Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs’ Favorite Restaurants

April 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs' Favorite Restaurants

If you’ve read this blog before, you’re likely already aware that I love to eat, and my friends love to eat, as does my family.  So when, not long ago, it came time to purchase a birthday gift for one of my foodie friends, you’ll understand when I say that I experienced kismet. Wandering through McNally Jackson bookstore here in New York, as I am wont to do on random weekends, I stumbled upon the perfect present, a recently published tome titled Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs’ Favorite Restaurants.

According to publisher Phaidron, it is:

The ultimate restaurant guide chosen by the real experts: more than 400 of the world’s best chefs from Heston Blumenthal to René Redzepi and David Chang.

From bargain noodle joints to high-end restaurants; late-night haunts to all-day breakfasts; neighbourhood eateries to destination restaurants, Where Chefs Eat has more than 2,000 personal recommendations for where to eat around the globe.

Said friend loved it.  As luck would have it, he had a trip planned to Northern Italy just a few weeks later.  He perused the guide and decided on a side trip to Modena to visit Osteria Francescana, a tiny restaurant with only 11 tables, serving three different tasting menus (enough to satisfy the pickiest and hungriest eater), where food becomes art at the hands of chef Massimo Bottura. The osteria has earned three Michelin stars, was included in Food and Wine Magazine’s list of “100 Restaurants Worth a Pilgrimage” (May 2013 issue) and was just listed in the No. 3 spot of The World’s Top 50 Restaurants (according to the U.K.’s Restaurant Magazine).

I received his email after the meal, and I quote, “I can’t move.”  I loved that.

Molto bene!

Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs' Favorite Restaurants 2

Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs' Favorite Restaurants 3

Where Chefs Eat - Modena, Italy

Osteria Francescana - Modena, Italy

Osteria Francescana - Prosciutto from Parma

Osteria Francescana - Traditional Modenese tortellini in cream of Parmigiano Reggiano

Osteria Francescana - Tagliatelle with Bolognese ragu

Osteria Francescana - Vino


Lower East Side #9 – The Proximity to Brooklyn

October 18, 2010 § Leave a comment


The Brooklyn Bridge, Photo: tlc.howstuffworks.com


The eternal battle: Manhattan versus Brooklyn.  Which is hipper, more current, has a better quality of life and better food?  Since I’ve lived in New York, it’s been Manhattan for me, with only a few visits to the other side of the East River.

But now, unbeknownst to me at the time that I moved to the Lower East Side, I am two stops from Brooklyn on the F train.  Also, unbeknownst to me, is the benefit this happenstance.

Example #1The Brooklyn Book Festival – Even on a dreary, rainy Sunday in September, this festival drew tens of thousands of book lovers, including me, to downtown Brooklyn.  The line-up of authors and panels was impressive and informative.  My thrills included, Siri Hustvedt, T Cooper, Stewart O’Nan, Kate Christensen, Sam Lipsyte, Rakesh Satyel, and Monique Truong.  Three hours of brilliant conversation – all for 15 minutes, each way.  Time spent?  Minimal.  Value gained?  Priceless.

Example #2The Brooklyn Flea Market – I went on an insanely beautiful Saturday morning, which meant the outdoor location in Fort Greene (as opposed to indoors at One Hanson on Sunday).  There are over 150 vendors of vintage clothing, boots, and shoes, jewelry, rugs, furniture, you name it.  And, yes, there are some fantastic food vendors should you get a bit peckish during your visit.  (Who knew that a piece of Whole Wheat Spelt Nut bread with a smear of butter could taste so good?  The folks from Brooklyn based SCRATCHbread, clearly.  And you’ll also find fish tacos, and pizza, and burgers…)  I had no intention of buying anything.  Silly.  I left the Flea Market with two trade paperbacks ($5) and a fantastic vintage dress ($30).  And, I’ll be back.  To shop and eat …  I found a few restaurants on Dekalb Avenue that have my name on them.

Example #3 – The Brooklyn Academy of Music.  I ventured across the river to BAM even before I moved to the Lower East Side.  The Harvey Theatre is a fantastic space.  I saw Patrick Stewart inhabit Macbeth, and Ibsen’s The Cherry Orchard, as part of The Bridge Project.  It’s closer now, so I’ll be going again soon.

I may be a Lower Manhattan gal, but I definitely appreciate what Brooklyn has to offer, and there’s a lot.

Lower East Side #8 – 10th Annual NYC International Pickle Day

October 11, 2010 § Leave a comment


Lower East Side Visitor Center


Are you old enough, or enough of a movie-buff, to remember the film, Crossing Delancey?  The one with Amy Irving and Peter Riegert, where book lover Isabelle Grossman (Irving) meets and falls in lust with the cool downtown author rather than her matchmaker’s choice, Sam Posner (Riegert) who happens to own a pickle shop on Essex Street, south of Delancey.  She ends up with the pickle-maker, but not until she’s suffered through a long, played-out drama (of course, there wouldn’t be a movie unless she did).

It wasn’t until I moved to the Lower East Side, and saw the Essex Street storefront of The Pickle Guys – yes, south of Delancey – that I began to understand the movie.  Not from the perspective of the 1980’s, but still …  the Lower East Side and pickles, there’s a history here.  And you can learn about that history by visiting the virtual NY Food Museum’s Pickle Wing which tells you more than you could have ever thought it possible to know about the pickle, including its detailed evolution and time line.


Alan Kaufman, Owner of the Pickle Guys


There is a fine art to authentic pickle-making, and pickling anything, if truth be told.  Like the breweries and delis, the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, the pickle shops of the Lower East Side were owned and operated by immigrants, who brought Old World techniques to the preparation of food and beverages.  While many of these traditions have been abandoned in favor of industrial methods, processed food, and large corporations, recently there’s been a food revolution of a sorts, whereby old school methods of food production are being reclaimed, revitalizing lost food trades and industries, in the process.   And pickled products are becoming big business, via small, artisinal vendors, once again.  Just look at Brooklyn Brine Co., owned and operated by three 20- and 30-somethings.  As The New York Observer put it:

Formerly the province of grandmothers, and, in New York, the Lower East Side, pickling is experiencing a youthful Renaissance. Jars of various vegetables in liquid are now ubiquitous at greenmarkets and flea markets, in kitchen stores, at butcher shops, sandwich shops and Williams Sonoma. It’s not just earnest, entrepreneurial young outfits like Brooklyn Brine but a resurgence of pickles on restaurant menus all over the city and a rash of amateur canners stuffing farmers’ market booty into Ball jars in their own cramped kitchens, consulting recipes on Epicurious.com or books like Eugenia Bone’s recent Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods.


Photo: The Atlantic, "Where Pickles Change by the Season"


If, thus far you’ve missed the rebirth of the pickle, your opportunity to get in-the-know has arrived.  This coming Sunday, October 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is The Tenth Annual New York City International Pickle Day.  The festival will be held, appropriately, in the Lower East Side parking lot on Broome Street (between Essex and Ludlow), as well as on Broome Street (between Orchard and Ludlow).  The Pickle Guys will be there, as will Brooklyn Brine, and a few dozen other vendors.

Mark it on your  calendar.  It’s bound to be a salty, delicious, fun time.

Lower East Side #7 – The Doughnut Plant

October 6, 2010 § 1 Comment

Outside the Doughnut Plant New York City

I have managed to delay this particular post for as long as I possibly could, afraid that once I’d gone there, there would be no going back.  I was right.  There’s a reason for the queue snaking out the door of the Doughnut Plant every Saturday and Sunday.  This is a Lower East Side institution.

Daily Specials

In 1994, Mark Israel began making doughnuts in the converted basement of a Lower East Side tenement, using his grandfather, Herman’s, recipe.  Mark would bake all night and, in the morning, he would ride his bicycle, delivering the doughnuts  to the likes of Dean & Deluca and Balducci’s.  Eventually, he developed his own techniques for doughnut making and had the brilliant idea to add fresh roasted nuts and fresh seasonal fruits to his glazes.  After a trip to Mexico in 1999, he added Mexican churros to his offering.  In 2000, the 379 Grand Street location (at Norfolk) was opened.

Mark Israel is a Hit

The Doughnut Plant serves two kinds of doughnuts: yeast and cake.  I’ve been told that the cake is a bit heavier, and it’s also a bit smaller.  I opted for the Toasted Almond yeast doughnut.   It was huge and it was delicious: the dough was had a nice consistency – substantial without being heavy – and the glaze was seriously flavorful, filled with almond pieces, and sweet, but not too sweet.  When I go back, I’ll give the cake version a try.  I am hoping for orange … I’m certain that I’ve smelled the aroma of orange, flowing strategically out of the plant vent, and onto the sidewalk, as I pass by.

Toasted Almond Yeast Doughnut

And there’s good news for those not wanting to venture quite so far downtown.  A second location of the Doughnut Plant just opened in the Chelsea Hotel.  Check out their review in The New York Times.

You can also get your fix at Dean & Deluca, Zabars, Citarella, Joes Art of Coffee, Orens Daily Roast, and Agata & Valentina.


In the doughnut queue

A rack of yeast doughnuts

The John Dory Oyster Bar – Opening November 1st

September 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

Photo: Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As promised, here is your John Dory update as of October 26th.  And the news is good.


Chef April Bloomfield and partner Ken Friedman are set to open The John Dory Oyster Bar  in The Ace Hotel, at the corner of 29th and Broadway, where they also run the always-busy Breslin, on Monday, November 1st.  New York Magazine‘s Grub Street Blog has just posted the news along with a sampling of the menu.  The NY Mag listing includes the address and phone number for the yet-to-open eatery.   The wait appears to be over.


For a little more detail, Metromix New York has this to say:

After abruptly shuttering upscale seafood spot The John Dory last year, April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman are back at it with more oysters and less aquariums, this time at the uber-hip Ace Hotel. Diners can look forward to nibbling house-cured anchovies with sea salt and butter, pickled oysters and lots and lots of fresh seasonal mollusks: Pemaquid, Wellfleets, Miyagis, Olympias and the list goes on.

NBC New York’s Feast blog was given a sneak peak at at the work-in-progress.  Check out the site for their take for photos of the construction and their take on the soon-to-open eatery (they too peg it at mid-October).

John Dory Oyster Bar Window – October 9th

I, for one, can’t wait.  And, given the interest in this topic, many of you can’t either.


But, alas, there is another update from New York Magazine, posted online on September 26th.  They’ve published a profile of April Bloomfield, “Of Pig Snouts and Headcheese: April Bloomfield taught us to eat everything.”  It’s part of their Who Runs New York? issue.  In the article, author Lisa Taddeo reports that the John Dory Oyster Bar will open in early November.  Stay tuned…

Lower East Side #4 – The Essex Street Market

September 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Essex Street Market, Lower East Side

The Essex Street Market turned 70 this year.  In the land of retail, and of food, that’s pretty amazing, and it’s history is worth mentioning:

Essex Street Market began in 1940 as part an effort by Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia to find a new place for street merchants to do business. At the time, pushcarts and vendors crowded the city streets, making it difficult for police and fire vehicles to easily pass. To ease congestion, Mayor LaGuardia created the Essex Street Market and several other indoor retail markets throughout the city.

The market evolved, and eventually fell out of favor for a time, when supermarkets were all the rage, before experiencing the benefit of renewed interest in the Lower East Side.

In recent years, many new residents have again moved to the Lower East Side, causing another shift in the character of the neighborhood.  Infusing a new vitality and more money into the area, these residents bring new expectations for the Market.  They value the rich cultural and historical traditions of the neighborhood and also seek a wider variety of culinary products.

To some degree, their success has certainly been a case of a “rising tide raising all boats.”  In this case, it’s well-deserved: fruits, vegetables, cheese, bread, fish, meat, chocolates, cupcakes, heck. there’s even a barber.  The list of merchants includes: Jeffrey’s Meats; New Star Fish Market; Pain D’Avignon; Essex Farm Groceries; and Formaggio Essex.  And there are two “Eateries,” Essex Restaurant and Shopsins General Store.  The prices are good, the food is fresh, and whenever I’m there, it’s busy.

Located at the corner of Essex and Delancey, the market is open Monday through Saturday, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (closed on Sunday), and is easily accessible by subway (J, M, Z, F, V ) and bus (M9, M14A, and B39 ).

If you do visit, you will no doubt eat well.

Essex Street Market, Everyday Food Needs

Essex Street Market, Meat

Lower East Side #1 – The Hester Street Fair

August 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve just moved to a new neighborhood in New York.  For those of you who live here, or even those who have visited, you know this is a change akin to moving to an entirely new city.   Just about everything requires modification: where you shop for groceries, not to mention wine, where you take your laundry and dry cleaning, figuring out who’s got the freshest sushi, and the freshest produce.

For me, the new neighborhood is the Lower East Side.  It’s Chinatown meets the Tenement Museum the Donut Plant meets Kossar’s Bialys meets meets The Stanton Social.  You get the idea.   So much to explore, so little time.

Photo: HesterStreetFair.com

Today, I begin with the Hester Street Fair.  Located in Seward Park, at the intersection of Essex and Hester, it’s a gem; and, like so much else in this neighborhood, it has a storied history.  Established in 1895, it “was once home to New York City’s largest and oldest pushcart markets.”

Here’s what you’ll find at the Hester Street Fair:  handmade jewelry and dresses; made-to-order omeletsmaracons; antiques; and gourmet pretzels; and more.  Go for lunch.  There are picnic tables set up under white tents for you to sit and enjoy the food, and the people-watching.  The fair is open every Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., April through December, no matter the weather.  You can get the map and details here.

For once, I’ll let the images speak for themselves.  With one exception … the photo of Afrodesiac Worldwide (you’ve got to love the name!) does not do the product justice.  There are dresses and tops, all made from African-sourced cotton in factories located in Ghana (prints that fabulous aren’t produced here any longer).  And there are earrings, huge, beautiful earrings, made of old, Ghanian brass coins.  It’s all art.  And, one other call-out, this one from a culinary perspective, the Lemon Coconut Cookie from Sarivole Organic Bakery is soft, chewy, and flavorful.  Ah, and I should mention The House of Z:  a home for creative indulgence, where Amy and Drew Burchenal have freed themselves to “create with our hearts and souls.”  Amy’s black-and-white, color and painted photographs, Drew’s poetry, sea glass and vintage pendant necklaces, are all worth a visit.  And, next weekend, I need to get back to sample one of Luke’s Lobster Rolls … but, I digress…


Fragrant Spices at the Hester Street Fair

Sarivole Organic Bakery

Afrodesiac Worldwide – Dresses

Afrodesiac Worldwide – Clutch

Afrodesiac Worldwide – Earrings

The House of Z: a home for creative indulgence

The House of Z, Poetry Books

The House of Z, Vintage Pendant Necklaces

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