Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
But wait. There's more.
Introducing Cupcake Stop. Mobile Cupcakes in delectable flavors like triple chocolate, red velvet and oreo crumb.
Check out their truck Tuesdays through Sundays:
Day (9:30am - 5pm):
5th Avenue bet. 13th and 14th Street*
Night (6pm - 10pm):
23rd Street bet. 7th and 8th Avenue*
And of course, you can follow them on Twitter!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The cupcake craze continues with Baked By Melissa, a tiny Soho shop--a window really--selling utterly tempting tiny-sized stuffed cupcakes. Perfect for when you just want taste of something sweet without the post-sugar hangover, these baked goods are moist, rich and filled with yummy things like cookie dough, s'mores and peanut butter cups. On Spring Street between Mercer and Broadway.
Friday, June 5, 2009
The latest to join the ranks of these gourmet food trucks is Le Gamin crêpe truck. It serves everything a downtown mama or papa could want--ratatouille crepe anyone?--and what preschooler doesn't love ham and butter on a baguette? My son Sebastien and I spotted the truck on Greene street, just below Prince in Soho last week. According to Maya, one of the truck's cooks, they move locations all the time. To keep up with them, follow them at TWITTER legamintruck, mais oui!
Then, follow up your crepes du jour with an artisinal ice cream from the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck with is also parked on Greene and Prince.
If you are going to Washington Sqaure Park, have a sleeping baby and the patience of Mother Teresa, you might want to attempt the lines for NY Dosa . A southern Indian specialty, dosas crepes made from lentil and rice flours then filled with everything from curried potatoes to fiery hot veggies. The Dosa Man serves only vegan dosas and a few other dishes, all of which are homemade, spicy and incredibly fresh. The food is outstanding; the service and wait-times make you want to kill yourself. Then you pay $6 for the best dosa of your life and you are back again next week.
For more info on street carts around New York City, check out New York Magazine.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
In a tiny fourteenth century apartment in Florence, Steve and I decided to try for a second child. Sydney, our first, was eleven months old, we were broke, and I had a book coming out that would need all of my promotional attention; as my mom would say, we needed another baby like we needed a hole in our collective heads. Still, somehow being in Tuscany convinced us to go against our more rational natures. The Italians, at least in our limited, and probably romantic observations, believed that children, like wine and good food, were meant to be enjoyed within the context of a rich and fully integrated life. In our working class neighborhood, on the wrong side of the Arno, we would hear the chatter of families eating and drinking late into the evenings. When we visited a posh seaside resort, it was the same thing; whole families out eating pizza in the large squares and strolling the streets until midnight. I never got the sense of the rampant consumerist kid culture that exists here, where children have their own TV shows, clothing, bath towels, magazines and restaurants. Instead I witnessed children and parents, aunts and uncles, friends and relatives spending time together, enjoying the simple pleasures of food and wine with other families.
Besides the gift of my second son Sebastien, born nine months after we returned, Italy left me with a desire to resist seeing and relating to my children as completely separate and in need of their own distinct culture. Instead Steve and I attempt to share our passions with the kids and have from a very young age, as they contribute to us. That means we spend a lot of time at the table, they accompany me to the farmer’s market and help prepare food; while we watch “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” with them and take an active interest in their interests.
Because of this belief, we spend much of our free time with friends and other families, eating, drinking, talking, picnicking in the park. Sometimes the kids eat with us, sometimes separately. Sometimes they watch a movie in the other room—but more to the point, we are all together, the get a real sense of community and no one has to pay for a babysitter.
A Wine Tasting
Case in point, last Friday, I hosted a wine tasting for my Steve, Kimberly and Ward and Sue, plus kids (5 in all).
Ward and Sue brought dried soppresatta and this incredible Roomano from Murray’s Cheeses and an olive loaf from Amy’s Breads. Kimberly made a smooth guacamole, with lime, onions and chopped cilantro. I put outside some pita and hummus and a few cheeses I had in the fridge. A simple meal of grazing. A frozen pizza from Fresh Direct was heated up later in the evening for the children and bowls of fresh pineapple sufficed for their dessert.
I bought the following white wines, all which were under $20, because quite frankly, it’s all I could afford. Each one demonstrated the very different styles of Chardonnay.
Rully, Sebastien Rous 2007
This French Chardonnay is judiciously, lightly, subtly aged in oak. The result is a very well balanced wine with good acidity. Partial to wines with a French sensibility, with character and personality—a sense of terroir if you will, Steve loved this wine.
Bourgogne Blanc, Clotilde Davenne - 2007
This French Chardonnay from Burgundy is not aged in oak but steel; nothing at all like the rich, buttery California Chardonnays. And yet, it still has a softness and warmth to it. It was Kimberly’s favorite.
Bianco, Cantina Zaccagnini – 2007
OK, so I cheated a little bit here with this white wine blend from central Italy's Abruzzo region. It actually contains Chardonnay, Riesling and Trebbiano grapes, so it’s not a pure varietal, but it is unoaked. With notes of juicy nectarines, yellow plums and honey it’s an enjoyable glass to have on its own or with chicken or fish. I am a huge fan of this wine—it’s complexity belies its 14.99 price tag.
Chardonnay, Wyatt – 2007
A remarkably well-balanced California Chardonnay—particularly at this price-point (I got my bottle from Astor Wines for $11.99), with some oak, but not too much. Notes of tropical fruit dominate. I was surprised at how much I liked this wine.
The evening went by smoothly, without any drama from the kids and the grown-ups had a merry old time (the wine didn’t hurt). I really do believe children benefit from celebrating with adults around the simple pleasures of the table--and that when you do this, the kids feel connected to their community in a deep and meaningful way. Whether it’s on a picturesque 14th century Florentine terrace or in a 1970’s modernist tower in the middle of New York City, the ancient ritual of breaking bread together still matters.
A Few Ideas for Organizing Your Own Wine Tasting
1. Start early, say 5:30, to allow everyone ample time to eat, taste and converse—and still get the kids home at a reasonable hour. Limit the number of invites to five adults and five children. Any more and you might need more than a glass of wine to make it through the evening.
2. Choose one varietal wine to focus on. Chardonnay, Merlot or Pinot Noir are all good choices, but even lesser known grapes could work. Select three to four bottles of your grape, spanning across two or three different countries. I would also go for wines that are similar in price, so that the differences you taste are real—not just a matter of quality.
3. Brush up on some basic facts about the grape and place the wine comes from. Even if you can’t find info on your particular bottle, books like The Wine Bible offers great insight into wine-producing regions all over the world. Have a little something to say on each wine and invite your guests to add their own thoughts.
4. Serve both adult-friendly and kid-friendly food. Even if your own children are adventurous, the other kids might not be. Carrot sticks, chicken fingers, bread and cheese are easy options. For the adults, cheeses, crudite and other finger foods can be prepped ahead of time, leaving you free to do the pouring.
5. Have a few activities for the kids to do that don’t require adult supervision—coloring books and some packets of crayons should suffice, or a special DVD that they could watch together in the next room could work.
6. Wait to start the tasting until the children have settled in, so you have a good thirty minutes to focus on the wine.
7. Print out a list of the wines you are serving to guests, along with a pencil or pen so that they can take notes.
8. Introduce each wine in a simple fashion ie, “This Merlot is from Chile, which is known for producing red wine at a great price,” and allow everyone to taste and comment.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Listen to the mp3 version here.
Special thanks to Heather from One Big Table and Lady Rogue from rogueApron for sharing their brilliance and passions with me.
Monday, May 25, 2009
How long have you been doing rogueApron?
Friday, May 22, 2009
Uses and Recipe Ideas
Like many people, Steve and I use it like ketchup, especially on hamburgers. A quarter-sized dollop on a brioche roll, along with sliced red onion and romaine lettuce makes an unbelievably tasty burger. The best I've ever tasted.
The NY Times has a story on it this special sauce, along with some interesting recipes for it including Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna With Spicy Citrus Sauce.
The blog White on Rice posts a recipe for making your own Sriracha. Seems like a lot of work, but I admire their DIY spirit.
Perhaps not the most mouth-watering of ideas, another blog mixes Sriracha into bread dough for a Spicy Sriracha Bread.
And finally The Washington Post publishes a recipe for Sriracha-spiked Barbecue Sauce, which I will definitely make this this summer when we start smoking meats again.
How do you use the sauce?
Believe it or not, groups of people in cities like Belfast, Maine, and Atlanta Georgia, are baking up pies, then going out into the public and giving away slices for free. Want to join the movement? Find recipes, flyer ideas and other inspiration at the free pie web site.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Overviews: Primers on underground dining
Deep Dish Dreams
New York City
The Whisk & Ladle
Plate & Pitchfork
The Hidden Kitchen
Cook With James
If you host an underground supper club or know of one, or are starting one, please let me know and I'll write about it at Meal by Meal.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
One Big Table is the brainchild of Heather (last name excluded for legal reasons), a statuesque and tattooed twenty-five year old nanny and amateur chef. Heather opens up her apartment once a month to twelve or so diners. For forty dollars, guests receive the pleasure of a four-course meal, wine and entertainment. The food is local, mostly organic and the wine is simple but plentiful. Heather joins a growing movement of gastronomes who are taking back food culture from the staid and pricey world of restaurants and bringing a DIY approach to eating and community.
At first, I admit, it was almost too intimate to stand in Heather’s home and watch her race around, given that i had never met her until this evening. But the closeness also built a sort of excitement, a mystery––what will happen next? What are the rules? Less formal than a restaurant but not as relaxed as a dinner party, supper clubs skate a fine-line between private and public spheres. The blurred boundary entices.
For the first thirty minutes or so, my cohorts Steve, Kimberly and I made jilted conversation with the other guests, a group of strangers a decade younger than us. Steve recognized someone from Think Coffee. I bummed a cigarette from Jon Bozeman, a folk singer. We started to loosen up as the hors d'oeuvres arrived. The collard leaves stuffed with cheese grits were a playful and utterly delicious take on stuffed grape leaves and the black-eyed pea hummus on cornbread was homey and satisfying.
Finally dinner was served and everyone sat down at a simple table adorned with tulips in glass milk bottles. There were some really beautiful moments with the food–– the roasted Jerusalem artichoke salad was lovely, the pea shoots offering an ideal accompaniment to the crunchy sweetness of the tubers. The bread pudding was perfectly rich and spotted with bittersweet dark chocolate. The pheasant, on the other hand, was tough and stringy. And the carrot soup was too heavy; the freshness of the vegetables was lost in the cream. But, strangely, even for such a critical and picky eater as myself, it didn’t matter.
At One Big Table, it’s not that the food is beside the point—it is ethically sourced, lovingly cooked and creatively put-together, but more that the meal is not separate from the whole experience. Not to sound overly taken with Heather, which I am by the way, but eating at someone’s home, and knowing that they’ve been cooking for days, for you, is affecting in a different way than eating at a restaurant. It’s like going to a friend’s house for dinner. If one dish doesn’t work out, who cares? You forgive them in a way you would never a chef, particularly if you are paying forty dollars for an entrée, let alone the rest of the meal. Restaurateurs are out to make money; Heather is trying to break even. For her, the supper club is an experiment in bringing people together and giving back. Her earnest and giving nature infuses the evening.
After three hours at the table and several bottles of wine, everyone loosened up. Kimberly and I tried to talk Jon into becoming a nanny. Steve met a young graduate student studying Cuban history. Someone rolled a joint. Coffee was served. Brian Peck and Jon Bozeman sang sweet folk songs while VJ Sarah played beautiful ambient video clips. The mood was open and bohemian in a 1970’s Laurel Canyon, Joni Mitchell kind of way. Us forty-ish folks were smitten and didn’t get home until two am, a rarity. We all agreed—the best dining experience we’ve had in recent history.