One of the benefits of this crappy economy is that it’s easier to get high-powered food writers like me to show up at events.
Okay, maybe not food writers like me, because it has never been hard to get me to show up at events, but you didn’t used to see people like Jane Sigal and Lettie Teague at Susan Rike’s dinners.
Susan’s way of introducing food writers to her clients is to invite a handful of them to sit around at a table at one of her client’s restaurants, eat a meal and meet the chef.
I have met many interesting people at these dinners over the years, including big-time players like Amanda Hesser and James Oliver Cury.
But usually my fellow guests are an eclectic mix of not-so-big names from across the board, quite often including one or more of the young women newly arrived at the revolving door that is Star Chefs (not to say that it can't be a fine jumping off point).
It is rare, indeed, to see two people of Jane’s and Lettie’s caliber at such a dinner, especially if the restaurant that Susan is showcasing is an old neighborhood place like York Grill.
There’s nothing wrong with old neighborhood places like York Grill, but it can be challenging to get big-name writers to cross their thresholds
So after the departure of Jane and Lettie and that evening’s other guest, food writer, cookbook author and Bay Ridge dining scene expert Marian Betancourt (she says Gino’s in that neighborhood is the best Italian restaurant in Brooklyn), I asked Susan if it was easier to get the A-list writers to come to her dinner parties these days, and she said emphatically that it was.
I’m not exactly sure why that is. Lettie’s status recently changed from staff member to freelancer (her wine blog is about to debut on Robert Parker’s web site, by the way), but Jane has been a freelancer for years now.
You might surmise that we were being invited to fewer events these days, but if my e-mail inbox and calendar are any indication, that’s not the case.
Maybe it's the new generosity of spirit in the air that I wrote about awhile back that makes us feel like if we’ve been invited out the only decent thing to do is to accept.
I don't have the answer, but it’s a phenomenon worth noting.
What we ate:
House-made gorgonzola-potato gnocchi tossed with blistered grape tomatoes and baby spinach in light Chardonnay broth topped with crumbled gorgonzola
Grilled Atlantic salmon over crispy Idaho potato-bacon-arugula cake topped with shaved carrot salad, with a drizzle of arugula emulsion
Pan roasted diver sea scallops over sautéed baby candy cane beets, shiitake mushrooms, dandelion greens and fingerling potatoes, and a verjus reduction
Sweet serrano chile glazed grilled pork loin with saffron jasmine rice and sour tomatillo compote
Grilled marinated skirt steak with caramelized onions, baby carrots and garlic mashed potatoes
Mini panna cotta, molten chocolate cake and crème brûlée.