Posts Tagged ‘dining’

Dining Like a President at Blackbarn Restaurant

This past Presidents’ Day, I had the privilege of experiencing a truly presidential meal, thanks to chef-owner John Doherty of Blackbarn restaurant in Manhattan. While the American-inspired restaurant has received numerous accolades for its cuisine and wine for the past four years, it’s this meal that’s truly the stuff of food legends. Through the middle of March, Chef Doherty is sharing his years of creating meals for dignitaries while executive chef at the Waldorf=Astoria in what he’s labelled the World Leader Menu. The dinner is an exceptional experience, served at Blackbarn’s exclusive Chef’s Table in full view of the restaurant’s open kitchen.

The five-course meal that I enjoyed was curated from dishes that had been served to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, George W. Bush,  Bill Clinton and other world leaders, updated for today’s diners with Blackburn’s farm-to-table spin.

Enhanced with wines selected exclusively for the dinner, the meal began with a consommé and ravioli of wild mushrooms and truffles, a rich (and very pretty) presentation that was a wonderful opener on a chilly evening. The paired wine was an interesting Rojac Malvazja, a local variant of malvasia, from the Istrian peninsula in Slovenia. I could imagine the original 1988 inspiration for this mushroom-based dish, the former Chairman of the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics’ Mikhail Gorbachev, smiling with appreciation along with his hosts President Ronald Regan and President Elect George H. Bush.

Two strikingly different main courses followed, a seared Maine diver sea scallop set atop a pillow of potato mousseline and graced with a smidge of Oscetra caviar. The somewhat briny taste blended beautifully with a California grenache blanc and was a favorite of President Clinton in 2000 who happened to be dining at the restaurant the same night that I did. The second entrée, a gift for any meat lover, was a lovely rack of lamb in rosemary jus, served with a medley of salsify, lemon and tomato and an eggplant terrine along with one of my favorite red wines, a deep-hued Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany. The dignitaries who had previously enjoyed this dish were President George H Bush, James Baker, General Brent Scowcroft (the National Security Advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. Bush) and Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom. I felt honored indeed.

A cheese course arrived next, a small portion of triple-cream Brillat-Saverin with a dollop of fig jam and a garden salad as perfect now as it had been in 1985 when it delighted the six leaders of the free world during the 40th anniversary of the United Nations. Dessert, a dreamy chocolate caramel tarte adorned with gold leaf amid a raspberry coulis, also had a connection to the United Nations, as it had been served to President George W. Bush after his address to the United Nations Assembly in 1997. The pièce de résistance, a vintage port from the Douro Valley, was presented with panache and an elaborate opening ritual, befitting its extraordinary 1970 creation.

It is my hope that this meal which honors Presidents Day and the great leaders of the world will become an annual event. I’m excited to return to the NoMad restaurant to absorb more of the striking barn-meets-industrial design, sample Chef Doherty’s other farm-to-table menus, and maybe visit the beautiful wine room downstairs. Or I’ll come back to try another Chef’s Table evening – the menu changes each month and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Blackbarn, 19 East 26th Street, New York, NY, 212-265-5959. http://blackbarnrestaurant.com/

A Weekend Away from NYC: The Hamptons

You may have missed last month’s premier foodie event in the Hamptons, the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs and Champagne tasting showcase, but there’s still much to sample for a weekend in the Hamptons at the tip of New York’s Long Island.

Starting with Art and the Great Outdoors

Peconic Land Trust

The Hamptons have perfected the art of the garden. And while most of the mansion have theirs hidden away behind their unfriendly privets, the Peconic Land Trust has created one that’s open to the public at any time. Bridge Gardens on Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton is the kind of oasis among the Hamptons scene that will make you rethink your plans, even on a sunny beach day. In this decidedly uncrowded setting of multiple flower and vegetable gardens you might feel that you’re in an English garden, one hidden and exclusively yours. In fact, you might have the gardens entirely to yourself, a rarity for New Yorkers. It’s a beautiful place to Zen out and ignore the Hamptons traffic.

Take Me Indoors, It’s Too Hot

The Parrish Art Museum

Museums also offer a respite from the summer heat.  The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill is one of the country’s finest, with a collection of art from local artists. The permanent collection is enhanced by frequently featured exhibits. This summer’s “live” Light Waves exhibit projects videos on the outside of the museum’s distinctive building.  A café and bookstore are welcoming and creative as well.  If you’re in town on August 21, a special Solar Eclipse program in conjunction with the Montauk Observatory will be hosted from 1-4pm on the museum grounds. In Southampton, the Southampton Art Center offers changing exhibits as well as other performing arts programming.

So You Must Be Hungry

Shinnecock Lobster Factory

Dining is one of the pleasures of the Hamptons.  Each town has its local favorites, some with outdoor dining.  For a quick lobster fix, the Shinnecock Lobster Factory in Southampton,  Bay Burger in Sag Harbor, and Canal Café in Hampton Bays have the best lobster rolls around.  At each, you can choose to enjoy your sandwich outdoors or indoors.

Manna in Water Mill

If you like Italian food, you can try secluded Manna in Water Mill or go family-style at La Parmigiana or the casual Paul’s Italian Restaurant in Southampton, where the heroes are large enough to be shared and pizzas by the slice include interesting versions such as Buffalo chicken. Yearling Doppio la Spaggia in Sag Harbor, and this year in East Hampton as well, serves up crudo, pasta, carpaccio and other Italian favorites, each with a special farm-fresh twist. Note: sit outside if you’re sensitive to noise. The North Fork has two Italian eateries worth traveling for: Grana in Jamesport is a rustic, inventive trattoria which plates whatever vegetables are freshest of the moment. Chef Marco Pellegrini of Caci has brought his Umbrian savvy to Southhold to a setting on a farmstead. Here, Chef has a kitchen entirely devoted to pasta making. His green basil tagliatelle is as close to Italian perfection as I’ve ever eaten. Wines, if not from Italy, are all from the North Fork and menus proudly list the local purveyors of the proteins and produce.

For breakfast, two standouts are Hampton Bay’s The Hampton Maid, an inn with a restaurant that only serves breakfast; nearby Orlando’s adds a bit of Costa Rican spice to the dishes at this homey restaurant. Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor is a popular choice for breakfast and lunch as well with Mexican-inflected dishes.

For a restaurant experience that’s more sophisticated, lunch at Sant Ambroeus, Le Charlot or Silver’s in Southampton is casually elegant with Italian, French, and American cuisines respectively.

Calissa in Water Mill

Among the newest restaurants in the Hamptons, Calissa in Water Mill and Kuzo in Southampton will keep you satisfied with their Mediterranean and Japanese-Peruvian flavors, respectively. Save these for a splurge, as the prices are as high as the quality. Book late for Calissa so you can dine to live music.

Wölffer Estate Vineyard

If you love wine, the Hamptons are New York’s answer to the West Coast. The North Fork has 43 vineyards, many of which offer daily tastings. Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Channing Daughters Winery on the South Fork offer two gorgeous settings where you can tour, taste, or enjoy an open-air yoga class.  Pick up a bottle of Wolffer’s acclaimed “Summer in a Bottle Rosé” at their new Drive-thru Rosé Stand if you’re short on time! Wölffer also has two restaurants, Wölffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor and a new one in Amagansett, where you can sample their many varietals as well as enjoy their farm-to-table expertise.

The Maidstone Hotel

Don’t feel like driving? Have a taxi bring you to The Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton. The hotel offers a charming Scandinavian-influenced setting on the town’s historic mall. Here, you can spend the night, drink some fabulous wines and Aquavit, and enjoy the cozy hotel restaurant, all without worrying about joining the car parade on Montauk Highway.

Harlem MeatUp!

Harlem is a great place for dining. Going well beyond traditional soul food places like Londel’s, Sylvia’s, or Amy Ruth’s, the neighborhood now tempts with a variety of eating establishments that compete on many levels with their downtown counterparts.  The Harlem EatUp! Festival invites you to travel uptown to try some of these fine establishments, with dinners sponsored by many organizations and often in conjunction with guest chefs from around the country.  Organized by Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster fame, the first annual Harlem EatUp! Festival takes place May 14-17.

While many of the dining events are sold out (they booked out in a flash!), there are still seven to choose from for May 15. Take a look at these one-time, special-menu events, and jump online before it’s too late.  Book your tickets at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/harlem-eatup-tickets-15321833015?aff=Website

Vinateria

VINATERÍA

VINATERÍA
I love this wine-centric restaurant, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the evening’s international menu by Owner Yvette Leeper-Bueno, Chef Gustavo Lopez, Guest Chef Linton Hopkins and Co-Host Ted Allen, May 15, 6pm $85, 2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd.

The Cecil
Afro-Asian specialties are served in this cool space at 210 W 118th St.  The dinner features the pairing of Chef Joseph “JJ” Johnson and Guest Chef Nick Anderer, May 15, 7pm, $125. Minton’s Jazz Club is just around the corner.

Dinosaur

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
Who doesn’t like the BBQ at this mammoth Harlem institution? On May 15 Chef John Stage joins Guest Chef Ludo Lefebvre at 7pm for a rollicking feast.  $85, 700 W 125th St.

Jin Ramen
There was no way Harlem could escape the Ramen craze.  Jin Ramen’s third restaurant is located at 3183 Broadway.  The evening features Owner Richard Kashida, Chef Mark Viloria together with Guest Chef Preston Clark, May 15, 6pm, $85

Madiba Harlem

Madiba Harlem

Madiba Harlem
The May 15 dinner at this South African restaurant is hosted by South African Tourism, with a special meal by Chef Mark Henegan and Guest Chef Ken Oringer, 7pm, $85, 46 W 116th St.

Settepani
Although desserts are the specialty, the cuisine here is Mediterranean and Italian in focus. The evening showcases the trio of Chef Antonino Settepani, Guest Chef Angelo Sosa, and Mixologist Karl Franz Williams of 67 Orange Street. May 15, 6pm, $85, 196 Malcolm X Blvd.

Bier International
You can keep it casual at Bier International, a beer hall with a menu of brats, beers from around the world and other German bites. The special evening pairs Partners Chris Pollok and Ousmane Keita with Guest Chef Amanda Freitag, 2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd.  May 15, 6pm, $125

The 5 and Diamond
Now five years old, The 5 and Diamond serves New American food in Lower Harlem.  The May 15 evening features Chef Joseph Hayes III and Guest Chef Marvin Woods. 6pm and 8:30pm seatings are available. $85. 2072 Frederick Do

5 and Diamond

The 5 and Diamond

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