Monthly Archives: June 2010

Foodies and Freebies: Where’s the Line?

By now, most everyone in the foodie world has heard about Josh Ozersky. The food critic recently got married, and wedding guests were treated to Sullivan Street Bakery breads, lasagna from Marea chef Michael White and other tasty treats from high-profile chefs. He wrote a column on the food, published on June 15 on Time’s Web site. In it, he encouraged would-be brides and grooms to ditch the caterer (whose only job is to “to put something edible on the table that looks fancy and is warmer than the average body temperature,” Ozersky writes) and hire restaurant chefs to provide a wedding meal. A fine notion if you happen to be friends with the likes of Ed Brown and Michael Psilakis, though perhaps not as meaningful for us hoi polloi.

Ozersky foolishly neglects to mention that he received all of these favors for free, prompting Village Voice restaurant critic Robert Sietsema to call him out in an open letter posted on the Voice’s site last week. The most controversial part of the letter not-so-subtly accuses Ozersky of trading meals for column space, what one might call a big no-no:

“One of the assumptions the reader might make is that you’d promised these chefs, many of whom do high-end catering and expect big bucks for it, to mention them in your magazine column. If you did, I would think Time would take a dim view of that.”

Ozersky responded in a clarification at the bottom of his original post, explaining that he asked his chef friends to contribute meals in lieu of gifts, and admitted that full disclosure would have been prudent on his part. Continue reading

Brooklyn Bites

I’ve been spending some time in Brooklyn recently, and every time I go there I wonder “why didn’t I come to this neighborhood earlier?” While at the Columbia J-school, I visited DUMBO/downtown Brooklyn/Brooklyn Heights pretty regularly, since those neighborhoods were my beat in my reporting class. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in those neighborhoods, and some of the restaurants in Bk Heights are really nice.

This summer, I’ve moved a little further down the F line, traveling to Park Slope and Red Hook for the first time. On Father’s Day, Keith and I went to the Seventh Heaven Street Fair in Park Slope. It was pretty much your typical street fair food-wise, with plenty of Mozzarepa and gyro stands. We weren’t in the mood to eat outside in the 90-degree weather, so we ducked into a little hole in the wall for a bite.

Beer Table turned out to be a very cool surprise. The restaurant’s beer list features a rotating draft menu and there are plenty of random bottled beers to please even the most picky connoisseurs. I really liked that the list had descriptions for each of its offerings, and the staff (of one) was really knowledgeable and helpful — always much appreciated. We chose a light, straw-colored brew from Cologne, Germany to cool us off. I think it was Kölsch, but the downside of blogging a few weeks late is that I don’t remember (bad blogger, bad!). But I do remember the waitress telling us that Germans tend to drink it in shots, since it’s so light. Sounds like my kind of beer.

To go with our beer, Keith and I shared pickled eggs, a waffle with ricotta and strawberries and a side of bacon. The pickled eggs were much better than I imagined, a little tart and salty (due to the dusting of jalapeño powder and sea salt on top), but still slightly sweet from the egg yolk. The waffles were delicious too, a little salty from the ricotta to match the sweetness of the maple syrup and strawberries.

Perhaps my favorite part of the meal was the bacon. It was thick-cut slab bacon, with the fat still on. Sounds a little gross, I know, but the fat was caramelized and delicious with the maple syrup. Just typing that out makes me want to go run 100 miles right now … Continue reading

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2010!

Though I’ve been swamped with work and haven’t been able to post about my recent food experiences in Park Slope or Red Hook, Brooklyn (bad blogger, bad!), I couldn’t ignore this.

The Summer 2010 Restaurant Week menus are out, and boy do they look good! For $24.07 (lunch) or $35 (dinner), diners can enjoy three-course prix fixe meals at some of the best restaurants in the city. It runs July 12-25, so look for plenty of blog posts (I hope!) during that time.

I did this for the winter RW, so here’s a quick list of the best-looking menus:

1) Le Cirque: I went here last spring for my graduation dinner, but sadly they were out of their famous crème brûlée. That’s plenty of reason to go back, though the pistachio-crusted lamb and sweet corn soup sound like a delicious summer dinner too.

2) The Bar Room at the Modern: One of the downsides of RW is that the menus are often limited to two or three options per course. Not so at the Bar Room at the Modern, which offers plenty of choices to please even the pickiest of eaters (though veggies might have some trouble … ). Tomato and almond gazpacho, shaved asparagus salad with goat cheese, tarte flambée with crème fraîche and bacon — how will I choose?

3) Rayuela: Three words for meat-lovers — Piramide de Carne. Beef tenderloin, duck breast, pork loin and chorizo come together (with a poached egg) in this carnivore’s dream course.

4) Butter: I went to Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s restaurant a few years ago and enjoyed it despite the limited options, so I’m excited to see so many options on her RW menu. Coffee-rubbed bacon, roasted beet greens and chocolate butter cream sound delish!

5) Kittichai: Thai food isn’t usually my favorite, but banana spring rolls with burnt honey ice cream sound amazing, as do corn fritters with chili aioli.

Hopefully I’ll get time to try these places out, and many more!

Note (from 6/30): Here’s the full list of participating restaurants. Some of them don’t have their menus up yet, but I’ll let you know when they do.

I Scream for Ice Cream

With the temps getting hot (and I mean HOT), there’s no better way to cool off than with delicious ice cream. To that end, Huffington Post compiled a list of the 10 best cold treats in the city.

They look pretty good, though I think the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory in DUMBO should be on the list. So should my new favorite frozen treat, the popsicles from La Newyorkina!

Food and Wine Classic This Weekend

Tomorrow marks the start of the 28th annual Food and Wine Classic in Aspen. For foodies, the event is like an All-Star game of top chefs, restauranteurs, sommeliers and vineyard owners, offering a weekend of tastings, seminars and cooking demos. Everyone is there: Jacques Pepin, Mario Batali, Thomas Keller, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio, Giada di Laurentiis and many, many more.

The full schedule is here, but some of the highlights include a “Secrets of Wine & Food pairing” seminar from Philadelphia sommelier Marnie Old, a “Best of Ligurian Cooking” demo from Batali and a “Create your own Specialty Cocktails” session with the Modern Mixologist himself, Tony Abou-Ganim. I also would love to attend the “It is Easy to be Green: Feasible Farm to Table Practices” seminar with Joe Bastianich, Sam Beall, Jeff Harvey, Michel Nischan and Cindy Pawlcyn. After spending some time at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture for my master’s project, farm to table (or better yet, farm to fork) is something that I’ve become very interested in. Of course, I wouldn’t mind attending some of the tastings either.

All that good food and drink comes at a hefty price — almost $1200 for a weekend pass. Hopefully one day, I’ll get there.