Just did a nice salad with the maple flakes

It turned out lovely. People were surprized and they loved it. BTW, it’s the Benjamin Steak House that was the problem at the Dylan. I promise, I’ll do a review of the Dylan and the “buffet breakfast” we had at the Benjamin Steak House.

Perilla: Harold Dieterle’s new restaurant, from Top Chef to Top Restaurant

The long and short of it was that it was great. You must go there. You must go to Perilla. It was a great experience. Go. Go now to Perilla at 9 Jones Street (btw. West 4 and Bleecker Sts.) He put that $100,000 to good use.

First off, the host and hostess were exceptional. Fast, efficient and very warm and welcoming. Harold, you scored there. Second, the bartendress not only let me try wines but she was also very good at making suggestions and mixed a mean apricot kir royal. I haven’t even gotten past the bar and Harold, you scored another home run for Perilla. Though, I assume that Alicia Nosenzo had a large hand in the front of the house. Good for you, Harold, bringing Alicia on board.

When we got to our seat, on time, we had arrived early, our waiter was fantastic. He was warm, welcoming, interesting, attentive and seamless. It was the seamlessness that really made me like this guy. Everyone at Perilla was very warm and open. It was a great experience. Keep it up people.

OK. I haven’t even gotten to the eating part and that is where Perilla shines. The food was fantastic. I asked our waiter to give us copies of the menu so I might tell you how good this place was. We didn’t have our camera because we were there on business at the Fancy Food Show.

The first dish I had was the Spicy Duck Meatballs (Okinawa yam gnocchi, water spinach, raw quail egg), which was heavenly and not that spicy. I love duck and I love meatballs and this was a perfect combination. And anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a sucker for a good quail egg. (Remember when fillet Mignon with white truffles and sunny side up quail egg was on the menu? And you know I love Spago’s steak tartare) Kim had the Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly (pea tendrils, trumpets & Banyuls-vanilla gastrique). I’m also a sucker for Banyuls. Well, that, as you could imagine, was great. As good as the one we had at Momofuku. However, I was expecting more crispiness. It’s pork belly and I was wondering how he was going to crisp that. It wasn’t very crispy was the answer. However, it was fantastic.

We both had the Roasted Duckling (mustard greens, corn pudding and huckleberries). Both the corn pudding and huckleberries were sauce like. Very nice. This was a perfectly cooked duck with perfect seasoning. I had it medium rare.

We brought, per usual, chocolates with us and sent them back to Chef Dieterle. He sent out two sides, Faro Risotto (artichoke confit, Parmesan & chili-grape salad) and Creamed Corn (garlic chives & watercress). The creamed corn was indeed creamed corn but the freshest, most delicate creamed corn I have ever had. (Remember when I made cream corn for you, my gentle guests, from just picked fresh corn on the cob? Like that.) The Faro Risotto was in another class altogether. I have not had something this good since I ate Thomas Keller’s Tapioca and Oyster appetizer. It was heaven. It was magical. I would go back just to have the Faro Risotto. Yummer.

Then we had the dessert. That was also great. It was also a kind of thing that Thomas Keller would do. It was Lemon Fennel Donuts (milk chocolate & black plum sorbet). In the center was a white chocolate ganache. Note, that the menu says milk chocolate but our waiter told us white chocolate. So, I’m a little confused. The center was white enough to be white chocolate or a pastry cream. To me it did taste like a rich pastry cream rather than a white chocolate ganache. Pastry cream would have been a little less filling and maybe less cloying. By the third donut, I was super, tamped down full. With the fennel donuts, a black plum sorbet was served. (Here I seemed to remember someone saying red plum, but the menu says black. Help me out here Seth. ) It added a needed counterpoint to the donuts. They were little put they were very deadly. The dessert was worthy of the meal. Yum. So, good job to Seth Caro, the Pastry Chef at Perilla. Good job Harold Dieterle for hiring him. (Next stop, Top Pastry Chef. 😉

To be fair, we were already stuffed from the Fancy Food Show. That’s why I made reservations for 8:00 PM. Perilla was packed and hopping. The decor was very elegant and understated, the way I like it. The tables were wooden and beautiful. I wasn’t sure what wood was used but it was polished to a high gloss. The place was homey and elegant at the same time. I loved it. It was also a little noisy but that noise translated easily into a youthful high energy. Well done, Harold.

We will be going back for a dinner as soon as we are able. That might be awhile. I hope you enjoyed the chocolates, Harold, Alicia and Seth. Oh, btw, Harold was out of the kitchen when we came. He was talking to someone at the bar and not in whites. Very much on the sly, almost clandestine. And an even bigger shocker, we walked out of there, after drinking three drinks, wine, Kim didn’t have dessert, for $112. The two sides we got for free were $8 and $9. So, even if you add those it’s under $130. Is that worth the money or what? The answer is, yes Perilla is more than worth the money. (Kim had some of my dessert.)

And, oh, I did have a Chefgasim. =:-) 🙂

The Algonquin: Magical History in a Hotel

What can I say about the home of Dorothy Parker? Let me just list the round table

Franklin Pierce Adams, columnist
Robert Benchley, humorist and actor
Heywood Broun, columnist and sportswriter (married to Hale)
Marc Connelly, playwright
Edna Ferber, author and playwright
Jane Grant, journalist and feminist (married to Ross)
Ruth Hale, journalist and feminist
Beatrice Kaufman, editor and playwright (married to George S. Kaufman)
George S. Kaufman, playwright and director
Harpo Marx, actor, comedian, and musician
Neysa McMein, magazine illustrator
Dorothy Parker , critic, poet, short-story writer, and screenwriter
Harold Ross, The New Yorker editor
Robert Sherwood, author and playwright
Donald Ogden Stewart, playwright and screenwriter
Deems Taylor, composer
John Peter Toohey, publicist
Alexander Woollcott, critic and journalist

Sigh! I remember the days I’d go to the Algonquin and get the best soft shelled crabs sandwiches or, if I asked, a nice entry of artfully posed soft shelled crabs. Indeed, the kitchen and the bar was in full glory not too many years ago.

I am sad to report that the kitchen is off. They’ve had better days. Someone in that kitchen has a mighty heavy hand on the flavors and the stove top burner off switch. The popovers, a specialty De la Maison here at the Greenville Arms, were burnt. The corned beef hash was burnt. The steak, however, was nicely cooked though I’d like a better crust on it, thank you. It was, however, well seasoned.

The lump crab cake needs some reworking. Way too much guacamole or avocado. It really detracted from the crab. I would have preferred just a small slice of the green fruit.

All in all, it’s still the Algonquin and it is magical. The eggs Benedict, while not back (Canadian) bacon but ham, were still good and the poached eggs are just like I make them, that is, perfect.

Part of going to a hotel, of course, about 50%, is the breakfast, the most magical meal. At the Algonquin, they had beautiful fresh squeezed orange juice. They had beautiful service. The waiters were very good. Hotel Dylan, go send your breakfast/buffet chefs, waiters and staff to eat at the Algonquin. Take notes please. Your breakfast service was horrendous. The Algonquin’s was good.

I rate our breakfast better than the Algonquin’s though I am sure that Dorothy Parker would disagree. But then, Miss Parker, you haven’t eaten here yet. Death, Taxes and Breakfast.

Fancy Food Show

Well, Kim and I just got back from the Fancy Food Show yesterday and we had 50 messages on the phone. We were only gone for 1 full day. Can you imagine?

We didn’t take the camera to NYC but I’ll tell you in one word what it was like, big. There must have been 5 thousand, conservative estimate, vendors. Rows on rows of vendors. We got to sample so many different products. I found a chocolate made with sheep’s milk and one with goat. I’m trying to get it in bulk rondos so I can make chocolates from it. It’s also lactose free, which is very nice.

We also sampled some avocado oils, maple sugar flakes, a thousand cheeses, a hundred olives, a dozen olive oils, a smattering of chocolates, fruits, veggies, hams, other deli meats, waters, yes waters, and plenty of soft drinks. We were expressly looking for some great soft drinks to supplement or replace the ones we have. We also found some great iced teas. Yum.

The maple sugar flakes were interesting. I’m going to incorporate that into some salads and other dishes and see what flavors I can get. I also loved the avocado oil. That was interesting. We didn’t have a plan this time around and just drifted from vendor to vendor. At one point, Kim and I split up. We had a fun time but the place is just too big to wander. We never made it downstairs to the organic pavilion or to any of the focused food tastings or anything like that. Kim took notes in the beginning. Next time, we’ll have to have a solid game plan and I’ll have to prelose about 20 lbs. I only prelost 8 lbs this time.

At the end of three hours the first day, I was full. At the end of 5 hours for the second day, I was stuffed. No wonder I gained so much weight.

We stayed at the Algonquin, yea! and at the Dylan, not so yea, and we ate at Perilla, which was great. I’ll have other articles about the Algonquin, the really bad buffet at the Dylan and their horrible restaurant, and about the great food we had at Perilla. But that will have to wait. I gained seven pounds at the fancy food show! Ouch.

We had fun but fighting the NYC traffic was not fun. Next time, I think we’ll register early, yeah, right, and stay only at the Algonquin or some other hotel. This moving from the Algonquin to the Dylan was for the birds.

Don’t worry. I’ll put in a review of the Algonquin, the Dylan and Perilla. Oh, and we met my brother, Johnny and his girlfriend Carla and my Mom at Me Bar, a great little bar on top of the La Quinta in Korea town. It has a very close view of the Empire State Building. The drinks were cheap and strong and we had a great little rooftop experience. All the trendy people were there, even the great Chef Mark. 😉 I had to give out autographs, ouch, I just pinched myself. Anyway, even without the attraction of the trendy set, which I thought was a little overrated, it was a nice secluded place for a drink in the broiling heat. The view is interesting. It was a real neck bender.