On this last day of the first month of a new year, I did a quick review of the most delicious things I’ve had to eat (and drink.) Hands down winner was the parsnip ravioli with coconut jewels and beet vinaigrette at Jean-Georges’ restaurant Nougatine. I told my guest that I didn’t think I would encounter anything that felt more “French” or contemporary on my trip next month to Paris. This dish had it all — grace, ingenuity, beauty and mystery. What exactly were those little clear icicles that quivered atop the diminutive ravioli (slightly sweet and earthy from its filling of pureed parsnip but balanced with primal acidity from the scarlet vinaigrette)? The gems were solidified gems of coconut water. Somehow it all worked magically together. And few things are more sublime that his pristine salmon tartare on a oil-slicked tranche of yeasty grilled bread. Some chives, a squirt of lemon. How he does it I’m not sure but there at lunchtime there are $25 and $32 prix fixe menus. Jean-Georges continues to be my hero.
More great tastes included a 2002 Pommard from Jean Garaudet shared with our friends, travel and wine writer extraordinaire Gary Walther and Anna Sabat, in a private wine cellar located below the Chelsea Market. What a treat to sit in the frigid air sipping true cellar temperature reds amidst thousands of cases of “other people’s wines.” There was just a little nook and a table and chairs, a hanging lamp, and us. We sipped and marveled at another two great wines, also supplied by Gary at the Old Homestead! I haven’t been there in decades. Two 1995 St. Emilion’s tasted mighty good with what was one of the best rare burgers I’ve had in ages. And…the bun is branded with a hot iron! The Clos de l’Oratoire and Chateau Canon-la-Gaffeliere (which tasted of boysenberry and tar) were incredibly vibrant and pleasing to drink.
And Park Slope’s Stone Park Cafe, remains beloved since it’s opening by Josh Foster and chef Josh Grinker. What’s not to love? Black trumpet mushrooms on toast with tarragon creme anglaise and Petrossian salmon roe (yes, it was brilliant); Beet Salad “tarte tatin” with goat cheese, arugula, and caramelized balsamic vinegar; and their signature Berkshire Pork Shank with truffled whipped potatoes and winter vegetables. Even the Stone Park Burger was first rate (I’ve been eating lots of burgers recently.)
There’s a great wine list, too, generously conceived by a savvy sommelier.
And while I go to few press events, I had a great time at Casa Pomona, located on the Upper West Side, where executive chef Jodi Bernhard concocts pintxos and pescados y mariscos and paella and frituras with the best of the new Spanish-inclined culinary wizards. Great patatas bravas, wonderful mussels en escabeche, and a trio of croquetas (filled with chorizo and cheese; salt cod & potato, and fig & walnut.) I would go again just for the grilled grass-fed hanger steak with swiss chard, oyster mushrooms and onion marmalade and happily look forward to a Monday night special of suckling pig for two. Brava Jodi.
Other great tastes? Billowy gnocchi with brussels sprouts and pork belly at Le Zie, an Indian feast (with dishes too numerous to mention) at the stunning Junoon, and a nice side dish of Brazilian kale at Coffee Shop.
Here’s to a delicious February. Let me know what you’re eating and drinking.