Thursday, October 11, 2007

all Aquavit, all the time

October 11

I’ve been to Aquavit restaurant three times this week. On Tuesday, Atlanta chef Shaun Doty was in town, because his restaurant, Shaun, was named one of the 20 best new restaurants by Esquire magazine (another Atlanta restaurant, Trois, was, too; that's a terrific showing for Atlanta). There was a celebratory dinner at Anthos the night before.
Shaun and his publicist, Liz Lapidus, wanted to meet me for lunch. They were headed to DB unless I had a different suggestion. Feeling selfish, I suggested Aquavit, which is around the corner from my office (it's on 55th between Park and Madison, NRN’s offices are on Park between 55th and 56th).
We ate in the café, not the main dining room, which has a more casual (and cheaper) menu. I had the daily husmanskost special. From what executive chef Johan Svensson explained to me years ago, that literally means "houseman's cooking," or traditional Swedish home cooking. But, I mean, this is Aquavit, so my Oxbringa – brisket, root vegetables and mustard broth — was cooked at a lower, slower pace than it would have been in a Swedish home. It came with a mini Prinsessbakelse for dessert, which is a sponge cake layered with whipped cream and raspberries and served under a marzipan shell.
We talked about the Atlanta restaurant scene (a big-name Atlanta chef is apparently looking at real estate in New York) and the gutsy meal that Anthos chef Michael Psilakis had served the night before (his restaurant was on the Esquire list, too).
Then last night I went to a launch party for yet another damn vodka. This one actually tasted a little bit different from other vodkas, which is cool if you want to drink it straight. But since most people will have it in Cosmopolitans anyway, I’m not convinced that it makes a difference.
Still, it was good sipping vodka, and I did, in fact, sip it as I ate many permutations of herring and caught up with Darrell Hartman, recently of Travel + Leisure and now a freelancer — a shift he apparently intended to make. I mentioned a promising job opening in food-related editing that I heard about recently.
“Full time?” he asked. I nodded. He shook his head. So that’s cool.
After the vodka party, I headed to my own neighborhood of Park Slope and popped into Brownstone Billiards, which used to have a fascinating karaoke night on Wednesdays, but no longer. It turns out that it drove out the pool players, costing the place a lot of money. The place has a new bartender whose name I didn’t catch. He’s an actor who just moved from Philadelphia to seek his fortune. He said Brownstone’s default vodka or Cosmos is a high-end French one, which I asserted made no sense. He agreed with me, but, I mean, the bartender”s supposed to agree with you.
Then today I stopped by during lunchtime because chef-owner Marcus Samuelsson was launching a line of cookware. So I caught up with him, and with Beverly Stephen from Food Arts and Jennifer Leuzzi, recently back from what was apparently a fabulous vacation.
I have no plans to stop by Aquavit tomorrow, but you never know.

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