Food Matters

It all started yesterday at lunch at Rubirosa, the amazing thin crust, Staten island-style pizzeria in Soho, with two big pies and toppings, respectively, of anchovies, little meatballs, arugula, and mushrooms.  Not only is this pizza among the best in the US of A, but?  But the pizzeria takes reservations.  Pull up a seat, have a draft IPA, and dig in.

Later, much later, a bread run to Hell’s Kitchen @ Sullivan Street Bakery and drinks @ West Bank Cafe: Ice cold Plymouths, up, olives, bone dry, stirred not shaken.

And then ESCA: Crudo, oysters, grouper, bigoli with walnuts and sardines, squid ink pasta.  No better restaurant anywhere.

And now this A.M.: A long walk down Houston to pick up @ Russ & Daughters: Nova, belly, “pastrami-style,” dozen poppy and everything, horseradish cream cheese.

On the way back, through the ever expanding Chinatown, and a dragon dance either to celebrate New Year’s or a kid’s Bar Mitzvah.

 

Flurries @ 21

Flurries visible from the 21st Floor here in TriBeCa and the slate Hudson within view. Just back from my daily three mile run, and looking forward to Rubirosa and later: Esca.

Yesterday, lunch @ Babbo was wonderful, and included beef cheek ravioli and branzino and clams with linguine.

Last night, a long walk to the LES yielded Mission Chinese: Crazy good wings, ma pa tofu, kung pao pastrami, pickled vegetables, and cumin seared lamb. Rap in the room, tats on the arms.

Captured by Pirates?

I’m not sure if they were pirates, I mean it’s not as if they announced it or wore uniforms, but I will say that the earthy tones of their speech, the eyepatch on one of them, and a peg leg were suggestive.

That’s my explanation for yesterday’s absence.

V-Day dinner was American waygu from DeBragga in burger form with melted Emmental on a Hi-Rise bun and Lynch Bages ’98.

Today it’s Babbo, Mission Chinese, and tomorrow Rubirosa and Esca.

TriBeCa for two nights, hold the cold.

Back of the House Update

Two rather lovely reviews today, one in Concord Monitor and the other at a good food blog, and they tell me–the voices–that the book is #49 in national sales on a list about cooking.

Meanwhile, today @ 2:30, taping commences with the extremely estimable radio station, KCRW, out of Los Angeles, California. Don’t you like the sound of that? Los Angeles, California.

Yesterday I finished reading, “A Private Matter,” by Kenzaburo Oe: Wow, what an astonishing novel. It was as if Villard and Camus and Celine were channeled into Japanese consciousness and the noise and clamor of the French writers was burnished in parts and replaced in parts by excruciating silence.

OK, it wasn’t sushi, but let’s be honest, shall we?

Speaking of things Japanese, I’m sure you’ve heard the news that Kajitsu is moving from the East Village to Murray Hill. No doubt to sate my Japanese brothers and sisters working midtown and the U.N. But am I the only one who will miss their funky downtown location?

Burger Heaven

I’m not certain that burgers existed in Bible times, but if I had to bet I’d say: Yes, yes they did. You know, here in Boston, burgers–and now pizza–are taking pride of place. And why not, gosh darn it! At the end of the day, after the parade is over and the streets are swept, is there anything more satisfying than a burger and an ice cold gin martini, bone dry, stirred and not shaken?

Rather than drop a Jackson at a restaurant, why not order the best beef in the world and make burgers at home? We don’t need restaurants for burgers, we need them to cook food that has depth, uses ingredients that you can’t get elsewhere readily, and creates memory through refinement and seasonality, whether it’s a dog at Sully’s to herald Spring or some fancy-pants white truffles at Esca.

Meanwhile: I ordered five pounds of U.S. waygu from DeBragga and it arrived today and my sweetheart is in for a surprise on V-day. This is delicious, high in fat beef that sizzles on the pan or grill, and served rare with melted Emmental on a toasted bun from Hi-Rise?

Taste of Biblical proportions!

Stormy Monday

Do you love this foggy, rainy, overcast weather? I sure do. All that’s needed is Bogart and SF and a pretty girl with eyeglasses and a “CLOSED” sign. Either that or monkeys in pine trees like we saw two summers ago in northwestern India a mere 200 or so miles from Pakistan.

Meanwhile, closer to home, as snug as a bug, reality is that I’m working on a story for Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia about Japanese beef, trying to stay conscious, and getting ready to fold laundry, make turkey chili with red beans, and build a fire.

But did you know behind every great meal is a great tragedy?

Stay tuned.

A Lull in the Storm

OK, yes, BACK OF THE HOUSE has been #1 in Kindle-Professional Sales since 2/5/13, and, yes, it’s #5 in Books-Professional Cooking, and right now we have a lull in the action.

What does it all mean?

To the dogs, it signifies that the next book could be about puppies. Why not? Why not describe the richness and vitality of cute, little dogs?

For some humans, what lies ahead? KCRW in L.A. and WBUR in Boston. A rumor of a piece in The Boston Herald.

Here’s the question: Is it the calm before the storm or the calm after the storm?

In other words: Is Paris in France or is France in Paris?

The News from Nome

Two feet of snow, which in Japan is called yuki, and still it’s falling relentlessly, remorselessly, and with laser-like focus. (Have you ever seen remorseful snow? Not a pretty sight. No, by no means, no.) Out in the park, ’round 8 A.M., with the two dogs, who were like dirty clothes in the rinse cycle, tossing and turning and made mad by the depth of the yuki (both inu are learning Japanese): They could scarcely move–the white was like nature’s straightjacket.

Returning from the park, I single-handedly dug out the steps, the small front walk, and the sidewalk in front of the house. I put shovel to yuki in the driveway and had an epiphany: Time to go inside and squeeze blood oranges, fry Father’s Kentucky bacon, and make French toast with Challah from Hi-Rise doused with maple syrup, dark and unctuous and flavorful Grade “B” (better than “A”), from Vermont.

Suddenly a message: Back of the House is still at #1 in Kindle Professional Cooking, #4 in Kindle Gastronomy, and #14 in Books Professional Cooking.

An interview with the wonderful Mary Jones in Connecticut yesterday may have added to the numbers. She was like the next door neighbor of my youth: Chipper! Her two callers were fun, too. The first person wanted to say that “Moet” should be pronounced with the “T,” with which I have no issues, being grown up and all, and speaking only enough French to avoid arrest.

Although French or no French, had it been the Rafle du Vélodrome d’Hiver, I’d have boarded that train. Woo-hoo, all aboard.

The second caller was drunk. 4:30 and slurred speech! Had she been drinking Moet or Gilbey’s?

The snow, it beckons, like a wraith…

Back of the House: Storms, Radio in Oz!

“It’s the end of the world, it’s the end of the world, it’s the end of the world,” sang the assistant manager of Shaw’s supermarket this early A.M., around 7:45, as he moved shopping carts gleefully under the store’s eaves.

Inside Shaw’s: Empty refrigerator cases that once held ground turkey, beef, and pork. Faces of shoppers that looked like the extras in James Cameron’s movie of the Titanic. I snagged two packages of Aidell’s chicken sausages, a box of Corn Flakes, and a bag of dog food and headed over to Hi-Rise where the la-di-da crowd was acting as if they were between visits to the bank.

The snow had not yet hit and even now it’s falling as if with trepidation, as if to say: “I know you love me, but are you sure you want me to move in?”

The dogs have been walked enough and clamor for more.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the very estimable Michael Mackenzie of the Australian Broadcasting Company, their version of the BBC and NPR, ran a stunning, almost nine minute long interview with me about BACK OF THE HOUSE, calling the book as lively, “as a novel,” and ending the piece with a snarky comment about the subject of the restaurant written about as, “looking for a sous chef.”

Here’s the link: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rnfirstbite/if-you-can27t-stand-the-heat/4506670.

Wood brought in, steak from the astonishing DeBragga ready to be grilled, bring it on.