October 16 through October 23, 2011 This past week was an embarrassment of riches at the table. And while I really like eating home best, there is nothing quite like sharing an excellent meal with a friend. At lunch, three hours seems to be the golden rule for maximum pleasure. Dinner is nothing short of four. This is a luxury for me but one that I love. We have a little joke, my husband and me. When I call late at night to check in and say hi (or good-night as the case may be), his first question is always, "Have you ordered yet?" We always laugh. Yes, Michael, I reply. "I'm on the way home."
For a nice mid-afternoon Sunday lunch for my brother and a dear friend who is an eminent food writer for Newsday, I prepared a radically simple meal of Chilled Beet Soup with Creme Fraiche and Lemon Zest, and, my "go to" recipe for Pork Loin in Cream with Tomatoes, Sage and Gin, accompanied by a potato gratin. Dessert? A new one for me -- a lemon tart from Thomas Keller. I swapped walnuts for the pine nuts in the ethereal crust and it worked! (Check out Radically Simple for my recipes and go to Epicurious for the Keller lemon tart.) I served the tart with a small cookie made from extra crust, topped with a tiny scoop of my lemon buttermilk ice cream (only 3 ingredients!)
A celebratory feast at the Taj Pierre Hotel in New York for the launch of a remarkable book "The Taj at Apollo Bunder." Hundreds of guests, thousands of orchids and festival lights to honor Diwali -- an important Hindu holiday. Amazing Indian and southeast Asian things to eat which I will describe at length in another post.
Dinner at Del Posto with my wonderful young cousin Josh Rovner who is the head of training in revenue management for Hilton. He loves to eat in four-star restaurants and we chose the crown jewel in the Bastianich-Batali kingdom. Here's the menu cooked by chef Mark Ladner: Abalone Carpaccio with Grilled Asparagus & Young Ramps; Spaghetti with Dungeness Crab, Jalapeno & Minced Scallion: Yesterday's 100-layer Lasagne alla Piastra; Young Lamb alla Romana, Garlic Yogurt with Ceci & Swiss Chard Ragu; Sardinian Lamb & Roman Artichokes, Bruised Mint & Saffron Potatoes; Sour Apricot & Toasted Cashew Coppettina, Sfera di Caprino with celery, fig agrodolce & celery sorbetto; Sunchoke crema with gelato al lievito. What can I say? Worth it. Unexpected visits from Lidia Bastianich and also Joe. Drank their wine.
Lunch at rooftop at Eataly at La Birreria on a very sunny but slightly chilly afternoon. Their space heaters really work but bring a sweater or a pashmina anyway. My favorite new lunch: Whole roasted Maiitake mushrooms with Pecorino Sardo crema, asparagus and peas; a salad of chopped mixed kale, grapefruit, poppy seed frico with anchovy vinaigrette; and nubby, fatty, divine housemade cotechino with their signature coarsely-cut kraut. Doppio espresso.
Brunch at Barbounia with psychoanalyst friend (specializes in teenage girls -- very helpful because we have one!). This has got to be the hippest, happening brunch in town, especially on a Saturday. Everything looked so good! You can linger for four hours (like we did!) over a mountain of mezze but the green shakshuka, the 1-inch high pancakes, the gigantic fresh salads all looked fabulous. Please save room for the kadayifi dessert -- layered with warm cheese, rose water syrup and kulfi ice cream. Oh my gosh.
Village Zendo -- cocktail reception with lovely southeast Asian offerings by the Communal Table catering (nycommunaltable.blogspot.com) -- to learn about the efforts of Michael Daube, director of Citta -- an organization that builds schools, hospitals and orphanages in the poorest areas of the world including Nepal, India and Chiapas (citta.org). Talks, slides and lovely photos of the children in Nepal waiting for a school to be built. Bought an ebulllient drawing by 8-year old Tenzin Thiley who looks like a happy, handsome kid.
Dinner at Paros -- a new Greek restaurant in Park Slope. Good place for a bottle of Greek wine (a new-to-me delicious dry red -- Naoussa Chrisohoou 2008) and a salad. Wonderful waiters, even Saturday night Greek music and a lovely singer. Read between the lines.
A late-afternoon coffee at Nespresso Boutique in Soho (92 Prince St.) -- a great place to crash with comfortable tables and chairs. Good espresso but the latte machiatto really looked fabulous.
Dinner tonight at the Duffy's -- with Susy Davidson, the executive director of the Julia Child Foundation, and a few wonderful friends -- old and new. It's a pot luck and we're all bringing something. More about that next week.
May your coming week be full of good taste (and tastes.)