Friday, October 10, 2008

Adrià launches a book, I eat derivative Thai food

October 10

I’m told that Corton, Drew Nieporent’s new restaurant with chef Paul Liebrandt, is superb. I was told that by Drew, who might not be the objective source, but who is objective when it comes to food?
The restaurant’s business card is certainly elegant. Plain white, or possibly eggshell, with "CORTON" written in a clean, medium-green sans-serif font. Very nice.
Drew handed it to me as I arrived at the most A-list party I’ve been to in awhile, the launch of Ferran Adrià’s new book.
The event was held in a private room at Per Se, which of course implies A-list, but I don’t know — there was something about the lighting or the way the servers were dressed or the fact that they were serving not just white cava but rosé that made it feel almost intimidatingly so. I shared this observation with Little Owl chef Joey Campanaro and then with James Oliver Cury, the executive editor of, but they didn’t give me an adequate explanation.
“The lighting” offered my friend Yishane Lee, who was there as a gues of her friend Riza, who works for Vogue. We stood around and drank both colors of cava and I told her who everyone at the party was — well, not everyone, I didn’t know everyone. But people were there from Food & Wine and Good Housekeeping and Food Arts and The New York Times Book Review and Martha Stewart.
Herself was there, too, I later learned from my new Twitter friend Mark Tafoya, who has posted posted pictures on his facebook page.
He also did a video.
So that was fun and the food was good — foie gras with apple gelée and fennel pollen, José Andres’s interpretation of a cheesesteak (beef and a whisper of cheese in an almost impossibly light pastry, topped with truffle shavings), Señor Adrià’s offering: a drop of encapsulated seasoned olive oil with a bit of gold leaf sticking out of it. The publisher, and then the host (Thomas Keller) gave brief speeches and then the author spoke briefly, I think in Catalan, because it didn’t really sound like Spanish. He actually started with two words in English: “Good night.” He meant “good evening,” of course, so it’s probably just as well that he continued in Catalan.
Anyway, I promised Dallas-based publicist Jeffrey Yarbrough that I’d go to his party at Highline, a Thai restaurant I’d never heard of on the outskirts of the Meatpacking District that’s owned by the same people who own Peep and SEA and a bunch of other highy-stylized restaurants serving Thai food toned down for New York tastes.
So I hopped in a taxi and tried to talk to the restaurant’s owners about Thai politics, which are just a freaking mess at the moment, but they said that I probably knew more about it than they did, so we talked about food.
As I said, these guys don’t claim any authenticity, but they still added kapi, a funky fermented shrimp paste, to the fried rice, which left a guy from Wine Spectator slightly befuddled.
The desserts actually were interesting, in that Asian desserts, in my opinion, generally suck, but these both tasted distinctly Thai, but also good, like a sort of jasmine-infused panna cotta, and Thai iced tea ice cream.

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