Food, Glorious Food!

So this week of New York travels has consisted of some exploration of the city independently as well as with some friends.  Monday was spent having a fantastic lunch at a quant French restaurant in Southampton followed by a walk around some shops, and a relaxing drive back into the city.  After some down time reading a new book, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, dinner was a sizeable amount of fantastic sushi in Washington Square.  There are few things better than a piece of buttery, velvety salmon with white waves of marbling. Mmm- melt in your mouth love.
Tuesday morning was back to Soho, to visit the lovely French café tucked in between the hustle of the neighborhood.  After a cup of coffee and a beautifully flaky layered, chewy croissant I was off to start my day and prepare to get some advice from a friend on writing my cookbook.  The advice and creative information I absorbed from her put me in an inspired mood to move forward and give some legs to the process!  On my way back from the meeting I decided to stop at Todd English’s Olives bar in the W Union Square and have a glass of wine, look up some of the websites that were recommended to me and catch up on some work.  The independence that one can feel from sitting by yourself, watching the action before you while being comfortable with no “plus 1”  by your side is invigorating to me.  I have begun to make a habit of taking myself out for brunch on the weekends, sitting with the paper and just enjoying my time by myself and a great cup of coffee!
Tuesday evening provided another fantastic dinner at Ippudo, which consisted of the same cucumber dish I described in the last entry, some crispy fried pork belly, a fantastic bowl of slurpy perfectly gingered and salty ramen and more agedashi tofu!  Dinner was followed by a lovely walk to a little ice cream shop, which lured us in with the wafting smells of sugary waffle cones and fresh baked cookies.  A scoop of creamy, light green pistachio ice cream and the night was complete!
Yesterday, my last full day in Manhattan, was chock full of city exploration in the northern parts.  I began the morning at Starbucks with a friend on the Upper West Side then walked through the middle of Central Park where no walk is complete without passing a movie being filmed! When I exited the park to the Upper East Side, I met a girlfriend at an exquisite home that houses some beautiful artwork, called The Fricke. A self guided tour of the mansion led us to enjoy the Degas and Renoir pieces it holds, it was such a beautiful quiet sanctuary in the middle of the bustling city.
What follows a beautiful museum- a beautiful meal of course!  My friend Heidi, fellow locavore and health food junkie, took me to a vegetarian restaurant called Candle 79 where we both had fantastic meals.  She ordered the raw lasagne with cashew cheese, tomatoes, zucchini and basil-pine nut pesto and I had the charred vegetable and seitan sandwich with polenta fries.  For those of you who are shifting in your chair as you read “cashew cheese” I assure you it is delicious when made well. It is creamy with the velvety mouthfeel of whipped ricotta cheese, and flavorful but mellow enough to be a good medium for the other flavors held in the rest of the dish. The fresh basil combined with the seasonal juciness of the ruby tomato made for an incredible bite of summertime.  My sandwich, was not too far off in the fresh seasonal flavor profile, although because it was charred it also encompassed the meaty and umami flavor from the grilling process.  The polenta fries were executed perfectly.  Creamy and tender in the middle and crunchy on the outside with just enough corn flavor and creaminess to make you wish every fry was this tasty.
We decided to pass up dessert in anticipation of the French macarons we had picked up on our way to lunch. And the delicate bite of the cookie, combined with the deep richness of the chocolate ganache filling inspired me to look for a macaron cookbook at our next desintation.  Our most anticipated adventure for the day was a cookbook store on the Upper East Side called Kitchen Arts & Letters.  This quaint little bookstore holds a plethora of titles, both new and old, in print and out of print, English publications as well as many other languages.  And though small in actual size, the quantity of books it held provided enough entertainment to keep me occupied for the two hours we were there although I am confident I could have stayed two days! So, inspired by the pistachio-chocolate macaron I enjoyed earlier I decided to seek out a macaron cookbook, published in French.  (I have been trying to gradually learn French and have been told by many other chefs that a great way to do so is to get a cookbook en francais !)
Stay tuned for my next post about ABC Kitchen….