Friday, December 24, 2010

Out to Eat: NIOS Restaurant

The cards for free wine flights from NIOS Restaurant at the Muse Hotel had been sitting on my desk since the NYC Wine & Food Festival just waiting to be used. After not spending any one-on-one time with my good friend Katie for a while I suggested we use the wine flights and check out some of Chef Massimo De Francesca's culinary creations. I made a reservation for 2 in the bar at 9:00pm for Friday night. 

Expecting only to have share some appetizers and the wine flights I came to NIOS hungry but not expecting to take on a three-course meal. We were offered the Pre-Theatre Prix Fixe Menu and while we were debating sharing some of the appetizers from cleverly named "Act I" of the menu Katie and I decided too many things sounded delicious so we went for the $42 Prix Fixe. Katie chose the Smoked Duck for her starter and I selected the Calamari. 

The calamari was inventively coated with cornmeal as opposed to breadcrumbs served with a subtle yuzu aioli. Perfectly fried to be golden but not brown, tender on the inside, the tentacles were particularly delectable. My appetizer was crunchy counterbalanced by the silky aioli and served at the perfect temperature.
Katie's smoked duck came served with frisée, figs, wild mushrooms and thinly sliced manchego cheese. I was lucky enough to be able to taste some of the duck from her plate-- of course you would expect me to try the duck! Delicately cured by smoking, the duck breast had that creamy layer of preservative fat. The finely cut duck looked like turkey bacon but had much more complex flavors than anything out of a Jennie-O package! I can just imagine what all the elements on her plate would have tasted like together. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Locavores' Dilemma: A discussion about what to eat.

Thanks to my avid reading and tweeting on Twitter I found out about the event at the New York Public Library (NYPLI attended Thursday October 21, 2010 from @SlowFoodUSA.

The Locavores' Dilemma brought in former Cullman Center Fellow Melanie Rehak, author of Eating for Beginners, Chef David Shea of applewood Restaurant in Park Slope, and Steve Jenkins of Fairway Market; the discussion was moderated by another former Cullman Center Fellow Patrick Radden Keefe journalist and author of The Snakehead.  Odds are unless you're a New Yorker you might not have heard of any of these people (yet). I recognized Fairway, of  course, and had seen Melanie Rehak's book cover but did not really know much about any of the participants or what they do. Jean Strouse, director of the Cullman Center, gave thorough introductions for each participant (a recipe of hers is included in Eating for Beginners, which Patrick Keefe drew attention to due to her memorable instruction to "add a stick of butter" to a dish of brussel sprouts- and Strouse added joyfully "and bacon!").

So how do these people fit together to make for a discussion about locavory? Rehak lives in Park Slope just blocks away from applewood restaurant (small "a" intended). She is a locavore and spent time working in the applewood kitchen to write her book; she also follows the food the restaurant uses back to  its sources; spending time making cheese, picking greens, and even out on the ocean to catch the restaurant's seafood. Chef David Shea is a consistent voice and presence in Rehak's memoir. During her time working at applewood he encourages her to believe in herself and in her abilities in the kitchen. Steve Jenkins is a mainstay in the New York grocery scene and brought insight to the more commercial side of local sourcing and eating.