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Friday Night In NYC

13 Dec

It’s not Friday night in New York City (at the Lamb’s Club, specifically) until Abe and Joe make this happen.  Favorite picture of Joe ever!



12 Dec

Eataly, as described to me (an indoor Italian shopping mall of sorts in the middle of Manhattan) sounded a little forced, or cheesy.  Eataly, in fact, is amazing.  I’m obsessed.

Eataly is the newest effort by Mario Batali, the Bastianich family, and some others – in true Mario fashion, this is not just an establishment where you can buy food and other specialty items.  There is a philosophy here – a “manifesto” and express promises made to the buyers (choice, accessibility, knowledge), among other things.

Eataly is a bit like an amusement park in that you walk in off of Fifth Avenue and through some glass doors and suddenly you are truly and completely elsewhere.  A busy outdoor market in Rome, maybe, to create an image of the elsewhere.  There are fresh produce stands, salumerias, cheese and gelato bars.  A fish monger.  A rosticceria.  Freshly made pastas to buy and take with you.  And rows and rows of specialty items, sauces, wines, honey, and coffee and tea imported from Italy and elsewhere.

You can sit for a meal or take away various Italian street foods like pizza rustica (pizza crust with a spread of tangy tomato sauce – typically little else in the way of toppings – and served cold – heaven) and sandwiches on toasted focaccia.  We were in and out and took lunch to go – I look forward to spending a good five hours there the next time I am in New York.


Sunday Brunch

8 Dec

Paul and Yoni are two of my favorite people in the whole world.  I have known Paul since I was fourteen and have known Yoni for several years now, too.  I just love them.  As we were leaving their cute Manhattan coop on Sunday afternoon, Abe commented that they are the best couple we know.  I thought about it for a bit.  I think he’s right.  Here is a picture of the four of us last year at Paul and Yoni’s wedding.    On Sunday morning, we made our way uptown to 72nd and West End Ave for a special Sunday brunch by Yoni (I’m sure Paul helped, too?).  After tea and coffee and conversation about old fashion seltzer bottles and a (prominently displayed) yellow hard hat, Yoni served Panettone french toast, scrambled eggs with fresh herbs, crispy bacon, berries, and warm maple syrup.  Seriously delicious.  And beautiful, too. With all of the amazing places to have brunch in Manhattan, still, I could think of no better place to be.

The french toast was adapted from this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis.  Yoni omitted the mascarpone and added orange zest.  The recipe is below.  Thanks for a lovely day!  See you both soon!!!

Panettone French Toast


Cinnamon Syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

French Toast:

  • 1 (1.1 pound; 500 gram) loaf panettone bread, baking paper removed
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


To make the syrup: Combine 1 cup of water and brown sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil until the syrup reduces to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and cinnamon. Keep the syrup warm. (The syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before serving.)

Meanwhile, prepare the French toast: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Trim the bottom crust of the panettone. Starting at the bottom end of the panettone, cut it crosswise into 6 (3/4-inch thick) round slices (reserve the top piece for toast!). In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended. Add the cream, milk, and sugar and whisk until well mixed. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter on a large nonstick griddle over medium heat. Dip 3 slices of panettone into the custard, turning to allow both sides to absorb the custard. Grill the soaked panettone slices until they are golden brown and firm to the touch, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the French toast to a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining butter, panettone slices, and custard.

Transfer the French toast to plates. Dollop the mascarpone atop each. Lightly dust with the powdered sugar. Drizzle the cinnamon syrup over and around the French toast and serve immediately.

Christmas In New York

6 Dec

Thanks, Fabs, for the awesome guest posts!  In the meantime, it was Christmas in New York for us.  This is midtown Christmas.

Followed by our tradition of an 11:15 seating at Babbo for the pasta tasting menu.  Highlight by far was the first pasta course – black tagliatelle with crispy parsnips, pancetta, butter, and a sharp cheese to finish (seriously one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had).  The signature olive oil rosemary cake with olive oil gelato is one of my favorites, too.  Abe allowed one picture during dinner.  Here it is.

Perfect New York (Christmas) day.

Niagara Falls

6 Oct

When in Buffalo for the first (and potentially only) time, you have to stop and see the Falls.  They are truly amazing.  We didn’t think to bring our passports, so we were limited to the “American side.”  (The “Canadian side” is supposed to be better.)  Still, it was gorgeous.The Falls are more wide than they are tall (I expected Niagara Falls to be supremely tall), but that’s not to say it isn’t breathtaking any which way you look at it.The most compelling part for me was the calm water that gently streams into these massive, unstoppable falls.  Like if you didn’t know better you might just take a swim, or go for a little kayak ride, and end up dropping hundreds of feet (to a not very pleasant ending).Amy told us about a Japanese tourist who stood next to the Falls with an umbrella for a picture and the wind blew her away.  How sad!  On the other hand, a little boy fell into the Falls with nothing but his bathing suit and he was rescued by the Maid of the Mist, the tourist boat that takes you in and around the falls.We definitely took a ride on the Maid of the Mist and it was definitely awesome.  Misty, without a doubt.  It’s impossible to determine depth when you are at the bottom of the Falls.  We rode into the white mist for some time and still came nowhere near the actual Falls.  Apparently, as you get closer, the rapids are unsafe for any type of boat.  Crazy.On our way out there, Abe told me Niagara Falls was a honeymoon destination and I laughed at him but it turns out he was right.  Only that was 30 years ago.  Anyway, it’s sweet and romantic and really interesting, but after six buckets of mist in my eyes I was glad we opted for the Riviera Maya for our honeymoon instead.

Megan & Tony’s Wedding

4 Oct

We’ve talked about my sweet friend Megan from time to time – her jewelry and art, among other things.  This weekend, Megan and Tony got married in Buffalo, New York.  Their wedding was exactly as expected: quirky and fun and beautiful.  Megan personified (with meaningful hints of Tony).

Megan was lovely.  Angelic and couture (one of her bridesmaids owns a bridal boutique in New York and played a part in designing this dress).  And Tony was handsome, too, of course.Aside from the bride and groom, the flowers and other table decorations were highlights.  Dried flowers and artichokes and purple cabbage made up these extraordinary arrangements.  I loved this random ladder of asparagus, too.  The cake opted for some unusual bride and groom friends, designed by Megan and Tony themselves.  Oh and two chewbaccas showed up.  Which is, you know, typical for a wedding.  Finally, this gorgeous work as a wedding favor (also designed by Megan and Tony).Love.

All in all, another beautiful wedding.

When In Buffalo

3 Oct

We lived in Los Angeles when I was a kid.  On special occasions, my parents dined at the Rex, the see-and-be-seen restaurant of its time (my uncle was a server there and he waited on Michael Jackson and Liz Taylor and Cindy Crawford and other legendary entertainers of the 70s and 80s) and a true five-star restaurant before anyone cared about such a thing.

We moved to San Diego in the early 90s and, for special occasions in place of the Rex, my parents found Marius, another exquisite dining experience before its time.  The maitre d’ of Marius ended up at the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York and we visited him when I moved up to Bard in 1998.  That tells you something about the level of service at Marius – the maitre d’ became a dear friend.

On nights when my parents went out, I would wait up in bed for them to get home.  They would describe each course they had in detail.  I still remember a chocolate raspberry dessert my mom described: layers of paper-thin chocolate squares with chocolate mousse, fresh raspberries, fresh whipped cream, mint, and honey.  I have looked for that dessert ever since.

I learned from my parents to love food.  And in so many different ways.  A healthful, home cooked meal is as valuable as any celebratory one.  Meals should be long and savored (this is why I feel upset when people ask for the check instead of dessert). Relationships are made over meals.  As we have said before, you should always eat what is served (this explains why Fabi, who often refuses to eat chicken because it’s too “jiggly,” ended up eating live shrimp in Japan and alpaca in South America!).  Finally, as is relevant to this post, you can learn about the history of a place through its food.

So, all of this background to say that when in Buffalo, there is no question as to what you are meant to do.  Buffalo wings and a roast beef on weck.  We were told this is how you experience Buffalo (well, this and Niagara Falls, to be discussed later).  We did as we were told.

Anchor Bar, a Buffalo establishment, claims to have invented buffalo wings (I understand there is some controversy surrounding this).  But Mike (a Buffalo native) told us to find a local, unheard of place instead.  We found Duff’s Famous Wings off Route 277 (I asked Mike via text about this place – he said, “not too famous; should be good”).

Duff’s is a serious Buffalo bar.  And not only did Duff’s serve wings and wecks, the two were offered as a combination (10 wings and a weck).  Easy enough.

Whether they are famous, I don’t know.  But, Duff’s wings are amazing.  So as not to miss out on anything, we ordered both the traditional wings and some honey barbecue wings – both were savory and indulgent and delicious.

The chicken wings and little drumsticks are meaty; the outer skin (fried but not breaded) is thin and crispy.  The orange sauce on the traditional wings (made with Cayenne pepper, mostly) is tangy and super spicy.  We tried to order them “hot.”  We were warned that “medium” was likely all we could take.  And that was true.  This is the type of spicy you breathe in, if that makes sense.  The honey barbecue wings were lightly sweet, but not sugary the way they might be in a bar that does not serve “famous(!)” wings.Wings were excellent but the weck was the highlight for me.  The fresh carved, rare roast beef on a white soft bun (and this is coming from a wheat bread fanatic – on reflection, maybe that’s why the white bread tasted so good) topped with a special homemade mixture of kosher salt and caraway seeds – each bite was a satisfying blend of soft and savory and caraway.  Gravy on the side if you want it, though you don’t really need it.Buffalo is an interesting town.  It is gray, and a little melancholy in parts.  The downtown is funky and up and coming.  It is thought of as an east coast city but it is mid-west proper – in tone and demeanor and manner (and geography, frankly).  And where the once booming mining town does not always stand out or get its due, the food does.  And should.

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