New York: Wined and Dined
JACKIE: We want to Talk about dining in New York, from the stratosphere to a pub, and points in-between. Our spotlight, on two eateries for your ‘must do’ list.
DAVID: Hands down, Daniel Boulud is the emperor of NYC’s eating scene, Eastside, Westside, Uptown, and Down. The celebrated Chef has more restaurants than you can shake a fork at, eight and counting. Plus another eight spread from Miami to London to Singapore. His flagship – a luxury liner – is named simply ‘Daniel’ and that’s the last thing simple about it. It is finest dining served theatrically in a theatre setting. Daniel’s next step is a bit less formal, modern, but with unsurpassed quality, Café Boulud. We had a heady, superb dinner on our last trip to the Big Apple. Outside, the night was July-hot; inside, the scene was even hotter; the joint was jumping in a most refined way, wall to wall with casually elegant diners, every table loaded with delicious dishes produced by Executive Chef, Gavin Kaysen. Considerate, knowledge-able wait staff made their way through with finesse and style orchestrated by dashing General Manager Dominique Paulin who somehow found time to take us through the menu and answer our questions. Boulud’s menu is as lively as the atmosphere and arranged in four basic lists: Traditional, Seasonal Flavors, Market-Inspired, and World Cuisine. We sampled a bit from each; Smoked Sturgeon, Foie Gras with a freshly baked Brioche, perfectly cooked Spaghetti with mussels, clams, and shrimp in a spicy sauce for me, and Colorado Rack of Lamb for JJ. We wanted everything else but resisted to make room for the wines chosen by Head Sommelier Edouard Bourgeois – which never stopped coming and included Cuvee Daniel Chardonnay and also Pinot Noir, a splendid Volnay and even more so St. Estephe, way too much delicious Champagne. Don’t know how we managed, but shared desserts were fresh and grilled apricots with buttermilk honey ice cream and local strawberries with angel food cake. We raise our glass and tip our toques to Daniel Boulud and the genius of Café Boulud!
JACKIE: David does not exaggerate the tone and the cuisine, I’m having memory flashes: Risotto Balls with mild lemon, the incomparable breads baked by Daniel’s, roasted cherries with sunflower ice cream & brittle, ahhhhhh. And now, we suggest….
BOTTEGA DEL VINO
The ambience captures; we are seated at a table covered with rose petals, with some stimulating samples of olives and grana from Northern Italy. Our favorite restaurant in Verona, Antica Bottega del Vino, is this bustling wine bar with a simple but excellent menu. They are kissing cousins to this New York restaurant, well located at the corner of 5th Avenue and 59th Street, serving superb Veronese cuisine, and boasting one of New York City’s largest wine cellars with over 2,000 wines from all over the world. (And they now offer an Italian breakfast, or American, if you please.) This inclusive spot welcomes fine diners and casual customers who may have just walked in from Central Park, perhaps attracted by the six antique lamps in their twinkling front.
The lovely Gina Mastrovito guided us to some choice dining specialties and a lovely cold, crisp Proseccco from Zonin. David still chants about the seafood salad, Linguine alle Vongole, Gnocchi di Zucca, while I loved my lamb chops. Check their website to see the antique pieces shipped from Italy.
During our whiz of a stay, we did museums (lunched at The Modern in MOMA), fell into a new very tasty Pub – Cock and Bull on 45th between 5th and 6th, tried Esca (fancy-nice), tried The Lambs Club (not that nice), we took Loretta Swit to her favorite Vegan place – Candle Café at 89th and Broadway, brought cherries from the humongous Fairway Market to Larry Storch’s apartment where we met Jake La Motta, who introduced himself (with a twinkle) as ‘Robert De Niro.’ So New York!
A framed little quote in the Candle said, “Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” Very vegan … We’ll Travel….