New York

russdaughtersextIf you have been to Russ and Daughters you know that they have 5 kinds of salmon, the best smoked fish, many flavors of cream cheese and then you have to pick a bagel, toasted or not: lots of choices and combinations. I had worked out the fine details of what I would order. I had one shot at it as we were on a tight eating schedule. Not every minute over a 5 day span, a few minutes here and there. I could study all I wanted but until I saw what the various salmon looked like on that day it was only a guess.

We flew into JFK, checked into our hotel and it was still only 9:00AM. Next stop, Russ and Daughters. A subway ride south combined with a brisk walk as our phone’s GPS showed us the way. It started raining but we had an umbrella, then it started sleeting - that was fine, we are made of hearty Maine stock. All of a sudden it started snowing the biggest flakes we have ever seen and it reduced NYC to the feel of a small town. That is until the snow thunder started.

Read more ...

kajitsu-300x200To celebrate my vegan’s birthday, I called Kajitsu on 9th street in the East Village and made reservations. Actually, I had serious reservations. Kajitsu is Shojin cuisine, which means we’d be eating vegetables and grains as they are prepared for Buddhist monks. Now, I have nothing against monks of any stripe, but they do have a reputation for austerity and that’s never been my go-to word when scouting out dinner.

But this was Jill’s birthday, not mine, so off we went through the biting cold to see what the monks were cooking up. We were greeted graciously and austerely and led to our table in the back. I must say it was wonderful not to hear loud voices competing over pulsing music. Kajutsi offers us only the faint tinkling of a waterfall somewhere off in the distance.

You can order the four-course menu or the eight-course menu and we opted for four. I added a sake pairing with each course, of course. Jill sniffed each sample of my sake because she doesn’t imbibe. But she loved the sniff of each subtle fragrance — each one different, each one perfectly suited to the food it was paired with.

Okay: the food. It is very, very good.

Read more ...

ImageIt’s Sunday morning, and the last thing I want to hear is a discrete ringing sound, calling out from my computer, to alert me that I have mail. I ignore my computer, throw on my jeans, and catch the train into the city. The first and only thing on my mind, on this day, is an Upper West Side brunch that comes with a wonderful, delectable, cappuccino – I hope.

And it was the best Sunday morning cappuccino since Cafe della Pace nearly three months ago.

It was actually my first cappuccino in several weeks. After receiving a pay check the day before, I felt that it was ultimately time to treat myself. As I neared the restaurant, Cafe Lalo, I took note of several photos outside.

Each photo read “You’ve got mail” and had screen captures of the infamous romantic comedy which starred Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks nearly a decade ago.

Suddenly, the once annoying ring of “You’ve got Mail” had turned into a welcomed thought. “Oh. I will have a cappuccino where one of my favorite films was shot. At Cafe Lalo how lovely.”

Read more ...

kodoor.jpgI was lucky enough to snag a seat at the hallowed (and reservation demented) Momofuku Ko in New York in early October because someone had (oh my god!) cancelled and I was quick enough to grab the reservation. For those of you not yet in the know, Ko is the premier flagship in wunderkind David Chang’s gastronomic empire. In keeping with its cutting edge food and service (the chefs, like sushi chefs, do the serving but not the busing), Ko only allows you to make on-line reservations. Just like Amazon.com, you need to open an on-line account (something I had done about six months earlier) which allows you the opportunity, and some would argue esteemed privilege, to make a reservation. This system guarantees a degree of egalitarianism which, as an attorney with a career dedicated to civil liberties, I really should respect and appreciate. So even if your last name is DeNiro or Gates, you (or your assistant) still have to compete with the masses in making a mad digital dash to score a reservation. As a supreme testament to Ko’s popularity and scrumptiousness, over the last year, even as the echo of high-end restaurants slamming their doors shut reverberated throughout Manhattan, Ko rarely had a night when it wasn’t booked to capacity for at least a week in advance.

Read more ...

ai-fioriThe Big Dog and I lunched this afternoon at Ai Fiori, The Big Dog is my high-priced attorney. We were discussing some ultra-subtle legal maneuver that could only be fully investigated in a very, very good Italian restaurant. You’ll be happy to know that we solved all our problems — and everyone else’s, as well. It was a very nice lunch.

Ai Fiori is a Michael White creation. I had dined at his Marea after everybody told me this guy made the best pasta in town. I was concerned about this because I thought I made the best pasta in town. Well, okay, he gets paid for it and justifiably so.

Ai Fiori is sleek and rich. It’s on the second floor, which allows a nice light through the windows and a quiet midtown buzz. It’s in the Setai Hotel, which is a lovely new hotel on Fifth Avenue just below Thirty-Seventh Street.

The lunch menu is prix fixe – a choice of any two courses for thirty-six bucks, which given the quality of food, has to be one of the best deals in town.

Read more ...