a truffle sauce; grilled octopus (so tender it melted on your tongue) with a lovely bean and tapenade salad hidden under a tuft of arugula; a fabulous lobster bisque (when was the last time you had that?), a beautiful offering of striped bass with autumn vegetables in a chorizo-mussel broth, and much more to be shared in a future story.

And I was "gifted" today with a steak from our friend Erica, who bought it at the brand new, everybody's talkin' about, butcher-shop, Fleischer's on 5th Avenue and Union Street in Park Slope. It is their signature steak, "sirloin top." And my brother brought me a box of the best pignoli cookies made this side of Rome, from Giorgio's bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey.

If you're at a farmer's market this week, look for the tiny heirloom eggplants that I spotted at the market near Lincoln Center. Some of them were round and bright red, all different colors and tiny shapes and sizes. They looked like marzipan. Exciting times for vegetables!

Okay, this blog is so long, please look for the recipe tomorrow on this site -- with a photo!