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Can’t Beat ’Em, Join ’Em

The reopened Gristedes in Brooklyn Heights is hoping to take on Peas & Pickles with healthier products.

By Daniel Maurer

Modernizing the Fruit Stand in SoHo

Fruit Stand
The ramshackle fruit stand on the southwestern flank of the Broadway-Lafayette stop is getting a high-end makeover. Proprietor Pan Gi Lee has long wanted to expand the space, which is owned by the MTA. On Wednesday, the MTA board endorsed Lee’s proposal for a fanciful new look. As architect Tobias Guggenheimer explains, the space will become “kind of a bodega,” with coffee and “light foods,” but no seating. In his design, Guggenheimer appeals to the hopes of downtown preservationists. “Our theme for the selected design, represented by the tree silhouettes, is that of an orchard. The exposed steel structure, especially the columns, refer to the rhythmic patterns of SoHo’s cast-iron buildings.” Now the lofty class will have somewhere to contemplate the curve of an apple on their way to Desiron or BDDW. —Alec Appelbaum

After the Catwalk, a Bagel for Wakiya, and More

The desks at Grub Street are covered with high-heeled shoes, empty gift bags, and other detritus from Fashion Week, and only a laserlike focus could allow us to catch the disparate restaurant intelligence floating around in this week’s issue. Adam Platt visits Wakiya, the much-hyped Chinese restaurant in the Gramercy Hotel, and hands them a bagel in his restaurant review. The crown jewel of the B.R. Guest restaurant empire, Fiamma, has reopened with one of the most celebrated Italian chefs you’ve never heard of. Baby cucumbers and tomatillos get a close appreciation from Rob and Robin. Add in Gray Kunz’s secret ingredient, and you can see why the latest lines from Milan had but little effect on us.

This Week’s Issue Is All About Simplicity

Bar Stuzzichini
The food news in this week’s issue concerns the simple, the elegant, and the obvious. A guy in Brooklyn tries to raise his food in his backyard. Adam Platt respondes to locavore earnestness by battening down with a box of Oreos. Two Italian restaurants have opened with unambitious, utterly familiar menus, and he likes one of them, Bar Stuzzichini, more than the other, Gemma, which was lucky to escape with a single star. Another Italian restaurant, Accademia di Vino, specializes in grilled pizza, good pasta, and lots of wine, which pleases the Insatiable Critic. In this week's Openings, Alex Ureña gives up on foam, and another guy in Brooklyn opens a sandwich shop highlighted by a turkey sandwich with potato chips in it. Resto chef Ryan Skeen enjoyed the onion and tomato app at Peter Luger, and the bacon too, so he thought to make a recipe out of all three for In Season. And finally, the city gets three new choices for the age-old conundrum “coffee, tea, or milk.” It’s that kind of week at New York.

Tailor Open; Marcus Samuelsson in Cahoots With Starbucks

Put down your roman à clef! Tailor had its soft opening last night. [Down by the Hipster] Related: What to Read While You Wait for Tailor to Open — Sam Mason: The Novel Five recipes from Marcus Samuelsson's cookbook Discovery of a Continent: Foods, Flavors and Inspirations from Africa were developed by a team from Starbucks as part of a deal that also includes the introduction of baked items and coffee blends sold under the chef's name. [Eat for Victory/VV] The closing of Dévi makes Frank Bruni sad, and in his elegy to the restaurant, he ponders our take on Suvir Saran's motives. [Diner's Journal/NYT] Related: Debriefing Dévi: Suvir Saran’s Suspected Side Projects

Primetime for Beans But Also Tomato Fights

Beans
Almost as good as Greenmarket food is the packaging. The environmentalist brings muslin for cheese-wrapping, the fashionista has a repurposed gift basket on her arm, and there’s a chef with a wheelbarrow-bike. We just met the most produce-specific shopper yet: She has a thermal bag for dairy, plastic containers for tomatoes and berries, ziplocks for baby salads, and regular bags for everything else. We stopped smushing peaches into our purse to watch her shop.

A Particularly Peachy Tomato Season Reaches Its Peak

Tomatoes
Thanks to the past few months of alternating deluges and warm, sunny days, this summer’s tomato selection is particularly ample and exceedingly acceptable. For the next six weeks or so, you’ll have your pick, whether you’re after ruddy beefsteaks to adorn burgers, many-colored teardrops sized for snacking, or bulging, odd-hued, Dr. Seussian heirlooms worth sketching before you slice into them. After the jump, a sampling of the most fetching love apples available right now.

A ‘Top Chef’ Surprise and Other Summer Treats

Perilla
The lull of midsummer is already over, and new growths sprout everywhere. A young chef gives his first restaurant a go, a veteran gets his own place for the first time, and an established star gets a fresh start. We have restaurant openings, new and better lemonades, and even a baked squash blossom. Summer is starting to tire, but the food stays sharp.

Seamus Mullen Forced to Pull the Nightshades

We were happy for Seamus Mullen, the Boqueria and Suba chef who was nearly crippled a few months ago by an acute attack of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic joint disease. Mullen got some good news in this week’s Times review and is looking forward to seeing what Adam Platt has to say when his turn comes round. On the other hand, Mullen tells us that his diet is now permanently screwed up: He can’t eat tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, or any other member of the nightshade family — “which sucks, because all that stuff is in season right now and really beautiful,” he says. For the sake of his aching joints, the chef is also required to eat lots of oily fish. Luckily he has the cooking skills to make this blow bearable.

Watermelon Radishes Meet Their Namesake; Lima Beans Exceed Expectations

A profusion of weighty, thick-skinned melons has rolled into town, coinciding with the sweetening of delicate heirloom tomatoes. To carry home the spoils unspoiled, we recommend heavy-duty totes for the former and a small bag or basket for the latter. Once home, make room in the fridge, since nothing beats the heat like a cool melon. But leave those heirlooms on the counter — a refrigerated tomato is never the same again.

Market Salutes Homer With Simpson Lettuce and Doughnut Peaches

From the overpoweringly fragrant cantaloupes to the increasingly colorful tomatoes and peppers, everything at the market sells itself these days — the vendors just try to keep up. But on the northwest corner of Union Square, you can enjoy some old-fashioned salesmanship: With his dapper suits and British-Australian accent, Joe Ades has been perfecting his patter for fifteen years, slicing carrots into strips with the imported Star peeler and offering to sell the very one he’s using to guarantee there’s no scam.

Cherries and Raspberries Are Coming, But Strawberries Are Going, and Fast

Most farms will bring in the last of their strawberries in the next week or two, and prices are at their lowest now, so this is a great time to gorge on the tiny red gems. Lucky for us, a parade of other fruit awaits, from the already-appearing cherries to high-summer glories like apricots. And tri-star strawberries, a unique variety that lasts all summer, have only just begun.

Restaurants Sue to Keep Calorie Info Out of Sight; Online Reservations Dominate

The New York State Restaurant Association sues the city to stop having to reveal calorie information. [Nation's Restaurant News] The days of making, and keeping, reservations off-line are over: OpenTable has come to dominate the restaurant business. [NYT] In a Times op-ed, the Zagats plead for real regional Chinese cooking to come and save us from egg foo yong. It would be a revelation, they say — “Imagine … what it would be like to discover for the first time Memphis-style barbecue, New York deli food, soul food and Creole, Tex-Mex, Southwestern, California and Hawaiian cuisines all at once.” [NYT]

Peas Roll In, and Tomatoes Are Better Than They Have a Right to Be

It feels like the first week of camp at the market, as we check out which of our friends from last summer are back and how they look this year. A few weeks later than usual, some of the most popular warm-weather farmers, like Keith’s Organics and Eckerton Hill, have returned, with tables already full and lots more to come. It’s going to be a good summer, we can just feel it.

Summer Brings Hot Dogs, Barbecue, and Department-Store Salads

Summer is upon us at last, and with it come the inevitable summer foods: hot dogs, barbecue, snap peas, salad … and pappardelle with truffles and butter. Well, not every food consumed in the hot months is inevitable. But this issue comes packed with hot-weather options. The Underground Gourmet reviews Willie’s Dawgs and PDT, the new chic cocktail lounge attached to Crif Dogs (you’ll have to read to understand). The city’s most ambitious barbecue opening yet happens this week; Gael Greene is very taken with Aurora Soho’s reverse commute; Pichet Ong takes off from the dessert business to create a killer sugar-snap-pea recipe; and Rob and Robin offer both a guide to the city’s top department-store salads and a quiz to determine your green-eats quotient, a test which only the most narrowly focused carnivore could possibly fail.

Chodorow and Tom Valenti Team Up; Rum Renaissance

Jeffrey Chodorow is opening a restaurant with Tom Valenti right next to his new restaurant with Zak Pelaccio; also, a new Rickshaw will open in the Village. [Eater] Related: Chodorow and Pelaccio Planning a ‘Malaysian Coffeehouse’ [Grub Street] We’re in the middle of a rum renaissance, with “heavy, thick and funky” British varieties and “smooth and sugary” Spanish-Caribbean ones. [NYDN] Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club defends itself against charges of unfair labor practices: “Everyone makes the minimum wage at the club.” [NYDN]