A Multimedia Menu at Chef's Pass
Culinary mastermind David Bouley brings global artisans into a high-tech private dining experience.
March 12, 2012
A meal at David Bouley’s Chef’s Pass, the newest private dining area at Bouley Restaurant, takes diners beyond the kitchen—far beyond. Here, guests interact with growers, farmers, cheese agers, and winemakers from around the world through Skype while indulging in their products. These proud artisans not only converse with guests about culture, health, history, technique, and product, but also share their own environments by virtually taking patrons along to forage for mushrooms in the woods or explore their cheese cave in France. “They are going to tell you a lot of things, and then the next thing you know, you are finding yourself asking questions that you didn’t think you would ask,” Bouley says. “It has a lot of momentum.”
During the meal, diners speak with three to seven craftsmen renowned in their fields. Engaged in conversation, guests often end up staying far longer than anticipated, including one group who “traveled” to five different countries over the course of their six-hour stay at Chef’s Pass. Another of Bouley’s guests dubbed the room a “culinary casino” due to the ease with which you could lose track of time there.
While the artisans lead the conversations, Bouley and his team bring out simple ingredients for diners to taste and smell, sometimes straight from the garden, in addition to accompaniments for guests to sample before they are plated alongside their counterparts. The small room, made for eight, takes its name from the “chef’s pass” area of the kitchen, where foods are plated and passed to the servers—perhaps the most fast-paced area of the kitchen.
Bouley fervently hopes visitors to Chef’s Pass will use the experience to make more informed culinary decisions and get the most out of their food choices; he even sends them off with a goody bag of culinary products. “It is not a cooking class, and it is not a chef’s room where you are watching the madness of the kitchen,” he says. “It’s a porthole into the world of artisanal passion.” 163 Duane St., 212-964-2525
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICOLE BARTELME
New Café: Divine Dish
Tuck into post-workout vegetarian treats at Stanton Street Yoga.
March 06, 2012
The Be.Love Burrito at Divine Dish
Recently-opened Stanton Street Yoga has added a café, Divine Dish, serving ayurvedic cuisine—meaning vegetarian and organic food based on the principles of Indian alternative medicine. The menu offers breakfast and lunch options, including cardamom pancakes with fruit coulis, masala fries with chipotle veganaise, market-fresh salads, and more. Upstairs you'll find yoga and massage, and chef Lisa Rubenstein plans to host cooking classes in the future. Namaste. 196A Stanton St.
Photograph by Jenny Miller
Private Pastry Classes at Valbella
Unleash your inner pastry chef in the restaurant's reservation-only pastry room.
March 05, 2012
Napoleon dynamite: Valbella’s signature dessert
The blowtorch never fails to get a “Whoa!” from the crowd, says Raphael Dequeker (RIGHT), the Brittany-bred pastry chef at Valbella, which offers guests the unique opportunity to play pâtissier.
The make-your-own confection concept evolved from the great interest in Dequeker’s work at the company’s original outpost in Greenwich. Soon after the Alain Ducasse-trained chef joined the Valbella team, customers flocked to the restaurant—and to the back of the kitchen to watch him work his art. When restaurant owners Valerie Malfetano and partner David Ghatanfard opened their first Manhattan location, they built their pastry star a stage so that the show could go on for private parties and invited guests.
Inside the reservation-only pastry room, which has space for approximately 10 guests, Dequeker willingly arms patrons with blowtorches, ready-for-action pastry piping bags, and other culinary armament to craft their own sweet treats. To keep the dessert session from turning into an hours-long ordeal, the pastry team will have wrestled the flaky Napoleon dough into manageability, helped froth the filler cream, and glazed the almonds in syrup before patrons step into the kitchen, so that the act of final creation is an easy, aesthetic joy.
“When we bring the desserts to the table,” says Dequeker, “I say, ‘Thank you very much. If you have any complaints, speak to this person,’ and point to someone who helped.”
New Kosher Eatery: BB Prime
Prime Butcher Baker offers a one-stop market for refined kosher foods.
February 14, 2012
With Prime Ko, Prime Grill, and Solo under its belt, Prime Hospitality Group has New York’s kosher dining scene covered. Its newest Upper East Side venture, Prime Butcher Baker (BB Prime), attempts to tackle an untapped aspect of kosher cuisine: high-end one-stop markets. Specializing in dry-aged meats and parve baked goods, BB Prime also offers ready-made foods of both Sephardic and Ashkenazi flavors, prepared in the shop by one of five chefs. After closing time, foodies may reserve the 12-seat chef’s table ($3,000) to enjoy chef-prepared kosher foods and an unlimited supply of wine. 1572 Second Ave., 212-616-1502
Soul-Satisfying Southern Cuisine
Restaurants specializing in Southern-style food are flourishing all over the city.
February 07, 2012
1. Tipsy Parson: Chelsea's outpost serves up old school southern cocktails, among other delicacies. 156 9th Avenue, 212-620-4545
2. Peels: Its southern-inspired menu has made it one of New Yorkers' favorite places for brunch and for a stylish dinner. 325 Bowery, 646-602-7015
3. The Redhead: This East Village restaurant is famous for its fried chicken and shrimp and grits. 349 E. 13th Street, 212-533-6212
4. 107 West: With two locations in Manhattan, 107 West brings traditional southern food all over the city. 2787 Broadway, 212-864-1555; 811 West 187th Street, 212-923-3311
5. Momofuku Noodle Bar: Chef and owner David Chang tackles the ultimate southern dish: fried chicken. 171 1st Avenue, 212-777-7773
PHOTOGRAPH BY NINA HAZEN (MOMOFUKU)
Dinner Plans: Traditional Tapas at Ventanas
Indulge in a sultry evening of Spanish tapas, live music, candlelight and dangerous cocktails.
February 03, 2012
Empanadillas de dulce de leche at Ventanas
Industrial elegance is on display in spades at Ventanas, a tasty tapas restaurant located just a short walk from The High Line. The space itself fits right in with the neighborhood’s nocturnal vibe—exposed beams catch the reflection of the flickering candles responsible for most of the room’s light. Traditional and humble small plates convey a sort of Spain-by-way-of-Morocco concept.
While the presentation may be no-frills, the flavors stand up and get your attention, as does the live music that plays five nights a week. Sweet plantains rolled around Serrano ham and manchego cheese are a welcome wedding of salt and sweet and the impeccably cooked costilla de res (beef short rib) flavors ring true even as the beef nearly falls apart on the plate. For dessert, you’ll want to sample the empanadillas de dulce de leche, tiny empanadas filled with sweet cream.
Be sure to try a drink or two from the extensive cocktail menu. The mango ginger mojito (MGM) is as refreshing as it is tropical. In place of the traditional old fashioned, Ventanas does a High Line fashion with rye whiskey, tamarind purée, muddled oranges and a delightfully dangerous (read: flaming) spoon of absinthe.
While your eyes may be darting around the busy and exciting world of Ventanas, the rest of you will be more than satisfied with one plate at a time. Ventanas, 100 Tenth Ave., 212-366-1640
Southern Comfort at Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter
Saddle up to the counter at Bobwhite for some sustainably delicious fried chicken.
February 03, 2012
Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter is a breadbox-size restaurant with a tiny menu and a big heart. Owner Keedick Coulter and chef Amanda Beame opened the Alphabet City spot quietly this January with one goal: serve simple, sustainable fried chicken and fixings like mom used to make, only slightly better. Beame, a Miami-native who last cooked at Blue Smoke, brines the organic FreeBird chickens in sweet tea overnight and then batters them with a simple mix of milk, flour, salt and pepper—no bells, no whistles, no secret spice. The resulting chicken is juicy beyond belief, with a crisp, perfectly seasoned skin. “If you choose to add a little honey or hot sauce, that’s your prerogative,” said Coulter. (Try the cayenne honey.) Order your chicken with sides, such as tomato pudding—a wintry mix of stewed tomatoes and bread that recalls caponata—macaroni and cheese, black eyed peas, cheese grits or a more figure-friendly salad with light vinaigrette and cheery watermelon radishes. Beame’s red velvet cheesecake with graham cracker crust is a must for dessert. 94 Avenue C, 212-228-2972
The Best of the 2012 Cayman Cookout
An eater’s journal from the annual Caribbean getaway with Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain and friends.
January 19, 2012
We’re back from the fourth annual Cayman Cookout, a whirlwind culinary weekend hosted by Eric Ripert and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. It was a breezy 80-degrees on the islands and between an endless array of epicurean delights, chats with Anthony Bourdain and the inviting crystal-clear beaches, we didn’t miss the New York winter for one minute. Opening with a charity wine action put on by Sotheby’s and ending with a chef-studded gala dinner—prepared by Ripert, José Andrés, April Bloomfield, Laurent Gras, Paul Rogalski and François Payard—the three-day cookout was a gastronomic Eden. Here’s how it all went down.
It’s 10 AM. José Andrés emerges from the Caribbean waters—in full scuba attire—and marches toward an awestruck crowd. What a way to start a cooking demonstration. Andrés proceeds to cook a breakfast of paella, grilled oysters and sangria, which we finish just in time to rush over to The Imperial Lunch put on by Moët at the hotel brasserie. Soon, a 40-pound snapper, hours out of the water and baked in a salt crust, lands on the table while Champagne flows. We leave feeling like kings and take a short rest.
Before we know it, April Bloomfield is hosting a raw bar demo on one end of the beach while François Payard turns out sweet nibbles on the farther side. Dinner is a beach barbecue with Anthony Bourdain donning a chef jacket and serving savory porchetta that literally melts in our mouth. Andrés is doling out petite salmon roe cones, Ibérico ham and seared tenderloin, served from grill to plate. Live music ebbs, cocktail shakers clack and the smell of barbecue and saltwater waft. Suddenly, it’s midnight. No wonder they call this place a paradise.
Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert start the morning with a beachside chat. News of Paula Deen’s diabetes and subsequent drug endorsement deal has just broke and Bourdain rips right in calling her “morally dubious” and a “destructive force.” An audience member notes that Bourdain isn’t exactly the poster child for healthy eating. “My show comes with a parental advisory; hers does not,” he counters. Fair enough.
We decamp for a lunch with Ripert at Periwinkle Restaurant, where the dapper Laurent Gras serves us lobster and caviar. Ripert reveals his favorite everyday drinking wine is Bordeaux and declares, “Guilty pleasures are very American. As a Frenchman, I have no guilty pleasures about anything.” His favorite late night snack? Spicy chorizo and dark chocolate. Later, we hang out with Ripert again for ceviche and cocktails. He teaches us how to make his signature tuna and foie gras, a seemingly simple yet brilliant stack of toasted baguette, foie gras and pounded tuna.
Dinner is prepared by Michael Schwartz and Bloomfield at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, the Cayman outpost of Schwartz’s popular Miami eatery of the same name. The ingredients are distinctly Cayman and the cookery is unmistakably Breslin. We devour wahoo crudo with ginger; vegetable giardiniera and slow roasted pork shoulder; Cayman rabbit and ricotta; and lamb scottadito. Dessert is a sweet and salty peanut caramel bar.
Our final day kicks off with a Champagne brunch and local culinary competition judged by Food & Wine’s Dana Cowin, Ripert, Bourdain, Andrés and Cayman Islands governor Duncan Taylor. After last night’s dinner, we can’t imagine making room for more than a nosh. As fresh oysters, sashimi, black cod and a caviar buffet are presented, we somehow find room for a full lunch. Some more Champagne, local fruit and Ispahan macarons seal the deal—we’ll be back next year.
Cocktails and a Bite at The Vinatta Project
You inspire the ingredients in the cocktail shakers at this Meatpacking District newcomer.
January 17, 2012
From the team behind The Mulberry Project comes The Vinatta Project, a new Meatpacking District bar that embraces libations of the bespoke and vending machine varieties. Though much of the buzz for Vinatta has revolved around its enomatic wine, artisanal spirit and beer vending machines, which line the wall facing its shiny zinc bar, the real draw is the bar’s talented team of mixologists and their Netflix philosophy on cocktails (if you like this, you might like this). Mention a spirit, fruit, herb or flavor that you love and something completely unexpected yet altogether familiar and delicious is delivered to you.
On a recent trip we requested a maple cocktail and were served a comforting honey, cinnamon, bourbon and housemade maple syrup drink. You can also put your drink order in the hands of the greenmarket: The bar team makes daily trips to the market for fresh fruits and vegetables to be turned into housemade syrups and purées of the day. We let the market options determine our second cocktail and wound up with a crisp clementine, mango, vodka and seasonal spice cocktail. A signature cocktail list, boasting favorites such as the West Side Cowboy (rye, cherry liqueur, Campari, Benedictine), is also offered.
And because cocktails always taste better when they’re accompanied by something savory and bite-size, executive chef Michael “Kiwi” Camplin turns out a seasonal menu of indulgent small plates. House favorites include a classic steak tartare (mixed with horseradish and mayonnaise), citrus-spiked red snapper tacos, a selection of sliders and three varieties of macaroni and cheese. Favorites from our visit included sautéed Brussels sprouts with apple, which come steaming atop molten goat cheese cream, and spicy seared tuna tataki served on tortilla chips with fresh guacamole. Finding elbowroom or holding a conversation without having to yell on a busy Friday or Saturday night is tough, but weeknights tend to be more low-key yet still lively. Add The Vinatta Project to your after-work drinks rotation and your friends will thank you. 69 Gansevoort St., 646-398-9125
Cocktail Trend: Apple Cider Sips
Warm up by the fire with a snifter of spiked apple cider.
January 10, 2012
Sultry, spicy apple cider cocktails are popping up on menus all over the city. Easily mixed with a variety of spirits, and possessing warm notes of cinnamon, clove and orange peel, apple cider is a must-stock Fall mixer. Serve these seasonal cocktails at your next party or mix one up for yourself to enjoy fireside.
2 ounces Partida anejo tequila
6 ounces hot spiced apple cider (see below)
Add tequila and cider to a small, warm wine glass. Top with heavy cream and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.
For the apple cider: Combine one container of organic apple juice with winter spices, such as clove, cinnamon stick, allspice and orange peel, to taste. Simmer over low heat for approximately 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste, strain and serve.
3/4 ounce Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
1 ounce Aquavit
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Dry French fermented sparkling apple cider
Add Kahlúa, Aquavit and lemon juice to a shaker with ice. Shake well, strain into a flute and top with cider.
1 ounce Tequila Avión Reposado
1 ounce fresh pressed apple juice
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce agave bectar
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with a cinnamon stick or apple slice.