May 2007

Video Podcast: The Gum Experiment

Wrigley’s sent me a giant black box, last week, with the words “Five is the New Black.” The box was filled with gum, their new “Five” gum, and the flavors had crazy names like Cobalt, Rain and Flare. I said to Diana, “Do you think you could guess which was which if you tasted them?” And thus a video podcast was born.

Wednesday Wade-Through (5/30/07)

It’s Wednesday and that means the nation’s papers published their food sections today. Normally, I let the aggregator blogs do the work of a Wednesday wade-through–linking to the best stories, etc–but today there’s plenty to link to and talk about, so I thought I’d get into the game. Click ahead to join the conversation.

Adam’s Asian Peanut Butter Sandwich

Prepare to be repulsed or impressed or both! After leaving the movies yesterday (“Paris, je t’aime”), I was too full from popcorn to make something elaborate for dinner and too restless to get something to go. So I popped into my local late night organic food & drug store (seriously, there’s one on the corner) and bought peanut butter and bread: I was going to make peanut butter and jelly. But, as I continued home, I realized that after all that popcorn I wanted something green. And it was too late to buy anything fresh and green–the stores that sell green things were closed. So when I got into my apartment, I opened my fridge and saw the green onions and cilantro from the day before’s Otsu. What if I mixed the peanut butter with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime juice (I had a lime), and sesame seeds and spread it on the bread and then topped it with some of those greens? It’d be like an Asian noodle salad except in sandwich form. And that’s exactly what I did and what you see above. It was flavorful and exotic and it required no more effort than making a PB&J. Are you impressed? Are you repulsed? Hey–you don’t have to make it. But if you do make it, make sure to give me credit: it’s my new signature sandwich.


My apartment was a furnace this Memorial Day weekend. We spent Saturday at P.C. Richards buying air conditioners but they can’t be installed until Wednesday. The thought of cooking anything (let alone making french fries!) made my face burn with anxiety. Just looking at the oven made me sweat. We ate pizza and Chinese food and Mexican food and anything we didn’t have to make ourselves. And yet tonight, I missed cooking. And our apartment had cooled down a tiny bit. A voice called to me, a familiar voice, a voice that tickled my ears just a few weeks ago in San Francisco. The voice was Heidi Swanson’s and she was calling to me from the cover of her gorgeous new cookbook Super Natural Cooking. She told me to make Otsu.

What will you cook this Memorial Day weekend?

I’m thinking of making french fries from scratch (my very first time). Some kind of seafood (a whole roast fish?) And a birthday cake for Diana, whose birthday is on Sunday. What are your plans, loyal readers?

Two Things You Can Do With Asparagus (Asparagus with Eggs & Asparagus Panzanella)


I’m very proud of myself. I improvised not one but TWO recipes this week with asparagus. In both cases, I bought the asparagus at the farmer’s market. The first time I brought it home to use in a Heidi Swanson recipe involving farro, but then my store didn’t have farro. It had pharaoh, but that didn’t help. So I came home defeated and made pasta and then the next day, instead of going to lunch, I looked at that asparagus and said, “I’m going to eat you. I don’t care if I don’t have farro!” So I stemmed the asparagus (you do that by bending it until it snaps, then throw out the lower half) and tossed the good parts with olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet. I heated the oven up to 500 and popped the asparagus in there for, approximately, 7 minutes. But you’ll know when it’s done because the asparagus will get color. Then, once it came out, I fried up two eggs in olive oil. That’s easy too: just heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet, when it’s hot add two eggs, sprinkle salt and pepper on top, and when the eggs get golden around the edges and the yolk is still runny, take it off. I placed it on top of the asparagus and grated parmesan cheese on top. I did the same for Craig and we both agreed it was a terrific, easy-to-do lunch. (When the yolk pops, it coats the asparagus in creamy goodness–who wouldn’t like that?) 3rd grade teachers agree: Adam gets a gold star.

And then, tonight, I made this:


Asparagus panzanella!

I had a real eureka moment with this. You see, at the farmer’s market I bought asparagus and cherry tomatoes and then I started walking down the stairs to the subway and once I got down there I was like, “What can I make with asparagus and cherry tomatoes?” I was almost through the turnstile when I realized that if I bought bread and basil and cheese, I could make a killer panzanella salad. And that’s exactly what I did! I climbed the stairs back up to the farmer’s market and bought basil, cheese (pecorino) and a loaf of sourdough and when I got home I cut the crust off the bread (just a thin shave, so I didn’t lose too much) and then cut the bread into cubes. I preheated the oven to 350, and tossed the bread with olive oil, salt and pepper and put on a cookie sheet. I toasted in the oven until it got golden brown and then, in a large bowl, I put in one minced clove of garlic, about 4 or 5 Tbs red wine vinegar, and then about 3/4 cup olive oil (though I eyeballed all of this, so use your judgment.) I whisked it all together and then, after cutting up the raw asparagus and cherry tomatoes, tossed it all together with the bread and slivers of pecorino cheese. Paired with the Sauvignon Blanc that was in our fridge and the finale of American Idol (I miss Melinda! She was the best), everyone agreed it was a triumph.

And those are two things you can do with asparagus.

How We Almost Ate At Ye Waverly Inn


Dear Graydon Carter,

Hi, you don’t know me, I’m just a silly food blogger who likes to eat out sometimes. For example, yesterday I went to a Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood (Los Pollitos in Park Slope) and it was very tasty. We showed up there at 7 PM, without a reservation, and they sat us immediately. Granted, the food is very basic–I had a chicken burrito–but it’s nice to know it’s there. If I ever want a burrito, I can go there and that makes me happy.

Your restaurant, Ye Waverly Inn, seems to function in a different way. For starters: you don’t serve burritos. More importantly, though, you don’t take reservations. In fact, when people try to call your restaurant, they get a pre-recorded message that gives directions to the restaurant without taking messages. In other words: unless you know somebody who knows somebody, you can’t eat there. You’ve made the place a very exclusive joint.

Normally, this would be a really bad business model. Imagine a dentist who doesn’t take appointments and who only does dental work on people he knows. He’d be sucking lots of nitrous oxide to wile the time away. Only a dentist is not a restaurant; the dental profession thrives on consistency and skill; the restaurant business thrives on the very thing you’ve created with your restaurant: buzz.

Only, you’ve done it in a very clever way. You can justify your restaurant’s stand-offishness because (a) you claim that the restaurant isn’t open (your outgoing message says it’ll open in the fall); and (b) even though it is open and people are eating there, you claim it’s more of a private club, for people connected to you and the magazine. So no one can be mad for not being allowed into a private dinner right? I wasn’t mad when Angela Perkins had a birthday party in middle school that I wasn’t invited to, was I? I moved on with my life. And I’m happy to do that with your Waverly Inn.

Except, last week my parents were in town for my dad’s birthday. They were staying at a hotel–I’d rather not say which, in case you want to get into THEIR private dinner party (if you know what I mean)–and the hotel concierge, who they’ve known for years, told them that, if they liked, he could make a reservation for us at one of the hottest restaurants in New York: Ye Waverly Inn. “What we do,” said the concierge, “is we send a page to the restaurant a few days before in person. They secure the reservation and then we confirm the reservation with you.”

And that’s exactly what happened. My parents were thrilled. I was mildly enthused–I heard the food wasn’t so great–but I thought it would be cool to see what all the buzz was about. Maybe we’d see some glitterati. Or literati. Or both: Diane Von Furstenberg with Joan Didion sharing Mac & Cheese.

We showed up at the restaurant at 6:30, the time of our reservation. Actually, my parents were already there; I came (with Craig, my boyfriend ) a tiny drop after. We walked in expecting to see my parents at a table. Instead, we saw them talking to the host with disappointed looks on their faces.

“They don’t have our reservation,” said my mom.

I looked up at the host. “Really?” I asked. “Don’t you have a print-out?” I asked my mom.

“I do,” she said. “But they say that the person who the hotel made the reservation with–Courtney–doesn’t work here.”

“That’s weird,” I said.

“We don’t have a Courtney here,” confirmed the host. “And tonight we have a private dinner party, so we wouldn’t have taken the reservation.”

Was he calling my mom a liar? The hotel? Courtney?

Honestly, Graydon, I didn’t really care. I was over it. Instead, I was already brainstorming our many other restaurant options there in the West Village. And wouldn’t you know it, one of my favorite restaurants in New York–maybe in the world–Blue Hill, when we called, was incredibly gracious and agreed to take us in at 7. All we had to do was walk over.

And that’s what we did. And the meal was fantastic. Unpretentious, unfussy: just really good food in a really comfortable setting. By the end of the dinner, we’d forgotten that your Waverly Inn even existed. “Waverly Inn?” one of us slurred. “What’s a Waverly Inn?”

That would end our tale, except that, the next day, the concierge at my parents hotel was completely flustered by what had happened to us. He wrote your restaurant an e-mail that asked for an explanation, saying that the hotel’s page had made the reservation with Courtney five days prior. What had happened?

Your restaurant wrote back (and I quote verbatim): “We apologize profusely. Consequently, Courtney was let go yesterday and we would like to offer your guest a reservation this evening at any time of her liking.”

Courtney was let go?? But the host said there was no Courtney!!? You mean there WAS a Courtney and you fired her on our account? I doubt that very much.

And even if that’s true, that’s messed up! You fired someone for taking a reservation at your restaurant? Oh wait, it’s not a restaurant? It’s a private club? But how come pages from my parents hotel can get hotel guests in? How did Frank Bruni get in? Or, for that matter, Ruth Reichl? Graydon, what’s going on here? Are you a club or a restaurant? Make up your mind.

It was nice of you, though, to invite us back. Maybe we’ll take you up on that in a few months and we can evaluate your club/restaurant on the merits. But, as for right now, I think I’ll stick to burritos in Park Slope.


A. Gourmet


I possess a Florida driver’s license–I lived there from 1990 (when we moved to Boca Raton from Oceanside, New York) to 1997 (when I graduated high school and left for college)–but I do not possess a favorite Florida restaurant. My parents certainly have theirs: steakhouses, both (New York Prime, Prime 112). Yet, on a recent trip home for my brother’s college graduation (congratulations, Michael!) I think I think I may have finally uncovered a Florida favorite. The location’s crazy–it’s in a seedy section of Biscayne Blvd.–our table, near a window, gave us front row seats for a parade of sketchy characters with brown paper bags loitering near a bus stop. My dad said the room looked like a converted shoe store. And yet, this restaurant–Michy’s, named after chef Michelle Bernstein (who went to Emory, my alma mater)–fully upholds the values by which I judge a restaurant. The food is honest, the service unpretentious. The space is charming. And, most importantly, I had fun and thoroughly enjoyed my dinner.

Scroll to Top