Thursday, August 28, 2008

Food Writer’s Diary job service

August 28

Chef Tom Block, who has been catering since March, is looking for a full-time job. He was chef de cuisine at Falai when he left in March, having been promoted from line cook to sous chef and then to chef de cuisine over the course of three years.
Before that he was garde-manger and then tournant at Aquavit. He’s done stages at Nobu in Tokyo and, here in New York, at Washington Park and P*ong.
Oh, he also studied cooking in Bangkok.
Write a comment below or e-mail me at if you’d like to talk to him.

Trying to be antisocial

August 28

On Tuesday night, as I was finishing up work to go to the carnivorefest that is Josh Ozersky’s annual birthday party, I got a call from a friend who was standing at the host’s station of Thor, where they were under the impression that we were to be dining on Wednesday. I checked my calendar, and they were right and my friend was wrong, so I imagine he wandered off to Katz's or someplace for a quick bite before heading to his neighborhood bar on the Upper East Side.
I went to Josh’s party. I think tomorrow is his last day at Grub Street. He’s going to work for Citysearch, which very reliable sources tell me “made [him] an offer [he] couldn't refuse.” I hope it wasn’t a horse’s head in his bed.
At any rate, Josh used the full force of his influence to get cool chefs to cook delicious meat, and convinced all of the usual suspects to show up (except for Eater’s Ben Leventhal, who was on vacation).
So that was fine, and I certainly wish Josh many happy returns of the day, but, I mean, I see all those people all the time, at all the parties, and I don’t have to get sand in my shoes at Water Taxi Beach, where Josh holds his shindig, to do it. Seamus Mullen’s terrific lamb burgers notwithstanding, I just wasn’t in the mood.
So I didn’t bother to find a replacement date for dinner at Thor and instead went solo, allowing me to be somewhat antisocial and focus on the food of the restaurant’s new chef, Jesi Solomon, whose food you might have eaten at The Stanton Social, not far from Thor, where he was a sous chef.
Jesi’s half Turkish and is originally from Tucson, which he told me when explaining the main dish I ordered, which was spiced rack of lamb on avocado purée with a feta chile relleno, garnished with fresh cilantro.
I also had white bean purée with olive oil and Parmesan, which came out with the bread, and a salad of fried artichoke with Parmesan and toasted coriander vinaigrette.
Coriander, the seed, not the leaf which we Americans usually call cilantro, is enjoying quite the little wave of popularity here in Gotham. Cilantro is, too, but that’s nothing new.
While I was eating my salad, publicist Chris Langley, looking trim and well-tanned from time in Nantucket and Cape Cod — sauntered over to hang out. Jesi sent out a couple of types of flatbread — one with smoked tomato and whipped feta and another with pulled pork — and Chris and I spoke of New England and other things. A friendly-sounding commotion at the bar motivated him to move up front and the server brought out some smoked cheese with figs and balsamic vinegar.
Then I had the lamb and was told by Jesi to have the peanut butter sundae with salted chocolate and caramelized banana.
I ended up having that at the table of Food & Beverage Magazine editor Francine Cohen and her husband Jake, who had asked me to join them. We discussed the state of modern Judaism and other things.
So the attempts at being antisocial didn’t work, but I enjoyed myself anyway.

Monday, August 25, 2008


August 25

You can get to Foxwoods from New London, Conn., on a public bus for $2.25. The driver told me that mostly only employees take the bus — and it’s free for them as Foxwoods pays the tab — but it’s surely the cheapest way to get to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s resort and casino.
Traffic was ghastly around Foxwoods last Saturday, though, because it was the weekend of the annual Schemitzun. That sounds like a Yiddish word to me, but in fact it’s the green corn festival.
At any rate I didn’t arrive at the hotel until 8, and I’d had reservations at Shrine at 7.
But of course one of the joys of being a food writer is that restaurants will likely hold your table for you. And I did call Shrine’s marketing manager, Shana Barry, with progress updates.
By the time I washed the train and bus grime off of me and looked presentable enough to go to dinner, it was 8:20, but a seat was available for me at the counter in front of the open kitchen. There Shana pointed out the restaurant’s three sushi chefs, and executive chef Edwyn Ferrari slid over periodically to bring me food and chat about it before sailing off to his next task. Pastry chef Martin Rainbacher was stationed in front of me for most of the evening, plating desserts and decorating birthday cakes and other pastries basically to order. He’s Austrian, and he talked a little about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who Martin says sounds as funny in German as he does in English. He also gave me a taste of Advocaaq, an Austrian egg liqueur that he made in-house. The way he described it it sounded like a strong egg-nog, but it tasted more like a cream liqueur.
I started dinner with an East Meets West — which basically was a Margarita with vodka as well as tequila (I guess that’s appropriate for the club crowd). I followed that with Harbin Lager, a fairly typical East Asian lager with odd marketing. The label said it was “Inspired by the Tradition and Culture of China’s Most Northern Province of Heilongjiang.”
Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang, but who in the West cares? The beer itself is made in Wuhan in the south-Central province of Hubei. I’ve never been to Wuhan. I hear it’s getting better, but for many years it had the reputation of being a pit — perhaps the most boring of Communist-style, soulless concrete monstrosities. But again, who in the West knows that or cares? Who decided that Harbin was a sexier name for a beer than Wuhan?
I’ve been to Harbin, and believe me, it’s no Shangri-La. It is cold and has a pretty ice-lantern festival in February, both of which could invoke good feelings about the beer if anyone in the West knew about it, but they don’t.
Ed said business was good at Shrine, both the restaurant upstairs and the club downstairs. We talked about that, and about mutual friends, like Luke Palladino, who was executive chef at Specchio and Ombra at Borgata, where Ed was a chef at Mixx. We didn’t talk much about Ed, though, more about his food.
What I ate:
Fluke sashimi with cucumber, Saratoga water, lime, cardamom oil (made by infusing grape seed oil with cardamom; I'd never had it before) and poppy seeds
Panko crusted calamari with heirloom tomatoes and Thai beurre monté (with fish sauce, ginger, galangal, roasted peanuts, soy and lime)
Local (Rhode Island) steamed black bass with baby zucchini, carrot, tomatoes, leeks and chervil (I’m telling you it’s coming back) with tomato water, dashi and fish sauce (made from crab instead of fish) topped with ginger and ginger-carrot oil
Seared East Coast cod basted in ginger-garlic butter, served with summer ratatouille, sweet miso, olive oil, black pepper and fried Thai basil
Ginger-soy chicken marinated in yogurt, ginger and soy, charred and served with local corn succotash (with peas), cilantro and scallions
Sirloin, cut against the grain for more tenderness, seared in its own fat, sliced and served on a beefsteak tomato with lemon grass sambal (with shallot and Thai bird chile) and scallion radish salad
A mashed potato stick served with tonkatsu sauce and kewpie mayonnaise.
For dessert, Martin started me off with Asian-flavored fruit salad with cantaloupe granité, which he served with strawberry-infused sake. Next came a fried banana with sweet soy and almond praline, served with vanilla ice cream.
Finally he gave me a little square of caramelized chocolate-chile mousse with rosewater cherries.
After dinner Shana took me downstairs to the club. It was around 11 p.m. and the place had just opened, but it was pulsing with young and beautiful people who’d paid $20 to get in (cocktails were about $12 each).
Shrine had had more than 1,200 covers the night before and was expecting about the same this evening. The bottle-service tables had been reserved, the line outside stretched well into the casino and was comprised mostly of men (straight-looking ones) and very few women. I thought of pointing that out to them, but decided not to bother and after making a loop through the casino I called it a night, went to my room and shaved my head.
I'd been thinking of shaving my head for awhile now. A couple of friends have been bugging me to do it.
“Shave your head!” my friend Chandler Burr says from time to time, and I suggest maybe I will on some four-day weekend, in case it looks horrible.
Chandler then sneers at my cowardice and says I should just try it.
I posited the idea on my Facebook page, and the few people who commented pointed out that it was one of those few mistakes that would quickly be undone.
I’ve been thinking about this for years, and finally I just did it.
I was hoping it would be a transforming experience, that somehow beneath the quite thin veneer of hair that ringed the outside of my scalp (the rest having abandoned me 20 years ago), would emerge a great new look, that suddenly I would resemble Vin Diesel, or at the very least Bruce Willis.
But no, it’s just me, with a shaved head.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The week in drinking

August 22

I had fried rice for lunch today in an attempt to soak up the alcohol I've been drinking all week.
Human physiology doesn't work that way, and I know the alcohol is already out of my system, but I do feel invigorated, nonetheless, and ready for Jono Pandolfi’s birthday celebration this evening at Radegast Hall.
At any rate, it has been a boozy, boozy week. Monday, as you know, I had dinner at Forge, with something alcoholic paired with every course. Then Tuesday, as I mentioned, involved food, yes, but also drinks (something with absinthe, then a beer, then, at Bridge Cafe, a New York State rye and a Scottish lowlands single malt).
And then on Wednesday all hell broke loose, as can happen when I go drinking with my colleagues. Executive editor Richard Martin was in town, and that’s always cause for celebration, so I met with him and a bunch of other NRN staff members at Papillon and I chatted with the gang while drinking Jack Daniels with one ice cube, as is fashionable these days.
Macho drinkers would order their whisky straight-up, but in fact the subtle aromatics of brown spirits are released better with just a splash of water, hence the single ice cube. Of course, people with brains should drink whatever they like however they like. If you enjoy your Jack Daniels with tomato juice, go ahead and drink it that way.
I had to peel off from there and go to a party at the Royalton celebrating Veev, a new açaí infused spirit. Açaí is probably the hippest fruit out there because it has a lot of antioxidants.
But of course all fruits and vegetables have antioxidants and we should eat a wide variety of them as often as we can. Going out of our way to consume one specific fruit is simple-minded. And drinking alcohol for health reasons, well, that’s so dumb it leaves me speechless.
Veev’s marketers have all sorts of other claims about how morally good it is — it’s green and kind to children and who knows what else. But managing partner Carter Reum seemed like a nice guy, the cocktails tasted good and marketing is such an important aspect of what people decide to drink that I can’t fault the Veev people for trying to set themselves apart.
I had a really fun chat with Pierrick Chouard, founder and chocolatier of Vintage Plantations, which is a politically correct chocolate that was being served at the party. It’s Rainforest Alliance certified and vegan and gluten free and blah blah blah blah. It tasted good, though, and Pierrick, a Frenchman who went to high school in Japan and, being a foreign service brat, grew up all over the planet, was very engaging. I drank several cocktails so I’m not completely sure what exactly we spoke about, but I remember that he had a complex understanding of labor policies and a refreshing sophistication in his philosophy about how things should be run.
And, as I said, his chocolate tastes good. They were passing around chocolates flavored with tree-tomato, a fruit Pierrick had sourced in South America. I said I thought they were the same thing as tamarillos, but when I described them he said his tree-tomatoes were different. Maybe so.
I kind of remember someone putting a bracelet made of açai seeds on my wrist. In the morning I was wearing two of them. Hmm.
Then last night I had dinner with the bright, engaging and quite tall Blain Howard.
When I met Blain he was a restaurant publicist, but now he does PR for video games and so we can be friends.
I have nothing against restaurant publicists (except for the incompetent ones) and I'm friendly with most of the ones I work with, but of course they have to be nice to me; it’s their job. Equal relationships can’t really develop that way. So restaurant publicists who are actual friends of mine were friends before they became publicists. The rest are friendly work associates, or something.
Anyway, Blain’s a fun-loving, good-natured, rugby-playing, former mixed martial arts practitioner who shares similar taste in television with me (except that he watches Top Chef). He does things that I find fascinating, like periodically get into bar fights.
I told Blain of the story when I almost got my head kicked in outside of a bar in Bangkok:
I’m usually a friendly, good-natured drunk, but for some reason on that particular steamy night in Bangkok I was feeling surly, and entirely unprovoked I called a little Thai bar worker a monitor lizard.
In Thai, that’s about as grave an insult as you can hurl at someone. And so naturally he stood up to do me harm.
As I said, he was a little bar worker, but lots of Thais, perhaps most but maybe not, are shorter than I am, but they’re also wiry, and those who work in bars are accustomed to inflicting pain if necessary. So of course I immediately apologized, professed my drunkenness and was let off the hook.
I was also almost beat up in Bangkok by a giant Australian, who was hanging out in the guest house where my friend and work colleague James Eckardt lived. He just seemed like he was in the mood to beat someone up and I, being a smart-ass, seemed as good a target as any. But I somehow managed to de-escalate and convince him that I was an amusing little fellow.
He did lift me, and the chair I was sitting in, up in the air, which is impressive and terrifying.
Stories of terrifying Australians was appropriate last night, as we were eating at Bondi Road, an Australian-themed restaurant on the Lower East Side, where all of the staff is from the Antipodes.
Blain in turn told stories of his reality-TV friends. Apparently if you’re in a reality TV show in Los Angeles you end up getting to know all of the other reality TV people, and Blain was friends with one of them, so he met the rest. While drinking with some of them in a bar, he had to get up and punch someone once. He’d been having a bad day and the guy wouldn’t shut up.
I guess that’s an option if you’re a 6'4" rugby-playing mixed martial arts practitioner.
I expressed gratitude for the existence of Joe Pesci, or really Tommy DeVito, his character in Goodfellas, who reinforced the notion that little guys can be wild creatures who might just suddenly go snake on you and tear a hole where you didn’t have one previously.
It’s good to keep people guessing.
What we ate:

Classic oysters Kilpatrick (baked bluepoints on the half shell, dressed with bacon and Worcestershire sauce)
Barbecue shrimp and watermelon salad with feta in lemon-mustard vinaigrette
Baby scallop rigatoni with asparagus and porcini
Shark and roasted beets
Barramundi and chips
King George whiting over garlic mushrooms and pea purée
Tasmanian ocean trout over roasted ratatouille and roasted-tomato sauce
Breaded "roo fillet," which is to say chicken-fried kangaroo, with arugula salad and sweet cherry dressing
Fruit pavlova

And cocktails, beer, wine, whisky &tc.

Prospect Lefferts Barbecue

August 22

If I want barbecue in the little Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect Lefferts Gardens, I visit my friend and colleague Milford Prewitt, who makes delicious barbecue (and in fact fed it to me and my colleagues last weekend; my boss Pam Parseghian brought delicious cole slaw).
But apart from being a great cook, a charming host and a really talented house fixer upper, Milford is also a terrific journalist and active neighbor, and so he has learned the following about a barbecue joint that the owners of Enduro on Lincoln Road hope to open in the space next door to their current restaurant (this was first mentioned in the blog Hawthorne Street):
It will be called Richard’s Barbecue, will have 100-110 seats and will probably focus on St. Louis-style food, although they haven’t decided for sure yet. They hope to open it in December.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


August 21

Quite apart from the minor hullabaloo I managed to stir up over at, which was fun enough (wow, anonymous commenters embarrass themselves with their ignorance), it’s been a good week.
On Monday night I had dinner at Forge with publicist Jennifer Baum. We’ve known each other for years and years and probably last dined together at Citarella, back when it was a restaurant.
Boy did we gossip, and you'll hear none of it, thank you very much. But we also spoke of family and politics. I said my 12-year-old niece Tahirah and nine-year-old nephew Harrison surely understand that you can't invade a country and impose democracy from above, and Jennifer was sure that her seven-year-old son Griffon, an avid Obama-supporter, would easily arrive at that conclusion as well.
And we also reflected on the rarefied world we live in, in which chefs like Marc Forgione come out of the kitchen and ask if they can cook for us. I actually have a number of friends who would roll their eyes and ask if we can please just have a simple meal and escape from the restaurant at a reasonable hour.
Since I’m supposed to spot trends, I of course am happy to have the chef serve whatever he wants. What he chooses to cook tells me what he thinks is his trendiest, best or most interesting stuff. Ditto with wine pairings. Let the sommelier pick and you can see what he or she thinks is the coolest stuff in the cellar (that can affordably be poured for media).
By the way, I wrote a profile of Marc back in mid-2005, when he was chef de cuisine of BLT Prime, which had just opened. I asked him where he’d like to be in five years, and he said: "I'd like to open a small restaurant in New York City, but we'll see what happens. My dream: 75-seat restaurant; four, five people in the kitchen. My food."
Forge has 81 seats.
And this is what Marc had to say on Monday:

Tomato consommé gelée over grilled corn-basil salad
Scrambled egg and American caviar
Nueske bacon, heirloom tomato and smoked onion rémoulade with three types of basil and a black pepper crouton
Wild kampachi tartare with avocado, red radish, American caviar and Saratoga chips.
Chilled watermelon soup with jumbo lump crab and wild flower honey
Black pepper linguine with 24-hour veal breast, smoked ricotta and summer squash
Basil crusted halibut with marinated cherry tomatoes and sorrento oil
A meat tasting, including suckling pig leg as well as loin (the loin isn't on the menu) as well as hanger steak au poivre and Colorado lamb with cocoa beans.
Basil mashed potatoes, cole slaw with mustard oil and other sides
Peach upside-down cake with sweet corn ice cream and caramel corn
Plum jelly doughnuts with lemon verbena crème anglaise
Yogurt panna cotta with black mission fig, marcona almond and Pedro Jimenez reduction

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Idle gossip about New York restaurant openings

August 20

Brad Blum, who in the past was a big executive at Darden (which owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster etc.) and Burger King, is opening restaurants of his own in New York. Rumors say he’s opening an “American Deli” of some sort in Williamsburg, and also — perhaps as soon as in two to three weeks — a place on Union Square, possibly near Heartland Brewery. One rumor monger told us it was going to be Italianish, but Mr. Blum's PR flak said it wouldn’t be Italian, but wouldn’t say anything else because she promised an exclusive to someone else [update: previously I said it was Florence Fabricant of the Times, but my colleague corrected me; he said he asked the publicist if it was Florence and she just laughed].
That’s a common practice, but it’s still rude to other journalists, so I thought I’d just throw the information out there.
I actually met Randy McNamara, Heartland’s vice president of operations, last night at Spiegel Tent, where my friend Ben Schmerler, who does PR for Heartland (which runs Spiegelworld’s foodservice), was hosting several NRNers. McNamara said he didn't know anything about Brad Blum opening a new restaurant nearby.
At any rate, two of my colleagues here at Nation’s Restaurant News, Paul Frumkin and Elissa Elan, just headed to Union Square to knock on doors and find out what they can find out.

Stay tuned...

In other news, Ben just landed Murray’s Cheese as a client, so congratulations to him.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cocktail for the US Open

August 18

Why haven’t I heard this cocktail name before? It's so brilliant, yet so obvious.
In celebration of the US Open, the Wheeltapper, at the Fitzpatrick Hotel in Manhattan, is offering a variety of specially-named menu items, including the Martini Navratilova.
It's actually a Cosmopolitan with a splash of pomegranate juice (“to keep it healthy” the press release says).
But surely someone can think of a more interesting drink for such a great athlete.
Your suggestions are welcome.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mushrooms at Blue Hill

August 15

Bob Tam is no longer corporate chef at PF Chang’s. That’s one of many things I learned last night when eating with a bunch of chefs and mushroom promoters at Blue Hill.
The mushroom board's publicist, my old friend Alexei Rudolf, had e-mailed me asking for suggestions for restaurants (“Strong mushroom capabilities preferred”) where he could take a collection of chefs. I didn’t suggest Blue Hill (I have nothing against the place, but my restaurant suggestions tend to be off-the-cuff and Blue Hill just wasn’t top-of-mind on that day), but Alexei picked it anyway and invited me to join them for dinner. So I did.
The last time I’d eaten at Blue Hill was for a media luncheon showcasing Kona Kampachi, another of Alexei’s clients.
I drank Gruner-Veltliner and Pinot Noir as I sat across from Bob Okura, Cheesecake Factory’s corporate chef (he tells me that their new Southeast Asian restaurant, Rock Sugar, is doing better than expected and is projected to gross $8-$10 million in its first year, which is a lot — but remember he’s the corporate chef, not the money guy). Sitting next to him was Monica Pope, chef-owner of t'afia, the politically correct, organic, sustainable green restaurant in Houston. It was nice to see her hanging out with the chain guys. She extolled the virtues of Momofuku Ssäm bar’s Brussels sprouts and the carrot salad at The Spotted Pig, while Bob spoke of many things, including his wife's love for Korean soap operas.
Good times.
As the evening wound down Alexei moved over to my table, along with PF Chang's publicist Laura Cherry, with whom I'd worked over the phone for years, but we'd never met in person. So that was cool. We finished the wine as Blue Hill's staff closed up, and then we went next door to the Stoned Crow for a nightcap. Laura had an Abslolut Citron and soda, Alexei had an Absinthe. I had a Brooklyn Lager.

What we ate at Blue Hill:

A cold tomato soup that chef Dan Barber didn't want to call gazpacho, topped with a sort of foamy tomato water sorbet
Prosperosa eggplant Parmesan with portobello mushrooms
This morning's farm egg with local corn, roasted maitake and king trumpet mushrooms and Stone Barns Tuscan kale
Stone Barns Berkshire pork with shiitake and blue foot mushrooms, lima beans and tomatoes
Raspberries on cheesecake with raspeberry sorbet (and no mushrooms)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

celebrating bread

August 14

Thanks to Gael Greene, people following the New York food scene know that Jean-Georges Vongerichten is investing in a pizza place with Sullivan St Bakery’s Jim Lahey. Conveniently, Mr. Lahey has just brought on a new publicist, who e-mailed me to tell me he was the new publicist.
Normally I hate that — publicists telling me they have a new client. What do I care? When you have something to say about that client, let me know.
But this client is in the news, so I didn’t mind at all. In fact, I asked the publicist about the new pizzeria, and now I’ll pass his response on to you because I know you’re interested in this sort of thing:

Hi Bret,

To clarify, Jean-Georges is only an investor in the project. He has no control over the management and Jim’s vision for menu and design will be carried out. (But, not a bad person to have believe in you, right?).

The menu is still being conceptualized, but it will celebrate bread, which can be anything from bread-based foods to those foods that pair well with bread. Once we have definitive details of an opening date and a menu, you’ll be among the first to know...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Margarita tragedy

August 13

Our world is plagued with many tragedies — genocide, epidemics, calamitous hurricanes and tsunamis.
Getting Margarita splashed on you is not a tragedy. It’s funny. If the worst thing that happens to you in a day is having Margarita splashed on you, that’s a good day. A great one, in fact. Even if the Margarita gets on your handbag.
Someone was not aware of that last night at the Stone Rose in the Time Warner Center, where I was invited to witness and participate in the bar’s make-your-own-Margarita bottle service. For the price of a bottle, plus $40 for all-you-can-eat chips and guacamole and all-you-can-use mixers, and salt, and lime slices, a hostess will show your table how to make Margaritas, and then you can have at it.
A bottle of Patrón tequila would be $350, so the whole thing, before tax and tip, would be $390.
Personally, I don’t think you need to invest in Patrón to make a good Margarita, but I’m not the target market for bottle service. If I didn’t want bartenders to make my drinks for me, I’d stay at home.
Anyway, most of the people at my table seemed to write for the sort of socialite-fashion publications that target people who might like bottle service. One of them brought a date. The date was a newcomer to New York and he was trying to fit in, and doing so just fine, but when he was getting ready to shake his Margarita he forgot to put the little cap on the shaker and doused the humorless woman who brought him with unmixed tequila, Cointreau and house made sour mix of lime and simple syrup (theoretically you can have it made with agave nectar or even stevia if you ask, although I asked about stevia and they didn’t seem to know what I was talking about).
She didn’t like that. She excused herself, I would guess to go to the bathroom and clean herself up, and came back a few minutes later to inform her poor date that they were leaving.
She was really mad, especially, it seemed, because it got on her handbag.
Imagine the ruckus she’d raise if someone committed genocide on her.

Anybody want a Pinkberry?

August 13

I got a voice mail this morning from Pinkberry’s corporate office. Apparently when I called them to interview them for an article I was writing about the latest frozen yogurt phenomenon they put me on the wrong list and thought I was interested in being a franchisee.
They're now accepting applications.
I thought you might want to know.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


August 12

Ah Rhode Island, such a crazy little pocket universe, with its own little mafia, dialect, cuisine (can you say coffee milk?) and fascinating lack of interest in the rest of the world.
They say quahog (pronounced co-hog), like everyone in the world knows what that is.
It's a large, meaty clam.
Quahog’s also the Rhode Island town where The Family Guy takes place, but unlike South Park, which really is a town in Colorado, there is no Rhode Island town called Quahog.
That Family Guy fact is one of the many things I learned at the Beard House last night, where Joseph Hafner of Gracie’s in Providence was cooking. A couple of kids from Star Chefs were at my table, too, and Michael Goldman, the publisher of HauteLife Press, which does custom publishing for restaurants etc. It turns out that Michael is a neighbor of mine and holds similar disdain for the haters at the Park Slope food co-op and the smug people at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket who will buy whatever garbage the farmers put in front of them. In fact, we both believe that the farmers, not being stupid, have figured that out and save their worst produce for that particular market.
Except for the grape people. I love them. And Evolutionary Organics — hate the name, love the greens.
I sat next to Gracie’s publicist, Ann Martini, whose main job is actually producing firefighter calendars for charity. She taught me how to pronounce her native state’s name properly (Ruh-DYE-lund).

What I ate and drank:

Hors d’oeuvres:
Foie gras and duck heart mousse with red onion marmalade
Point Judith bluefish rillettes and tomato crumpets
Mayonnaise biscuits with salty ham, red pepper jelly and Grafton cheddar
Gazpacho with Jonah crab and tiny tomatoes
Champagne Duval — Leroy Design Paris Brut, NV

Tuna Niçoise terrine with haricots verts, golden wax beans, triple cooked potatoes, Re Manfredi first press olive oil, tomato water and Eva's pea tendrils
Domaine de l'Hortus Rosé de Saignée, 2007

Brown butter-and-potato gnocchi with provolone mandarone, summer truffles and herbs
Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos ds Mouches Blanc, 2005

Crisp softshell crab with salad of nasturtium flower and leaf, heirloom tomatoes and Rhode Island corn agnolottie
vPaslcal Jolivet Château de Noizay Sancerre, 2006

Intermezzo: Frozen Cherry Lemonade

Veal Two Ways: Grass-fed veal roulade with country bacon and sage, and crisp sweetbreads with peppadew gastrique and creamed garlic fondue
Louis Latour Château Corton Grancey Grand Cru, 2003

Dancing Cow Farmstead Sarabande with figs and Ken's honey
Lustau Solera Reserva dry oloroso Don Nuño sherry

Baked Rhode Island: Coffee milk rocky road ice cram, Kenyon's Johhncake and marshmallow meringue
W & J Graham’s 40-year-old tawny port

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What’s next for Chris Cheung?

August 7

The legion of people obsessed with the New York restaurant scene already know that Graydon Carter has bought Monkey Bar, where Chris Cheung was the chef.
I called Chris. He was at the restaurant.
“We’re cleaning it up for Mr. Carter,” he said. “Everything has actually been shipped off on the trucks.” The whole place will be vacated in the next day or so.
But Chris is still working for the Glazier Group, which sold the restaurant to Carter. Chris said they’re still trying to decide what to do with him — maybe give him a corporate position, although Chris says he’d ultimately like to be back in a restaurant where he can showcase his food.
“It’s a pretty good time to look at all your options, I guess.”
He said company principal Peter Glazier has kept most of the staff on the payroll and is figuring out what to do with them.

More about Chris Chueng.

Terrible writing, or the worst writing I’ve ever seen?

August 7

Seriously, alliteration is not good writing. In fact, it often makes a perfectly readable sentence hokey.
And big words don’t make you seem smart.
My comments are bracketed below. I added the boldface.

Dear Bret ,

We at
[a consulting company that does not respect the English language] facilitate public relations practitioners [read: help publicists] to reach the right contact and pitch their relevant stories. Most of our persistent PR professionals are continually keen on getting your current details on outlets/publications you are associated with, current job title, the latest topics you cover and essentially your preferred mode of communication. Hence [hence?] I request to [read: please] send the above mentioned information to [e-mail, fax and mailing address withheld for obvious reasons].
If the said information is available on the Web, feel free to simply send us the link.

[I was thinking of suggesting Google].

The message was signed by the senior vice president for projects, and that left me speechless.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Journalists make their living by using words. We get offended when they are used badly.