As far as good deeds go, they don’t come any easier than the one we did on Saturday night.
The East Village had just gotten its power back after Hurricane Sandy which, as I’m sure you’re aware, has left the east coast devastated, thousands homeless, others still without power and heat. The restaurant community had been hit especially hard, not only losing business for themselves and their employees, but losing thousands of dollars worth of perishable foods that spoiled after several days without power. On Twitter, everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Pete Wells implored people to eat out downtown on Saturday night, to help these restaurants get back on their feet. Kat Kinsman of CNN’s Eatocracy Tweeted that she was headed to Marco Canora’s Hearth and the second she Tweeted that, I realized that of course I would want to be at Hearth too. Marco Canora is one of the most generous, selfless people I’ve met in the food world–he cooked with me twice for my cookbook, both for the proposal and the book itself–and the idea of helping him by patronizing his restaurant hours after he got power back was an absolute no-brainer.
Today’s episode of “Someone’s In The Kitchen With” takes us to Porsena in the East Village where Chef Sara Jenkins (who also owns the amazingly popular Porchetta) talks to me about the challenges of opening a new restaurant, her childhood in Italy (and Lebanon), the benefits of dried pasta vs. fresh pasta, and how she fed porchetta sandwiches to 300 troops in Afghanistan. (That story is not to be missed; make sure to stay for that). Thanks so much to Sara for taking the time to do this! I enjoyed talking to her so much, I could’ve stayed for many more minutes.
Previous Episodes: Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs, Ed Levine, Matt Armendariz, The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.
Speaking of Chinese food (what is this, a stand-up act?) the other night we had the unique opportunity to dine with Craig’s cousin Dave, a senior at Georgetown, and several of the friends he met while studying abroad in Beijing last year at our favorite New York City Chinese restaurant, Grand Sichuan in the East Village.
Three factors made dining there with Dave and his friends special: (1) they all speak Mandarin Chinese; (2) having lived in China, they turned us on to a new dish; and (3) they could tell us if the food we love at Grand Sichuan tastes like the food tastes in China.
[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Today we continue New York City Business Owner Day with Rachel Zoe Insler, owner of the amazing Bespoke Chocolates in the East Village (remember my visit?). Rachel’s got lots to say about CSAs, so let’s let her get to it. Take it away, Rachel!]
I haven’t yet bought a single vegetable at the Greenmarket this summer, but I’ve been eating the freshest local produce around, supporting New York-area farmers and spending less at the grocery store each week. Daily meals at Blue Hill at Stone Barns? That would be nice, but actually, I’m just a lucky member of the Stanton Street CSA.
Thanks to my CSA (which stands for Community Supported Agriculture), I am saving time, saving money, discovering new foods, feeling better than ever about what I am eating, and gaining a deepening connection to my food and my community. Does any of that sound good to you? I’ll admit that participating in a CSA is not for the right choice for everyone, but, if like many of Adam’s readers, you like to cook and you are marginally culinarily adventurous, I believe that you (yes, you) could benefit greatly from considering membership in your neighborhood CSA next season.
[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Today is New York Business Owner Day! Our first post comes from my friend Dan Maccarone, a guy I met at an eater.com party, who soon started a blog with me about Food Songs called foodsongs.net (don’t type it in, it’s dead!) and invited me to compete against him in his comedy troupe’s Iron Chef cocktail making competition. He clobbered me, which is a good thing because I’d never made a cocktail in my life and now he owns a bar. Here’s the story of that bar. Take it away, Dan!]
I think I’ve wanted to own a bar my entire life. Growing up I loved visiting taverns in southern Massachusetts and always loved comparing the differences in clam chowders. In college, I loved sampling the difference in pies at various pubs in London and since moving to New York in 1998, I’ve always loved seeing unique dishes and cocktails on everything from dive bars to martini bars. There’s nothing more exciting than walking into a new place and seeing what unique perspective on the cocktail or on bar food it presents.
My Twitter followers are a fervent bunch. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was in the East Village, getting a haircut at Sei Tomoko (the best haircut deal in town), and thinking of going to Porchetta for lunch. “Ooooh!” they cheered, “you’ve gotta go!” “I’m jealous!” “Porchetta is AMAZING.” Then, later, when I confessed that I skipped Porchetta for Hummus Place–where I had a lighter, healthier lunch–the Twitter crowd was not happy. “Boooo!” they booed. “Grrrr!” they growled. “Hiss!” they hissed. (Wow, this post sounds like a children’s book.) I thought they’d unfollow me and spurn my name forever, but now they should be appeased: I went with Diana to Porchetta for lunch last week and now I get what got them so worked up.
Food people are my kind of people. That’s why so many of the people I’ve met since I started food blogging have become good friends: they’re generous, they’re insightful, they’re creative, they’re smart and they have good taste. So friendship was clearly in the stars when a longtime reader named Rachel Zoe Insler informed me that she’d opened up a chocolate shop in New York called Bespoke Chocolates. I promised Rachel that I’d be in right away to sample her wares and then totally flaked out; I did include Bespoke in my NY Scavenger Hunt, but I never scavenged there myself because, frankly, I didn’t understand where it was!
I’m getting a little rusty in my old age. In the early days of the blog, I was the one dragging my friends to obscure hole-in-the-wall joints in the East Village–now I’m perfectly happy to go to Grand Sichuan over and over again.
But Mark and Diana have my number, both literally and figuratively. We had plans for a double date on Saturday night and as I texted with Diana about what we would do, she ignored my suggestion to return to the home of Gui Zhou Chicken and Dry Sauteed String Beans and, instead, told us to meet her and Mark at Elvie’s Turo-Turo on 1st Ave. and 12th Street. “It’s a Filipino place,” wrote Diana. The old adventurer in me perked up: “See you there,” I wrote back as I grabbed my camera (or Craig’s camera, rather: mine’s been in repair for eternity), excited, once again, to try something new.