Winter is over. Spring flavors now erupt. Before we get to summer, make sure to enjoy the brief season for ramps. Pickle them, pesto the leaves, or sautée. Regardless, enjoy before they disappear till next year.
After a hard week in the trenches at work, unmotivated to cook at home, I did the unthinkable; phoned in for "takeout." On my first try, I used Grubhub, the local-focused delivery app. Where I live in Queens (Sunnyside) that can mean spotty offerings. Ended up with tacos and a torta, which weren't bad. I was even able to request Mexican Coke, which is less sweet and tastes like the original favorite.
On my second try, I used a newer app called Caviar NY. As the name infers, it offered something "better" from local restaurants in Brooklyn as well as Queens. I ordered a pizza from Motorino. If you're not in the mood to travel, or just yearn for a "night in" with food and Netflix, it works. Though as a chef, to me it's still "takeout." Photos below capture what I ordered.
My winter menu usually features, what we call, "winter meat," namely a weekly special for carnivores. Usually it's a stew. But last week we made use of unused veal racks, offering schnitzel on the bone. Customers seemed to enjoy it, as it sold out. Butterflied chop, breaded, pan fried and served with a salad, caper and parsley sauce, we served it with a fried egg.
One of my kitchen-staff gave me a gift from Barbados. It's called Bajan Pepper Sauce, and according to my friend at work, it's too hot for even him. I also recently bought a bottle of hipster-influenced "organic Sricracha." So I did some taste tests. The Barbadian sauce is hot, but it adds a good fruity chili heat to eggs and rice. As for the organic Sriracha, it's clean but doesn't have the original's bite or fermentation. I'll go with Bajan Pepper for now.
I had to go spend time in the dentist chair on my birthday. Not fun! So why not follow it with a lunch break at Eataly Flatiron? Here's an admission. I've been known to kvetch to friends about Eataly's pretentiousness. What's with its branded star chef with orange clogs? Or the weird mix of expansive and claustrophobic aisles, packed with cluelessly excited tourists. Guess what, such complaints proved to be foolish snobbery. I had a great visit. Go early, grab a seat in the Piatto San Marco, order from a short but nice variety of plates offered, and you'll come away happy. I did.
For a belated birthday celebration, I was treated to dinner at Agern, a Danish-inspired restaurant focused on sustainable, seasonal cuisine and headed by Icelandic chef Gunar Gíslason. Brain-child of Claus Meyer, the restaurant sits in in Grand Central's Great Northern Hall. Having recently lost my iPhone, I found myself enjoying a hands-free, highly sensory meal without being a slave to posting. Thankfully I had others to snap the photos. Here's what it was about.
My brother introduced me to salt baked fish. It's a simple, clean tasting method for baking fish. Besides the fish (any white fish will do) all you need is salt, egg whites, herbs and some lemons. Baking time is 25 minutes at 450F.
Masters of Charcuterie is an annual event in New York City. This year it was held in in my borough of Queens at Flushing Hall. Goes to show you, New York City is way bigger than Manhattan, folks. Anyway, with a loaf of bread and bottle of wine to share, I sampled and hobnobbed my way through the various tables. Here is what I saw and tasted!
Among family, my brother is notorious for despising leftovers. On the other hand, my mother refuses to acknowledge that the concept exist. I have always sided with mama, starting with her belief that waste is a bad thing. But more interesting is her faith in the power of culinary transformation. Specifically taking what was not completed in one meal and reviving it to create another. Below are photos that capture the interplay between a meal of tamales and a chicken dinner.
Last week at work I made wraps using some leftover naan from our club's vindaloo special, To me, wraps are too often associated with airport food. Why eat them? Puns aside, my rap is they're usually made with bad breads; colored, plasticized "tortilla-ish." Not my kind of dough. That said, flat breads are great for simple dishes or swathing sauce or filling with anything you like. Mine weren't bad.