"[A] fantastic blog... which ranges from opinions on food and wine to daily adventures in a culinary-related profession."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Re: Now Magazine Closed

(Continuing the short story series, "The Dish")

On October 4, 2014, at 2:04 PM, jmodley@theworldwide.com wrote:

Hey Lady. How are you??? Busy, busy we are... keep it popping!

P. Bradley: patricia.bradley@hurryupmag                      10/4/14
I'm good, how are you? I can't believe that Now Magazine is no more... we shall see if they come back, but they didn't put out a new issue last week! Sally said we're (Hurry Up!) the big dogs now! I've been so busy--only one day off the last 2 weeks and I've been visiting family on those days. Perhaps the following week we can plan a catch up. There's a NowWorks event on the 20th at the W... we shall see if it happens. But if it does, I plan on attending... to catch up on the gossip!
What have you been up to, Miz? 

On October 4, 2014, at 3:25 PM, jmodley@theworldwide.com wrote:

Child. I am beyond busy. We will make it happen. Yeah, Now got played. It happens. I'm headed to the office. No days off. School or work. But I will catch you one of these nights. Give my love to Amanda.

To be continued.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ladies Who Punch

(Continuing the short story series, "The Dish")

I ALWAYS like things to happen organically. And this morning, they rather did. 

Over a Thai lunch will Sally Sfarnas, I was basically telling her my life story--well, the start of my New York life, 'cause that's the only one that matters--and she was like, You should write that for Hey Ma'am! (Sally had previously interned there and may harbor ill feelings for the magazine since 1. She was fired 2. They used her ideas for a Valentine's Day social which they later hosted.)

More than a year had passed before I got down to penning any sort of piece for Hey Ma'am (the time finally seemed right--rather organically); I put my thoughts down to paper and had my roommate, Amanda look them over. I was forced to submit the piece through an overly complicated online submission portal which included formatting it to The Chicago Manual of Style to the best of my ability. (Yea--I'm not going to do that.) At the end of the process, there was a disclaimer noting: "As of May 2012, Hey Ma'am will no longer provide official rejection letters to denied submissions." Well, thank goodness for that (sarc).

I had to wait weeks, into months, before I'd have any idea whether Hey Ma'am was going to use my piece in their Fall 2014 issue or not. One guideline for submitting to Hey Ma'am was that the submission could not be one that previously had been published online or otherwise. So I had to wait and watch the ticking of my calendar, and leave my story sitting untouched (although there was an underlying temptation to throw copies of it from the tops of midtown, hoping some editor would catch it and insist on publishing it the very next day).

This morning, in-between tapping "snooze" on my iPhone, I saw that Milly Rosenberg (editor at Grip) had a piece on She-Volve about her end of summer habits. My mental list of Publications Which I Should Pitch To took note as I navigated to She-Volve's website, vertically, while still lying in bed. On their home page, not only did they plainly state that they do accept submissions, but there was also a drop-down menu with a link for "stories." Clearly, the first order of the day would be to find out whether or not my short story was going to run in issue 8 of Hey Ma'am.

Post the debacle with Gourmand stealing my idea for their newest "Around Town" column, Shari Crest, editor of what's now called Hurry Up!, hosted a birthday dinner for our in-house gossip columnist, Feruschia Sahlt. Halfway through the dinner, Shari announced--holding up the then latest copy of Journey Fair--that the issue in hand was going to be the last issue. My martini just about fell into my lap. "What?!," I exclaimed aloud.

"Oh, I didn't tell you?" Shari went on to explain that she was launching a new magazine which would be called Hurry Up!--the same name of the smartphone app which she was then developing. As she modeled her demonstration of the Hurry Up! app to eager eyes, nervously clutching their drinks (and their jobs), she navigated to "editorial," then to my column, "The Dishy Missy." And there I was, on the screen of her iPhone, in full pink-and-pearls glory....

Toward the end of the dinner, Now Magazine columnist, Mary Havenshaw showed up, too cool to arrive with any sort of companion in tow. Always a fumbling idiot around her (I once told her that I always say things twice when I'm drunk... then said it again two sentences later), I was trying to recall the name of a particular singer, but all I could manage to spill out was, "A Latina entertainer," while she blankly waited for a moment of fruition. At least this time I smartly decided my outing 'a wrap' and said breakneck good-byes before fleeing the scene--being mindful not to tilt the gin tonic which I was meticulously holding upright in my Journey Fair tote.

To be continued.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ladies Who Punch (Part 2)


P. Bradley
One Opulent Alley
New York, New York 10014

September 30, 2014

Dear Sir or Madam:

     Please find attached my submission for your “short fiction” category for She-Volve Magazine. The submission is and semi-autobiographical piece about the time I worked for Patricia Field in New York City. Currently, I contribute a monthly dining column to Hurry Up! Magazine (Condé Nast). I look forward to your reply!


P. Bradley

Prada Shoes for Nowhere: 
Getting In (and Out) at Patricia Field

by P. Bradley

I once had a friend named Paul, who went by the name of “Cyberboy,” then “Cyberboy Paul,” then eventually just Paul again. The year was 1996 and we both were homeless club kids in Manhattan. Believe it or not, it was trés fashionable at the time (or so it had seemed).

“I could never get a job there—they would never hire me!”

Paul and I were both looking for a day gig (or a night gig, or any gig, for that matter). Paul’s Holy Grail would have been to work at Patricia Field, at its original location on West 8th Street.

“With an attitude like that, they won’t,” I had thought. “Why not?”

“How would I do that?

“You’d just walk in and ask if they’re hiring!” I decided I’d show him how it was done.

The very next day I was on the floor at “Hotel Venus,” Pat Field’s SoHo offshoot, for a try-out. I’d recently gone pink and my day one look consisted of all-white Pumas, wool plaid pants and a pale mint and white baseball tee, all offset with my alarmingly pink pixie-styled do. Could I have afforded more, I would have showed up with more of a “look,” but this all started as a way to prove a point to Paul so I wasn’t completely invested. Also, the ensemble perhaps made me look a bit green… more “malleable” to the needs of the House of Field. At the end of the try-out, I was asked by Hotel Venus’ manager, Monica, how I’d liked it. I’d said that I did and just like that, I was an official House of Field employee.

Paul was aghast. Total disbelief. A week or so later, I’d managed to get him a job at the 8th street store. I’d never seen him so on edge. He had dyed his hair a severe blood red and went in for his first day suited up in his raver best which included a thick navy sweater with three thin, colored stripes running across his chest and upper arms. The look was rather New Jersey if you’d asked me. Toward the end of his first day (I’d gotten him in without so much as a try-out), Pat came down from her apartment, which was located directly above the store, and made her way to speaking with Paul. When we’d met after our corresponding shifts later that day: “Disaster!” Paul’s bulging dark eyes, paired with the red, red hair and his pasty complexion had made for a scary sight. I motioned for him to elaborate.

“Pat came down from upstairs—totally stoned—and came up to me and was like, You’re friends with Pat, right?” (I was picturing in my mind what Paul had probably perceived earlier that evening: Pat making a beeline straight from her bed, directly to “Cyberboy Paul.”)  “Then she asked me what I had to offer!” I can barely remember his response, but I’m sure it was something completely trite in the context of things, something along the lines of, “I’m completely into fashion!” But what I do remember is Pat’s response after Paul had finished bemoaning his manifesto to her. “We’ll let you know if we need you.” Paul had been a member of the legendary House of Field for all of seven hours while I had managed to bring things to full term. Nine months later, I was donning my customary “all grey,” no more.

The 8th street store would often remark about Hotel Venus employees: You all wear grey at Venus! It was the cusp of 1997 and things were starting to shift toward a more austere fashion aesthetic (at least on West Broadway, where the store was located). Several months into my employment at Venus, I’d suddenly shown up to work with shorn hair and it was a 360 from the time when I’d donned pink Japanese tabi socks, paired with all-pink pajamas from  Pearl River Mart, to complement my brightly-colored mop. Around the same time, I was surviving on singular 99¢ bags of cookies per day, as I was trying my “shop girl” best to save up for a $500 pair of Prada shoes—remember the ones with the elastic loops, which you’d pull through a pair of little metal cylinders which would hold the loop in place with the release of a button? Yes, I was depriving myself three meals a day, so that I could soon own a bit of SoHo shop girl status.

I don’t know why I’d wanted those shoes so badly. Perhaps they were a symbol of something I’d be in control of, in what was beginning to feel like unsteady waters. Although Monica seemed to be on my side (most of the time), there were other personalities in the store that I just couldn’t seem to click with (oddly enough, I did click with Sophia Lamar—and she doesn’t like anyone!). Once, I had passive-aggressively stuck a note beneath a coworker’s picture on which I’d written: “I need to take a nap, because I’m very tired” (cut me some slack, I was seventeen); another time, I posted a note stating that everyone should help out with the morning duties (which included scrub-mopping a urine-soaked entryway) before having their morning coffee/breakfast/doing their makeup. But the final message I’d received from the unfavoring fraction of coworkers was when they’d “forgotten” to invite me to Monica’s birthday party. The next day at Venus, Pat inquired directly about my absence at the party. My eyes quickly diverted toward Monica’s, from which I’d perceived the signal: “Don’t say a word!” I sheepishly, stupidly responded that it was my mother’s birthday and that I was with her the previous night. Looking back, I wouldn’t have liked myself either. In all of these situations, while I’d thought that Monica was my friend, she was warning me about retaliating against “very strong personalities.”

By week three of living on bags of ginger snaps, something inside me finally snapped. I’d questioned myself for feigning satiety, to save up for a pair of Prada shoes that would “get ruined” (Monica didn’t want me to have those either) while I would be scrubbing the Hotel Venus stairwell. And as much as I’d thought I’d wanted to be a part of the House of Field, I’d realized that I did not. I didn’t want to be the type of person that would spend weeks starving herself in order to buy a pair of fancy leather shoes. When the labor pains had passed and I had walked through Hotel Venus’ doors one last time, I’d eventually found myself in a quiet room at my parents’ house, outfitted with pristine beige carpeting and curtains that matched the bedspread. It was 1998. I was 19. I was in the middle of nowhere... and the only person in town to own Italian shoes.

P. Bradley is a food writer living in New York City. Her favorite shoes to wear are her Vans.

ONE night over martinis, I asked Amanda if she'd look over my cover letter to She-Volve; she'd spent the better part of her doctorate correcting student papers as a TA, so I knew that her eye would be a fine comb for errors.

"Well the second sentence is weird... and I wouldn't italicize."

"Aren't you supposed to italicize magazines?"

"I'm talking about the sign off."

I took another look at the cover letter and realized that in my harriedness, I failed to notice that Best and P. Bradley were both italicized; also that I had typed, "The submission is and semi-autobiographical piece..." where and clearly should have been an A.

I took a long sip of martini, while Amanda noisily flipped through her copy of the Times (oh--now she reads the paper?)....

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Monday, April 4, 2016

When a Critique Can Be Your Work's Best Friend

HELLO, FBTOT readers! I know. It's been a while.... But I've become saturated with focusing on my column for Odyssey Magazine as well as my new website/blog, TheGayFoodie.com. And recently, I've begun feeling that I ought to "step up my game" in regards to my writing. I'd been working on several side projects including a series of dinner parties--of which the most recent took place at the Jue Lan Club--as well as an upcoming video shoot. Resulting from this, I think I had unwittingly distracted myself from what should always be my top concern: producing quality writing. 

A few months ago, I forwarded a piece I had written about cocktails to a colleague of mine. He seemed unenthusiastic about it (something that I was admittedly not used to) and ultimately, said that I was "scared" (as a writer). Last Tuesday, after the publishing of my latest for Odyssey Magazine, I posted the article on Facebook along with the following remark:

This is my latest REVIEW for Odyssey Magazine. I was recently told that I was "scared" as a writer, so this is me trying to step up my game... I hope you enjoy reading it! #‎realreviews‬ ‪#‎researched‬ ‪#‎multiplevisits‬ ‪#‎starsystem‬ ‪#‎comingsoon‬ 🌟🌟🌟🌟

by Patrick Bradley


Tucked away along a discreet stretch of 24th Street, just a block west of Madison Square Park, is the unassuming, Michelin-starred Junoon. The Indian-cuisined restaurant (whose name implies passion in Hindi) offers “high-toned food” in “a very nice place to spend a few hours, dressed and dining and drinking well” (–New York Times). 

On two recent visits to Junoon, I positioned myself squarely at its long, L-shaped bar in the front “Patiala” room (the only area offering dishes from both the tasting and prix fixe menus, à la carte). On both occasions, I’d enjoyed inventive cocktails that segued me to equally creative plates at dinner. If you can manage to hold your bartender’s attention, he or she will build for you luxe libations like Time After Thyme—a sexy gin cocktail topped with champagne foam and a sprig of fresh thyme—or if gin’s not your thing, the Sparkling Saffron with saffron-infused simple syrup and sparkling wine is always a crowd-pleaser.

With the Patiala room’s dinner menu, even the most indecisive of eaters will find something to enjoy with appetizers, kebabs and several main dishes to choose from. The perfect accompaniment to my gin-ladened Time After Thyme cocktail was the crispy eggplant chaat with raita, tamarind chutney and red onion. With a super crunch that was kept light, and lifted with a zing of tamarind, even without tasting several other selections, the chaat had already seemed to be Junoon’s perfect dish!

Again at the bar on a different occasion, I opted for a “fuller” experience and selected the mushroom curry from the main dishes. “Accessible” even for a “timid” diner, as my bartender had put it (I’m neither, by the way), the mushroom curry offered heat muted by a fennel seed and cinnamon yogurt broth. With a medley of hen of the wood, king trumpet and poplar mushrooms, this curried dish would make any mushroom lover swoon! (One of Junoon’s more apt bartenders asked if I’d care to add a shaving of “last of the season black truffle” to my dish, to which I matter-of-factly acquiesced, Why not?). With the curried dish being completely void of any sort of starch, I decided to order the Junoon spiced naan as well, spiced with za’atar, topped with modest shavings of paneer and gruyère cheeses. Pillow-soft and fragrant, the naan was the perfect vessel with which I’d sopped up the remnants of fennel seed-cinnamon broth.

At dessert, I chose the Valrhona chocolate tart—quite possibly the furthest from an Indian delicacy that I could have selected, but I was drawn to the sound of “chickpea shortbread.” Served with Assam ganache, coconut sago, puffed lotus seed, and hemp seed, ingredients that seemed unusual on their own, offered a fine dessert once tasted together. But interestingly, it was at the end of my meal when I experienced the height of hospitality that Junoon had to offer. 

Shortly after an order for black coffee was placed, a barista arrived holding a tray with all the accompaniments necessary for coffee service. After pouring a portion of pressed coffee into a handleless mug, a set of lidded pots were placed on the slick bar before me, containing milk and sugars. After removing lids, the pots were gently, thoughtfully pushed toward me (should I so desire either of its contents). As restaurateur Danny Meyer was famously quoted saying, “Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you.” At Junoon, while its food may be perfect enough… perhaps some of those who are behind the scenes ought to take more of a step forward!

Patrick Bradley is the founder of the site, TheGayFoodie.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @thegayfoodie

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"The Dish" - A Short Story (in Series)


P. Bradley
One Opulent Alley
New York, New York 10014

August 9, 2013

Dear Ms. Jones:

I came across your August Gourmand ad seeking a full-time writer for Gourmand New York; alas, it was the day before I was to leave town for a full week for the Gulf Shores of Alabama. With my sincerest apologies, please do accept my attached résumé for the above position.
A bit about myself: my obsession with (N. Y. C.) dining began after reading the book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, which is largely based on a thrice daily three-course, sit-down meal diet (quelle budget!), paired with my first restaurant job at M. Soulé’s NoHo Kitchen where as a hostess (and later, maître d'), I’d watch Europeans eat their pizzas with a knife and a fork. Fast forward… I’d become the biggest food snob I’d ever met!
My culinary writing career began in 2006 with creating the blog, “Between the Knife and the Fork” and today, I contribute a regular dining column (titled “The Dishy Missy”) to Journey Fair. With a true passion for telling “food stories” to whoever will listen, I feel that I am the ideal candidate for the position! Also for your convenience: I’ve attached some links at the bottom of this page should you so desire to take a look. I look forward to your response!

Kind Regards,

P. Bradley

To be continued.

Monday, September 14, 2015

"The Dish" - A Short Story (in Series), Pt. 2


P. Bradley: pbradley@brown.edu                                                          9/4/13

Dear Judith:

It was so great to lunch with you and Ruth at The Pavilion for the Mimi Sheraton event. I just received my September issue of Gourmand New York and was thoroughly impressed upon first glance; you do a fine job of curating the magazine with a wide spectrum of topics and content that comes across as very intelligent and well-researched (I especially love the "Cocktails to Tote" piece!).
I'd like to pitch you the idea of contributing a column to Gourmand New Yorksomething along the lines of "The Dishy Missy on the Street," where I'd 'guide' your readers' night(s) out in the city. i. e.) Start out by viewing X exhibit at ABC Gallery; followed by cocktails at Z Bar; then dinner at 123 Kitchen; ending with a late-night jazz performance at 99 Venue.
In short, I'd love to be a part of your magazine! I hope that you're doing well and that you're enjoying your end-of-summer, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

P. Bradley

P. S. As requested, I've attached a copy of my current résumé.

 pbradley@brown.edu  |  646.876.6657  |  www.pmbradley.com 
I want to tell a story about food. Perhaps I'd call it "food storytelling." -the gal above

… writing for:

Journey Fair
A G. C. Publication


November 2010 – Present

I contribute a monthly dining column to the magazine which is available worldwide in print, digital and mobile application formats.

Cook’s Corner
Handmade savory goods & baked sweets boutique


October 2010 – August 2012

I contributed to the blog section of the Cook’s Corner website, posting about a variety of culinary topics.

… (semi-) related experience:

·         Méditeranée
Captain—January 2010 – December 2010

·         West St
Server—January 2008 – January 2010

·         The Dashing Diva
Social Media Director—August 2007 – January 2008

·         Chelsea Cookshop
                 Maître d’—September 2006 – August 2007

·         NoHo Kitchen
                 Maître d’—June 2005 – September 2006

… formal education:

The Institute of Culinary Education                                                           Brown University
New York, NY                                                                                          Providence, Rhode Island
Grand Cru Certificate in Wine Studies, 2006-2008                                  Journalism, 2001-2005                 

To be continued.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

"The Dish" - A Short Story (in Series), Pt. 3


P. Bradley: pbradley@brown.edu                                                        7/31/13

Prof. McKendry!

As my writing mentor, I wanted to ask you a question. I took your advice about staying relevant in food media, and I've been in contact with Gourmand about writing for them... but it's turning into a game of email tag (of sorts); one editor responded, but told me to contact another editor which has yet to reply. I've been following up with this second editor weekly, but it seems that she's not interested (at the moment). Should I continue with my method of emailing her once a week to follow up, or would it be bad form to keep pestering her?

Hope all is well with you...

On July 31, 2013, at 6:22 PM, jmckendry@brown.edu wrote:

Hello Pat! 
The best thing you can do is send the editor some story ideas. They have lots of space to fill and if you make their lives easier by proposing things you could write for them, they will quickly start assigning you things as well.
Don't worry about them stealing your story ideas. It is terrible form and nobody does it. It's just not done. 
Good luck!

To be continued. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"The Dish" - A Short Story (in Series), Pt. 4



I'D been checking the mail daily for my latest copy of Gourmand New York; I hadn't realized my roommate had had it sitting under her copy of the Sunday Times. "When did this come?" I feigned casual mention, while sipping on a cup of black coffee which I was none too pleased with. "A while ago." (Note to self: The next time mail comes for me can you please make sure that I get it?) I'd flipped through the issue quickly, as to make up for lost time—I still had New York and Vogue to read. By the time my free thumb had flipped to page twenty-eight, I'd held the sip of brown liquid in my mouth for a moment, before swallowing. "Around Town: New York City." Only a mere fraction of a second deigned pass before I was able to confirm that, yes, this was the very pitch which I had solicited to Ms. Jones in my most recent e-mail correspondence with her. As I examined the crude impostor, I pictured in my mind how much better my own version—'The Dishy Missy on The Street'—would have been. This clearly was put together by someone north of sixty-five or by some unseasoned twenty-something, coffee-fetching intern (or perhaps by a combination of both). Ms. Jones, you've gotten it all wrong, my dear.

Don't worry about them stealing your story ideas. I'd swallowed a now cold sip of coffee that had been sitting in my mouth. It is terrible form and nobody does it. I can't believe she just left my mail sitting under her paper all week. It's just not done. She doesn't even read the paper. Good luck!

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Lobster Roll Lands in Inwood

JUST a few days ago, Tryon Public House debuted an expanded menu featuring additions such as "Tryon Fries" (hand-cut fries with melted American cheese, bacon, scallions and ranch dressing); gluten-free fish tacos (corn tortilla, sweet and spicy slaw, sriracha aïoli); and a "Peaches 'n' Cream Burger" (peaches, goat cheese, bacon and caramelized onions, on a "backyard BBQ bun")--the latter does leave me feeling a bit queasy. Yet, going for lunch today, it was not the peaches and cream burger that I'd had my first taste of, but rather another new TPH menu item: the lobster roll.

Ahead of arriving at TPH, I'd pondered the best pairing for the sandwich and thought that a beer would be satisfactory. From my first TPH visit late last year, I'd remembered they were serving a Dyckman Brew pilsner; yet, upon attempting to order it (I like to support the local efforts of the 'hood) I was informed that they were no longer carrying it. I decided to go with the (somewhat less local) Bronx brew.

... let me see that lobster roll!

With the $20 lobster roll, I was given the choice of "hand-cut fries" or a side salad. I opted for the latter. Because summer. Tryon Public House's lobster roll is topped with fresh scallions and served on a "New England club roll." And skimpy beachwear ahead or not, TPH was not skimpy with its portions of lobster or the side salad which was nearly twice the size of the roll itself! Taking my first bite of the meat-stacked buttery roll, my palate was met with perfectly cooled morsels, nicely contrasted by a freshly toasted roll. It's pretty hard to screw up a lobster roll (granted it's kept simple)... but this time around, I certainly did get my $20 worth!

Tryon Public House, 4740 Broadway, Inwood (646) 918-7129

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges Hosts a Literary Luncheon for Ruth Reichl

THE morning of Tuesday, May 19th found me hustling out of my apartment at 8:45 to catch a Metro-North train for the first in a series of literary luncheons hosted by The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges. I'd thought I had planned plenty of time to prep myself to, quite possibly, be the only male patron amongst eighty-something Westchester County ladies who lunch; alas, I'd set my alarm for the time I had to leave my apartment, rather than the time I ought to wake up--nothing a yellow taxi couldn't fix.

From the Fordham Metro-North station, JG's Inn was no more than a 90 minute expedition (including a 20 minute cab ride from Mt. Kisco to Pound Ridge). As much as I'm not partial to most passenger trains outbound of New York City, I've always associated boarding the Metro-North rail with an air of excitement! Below grey clouds, ominously hung above Pound Ridge's Inn, I was taxied behind a semi-circle of suitably polished vehicles awaiting employable valets. Walking toward The Inn's front entrance, a blondish woman remarked on my bag as I was passing: I know OpenTable--what's that? "Oh, it's a blog that I write for!" We met again in the foyer where she'd pointed to a crate of baby artichokes placed for decoration; I'd sensed she was awaiting a reaction so I bent down to touch them: Oh, they're real!

Within the grey-chic lighting of The Inn, a bevy of well-dressed middle-agees--plus a handful of younger female companions (youth by association)--busied themselves milling about, white wine in hand. Although I didn't recognize any faces among them, I could tell that this was a Who's Who of Westchester County "high society." Ducking out for a moment to ensure that my attire and visage were in check (during the dayspring dash, I'd chuted my lot of grooming balms directly into my bag), I'd made my way to a washroom at the front of The Inn; peeking out from behind an opaque shade, I spied a parade of tall-heeled women marching past the semi-circle of idling cars at the valet stand, toward the front entrance of The Inn.

PENETRATING through the darting eyes assembled at the foyer, I was suddenly halted by Jean-Georges' VP of operations, James Liakakos who welcomed me warmly--JG is here, he'll be happy to see you. Straightaway thereafter, I'd waded toward the edge of a bar, grasping hold of its marble top; handed a wine list, I was thrilled to find Pierre Gimonnet & Fils champagne offered--its 2007 vintage.

Tasting the Gimonnet on a previous visit  to 
Perry St, the wine is sheer perfection!

Confidence in hand, I'd milled about The Inn's 'bar room,' waiting for the lot of us to be seated. Among The Inn's welcoming committee was General Manger, Jason Worflar and Jean-Georges' (long-time) President, Lois Freedman. Knocking into my confidence, Are you by yourself?, Ms. Freedman inquired; The question is, where will you sit? Mr. Worflar's innate hospitality offered solution: Would you show Mr. Bradley to table 20? I was then escorted by a plaid-shirted, long-aproned server to a wide table at the front of the dining room; before long, and after a few formal introductions, I'd realized I was sitting at the editors' table, with Ms. Reichl herself.

Ms. Reichl addresses attendees, post 
a family-style dessert course

Among my lunching companions for the afternoon was executive editor of Serendipity, Amy Levin-Epstein, and Brooke Shepard who's spearheading the magazine's annual Greenwich Food + Wine Festival; WAG editor-in-chief, Georgette Gouveia; staff from Elm Street Books; and at the head of the table, Ruth Reichl plus an open seat for chef Jean-Georges. Once all luncheon guests had been seated, the first course dishes began arriving.

In typical Jean-Georges fashion, all the food was outstanding--in particular, the house-made ricotta with compote, olive oil and grilled bread (which The Mercer Kitchen has recently begun serving as a part of its "Market Table" offerings) and the spinach pizza with mint, black pepper and lemon. And how will I forget the stalks of warm asparagus, so generously topped with morels (of which I may have taken more than my fair share)? The answer is, I will not.

family-style appetizers at The Inn

Following appetizers, we all enjoyed individually plated portions of slowly-cooked halibut served with a silky spring onion and carrot stew with peas and saffron.

slowly-cooked halibut at The Inn with 
stew as silky as freshly-broken yolk

While I'd expected Ms. Reichl would speak at some point during our meal, it wasn't until post-dessert that our attention was drawn to the front of the dining room (not that one should expect such a food dynamo as Ruth Reichl would want to forgo a single second of chef Jean-Georges' culinary marvel).

pastry chef, Melody Farrar serves up 
fabulous sweets at The Inn

Just when I'd thought that The Inn could do no more to impress any further, my table mates and I were inspired once again with a stunning dessert spread by Melody Farrar, pastry chef of The Inn since day one. Fat kid at heart, I impulsively reached for chef Farrar's carrot cake with candied lemon and cream cheese frosting; what appeared as dense and heavy, ended up being oh-so-light! (And I won't mention the editor that avoided the candied lemon from her fair share to which I'd wasted no time in claiming like I did those extra morels!) In my effort to quell any (further) temptation of gluttonous misdeed, I'd ordered a cup of Earl Grey which arrived just in time for me to enjoy during the introductions to the afternoon's keynote speaker.

An Afternoon to Remember

Wireless mic in hand, Ms. Reichl began by answering the first--self-directed--question: How did [I] become a restaurant critic? She went on to tell the enamoring story of the first restaurant review she'd submitted to a major publication; soon panicking over of a sudden loss of confidence; only to (later) find out just how much the editor had loved the piece (needless to say, she did get the job). Throughout the thirty-some minute Q & A session, Ms. Reichl told stories of her time at Gourmet (of which she was editor-in-chief of the magazine from 1999 to 2009)--and of its unforeseen closing--and eventually meandered toward her latest novel, Delicious!, based on the letters of fictional character, Lulu Swan, written to Gourmet over the course of years.

AT THE END of it all, The Inn had emptied itself more quickly than it had been filled; it seems Westchester County ladies are not the type to linger over mimosas. As I awaited a suitably polished black cab beneath cleared-up Pound Ridge skies, devising a return to The Inn was presently of circumstance. But do be forewarned, if you're reading this, Mr. Worflar: my city friends and I do like to linger over mimosas (or rosé for that matter!) and please do ensure that we will have somewhere to sit!

The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges, 258 Westchester Avenue, Pound Ridge, NY (914) 764-1400

Monday, April 13, 2015

Downtown Dishes at Manhattan's Northernmost Tip: Indian Road Café

SINCE moving to Inwood, circa the start of President Obama's first term, Indian Road Café has been on my shortlist of local must-try places. It wasn't until this year that I'd finally sat down for a proper dining experience.

EXPECTING an outer-borough guest on a recent Monday evening, I'd thought that I should take him somewhere special, considering his journey. I'd already taken him to The Park View on a previous visit and as I was racking my brain for an alternative, the ever-helpful Inwood Community Group pointed me toward Indian Road Café. Spotting my post in the online group requesting "recos," IRC co-owner, Jason Minter reached out to me with a personal invite. I nearly never turn down an invite. 

 Indian Road Café's springy friseé and guanciale salad

At 8 o'clock on a Monday night, Indian Road Café was as busy as a pre-weekend rush. I was glad that we'd had a reservation and the pleasant hostess-server offered us a few different seating options. I ultimately opted for an unassuming deuce tucked neatly alongside the main dining area. 

Impressed with the wine list, I decided to start with a glass of Finger Lakes blaufränkisch--for, both, its locality and its obscurity (a varietal most uncommon among conventional wine lists). After agreeing upon a shared "degustation," my date and I began with an assortment of salumi sourced from nearby Arthur Avenue before continuing with a mid course salad of friseé and guanciale. Spying the "small plate" whilst examining IRC's menu earlier that afternoon, I'd known I would want a taste of the pork-infused (lardons and "pork bread croutons") creation!

Piercing into the salad's poached organic egg with the tines of my fork, I'd released the runny yolk and folded it into the salad, creating a decadent dressing. And served with generous shavings of parmesan, procuring a "loaded" forkful presented no problem for my friend nor for myself. It is certain that I was pleased with the dish; the only dismay was regarding the lardons which were much too thin for myself to consider them lardons and the pork bread croutons which simply seemed to be croutons. However, I still cannot forget the taste of the house-cured guanciale!

For our final savory course, our palates agreed upon lobster macaroni and cheese. Now, I am one to order a pasta dish as often as I am one to order pancakes (near to never). But when it comes to lobster, the deliberation is more likened to me acquiescing to an invitation. Furthermore, our server was quick to bolster our decision with a reassuring It's what we're known for! 

When the heartily-portioned entrée was placed before us, I peered into its shallow bowl filled with (what appeared to be) gemelli pasta, lusciously slathered with a creamy, but light coating of asiago, pecorino romano and parmigiano-reggiano cheeses along with a lobster cream and truffle oil. Now, I'm somewhat of the school of thought that turns its nose up at the use of truffle oil (give me a freshly-shaved truffle, or nothing at all!); but in this case, its prudent usage only added to the dish and did nothing to distract from the simple (yet stellar) ingredients. As for the lobster meat in the dish: we'd only wished that there was more of it (and facetiously remarked that there was only ⅛ of a tail). Yet, this is not to say that I was disillusioned with the dish; I already have plans on enjoying it again.

For our final--sweet--course, my dining companion and I decided against sharing, which brought me "full circle" with my selection of an Arthur Avenue (house-filled) cannolo. The cannolo could not have been more perfect and with a glass of brut cava, my meal ended just as well. 

At the risk of sounding cliché: All's well that ends well. (Wait--that's two, isn't it?)

Indian Road Café, 600 W. 218 Street, Inwood (212) 942-7451

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Obsession: Perry St's Chocolate Pudding

Perry St's chocolate pudding topped with
fresh cream and crystallized violets

IT'S no secret that I'm absolutely mad about the classic Perry St dessert at Jean-Georges' downtown "boutique" restaurant, Perry St. And really, it's all about the crystallized violets (if you don't like crystallized violets, I don't want to be your friend). On a recent at-the-bar-dining visit, one of the bartenders told me that when they recently took the crystallized violets off the pudding: "people freaked out" and they had to put them back on. A fellow lover of the dessert opined, There's nothing they can add to it to make it better.

A perfect pudding in every way!

Perry St, 176 Perry Street, West Village (212) 352-1900

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Return to Ithaca

LAST Tuesday, on the eve of our twelve year anniversary, I made the trip north to Ithaca on the 8 a.m. Short Line Bus. It'd been a while since I'd been to Ithaca for anything resembling an 'extended stay' and I was very much looking forward to the journey!

Ahead of my departure, I'd barely the time to pick up champagne for the celebration. Being in midtown the previous day, I'd stopped at 67 Wine to select a couple of choice bottles of wine. Noticing Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois (entirely vinified in oak) on an upper shelf, I'd known then and there that that would be the first bottle we'd enjoy at our anniversary dinner; having tasted it a year before, it's barrel-aged taste proved itself one that's not quickly forgotten. 

I had already known that David and I would be dining at Moosewood (winner of multiple James Beard Awards for their several cookbooks) for our anniversary fête--we were given a gift certificate for the restaurant years prior and still had yet to use it. Briefly reading up on Moosewood's history, I was more than looking forward to our visit!

Moosewood's tomato garlic soup
with croutons and cheese

Taking a downtown-bound bus from the foot of the Cornell campus (on/off the Cornell campus, it pays to have friends with cars) David and I were deposited a short distance from the restaurant, located within the "historic" (a renovated brick school building) Dewitt Mall. Being thirty minutes ahead of its 8:30 p.m. closing time, I was worried that we'd--possibly--be the only diners on a crisp-cold Tuesday night. But passing through the receiving area (complete with a Moosewood gift shop) into the dining room, it seemed to be the place for people "in the know." It was an Ithacans' night out.

With Moosewood's menu offering a smorgasbord of options, I (mostly) let David do the ordering. Still a bit bone-chilled, I'd thought the soup du jour sounded like a good start; I chose the tomato garlic while David opted for the cream of asparagus. My "cup" portion of tomato soup looked stunning; and tasting it, I could hardly believe I was impressed further. Simply put: it was the best tomato soup I'd ever had. As a mid course, David and I decided on the Mediterranean salad with mixed greens, marinated artichoke hearts and chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, red onion and olives (and for 50¢ more, crumbled feta).

Mediterranean salad
What can I say about the salad other than that it was stellar. Everything tasted so "fresh from the garden," especially the artichoke hearts; and for the first time, I didn't have a struggle within my mouth to get all the olive meat cleanly off the pit.

For our entrée, David and I shared, from the menu, the salmon cake(s) with lemon-herb aïoli and cabbage slaw and from the entrée specials, the salmon tart with maple apple glazed acorn squash crescents. Although our third course had arrived before we were through with the mid course, the slight ruffle quickly slipped from my memory upon tasting a portion of the aïoli-draped salmon cake.

So delicate and tender, I'd never had a fish(/crab) cake like this before! Completely un-dry, the fish tasted so fresh that if I'd been told it'd come straight from the fish monger to the fryer, I'd have no reason to believe otherwise! And with the salmon tart, the case was quite similar. Essentially a (generous) slice of quiche, the salmon tart had the same delicate, light quality of the salmon cake, but with a wonderful béchamel-like creaminess to it. And not to be outshone by its counterpart, the glazed squash crescents had a toothsomeness all its own!

Proceeding toward a second bottle of champagne, tucked discretely in my bag (Moosewood has a mere $10 corkage fee): "Normally I wouldn't, but we're celebrating... but I insist you open this bottle in the back and pour a glass for yourself." Our server tactfully opened the bottle behind me... without pouring herself so much as a taste. Complete. Class. We paired the champagne with a duo of Moosewood desserts, of which David and I agreed the upside-down cake was the more unforgettable of the pair.

"B.A. Bitters" at Bar Argos at Argos Inn

The following day, David surprised me with a free evening. Meeting me back at his apartment after an afternoon on campus, we decided on apéritifs at Bar Argos. Even though it was still "cool," I thought it'd be nice to walk to Argos rather than taking the bus (at least while the sun was still out). An easy downhill stride, David didn't protest. 

Even at just barely past its regular 4 o'clock opening, all of Bar Argos' adjoining rooms were nearly standing room only (the live jazz ensemble didn't help in the matter). Nonetheless, after a brief powwow with a few of David's colleagues who'd happened to be there, we managed to claim a couple of bar stools. Recalling a keen interest in Bar Argos' housemade bitters on my last visit in November, I'd wanted to try one of their specialty champagne cocktails. Sounding completely exotic (to me), I'd placed an order for a mushroom champagne cocktail!

"The bitter the better" is an old saying of mine

Even though I couldn't taste any mushroom, the cocktail did make me feel fancy. And I couldn't wait to tell all my "city friends" that I'd spent the week drinking mushroom champagne cocktails in Ithaca! Following my un-mushroom-y glassful, I decided to stick with bubbles and selected the "Purple Rain" with Plymouth gin, liqueur de violettes, lemon, prosecco and violet sugar. While I'd wished the Purple Rain (which looked more pink to me than it did purple) was more violet-hued... its taste pleased me perfectly.

I could easily drink six of these

Post-Argos, Maxie's Supper Club (which David had introduced me to on a previous visit) seemed like a good idea. A dozen oysters, several plates and a bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte later, it proved itself a sweet end for our two-day celebration. We didn't even need dessert. 

The "Eat" Goes On...