Friday, June 19, 2009


June 19

Last Sunday, when 2,000,000 other people in New York were attending or participating in the Puerto Rican Day parade, I was at Seäsonal, stuffing my face and drinking wine — mostly Grüner Veltliner, of which Seäsonal offers six varieties by the glass.
Seäsonal is not a good name for this restaurant on 58th St. Sure, they use produce that’s in season (much of the time, I did have quark with strawberries there in the winter), but what restaurant in New York doesn’t? Its main distinguishing characteristic is that it mostly features the cuisine of Austria and southern Germany, under the watchful eye of co-executive chefs Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban. That’s Ed in the picture, looking on with satisfaction as I polish off the vegetables accompanying a fish dish.
I’m not sure what my dining companion Sandra Fowler is thinking. It looks like she’s thinking “Good lord, Bret, have you never seen food before? Slow down.”
But she seems a bit more generous of character than that.
Sandra had suggested we meet for brunch at Seäsonal (that umlaut is, of course, the only indication of the restaurant’s cuisine), so we met there around 2 and then spent the next eight (8!) hours chatting with Glenn the bartender while Ed and Wolfgang fed us. We had non-traditional things like scallops with beets and horseradish, and really traditional things like Wienerschnitzel, and upgraded versions of traditional dishes, like braised veal cheek goulash.
The title of this blog entry is my own fractured version of German, a language I don’t speak. It’s how I hoped you might say Puerto Rican Day in German, but my friend Clark Mitchell, who speaks German, says they’d probably just call the day Puerto Rico Tag.
That, however, would not be a good title for a blog entry.
Apart from eating, Sandra and I drank a lot of different types of Grüner Veltliner as well as some Blaufränkisch and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (Sandra’s a Californian and so it’s important that she drink Chardonnay often), and just a little bit of grappa that had recently been dropped off by a liquor merchant.
I had meant to do laundry that day for my trip to Hawaii. But we didn’t leave until 10pm, so that was out of the question.
Sandra suggested I eat at Alan Wong’s while I was in Honolulu. I had actually interviewed Alan some years ago, when Nation’s Restaurant News inducted him into our Fine Dining Hall of Fame, and it seemed like I should, indeed, try his food. So the next day Sandra e-introduced me to Leigh Ito, Alan’s publicist (Sandra is a very hard-working networker), and dinner was arranged.
And that makes for a good prelude to my trip to the Hawaiian island of Oahu, which I’ll begin documenting with my next blog entry...

To view all the blog entries about my trip to O‘ahu, click here.

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