Showing posts with label New York restaurant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York restaurant. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuna Tartar Swims into Summer at MoMA's The Modern in NYC

Earlier in the year I had a great meal. Change that. A really great meal. Working on an article for Bespoke Magazine about multi-course upscale dining, I interviewed Chef Gabriel Kreuther at MoMA's The Modern.

We talked on the phone for half an hour during which time he told me about his culinary background ("Alsatian"), his opinion about double-digit multi-course dining like Thomas Keller's 24 course-meals ("afterwards, aren't there maybe 2 or 3 dishes that were memorable? why not just have those next time.") and why he loved cooking in a museum ("the art inspires me in the kitchen").

At the end of the conversation he offered, "Next time you're in New York, I want you to come to the restaurant and taste my food." Happily I was flying into the city the next day so I could accept the invitation.
His multi-course meal took ten dishes, four deserts and 6 wine pairings before we folded up our napkins. I had a combination of dishes with meat, seafood and vegetables. My wife was served pescetarian dishes. All the dishes were beautifully plated. The flavors exquisitely structured. The wines, many from Alsace, were crisp, light and delicious.
Sitting at a table along the window, we had a good view of the sculpture garden where a cocktail party was in progress. Waiters passed around appetizers and wine. The sun set. The garden was reduced to shapes with over head lights picking out a detail here and there. Inside the feeling was muted elegance. A very different feeling from the large and boisterous Cafe on the other side of the thick paneled wall.

Chef Kreuther was kind enough to let me write about one of his recipes, One, which can be made in a home kitchen without the roomful of sous chefs who help him create the dishes for the restaurant. The tartar recipe is simple although it has half a dozen components, half of which go to creating the exquisite design on the plate.

For a dinner party or special occasion, a dish like the tartar is a lot of fun and it will be one of the dishes everyone remembers.

For Zester DailyNext to MoMA's Sculpture Garden, Tuna Is A Work Of Art






Monday, May 3, 2010

A Trip to New York and a Culinary Discovery: A Perfect Spring Salad of Black Kale, Kabocha Squash, Cheddar Cheese, and Almonds

Going to New York is always a treat.  Like everyone else, I love walking around the city.  A leisurely stroll through Central Park when the flowering trees are in bloom is one of life's great pleasures.

A visit to a museum is also a must. This trip we went to MOMA, where special exhibits by Marina Abramovic and William Kentridge were causing a stir, especially Abramovic's use of nudes as an element of her performance pieces.  For myself, I never tire of the permanent collection with its iconic works by Van Gogh and Matisse, among other masters.

Since I'm not in the city as often as I'd like, I look forward to visiting my favorite places to eat: Gray's Papaya (Broadway at 72nd) for the $4.45 Recession Special (2 hot dogs with everything and a medium Pina Colada), Piada (3 Clinton Street below Houston) for a panini and espresso, and the salt and pepper shrimp at Nha Trang One (87 Baxter Street below Canal).

A friend who is an expert on the food scene, highly recommended several dishes, especially a salad, at a new restaurant in the East Village called Northern Spy (511 East 12th Street between Ave. A & B, 212/228-5100).

The unassuming space has a country feel that immediately makes you feel at home. Locally sourced produce and meats are put to good use in refreshingly simple and inventive ways.

Meat eaters will be in pig heaven--literally--with Chef Nathan Foot's pork terrine with homemade pickled carrots and celery root, pork shoulder meatballs in tomato sauce, and a special of crispy pork belly and potato hash and wild arugula.  Classically trained, Chef Foot described the inspiration for the menu, which changes seasonally, as "being the kind of food I'd feed to my chef friends."

Affordably priced (most dishes are $10-15), the menu also has plenty for vegetarians.  Risotto with butternut squash and mascarpone (Freekeh Risoto), a Farmers' Salad with a collection of root vegetables,  several soups including navy bean and chilled celery root, five dollar sides of quinoa, wild rice (with feta, mint, and lemon), runner beans, collard greens, and roasted potatoes, polenta with braised greens and roasted mushrooms, and, the dish my friend had enthusiastically recommended, the kale salad.

I use kale frequently but never in a salad because I've always thought the stiff leaves needed to be sauteed or braised.  At Northern Spy, kale is presented as nature intended--raw.  Julienned, the kale presents a good base of support for the contrasting qualities of sharp, creamy cheddar, sweet, yielding kabocha, and crispy almonds. Finished with a lemon vinaigrette, the salad is refreshingly light with a hint of sweetness.

I experimented at home and discovered that the salad is easy to make.  I made a few changes in my version, which was delicious, but all the credit goes to Chef Foot.

A Spring Salad of Black Kale, Kabocha Squash, Cheddar Cheese, and Almonds

Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 small kabocha squash, about 2 pounds
1 bunch black or Tuscan kale, washed, stems removed, julienned
1 cup cheddar, a good quality English or Irish cheddar, cut into 1/2" squares
1 tablespoon whole almonds, roasted unsalted, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Cut the squash into quarters, scrape out the seeds and fibers on the inside. Place in a steamer.  Add 2 cups of water to the pot.  Cover and cook on high heat for 5-10 minutes until cooked but still firm, remove, and let cool. Remove the skin and discard.

You will need a cup of cooked squash.  Reserve the left over portion to use in a soup or as a side dish with a grilled meat. Cut the cooked squash into 1/2" squares.

In a small saucepan, reduce the balsamic vinegar to 1 tablespoon. Set aside to cool.

Place the julienned kale on the bottom of a serving bowl, sprinkle the squash, cheddar, and almonds over the top and dress with olive oil, reduced balsamic vinegar, and season with sea salt and pepper.

Variations

Chef Foot sprinkles freshly grated pecorino romano on top of the salad

Add 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion rings to the salad

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Anniversary Dinner at New York's Bar Bao

In New York for a brief visit, my wife and I wanted to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary with a special dinner. After a beautiful day walking around the city, we decided to find a restaurant near where we were staying at 70th and Amsterdam. For our anniversary dinner, we wanted a restaurant where we could talk and hold hands. And we wanted a meal prepared by a chef who cared about making interesting food, but we didn't want to spend a fortune.

The New York Times said a new restaurant was opening nearby that sounded interesting, so we called. On the phone the maitre d' described the menu at Bar Bao , 100 West 82nd Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam, 212/501-0776) as a "modern take on Vietnamese food." The restaurant was opening that night and luckily a table was available.

When we arrived we were greeted warmly. That friendliness continued throughout the evening. Our waiter, Matt, accommodating both Michelle's desire to be meat free and my own unrestricted eating, suggested the Vermicelli Noodles and he would bring the pork belly on the side. Rounding out the meal, we decided on the Vegetable Summer Rolls, Sizzling Cuttlefish, Bean Curd Glazed Black Cod, and Asian Eggplant.

At the beginning of the meal, we were served complimentary glasses of a sparkling Rose to help us celebrate our anniversary and accompany the Summer Rolls. Coming from Los Angeles, I developed my love of Vietnamese food eating in Little Saigon where I have my favorites (Ha Noi and Dong Khanh). The Summer Rolls at Bar Bao were clearly better than any I'd eaten before. Even the rice paper was delicious.

The cuttlefish was grilled perfectly, the meat tender with the right amount of heat from the Salsa Verde. The eggplant with scallions had subtle layers of flavors. The vermicelli, dressed in the sweet-heat of a chili sauce, provided a balance to the cuttlefish and eggplant. And I had the added bonus of the pork belly slices, which were the best I have ever eaten.

The signature quality to the cooking at Bar Bao is the way sweet, grilled, heat, and savory flavors combine so harmoniously in each dish. The proportions of one to the other change from dish to dish, but they are always there, informing each bite. These are dishes that are about balance and surprise all at the same time.

The Bean Curd Glazed Black Cod proved the point. The fish was cooked perfectly, moist and flaky, its flavors complimented by a gingery tasting grated preserved lemon on top and the sweet-heat of the curried red pepper below.

For dessert we were offered an off-the-menu special: Kabocha-Squash Flan. The layers of flavor and texture were extraordinary. Amazingly the flan had an icy cold center, while its creaminess was contrasted by the gingko beans, lotus seeds, and candied Chinese dates. And floating like a cloud above it all was a coconut emulsion.

This is just what I expect from a good New York restaurant: using the freshest ingredients and letting a talented chef perfect and innovate a regional cuisine he or she is passionate about. Michael Bao Huynh, Bar Bao's chef, has elevated Vietnamese cooking to a new high while still preserving the flavors and techniques that are unique to Vietnam. Main Street Restaurant Partners (MSRP), the owners of Bar Bao have continued the winning Asian-Fusion formula that worked so well at Rain.

At the end of the meal, our only regret was that we were leaving town in a few days and we might not have time to visit the restaurant again.

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