Gift Guide: Wearable Food

December 10, 2016

iss_640x640-5100204_11wn76ykCloves. Chanterelles. Rosemary. Cinnamon. Orange peels. Peppercorns.

If you’ve ever looked at a clove and thought – that would make a great earring –  this is for you.  Caitlin Royal casts herbs, seeds, spices and other small edibles in silver and gold to make her elegantly unadorned jewelry.

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What I love about Caitlin’s work is its minimal quality. There’s been a fad for tuning food into jewelry, but I’ve never seen any with this simple, easy, organic elegance.

Prices begin around $50.

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How To Carry Twelve Pies

December 9, 2016

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I had a brief career as the baker for the collective restaurant FOOD created by artist Gordon Matta Clark.  When they told me there was no place to bake inside the restaurant, I was not fazed.  “I can make pies and cakes at home,” I said brashly.  I was twenty-two.

Besides the obvious health code issues (none of us gave that a second thought), the main problem was transportation. Food was the first restaurant in the fledgling Soho district (Fanelli’s was basically a bar), and I lived a dozen blocks away on the Lower East Side. How was I going to get the pies from my loft to the restaurant?

My husband came up with a clever solution: a pie-carrier that fitted around my neck like an old fashioned milkmaid’s yoke. Dangling shelves held six pies on either side. 

On the first day Doug loaded me up with six lemon meringue pies and six chocolate Rigo Jancsi cakes.  I carefully descended five flights, crossed the Bowery and made my way down Prince Street. Sadly, this arrangement was short-lived; despite my care, the pastries suffered along the journey, and arrived slightly bruised. 

Although these days I tend to deliver pies one by one, transportation continues to be a problem.  That’s why I was so thrilled to find Petee’s Pie Company, a wonderful little pie shop on Delancey Street, not far from my old loft. They sell delicious pies – lemon poppyseed chess, anyone? – along with these  practical pie boxes. With or without a pie, it would make a great gift. pie_box_2_large

Should you care to gild the lily Petee’s also has a perfectly beveled blackened cherry wood pie server. Homey and ancient looking, it’s a fine object of desire. burnt-cherry-front_large_44ca51ba-4403-44c5-a17a-f5dc8ab383b1_large

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Gift Guide: For Your Honey

December 8, 2016

deep_starter_kit-new_600xDoesn’t everyone want her own private bee hive?  Need I say more?

This excellent starter kit from Beethinking is just the thing for the would-bee (sorry!) apiarist.  It comes with everything she’ll need to set up her own hives.

This time next year, expect a jar of honey as your Christmas gift.

 

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Gift Guide: Natural Color

December 7, 2016

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If you’re a baker – and isn’t everyone this time of year? – you should know about India Tree.  The company specializes in colorful all natural vegetable dyes in everything from frosting to sprinkles to neon-bright sugars.

Serious bakers would be thrilled with one of their many sets – of sprinkles, dyes or sugars- but even the casual baker would be happy with a big jar of these colorful sprinkles. Pretty great gift for less than fifteen bucks.

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Two Terrific New York Meals

December 7, 2016

I loved Flora. But I wonder how the neighborhood is going to take to this downtown restaurant in its uptown setting. The new restaurant in the Met Breuer is not your average upper east side place.

The room is spare, cool, edgy.  The menu is the same. It begins with a list of lovely (and pricey) seafood, like these beautiful blue shrimp

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Raw scallop snuggled into a sheet of nori

img_9245The most delicious take on uni I’ve encountered in a while – the orange roe is paired with pounded fluke, which picks up the flavor and echoes it like a gong making the taste of the sea urchin resonate, going on and on.

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The strangest version of steamed clams I’ve ever encountered (don’t get me wrong – I loved them).

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Then there are these completely addictive potato croquettes, which crackle deliciously when you take a bite

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An elegant little salad of red endive and Bailey Hazen blue cheese

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A little tart of rutabaga and raclette

img_9253And lobster dumplings and greens in a pellucid broth

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Finally, this simple apple tart

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One added bonus: the excellent wine list.

My advice: if you’re having trouble getting into Estela – and you undoubtedly are – consider a trip to their uptown outpost.  As the Michelin people used to say – worth the trip.

 

I also want to tell you about the fantastic meal I had at Annisa last night; although it’s not new, I haven’t been in a while, and now I wonder why.  I can’t wait to go back. Cozy, comfortable, with wonderful service (included in the menu price) and completely delicious food.  If you’re looking for that rare place where you can have a conversation with your friends, this is it.

And did I mention that the food is fantastic?

We started with this: sea bream sashimi with beets and shiso.  The flavors were so delicately balanced it took my breath away. Sheer joy. fullsizerender-9

A lovely little fried oyster with fennel and cucumber.  What really makes this dish sing is the yogurt; so much more convivial with oysters than the richness of tartar sauce.

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Barbecued squid with boiled peanuts, Thai basil and just a hint of hoisin. Squid has never been more elegant.

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The main courses were both surprising, inventive and extremely satisfying.  I apologize for not having better photographs, because I’d love to be able to convey the sheer deliciousness of this miso-marinated sable on its bed of fried tofu silken in a slightly sweet bonito broth.  The flavors twirled around each other as the textures did a surprising little dance.

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As for this duck with its pickled plums, its yama imo (Japanese mountain potato) and that little cup of foie gras chawan mushi – another texturally complex dish that made you wonder why nobody has ever put these ingredients together before.  I liked it so much I almost ordered a second helping.

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But that would have been wrong. It would have left no room for this delightful poppy seed bread pudding with its meyer lemon sauce. It was the perfect ending.

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