5-Day Birthday Dining Extravaganza (Part 4): Mamma Guidara’s at The NoMad Bar

January 19, 2017

Mamma Guidara's at The NoMad Bar

The NoMad Bar opened in June 2014 and was an instant hit. We’ve been many times. The food’s terrific. But the insanely high noise level drives me crazy. Normally, that would mean crossing The NoMad Bar off the list. What saved the day – or more appropriately, the evening — was discovering that Sundays are decidedly quieter than the rest of the week. So after that, we only went on Sundays.

This past October, something new began happening at The NoMad Bar. Co-owner Will Guidara, who is Italian, loves Italian-American food. For many years, his father ran the famous Mamma Leone’s. Chef/Owner Daniel Humm is not Italian but, according to an article I read, that didn’t stop him from cooking Italian food for Will and his wife Christina Tosi at home on Sunday evenings. This led the endlessly inventive duo to come up with a brilliant idea. On Sunday nights, why not morph The NoMad Bar into an old-style Italian-American restaurant? And so they did! In honor of Will’s heritage, they dubbed it Mamma Guidara’s.

During lunch at EMP in September, we mentioned to G.M. Billy Peele that we’d read about Mamma Guidara’s and would love to try it during my birthday weekend. He immediately secured a reservation for us. Arriving at The NoMad Bar on Sunday, October 23rd, we were led upstairs to one of the tables along the rail all of which have a view of the downstairs bar area.

Mamma Guidara's at The NoMad Bar

The place had, indeed, been transformed to give it the aura of the typical old-style Italian-American restaurant: red & white checked tablecloths; accordion-pleated napkins standing upright at each place settings; a tall candle; and a vase holding a solitary fake rose.

The music being played lent a feeling of nostalgia for us — Golden Oldies from back in the 50’s sung by crooners like Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and, of course, Sinatra. The music of our teenage years.

On our table, there was an envelope with my name on it; inside, a birthday greeting in Italian.

Mamma Guidara's at The NoMad Bar

My Italian is pretty much limited to “Buon Giorno!” “Prego!” “Grazi!” and “Buon Apetito!” When we were told that the young woman who wrote it was in the house, we asked if she could come by to translate. It was a lovely sentiment which, Allison told us, was commonly used for special occasions (Sadly, I didn’t write down the translation). I thanked her and asked her to sign the card.

There are no printed menus at Mamma Guidara’s . Instead, servers tell diners what dishes compose the meal. The only choices we had to make were which of three chicken preparations we preferred — Parmesan, Marsala, or Piccata — and which of two sauces for the pasta – red or cacio e pepe. Michael wanted the Parmesan, but since it was my birthday, I got to choose and preferred the Piccata. However, we agreed on the cacio e pepe sauce. Then, we sat back and let it all roll out.

House Made Italian Bread

House Made Italian Bread

Anitpasto

Antipasto: Ham, Cheese, Stuffed Peppers, Spicy Peppers, Marinated Olives & Mushrooms

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Clams Casino

Clams Casino

Meatballs

Meatballs

Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari

Arancini

Arancini

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe

Sautéed Spinach

Sautéed Spinach

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Cannoli

Cannoli

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

We were totally stuffed! We demolished the whole loaf of bread. So delicious, it was hard to resist! (For some reason, I can never open those ridiculous butter packets while Michael does it easily.) Actually, we thought it was all delicious. Most things were served family-style, but we each got our own Caesar salad, pasta, and tiramisu. The hubcap-sized Chicken Piccata was way too big for the two of us to finish especially considering everything we’d already eaten. We managed about half and took the rest home. We also had them wrap the cannolis. (Reminds me of the famous line from The Godfather, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” No gun involved here, but we definitely took the cannoli!) Have I mentioned that we were stuffed?! I should also note I told our server that I don’t like calamari – it tastes like rubber to me — but I’d heard fried calamari was on the menu and was looking forward to seeing if Chef Humm’s would change my mind. The kitchen sent out the arancini for me as a substitute just in case. Well, the calamari was not rubbery and was, in fact, quite tasty. But it didn’t change my mind about eating calamari elsewhere. Oh, I also ate the arancini. Yum!

Michael had wine. I didn’t make a note of what it was nor do I recall if he had one glass or two. We each got the Grasshopper. I tasted it. Too strong for me.

When it was time to pay the bill, we were told the meal was compliments of our NoMad Family in honor of my birthday. Of course, we told them how very much we appreciated their generosity.

And speaking of generosity, when we got home, we discovered that they’d added a whole loaf of the Italian bread to our doggie bag.

To satisfy Michael’s craving for the Chicken Parmesan, we went a second time in December. We asked if Mamma Guidara’s would be continuing in 2017 and were told it would be. Plus, there would be a new menu. Definitely looking forward to that!

The photo set for the December dinner can be viewed on my Flickr here.

Here are the links to the previous posts about the birthday dining extravaganza: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Still the Foie Gras Queen in 2016

January 16, 2017

It was a very good year for this self-styled Foie Gras Queen. I had it a lot and in many forms. As a torchon, as a terrine, en croûte, seared, sautéed, roasted, and poached. As an amuse, as a flavoring agent, as a component in a main course dish. No matter how it came, always dee-lish! And so, in chronological order….

JANUARY

Foie Gras

Eleven Madison Park – Foie Gras Seared with Maple and Apple

Foie Gras Tart

The Modern Dining Room – Foie Gras Tart: Winter Citrus and Onion

MARCH

Chicken Pot Pie

The NoMad Bar – Chicken Pot Pie: Black Truffle & Foie Gras

Duck Chettinad

Indian Accent – Duck Chettinad: Foie Gras, Idli, Pearl Onion Chutney

Foie Gras

EMP Bar – Foie Gras Marinated with Maple and Apple

Foie Gras Terrine & Black Truffle Praline

Gabriel Kreuther – Foie Gras Terrine & Black Truffle Praline

APRIL

Terrine en Croûte of Duck Foie Gras

Le Coq Rico – Terrine en Croûte of Duck Foie Gras

Ravioles de Cepes au Foie Gras

Maison Hugo – Ravioles de Cepes au Foie Gras

JUNE

Tart of Foie Gras

The Modern D.R. – Tart of Foie Gras: Wild Strawberries & Thai Long Peppers

Foie Gras

No Mad – Foie Gras Terrine with Black Truffles & Asparagus

Foie Gras

EMP – Foie Gras Marinated with Chamomile and White Asparagus

Seared Foie Gras

The Modern Bar Room – Seared Foie Gras: Grilled Apricots & Pickled Cabbage

Canard et Cerises

Le Coucou – Canard au Cerises: Foie Gras & Black Olives

JULY

Seared Sullivan County Foie Gras

Gabriel Kreuther – Seared Foie Gras: Spring Onions, Basil, Pickled Strawberries

Foie Gras

EMP – Foie Gras Marinated with Strawberry & Black Pepper

AUGUST

Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Restaurant Nicolas – Seared Foie Gras: Pluots, Pickled Plum Purée, Pecans

Foie Gras

NoMad – Foie Gras Cured with Nectarine, Watermelon Radish, and Rye

SEPTEMBER

Amuse

Vaucluse – Amuse: Duck Liver Foie Gras with Nuts

Foie Gras

EMP – Foie Gras Marinated with Strawberry & Black Pepper

OCTOBER

Sautéed Foie Gras

The Modern D.R. – Sautéed Foie Gras: Pickled Plums and Sesame Glaze

Foie Gras Tart

The Modern Kitchen Table – Foie Gras Tart: Quince Poached in White Wine & Spigarello

Foie Gras

betony – Foie Gras Marinated in Calvados

Faisan à l’Alsacienne

Le Coucou – Faisan à l’Alsacienne with Foie Gras & Stuffed Cabbage

Foie Gras

EMP – Foie Gras Marinated with Plum & Cocoa

NOVEMBER

Triangoli Verdi

italienne – Triangoli Verdi: Guinea Hen, Madeira, Foie Gras & Leek

Foie Gras Torchon

EMP – Foie Gras Torchon: Black Truffle, Mustard & Potato

DECEMBER

Foie Gras

Fromagerie – Foie Gras: Pan Seared with Pears & Port Wine Reduction

Brisket

Atoboy – Brisket: Foie Gras, Ginger, Garlic

Foie Gras

EMP – Foie Gras Marinated with Plum & Cocoa

Terrina di Faraona e Fegato Grasso

Lincoln – Guinea Hen Terrine with Foie Gras, Smoked Ham Hock, & Cranberry Mostada

Veal and Foie Gras en Croûte

Le Coq Rico – Veal and Foie Gras en Croûte

Now, my love of liver is not reserved solely for foie gras. These dishes had other types of liver.

Sautéed Chicken Livers

Le Coq Rico – Sautéed Chicken Livers, Hummus & Mâche

Foie de Veau

Benoit – Foie de Veau, Potato Lyonnaise, & Slow Simmered Onions

Calf's Liver

Monte-Carlo – Calf’s Liver with

Mashed Potatoes, Sweet & Sour Caramelized Onions, Raspberry Vinegar Sauce

Chicken Liver Pâté

Mistral – Chicken Liver Pâté: Peach, Almond, Fennel

Duck Crostone

Union Square Café – Duck Liver Crostone with Chicories, Roasted Grapes, Candied Walnuts

Looking forward to keeping my crown in 2017!

Aarzu, a “Modern Indian Bistro” in Freehold Shines

January 13, 2017

Aarzu, which calls itself a Modern Indian Bistro, opened in the fall of last year. I learned about it on Hungry Onion where the very active New Jersey board is populated by a gaggle of folks who left Chowhound for more pleasant food forum pastures, i.e., way less ridiculous moderation. That, of course, includes Yours Truly. The HOs (Yes, we do affectionately refer to ourselves that way!) who checked out Aarzu were uniform in their praise of the cuisine. So, I put it on my “go to” list. Our dinner there on Wednesday of this week was our first restaurant meal of 2017.

Not having been to the Boro recently, we weren’t sure exactly where along Main Street Aarzu was located. Turned out it’s in the space formerly occupied for many years by Main St. Bistro. We ate there a couple of times, but it was a long time ago.  I have absolutely no recollection of the food. Michael said he doesn’t remember Main St. Bistro at all.

Though Aarzu takes reservations via OpenTable, we didn’t bother. Arriving at 8:30 p.m., we were not surprised to find the place virtually empty. Just one table occupied by a party of five.  Later on, a man came in alone. During a conversation with one of the servers, he confirmed that like most New Jersey restaurants, while weekends are busy, mid-week is pretty much dead.

The large space has attractive décor with free-standing tables and several curved, capacious, comfortable booths. How’s that for alliteration? We were seated in one of the booths. Music being played was pleasant and not loud.

Aarzu

Atypical for Indian restaurants, the meal did not open with the ubiquitous pappadam and dipping sauces. Instead, Aarzu follows upscale restaurant models by providing an amuse. A tiny, triangular Samosa with tasty vegetables stuffed into a crisp crust did, indeed, “amuse” our palates.

Amuse

We chose two appetizers. The first to be served was the Eggplant Chaat ($8) which made an eye-catching arrival in a copper pan sitting atop a pretty stand.

Eggplant Chaat

Small disks of fried eggplant were combined with a sweet tamarind sauce laced with yogurt. Pomegranate seeds added another flavor element as well as a bit of crunch. Our server told us this is typical street food in India. Well, all I can say is that this is some really fantastic street food. It was one of the best eggplant dishes we’ve ever had.

Our second appetizer was the Tandoor Lamb Chops ($26). The fact that they’d received uniform raves from the HOs made them a must try.

Tandoori Lamb Chops

The five meaty chops, coated with a delicious mixture of mint, ginger and mustard, were expertly roasted resulting in a nice char. Alongside was a sauce (I think it was mint-based) which was a bit spicy. The best tandoor chops we’ve had in the past were the signature dish from Chef Hemant Mathur’s, a Tandoor Master who helmed the kitchens at Devi (now closed) and Tulsi (which he left a few years ago) in NYC. Using those as a yardstick, I can say without hesitation that Aarzu’s chops are equally superb and deserve all the accolades. Oh, and by the way, even though they are on the appetizer menu, they could easily be a main course.

The two main courses we ordered arrived, as expected, at the same time. The Duck Chettinad ($22) was my choice.

Duck Chettinad

As you can see, the sliced breast sat atop a sea of sauce. Because it was cooked toward the well-done side, the duck was a bit too dry. However, that problem was mitigated by the sauce, full of flavor and spicy but at the right level for me, fortunate because I hadn’t thought to ask about spice levels.

Michael chose the Butter Chicken ($18).

Butter Chicken

Very tender pieces of the bird swimming in a terrific silky, smooth tomato sauce flavored with fenugreek made this dish a big winner.

The accompaniment for these main courses was perfectly prepared Basmati Rice.

Basmati Rice

The Onion Kulcha ($6) we ordered was served with the mains. Piping hot, it was stuffed with lots of onions. Delicious!

Onion Kulcha

We’ve never been terribly keen on Indian desserts but decided to share one, Chocolate Rasmalai ($8).

Chocolate Rasmalai

Combining chunks of cottage cheese with a thin chocolate pudding, it was actually pretty tasty.

We were taken by surprise when a server arrived with another dessert. All he told us was that it was compliments of one of the men in the party of five. When we thanked the man as we were all getting ready to leave, he told us he did it because one of the women was celebrating a birthday. A lovely gesture! I can’t tell you this dessert’s Indian name* because the on-line menu does not list desserts. The lightly fried cheese balls accompanied by a dipping sauce were quite tasty.

Dessert

Aarzu is a BYO. Since Michael prefers beer with Indian cuisine, he brought along a bottle of Polaner Wheat Beer which is well-suited to spicy food. He also had a large bottle of Pellegrino ($5) and ended the meal with Chai Tea ($4). I had an excellent Mango Lassi ($5).

Service was very friendly and competent.

We took home some leftovers — eggplant, two chops, butter chicken, rice, and one piece of onion kulcha – enough to form the basis of another meal.

My only complaint relates to the on-line menu. I’ve already mentioned the desserts not being listed. Even more egregious is that there are no prices. I think keeping them a secret is a disservice to the dining public.

Aarzu is a wonderful addition to the area’s dining scene. I sincerely hope there are enough people around here who can appreciate an Indian restaurant of this high caliber to sustain it. We’re eager to try lots of other things on the menu, so we’ll definitely be back!

To see the complete photo set of this meal on my Flickr, click here.

*Addendum: My thanks to Curlz at H.O. and mongo_jones at the Mouthfulsfood forum for informing me that the gifted dessert’s name is Gulab Jamuns.

At Home: A Deer with Antlers!

January 11, 2017

Seeing deer in our backyard is not unusual. I’ve done posts about it before (here and here). But what caught our attention this time was something we’d never seen before: a deer with antlers!

Yesterday afternoon, as we were on our way out to do errands, we spotted him. Not having my regular camera at hand, I pulled out my iPhone from my purse. However, getting a decent photo wasn’t easy. I knew if I got too close to the window, he would run off. As it was, he kept moving though I finally managed to get a shot. Admittedly, not a particularly good one. When he finally stopped long enough for me snap the photo, he was standing at the side of the house just barely in the window’s range which forced me to the take the photo at an angle. I cropped it and enhanced it as best I could. I think you can make out the antlers.

At Home: Deer with Antlers!

There were two other deer with him neither with antlers. One was about his size and the other a bit smaller. Maybe a family? Nosing about in the snow, they were looking for something to eat.

This was not the first deer siting of the day. When I came downstairs in the morning, two deer were standing side-by-side outside the double kitchen window peering directly into the room. Not something that had happened before so a weird surprise. What were they thinking? “We’re hungry and there’s food in there!”? Even if I had thought about taking a picture — which I didn’t though it definitely would have made an interesting photo — that would have been impossible. As soon as they saw me, they moved away into the yard and, like the three deer later in the day, eventually disappeared into the woods.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

January 9, 2017

Last Monday, Michael found a brick sitting on top of the air conditioning unit on the right side of our house. It had fallen from the top of one of the two chimneys.

You’ve probably figured out why we have two chimneys since I’ve no doubt that those who come here are smart! But just in case someone’s still scratching his or her head…. Our house, built in 1969, is in a large US Homes tract development. None of the various models included a fireplace. However, buyers could pay extra to have one built in the family room which is what we did.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

The fireplace and the heating unit are served by the same chimney. For the first few years, we went crazy with lighting fires. Eventually, the novelty wore off, and I don’t remember the last time we lit a fire in the family room.

When we began furnishing the living room in the mid-‘70’s, we decided that a fireplace on the far wall would be a fine design element, so we had a contractor build it for us.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Ergo, the second chimney. We lit a fire in that fireplace right after it was built. And that one time was it! As I said, built as a design focal point.

Now back to the current issue…

The fallen brick had come from the chimney built with the house. When Michael looked up at that chimney’s top, he could see that other bricks looked loose. Definitely not good! Using Home Advisor, he contacted several masons. Affirmed, a company that does masonry as well as siding and gutters, said they would send a mason the next morning. Vinnie arrived a few minutes ahead of the scheduled time (points for that!), inspected the chimney and told Michael there was, indeed, a dangerous situation in need of immediate remediation. This would involve removing all the loose bricks in the section at the top and rebuilding it. The work would be done the next day.

On Wednesday, Vinnie came back with another mason, Henry. Not long after they started working, Michael came in to tell me that the situation was a lot worse than Vinnie had thought. The bricks in entire top part of the chimney down to where it widened (near our bedroom window) were loose. The project now entailed removing all the old bricks and rebuilding the chimney with new ones. There would be a new cap at the top, new flashing at the roof line, and waterproofing top to bottom. The other chimney would also be waterproofed. I stayed inside while Michael handled things and relayed this info to me. He also mentioned that they wouldn’t be able to match the brick. My response: I could care less. What’s important is to have a chimney that won’t fall down and possibly injure someone.

While Henry went off to get materials for the rebuild, Michael chatted with Vinnie. He told Michael that he and Henry came here from Albania where, obviously, they were masons. They are working for their uncle who owns the company.

Vinnie and Henry completed the process of removing all the loose bricks on Wednesday and began the rebuild. On Thursday, they returned with two more masons to speed things along.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Rebuilding

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Bringing Up the Concrete

While they were working, they discovered that a dead bird had become stuck in the chimney. After removing it, Henry came inside (Yes, he took his shoes off!) and thoroughly vacuumed the fireplace and cleaned out the ashes.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

I don’t remember the last time it looked this clean!

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

I never saw the bird though Michael did. Happily, we didn’t have to deal with its disposal because Vinnie put it into the plastic bag with the ashes, and the guys took the bag with them when they left.

Before he went back outside, I chatted with Henry. Impressed with his English – accented but quite fluent – I asked if he had studied English before he came here. No, he said. When he arrived here six years ago, he didn’t know even one word.

The job was completed that afternoon.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Michael added our rave review to the ones posted previously on Home Advisor.

That (Damn!) Four-Letter Word…

January 7, 2017

Yes, snow! As I type this, it’s still falling.

We’re in the 3-6″ zone.

DSC02901

Temperature: 21 degrees.

DSC02900

All too familiar scenes of winter at home:

At Home: First Significant Snow of 2017

View from the Upstairs Master Bath

At Home: First Significant Snow of 2017

View from the Kitchen

At Home: First Significant Snow of 2017

Snow on Berries

With this first significant snowfall of 2017, my most unfavorite season has definitely arrived!

The Books I Read in 2016

January 4, 2017

When it comes to reading books, I’m a Luddite. No iBooks, eBooks, Kindles, or Nooks for me! And with the exception of the an occasional cookbook, I don’t buy books. What I am is a card-carrying patron of the Monmouth Country Library System. And proud of it! I get most of my books from the local Marlboro branch but will sometimes head to the Main Branch (aka “Headquarters”), in Manalapan, if a book I’m interested in can only be found there.

While I generally favor fiction, this past year I read half-a-dozen non-fiction works. Here’s the list in the order in which I read them:

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough (Started in December 2015 and finished in January 2016.)
At Home by Bill Bryson (Same as above.)
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sisterhood by Curtis Sittenfeld
Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg
As I Was Saying… by Frank Mankiewicz
Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Dropped Names by Frank Langella
Master of Ceremonies by Joel Grey
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
X by Sue Grafton
Some Luck by Jane Smiley (Book 1 of Trilogy)
Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Early Warning by Jane Smiley(Book 2 of Trilogy)
Golden Age by Jane Smiley (Book 3 of Trilogy)
Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger
The Rules of Love & Grammar by Mary Simpses
Last Night at the Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
City Boy: The Adventures of Herbie Bookbinder by Herman Wouk
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Falling: A Love Story by Jane Green
The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout
The Restaurant That Changes America by Paul Freedman

In December, I started The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. I’m about half-way through.

Dining Out: October – December 2016

January 2, 2017

Kitchen Table at The Modern Dining Room

October
New York City
Dinner:
The Modern Dining Room
Gramercy Tavern Dining Room (Rosh Hashanah)
Tocqueville (Rosh Hashanah)
dbBistro Moderne
Tapestry
Tocqueville (Yom Kippur)
The Modern Dining Room Kitchen Table
Pippali
betony
Le Coucou
Mamma Guidara’s at The NoMad Bar
Eleven Madison Park (My Birthday)

Lunch:
ilili
Marta
Benoit
Covina
NoMad (My Birthday)
Le Coq Rico

November
New York City
Dinner:
Le Coq Rico
Le Coucou
Maialino
italienne
Upland
NoMad
Eleven Madison Park (Thanksgiving)
Rouge Tomate Chelsea

Lunch:
Blue Smoke
Le Coq Rico

New Jersey
Dinner:
Chez Catherine

December
New York City
Dinner:
Atoboy
Union Square Café
Lincoln
Le Coucou
Mamma Guidara’s at The NoMad Bar

Lunch:
Eleven Madison Park
Tivoli Diner
Benoit
Le Coq Rico

Breakfast:
Maialino

New Jersey
Dinner:
Heirloom Kitchen
Fromagerie

At Home: New Year’s Eve 2016

January 1, 2017

Last year, Michael wanted to celebrate his upcoming 75th birthday in January by doing New Year’s Eve up big at Eleven Madison Park. So, we did! This year, it was back to staying home in NJ, having our annual beef fondue, and listening to the WQXR Classical Countdown.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Here’s the beef! Prime Tenderloin (aka Filet Mignon).

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

I put in my order at Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago and told them I wanted to pick up the meat Friday morning, the 30th. On Thursday, I got a call from WH about my order. I had ordered 2 lbs. but for some strange reason, they had me down for 4-5! Big difference! Once that was corrected, she asked me if I wanted Prime or the next step down which I think was Choice. Definitely Prime, I said. We confirmed the next day pick-up between 11 and noon.  A few minutes later, she called back. Seems they wouldn’t be getting the Prime until Saturday morning. Would I be willing to wait? I was fine with waiting so long as she could guarantee that if the Prime didn’t come in, I would at least be able to get the other. She said that wouldn’t be a problem. She also told me they would be taking off $2 for “the inconvenience.” I never asked exactly what that meant, so I’m not sure whether she meant $2/lb. or for the entire order. In any case, when I showed up on Saturday morning, they had gotten the Prime. The butcher brought it out wrapped, so I asked to see the meat. Just as I requested, there were individual steaks. As you can see, gorgeous! But I noticed that each one was tied, so I asked if he could please remove the strings which he was more than willing to do. (I could have done it myself, but I figured why not have him save me the trouble?). Before rewrapping the steaks, he put them on the scale to get a digital price tag. Whoa! The scale read a little over 3 lbs. I reminded him that I’d ordered only 2. Well, he said that he’d only charged me for a bit over 2. Plus, of course, there was that $2 that was taken off. Though I did ask him why they were giving me this freebee, I’m still not clear as to the reason. In any case, we were gifted one lb. of Prime Tenderloin. A very nice New Year’s present from the Meat Dept. at “Whole Paycheck.”

Chunks of steak ready for the fondue:

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

I initially cut up two of the steaks each of which weighed 8 ounces and later half of another. Altogether, that was 20 ounces. I wrapped the rest individually and froze them.

Michael used his Coravin to pour himself a glass of Bordeaux.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Having the Coravin is great. Since I don’t drink wine, it enables Michael to have just a glass or two of fine quality wine without actually opening the bottle because after the Coravin is removed, the bottle is resealed and can be kept indefinitely.

We started with a Salad of Red Leaf Lettuce dressed with Homemade Vinaigrette.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

On to the main event:

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Sauces: Tarragon, Horseradish, Mustard, Garlic

Rösti Potatoes are the perfect side dish.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

After a short break while I did some cleaning up, we had dessert. Thanks to Andrews’s delicious ice cream gift

For Michael:

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Salt & Straw’s Double Fold Vanilla

For me:

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Salt & Straw Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Chocolate Gooey Brownie + Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Syrup

As for the Classical Countdown, no surprise what was in the Number 1 spot. It has garnered that spot for as long as we can remember Actually, four of the top five were Beethoven symphonies. I guess you can see he’s very popular!

5. Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 “Pastoral”
4. Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
3. Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, “From the New World”
2. Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
1. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Choral”

At a few minutes before midnight, we went upstairs, turned on the TV to Channel 7 (ABC), turned off the sound, and watched the ball drop while listening to the final 10 minutes of Beethoven’s Ninth.

This New Year’s Eve coincided with the final night of Chanukah.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy 2017!

Eleven Madison Park/NoMad/Made Nice Holiday Gift 2016

December 30, 2016

It’s that time of year. Once again, those endlessly creative folks at Eleven Madison Park, NoMad and the soon-to-be open Made Nice have put together a fabulous holiday gift.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

It arrived on our NJ doorstep on December 3rd. As you can see, there were 24 boxes. Since the instructions said we should open a box each day until the eve of the 24th (which happened to be both the first night of Chanukah and Christmas Eve) and it was now the 3rd, we immediately opened boxes 1, 2, and 3.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

From then on, we opened one box each evening after dinner up to the 13th.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

On the 14th, we went into the city for several days leaving the boxes behind. When we came back on the 19th, we opened boxes 14 through 19 at once.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Card 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

We then opened one box each evening on the 20th and 21st.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

On the 22nd, we headed back to NYC in order to prepare and have our Chanukah dinner with Jen and Louis on the 24th. We opened boxes 22, 23, and 24 when we returned to NJ on the 25th.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

I think you have to admit that they do, indeed, know how to “Make It Nice”!

To Daniel, Will, and the entire staff, our sincerest thanks for this incredible gift! But the true gift you give Michael and me is considering us members of the EMP/NoMad/Made Nice family. We look forward to seeing all of you often in 2017.