Devouring New York: Let It Snow

Snowy NYC IIIt’s a blizzard. Thousands of flights have been cancelled. We land in high winds and blowing snow as passengers applaud with relief. The white-knuckle cab ride from JFK into Manhattan is two hours of slushy gladiatorial combat.

Raymond & Oscar

Raymond Brunyanzski  and Oscar Verest

I arrive on the Upper East Side rattled and undone. I snuffle past Alexander McQueen and realize I am woefully underdressed for luncheon at Chef Boulud’s eponymous restaurant, DANIEL, where I’m invited to celebrate the Relais & Chateaux status of Maine’s Camden Harbour Inn & Natalie’s Restaurant. Innkeepers Oscar Verest and Raymond Brunyanzski are tall and handsome, glowing like two beautiful Maine lighthouses.

Daniel Boulud and friend at R&C awards©margolispineoExquisite

We’re served puffy cheese gougeres and chilled Champagne. We compose ourselves on cocoa-colored sofas surrounded by seasonal blooms. Sweet bites of lobster and tiny fontina tarts with black truffle are savory and fabulous. Chicken liver mousse with porcini and more truffle is silky, decadent — tastier than my Bubbe’s but just as nurturing. Despite the cosmopolitan crowd, I quickly forget both the weather and my wardrobe.

All smiles, Chef Boulud accepts a special “welcome” award from friends and colleagues. Relais & Chateaux‘s Philippe Gombert graciously shares his secret weapon for gustatory excess, papaya enzyme. I vastly prefer his father’s recommendation — chilled Champagne.

Later, I breathlessly describe the scene to my companion who says if I use the word “exquisite” one more time he will throw himself off the Chrysler Building. Fair enough.

Cheri.wideaEvening in Paris

Martha Clarke’s Chéri is a new musical inspired by Colette’s story of a love affair between an older woman and much younger man. This sensual fusion of theater, music and dance features the American Ballet Theatre’s brilliant duo of Herman Cornejo and Alessandra Ferri. Sexy stuff in gorgeous light designed by Portland, Maine’s own ridiculously talented Christopher Akerlind.

Photo Greg Constanzo >
 

Crudo EscaBastianich

Trattoria Esca‘s salmon crudo in tangerine oil is followed by “Fatty Toro” – unctuous, delicious and unforgettable. House-made chestnut pappardelle pasta blends traditional Tuscan flavor with a kiss of sage. Whole branzino (sea bass) is prepared with white truffle, sea salt and Mediterranean skill. A sensuous feast should always follow a tragic love story, yes?

Vermeer_The_Girl_With_The_Pearl_Earring_(1665)Frick & Franklin

Between meals we graze the Frick Collection, whose current exhibition includes Vermeer’s beloved Girl with a Pearl Earring. We’re deeply moved by brooding Rembrandts and Adriaen Coorte’s Still Life with Five Apricots. I guess you could say art makes us hungry.

salzmann_06Franklin Bowles gallery in the West Village has mounted an extensive exhibition of Gottfried Salzmann’s work. At 70, his bird’s-eye cityscapes are gritty and vertiginous. How grateful I am for his fascination with skyscrapers, oh my.

Batali

Polpo at Babbo IIWe hit Babbo around midnight. With the possible exception of the music, Babbo never disappoints. Our favorite dish of polpo (octopus) is served grilled, blackened to tender submission. Delicate pumpkin-filled lune (moons) are sweet and silky. Calamari á la Sicilian Lifeguard is spicy hot with sweet meat and tentacles in a tangle of caper berries, olives and tomato — as robust and tasty as a Sicilian lifeguard.

Busted

We can’t get enough sea urchin crostini at Il Pesce at Eataly. Our server recognizes us from last year and maybe the year before. Uh-oh. We attempt to diversify, savoring the mussel, clam and pumpkin Brodetto – it’s good. So is the crudo, it’s excellent, as is the wine, Vespa from Joe Bastianich. But we’re obsessed with the sea urchin, obsessively returning three times, maybe four. Mario, please send the recipe so we can enjoy the holidays.

picasso-stein1Soul Music

The Mother Of Us All at the Manhattan School of Music tells the story of Susan B. Anthony’s struggle for suffrage in the pithy poetic voice of Gertrude Stein. This is authentic American history delivered via extraordinary native opera — beautifully staged, stirring and accessible.

bechdelfunhome189detailAnother remarkable journey is the new musical at the Public Theater, Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s tragicomic memoir of growing up and coming out. “I’m changing my major to Joan!” will crack you up and break your heart.

2.30 at Chelsea MarketSame Time Next Year

We conclude with a ramble through the twinkling Chelsea Market for Christmas cards and a bowl of Giovanni Rana‘s tagliatelle Bolognese, sturdy and delicious. Our waiter is delectable, too, with hipster glasses and a thick swoosh of chestnut hair, delzioso.

Our final pit-stop is Macaron Parlour on St. Marks Place for a bag of Christmas cheer (read: buttercream and ganache). Savory flavors include s’mores, red velvet, and candied bacon with maple cream. Bite into an Earl Grey chocolate-filled macaron for a Smurfalicious blue surprise — I love New York. •

MP_BACON

About Epicurious Travelers

Ms. Margolis-Pineo created EpicuriousTravelers.com to showcase her published work and ongoing food-travel adventures. Based in Portland, Maine, she travels frequently both in her home state and north to Montreal, her favorite North American city. Although she refuses to use the word "foodie," she has an abiding interest in food and wine. Ms. Margolis-Pineo is also a graphic designer, giving her site a decided edge in an oversaturated blogosphere. New contacts, "likes," subscribers and content are welcome!
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2 Responses to Devouring New York: Let It Snow

  1. Estelle Margolis says:

    Oh, my darling Lizabether! A KISS OF SAGE! Where do you get it from? I seems to me you have learned a whole new language with your writing about food! How much more brilliant could these columns get? They are already world class!

    Your joy of travel, eating. watching and writing is what I love. You have carved out a career that is so surprising I wonder how you did it.

    Thank you and Chris for my lovely short visit. I really do need more time with both of you. Chris says I should come to Portland. I will when we get some weather I can count on.

    Where is Rachie this winter? I am tempted to loan her my fake fur jacket while she is with you in Portland. What are her plans? Will she ever have time to come here and help me in the office/studio? I can treat her to an Amtrak ticket if she can come.

    So just hug them all for me when you see them. You know you are all loved madly by me! Me.

  2. Kris Lape says:

    OMGosh! You make it all sound so delicious and amazing!
    I want to go everywhere you just went!

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