New York Magazine has gone Spain-crazy this week. Adam Platt sates his bottomless hunger at Boqueria, and Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld interview Spain's most illustrious chef, Ferran Adrià of El Bulli. Let Grub Street pile on, then, with talk of the secret society of Spanish pork.
This society may be unofficial, but we belong to it. It is made of men and women who have tasted the meat of the celebrated pata negra, or black-foot pig, and will do anything for more. "Once you taste ibérico, you can't compare it to anything else," Bar Jamón chef Andy Nusser has said. The society's holy grail, though, remains tantalizingly out of reach for Americans even ones with a deep affinity for Spain.
Strollers crisscross with lawyers and Lenox Hill Hospital workers in the micro-micro-neighborhood centered around 72nd Street and Second Avenue. Indian and Mexican food are noticeably underrepresented, but you can still find damn good diner eats, tasty burgers, and above-average Chinese takeout.
Name: Luc Sante Age: 52 Job: Writer Neighborhood: Ulster County (but formerly Park Slope, Lower East Side, Upper West Side)
Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Bartleby the Scrivener.
What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
Salt-and-pepper shrimp at a place on the Bowery below Canal, the name of which I no longer recall.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Put together sentences.
In today's dining dirt, Spain comes to Manhattan, barbecue comes to Fort Greene, and Mr. Hospitality brings the pain.
• Danny "Mr. Hospitality" Meyer ponders hugs, serves up a knuckle sandwich. [Esquire]
• Gordon "Mr. Nasty" Ramsay opens up the lines; a feeding frenzy ensues. [Eater]
• Pushcart-prize finalists announced. [Street Vendor Project]
• Picholine buddies open up a Fort Greene smoke joint serving up "real NYC barbecue." Whatever that is, exactly. [Strong Buzz]
• On a sobering note, Michael Pollan forecasts the dangers of centralized food production and the specter of increased regulation in the veggie world: "Food poisoning has always been with us, but not until we started processing all our food in such a small number of 'kitchens' did the potential for nationwide outbreaks exist." [NYT]
When Jeanine Pirro's campaign for attorney general is over — or, to be cruel but precise, once she loses — she'll be going straight into marriage counseling, at least if her husband has anything to do with it.
New York's Steve Fishman profiled the Pirros' increasingly confounding marriage for this week's magazine, and he found Al Pirro, Jeanine's wayward husband — by all accounts a screamer, a bruiser, a brusque alpha male — surprisingly wounded and therapized, talking about his anxieties. Al knows he needs to be flattered, to be reminded that he makes more money than Jeanine, to feel generous (Fishman zeroes in on his compulsive need to pick up the check, even for parties of 30). He denies the infidelities that drove Jeanine up the wall (and into the dubious confidences of Bernie Kerik) while readily admitting something even more hurtful to a relationship: that he needs outside female companionship, be it platonic or not, because he doesn't feel encouraged, admired, or appreciated at home. And he knows the couple needs to work on these issues.
"He was essentially stewing," Fishman says. "He feels that he's been shut out, silenced, and attacked, both by the campaign and by his wife personally." Is there enough therapy in the world to get the pair past all that? Maybe, Fishman says. The real turning point for the relationship, he says, was Al's tax-evasion conviction. "But it was never a fake marriage. There's a basis of deep mutual admiration — hell, love."
Can This Marriage Be Saved? [NYM]
If you still don't know what an izakaya is (or haven't lately been to St. Marks Place, where most of them are clustered), enlighten yourself at Izakaya Ten, the latest iteration of the space that was the French-Korean D'or Ahn, and then, for a nanosecond, the sushi restaurant Anzu. Owner Lannie Ahn has hired a veteran of Morimoto and Nobu to supplement the raw fish with a selection of small plates of the home-style Japanese fare one finds in a sake bar or pub — not your basic mozzarella sticks or buffalo wings but more exotic tidbits like natto omelettes, ginger pork belly, pan-seared rice balls, and the ever-popular chicken-meatball skewer.
• Now this hasn't happened in a while: Rapper Fabolous is in stable condition at Bellevue after getting shot in a Manhattan parking garage. The would-be assassin and his three friends, who fled in a vehicle, were quickly arrested after running a red light. Update: Now Fabolous is under arrest as well. Developing, needless to say. [AP via amNY]
• The Gubernator toured Bloomie's turf yesterday, not two weeks after the mayor's Cali visit. Says the Times in the vintage Times deadpan, "The two men seem to be genuinely fond of each other." We know they're both post-ideological moderate Republicans and all, but this love-in is giving us the heebie-jeebies. [NYT]
• You may remember Dean Faiello as the guy who allegedly (a) impersonated a doctor, (b) botched a cosmetic surgery, (c) killed the patient to cover it up, and (d) buried her under his New Jersey house. Well, feel free to remove "allegedly" from that litany. Faiello pleaded guilty in exchange for a twenty-year prison stint. [NYDN]
• Queens assemblyman and union leader Brian McLaughlin is expected to surrender today to federal corruption charges. The rap is a rather shopworn classic: contractor bid-rigging, with a side of possible expense-account abuse. [WNBC]
• Finally, in case anyone cares, and some of you must, Rangers 4, Devils 2. Oh, come on, people, it's one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports. Or so we're told. [Fox Sports]
James Truman, the Condé Nast wunderkind who rose to become Si's second-ever editorial director and then resigned at the start of 2005 after Newhouse said no to his pet project, an art magazine, resigned today from his job as editorial director of Louise MacBain's LTB Media, a publisher of art magazines, which he joined about a year ago and where he recently launched a travel mag for well-off aesthetes, Culture + Travel. "I was never going to do it long-term," Truman told the New York Observer, which broke the news this morning. "The project interested me because I tried so long to get an art magazine at Condé Nast." New York's Carl Swanson — who has written about Truman's Condé Nast departure and his LTB arrival — checked in with him this afternoon for some elaboration.
There's something almost novelistic about Jane Walentas's well-documented obsession with a wooden carousel. The wife of the man who built Dumbo first found the quaint thing in Ohio in 1984, at an auction for a belly-up amusement park; she's been repairing it, piece by piece, ever since. During those twenty years, her husband turned a shady warehouse district into one of the city's more enviable addresses and something close to a personal fiefdom — but it still doesn't have a place for Jane's carousel. The Walentas' ultimate goal is to mount it in the Brooklyn Bridge park, but for now a kid-free indoor installation during the Dumbo art festival will have to do. And no, you still can't ride it. But you can — thanks to the kind bloggers at Gowanus Lounge — at least take a spin on the YouTube.
Jane's Carousel Debuts in Dumbo [Gowanus Lounge]
The smell at the fourth annual Iams Cat Championship hits you before the cuteness does. Held in the Expo room in the bowels of Madison Square Garden, the show — sponsored by the century-old Cat Fanciers Association — featured felines representing 41 certified breeds, booths advertising "world's best kitty litter," charcoal drawings of cats drinking out of toilets, and presentations like "The Secret Sex Lives of Dogs & Cats." (Can't some things stay secret?)
Sunday was time for the Best of the Best awards, the kitty equivalent of Best in Show. (It came after the trained-cat show and the feline agility competition.) The judging took place in the front of the room, before dozens of people on folding chairs, on a stage with a small, pink-beribboned table. The judge, Walter Hutzler, brought out each cat and held it aloft, stretching it out vertically or horizontally into a sort of Superman pose, before setting it down briefly on the table. The crowd oohed and aahed constantly. Two gray-haired announcers — Kent Highhouse, in a tux, and Gail Frew, in a black pantsuit — sat to the left of the stage, keeping up a running commentary.
Alexandre Dumas reckoned that white truffles can, "on certain occasions, make women more tender and men more lovable." We would hope so — the 'shrooms, imported from Piemonte, Italy, were selling last week for as much as $2,400 per pound. If you're going to throw down for some, you best leave their preparation to the city's top Italian chefs. (Or, better yet, go straight to the source — here's our five-point Piemonte Weekend Escape Plan.)
Wait until you hear what these cooks are doing with truffles (hint: it doesn't involve pizza).
We happened to be present when the owner and senior management of a critically acclaimed, major new Manhattan restaurant got their mitts on the spanking-new Zagat guide and discovered that they'd been left off the all-important "most popular" list (which once again featured Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe in the number one and two positions, respectively).
Throughout the week, buyers from Barneys, Intermix, and Kirna Zabête told us which runway looks they planned to stock for spring. Julie Gilhart, senior vice-president and fashion director of Barneys New York, files her final picks.
At the Saks Fifth Avenue "Want It!" shopping event Wednesday night, we were wandering around, lazily stalking celebs, when a hand grabbed us. "Hi, I'm Lauren." Hi, Lauren Hutton, we said, startled to be bum-rushed by the sixties supermodel. Why are you talking to us? She thought we were from the Times. We corrected her. She insisted we were from the Times. We went with it, and, boy, are we glad we did.