Monday, March 10, 2008

48-Hour Food Journal

I recently travelled to New York for a business meeting. I ate way too much. The following is my 48-hour food journal

Wednesday

8:20 p.m.: Checked into the Soniat House hotel in the French Quarter the evening before an early-morning flight to New York. I now have a new favorite hotel in New Orleans— great courtyard, great rooms, high ceilings, and a balcony overlooking Chartres St.

8:30 p.m.: Dinner at Stella restaurant across the street from the Soniat House. I have been trying to eat here for several years. Possibly the best gnocchi and risotto dishes I have eaten this decade. Subtle. The restaurant’s cuisine is probably classified as new American or continental fine dining, but a strong Japanese influence runs through most of the menu. The Pan-Roasted Pacific Walu with Hot Buttered Popcorn Crust, Louisiana Crawfish and Local Corn Maque Choux were a highlight.

Thursday

7:35 a.m.: JetBlue flight to JFK uneventful. Satellite TV in every seat, I love this airline.

11:35 a.m.: Landed at JFK, took a cab straight to my 1 p.m. business meeting at Landmarc restaurant in the Time Warner building. Surprised to learn that the person I flew to New York to meet— and the Editor-in -Chief of the magazine— is originally from Natchez. This might be the first business meal where I was more concerned about the conversation than the food. I had ham and gruyere on grilled country bread— good but not memorable.

6:25 p.m.: Hors d’ oeuvres on the top floor of the Hearst Building with more magazine types. Great view and excellent food from expatriated Carolinians, Matt and Ted Lee, of The Lee Brothers Cookbook and Peanut Catalogue fame. Even 46 floors in the air, it tastes like home.

11:30 p.m.: Post-theatre dinner at Blue Ribbon in SoHo. This, too, has been on my need-to-visit list for a few years. There’s a great raw bar here, but I opted for the Hanger Steak with wild mushrooms because I never get to eat that cut of beef back home. Hanger steak is extremely flavorful. It’s often called “butcher steak” because it’s the cut that the old-line butchers saved for themselves.

1:30 a.m.: Slept hard at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Ian Schrager’s newest concept hotel. The lobby smells like a wood-burning fireplace 24 hours a day. The wife loves it. I have a new favorite hotel in New York.

Friday

9:45 a.m.: Breakfast at Balthazar in SoHo. I made a promise to myself that on this trip I was only going to eat in restaurants in which I hadn’t visited. I broke that promise on the first morning in the city. I usually eat at Balthazar for late-night, post-theatre meals. A lot of the city’s chefs hang out there after their shifts are over. Breakfast in this place is great. The bustle feels more like “New York” than any other place I visit in town. The Scrambled Eggs in Puff Pastry with Wild Mushrooms and Asparagus are almost worth the three-hour flight, alone.

1:30 p.m.: Lunch at The Modern. Check another one off of the To-Do List. Danny Meyer is the most talented restaurateur in the country. I have eaten at all of his restaurants except this one. The Modern is located on the first floor of the Museum of Modern Art and the food’s presentation is as artful as the works hanging in the galleries above. The Chilled Maine Lobster Salad with Soy Sprouts and Button Mushrooms in a Lobster Vinaigrette was a highlight, as was the Chorizo-Crusted Chatham Cod with White Coco Bean Puree and Harissa Oil. Long live Mr. Meyer.

10:45 p.m.: Post-theatre dinner at Nobu 57 with my agent and other assorted New Yorkers. Nobu Matsuhisa is the ninja master of sushi. The original New York restaurant, Nobu, is a tough ticket, but Nobu 57 is an easily made reservation, and the food is just as good. Again, I broke my vow of not visiting a restaurant I had previously visited. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit, and a lover of great food. Nobu is tops. The Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño is a signature dish and not to be missed. The miso-glazed fish craze started here. The surprise hit of the dinner— though slightly out of place on a Japanese menu— were the crab and ceviche miniature tacos.

1:30 a.m.: Called the front desk and requested a 5 a.m. wake-up call. Slept hard with a full belly and a renewed soul. Bring on the diet.


Black Eyed Pea Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli


1 Tbl bacon grease, or canola oil
1 /4 cup red pepper, finely diced
1 /4 cup red onion, finely diced
1 /2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1 /2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp. cumin
1 /4 tsp creole seasoning
1 /2 tsp salt.

3 cups black-eyed peas, cooked
3 /4 cup Japanese bread crumbs
2 eggs

1 /4 cup olive oil

1 /4 cup Sour Cream
1 /4 cup roasted red peppers, Small diced


Melt the bacon grease over medium heat and cook onions, red pepper, garlic and seasonings for four to five minutes. Remove from the heat.

Place two cups of black-eyed peas with eggs into a food processor, and puree until smooth.

Remove from processor and place processed peas in a mixing bowl. n a separate bowl. Add vegetables, bread crumbs and remaining cup of whole peas, stirring gently. Firmly form the mixture into one-ounce cakes and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large nonstick sauté pan, heat one to two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Gently place the cakes into hot pan, and brown on both sides. Add more oil as needed.

Once all cakes are brown, place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes.
Top each black-eyed pea cake with a small dollop of sour cream and a few pieces of diced roasted peppers.

Yield 20

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