Friday, May 16, 2008


May 16

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a hypocrite, calling this blog “Food Writer’s Diary,” because I imagine you thinking that every food-related event I attend is mentioned here.
People often comment to me after reading my little blog that they can’t believe how many lunches, press dinners, cocktail parties, book launches, goat-milking competitions, almond harvest tours, chef conventions etc. I go to.
But in fact, I go to even more of them than you think.
Why, this week, all I mentioned was my attendance of the opening of Scarpetta and a dinner at the James Beard House. But I also had lunch at Les Halles with a couple of people from International Enterprise Singapore to discuss ways to promote restaurants and ethnic cuisines. I had a salad and blood sausage, the American from IES had a salade Niçoise, and the Singaporean had soupe à l'oignon gratinée and duck confit; I'm not sure what can be learned from what we ordered, but it was interesting, nonetheless. So was the fact that, when discussing marketing strategies, we were eating in a French restaurant best known for its relationship with Anthony Bourdain, who was chef de cuisine there before becoming a famous writer and TV personality.
Then that night I had dinner at Felidia with some travel writers, a publicist from Orange County and staff from some of the hotels she represents. There were actual vocal Republicans among my dining companions, and you don’t see them very often in my circles in New York. To the publicist's discomfort, we engaged in spirited political discussion. We remained polite about it, though. Perhaps torture and capital punishment are not traditional topics of conversation at press dinners, but, I mean, we’re all adults, and exchanging ideas is good for the soul.
And then the next day I stopped by Aureole for summer cocktails being promoted by an orange liqueur company and caught up with my old friend Julie Besonen, who grew up in Arkansas but whose family is from Minnesota. It turns out she’s from that part of Minnesota where people eat Cornish pasties. This delighted me, because in the coming week’s issue of NRN I have an article on the growing trend of hand-held foods, with suggestions of items from other countries that could catch on here. I mentioned the pasty, which is already quite the rage in the mining areas of Minnesota and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where it was introduced in the 19th century by Cornish miners and picked up by others, including Julie’s Finnish ancestors. Her family’s pasties actually aren’t hand-held, but are made into regular-sized pies. I discussed with her the great carrot controversy — some people add carrots to their pasties, an act that outrages traditionalists, including Julie’s father, some of whom consider it an unwelcome Scandinavian innovation.
Crazy Scandinavians, always eating carrots.
And then from there I stopped by the Rink Bar, which is what the famous skating rink at Rockefeller Center becomes once the ice melts. They were having an opening party, so I sipped on a raspberry lemonade and then a lychee Martini before heading to the Beard House dinner mentioned in my previous blog entry.
But that’s not all I did this week, either. Last night I went to a new Brooklyn spot called JakeWalk, where Dave Wondrich was mixing up a new cocktail of his, JakeWalk punch, which had aperol and lime and candied ginger, among other things. Cheese-and-whisky and cheese-and-wine pairings were being offered, and jamon Iberico paired with sherry, and head cheese and rillettes, and fondue.
While sampling the whisky I had a really nice chat with Dave Crofton, the pastry chef at One Girl Cookies. I told him that I bake like a cook — kind of winging it as I go, playing it by ear. He said that pastry chefs, contrary to popular wisdom, have to do that, too. You can’t just follow formulas, you have to look at the dough, see how it's behaving, adjust it if it’s not working right.
I also learned that One Girl Cookies is working on getting a beer and wine license, so that’s exciting.
And that, I think, is all of the food events, restaurant meals and drinkfests that I attended this week. Unless I forgot something.

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