Aer Lingus â€“ the new low fares airline are now offering such tempting deals to New York that growing numbers are whizzing over to the Big Apple just for the weekend. The low dollar makes it very tempting to indulge in a little retail therapy. New York â€“ the thrilling city that never sleeps has endless temptation for everyone, art lovers, theatre buffs, museum aficionados and of course gourmands.
The restaurant scene is overwhelming and one could doubtless eat at a different restaurant, every day for not just months, but years.
Many of the hottest restaurants at present are owned by Mario Batali and Jo Bastianich. I couldnâ€™t believe my luck this year when I made a chance phone call from the taxi on my way in from Kennedy and managed to get a table at Babbo. The Zagat Guide gives it a cool 27 out 0f 30 for â€œpushing the culinary envelopeâ€ with their robust adventurous Italian food. They go on to remark that getting a table is akin to winning the â€˜powerball lotteryâ€™, Mario does lots of his own cured meats â€“ food was terrific â€“ as good as a trip to Rome.
Its almost as difficult to swing a table at its sister restaurant Lupa. Here Jason Denton joins the other two and the robust Italian food again draws throngs of people.
Jason has also opened Inoteca 98 Rivington Street, a wine bar with 300 wines and great panini, salads and dolce on the East side â€“ a larger version of Ino my fave breakfast spot in New York â€“ I dream about their legendary truffled egg dish.
Tom Colicchio, another hot shot chef is still doing brilliantly at Craft, a restaurant which serves the food family style, down the centre of the table, I ate there on my last trip but couldnâ€™t get a table for love or money this time. So I ate in the new venture next door, !Witchcraft, a soup and sandwich bar where I ate a memorable corned beef, sauerkraut and Gruyere toasted panini. Balthazar â€“ Keith McNallyâ€™s buzzy Soho brasserie, remains an energising spot to have breakfast, lunch, dinner or a post midnight bite.
For Latino, book a table at Calle Ocho and Nobu for exquisite Japanese food and almost guaranteed celebrity sighting.
Food shops to check out are Dean & Deluca, Zabars, Balduccis, Citarella, Wholefoods Supermarket, E.A.T. and Eliâ€™s Vinegar Factory. Donâ€™t miss the Carnegie Deli for skyscraper sized sandwiches and crusty service. For cheese lovers, Artisanal Cheese Centre, 500W 37th Street where 200-250 cheeses are aged and matured to the peak of perfection is also a must. Murrayâ€™s cheese shop in the village is another gem.
My newest discovery was The Spotted Pig in 314 West 11th Street, open for just four weeks. Here, April Bloomfield late of River CafÃ©, cooked the best meal of this visit. This new arrival doesnâ€™t take bookings so try to make by 6pm if you are averse to queuing. The River CafÃ© Chocolate Nemesis was, dare I say it, almost more sublime than the original.
These are just a few places to whet your appetite â€“ best thing is to buy a Zagatsâ€™ restaurant guide and a copy of New York Magazine when you arrive.
Cookbook lovers shouldnâ€™t miss Kitchen Arts and Letters, 1435 Lexington, where Nat Waxman has over 13,000 food and wine books. Kitchen shops are many and varied, most legendary is Bridge on
Seek out Broadway Panhandlers, where I recently did a cookery demonstration, has a mouth watering selection of kitchen gadgets etc. and finally, keen cooks should contact De Gustibus at Macyâ€™s to check out the schedule of the cookery school which includes a glass of bubbly and wine to pair with each course.
Finally, I just have a few lines to mention the Farmers Market down in Union Square â€“ not to be missed, particularly on Saturday â€“ thatâ€™s just a little bite of the Big Apple.
Shrimp in Spiced Phyllo with Tomato Chutney
(From â€˜Flavorâ€™ by Rocky Dispirito, published by Hyperion, New York, 2003)
4 tablespoons (Â½ stick/2oz) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
Â¾ cup finely chopped tomatoes
1Â½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
3 cup chopped fresh coriander
3 teaspoon salt
10 hazelnuts, shelled
4 sheets phyllo (filo) dough
2 teaspoons garam masala
12 medium raw shrimps, shelled and deveined
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add ginger and shallots and sautÃ© for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar, lime juice, coriander, and salt, and cook until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Taste the chutney and add more lime juice or salt if desired. (The chutney can be made a few days in advance and refrigerated.)
Preheat oven to 375F/190C/ mark 5.
Heat a sautÃ© pan over medium-high heat. Add hazelnuts and cook, shaking pan continuously until they look and smell toasted. Use a kitchen towel to gently rub skins off. Finely grind cooked nuts.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Roll out a sheet of phyllo onto a clean counter, and brush with half the melted butter. Keep phyllo pile covered with a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out. Sprinkle with half the garam masala and half the ground nuts. Place second phyllo sheet squarely over the first. Brush with butter, saving a bit to be used later, and sprinkle with remaining garam masala and hazelnuts. Cut phyllo stack crosswise into 8 equal strips. (The strips should measure 1-2 inches in width.) Place a shrimp at the end of a strip and roll it up, changing the direction as necessary to totally envelop the shrimp. Repeat with remaining shrimp, and place rolls seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Dab tops of rolls with butter. Bake until golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
Dollop some chutney over each roll and serve right away.
Bittersweet Chocolate SouffleÂ
Payard Bistro on New Yorkâ€™s Upper East Side â€“ from The New York Restaurant Cookbook â€“ published by Rizzoli, New York, 2003
Serves 8 6 tablesp. soft unsalted butter â…“ cup plus 2 tablesp. sugar 7 ozs high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped 1 tablesp. crÃ¨me fraiche 4 eggs, separated, at room temperature 3 egg whites, at room temperature Â½ teasp. cream of tartar unsweetened whipped cream, optional Using about 1Â½ tablespoons of butter, generously brush the insides of 8 (6 ounce) ramekins with butter. Place them in the freezer and chill for 15 minutes. Brush with another 1Â½ tablespoons of butter. (Preparing the ramekins should use 3 tablespoons of the butter). Use the 2 tablespoons of sugar to coat the insides of the ramekins. Tap out any excess. Place the ramekins in the refrigerator. Place remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and the chocolate in a 1 quart metal bowl over simmering water in a saucepan, or in the top of a double boiler. Melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Whisk in the crÃ¨me fraiche. Transfer the mixture to a 4-quart bowl and set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the 4 egg yolks into the cooled chocolate mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat the 7 egg whites at low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until softly peaked. Gradually add the remaining â…“ cup sugar and beat at medium-high speed until stiffly peaked but still glossy. Using a large rubber spatula, fold a scoop of the beaten whites thoroughly into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites.
By Eli Zabar from â€˜The New York Restaurant Cookbookâ€™
Serves 12 3 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for kneading and rolling Â½ teaspoon salt Â¾ cup granulated sugar 1Â½ cups (3 sticks (1 stick =3Â½ oz) cold unsalted butter, diced 3 egg yolks 1 whole egg 1Â½ cups good raspberry jam 1Â½ pints fresh raspberries sifted confectionersâ€™ (icing) sugar whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream, optional Place the flour, salt and granulated sugar in a food processor. Pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse just until the mixture is crumbly. Lightly beat 2 of the egg yolks and the whole egg together. Add them to the food processor, then pulse until a dough starts to form. If the mixture is too dry to gather into a ball, sprinkle with a little cold water and pulse again. Briefly knead the dough, flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it at least an hour. Roll out the dough to a thickness of â…› inch on a floured surface. Cut as many 5-inch diameter circles as you can. The first roll should yield about 9 circles. Reroll your scraps and youâ€™ll be able to cut out 3 more. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment. Spread 2 tablespoons of the jam in the centre of each pastry circle, leaving a Â½ inch border. Fold the border over, pleating it as you go, so each crostada has a pastry border and a jam centre. Beat the remaining egg yolk with a tablespoon of water and brush this wash on the pastry edges. With a wide, flat spatula, arrange the crostadas on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F (200C/mark6). Place the crostadas in the oven and bake until theyâ€™re golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pastries from the pan to a rack to cool. Arrange fresh raspberries over the jam, standing them closely at attention. Dust with confectionersâ€™ sugar and serve. Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream alongside? Why not! Hot Tips New York Restaurants - Babbo â€“ 110 Waverly Place (between MacDougal St & 6th Ave.) 212 777 0303 Lupa â€“ 170 Thompson St. (bet. Bleecker & Houston Sts.) 212 982 5089 Inoteca â€“ 98 Rivington St. Ino â€“ 21 Bedford St. (bet. Downing St & 6th Ave.) 212 989 5769 Craft â€“ 43 E. 19th St. (btw. Bâ€™way & Park Ave.S.) 212 780 0880 & !Witchcraft next door Balthazar â€“ 80 Spring St. (bet. Bâ€™way & Crosby St.) 212 965 1414 Calle Ocho 446 Columbus Ave (bet 81st & 82nd Sts) 212 873 5025 Nobu â€“ 105 Hudson St. (bet. Franklin & N. Moore Sts) 212 334 4445 The Spotted Pig â€“ 314 West 11th St. Nationwide Search for Irelandâ€™s Top Young Restaurant Manager â€“ leading wine merchant Grants of Ireland, recently called on restaurant visitors across Ireland to nominate their favourite young restaurant manager for the Rosemount Young Restaurant Manager of the Year Award 2004. Nomination forms can be found in the March edition of Food & Wine magazine and from Grants of Ireland Limited directly. Tel 01-6304100. Deadline for nominations is Friday 30th April. So nominate your favourite young professional young restaurant manager who goes that extra mile to ensure you enjoy the best dining experience and makes you want to go back again, and again. First prize will include an all-expenses paid trip for 2 to Australia. Cooking for special occasions â€“ We are regularly asked for recipes for special occasions, Confirmation, First Communion, Christenings, Weddings, Birthdays â€“ so we are offering a 2Â½ day course called â€˜Cooking for Special Occasionsâ€™ â€“ 28-30th April 2004. Tel. 021-4646785 Foolproof Food
Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil Stacks
Serves 4 I spotted these in a deli in New York. If you can find heirloom tomatoes they would look and taste even more delicious. 4 large very ripe but firm tomatoes 2 balls of Buffalo mozzarella 24 fresh basil leaves salt and freshly cracked pepper Slice each tomato into three thick slices, keep together. Slice the mozzarella balls into 4 slices each. Cut a slice off the base of each tomato. Place on a plate, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and a little sugar if not juicy enough. Add a slice of mozzarella, top with a basil leaf, the next slice of tomato. Season as before and continue to sandwich until the tomato is re-assembled. Secure with a long cocktail stick or satay stick. Serve with some crusty bread and a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.