Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dinner on the Farm - September 27th 2008

On Saturday 27th September Chefs Maryann Terillo (Jarnac Restaurant - chef/partner) and Elisa Sarno (Babbo) will be cooking the monthly Farmfresh dinner at Guy Jones' Blooming Hill Farm in upstate New York. (By upstate we're talking 1 hour away - Blooming Grove not Niagara Falls!)

This, as always, is going to be a blast - the tour of the farm starts at about 5.30, followed by a 5 course vegetarian dinner based around whatever ingredients are available on the farm at the time - paired, of course, with some great wines and accompanied by some of the herbs picked fresh from the beds that you've just walked past on the way to the barn.

If you still think that local and vegetarian sounds a bit dubious (organic at that!), this is a great opportunity to prove yourself wrong and who better to do it with than Maryann, Elisa and Blooming Hill Farm owner and host Guy Jones, recently written up as one of a handful of local Farmers' with cult New York followings in a New York Magazine Article.

Those in the know have been attending these monthly dinners for over 6 years - that's why you'll be joining 60 or more localvores who are all there for the same reason - great local produce, great company, great chefs and most of all a great time!

Tickets for this event should be bought directly from the farm - 845-782-7310

You could make a weekend of it as there are a number of attractions like: The Storm King Art Center, Dia:Beacon, West Point Military Academy, and Woodbury Common Premium Outlets (not quite sure how that got in that list!) and some great hiking/outdoor activities in the area.

Hope to see you there!



Phyllo wrapped feta and green olives

Pecorino Romano shortbread

Pumpkin – raisin Foccacia


Platter of pickled, steamed, baked and roasted vegetables with country bread


Goat Cheese and Tarragon Custard with Roasted White, Gold and Candy Cane Beets

Garnished with Roasted Walnuts with Brown Sugar and Ancho Chili


Mushroom Consommé with Wild Mushrooms, Roasted corn and Lima Beans


Lasagna made with Hand cut Noodles Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini and Wild Mex Tomatoes


Local Cheese Course (TBA)


Polenta Cake with Honey Roasted Quince and Bartlett Pears

Here are a few useful links:

Storm King Lodge

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rooftop Eating

So here come the last days of summer and my thing is, where can I eat on a roof? - I'm done with sitting outside on sidewalks breathing in the fumes from the traffic.

I remember this being a big thing in Istanbul of all places - it's quite something, you arrive at these dingy looking apartment blocks hidden down equally squalid streets. In the hallway is a doorman cum bouncer who calls for the 2 man elevator that you squeeze in to and which whisks you up to the top floor.

On the roof top it couldn't be more different -this is where the beau monde hang out. The views are stunning, the cocktails are exquisite and the food is great - and by our standards it's not that pricey.

There are quite a few of these rooftop bars and restaurants perched on top of regular apartment buildings in Istanbul. I think that maybe in New York some of them might have a few issues with Health and Safety, but surely in a city with such a great skyline and that is so obsessed with the vertical that there should be a few more of these here - and not just on top of the 5 star hotels and exclusive membership only clubs! Maybe there are and I just don't know about them - any clues?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Closed for Vacation

We've just closed the restaurant for a week as we do every year on the week before labor day. Ironically, but not uncommonly of course, we had our busiest 3 days of the summer before we closed - go figure!

The reasons for closing are mixed. It forces us all to take a break from each other which is well needed especially after the summer doldrums. It allows us to make repairs and repaint the restaurant. It gives us the chance to take a step back and think more about the bigger picture and less about the day to day challenges (hence the blogging!!) and at the end of the day it might even save money - Now how can that be?

Summers in New York are notoriously dead - many of our customers in the West Village have or know someone who has a house in the country so weekends, usually our busiest times, become very slow - good thing to know if you've been looking for that hard to get reservation all year. Weekdays can pick up a bit and Thursday definitely becomes the new Friday and Sundays get a little crazy, but that's not enough to make up for the weekend drop off.

Overheads on the other hand go soaring! Even without the utility companies' efforts to double our bills, the summer is a killer - air-conditioning costs are huge, refrigeration is tested to its limit (this is the time of year when everything breaks down if it's going to) and the crew still need to be paid even if you have less customers.

So instead of watching your dollars fly out of the air conditioning unit and straight out the door whenever the stray customer comes in (or the front of house go out to pace the sidewalk in frustration!), why not give everyone 1 week of their vacation allowance now and have a refreshed team ready for the fall and the busy holidays? - sounds good to me - I just wish we could do it the European way and take the whole month!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's with that Bottle?

So last night we had an interesting situation. We ordered a bottle of Burgundy which was absolutely delicious ( we preceded that with a Chinon Rose - also worth a try) and then ordered another bottle of the same wine - a Chenas 2006.
The second bottle did not have the same quality of taste as the first and all four of us at the table agreed - the somelier then tasted it and said it was fine.
In a funny way it was - it didn't really deteriorate like a corked wine would after it's been opened - it just didn't have the yummyness of the first bottle and to be fair it was disappointing but drinkable.
This of course led to a discussion which brought up some questions about wine service, the most pertinent of which was:
Just because a customer doesn't like a wine, should the restaurant take it back and open a new or different wine?
I say yes in most circumstances as long as the customer is not taking advantage (hmm what does that mean?), although I think it's important for the customer to realize that this is a courtesy thing not a pre-requisite - when drinkers order a particular wine they are not tasting it it to see if they like it but to see if it's corked. Also maybe get them to taste it in a different glass (it could be the glass!).
Other things that came up in conversation were whether the modern diner likes to have her/his wine poured for them/the whole fad of wine doggy bags and over-pouring and upselling.