Lost in the Risotto

A couple of nights ago, I attended the first Chefs’ Night Out at 5 Ninth, located at (where else?) 5 9th Avenue in the Meatpacking District. The spot is rather hidden amongst all the glitz and glamour of the not-so-rare schmooze-hood. However, it’s a cute spot with an upstairs area and downstairs patio. Exposed brick walls and cozy vibe give a somewhat European feel. Great for a party. If only more chefs and cul-biz peeps would have shown up. Rather boring for its first night, but lets hope it picks up, as the party is deemed to continue every Tuesday night.
Had dinner with some Louisiana buds at the East Village S.E.A. Sleeker and tinier than its S.E.A.ster in Brooklyn – the scene for a Sex and the City episode as well as for the movie Garden State. Inexpensive ($3 for Tom Kha) and delicious. Every sauce that accompanied a dish was unbelievable and would have been superb with anything. Even got us to thinking about opening up a little place in Louisiana offering your choice of meat or vegetable and any listed sauce. mmmmm….
Gascogne is another recently visited place I went with my mom during her recent visit as her New York birthday trip. A great brunch spot, though it took a while to receive the crème caramel at the end. The staff was friendly and the duck confit was a gift of crispy goodness. My escargots wrapped in phyllo were pretty amazing as well. $17.50 including a choice of orange juice, mimosa, or bloody ‘Marie’ (delicious with an additional bit of salt), and of course appetizer, main course, crème caramel, and coffee or tea. Not too shabby.
For Mom’s birthday dinner at home, I prepared radishes with butter and sea salt, spanakopita, kefta with rice (and Sumac), tzatziki, and tiramisù. Try Sophia Loren’s recipe for tiramisù. Wonderful, though I added a bit of Godiva liqueur.
For the very first time, even after having attended several NYU seminars and thinking, ‘I’d love one of those’, I finally tried Thiru Kumar’s crêpes at his south Washington Square Park stand, NY Dosas. Spicy, crispy, filling, and cheap. What a combination! And accompanied by lentil soup and coconut chutney, it’s oh so much more than a melt-in-your-mouthful.
Speaking of NYU seminars, the reason for being in this area was because Mom and I were attending a lecture entitled ‘Women Who Cook for a Living in New York and Why There Aren’t More of Them.’ Fascinating. Panelists included Mary Cleaver (Cleaver Company and the Green Table at the Chelsea Market); Rozanne Gold (Award-Winning Chef and Author); Judith Jones (Sr. Editor and VP of Alfred A. Knopf); Krisnendu Ray (Professor, NYU Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health); Susan Westmoreland (Author and Food Editor for Good Housekeeping); Jody Williams (Chef of Gusto Ristorante e Bar Americano); and was moderated by Clark Wolf (Food and Restaurant Consultant). Jody was strong and spunky and spoke with Italian mannerisms. It was a delight to see her so eager and excited about the future of women in the culinary industry, especially the kitchen. She reminded us that it doesn’t have to be a battle of testosterone in the kitchen; that there are different ways of dealing with preparing a meal in a restaurant. Yelling and harassment aren’t necessary. YAY, JODY!!!
Judith Jones spoke with a calm eloquence that brought me back to the days of MFK Fisher. The classics. She differentiates between cooking at home and eating out. Eating in a restaurant is meant to entertain. It is not necessarily something that we want to duplicate at home, but something that is meant to excite our senses, to pamper us, and to enrapture our culinary souls. Cooking at home is for nourishment and livelihood. While we should definitely take time to prepare a delicious and well-balanced meal at home, it should not necessarily be a recipe that we have duplicated from our anniversary dinner at Alain Ducasse.
Most agreed on risotto as their favorite comfort food. While in the past, I just thought it was just a snooty trend, when I finally had it topped with a few of truffle slivers, I have to agree. Pretty darn comfy. Though I do appreciate a good bowl of Tom Kha or chicken and sausage gumbo(especially with tasso) on a chilly, sneezy day.
The only male panelist, Krisnendu(K-Ray), had it the hardest as the only man, but came up with some interesting points. My favorite? Pornography vs. Pedagogy. There is a difference between watching what is unattainable and watching while recreating. Hmmm…
While these are the most recent NYC culinary adventures, I’m sure there will be more to come.
Don’t forget about the Fancy Food Show in NYC in July at the Jacob K. Javits Center. Can’t wait!
Have a delicious day!!!!

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