Category Archives: food

In praise of April.

NEW YORK STORIES – Food

April Broomfield is a name very familiar to New Yorkers who wish to dine on good honest cooking made from the heart and from a true love of great food. A native of Birmingham, England and having worked at The River Cafe in London, she is the executive chef and co-owner (with Ken Friedman) of The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village, The Breslin and The John Dory Oyster Bar – both at the Ace Hotel in Midtown. I was lucky enough to dine at 2 of her establishments. I also purchased her new cookbook which is a good read and well worth buying.

THE SPOTTED PIG

Located at 314 W. 11th Street @ Greenwich St in Greenwich Village this beautifully decorated gem of a restaurant serves up seasonal British & Italian cuisine using local ingredients whenever possible. It is quite difficult to get into so I chose to get there for a lunchtime treat, there was a line starting up at 11.45  for a 12 noon opening. Whilst sitting on my own I soon engaged in conversation with a lovely couple from Florida at the table next to me, they were there for the same reason – to sample some delicious food from this reputable eatery. The exterior is adorned with herbs and plants which seems to be a signature of April’s establishments whilst the interior is full of paraphernalia related to the pig and various produce that is edging on kitsch but part of the charm of the relaxed space.

I ordered myself a Frozen Moscow Mule cocktail which was a refreshing vodka ginger beer and lime concoction perfect for a warm day. As an appetiser I chose a Devilled Egg a favourite of mine and to have it in a fine establishment was fun. Sitting in a puddle of extra virgin olive oil and scattered with snipped chives, it was delicious and creamy and simple, I scoffed them down as if I was attending a 70’s cocktail party.

Next up was the famed Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese served with an alarmingly large nest of shoestring fries. A fine meat patty cooked rare with a strong cheese to compliment sitting on a light brioche bun alongside a mess of fries flavoured with garlic and rosemary, it was absolutely fantastic and worthy of its reputation. I know my choices were not very adventurous but I wanted to sample and now I know I will return for more. If she can get devilled eggs and hamburger right I know I will enjoy anything served up. After deciding not to order dessert because I was full to pussy’s bow my dear Floridian neighbours offered me a spoonful of their treats and I must say the Flourless Chocolate Cake was a winner, rich and moist and divine, the Creme Brûlée (ordered as a litmus test) was delightful creamy perfection. So off I went into the day to explore the village determined to try out The Breslin next……

THE BRESLIN BAR & DINING ROOM

The Breslin, is situated as part of the Ace boutique hotel at 29th and Broadway. It features a hearty, meat-centric menu that emphasizes artisanal products, small local growers and farmers, and seasonality. It is known for “nose-to-tail” cuisine methodologies and offers handmade terrines, sausages and charcuterie. I entered through another forest of plants adorning the pavement noting the sign above with cute graphic symbols, into what felt like a beer tavern of which a bevy of brews featured on the menu.

I opted for another cocktail of course, known as an “High Violet” – featuring Vodka, agai liqueur, tarragon, lemon juice and soda – yum! yum!

To eat I chose another old time favourite a Scotch Egg, a delicious perfectly cooked soft boiled egg wrapped in juicy pink mince and cooked to a crunchy goodness, it was flavoursome and looked gorgeous when sliced open. Served at the same time was a tasty Seafood Sausage with Beurre Blanc and Chives, another classic, light as a feather and subtly fishy. I have come to realise that Miss Bloomfield creates food I truly love, using fresh tasty ingredients to spruce up old time fare – perfection.

So as you can tell now I am a big fan of April Bloomfield and her food philosophy. I can’t wait to go back to her restaurants and try more from the menu. At least now I have her cookbook as a reminder and as soon as I arrived home I cooked up a delicious lamb shoulder braise (see below) and look forward to cooking more tasty meals from her oeuvre.

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Thursday in the park with Babs.

NEW YORK STORIES

I stood in line to get tickets for a performance of “As You Like It” at the famed Shakespeare In The Park – Delacorte Theatre. It was an amazing evening of theatre and it almost made it to the trifecta but I didn’t like the amplified sound (I guess necessary for an outdoor production?). Sitting amongst the trees on a balmy night as the sun goes down watching Shakespeare’s words performed by a first rate cast (Lily Rabe was outstanding as Rosalind) was a highlight for me. After I scored the coveted free tickets I took a stroll through Central Park  and snapped some pics of park life. What a wonderful hive of activity, a magnificent park easily one of the best in the world.

Enjoy.

The queue for tickets

Supplies whilst I wait including Crack Pie

The coveted ticket

Outside the Delacorte theatre wherefore art thou?

Backstage

Basking in the sun

Off to work we go

The beautiful Bethesda fountain

The Broadway baseball league

Hitching a ride – tourist style

A game of chess daddy?

Time for a nap

Walking the dogs a plenty

row, row, row your boat

Paper in the park

am I on the set of Hair the movie?

On your hands girls

John Lee Beatty’s wonderfully setting for “As You Like It” where one didn’t know where the park ended and the set began.

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Food glorious food, what is it we live for?

NEW YORK STORIES – Food Pt 1.

I love food and I love dining out. New York is a mecca for good affordable eateries, one can be clever and eat at famed dining establishments without breaking the budget. I made it my mission to sample a few. The trick was lunchtime outings sitting at the bar chatting to the excellent bar staff sampling the fare from a cheaper menu sometimes fix prix, smaller portions which was a godsend – it became a regular occurrence on my agenda. Oh and did I mention the fabulous cocktails? Here’s to the ladies who lunch…..

Cocktail with a view at Roberts atop the Museum Of Art & Design (MAD) Columbus Circle

Del Posto, The Dutch, The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, Locando Verde were major highlights. In the early evening a bar sitting afforded you a spot that within a few hours saw hungry diners queueing outside leaving you to head into the night full of fine food and a few tasty cocktails, very jolly indeed!! Famed Minetta Lane Tavern was a superb experience and pizza at Pulinos on East Houston in the East Village along with fresh organic fare at Prune across the road have etched fond food memories on my palate.

I’ll attempt to share a few of those experiences in coming New York Stories food posts – something to salivate over.

Minetta Lane Tavern

April Bloomfield’s acclaimed The Spotted Pig

Herbs aplenty surround the exterior of The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village

The Dutch in Soho, I ventured there 3 times.

A late night pizza at Pulino was my first meal on arrival – bellissimo!!!

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An Oscar feast for 2012

It’s exactly one week away to the Academy Award ceremony. Babs usually plans an Oscar night party  with friends, this year he is going to an industry live event, very excited as nothing beats watching the awards live, and no media block out required.

I had been planning my annual Oscar menu so I will still share it with you even though I won’t actually be doing food this year. As usual I like to tie in theme related treats that correspond to the best picture nominees.

THE ARTIST

The Artist is set in the golden days of Hollywood silent movies full of glamourous film premieres and such, as the movie has been made by the French I thought French champagne should flow.

THE DESCENDANTS

The unique setting of Hawaii has influenced my menu choices – Prawn Cocktail to eat  and a Blue Hawaiian cocktail to drink. (a cocktail soon to appear in the new Australian film “The Sapphires”).

EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE.

I have yet to see the film (it opens in a few days) so I don’t know if there is any significant food items appropriate. As the film is a post 9/11 story  I thought I would make something from the “Windows Of The World” menu – the famed restaurant was atop the twin towers.

THE HELP

Its a no brainer – southern fried chicken – yum yum.

HUGO

A French railway station setting and a cafe  run by Frances de la Tour helped with this choice – macaroons!

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Another French set movie, this time the sophisticated drawing rooms of the artistic and literati – Duck Liver Pate to go with the champagne I think

MONEYBALL

Set in the world of baseball it’s an easy choice – gourmet mini hot dogs!

THE TREE OF LIFE

I disliked this movie so much that I can’t even bother to include an inspired dish to tie in, but if I was to include some food related to it I would say corn as in corny duh!

WAR HORSE

Well as the story goes old nags end up as mince meat – so yummy meatballs are in order with a tomato sugo to represent the blood of war (I know it’s a stretch)

So if you are thinking of having your own Oscar night do then include some of these delicious treats and party away.

 

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Bring on the fried chicken…..

For those of you who may know Babs on a personal level, there is quite an obsession with food on film representation.

Recently (before his sojourn to Vietnam to experience amazingly fresh food that has also become an obsession) Babs watched 2 filmed projects that sparked off an obsession for fried chicken US style.

1. I saw the HBO mini-series “Mildred Pierce” starring the brilliant Kate Winslet in her Emmy award winning role as the chicken frying/waffle making shameful mom of a conceited daughter, kudos to Guy Pearce for his Emmy win also, and the rest of the sublime cast – Mare Winningham, Evan Rachel Wood, Melissa Leo, Brian F. O’Byrne….. directed by a great favorite of mine Todd Haynes. But I digress…there was a sequence where Mildred prepared her famous fried chicken and i just salivated all over the TV screen. thank god for spray’n’wipe!!

2. I also saw the hit US film “The Help”, a very successful Hollywood adaptation of a book about “coloured” maids and their experiences in the 50’s amongst the priveleged white folk, it is very commercial, but in a spot on way that deserves the success it has achieved. Great performances by all, especially Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain. it also featured a chicken frying sequence that had me drooling once again.

So Babs googled and perused until he was happy with the fitting recipe to fry up the chicken for himself.

Here are the results….. sorry for the copious amounts of mashed potato, but it is an American meal after all.

Oh and by the way, I was thrilled that production designer  Mark Friedberg won the Emmy for Mildred Pierce, he is so brilliant, the day he wins an Oscar will be a thrill to Babs –  will celebrate with a Southern fried chicken meal thats for sure.

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I dreamed a dream job.

For some reason I have a case of blogger block. Not interested in reporting anything that’s going on – go figure!

So in this short post I am going to list my 5 top dream jobs.

1. Philanthropist – the joy of giving money to struggling artists/filmmakers/designers etc. would be a dream. Scholarships in my name would be necessary. And of course a lot of charities would benefit. Regarding the gala benefits…. I would of course be in charge of the decor, menus, entertainment and themes. A monster would be born!!!!! (perhaps destroying the true meaning of the word philanthropy?)

2. A Broadway Producer – preferably a musical, but I wouldn’t say no to a play. I would like a hand in the casting and the composer and the book writer and the design. They all have to be A-grade or have the potential to be,  or forget it!!!

Legendary Broadway producer David Merrick – a tyrant? a genius?

3.  A novelist – a great storyteller with a gift for language and form. A playwright would be a dream too. I admire writers the MOST. A screenwriter is another story – imagine my words ruined by an egotistical director and a cast of actors, of course if they are Judy Davis and the like I would accept the changes.

A favourite author of mine – Donna Taart author of The Secret History & The Little Friend

4. A cheese-maker because they are blessed (especially if of the  washed rind variety).

Smelly cheese is the best!

5. A humble person living off the land, procuring produce and the likes amongst the locals, inviting friends and family and guests to enjoy food and wine and walk amongst nature, warm fires, good food, oh what heaven!

A rare appearance – Babs amongst the veggies

Babs and her girls. (ignore the film lighting stands – darn those gaffers!)

Feed your friends good old-fashioned meat

 

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An Oscar Feast

I like to choose the food for my Oscar party to relate to the nominated best pictures. now that there is an annoying 10 nominees it has become a feast!

Here is my menu for this year……

127 Hours & Winter’s Bone – Marinated Chicken Drumettes (bone exposed) . Why? – well in 127 Hours he cut off his own arm/drummette, and in Winter’s Bone they skin a squirrel, chicken is the best bet, should I serve the drumette with a tomato based, blood like sauce?

The Social Network – Frat Boy food, I guess they would like Nachos? at my party – corn chips with a delicious home made salsa & guacamole

True Grit – I wanted to make a bean & meat stew but thought it was too much, so I will group it with the Social Network as it is Tex/Mex food and Matt Damon played a Texan.

Black Swan – well a fellow party guest made a brilliant suggestion and is making an over the top pink frosting cake, or cupcakes, a tribute to Barbara Hershey’s momma’s creation which she almost binned. Thank you SS x

The King’s Speech – I am planning on Gin jelly shots, a tribute to the Queen mum (played brilliantly by Helena Bonham Carter), as we all know, the Queen mum loved her gin, and a bet on the horses!

The Kids Are All Right – another Oscar party guest is making an organic LA food inspired salad (I am excited to taste this one), based on the fact that Mark Ruffalo’s character owned and ran a trendy LA Organic restaurant. Thanks Doris!

Toy Story 3 – a bowl of gummy bears will suffice. 3 packets as I bet they are popular.

Inception – I will design my own cocktail, as it is MY dream in MY head, I plan to add an architectural touch to the design of the cocktail. I smell a bloody mary, celery has a strong sense of design, don”t you think?

Gin shots and bloody marys! oi voi!

The Fighter – well I am obsessed with perfecting the perfect Cauliflower cheese, so be it!

Cauliflower ears from boxing – get it?

My dear friend Liz Watt’s will be in the audience cheering on our Jacki Weaver for “Animal Kingdom”.

So the “Animal Kingdom” Oscar dish?  I think it is well covered with chicken drumettes , and tomato sauce blood.

It is sure to be a fun night, I hope we don’t all vomit by the end.

Pictures to be posted after the fact.

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