Thursday, April 15, 2010

valentines day

my valentine's day was spent loving myself, i guess. no, not THAT way. get your head out of the gutter. brunch at joseph leonard made me miss working in restaurants. there's something about the pace and energy in a well-run place. the owner handed a hostess $20 to run out and get more croissants. they were slammed sunday morning. were almost going through bloody mary mix faster than they could make it. from the west village i strolled to soho, sans ipod, and fell in love with the city all over again. you forget how much you lose by tuning out of the city's sounds and into your playlist. the artist talking about his inspiration to some passersby on west broadway. the bebop group on prince street across from j.crew. my favorite singapore importer has gorgeous cream frocks that i'll try to buy on sale. intermix, who no longer has the gorgeous suede brian atwood pumps now has sergio rossi peeptoe platform pumps but you'd be better off with the original YSL incarnation which would be 100% more comfortable and 60% more timeless. ginger citrus tea at balthazar. little pink hearts painted on the sidewalk on both sides of broadway between prince and spring, a small reminder that it was, indeed, valentine's day. decided to satisfy the craving for linguine with clams at esca, which boasts the most convivial bar in town. i've written about it before but things haven't changed an ounce. i was sat next to a longtime regular and friend of the chef. another regular, a 24 year old actress on the other side of him. they immediately started offering tastes of their food even though they didn't yet know my name. we were poured tastes of barolo as we chatted with the chef about where the best bbq in the city was (his answers were all places in kentucky and texas and states NOT new york). the florist came by and soon he was finishing off my pasta and trying my neighbors bay scallops. he returned with flowers (bunches of gorgeous calla lilies) for me and the actress. he does flowers at del posto too, so i had start raving about their lunch. the chef found out i was going to vancouver and gave me the name of someone to call to set me up at restaurants out there. she owns a fantastic cookbook store and knows EVERYONE in food worth knowing. and i have her number on speed dial. moscato d'asti was poured, an affogato ordered and hugs exchanged with friends new (me) and old, as we all departed.
i heart new york.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

food & wine best new chefs

oh my god, you guys. food & wine held their annual "best new chef" party at the four seasons tonight and i got to go! i'm still dying inside that i went. dana cowin (editor in chief of the magazine) held this little twitter contest where she'd dole out clues and the tweeps would try to guess who the chefs were. i mostly googled insanely and when i'd get it i'd find out that like 4 other people had it first. some of the clues were easy, some i still don't understand. regardless, some chick from chicago won! and she fucking flew out for this damn party! and i commented something to the effect of, "damn. i spent a LOT of time doing this and it sucks that i lost." and then i found out that i didn't lose at all! tickets were waiting for me at will call. HOLY SHIT. YES. it was at the four seasons which looks pretty much eleven madison park BEFORE it was eleven madison park. high ceilings, lots of 5 foot high flower arrangements (also like del posto, so i'll probably mention it to robert who does the del posto and esca floral arrangements to get his take), 3 staff members per guest and just decadent beyond belief. because i'm the fangirl i am, i recognized every damn person there. i finally met andrew carmellini from locanda verde. i had to say, "yeah, i'm that blogger. sorry." but he was as nice as could be and we had short, lovely little chat. he'd made meatball sliders. i was happy to report that my last dinner there was fantastic and that my friend brought a large work party there afterwards as well and they LOVED it too. "so you're friends with ahiram," he said, which was true. but he didn't know that we were only friends at all BECAUSE i was going to his damn restaurant so often. but anyway, yes, cheers to ahiram who is endlessly charming and a total superstar. 

lockhart steele was there. we discussed faustina's review in the nytimes, out tomorrow (but posted tonight) and hinted at by jeffrey tascarella's twitter feed. "but while his kitchen is exciting, faustina is not." is a killer of a sentence. sifton was right that the portions are described as small and then are bigger in person. sometimes much bigger. and i'm a prime example of someone who thought they weren't ordering enough but then ended up with WAY TOO MUCH. (and it's totally better to have more than less but the dishes aren't particularly cheap so some people might not want to over-order.) but his main issue was with the space, which is something that feels unfair to judge a restaurant by when they didn't build it and it's part of a hotel. so, yeah, the bathroom is outside the restaurant and down some stairs. and YES, the place is chic to the point of frigidity. it ends with, "all this would be depressing if the food weren't so good." which is kind of shitty. if the food is that good, it should get two stars, period. this is MANHATTAN. he knows how fucking hard it is to find good space on this island. 

but i digress. lockhart introduced us to his good friend sarah simmons,food and wine home cook superstar. she's amazing. she blogs here and she's pretty much just what i need. i'm a single girl who doesn't know how to cook for 1. she does. also, she loves dogs so we're totally going to be friends. sarah then brought us over to dana, the EIC of F&W who is so tiny and lovely. sarah and dana then turned me over to alessandra, a F&W assistant editor and she was also bubbly and charming and wearing a stunning green jewel-toned dress. and the F&W travel editor was wearing a stunning orange dress that (sadness!) was from india so i'll never own anything like it. otherwise, it was super star studded. the gorgeous seamus mullen was there. he has an asian girlfriend! which means, in my head, i have a chance with him in another life. todd english was there, the man famous for his asian fetish. marcus samuelsson looking sooo beautiful in a bright orange scarf. wyle dufresne, tom colicchio, anne burrell, danny meyer, drew nieporent, ad infinitum. we were there to honor the best new chefs and met roy choi who is cool as shit. he called out my half-asian-ness ("it's workin' for you") and told me i had to come visit the restaurant next time i was in L.A. we met an owner of blackbird in chicago who, of course, knew our friend pam. everyone knows pam. and for dessert, just as i was leaving some girl runs up to me and says, "i'm sorry, who makes your dress?" my answer: "h&m" "NO! you look like a million bucks!" she wailed. yes. yes indeed. i mean, i threw on a theory belt and some moderately expensive heels but the dress was a whole $25.00. she was flabbergasted. i was flattered beyond belief. we both win since h&m will likely make the dress again this summer so she knows to keep an eye out for it. but i'll seriously live on that compliment for the next two weeks, at least. 

but the best, BEST part? i'm kind of hating work. actually, i'm really hating work. my job sucks and i'm not cut out for it. and lockhart and sarah and alessandra all said, "quit the damn job and start doing something with food because you obviously love it." and it was just such a relief to have real people tell me to do what is floating around in my head as just a whim. and they offered to send my writing (you know, the food/travel stuff i do) to real editors. and my writing teacher has been super supportive and really thinks that i could write about food if i wanted (i do! i do!) so, well, maybe i'll start pitching the shit out of people to see if anything comes of it. colin is a prime example of someone who throws himself into stuff and gets rewarded tenfold. he takes risks, unabashedly, and they pay off. it's inspiring and i think i need to start trying it myself. virgo-risk-averseness be damned. 

congrats to the folks at locanda verde. a much deserved best chef and best new restaurant from time out. voted on by people who eat and, collectively, have pretty damn good taste in food. i'm proud to call myself a regular and a groupie. kate krader may be one of the few people to eat there more often than myself and she delivers the news that the fava bean crostini has returned! huzzah!!
also congrats to joseph leonard, another place that i might stop by weekly and totally adore, even though my beloved brussels sprouts are out of season and off the menu. harumph. but, like, they make a fucking KILLER bloody mary so i will continue to send them my business and wait for fall to hit again before the brussels come back into my life. 

other exciting food news that i keep forgetting to mention: i finally tried a mangosteen. i've been wanting to stumble across them in chinatown but for all my visits through, haven't seen the thing. it's illegal to import them to the US but not, apparently, to canada, which is where i found them all over the damn place. the skin is easily peelable and they're so much smaller than i'd imagined. i'd thought they'd be the size of an orange. they were the size of a clementine. so tiny! and a lot of work for the small amount of fruit that you actually end up with which tastes like a lychee but then there's this annoying pit in the middle. totally disappointing.