Food & Wine Podcasts

Food & Wine has just launched a series of podcasts that were taped at last year's Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Choose from cooking demonstrations and chef interviews featuring the likes of Mario Batali, Emeril and Bobby Flay. The podcasts can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store.

Del Posto

I just returned from a magnificant lunch at Mario Batali's latest endevour Del Posto. I know, it's not that new (I'm kind of glad the hype has died down actually; it sort of made it all that much more special). Anyway, I decided to go with the pre-fixe menu pranzo ($49 for lunch). First out of the kitchen was a group of amuse bouches - olives, white bean crostini, a vegetable tortilla and mini-mini-zepolis with parmesan. All were excellent indications of what was to follow.

For the first course I had the salumi misti with erbazzone and sweet pumpkin. This was a tasting of 7 different types of homemade salamis (the brescola was my favorite) with a spinach torte in the middle and carmelized pumpkin on the side (note to self: LEAVE the pumpkin on the side; note to Mario: leave it out altogether!). Course 2 was garganelli verde al rag├╣ bolognese (an open-style spinach penne in a very light bolognese sauce - DELISH and defintely a highlight!). Course 3 was pork loin with grilled celery, artichoke and cynar. The 3 pieces of pork loin didn't overwhelm me (although I'm not a big pork loin fan) however on the side was an artichoke filled with pulled pork (LOVED that!). I'm almost afraid to say it but the highlight just may have well been the dessert trio. It was espresso ice cream, a dark chocolate mouse with a few pieces of chocolate kracked rice on top of the whipped cream AND, (BEST OF ALL!) a dark chocolate torte with carmel corn on top (and a few kernals hidden inside). This may have been one of the best desserts EVER!

Overall I loved Del Posto and was WAY more impressed with it than I thought I'd be. I'd highly recommend it, although it's definitely pricey so it's best on a trip when you're not paying. It sort of has that old-fashioned supper club feel - woody and formal, yet not overdone or too glitzy. Great atmostphere for a business lunch/dinner for sure! All that said, now Babbo has definitely moved way up on my list of places to hit. Keep up the good work Molto!


Clear (But Not Free)

Tired of waiting in long airport security lines? If JFK or Newark are your hubs, you can now apply for Clear. Clear is a pre-screening program by the TSA. Enroll in the program and shell out your $99.95 yearly fee. Once you are "cleared" you will receive a security card. Just show that puppy at a VIP security station at any of the growing number of airports that utilize the service and you will be zipped right through! No more long lines or having to arrive way too early so you don't miss your flight!


A.I. Weigh-In

Now that each of the 24 Idols have showed us their stuff, it is clear that the women will dominate this year. It looks like Lakisha Jones is the frontrunner, however I'm routing for Gina Glocksen. I've actually had the good fortune of seeing Gina perform a couple of times when she was in the Chicago band Catfight and she rocks!

I guess if I HAVE to pick a guy, I'll go for diamond-in-the-rough Chris Richardson. Hopefully with a few more weeks under his belt he'll refine is odd dancing skills and focus a bit on the vocals!


Last night Danielle suggested meeting up for happy hour at Sortie. I had never heard of the place, but ran over to Hell's Kitchen to meet up. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Sortie is a mid-sized bar with lots of couches and ottomans under red lighting. Each day for happy hour they offer a special of a different beer (last night it was Red Stripe for $5), a red wine (last night a Spanish blend - $6) and a white wine (another blend). I had the red wine and it was definitely an acceptable choice. We also tried the food - bruschetta ($7), chicken quesadillas ($11) and the shrimp spring rolls ($9.50) - all of which were tasty and a step above typical bar food. The only thing I disliked was that the music was a bit loud for me at times, making it hard to hear conversation at times. Overall, though, this place is a gem. I'm not sure how it would be on a weekend night, but after work on a Wednesday there was just the right amount of people, good drink, good food and a comfortable atmosphere. We did get a little scared as we were leaving - a live mini-band had set up next to our table and were getting ready to go on. This could have been either amazing or a complete nightmare but we didn't stick around to find out.



Dinner on Sunday night was at Hearth. I've been wanting to try this place for a while since I've heard it's a sleeper and I finally was motivated to get over there after the editor of Food & Wine mentioned it in her Editor's Letter this month.

I truely enjoyed this place. The food is upscale Italian with American influences. The Lady & I both started with the ribolitta, a hearty tuscan soup of white beans and black cabbage with crunchy homemade croutons on top covered in Parmesan. PERFECT for a 12 degree damp winters night!
For mains we had the sturgeon wrapped in proscuitto with braised escarole, black olives and smoked garlic. I had never tried sturgeon before and was a little iffy since the waitress compared it to monkfish which I don't really like. After the first bite I was glad I had tried it - the preparation was perfect in it's salty blend. We also had the special which was 2 large homemade veal meatballs with raviolis on the side. The oversized meatballs had a great flavor, although I wish there had been more raviolis with it. I was kind of sad in the end that I didn't go with the paradelle bolognese since I was craving pasta. Oh well, something to go back for I guess!
The wine list was a bit overwhelming there but our server pointed us to a full bodied Shiraz that was right up our alley. We were too full to try the deserts but they looked great.
Overall, the service was highly attentive and the atmosphere homey and down to earth. I highly recommend this place, especially for dinner on a cold winter's night. If you want to be a true foodie, try to grab one of the 4 stools at the counter overlooking the kitchen. Or just make it easy stop by the intimate bar and order the ribollita with a glass of red!

The Blue Owl

I was over in the East Village Sunday night and popped into The Blue Owl (DEFINITELY not to be confused with culinary delight The Little Owl in the West Village) for the first time for a drink. This place always gets written up and people seem to love it. Not me! The space is a lot smaller and more run down looking than in the pics. I had THE WORST GLASS of Pinot Noir EVER! We returned it and the next glass was almost as bad. Note to E.V. bar owners - if you are going to serve an $11 glass of wine - at least make it a good one! I definitely don't recommend this one and won't be going back!


Stalking Airfares

Here are a few tips to grabbing a low fare airline ticket:
  • During the week domestic fares change up to three times a day (10 AM, 12:30 PM & 8 PM). On weekends, it's once a day (5 PM)
  • International fares change only once a day and once on the weekends (Saturday at 5pm)

  • It takes a couple of hours for the changes to filter down to sites like Travelocity and Orbitz

  • Everyday at midnight the airlines release any seats that had been reserved but not purchased throughout the day (which had consquently driven prices up throughout the day)


Barney's Warehouse Sale Starts Thursday

The Police

In case you hadn't heard, The Police reunited last night at the Grammy Awards and performed "Roxanne". They followed that up with an announcement this morning that they will be embarking on a world tour this summer. They play MSG on Aug 1 & 3. Tickets go on sale next Tuesday the 20th @ 9am through Ticketmaster. In case you missed the performance at the Grammy's, here it is:


Saturday night I went to the Encores! brief 6-performance-only revival of Sondheim's Follies at City Center. I have to say I was quite impressed and felt lucky in the end to have a ticket. This is a show I had never seen and one of Sondheim's most famous. Plus it packed an all-star Broadway cast including Donna Murphy (as Phyllis), Victoria Clark (Sally), Christine Baranski (Carlotta) and Victor Garber (Ben) - as well as many others. The Encores! Series are never full on staging, but this production had a bit more going on than the last one I saw, Can-Can, did. Everyone in the cast seemed very excited to be in the show and the performances all were exceptional (may times even stopping the show). The crowd also was full of Sondheim fanatics which only increased the energy within. The highlight for me was "Whose That Woman", a full-on song & dance number with all of the females players being led by Ms. Joanne Worley (who was very well cast!). I'm sad this one is not running longer, but I'm at least glad I finally got to see Follies. It's just such a huge production no one can afford to do it on Broadway these days so this is as close as I'm probably ever going to get to seeing it at least partially staged. Tonight is the final performance so if there is any way that you can snag a ticket, go for it!



Last night I finally made it to WD-50, a restaurant on the LES from 2001 Food & Wine Best New Chef Wylie Dufresne. I have to say that overall I was a little underwhelmed which made me sad since I had been looking forward to this meal for a while now. Everything on the menu is very ambitious. Lots of not-so-common ingredients put constructed into beautiful presentations.

On the table to share was a basket of sesame cracker bread. This was absolutely delish and I was hoping that it would be a good indication of what was to come. For starters, The Lady and I both had the hangar tartare with pickled Asian pear, amaro and bernaise ice cream. I enjoyed this, but it wasn't the best thing I've ever had. I really liked the pickled pear though. The Lady, who is a bit of a steak connoiseur, wasn't quite as happy with the quality of the meat as she would've liked (I don't eat steak too much so I can't weigh in here).

For a main course, I had the Mediterranean bass with artichoke, cocoa nibs and brittle peanut. This was a beautiful piece of fish. The dish was a bit heavy for me though due the peanut concoction. I enjoyed the dish, but I've had other fish preparations elsewhere that I've enjoyed a lot more. The flavors here just didn't do it for me. The Lady had beef shortrib with brussels sprouts, cheddar and Pink Lady apple. She really liked the short rib and we both thought the brussel sprouts were TO DIE FOR (they were shredded and prepared like a slaw - they made the whole visit worth it!). The cheddar puree was not appealing at all and maybe should've been left off of the dish entirely. Our wine choice was exceptional - the Bini Bini Australian shiraz that was just recently added to the menu.

For dessert we split 2 items - the soft chocolate with avocado, licorice and lime and the coffee cake with ricotta, maraschino and chicory ice cream. Neither of these really got us excited at all. I think by the time the dessert arrived we were sad because they had served us port that had been refrigerated. Our service was exceptional throughtout dinner, except when the waitress offered to set our port in warm water to try to get it to room temperature - YUCK!

I really liked the feel of the room - very funky and comfortable and not loud at all. I'd definitely pop back into the small bar in the front for a glass of that shiraz, I just don't think I'll be returning anytime soon for a full on dining experience. WD-50 - check! Moving right along . . .


Sexiness Comes In A Box

Last night I found myself with a last minute free ticket to go see J.T. @ MSG. The night began with drinks at Stout which was filled to the rafters with practically every girl under age 30 in the NY metro area. YIKES! Luckily we discovered that there is a basement bar at Stout and we were able to at least partially escape the chaos that was upstairs. Then it was over to the Garden - not in time to catch Pink though.

The setup for the show was in the round. I'm not quite sure how I felt about it. I've seen it done twice before by Prince and he commanded it. I'm not so sure that J.T. did. I don't want to blame it on him, though, as much as on the set designers. Multiple scrims kept rising and lowering in various parts of the stage so at times it made certain sections feel closed off from the show. Throughout the show live projections of J.T. were shown on the scrims - this was an interesting take on the video screen - although many times I felt a bit Elton John-ish. Overall, I was surprised at the quality of the show. It was definitely better and more than I had expected. It was very pop genre (lots of dancers etc) and all of it was pretty high quality. And yes, Justin can definitely dance his ass off!

There was one other big problem that I had with the show. In the middle of it Justin took "a break" and Timbaland came out and played a few songs. That was WAY too interruptive and a buzz kill for me. I think everyone just wanted more Justin! I have to admit, I didn't LOVE this show - cuz I don't really love his music - but it was definitely lots of fun and great to hear the hits that I do like. The highlight of the show though was the first encore when Justin & Adam Sandberg came out and performed (in costume!) the Dick In The Box song from SNL! AMAZING! It made it all worth it!


Jarvis Cocker Returns!

Joy of joys! Jarvis Cocker, the former frontman of one of my all-time fav British indie bands Pulp is coming to town for a show at Webster Hall on Monday April 23rd! Tickets go on sale next Wednesday the 14th at noon. I've seen Pulp before and they were absolutely wonderful Brooks - so check it out, you may be amazed! Oh, and Jarvis' self-titled solo effort will see it's domestic release on April 20th, the Tuesday before the show!

Amazing Race All-Star Edition

Next Sunday (February 18th) at 8pm The Amazing Race All-Stars begins on CBS. I'm super excited for this one as we get to see the return of Boston Rob & Ambaaa, Cha-Cha-Cha and, most importantly, Mirna & Schmirna (I hope Charla gets to carry a big side of beef again!). This is one race you won't want to miss!


Pearl Oyster Bar

I'm embarrassed to say that I've lived around the corner from Pearl Oyster Bar for 10 years and have never been there to eat. Maybe it's due to the fact that they don't take reservations and that I always see people queuing up outside every night before they open. Well, I'm happy to say that last Thursday night I FINALLY ate there with Kimmi K.. We popped in to check on the wait and they actually had 1 table for 2 available!. It was one of four in a little room in the back - a less frantic setting than in the front of the house that made us feel like were were eating in New England as opposed to on Cornelia St.

We started with the clam chowder - very authentic and warming to the soul on a cold winter night. Then we went with Pearl's signature dish, the lobster roll, which was extremely authentic all the way down to the butter-toasted roll it was served on. The roll was filled with lots of juicy lobster and was light on the mayonaise. DELISH! And the homemade shoestring fries on the side made it all that much better. So there you go - 2 born-n-bred New Englanders stuffed & happy! (a RARE occurance at a NY "seafood shack").


The Good, The Bad & The Queen

If you haven't heard of them yet, check out The Good, The Bad & The Queen. They are the new band made up of Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) with Simon Tong (The Verve), Paul Simonson (The Clash) and Tony Allen (Africa 70) . I'm really kind of liking their new self-titled cd. It's a mix of a little bit of everything - brit-pop, afro-pop etc, but definitely on the mello side. If you decide you like them, you can check them out live at Webster Hall on March 12th. Tickets on sale through Ticketweb this Wednesday (Feb 7th) at noon.

I'll Sail This Ship Alone

I'm devastated today. I just learned that my all-time favorite band, The Beautiful South, have split up after 19 years together, sighting "musical similarities" as the reason. Um, Paul, did you have too many pints last night? What the hell does that mean? I guess I just have to be thankful that I just got to see them 2 nights in a row in the Fall and that I have that AMAZING recording of the Cakeshop show. Thanks for 19 great years . . . au revoir les enfants!