September 29, 2016
Billy Rose was one of the great theater figures of the last century. He began as a lyricist (among other things he wrote It’s Only a Paper Moon), was married to Fanny Brice (Funny Girl) for almost ten years, and became a producer (there is still a Broadway theater named for him). But as I perused this old menu from The Diamond Horseshoe, the nightclub he ran in the Paramount Hotel near Times Square, I realized he also had one of New York’s first farm-to- table restaurants. (The farm was apparently bought before the United States joined the war, in anticipation of rationing.)
If you’d like an image of the dining room, here’s one from the New York Public Library archive.
And here’s the menu. The night club opened in 1938 and closed in 1951; I’m not sure what year this menu dates from, but from this comment about the taxes, I suspect it was during the war years.
(Sorry I cut off the prices; the lemon sole was $3, the lobster $4.25, everything else either $3.50 or $3.75.)
September 28, 2016
Just came upon this trove of menus from a visit to St. Helena in 1988. This French Laundry (same place, different restaurant) belonged to the Schmitt family, who sold it to Thomas Keller and moved up to an apple farm in the Anderson Valley.
The French Laundry, in those days, had a legendary wine list; every wine grower in the Napa Valley was on their list.
Tra Vigne, sadly, closed last year.
Another long-lost restaurant….
Mustard’s, however, soldiers on, still serving Cindy Pawlcyn’s fantastic food after all these years. And look at those wine prices!
And finally, Miramonte, another restaurant that is no longer with us.
September 27, 2016
Please excuse the quality of the reproduction: this is a forty year old Xerox of a menu that was already forty years old when I copied it. But there’s a lot to look at here, from the fact that abalone was still pretty inexpensive, that Olympia oysters were still available (they all but disappeared for many years), and that a child’s plate consisted of filet of sole or lamb chop (one). Not exactly what we’d consider kid food today.
If you want to see what Di Maggio’s Restaurant looked like, this article includes wonderful vintage video of the place.
What isn’t mentioned? That Joltin’ Joe’s Dad, Giuseppe, a lifelong fisherman, was not allowed to fish during World War II because he was Italian, and considered an alien risk. He was not, in fact, even allowed to visit the family restaurant: As an enemy alien, he was prohibited from traveling more than five miles without permission. (Italians in San Francisco also had a curfew, and many of their homes were seized by the government.)
For more information on the family, this article is instructive.
September 26, 2016
Sweet Chili Bacon. Need I say more?
Well, it’s locally made in the Hudson Valley by Jacuterie, from the meat of happy pastured pigs. It contains no evil nitrates. It’s sweet, smokey, slightly spicy. It’s not like any bacon I’ve had before.
And it is – beware – pretty addictive.
September 25, 2016
Raspberry Tart for the End of Summer
Found raspberries at the farmers’ market yesterday, and of course I had to buy them. They won’t be around much longer. Then I went home and baked them into this simple tart.
I love this tart because it’s extremely fruit-forward, cradling the delicate flavor of the berries in a flaky crust and crumbled topping that is not too sweet. There’s nothing to get in the way of the pure, clean expression of the fruit.
As the tart bakes the aroma will fill your house with the scent of summer. What a lovely thing to experience as we head into fall.
Whisk a bit of salt into a cup and a quarter of all-purpose flour. Cut a stick of cold sweet butter into cubes and, using a pastry cutter or two knives, incorporate the butter into the flour. Dribble in a couple tablespoons of ice water and some vodka and stir gently with a fork just until the dough holds together. Add more liquid as needed, gather it into a ball, then press it down into a disc, wrap in wax paper and put the dough into the refrigerator to rest for at least an hour.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, allow it to sit at room temperature for a few minutes, then roll out on a lightly floured surface and fit into an 8 or 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes or so.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Remove the tart shell from the freezer and fill it with raspberries; it should take about 3 6-ounce packages.
Melt a stick of butter and stir in 3/4 cups of sugar. Toss in a bit of salt and a few drops of vanilla, then stir in between 3/4 and a cup of flour, until it is quite thick. Crumble this over the top of the tart.
Set the tart on the lowest shelf of the oven, and bake for ten minutes before turning the heat down to 375 and baking for about 50 minutes more, or until the top is golden. Set on a rack to cool for about half an hour, then remove.
Allow the tart to cool completely before serving.