Cole Porter immortalized the eggs of the Atlantic Shad in “Let’s Do It” — “Waiter, bring me shad roe” — and New Yorkers have treasured them for generations. Yesterday, the fish arrived at Grand Central Oyster Bar bearing their precious cargo of firm, nutty-tasting eggs. As for the herringlike fish itself, it’s bony and hard to prepare, and for those reasons not prized. It does have devotees, though, and they take it without any sauce or seasoning. The Oyster Bar serves boned shad with bacon and tomato.
In Season: Shad Roe [NYM]
Fugu, or the flesh of the blowfish, can be deadly if prepared the wrong way, as anyone who has seen the Simpsons episode where Homer is given 24 hours to live after having it served to him by an inexperienced chef can attest. (Actually, he’s given 22 — says Dr. Hibbert: “I’m sorry I kept you waiting so long.”)
Edible Brooklyn has a piece on a subject very dear to our hearts: Those mysterious wheels of meat called shawarma that you find in falafel and gyro joints around town. The article covers the best of Brooklyn; our picks for outside of Brooklyn follow.
Last week we lamented the freakishly warm weather’s impact on the availability (and desirability) of cassoulet. Now that New York has finally hit a cold pocket, we’re taking the opportunity to recommend three soups that are the culinary equivalent of kicking back by a roaring fire. fire.
This morning we reported that Gramercy Tavern has a new menu; this afternoon we’re recommending that you check out another new thing at the restaurant: their program of vintage (that is, aged) beers and ciders, one of the few of its kind in town. Kevin Barry — the restaurant’s assistant beverage director and the list’s co-creator, along with Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver — shared his enthusiasm for some of the highlights with us.
Pastry chefs like Sam Mason (the man who’s sharing the experience of opening a new restaurant with us) are often on the cutting edge of New York cooking these days. The three chefs whose desserts we’re highlighting today all have major reputations. So if you go to wd-50 or Chanterelle tonight, make sure you leave some room. (Presumably that won’t be a problem at Room 4 Dessert.)
If news that P. Diddy can't get enough white truffles at Daniel hasn't got you hankering after them — and if his habit of demanding that his server "shave this bitch," as Eater noted, doesn't inspire you — maybe altruism will. Daniel Boulud bought two baseball-size mushrooms at a Citymeals charity auction this past weekend for $6,000 and is donating the proceeds from the dishes he serves them with to the same charity. And what are those dishes? Simple, neutral landing pads for the magic mushroom: creamy risotto with Parmesan emulsion; spaghetti alla chitarra with fontina cream; and gnochetti with porcini confit and arugula. They go for a whopping $250 each, but since it costs Citymeals just $5 to feed one homebound, elderly New Yorker, you know the money will go a long way. And you won't have to feel quite so bad about not visiting Grammy in the Bronx.
Few chefs in New York are more in tune with animals than Cesare Casella; he's even developing a new breed of pigs, as we recently pointed out. But tonight at Maremma, he'll be serving something even more special: purebred Italian Chianina beef, from his Tutto Bene ranch upstate. Chianina are the classic Italian cows; no bistecca fiorentina made from Black Angus or other British breeds can truly be considered authentic. Supplies are limited, so you're not guaranteed a steak, but the restaurant will also be offering Chianina carpaccio and a ragù made from the aged beef. We sampled each preparation last night; the meat is extraordinarily lean, with a light, delicate texture reminiscent of veal. Call 212-645-0200 now for dinner reservations.
Rob and Robin recently described, in mouthwatering detail, the nuances of Peconic Bay scallops. Our thoughts quickly turned to their Nantucket Bay cousins, which are currently appearing on some of the best tables in the city.
With Halloween around the corner, pumpkins are everywhere — on stoops, in soups, and, of course, at the Greenmarket. (Zoe Singer tells us which ones to buy this week in At the Greenmarket.) Some of the better restaurants around town are getting into the spirit and serving up pumpkin in its many forms. Here are a few we can get behind.
With Tim Love and Ted Turner having recently opened game restaurants here — Lonesome Dove Western Bistro and Ted's Montana Grill, respectively — it's a good time for us to consider wild animals: how free and beautiful they are and where you can currently eat them. There are some excellent New York restaurants that feature out-of-the-mainstream meats, especially in the fall.
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).
Confusingly, Oktoberfest happens mostly in September; it ends this coming Sunday. Rob and Robin recommended five top places to kick the month off with; since you've surely celebrated at each of those, here are five more to visit before the festival's all over.
When Alberto Ibrahimi, the owner of Bar-bo-ne, talks to us about wine, he never says anything about bottles, vineyards, or even regions. Everything is about "the grape." He's bent on introducing his customers to regional wines made from indigenous Italian grapes. Two more debut tonight: Massaretta, a Tuscan variety which grows only around the city of Massa and which he describes, lovingly, as having "a deep red, ruby color, with ripe plums and prunes" (order the Cima Massaretta); and asprinio, a white Campagna grape (Villa Carafa Asprinio di Aversa). He says the latter is "very rare, almost unknown here." The unknown is becoming Ibrahimi's trademark: "Regulars don't even look at the list anymore."
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.