You may recall that on our recent trip to New Orleans, we enjoyed something called a Sno-Ball. We ate this Sno-Ball at a place called Hansen’s Sno-Bliz and though I was wary at first–“isn’t it just ice and syrup?”–I was quickly won over by the texture of that ice and the intense flavor of that syrup. So imagine my delight and surprise when I learned that over in the old West Village City Bakery space (at 7th Ave. and Charles) a New Orleans-style Sno-Ball place had just opened up, a place called Imperial Woodpecker.
When word spread that Nate Appleman, a chef anointed by the James Beard Foundation and Food & Wine for his San Francisco restaurant A16 (where I ate in 2007), was working at a Chipotle in Chelsea, the food world was incredulous.
He’d left San Francisco to help open Pulino’s here in N.Y.C. and when that didn’t work out, no one knew what his next move would be. His next move, apparently, was to run a Chipotle in Chelsea.
There was a time in my life when I couldn’t conceive of going to Katz’s Deli and not ordering the pastrami.
That would be like going to France and eating pizza; or going to the world’s best sushi restaurant and asking them to cook your fish. Go to Katz’s and not order pastrami? You’ve got to be kidding! Only the other night, after we saw our friend Cary’s movie “Jane Eyre” (Cary went to film school with Craig), we found ourselves at Katz’s Deli and I was very hungered. And the line for pastrami was oh so long. Reader, I got a hot dog.
Some new restaurants deserve their buzz, others not so much.
Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster in Harlem deserves its buzz. It’s not really about the food, though the food is very good; it’s about the concept, the location, the community-mindedness of the enterprise.
I recently read an interview with my favorite food writer, Calvin Trillin, in which he said that when guests come to town, he walks them from Greenwich Village (where he lives) to Chinatown. Since I live in Greenwich Village, and since Saturday was beautiful and Craig was busy editing, I decided to follow Trillin’s lead and to walk to Chinatown myself. Granted, I had a leg up on the Trillin walk to Chinatown because once, as part of The New Yorker Festival, I attended Calvin Trillin’s “Come Hungry” tour (an event that sells out faster than you can blink) in which he leads hungry New Yorker readers on a walk from–you guessed it–Greenwich Village to Chinatown. So this was a walk I felt confident taking.
When going to lunch with a James Beard award winner, it’s best to let them choose the venue.
Such was the case when I had lunch with Rachel Wharton last week. I first met Rachel years ago when she profiled me for The Daily News and we ate lunch at S’Agapo in Queens. I thought Rachel was one of the quirkiest and most spirited food writers I’d ever met and also one of the hardest working. Now her hard work has paid off: she won the 2010 James Beard award for her “Back of the House” columns that appear in Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, beating out luminaries like Colman Andrews and Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl in the food-related column category.
Which is all to say that Rachel really was the one to choose where we’d eat lunch when the lunch date we’d planned arrived last week. I pitched Chinatown and sure enough Rachel came back with a James Beard Award-worthy response: “Excellent Pork Chop House.”
If you want to know the best thing about Cafe Gitane in The Jane Hotel, you’re looking at it. It’s an utterly charming space; big, bright, airy. There’s even an alligator on the wall.
When Craig’s Uncle Chris, Aunt Liz and Cousin Katie came through New York a few weeks ago, they wanted to take us out to brunch. At the time, I had a copy of New York Magazine’s Best of New York in my hand and under the category of “Best Brunch” they chose Cafe Gitane for “an ambience that feels airlifted from the Left Bank with a detour to Cuba.”
I have the good fortune to be friends with a guy named Dan Fortune, a DJ with an incredible knack for hunting down obscure tracks–mostly show tune oriented–performed by unexpected artists (Stevie Wonder singing “Hello Young Lovers” from “The King & I,” Nina Simone singing a medley of songs from “Hair,” James Brown singing “September Song.”) Dan’s talent for weaving these songs together into a cogent stream of music has won him a large New York following; and because of that following, Dan often gets asked to DJ celebrity events. And, being his friend, he’s now invited me to two: one was Chris March’s book party (remember Chris March from “Project Runway”?) and the other, more recent event was Michael Musto’s party celebrating 25 years at The Village Voice.