My search for mangosteens in Chinatown proved fruitless (sorry), but I got there at around 7pm and most of the fruit stalls had shut down. I also realized that living in New York, where even in the farmers markets apples are available year-round (I hate that!), had stunted my awareness of seasonality. Mangosteens are hot-season fruit. Mangosteens in the United States are likely from Thailand, since we signed an agreement with them last year to get the ball rolling in importing them (and mangoes, pineapples, lychees, longans and rambutans). But first protocols had to be set up to make sure they were being imported pesticide free.
The hot season in most of Thailand (not in the south, where the monsoon winds are different) is March to May, so how could we have mangosteens in late October.
But the next day my colleague Sonya Moore said she found mangosteens in Chinatown and speculated that they had been frozen, although they tasted all right. I'm skeptical about mangosteens handling being frozen, but there are some really excellent flash-freezing techniques out there, so maybe it could work.
Anyway, I walked from Chinatown to Barfry, Josh DeChellis's new tempura joint, for a party that Starchefs was throwing to promote its new book.
I ended up chatting for awhile with Zarela Martinez, who is likely the most mature chef to be represented in the new book.
“Most of the chefs here are 25 years old,” she observed, pointing out that just because her restaurant just turned 20 doesn’t mean it’s not innovative.
“I’m always doing something new,” she said, and told me that her current obsession is her new web site, which is enjoying robust traffic.
She introdoced me to Larry Sloman, who was leaving the next day for Los Angeles to talk to Mike Tyson about writing his biography (he thinks Tyson was totally railroaded in the rape case).
After two rum punches and a toro taco, I left Barfry and headed to Midtown, where I met my paleontologist friend Birdman at Shelly’s Tradizionale, formerly Shelly’s Prime Steak.
That’s unusual these days, isn’t it? Changing a steakhouse to anything else.
But Shelly’s Tradizionale is an Italian fish restaurant and was having a special red-wine-with-fish dinner, although being classy, they started us off with a glass of Prosecco.
Here’s what else we ate and drank:
Poached flounder, roasted apple, hazlenut & walnut sauce, fig balsamic
fried littleneck clams with lemon aïoli
Manila clams, potato carpaccio, zucchini and radicchio
"Tagliatina di tonno” — Thinly sliced, seared Pacific yellowfin tuna with farro-orange-arugula salad.
2005 St. Michael Eppan Pinot Nero (Alto Adige)
Shelly’s risotto di mare
Non-vintage Lini Lambrusco (Emilia-Romagna)
Filleted whole Mediterranean sea bass roasted with potatoes, sea salt and olive oil
1996 Borgogna Barolo (Piemonte)
Kona kampachi with Sicilian globe eggplant, roasted peppers and olive salmoriglio
2004 Sandro Fay Valtellina Rosso (Lombardia)
Honeycrisp apple crostata
2006 Tintero Moscato d’Asti (Piemonte — and white, of course, but honeycrisp apples are not fish
Sorbetto al Cioccolato Alberti
2001 Antonelli Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito