Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

At Home: Salade Niçoise

July 27, 2017

Salade Niçoise is one of our favorite salads. Restaurants often use fresh tuna (here’s an example), but I use canned. It is a French salad, and whenever we ordered it in France, it always came with canned tuna; therefore, I think it’s safe to surmise that canned tuna is considered traditional. Lettuce, tomatoes (here I’m using local Jerseys), hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes are also traditional. I did, however, depart slightly from two other traditional ingredients. Haricots verts were unavailable, so I picked out the thinnest regular green beans. (I actually did such a good job, the cashier at Delicious Orchards first rung them up as the much more expensive haricots verts.) As for the olives, I use Kalamatas because they’re more readily available than Niçoise. For the dressing: a classic vinaigrette. I dressed the lettuce separately in a bowl, plated everything, took the photo, and then spooned vinaigrette over the rest.

I’ve always believed we eat first with our eyes. This colorful, eye-catching salad definitely said, “Eat me!” And it was as delicious as it looked.

At Home: Salade Niçoise

At Home: Fish Chowder

July 25, 2017

Summer seems to be taking a bit of a hiatus. It’s been unseasonably cool along with lots of rain. Today, the temperature barely made it above 70 — about 15 degrees below the norm. It was the perfect day for some fish chowder. I used this recipe. As written, it makes six servings, but I cut it down to two. Delicious!

At Home: Fish Chowder

At Home: Summer on a Plate

July 18, 2017

At Home: Summer on a Plate

NJ Peaches & Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Balsamic Vinegar, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Basil

At Home: First NJ Peaches of 2017 Season

July 16, 2017

They’re from Fralinger Orchards, in Bridgeton. Bought them at Wegmans which carries them every year. A peach of a peach!

At Home: NJ Peaches

le 14 juillet 2017: The last time we saw Paris…

July 14, 2017

…was in June 1999. No iPhones back then.  I used my iPhone to snap these photos which were taken with a regular camera.

Paris: June 1999

Paris: June 1999

At Home: July 4th Holiday 2017

July 6, 2017

On Monday, Jen came out to the house by herself because unlike her, Louis did not have the day off. Lunch was Hebrew National franks with the usual accompaniments — Batampte deli mustard and sour kraut — along with Busch’s vegetarian baked beans. I didn’t take any photos.

Jen spent part of the afternoon sketching.

At Home: J. Sketching

(More about her art work in a future post.)

Dinner started with Chilled Strawberry-Watermelon Soup I’d made earlier in the day.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2017

For the main course, Beer Can Chicken. (The previous post, Beer Can Chicken Without the Can, is here.) This time, instead of beer, I filled the canister with white wine.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2017

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2017

Accompaniment: Jersey Bi-Color Corn.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2017

Dessert: Breyer’s Vanilla and the last of my Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream using pick-your-own strawberries.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2017

The next day — the 4th — lunch for Michael and me started with homemade Yellow Squash Soup.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2017

We then had some of the leftover chicken served at room temperature. To go with it, I made Macaroni Salad.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2017

The weather during the entire holiday was perfect for dining al fresco and relaxing on the patio.

Dining Out: April – June 2017

July 3, 2017

Nur

April
New York City
Dinner:
Gotham Bar and Grill
italienne Taverna
Union Square Café
Toloache (Passover)
Rotisserie Georgette (Passover)
Maxwell’s Chophouse

Lunch:
Benoit
Turkish Kitchen
Daily Provisions (Take-out)
Morini Ristorante
Great Northern Food Hall

Late Supper:
Dog & Bone

New Jersey
Dinner:
Tillie’s

Lunch:
Jersey Shore BBQ

May
New York City
Dinner:
Fusco
Majorelle
Maialino
Made Nice

Lunch:
Made Nice
Dog & Bone
Morini Ristorante

Supper:
Made Nice

New Jersey
Dinner:
Aarzu

June
New York City
Dinner:
The Beatrice Inn
italienne Dining Room
Union Square Café
Eleven Madison Park (Anniversary)
The Grill
Fowler & Wells
Nur
Rocco Steakhouse
italienne Taverna
Aquavit
Upland
Korali Estiatorio
Dog & Bone

Lunch:
Made Nice (Take-out) – 2
Le Coq Rico
Tocqueville (Anniversary)
NoMad
Street Taco
Indian Accent
Gramercy Tavern Dining Room
Augustine
The Modern Bar Room

Celebrating Our 49th Anniversary at Eleven Madison Park: The 11-Course Retrospective Menu

June 29, 2017

Eleven Madison Park

You are no doubt aware that EMP is now closed for renovations and has moved lock, stock, and staff to the Hamptons for the summer. When Chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara made the announcement of the closure, they said it would happen in June. The important question for us was exactly when in June? When we learned that the last service would be dinner on Friday, June 9th, we breathed a proverbial sigh of relief because it meant we’d be able to celebrate our 49th anniversary on June 8th at EMP as we do all special occasions.

The closure announcement also included the news that beginning in April, there would be an 11-course retrospective menu composed of classic dishes created by Chef Humm and his team during the 11 years he’s been helming EMP’s kitchen. Something akin to a “Greatest Hits Parade.” (As I see it, eleven courses would hardly suffice because there are way more than that.) Now, here’s the thing. We dine at EMP once a month and would normally be doing the spring menu — regular then vegetarian — in April and May. With this change, we faced a decision. Should we do the retrospective menu in April and/or May as well as on our anniversary in June? Or should we do it only on our anniversary? After mulling it over, we decided to wait until June 8th so that the menu would feel special.

Because we became regulars right after we experienced Chef Humm cuisine for the first time a few months after he arrived, it was a pretty good bet that no matter which dishes would be on this menu, none would be new to us. Indeed, that was confirmed when he posted on Instagram photos of dishes he considered important during his tenure. There were more than eleven, so which ones would end up on the menu? That question was answered by an article in Surface Magazine published on April 11th, in which Chef Humm was interviewed and which included an “exclusive” look at the actual menu that debuted that very day. We had had our suspicions which ones would definitely be on it, and we pretty much nailed it. Still, there were a few that did surprise us.

In his Instagram posts, Chef Humm included a date for each dish plus for some of them background comments. That sparked an idea for this post. The take-home menu included those dates, so using it as a guide, I looked through all the photo sets of our meals at EMP and found a photo of each dish the first time we had it.  So, for each dish, I’ll put up the photo I took on June 8th with, in most cases, a quote from Chef Humm followed by the photo of the dish I took the first time we had it with comments from me.  (In a few instances, there will be more than one photo related to a dish.)

And so to begin…

We walked through the revolving doors on Thursday, June 8th, promptly at 8 p.m., received warm congratulations from the reception staff, and were escorted to our table where an envelope with the card pictured at the top of this post awaited us. Our captain for the evening was Steven Kelly who’s been at EMP for many years. With regard to the menu, the only thing we had to decide was which of three main course choices we wanted: chicken, suckling pig or, of course, Chef Humm’s signature duck. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen! And then stick around to find out which we chose. Michael also consulted with our sommelier Andrew about wine pairings.

We began with Andrew pouring my favorite non-alcoholic French Sparkling Cider and for Michael, a half-bottle of Krug, the Champagne he always has on celebratory occasions.

French Sparkling Cider

Champagne

The meal started with Gougères with Grated Gruyère (2006).

Gougères

June 8, 2017

I began taking food photos in 2008 but didn’t start posting restaurant sets on Flickr until 2009. Although we became regulars immediately after we first tasted Chef Humm’s extraordinary cuisine in early 2007, the first photo I took of the gougères was on Michael’s birthday, January 26, 2009 — the amuse on Chef Humm’s first 11-course Gourmand Dinner. Unfortunately, that photo turned out blurry, so here’s a clear one from the next time we had them.

Gougères

April 23, 2009

1st Course: Sea Urchin Cappuccino With Peekytoe Crab and Cauliflower (2006)
Daniel Humm: “This dish was the first amuse bouche I added when I took over the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park in 2006. Becoming a guest favorite, it appeared thereafter on multiple menus in different iterations.”

Sea Urchin

June 8, 2017

Sea Urchin Cappuccino

July 22, 2009

2nd Course: Little Neck Clam Clambake with Velouté and Parker House Rolls (2011)
DH: “This dish was created after a trip that Will Guidara and I took to Tokyo. [It’s] roughly based on shabu-shabu. This was our first communal course and more importantly, the first that played with the senses – specifically with the steaming of seawater. It was also the first dish that truly tied back to our region and to NY cuisine. The dish holds a lot of importance to us as the initial shared experience that has our guests reaching in the middle of the table.”

Little Neck Clam

June 8, 2017

When the Clambake was first introduced, it came with little corn breads, not Parker House rolls.

Clam

Clam

Clam

Clam

Clam

September 11, 2011

3rd Course: Beet Salad with Goat Cheese (2008)
DH: “Beets have been served in different forms at EMP for many years.”

Beet

June 8, 2017

At our first Chef Humm dinner, the meal started with a parade of amuses the likes of which we’d never experienced before. So much so that we kept asking, “Has the main meal started yet?!” One of the amuses was beets cut in various sized squares and rectangles and arranged on the plate in such a way that it reminded us of Stonehenge. Too bad I wasn’t taking photos then. The precision was incredible and the image remains indelibly in our memory. The beets plated for the retrospective dinner did remind us of it but was different.  My first photo shows a radically different plating.

Beet

October 24, 2010

4th Course: Prawn Roulade with Avocado and Yogurt (2007)
DH: “During this chapter of EMP it was less about where ingredients were from and more about showcasing technique. The prawn roulade involved a very lengthy process that was extremely temperamental. Every step in developing this dish was crucial to its success. Because of our revolutionary approach to crafting the roulade, it quickly became a signature on the menu early on and a crowd favorite.”

Prawn

June 8, 2017

It totally knocked our gustatory socks off the first time we had it (before I began taking photos) and is one of Michael’s all-time EMP favorites. During one of our lunches last year, he happened to mention to our captain how much he loved it, and that it had been a long time since it had been on the menu. Next thing we know… Voilà! It arrived at our table! And this past January, Chef de Cuisine Dmitri Magi surprised him with it on his birthday. The recipe is in the Eleven Madison Park Cookbook. Foolishly, I once tried making it. Disaster! When I told Chef Humm, he said, “Leave it to us!”

First Course: Hawaiian Blue Prawn

May 1, 2009

5th Course: Foie Gras Torchon with Maple Syrup and Pain d’Epices (2004)
DH: “The Foie Gras was one of the courses served to Danny Meyer at Campton Place in San Francisco (my first position in America) and I, to this day, credit it as being one of the dishes that landed me my job at Eleven Madison Park. In many ways this variation on Foie Gras represents all the elements of our ‘new’ style in its simplicity and fundamental values. But at that time I couldn’t fully recognize it.” (Note: At that time Meyer owned EMP.)

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Pain d'Epice

June 8, 2017

As far as I know, the first time it was served at EMP was last year. Michael had it on his birthday while I had it two months later in the bar.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Roll

January 26, 2016

6th Course: Carrot Tartare with Rye Toast and Condiments (2012)
DH: “This is probably our most talked about dish due to its innovation and unexpected nature. It came at a time when restaurants were moving in the direction of vegetable-forward cuisine couples with the idea of shared communal courses. The shock value of placing the metal grinder on the table without saying anything only to return with a bundle of carrots instead of the expected ground beef really helped it capture the attention of a large audience. It’s a dish where history and agriculture come together beautifully.”

Carrot

Carrot

Carrot

June 8, 2017

Once it made its debuted, it remained on the menu for a lo-o-o-ng time. Though we liked it, we had it so often that we finally asked for a substitute. It has now been off the menu for a few years, so we enjoyed experiencing it again.

Carrot

Carrot

Carrot

Carrot

September 21, 2012

7th Course: Turbot, Poached Zucchini and Squash Blossom (2007)
DH: “This dish pays homage to the scaling technique of Frédy Girardet and Joël Robuchon…. [It and the roulade] ended up being breakthroughs for the restaurant.”

Turbot

June 8, 2017

Fluke

July 6, 2013

8th Course: Winter in Provence – Black Truffle, Celery Root, Potato and Chevre Frais (2009)
DH: “Provence is most famous for its summers. In fact, I spent most of my childhood summering there. However, what people don’t know is that winters are amazing there as well. During the coldest months of the year, amazing ingredients like black truffles, olive oil, potatoes, and chevre are abundant. This dish explored soft textures and questioning what guests think food should be. We did this, however, with familiar flavors which allowed us to push what guests would be comfortable with while leaving them with a clear point of reference. As well during this time, we didn’t yet have a sense of place. We were a restaurant in New York but not of New York.”

Winter in Provence

Winter in Provence

Winter in Provence

June 8, 2017

5th Course:

5th Course:

5th Course:

January 26, 2010

Our Engraved Knives

Our Engraved Knives

These engraved knives were a gift for our 45th anniversary (June 8, 2013). They’ve been stored at the restaurant and each time we’ve dined since then, they’ve been brought out for the main course. We’ve heard that when the new restaurant opens, there will probably be new flatware. If so, I presume we’ll be given our knives to take home.

So, what did you guess we chose for the main course? I’m guessing you guessed the duck since it is Chef Humm’s famous signature. Wrong! We’ve had it a gazillion times starting from its introduction in 2009 when the duck was carved tableside and guests were served one breast side per person. So, we passed. We also passed on the Chicken Poached with Black Truffles (2010) since we’ve had chicken in various permutations over the years. (Note: My first photo of that chicken was taken on May 6, 2011.)

9th Course: Suckling Pig Confit with Rhubarb, Leeks and Cipollini Onion (2002)
DH: “[It] was the first really important dish in my career. I started working on it back in Switzerland and along with the foie gras torchon with maple, it played a big role in my working at Eleven Madison Park. It became hugely popular, so much so we developed an entire suckling pig menu around it.”

Suckling Pig Confit

June 8, 2017

The first time we saw the suckling pig confit on the menu was sometime in 2008 at one of our lunches. Michael ordered it. Other than bacon, I was not much of a pork lover. But I did taste it and found it to be delicious. We took to describing it as upscale pulled pork. We attended that Suckling Pig Dinner. The various courses Chef Humm created showed me how delicious pork can be.  We chose the suckling pig because we haven’t had it since that dinner.

Third Course: Confit

April 23, 2009 (The Suckling Pig Dinner)

10th Course: Milk and Honey with Dehydrated Milk Foam and Bee Pollen (2010)
DH: “When growing up, my mom and I would come together just before bed to make warm milk and honey. Over the years it became a moment for us to pause with each other, reflect, and talk about the events of the day – ultimately transitioning into a ritual that was so incredibly impactful, it became the inspiration behind one of the most popular desserts ever at Eleven Madison Park. …[It] has evolved numerous times and sparked the NoMad’s version (as well as the soft serve at Made Nice)….”

Milk and Honey

June 8, 2017

The first time we had it, it was a pre-dessert.

Pre-Dessert:

June 8, 2010 (Our Anniversary)

It was a full-fledged dessert five years later.

Milk and Honey

October 24, 2015 (My Birthday)

11th Course: Chocolate Palette with Peanut Butter and Popcorn Ice Cream (2008)
DH: “This dessert had its origin before we had a pastry chef and I was overseeing all the desserts. Playing off classice (and delicious) flavors of chocolate and peanut butter, we added a unique thing – popcorn ice cream. The saltiness played really nicely with the chocolate and peanut butter and this dessert was extremely popular. The palette was sort of a signature dessert….”

Chocolate

June 8, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Palette

August 31, 2009

Mignardises (2007)
DH: “Back when we were trying to earn our fourth star, we looked at all the four star restaurants in the city and noticed they had certain things in common, like ending their meals with a large plate of mignardises. This led us to create our own version.”

Mignardises

June 8, 2017

Mignardises

September 16, 2011

What with this being the next to the last day of service, the dining room being packed, and tables being turned even at 10 p.m., we presumed there would not be a kitchen visit. When we’d finished the desserts and it hadn’t happened that seemed to confirm it. Thus, we were totally surprised when at that point, Sheryl Heefner came to our table and asked us to accompany her there. Sheryl had very recently left the g.m. position at Union Square Café. She did at one time work at EMP, which is how we first met her, and was back temporarily. We actually found out about all this when we had dinner at USC the night before. She’s one of the loveliest people we know, so it was great to see her.

Although Chef Humm was in the house (more on that anon), Chef de Cuisine Dmitri was at the pass. Visiting the kitchen gave us the opportunity to chat with him and thank him for the exquisite meal. He is now out in the Hamptons helming the kitchen at Summer House, so we’re looking forward to seeing him there.

The cocktail we were served was prepared by none other than the Executive Pastry Chef himself, Mark Welker, with Sheryl assisting. Did that make us feel special? You bet!!

Kitchen Visit

Kitchen Visit

June 8, 2017

We’d had this cocktail a number of times previously.

Visit to the Kitchen

Visit to the Kitchen

January 14, 2012

A couple of other highlights….

When we were first seated, I glanced over to the table immediately adjacent to ours. There were two men seated there, one of whom I immediately recognized: Gramercy Tavern’s Chef Michael Anthony. We often end up chatting with whoever is seated at that table, and this turned out to be no different. Not only is he talented, but Chef Anthony is one of nicest people in the restaurant world. It was fun chatting off and on with him and his dining companion who, we later learned, is his brother-in-law (they married sisters) and is involved in the wine industry.

Early during dinner, Will Guidara came to our table to extend his best wishes. After hugs and smooches, he turned to Chef Anthony and said, ”Any other time, you’d be the most important person in the room. But when the Rappaports are in the house, they’re royalty!” We all burst out laughing. What a guy!

Finally, on our way out, Chef Humm was standing near the reception area. He’d been in and out of the dining room all evening, stopping at tables to greet guests. He had just stopped at ours when he was called away to take care of something in the kitchen. Apologizing, he rushed off. Now, we had the chance to tell him how much we enjoyed the retrospective menu and how perfect every dish was.  He thanked us for all the years of support we’d given especially during the early difficult period. “You were always there for us,” he said. Though he’s mentioned our enduring support before, that evening, his words seemed particularly heartfelt.

Our sincerest thanks to everyone in our Eleven Madison Park family for all they did to make this another memorable anniversary celebration! When EMP reopens and we once again walk through those revolving doors, there will be a completely renovated kitchen, a re-designed dining room, different furnishings, and a new menu. But what will never change is their striving for the kind of extraordinary cuisine, warm hospitality,and overall excellence that this year earned them the recognition as the Number One restaurant in the world. As we so often tell them but are always happy to repeat, to us they have been and always will be Number One!

Eleven Madison Park

The entire photo set which includes the wine pairings can be seen on my Flick here.

Happy Birthday, Jen!

June 22, 2017

Untitled

Summer!

June 21, 2017

It’s official! The summer solstice arrived at 12:31 EDT. Looking forward to lots and lots of “Rozy weather”!

Nat King Cole is one of my favorite singers.  So appropriate for the season, his “Those Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days of Summer” was a big hit in the early 1960’s.