Buttermilk Dill Pasta Salad

buttermilk, dill, pasta salad

I also made this Buttermilk Dill Pasta Salad for my Fourth of July party.  I used a box of spelt pasta instead of the whole wheat shells, and I doubled the dill.  I did not use bacon either, as I have some vegetarian guests!

 

Grandma’s Potato Salad

potato salad

No, not my grandma’s but somebody else’s.  I’ve had this recipe for Grandma’s Potato Salad for a while and decided to make it for the Fourth of July.  I did it a little differently.  I only used 3 lbs of potatoes and kept the skins on.  I also added grape tomatoes and diced celery and used 6 hard-cooked eggs quartered.  It’s a sweeter potato salad and very delicious.

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream

Ice cream is probably my favorite food, so I never pass up a new ice cream shop.  I had been wanting to try Morgenstern’s on the Lower East Side because it is so popular and has such good ratings.  On my visit, I went on an off hour so there was no wait.  First, I have to say I am not a fan of the trend of unusual flavor pairings for ice cream.  It’s not that I’m a complete traditionalist because I do like some creative new flavors, but I most appreciate a well-executed vanilla.  Some of the flavors on the menu at Morgenstern’s were just not appealing to me (salt and pepper pine nut, cardamom lemon jam), so I didn’t know what to order.  We got burnt honey vanilla, angel food vanilla, chocolate oat and salted pretzel caramel.  The vanillas were just OK, not very flavorful.  The chocolate oat was disappointing because I couldn’t taste oat, and the chocolate pieces were frozen and way too hard to eat.  But the salted pretzel caramel actually tasted bad.

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Swedish Princess Cake

At a recent FIKA stop, I had to try the Princess cake.  I can’t believe I hadn’t tried this Swedish cake before.  It has a sponge cake base with a thin layer of raspberry jam and a heavenly dome of whipped cream topped with another layer of sponge cake and a covering of marzipan.  Divine is the best word to describe it.

FIKA, princess cake,

Swedish princess cake at FIKA

Why Foodies Will Want to Visit the New Whitney Museum

The Whitney Museum made a smart move to the highly trafficked High Line in the popular Meatpacking District.  While it was a great idea to draw more crowds, I have to say I prefer the old building and space.  Why?  Not sure.  If it’s not broke, don’t fix it?  Having said that, the museum still has the same great art and many more acquisitions.  The good news is while there is a line to get in, it is short and moves fast.  It’s very efficient–others could learn from its example of how to keep a line moving.  Inside, there’s a small gift shop area near the ticket line.  Once through the ticket line, take an elevator up to view the art–if you’re lucky, you’ll get to ride the huge freight elevator with a horde of other art lovers wondering how much weight this elevator can hold.  On the top floor, step out on the balcony for great views of the city.  The museum is also right on the High Line, so you can stroll through after your museum tour.

Now–for the foodies.  The Whitney has a Danny Meyer restaurant, Untitled.  Besides Untitled, foodies may want to visit just to see Wayne Thiebaud’s cakes.  While the museum has a number of his works, only one is on view, Pie Counter.

Recap of Best of the West 2015

The Smith, gnocchi, white truffle

Toasted ricotta gnocchi with white truffle cream from The Smith

Last weekend, I attended Best of the West, the third and final night of New Taste of the Upper West Side, the annual food event celebrating the chefs and restaurants of the Upper West Side.  It was a beautiful evening–though not clear enough for Manhattanhenge, but perfect for the festivities going on under the tent as the sun set and the stars twinkled above the upper Manhattan sky.

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This year’s event featured 44 restaurants and many wineries and breweries, serving up tastes of their best dishes and drinks.

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I wish I could’ve tried all of the options, but I did my best to eat my way around the entire tent.

The food is definitely the highlight of the evening, and I was happy to try the offerings.

Bromberg, The Ribbon

Chopped liver on rye crackers from The Ribbon

 

RedFarm

Chicken & watercress dumplings from RedFarm

 

Ed's Chowder House

Skuna Bay salmon sliders with pickled pepper relish & aioli on a Martins potato bun from Ed’s Chowder House

 

Cesca Enoteca & Trattoria, stracciatella

House-made stracciatella served over fettunta with a spring rhubarb compote and fresh mint from Cesca Enoteca & Trattoria

 

Sysco Metro NY

Chilled shrimp over farro salad from Sysco Metro NY

 

Cesare Casella

Cesare Casella salami station

My vegetarian friend was also happy, as there were a lot of options for vegetarians.  In fact, some of my favorite dishes of the evening were vegetarian ones.  The chipotle grilled seitan with corn salsa and avocado mousse from Candle Cafe West was a delicious favorite.

Candle Cafe West, seitan

Chipotle grilled seitan with corn salsa and avocado mousse from Candle Cafe West

The barbecued turnips, avocado, pumpkin seeds from Dovetail was delicious as well.  Our vegetarian favorite was the toasted ricotta gnocchi with white truffle cream from The Smith (and yes, we did have seconds!).

For the sweet tooth, there were a number of options–from classics like brookies at Alice’s Tea Cup and  banana pudding

banana pudding, Magnolia Bakery

Banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery

and whoopie pies at Magnolia Bakery to beautiful pastry creations like Driscoll strawberry parfait verrine from Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres

Strawberry parfait verrine from Jacques Torres

and strawberry tiramisu from Jean-Georges.

Jean-Georges

Strawberry tiramisu from Jean-Georges

The dessert standout was the salted caramel macaron spiked with Remy Martin Cognac 1738 from Mille-Feuille Bakery.  Oh, boy, did this have a kick!

Mille-Feuille Bakery, Remy Martin, macaron

Salted caramel & Remy Martin Cognac 1738 macaron from Mille-Feuille Bakery

Best of the West offers a VIP option where doors open an hour earlier, as well as offering other perks like a gift bag of goodies and a private lounge area.  I like the VIP option because it is less crowded and there are no lines to wait to try the food.  Also, the VIP hour gives you a better opportunity to meet your favorite chefs for a photo and chat.

Lauren Scala, WNBC “Today in New York” host was MC and hosts included Anne Burrell, chef and host of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America”

Anne Burrell

Anne Burrell in the VIP lounge

and Marc Murphy, chef and host of Food Network’s “Chopped.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the entertainment.  As you walked through the tent, you were greeted by glamorous beauties on stilts

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and a corde lisse artist a la Cirque du Soleil.

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A DJ spinning great house, dance and techno music divided the night with Joe Battaglia and the New York Big Band for a night of Dina music heaven.  Some folks danced, especially as the night wore on.  And of course, the night ended–too soon–with the band’s rendition of New York, New York.

Skylight A Play for Foodies

Last night, Skylight won a Tony award for best revival of a play.  While I wrote a theater column for a local newspaper once, I didn’t expect to write a play review on my food blog.  That is, until I saw Skylight.  Skylight is about many things, mostly relationships, but it is also about food and the food industry.  The two main characters are a successful restaurateur, Tom, and his younger former employee, Kyra.  As we watch, we learn that they were once lovers, but when Tom’s wife found out about the affair, Kyra left.  The two lovers are reunited years later, when Tom visits Kyra after his wife dies.  Kyra now teaches underpriviliged kids and lives in a shanty apartment on the poor side of town.  During this reunion, they argue and discuss their lives and views of the world while she attempts to cook spaghetti–another thing they argue about. Tom wants to go to a restaurant for a real meal, and when Kyra asks him to grate the cheese, he scoffs at the tiny pebble of cheese she has.

Onstage, to make the sauce, she really chops onions and carrots with a knife.  As she was talking and chopping, her eyes kept leaving the cutting board, and I was afraid she’d cut her finger.  She put the vegetables in the pot and it sizzled.  At first, I thought it might be sound effects until I could smell the onions cooking (my seats were close to the stage).  She also added chopped meat.  During intermission, a stage hand came to fiddle with the pot.  I think he must’ve replaced the chopped meat sauce with a cooked version, as Kyra eats a bit of it later.

Both Nighy and Mulligan are excellent actors who played these parts well.  The age difference of the actors was a bit of a stretch for me for a passionate love story, but it is explained away by Kyra’s naivete when they initially met.  Perhaps she admired Tom for working his way to the top?  They have opposite life experiences–Tom was once poor but became wealthy and Kyra was wealthy but lives meagerly.  The person who started out poor (Tom) is pro-capitalism while the person who started out wealthy (Kyra) is anti-capitalism.  Both characters are very focused on social class.  While the play is about Tom and Kyra’s relationship and attraction, which is passionate, or explosive, the play also touches on what I suspect are the playwright’s views on social class, including education, housing, wealth and opportunity.  At times, these ideas seem less like Kyra’s and more like the playwright taking a political liberty (no matter how much I agreed with it).   With the back and forth arguing and contrived conversation, the play itself fell a bit flat for me.  Despite some of the play’s failings, one thing that intrigued me was the food symbolism.

While they never eat the spaghetti, Kyra makes a late night snack of a peanut butter sandwich.  It seems like she is always preparing food, but in the end, no one ever eats because they are busy arguing about their different world views.  When she finally eats, the food is prepared for her–when Tom’s son brings her breakfast from the Ritz.  He makes this gesture because he wants her to reunite with his father, and because she said breakfast was the one thing she missed.

Skylight runs only through June 21, so get your tickets now.

Where to eat near the show:

If the frying of onions gets you in the mood for spaghetti, Carmine’s Italian is around the block on 44th.  Also, John’s of Time Square pizza is too.  For a classic NY experience, Frankie & Johnnie’s steakhouse is across the street.  Junior’s diner is on the same block.  Reunion surf bar is an avenue over.  Shake Shack is a block south.  Carlo’s Cake Boss bakery is two blocks south.  Restaurant Row is one block north.