Meet The #LadyChef Who Cooks For Marc Jacobs (And Throws Secret Dance Parties)

Squid course Heatonist popupWhy is Marc Jacobs’ personal chef throwing secret dance parties in Chinatown? How did she come up with that insanely beautiful activated charcoal-dusted squid dish, served at a pop-up dinner in a hot sauce boutique? Who is Lauren Gerrie, anyway, and why is she so damn talented?

Answers in my profile of this dynamic, self-made chef, on Taste Talks. If you haven’t yet checked out Taste Talks, it’s a fairly new media endeavor from Northside Media (same folks running Brooklyn Magazine and L Magazine, plus the annual Taste Talks event in Brooklyn, which is this year expanding to L.A. and Chicago). Read my story here

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The Best Neighborhood For Eating And Drinking Is Bushwick, Plus Other Latest Stories

The Scotch-egg rib-eye burger at Maite
The Scotch-egg rib-eye burger at Maite

Today, Food Republic published my story on the neighborhood of Bushwick, which has in recent months become a destination dining neighborhood thanks to new, cutting-edge restaurants with next-level food and drink.

Read it hereAll of the restaurants discussed are excellent and highly-recommended! I especially suggest cocktails at Syndicated, and the ridiculously good burger at Maite, shown at left.

Earlier this week, my story about improving your palate came out on Vogue.com; I learned a lot in the process of writing it and hope you will find some gems to help you become a better taster! Read here.

On my regular column at Vine Pair, I wrote about some interesting new wine tourism destinations–read here–and shared some expert secrets and hacks for pairing wine with food; read here.

Thanks, as always, for following my work!

 

Cassoulet Weather In Full Effect, Plus Where To Have A Great Lunch

IMG_7314It’s finally cold in NYC! In addition to writing about the City’s best hot chocolate (there are some seriously above-and-beyond cups of cocoa out there–article here), I recently spent a glorious day testing a recipe for Cassoulet, the iconic Southern French dish, which I wrote about for Vine Pair along with some reviews of wines from the Languedoc, one of France’s lesser-known (but very important and wonderful) wine regions. Check it out here(P.S. if any cookware brands would like to sponsor my future articles, I am officially accepting Dutch ovens, skillets, and, well, whatever else because I have basically nothing in my humble freelance writer slash single woman’s kitchen.)

Also, I’ve been working on a series about where to have lunch in New York City, for Gothamist. It’s specifically aimed at people who work full-time jobs, so it encompasses all kinds of lunch, from grab-and-go to sit-down to the infamous “power lunch.” Writing these round-ups has involved a lot of footwork, a few tasty meals, and many afternoons spent reading Yelp.

Measure_RachelSignerIf you want a laugh, please check out how the grumpy and indignant owner of Park Italian responds to bad Yelp reviews from his customers. Here are the latest few: Midtown West, Midtown East, and the Financial District (which I refuse to call “FiDi” of my own accord). If you know of great lunch spots in other neighborhoods, please send tips my way!

And if you missed it, my send-off to 2015 included a round-up of somms and beverage directors around the country sharing their best wine experiences of the year. Some pretty amazing stories came my way; check out the article here. Cheers to a fresh start for 2016.

Adventures In Fermented Bread-Making

About a week ago, I decided to make my own sourdough starter. I grabbed some high-quality house milled rye from The Brooklyn Kitchen, and used this guide. I followed the feeding schedule loosely, adjusting based on the fact that the fermentation was going very slowly; I finally let it be for three days and it looked ready.

I let it sit in the fridge for a day or two, then made a few loaves of bread using a recipe for “beginner bakers” from The Kitchn. It’s so freaking delicious! Sour and spongy with an amazing crust! One tip: just before you put the bread into the oven, spray some water so it steams, it makes the crust all nice and crispy. Also, if you make rolls like I did, they can be baked at about 20 degrees lower and for a shorter time. I actually left the risen loaf dough in the fridge for three days before baking it, and I was skeptical but it’s literally some of the best bread I’ve ever had. So chewy, amazing texture, perfect level of sourness.

I feel like I’ve given birth! I had this starter baby, and I fed it and nurtured it, sang it lullabies… then it grew up, became real bread! I’m so proud of my baby.

Here’s what it looks like to make a fermented starter and then bake it into lovely bread:

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How Do You Say “Power Lunch” In French?

imgresEarlier this week, 147 leaders from around the world arrived in Paris for the long-anticipated climate talks, also known as COP21, a series of meetings in which these powerful men and women will discuss carbon emissions, fossil fuels, solar power and some way to actually move forward. The event is nothing short of historic and seminal, and the world’s attention is turned to Paris to see what will come of all this talk.

Meanwhile, the summit participants have been working up an appetite with all their debating. Will the food on their table be reflective of their stated goal, to steer the world away from rising temperatures, flooding and fossil fuel depletion? The French news website Le Point reported on the welcome lunch that was served to the heads of state in attendance at COP21. Check out my write-up of Le Point’s findings, and find out what the world leaders are eating (hint: it’s a lot of molecular gastronomy with regional French ingredients), on Food Republic.

A Baker/Blogger/Butcher-Turned-Author, Plus Cocktail Craziness At NYC’s Betony

Last week, I wrote on Eater Drinks about the cocktail program at Betony, in NYC. It really goes above and beyond most restaurant bar programs, partly because general manager Eamon Rockey devotes so much time and energy to crafting each ingredient in every cocktail — but also because he personalizes every drink, to an incredible extent. There is so much emotion, whimsy, and storytelling in each cocktail at Betony — including the delicious non-alcoholic versions.

Betony is certainly taking the lead on this kind of approach to cocktails, but I am also seeing this personalized, hyper-artisanal style popping up at other restaurants, certainly at the fine dining establishment Restaurant Latour, in New Jersey, where I dined this weekend and met mixologist Stephen Thomas.

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Much like Eamon, Stephen makes cocktails out of his wild imagination, using hints of classic recipes but taking them in very contemporary directions. Stephen’s drinks program also features an incredible array of locally distilled spirits. Plus, he’s a talented sommelier, who poured for us many beautiful and unique wines from Restaurant Latour’s cellar — one of the country’s largest and most impressive collections. At dinner, we did not get to drink the Romanée-Conti, but we did have a 1947 Napa Valley wine and a 1914 Madeira.

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At lunch in the Tavern, the more casual restaurant at Crystal Springs, the resort where Restaurant Latour is located, I had a Riesling from Alba, a New Jersey winery — pas mal!

Freshly posted on Food Republic is my profile of butcher-baker-blogger-author Cara Nicoletti, who is a real inspiration for me both on the page, where she elegantly weaves between memoir, essay, and food writing, and in the kitchen, where her recipes challenge me to try new techniques.

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I’ve been making Cara’s Breakfast Sausage since I received the advanced copy of the book, and honestly I don’t know why every single person out there does not make their own breakfast sausage from scratch because it is so easy and delicious. Get her book, Voracious — it comes out tomorrow and is a great read.

Dear Harper’s: I really hate this article, here’s why.

I understand, roughly, what you were going for. Let’s make fun of the rich, and their excesses, hahaha, by sending a writer who has a degree from a top university (specifically, Oxford) to dine at obscenely expensive restaurants and make fun of how ridiuclous they arefor a magazine read mostly by privileged people — because we (the intellectuals) aren’t that kind of privileged people. We’re the good kind of rich, you know, because we publish a thoughtful magazine.

In fact, let’s send this writer to restaurants that normal people, who work in the food industry and actually love food and appreciate how it can be elevated to an artform — an artform which, yes, at times is excessive and outlandish — save up for months to be able to eat at. Because it’s really not just rich people who want to eat at these places, Harper’s; they aren’t just for the 1 percent. And if you think that, then it’s a miracle that you can appreciate Picasso, or Richard Serra, or certainly Jeff Koons.

Sure, the world of food gets really weird, sometimes. It is totally understandable that any diner would be disappointed with these high-end meals on any given night, because they do aim more for bravado than simple, basic flavor. Hell, I’ll take pasta shells with homemade pesto any night of the week, but I still made sure to eat at wd~50 before it closed because I understand that food is an art form, and that top-performing chefs influence all of us and our daily diets. Remember that line in The Devil Wears Prada when the exec chews out her naive new employee, who thinks fashion doesn’t matter — by explaining that the color of her crappy sweater would not exist, were it not for high fashion? Read more