What’s New in the NYC?

How can you live in a city brimming with restaurants of all shapes and sizes and flavors and colors and textures, etc. and not dine out? Why, because sometimes it just becomes over-stimulating. And then all you end up wanting to eat is low-fat soup, fruit, and yogurt. No complicated instructions, no schmoozing with the stars, and no having to figure out what in the world to eat next.

It was the end of summer, I was on hiatus, and I just wanted to relax and read a good non-food-related book. I must confess that Lipton, not to mention instant chicken soup, came in quite handy during those few weeks, especially during the days when I lost my voice. No fuss, no worry, just add hot water and sip slowly. Cheese & crackers blessed my snack time, and fruit and yogurt perfected my breakfast.
However, summer is over, and it is now time to get back into the swing of things. Much news has been blowing in with the wind, but as there is a time and a place for everything, let’s start at the beginning.

In August, I finally managed to get out of the city during the entire year I’ve been n New York. Can you imagine? Whew, thank you long train ride and French tv. A very quick weekend getaway brought me to Montreal, and even to a couple of brief foodist moments – short & sweet. My two recommendations?

Schwartz’s Deli – Smoked Meat Sandwich (see photo)
Confusion Tapas – Deer Carpaccio with Capers and Truffles

If you happen to be in Montreal on the weekend, stop by Jean Talon market in Little Italy. Absolutely one of my favorite stops in the city with bright and colorful fruits and vegetables, musicians, the wafting aroma of wonderful treats; a fabulously vibrant a-bit-out-of-the-way stop where I found a lovely bottle of Mont de Glace Ice Apple Wine and yet another of Cidrerie Léo Boutin Cuvée Versant Sud Light Cider. Both should be served chilled.

Back in Manhattan, during a quick hop to the Upper West Side, a couple of friends and I passed by Loft (Consulting Chef Angelo Sosa) to enjoy Grilled Canadian Foie Gras with Cherry Lane Wild Strawberries Scented with Saigon Cinnamon, served in a air-sealed Kilner jar; Kobe Beef Flat Bread with Summer White Truffles and Hand-Picked Garden Salad; and Crisp Chicken and Cilantro Spring Rolls with Mint Yogurt. While I’m a huge fan of foie gras and cilantro, I must say that my favorite was the flat bread – crisp and bittersweet. If you didn’t have the pleasure of trying Chef Sosa’s amazing flavor combinations at Yumcha or Buddakan, then run don’t walk to Loft. Although they may still be working out some kinks, with Chef Sosa around, you’re in for a real treat.

A quick dinner with friends at Kittichai last night was much appreciated. Succulent Chocolate Baby Back Ribs and Tom Kha Gai hit the spot. Definitely an addition to my list on where to take friends visiting New York.

In the news:
Alex Patout, formerly of the famed Louisiana dining mega-genre Patout’s, has filed Chapter 7 and moved his family on to Miami where Christabelle’s Quarter will be opening up next month in Coconut Grove. S’all ’bout N’awlins including live jazz every night, oysters from Plaquemine parish, shrimp from Delcambre, and crabs from Lake Pontchartrain. Laissez les bons temps rouler!!!

The Tuscan Chef, Cesare Casella, strikes again! September 26 and 27, Maremma will be featuring Louisiana shrimp straight from the salt waters of the Breton Sound, harvested on the Louisiana Coast by Ray and Kay Brandhurst. Grazie mille, Cesare for your continued support of my beautiful home. Baci!
But wait, that’s not all, on September 28, The James Beard House will be hosting Chef Casella and Thanksgiving Farm as they prepare traditional Italian favorites using only organic products. For more information, contact The James Beard House at 212.627.2308.
Chef Casella will also be demonstrating Chianina beef and the debut of his Stonewall pig breed, while offering a tasting at DeGustibus – 212.439.1714.

Interested in learning more about fine Spanish wines? Just ask the Wine Guy, Greg Poirier. Go on, ask him anything!

Ever heard of disease-proofing your body? Apparently, you can get pretty close by at least lowering your cholesterol…without the use of drugs. Flip through a copy of ‘Cholesterol Protection for Life’ by Dr. Joel Fuhrman to see what changes you can be making to your lifestyle a whole lot healthier.

Check out pics and whatsits on chefs José Andrés and Davide Scabin, among others in the October issue of Gourmet. Discover where your immediate fork pick-up should be by reading the latest update on the top 50 restaurants in America. Find out how you too can tweak your beaker as a molecular gastronomist (oohlala) by tapping into some home-ready recipes direct from the Chef Food Science gurus themselves.

Anyone get to the very first StarChefs International Chefs Congress this past week? If you didn’t, then you dearly missed out. So, set your calendar for next year then (September 16, 17, &18), ’cause it can only get better. With about 46 presenters, super sponsors, a product’s fair, demos, workshops, seminars, and a whole buncha attendees, the Congress was a success. And, as the Chef Coordinator, I was so much more than fortunate to have been a part of it. When do you get a chance to be in a room surrounded by some of the most talented culinary creators in the world? Yeah, did you mark it on your calendar yet?
I would first like to say thank you to everyone involved as it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. If you are in my daily circle, then you have most probably only heard me say that about a million times. Well now I guess you know it’s true. It was an absolute honor to have met and worked with so many wonderfully beautiful people. And I even had the chance to get behind the scenes with Chef Paul Liebrandt (formerly of Gilt) during a dinner at Butter. My very minor role consisted of wiping the smudges off plates, but I did get to wear a lovely chef’s coat and experience first-hand the chaotic flow of a New York kitchen. As several of the staff had worked together in various venues before, the team camaraderie was deliciously smooth.
I cannot express strongly enough the emotions I felt during those three sleepless days and nights, nor do I feel that going into detail about each demo or workshop could describe the actual experience. And I can’t name names of who touched me the most, as I would fear leaving anyone out. Let me just say that every second of the event work day and every sip of the evening adventures was worth it and so much more. I will mention the delectable dinner at the James Beard House on Monday evening prepared by Chefs Norman Van Aken, Gregg Wangard, Ken Oringer, Traci des Jardins, David Myers, and Sam Mason will be long remembered. Many thanks to Will Goldfarb (Room 4 Dessert) and Davide Scabin (Combal.Zero) for smuggling me in, and to media coach Linda Pelaccio and Rising Star Jennifer Giblin of Blue Smoke for letting me crash their table. Check out StarChefs.com for more info, see my few photos here, and click through to eGullet for more sights (pssst., I’m in the first pic at Morimoto).

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