Tag Archives: North End Grill

Tastes of the Week

30 Apr

April 23 through April 30, 2012

It’s been a week of excess and pleasure. I often feel that way when we just eat well at home — trying new ingredients, adapting wonderful recipes to fit our needs, developing ideas for magazine articles, or simply opening that rare “convenience” food like the Butter Chicken we bought at Costco! But this week’s tastes came from outside my home and into the kitchens of some of New York’s best chefs and into a neighbor’s home for a bona fide “Afternoon Tea.”  There was lunch at North End Grill (you can read more about it in my blog post “A Chef Among Chefs“), a contemporary new restaurant created by restaurant impresario Danny Meyer and chef Floyd Cardoz. Details of the meal are included there. The restaurant is located on a hidden street where you can peer onto the river across a sweeping grassy knoll — which is a memorial to Irish immigrants. It will be a wonderful area to explore once the weather is sunny and beckoning.

I am still thinking about an impromptu lunch with Max Falkowitz — the new New York editor of Serious Eats.  We “dined” at Taboonette (the downtown offspring of the popular restaurant Taboon) and immensely enjoyed the Kruveet (taboon roasted cauliflower, grilled eggplant, hummus, tahini and cilantro), superb pulled pork with fennel-jicama-apple slaw, spicy cilantro mayo and chicharones, and lemon-cured baked salmon with za’atar oil, yogurt sauce, sumac and arugula. Wonderful coffee.

Dinner at RedFarm, Eddie Schoenfeld’s new wildly imaginative Chinese-esque restaurant in the West Village. We were delighted to take the food editor and publisher of Israel’s most important food magazine, Al Hashulchan, Janna and Ilan Gur. They were enamored by the array of extraordinary dumplings, the Kowloon filet mignon tarts, and Green Thai Curry. 

A beautiful lunch at SD26. It has a very different feel at lunch — lighter and more whimsical — and I look forward to the outdoor seating which should appear shortly. The four of us were thrilled with a first course of freshly-flown in burrata surrounded by excellent San Daniele prosciutto. That, and an espresso, might have been enough for us: It was perfection. But we moved onto the house specialty “Uovo” — soft egg yolk-filled raviolo with truffle butter, homemade fettuccine with coriander-scented lamb ragu, fava beans and fresh mint, and shared a portion of succulent swordfish served with zucchini scapece, eggplant caviar, and fried tomatoes. Great tiramisu with espresso sauce.  And would you believe that a two-course lunch is $28.

Lunch the next day at the Rubin Museum. It is not as good as it used to be but it is still an extraordinary institution (with very exciting programming) and a good place to “hang” if you want to hear your dining companion and sip good “white Earl Grey” tea.

And speaking of tea, it was a lovely surprise to attend a real tea party at the home of a neighbor to hear about the goings-on at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Tea was poured at 4:00 p.m. and “catered” by Angela who specializes in tea parties! Tiny scones with delicious “raisin butter,” cucumber and mint sandwiches, tiny croutes with curried chicken salad, fig pound cake, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and gorgeous truffles that looked like Christmas ornaments! 

I also cooked dinner for friends, but more about that another time.

New: Beginning Wednesdays and Fridays, I will be sharing recipes from my archives! Stay tuned. Enjoy your week.

A Chef Among Chefs

28 Apr

I’ve been around the New York restaurant scene for more than 30 years and few names come up with as much respect and affection as that of Floyd Cardoz. I couldn’t believe I never met him until I went to North End Grill a few days ago to celebrate the birthday of a great friend. It was a girl’s lunch out — white wine (one from Greece and another from Austria), a torchon of foie gras with rhubarb-tangerine preserve and grilled brioche; soft-scrambled eggs with bacon and ramps, a salad of escarole, endive and radicchio tossed with blood oranges and Marcona almonds, linguine with flaked halibut, fava leaves and citrus gremolata. There were outstanding “Thrice-Fried Spiced Fries” peppered with mango powder, paprika and cumin, and, for dessert, an awesome butterscotch pot de crème with chocolate streusel and “single Maltmallows” (homemade marshmallows perfumed with scotch), and a sexy rendition of chocolate mousse coupled with candied macadamia nuts and black currant sorbet.

So why am I telling you all this, other than to make your mouth water? It’s because the menu tells the story of a chef’s journey — from the bold, iconic, three-star, Indian-inspired Tabla, to the new American-style grill recently opened in New York’s Financial District, by Chef Cardoz and Danny Meyer. It isn’t an easy act to follow — your own — and even harder when you know all eyes are upon you: Those of the most jaded New Yorkers, and maybe more importantly, those of your disciples, including some of the city’s bold name chefs including Ben Pollinger from Oceana and Dan Kluger of abckitchen. This is a chef who is “totally present” to his new surroundings and his new-style cuisine: Nary a nod to the pantry he left behind except, perhaps, for that dusting of mango powder on those addictive fries.

I admire this move. It is risky and rewarding. It is not yet perfect but that’s the magic of all of Danny Meyer’s enterprises (Danny is the owner of Union Square Hospitality Group and the creator of Gramercy Tavern, Maialino, Blue Smoke, Union Square Café, and Shake Shack, just to name a few). He and his chefs “work it” and work it until whatever it is they’re doing becomes a “prime number” in the infinite realm of experiential dining.

Many chefs, like many artists, apply their creativity to a singular modality (a particular cuisine) that comes to define them. But today, the emphasis is on the craft of being a chef, allowing for expansion beyond one’s own culture or culinary training. Floyd Cardoz began his life in India and graduated in biochemistry. He understands why food does what it does. He has worked in the best kitchens in India and Switzerland and spent five years in the celebrated kitchen of Gray Kunz’s Lespinasse. Whether Floyd’s “Cod Throats Meuniere” or his “Grilled Clam Pizza” become the next big thing doesn’t really matter. Most important to him is the camaraderie, respect and competence he has bestowed upon each person who has ever worked for him. He is a “chef among chefs,” they’ll tell you, a true Top Chef Master.

Tastes of the Week

23 Apr

April 16 to April 22

There were many tastes this week as we got ready for our daughter’s Sweet 16 party held at a very cool nightclub called La Pomme: located on West 26th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue. Many tastes were sweet indeed: There were large cupcakes made by the Cake Boss at Carlo’s — his bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. Then there were 250 mini-cupcakes from Baked by Melissa.” Recommended by my sister-in-law, she served them at a party for my brother who is considerably older than my daughter. They are small and sophisticated and great for any age! In each large pizza box, come 100 tiny cupcakes, in a variety of colorful flavors that exhibits like an optical illusion. Wonderful. Eighty teens munched on very credible sliders, sesame chicken skewers, pigs-in-blankets, potato pancakes, chocolate shots, brownies with cream and real raspberries…like that. And even though the chocolate cake we bought was merely to hold up the huge sparklers — it was nonetheless delicious! What was it? The huge, American All-Chocolate Cake from Costco. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Honestly, I don’t know how they can afford to sell some of the things they do at the prices they are. The filet mignon we bought there was also very good: My husband whipped up a birthday dinner for our daughter with an impromptu Bordelaise sauce, a spicy carrot puree and broccoli. We’ve been celebrating for a week.

While walking around the city on one of the beautifully sunny days last week (in search of heels to go with my daughter’s dress), I opted for chunks of freshly-cut mango sold on 14th street (instead of my more usual chocolate-dipped ice cream cone).”A specialty of Mexico,” the woman from Ecuador said, the ripe fruit was doused with hot sauce, salt and lemon juice. For $3, it was a great, and very healthy, snack. The bottled lemon juice, however, detracted from the overall freshness of the experience and so next time, I’ll bring my own fresh lime to squirt on top.

Scrambled eggs and sushi: That’s what we ate early the next morning after the sweet 16 shindig. It was a really cool merger of textures and tastes.

And I’m still dreaming about the butter-free and cheese-less asparagus risotto I had at SD26 last week. Will go again soon…just for that.

Upcoming tastes? Lunch at Danny Meyer and Floyd Cardoz’s new North End Grill and dinner at Red Farm this week.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,487 other followers

%d bloggers like this: