Another Time at Atera


My first time at Atera was shortly after it opened. It was excellent, but perhaps a touch derivative. My second time, last year, showed a more assured and refined voice, that I found to be exceptional, stating

That first meal was exciting because it was fresh for NYC and very, very good. This one, however, was even more exciting, because it showed that the voice of a top young chef has grown more clear, refined and personal as well as being even more delicious. Pair that with some of the finest service around, an intimate setting conducive to conviviality (each time we made friends with our neighbors at the u-shaped dining bar overlooking the open kitchen) and a great beverage program and one has a recipe for one of the very best restaurants in the country, let alone NYC.

Clearly, it was a restaurant that had spoken to me and one that I had enjoyed immensely. Sometimes those restaurants can be the most difficult to return to. Expectations can be so high, that they may be difficult to live up to. I need not have been concerned though, because my third time, and for the first time accompanied by my wife, somehow, actually exceeded my already high expectations, confirming and solidifying my view that Atera is one of the very finest restaurants in all the land, perched with but a hand full of others and not meaningfully exceeded by any. Continue reading

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Imbibe and Inspire – An Interview With Jeremiah Tower

Dewar's Ad 1989

Dewar’s Ad 1989

One can make a very strong argument that without Jeremiah Tower and his work at Chez Panisse and Stars amongst other places, American cuisine today, would have reached the heights that it has. The aptly named Tower has been a giant amongst chefs almost from the day that he first stepped foot into Chez Panisse and was one of the first “star” chefs in the country, but it is gratifying to see him now receiving the respect from today’s young chefs that he so richly deserves. He recently stood out at the MAD 4 conference in Copenhagen and next week will be honored at Stephen Torres’ Imbibe and Inspire: The Roots of American Food conference and dinners in Chicago at the Wyndham Grand Hotel and L2O restaurant. I recently had the honor of interviewing Chef Tower, who currently lives in Mexico, via email. Here is the transcript: Continue reading

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A Family Affair at Frankie’s 570

BU4A6611Why do people go to restaurants? The most obvious answer is to eat and that is certainly true. There is little point in going to a restaurant if not to eat, but one does not necessarily need to go to a restaurant to eat. On most evenings either my wife or I cook at home. The main reasons I choose to go to restaurants are for food superior and/or different to what we cook at home, to socialize with friends and family or  when we are simply too tired or lazy to cook or clean for ourselves. Fortunately for us, the last reason is a relatively rare occurrence. The vast majority of the time, we go out to restaurants to experience the cooking of chefs who really know what they are doing and do it very, very well. Even when the primary purpose is to gather with friends or family, it is important to do so at a restaurant that will provide a meal that is fulfilling and delicious with an environment conducive to enjoying the company of one’s dining partners. In those situations, the overall quality of the experience is more important than the novelty or creativity of the food. The food must be delicious, but need not necessarily be cutting edge. Such was the case this past weekend when my wife and I got together with several of my siblings and their spouses to honor our father for what would have been his 102nd birthday. Continue reading

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The Joy of The Journey – To Burlington and Back

BU4A6520It used to be that the journey was half the fun and something to be looked forward to as much as actually arriving at a destination. In today’s fast-paced, security obsessed, bottom-line oriented world, that has become less and less common. In most cases, the journey, because of events like my experience with Aero Mexico, as well as more tragic and nefarious episodes such as have dominated recent news headlines since 9/11, has become something to dread. Between security issues, airline financial woes and other problems, the actual act of traveling is rarely enjoyable in its own right, anymore. Every once in a while, though, the act of traveling turns out to have been great fun.

Continue reading

Posted in At the Market, Bistronomic, Cocktails & Libations, Culinary Personalities, Culinary Shopping, Fine Dining, Food and Drink, New England, Pastry, Regional, Slow Food, Top Tastes, Travel, Upstate NY, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chefs’ Challenge 2014

If you happen to be in or around the Saratoga Springs, NY area this Thursday evening and are looking for some good culinary based fun that benefits a great cause, look no further than The 3rd Annual Chefs’ Challenge to benefit Big Brothers/Big Sisters of The Capital Region (NY) to be held at The Excelsior Springs at the Marriot in Saratoga Springs. See here for more information and to buy tickets. I am once again honored to be judging he competition along with Steve Barnes, the noted culinary writer and critic from the Albany Times-Union and Patricia Pendergast Novo, the owner of Crush and Cask Wine and Spirits in Saratoga and a fourth judge to come from the audience via an auction! The competitors include 2 time defending champion, Chef John Ireland of Saratoga Golf and Polo Club facing off against last year’s winner of the “People’s Choice Awards” from the food served at the event, Chef Joe Mazza of Prime at Saratoga National. For a sense of what previous competitions have been like, please click here.

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The French Revolution Returns at Rotisserie Georgette

BU4A5878Georgette Farkas, the lovely and gracious owner of the eponymous French rotisserie restaurant that bears her name, said it best, when she told my friend, Eliot, my son, L.J. and myself, “This kind of food had become so uncool, that it may be cool again.” The truth is, when prepared with the quality and skill that Chef Chad Brauze and his team provide at Rotisserie Georgette, a restaurant with food as delicious as this has, should never, ever be “uncool” even if there may be times during which it may not seem like the shiniest new toy. Rotisseries certainly aren’t new, but they are effective at cooking delicious food, especially when the rotisseries used are the same French models used by Joel Robuchon and they roast with a searing 750ºF heat. They are also quick. It takes only about a half an hour to roast a whole chicken as it revolves in one of these beauties. Continue reading

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Dining at The Dairy – Dancing Ewe Farm

Dancing Ewe Farm  181 County Route 12 Granville, NY 12832I don’t know too many people who work harder than Jody and Luisa Somers, the farmers and artisans of the delightful Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville, NY.  Already busy raising their family, tending to their sheep, making outstanding cheeses and salumi at the farm and olive oil and other delights at Luisa’s family’s property in Tuscany, and selling their products at farmers’ markets from NYC to Saratoga, they have also begun importing and selling wines from small scale Italian producers and preparing bi-weekly Italian dinners and lunches for the public in their barn. I recently had the opportunity to visit the farm twice and both visits were quite magical in their own ways. Continue reading

Posted in Bistronomic, Cheese, Culinary Personalities, Food and Drink, On the Farm, Pastry, Slow Food, Traditional Ethnic, Travel, Upstate NY, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Imbibe and Inspire – An Interview With Stephen Torres

Stephen Torres - Photo by Evan Sung

Stephen Torres – Photo by Evan Sung

“What inspires the people who inspire” is the theme behind the website Imbibe and Inspire, the brainchild of culinarian Stephen Torres. In the fall of 2013, Torres and a few of his friends took a major step and put on his first ever one-day culinary conference in Chicago on the Roots of American Foodways with the likes of Will Guidara, Paul Liebrandt, Alex Stupak and a host of others engaging in TED-like talks on the origins of American Foodways. Continue reading

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Many Happy Returns in Mexico City

When writing a restaurant and dining oriented food blog, the priority is to check out and write about new places. That is a mixed blessing. While it is a lot of fun to explore and experience new things, it means that I don’t get back to the places I love nearly as often as I would otherwise like. This is especially true when returning to places with frequency such as New York City, where there is always a hot new restaurant (or several) to try. However, when I go back to a place only once in a while, I like to mix it up and revisit some old favorites as well as spots that are new to me. This was the case on my recent return to Mexico City for Mesamérica 2014. I did get to a number of places that I had not yet experienced, but I also returned to a few old favorites, both to relive past glories and to experience some new ones. Continue reading

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Daikaya – DC’s Delectable Duo

Chef Katsuya Fukushima at the preparing ramen at Daikaya

Chef Katsuya Fukushima at the preparing ramen at Daikaya

Katsuya Fukushima is used to running two essentially different restaurants within the same building. He did it for years at José Andres’ Cafe Atlantico/minibar duo. For that set of restaurants, minibar was set within Cafe Atlantico, occupying not more than a small bar area, large enough for only 6 patrons. At Daikaya, now open for a little more than a year, the two restaurants share the same custom built building, but different spaces. On the ground floor lies the Ramen shop, a walk-in restaurant specializing in the Japanese soup/noodle/meat combo and a few other items. Upstairs is the Izakaya, a Japanese-oriented grilling restaurant that is a bit more formal and a lot more romantic. Both shine. Continue reading

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