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A Restaurant Gala on a Scale We Can Live With

It’s event season in the New York restaurant world, so it’s not exactly news that there’s another charity gala featuring chefs from local restaurants giving out signature samples. But we love Careers through Culinary Arts Program’s A Taste of Fall. For one thing C-CAP is one of the coolest programs we know of, encouraging culinary talents in public high schools to find careers in the restaurant business. (The participating chefs are all New York City public-high-school graduates, the pride of Long Island City, Harlem, and Prospect Heights.) Plus, the scale of the event is a lot more manageable: It’s only $110, and $75 of that is tax deductible. C-CAP students will assist chefs from Asiate, the Four Seasons, Tabla, and other good restaurants. While you’re eating, $5 raffle tickets could score you a bunch of good stuff, including lunch at Café Boulud, dinner at Craftsteak, or a session with “hairstylist to the stars” Michael Stinchcomb (that’s the one we’re hoping for). So stop by Taj tonight — you can buy tickets at the door. A Taste of Fall [C-CAP]

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A Toddle Around Jackson Heights With Floyd Cardoz of Tabla

Many are the times that we’ve found ourselves wandering around the Indo-Pak wonderland that is Jackson Heights, wishing we only knew a little more about what was behind the counters in all those sweet shops, restaurants, and grocery stores. So we recruited Tabla’s Floyd Cardoz, arguably the country’s top Indian-American fusion cook, and asked him if he would give us a quick guided tour. Floyd assented, and we headed off to Queens in a 1990 white Coupe DeVille, with empty stomachs and open ears.

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Blue Ribbon to Conquer Columbus Circle by Mid-August

Brooklyn Heights: Montero’s earned “duty watch bar” status from the British Royal Navy when its seamen passed through Brooklyn last week. [NYT] Columbus Circle: Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill should open simultaneously with Thompson Hotel’s new Six Columbus by the middle of August. [Down by the Hipster] Elmhurst: Always wanted your tacos open-face, deep-fried, and splattered with crema? Try the memelitas from Taqueria Coatzingo at 40-18 82 Street. [Gothamist] Flatiron: Tabla and Tamarind are only a few of the restaurants extending their Summer Restaurant Week menus through Labor Day. [GoNYC via NewYorkology] Fort Greene: Former Top Chef contestant Josie Smith-Malave has left Island restaurant to prepare for a fall opening of her next project, the Speakeasy. [Eater] Harlem: Gentrification is apparently a lesser evil than filth: A Taste of Seafood restaurant relocates from dingy to spiffy new digs. [Uptown Flavor] Midtown East: Two sake masters from Japan will host a tasting that also features shochu and snacks at Sakagura next Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. [Eat for Victory/VV] West Village: Centro Vinoteca won’t be opening until the 20th or 21st at the earliest, the restaurant’s representatives say. [Grub Street]

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Tabla’s Floyd Cardoz Corners the Market on Indian Mangoes

For years, Indian mangoes have enjoyed the reputation, among food writers and gourmands, as the world’s best. But since the things were never allowed into this country, those of us who rarely left home were forced to take it on faith. The government has now allowed the forbidden fruit at last, but you still can’t taste them – unless you go to Tabla, where chef Floyd Cardoz has more or less cornered the market on Indian mangoes.

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Danny Meyer Can’t Close a Deal in Central Park

Brooklyn Heights: Brutal attacks on plastic restaurant mascots has become an alarming trend. [Brooklyn Heights Blog] Central Park: Danny Meyer’s having trouble closing the deal on Shake Shack No. 2. [Down by the Hipster] Clinton Hill: Pan y Mas is already shuttered; no word if it giving away too much free coffee was the culprit. [Clinton Hill Blog] But Community Supported Agriculture has finally found a new home at Christ’s Church on Clinton Street. [Brooklyn Record] East Village: Birdbath bakeries offer from 25 to 50 percent off your order if you ride a bike to get there. [Gridskipper] Flatiron: Tabla hasn’t given up on New Orleans; every bill includes a line for an optional Katrina-relief donation. [Gotham Gal] Greenwich Village: Otto hostess harangued a party of eighteen over the limit of its dining time throughout a two-hour, $2,000 dinner. [Eater] Little Italy: A mobster institution may no longer be in the family, but it looks like all debauchery won’t cease; the owner of L.A.’s Forty Deuce, Ivan Kane, will introduce burlesque to the Little Charlie’s Clam Bar space. [Eater] Red Hook: The land Brooklyn Brewery’s been scouting for a new operation is described as “toxic soup.” [Gowanus Lounge]

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Tonight’s Beard Awards: a Referendum on Haute Cuisine

Times are changing in the restaurant world – but just how fast? Tonight’s James Beard Awards will help answer the question of whether the traditional tablecloth restaurants, which seem to be on the way out, still wield their old clout in the gastronomic Establishment.

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Beard’s Best Chef Nominees Spill Beans

The Beard nominees for New York City’s Best Chef know that there’s more to the award than who makes the best plate of spaghetti. Looking back at previous years in which he was nominated, Picholine’s Terrance Brennan says, “Our customers were always loyal, but because I wasn’t playing the game, we were under the foodie radar. Being friends with the [Beard] committee helps … I imagine if you know some people, your odds are probably better.”

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Seder Gets Spicy!

Happening as they do at Uncle Marty’s and in church basements, Seder meals aren’t usually known for being very tasty. But if you’re not worried about the meal being kosher — we won’t say anything to Marty — you can go out and have an Italian, Mexican, or even Indian Passover celebration. Here’s where to go.

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Chef Daniel Boulud Eats Sushi at $10 Per Minute

When we asked the great Daniel Boulud what he’s eaten this week, we were secretly hoping to hear confessions of Seven Layer Burritos at Taco Bell. We shouldn’t have been surprised when he reported that, with exceptions like Sunday brunch and the occasional sushi splurge, he eats 75 percent of his meals at his own restaurants. Luckily that didn’t make his food journal any less fascinating; not only did he give us the scoop on some spring menu additions and his new line of spices available this fall, but he actually did scarf a burrito.

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Hark! James Beard Award Nominations

After much speculation, the 2007 nominees for the James Beard Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant world, are in. Adam Platt, Rob Patronite, Robin Raisfeld, and Grub Street all filled out Beard brackets (or at least revealed whom we’d like to see win) on Friday. Here's how the academy's coming down.

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We’ve Got Oceana’s New Menu — and Word of a Special Served Only Tonight

The man Ben Pollinger succeeded as executive chef at Oceana in October, Cornelius Gallagher, was one of the city’s top toques, and much of the kitchen left with him. Finally, though, Pollinger has settled in and after much tweaking of the original, finally introduced his own menu (which we’ve filed into our flourishing playground of a database). Says the chef: “Oceana’s menu reflects my vision for what I wanted to do here: a kind of global seafood, with a simultaneous awareness of classic American cooking.”

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Floyd Cardoz Deigns to Educate You, Tomorrow Only

Tabla chef Floyd Cardoz is giving a demo tomorrow morning that celebrates his Grub Street-approved cookbook, One Spice, Two Spice. Cardoz’s Indian-American fusion makes him unique among cookbook authors; those in attendance will get to try to two of his savory dishes and one of his Indian desserts. — Alexandra Vallis Cooking Class, “One Spice, Two Spice,” $135 Sat., Jan. 13, 10 a.m.–noon Tabla, 11 Madison Ave., at 25th St.; 212-889-0667

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Rude Questions for Danny Meyer

Über-restaurateur Danny Meyer will be at Bottlerocket Wine and & Spirits tonight talking about his new book, Setting the Table. If we had the courage, we'd fire off the following questions at the event.

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An Indian Newspaper's Unique Take on Tabla

New York may be the culinary capital of the world, but ethnic restaurants here are usually held to our idiosyncratic standards, not that of the nation or people that inspired the eateries. As it should be. Still, we couldn't help but devour an Indian newspaper's take on Danny Meyer's Tabla. The writer for The Hindu finds fault with the place's Western airs and "meat-dominated menu," observing that sometimes, "detecting the Indian touch is the culinary equivalent of hunt-the-slipper, only to find it in a coriander afterthought or a faint mustard seasoning." Still, the paper reserves most of their criticism for run-of-the-mill Indian food: "Most restaurants in the bigger American cities steeped themselves in oil-slicked chicken tikka masalas and refused to budge. Tandoori chicken was always vermillion to the point of neon, food was always North Indian, and spices were always unsubtle." What, ultimately, did we glean from this bit of cross-cultural criticism? Why, that there's such a phrase as "hunt-the-slipper," of course! A Hint of Spice [The Hindu]

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New Cookbooks You Might Actually Open

Back in the day, of course, most kitchens could get by with a single massive reference tome; as the Times just pointed out, it was often Joy of Cooking. Now so many cookbooks come out every season that you could spend your entire grocery budget on them. Here are an exceptional handful by New York chefs or celebrities that have come out this fall.

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Critics Hone In on the Bone-In

Steak and ssäms continue to rule the reviews — with a white truffle thrown in for good measure. • Saving Lonesome Dove for the blog, Bruni checks into another meatery, Harry's Steak. The bone-in steak "spoke to the timeless glories of aged prime beef," but the menu's saddled with "clever tweaks." [NYT] • Andrea Strong checks in on Lonesome Dove (again) and is way more impressed with the kangaroo nachos than her boy at the Post was. [Strong Buzz] • At STK, Alan Richman eyes the hotties "who look like they're barely past puberty" and shares in our fascination with the restrooms. "If only the food — admittedly great-looking — were as flavorsome as the customers." [Bloomberg] • Dana Bowen visits Momofuku Ssäm Bar, and after raving about the late-night menu we first reported, hints that it may see the light of day. [NYT] • As if Danny Meyer was starving for publicity, Moira Hodgson reassures us that Tabla is "one of the city's great restaurants." Something to do with chef Floyd Cardoz's new cookbook? [NYO] • Paul Adams schools upwardly mobile I-Chin: "Going upscale involves more than buying buff-colored cloth napkins and hiring servers to assiduously refold them at every opportunity." [NYS] • Augie splurges on a white truffle at Gotham — presumably not as pricey as Morimoto's $10,500 highbrow-despicable truffle. [Augieland]

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Gulf Shrimp Make a Comeback

You can't keep good shrimp down. Hurricane Katrina nearly wiped out the tasty specimens inhabiting the gulf, but replenished stocks mean that in the past week white shrimps have begun to reappear in New York. Big and sweet, with a hint of iodine, the fall shrimp are the best of the year. (Their brown brethren, which were brought in over the summer, also have a certain charm.) Here's a short list of restaurants that buy them fresh from Louisiana.

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Exotic Dessert (Supposedly) Enrapturing New Yorkers

We're not usually in the habit of perusing Indian news media — other than when the latest Amitabh movie opens, of course — but a food item recently caught our eye. Most New Yorkers probably have never heard of kulfi, the ultra-dense Indian version of ice cream that's traditionally made with water buffalo milk. But don't tell that to Mumbai Newsline, who published an exuberant feature last week on how the obscure dessert is supposedly taking the city by storm. The piece references NYC's handful of outstanding Indian and pan-asian restaurnants, including Devi, Spice Market, 66, and Tabla, going into loving detail relating the restaurants' particular recipes. Although the writer admits that "the man on the street" isn't yet fixated on the treat, the piece implies that a kulfi craze may well overtake the nation: "Could we be seeing the next popsicle?" Let's hope so — for Mumbai's sake.

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