New recipes

Modern Art and Vegetarian Dishes Make Good Partners in New York’s Whitney Museum

Modern Art and Vegetarian Dishes Make Good Partners in New York’s Whitney Museum

I didn’t expect much. After all, this was just a café, but when my friend Barbara said she needed something to eat, I agreed to try the Studio Cafe at the new Whitney Museum. The line of peo-ple waiting to buy tickets to the museum that Friday of Memorial Day weekend extended to the end of the block and the line of people waiting for a table was no better in the café.

We had taken the first off-peak Metro North into New York City from Greenwich, Connecticut. but no later than 11:30 a.m. We barely made it. Seventh Avenue was a jumble of taxis, buses, pedestrians, construction sites, and delivery trucks. Our frustrated taxi driver pulled curbside and said, “There’s the subway. Take it to the museum. I’m losing money.” Barbara shot back with a quick repartee: “And it’s costing us money. Get over to Ninth and drive us there.”

While I’m not so sure about Renzo Piano’s gray structure that jutted jaggedly out of the meat-packing streetscape into the Manhattan skyline, what was inside the building were American treasures, many familiar and just as many new to me.

For two hours Barbara and I perambulated through the seventh and eighth floor light-filled galleries and now paused in the corridor connecting the kitchen to the Studio Cafe dining room on the eighth floor. We watched as bowls of aromatic soups, colorful salads, and plates of artistically constructed open-face sandwiches were hustled to tables. There was an air of conviviality and palpable excitement in the café as if everyone couldn’t wait to compare notes on what thrilled them the most in the galleries.

All we really needed, we kept saying to one another, was a bite, but when the very efficient young maître d’s station announced, “Table for two outside ready for you,” we were suddenly very hungry.

The outdoor decor is finely tuned to Piano’s gray palette with undertones of white and black accents. Our gray metal table, with its black woven place mats and white napkins — cloth, I must point out — was under a gray umbrella near the fire escape of a stairway to the upper viewing terrace. At every table there was animated conversation but the sky and the harbor swallowed the sounds so that Barbara and I felt comfortable during our own chitchat. An occasional breeze brought a welcome respite from the hot white sun and muggy heat of that afternoon.

Barbara ordered a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich from a menu favoring the vegetarians among the museum-goers. A plethora of farmers market-sourced produce hogged the menu. I am not a vegetarian but I was intrigued. In the suburbs, we had not encountered so many vegetarian choices on menus in the local restaurants and it’s always a struggle for my vegan daughter to find a dish she will “tolerate.” She will love Studio Cafe. Out of eight toasts listed, five were vegetarian; of three soups, two were vegetarian; and among the three salad selections, only one had meat. There were sugar snap peas, asparagus, avocado, carrots, broccoli rabe, pickled cucumbers and peppers, radishes, mushrooms, and kale, but of course. Desserts featured strawberries, pecans, oranges, passion fruit, and coconut.

To give you an idea of the sophistication of this farm-focused menu, let me tell you about the crostini (labeled “sandwich” on the menu) I ordered. First, the platform for all open-face sandwiches ($12) is a toasted, thick slice of earthy sour dough bread with a dark crust. You can taste the tang of the dough but only slightly so. It’s the topping communion of unexpected ingredients that exhilarate the palate. My toast had a layer of mashed yellow-eye beans, a lace of brilliant green broccoli rabe, and a crown of cubed, honey roasted carrots. A confetti of grated provolone and a shower of tiny yellow flowers from the broccoli rabe completed the composition. It was simplicity itself and packed with assertive character; I had to duplicate it at home.

I guess we were asking too many questions of the waitress, who went back and forth between us and the kitchen during our Q and A, so the chef came out from the kitchen to talk to us. Dressed in a white shirt and black pants, the chef, the sculptor of the bean-carrot medley, patiently listened to Barbara who said that something more was needed on her plate to add dimension to the grilled cheese sandwich and make it more visually appealing. We talked for twenty minutes about the yellow-eye beans that he buys from a farmer in the Finger Lakes area, how he uses the herbs from his mother’s garden in his cooking, and the fact that he was writing a cookbook about the local farmers market. We even swapped kitchen stories and then he said he had to get back to work. We asked him his name. He said it was Michael Anthony.


Neighborhoods

  • + Addison
  • + Austin
  • + Baytown
  • + Braeswood
  • + California
  • + Clear Lake
  • + Conroe
  • + Corpus Christi
  • + Cypress
  • + Dallas
  • + Denton
  • + Downtown/ Midtown
  • + East End
  • + El Paso
  • + Forney
  • + Fort Worth
  • + Frisco
  • + Gainesville
  • + Galleria
  • + Galveston
  • + Greenway Plaza
  • + Heights
  • + Humble/Kingwood
  • + Inner Loop - NE
  • + Inner Loop - SW
  • + Jersey Village
  • + Katy
  • + Kaufman
  • + Kirby-West U
  • + Lake Dallas
  • + Lewisville
  • + Louisiana
  • + Lower Shepherd-Kirby
  • + Memorial
  • + Missouri
  • + Montgomery
  • + Montrose
  • + North-Northwest
  • + Out of Town
  • + Outer Loop - NE
  • + Outer Loop - NW
  • + Outer Loop - SE
  • + Outer Loop - SW
  • + Outside Houston
  • + Pasadena
  • + Pearland
  • + Plano
  • + Richmond/Rosenberg
  • + River Oaks
  • + Royse City
  • + San Antonio
  • + Third Ward
  • + Unknown
  • + Wylie

Arts & Entertainment

Food & Drink

Shopping & Services

Sports & Recreation

People & Places

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.


Best Of :: Shopping & Services

CarSpa is a big lube shop/car wash in Midtown, but unlike similar places, CarSpa doesn't have the mall-on-Christmas-Eve parking-lot atmosphere that might make you change your mind before pulling in for a quick oil change. The shop doesn't do appointments, so it's a first-come deal. But the wait shouldn't be longer than an hour. A straight oil change costs $25, and that comes with all the standard fluid, tire and belt checks. The price might be a tad more expensive than at other places, but it includes a free car wash when the oil change is complete. If you roll on dubs, you can get a professional polish for an extra $20.

Kuenhert's Auction house is not quite a store, but there's not a more exciting way in town to shop for fabulous French antiques, plush Persian rugs or even a palette full of kooky knick-knacks, old toys, or strange hats. Every Thursday night, the hearty souls who are game enough pick up a number, sit down in the audience and wait for the auctioneer to start the bidding. Everything goes and there's no minimum bid, so stunning deals are to be had by all. Designers have been going there for years now it's your chance to get in on the action. All it takes is a quick hand and a strong heart &mdash once that arty armoire is yours, there's no returning it.

Want to add a distinct look to your bedroom furniture? You could always pick up one of the many tree-killing catalogues from your recycling pile, or head to Adkins in Midtown for antique glass drawer pulls. Try those great Grecian urns to flank your apartment's porch, or Art Deco tiles for a kitchen backsplash. But if you like something, buy it. Part of the charm at this rambling, sprawling old house festooned with old lawn furniture is the fact that once an item is gone, you may never see another like it again.

Viet Hoa is the Fiesta of Asian supermarkets and a pure delight for seekers of groceries and colorful oddities alike. It's big, it's clean and on any given day, you can find silk flowers, flip-flops and thousand-year-old eggs within a few steps of each other. The back wall is covered with tanks full of unusual sea creatures and case after case of fresh fish. If seafood isn't your thing, the array of roasted and barbecued meats could turn a vegetarian carnivorous. On the way out, a dizzying and attractive selection of jellied products is tempting enough to make you want to eat white fungus and mung bean. and like it.

Space City Wheels is what you might call a high-end auto parts store. Not a lot of air filters and brake fluid, but a helluva lot of chrome. Space City Wheels strictly sells rims and tires, and the shop's showroom alone is worth a visit. It looks like a strip club or casino filled with a lot of rims. Anything in the showroom is in stock &mdash from the 22-inch Giovannas to the 30-inch Dubs &mdash at Space City's huge warehouse. Full-service installation is included with purchase, and the store can almost guarantee same-day service. Space City is family owned and operated and has been for 15 years. Be sure to check out the yellow and black ATV decked out with ridiculously large rims. Bonus for the store's motto: "We open Sundays."

A beginning fisherman (or woman) could get lost in this sprawling tackle store in south Houston. But the staff can hook you up with all the equipment and knowledge you need to be on your way. Unlike other big-box outdoor stores, Fishing Tackle Unlimited is straight fishing. There's plenty of gear for any kind of angling &mdash in-shore, offshore or fly. The shop hosts a couple instructional classes and demos throughout the year, but on any day a staffer will take you to the parking lot and teach the technique with a casting or fly reel. Fishing Tackle Unlimited also has a nice variety of kayaks, which it rents for $50 a day. If you get serious about kayaking, the rental fee can be applied to the purchase price. You can also try out a kayak in the store's big outdoor pool.


Best Of :: Food & Drink

Denver native Montgomery Knott spent many years in New York perfecting the Monkey Town experience, during which guests dined on fine food and paired wines inside a video-installation cube. Now he's back in his home town, testing a touring version of his visual/gastronomic spectacle in a RiNo warehouse for a three-month run that ends June 1 before he takes off for similar short-term spells in other cities. Turns out we're very lucky guinea pigs: Monkey Town 4 is a vivid evening of impeccably conceived and prepared dishes from trendy local chefs paired with perfect wines, while fascinating sounds and visuals unfold all around you. The people-watching is fantastic (and unavoidable, since you're all sitting around the perimeter of the cube), and for added experimentation, there's the option of a weed-stuffed appetizer that's not advertised on the menu.

It's good to be king. It's even better to be at Breakfast King when everyone else is asleep and you're looking for a home away from home, a home where the friendly, wisecracking servers know not just your name, but your regular order. That's likely to be chicken-fried steak smothered in country gravy &mdash the best chicken-fried steak in the city at any time of the day &mdash sided with endless cups of coffee. But the kitchen is cooking up that huge menu at all hours, so you can also get eggs any way imaginable, comfort-food dinners, or just a big slice of pie to soak up some of the coffee. No matter what you order, it will be a feast fit for a king.

People love chicken. People love waffles. Why, then, is chicken and waffles so polarizing, one of those dishes you either love or hate? At Session Kitchen, chef Scott Parker has created a version so good, and yet so different, we can all agree to like it. Called "chicken-liver mousse," his alternative is every bit as rich as the original, yet it comes off much lighter and more contemporary, a perfect fit for the dynamic street art and murals inside the stunning two-level space. Rather than fried chicken, Parker offers a jar of chicken-liver mousse accented with a dollop of seasonal, housemade jam. Sharing the plate are airy, crisp Belgian waffles, scented with orange and made from almond flour. The combination of smooth, earthy mousse, sweet jam and waffle is not a traditional chicken and waffles, but no one's quibbling when it tastes this good.

At a time when nearly anything can be eaten at the bar, it's hard to say just what counts as bar snacks. Is it a small plate of rillette on toast? Wings? Housemade trail mix? Yes to all. But when you want a classic snack, something with crunch and salt to nibble while unwinding from the day over a drink, nothing beats the mariquitas Cubana at Cuba Cuba. With a hint of sweetness and none of the oily residue of freshly fried potato chips, these long, thin strips of fried green plantains are just what you want with your coconut mojito. Although also available at the Sandwicherias in Boulder and Glendale, they're at their best at the flagship, full-service restaurant, where they're paired not just with garlicky mojo, but with mango-habanero mojo and guacamole. The platter is large enough for everyone to have some, but not so big that it will ruin the very good dinner to come.

The best just got better last year, when Boney's Smokehouse &mdash Lamont and Trina Lynch's downtown, down-home restaurant &mdash moved into a bigger space just a few doors away. Tucked in the basement, the new Boney's can be hard to find, but it's definitely worth the search. and some advance planning, since the hours are limited. But there's no limit to the load of barbecue you'll want to order &mdash brisket, chopped chicken, pulled pork, hot links and ribs that have so much flavor from their dry rub and long tenure over low heat that they don't need sauce. Still, you won't want to miss the three versions at Boney's: a tangy basic sauce also offered hot, a sweet jalapeño and an excellent, mustardy gold. And give Boney's extra points for sides ranging from great collard greens and barbecue beans to lip-smacking mac and cheese. Lamont, a native of Florida, has spent years giving a Southern tweak to a repertoire of family recipes imported from the Bahamas as a result, this barbecue defies categorization. Just call it the best.


Best Of :: Food & Drink

There's a fine line between kitsch and cool &mdash a line that gets crossed often. But Grandma's House has managed to redraw that line, one stitch at a time. The brewery was pieced together with thrift-store prowess by Matthew Fuerst, whose interest in brewing is matched only by his interest in collecting knickknacks, appliances and glassware, and by a sense of style that you could and would only find at, yes, your grandma's house. From the '60s-style furniture to the crocheted and cross-stitched decor to the old TVs, video games and eight-track player, everything feels strangely at home here. As will you &mdash and the breweries around town that are planning to use Grandma's House, which calls itself a collective brewery, as a place to jump-start their own recipes, sales and brewing techniques.

Mexican fare isn't difficult to find on Federal Boulevard, especially if you're looking for street tacos, fat tortas or foil-wrapped breakfast burritos oozing with Denver-style green chile. But despite its name, you won't find the gravy-thick pork stew on the menu at Chili Verde, which instead specializes in the lesser-known cuisine of Puebla, Mexico. Pork and chicken come robed in rich, dark mole poblano, complex and zingy mole verde or smoky salsa morita. Chiles en nogada &mdash the picadillo-stuffed poblano peppers topped with creamy walnut sauce and bejeweled with pomegranate seeds &mdash are available year-round rather than just during Mexican Independence Day, as is traditional for the tri-colored dish, which represents the Mexican flag. Apart from the menu, Chili Verde also stands out for stellar service from a gracious and knowledgeable staff who are genuinely enthusiastic when it comes to answering questions about the food and drinks coming from the well-stocked and creative bar.

Readers' choice: New Saigon

The aroma of wood smoke greets you at the door at Gozo and tags along through the course of your meal, grounding the menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes and blistered pizzas with rustic notes. Whether turning out quick-cooked and succulent clams with chorizo or slow-roasted short ribs, the wood oven that's the showpiece of the chef's counter is also central to the flavors that the kitchen builds. Polenta and risotto are also sure things at Gozo, both handled with care and patience for perfect results. The dining room gives equal opportunity to couples looking for an intimate dinner or boisterous groups out for small plates and drinks. Sit near the front by the open garage doors for an urban experience in full view of Broadway, or pick a table near the back for a quieter night out.

Readers' choice: Beatrice & Woodsley

West 32nd Avenue runs through the heart of Denver's Highland neighborhood, and today holds a string of eateries well-suited to the residential zone it has become to the west. But in 2012, Tommy Lee dropped an umami bomb on the east end of the street in what's become known as LoHi &mdash a hip moniker coined by and for the young and fashionable set who now pack the shoebox noodle house nightly. On a menu stamped with traditional notes as well as modern, international riffs, you'll find actual umami bombs &mdash miso-bacon jam and spicy seven pepper &mdash that can be lobbed into ramen bowls featuring duck in shoyu broth, a Korean-themed shredded-pork-and-kimchi number, and a potent veggie combo with miso broth and chashu tofu. Steamed bao buns packed with everything from pork belly to falafel make for savory finger food for those craving more than soup. Uncle may be small in stature, but it's the big kid in the 'hood when it comes to flavor.

Readers' choice: Highland Tap & Burger

Playfully named for the state of inebriation, as in "three sheets to the wind," To the Wind Bistro sounds like a shoo-in for another category &mdash maybe Best Place to Tie One On. But it's the food at this tiny restaurant on East Colfax, not its beer-centric beverage list, that makes you want to overindulge. In a space no bigger than a home kitchen, chef-owner Royce Oliveira puts out fare that's simultaneously seasonally attuned, comfortable and classy, such as empanadas plump with rabbit or duck, and pork (not chicken) and waffles. The menu reflects Oliveira's training &mdash he spent years at Mizuna before going off on his own &mdash but the vibe is casual, not intimidating. In large part, that's because of the warmth exuded by Oliveira and his wife/pastry chef Leanne Adamson, who run the show from the open kitchen and pour their heart and soul into the place.

Readers' choice: Prohibition

Choosing a favorite restaurant on Havana Street is like picking a favorite child &mdash we love all the diverse ethnic eateries here &mdash but Katsu Ramen is a standout, because the metro area's ramen scene is hotter than sriracha and cooler than mochi ice cream right now. Katsu Ramen threw open its doors in January to crowds eager to sample its five ramen types: shoyu with meat broth, miso with savory broth and vegetables, tonkotsu with pork, tan tan with spicy chicken, and hiyashi chuka, a summery ramen dish with chilled broth. The menu also features popular offerings like pork gyoza dumplings, a seared tuna tataki salad and a refreshing mango-sauced frozen panna cotta. The atmosphere has a certain kitschy charm, with plastic replicas of menu items and a stray Hello Kitty toy or three, but the most important thing here is that the diminutive space can handle volume &mdash and that's exactly what it does every day, with a lunchtime line most restaurants would envy.

This is how you know that Root Down is still the best restaurant at Denver International Airport: You're willing to 1) ride the train from wherever you are at the airport to Concourse C 2) stand in line for a seat once you get there and 3) resist rushing through your Thai carrot-curry soup or mole-drenched breakfast burrito, even if it means a mad dash back to your gate for boarding. An offshoot of Justin Cucci's acclaimed LoHi eatery of the same name, Root Down at DIA serves globally inspired soups, sandwiches and brunch items that go well beyond the norm. Burgers, for example, are made of "never, ever" beef (beef that's never, ever been treated with yucky stuff) on a pretzel bun wraps come with edamame hummus, chicken and minty yogurt and drinks range from Prosecco to local beers. Whether you snag a seat under the hanging globes or next to the window with dramatic views of the runway, you'll find yourself wishing for a text from your airline alerting you to a delay, just so you have time for dessert.


Best Of :: Food & Drink

All those Kremey-come-lately doughnut joints keep coming to town, but Dutch Boy Donuts stubbornly hangs on. It's been frying up terrific doughnuts for 52 years, and a recent facelift should make the place good for another 52. Fortunately, nothing's been changed about the applesauce doughnuts they're still a sweet way to start the day.

As fans of the unbelievably good ribs at Brothers BBQ on Leetsdale since it opened three years ago, we didn't think the British-born O'Sullivan brothers could get any better. But then they opened a second location in an old convenience store in central Denver -- a spot where they can serve cold beer alongside their hot 'cue -- and Brothers is now a real double threat. The dry-rubbed, slow-smoked, St. Louis-cut ribs are so tasty, so tender, we could eat a rack plain, but we also love the peppery, vinegary Memphis-style sauce and the sweet, smoky Kansas City-style sauce. Dem bones, dem bones.

As fans of the unbelievably good ribs at Brothers BBQ on Leetsdale since it opened three years ago, we didn't think the British-born O'Sullivan brothers could get any better. But then they opened a second location in an old convenience store in central Denver -- a spot where they can serve cold beer alongside their hot 'cue -- and Brothers is now a real double threat. The dry-rubbed, slow-smoked, St. Louis-cut ribs are so tasty, so tender, we could eat a rack plain, but we also love the peppery, vinegary Memphis-style sauce and the sweet, smoky Kansas City-style sauce. Dem bones, dem bones.

You'll be dazzled by the late-night look of Dazzle. Even after the funky dining room closes, the intimate, elegant lounge keeps things cooking, serving up down-home favorites with an upscale twist. Stumble in at midnight on a Friday or Saturday night, and you can still snag a dazzling bar burger: a quarter-pounder on focaccia with your choice of Stilton or smoked Gouda, along with exceptional thin-cut French fries. If your night's been a rough one, add some iron via a soothing salad of spinach with candied walnuts and blue cheese. Better to eat late than never at Dazzle. (Fair warning: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the kitchen closes at 10 p.m., and Dazzle is closed entirely on Sundays and Mondays.)

You'll be dazzled by the late-night look of Dazzle. Even after the funky dining room closes, the intimate, elegant lounge keeps things cooking, serving up down-home favorites with an upscale twist. Stumble in at midnight on a Friday or Saturday night, and you can still snag a dazzling bar burger: a quarter-pounder on focaccia with your choice of Stilton or smoked Gouda, along with exceptional thin-cut French fries. If your night's been a rough one, add some iron via a soothing salad of spinach with candied walnuts and blue cheese. Better to eat late than never at Dazzle. (Fair warning: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the kitchen closes at 10 p.m., and Dazzle is closed entirely on Sundays and Mondays.)

Pete's Pizza makes a righteous pie -- and that's even more impressive since all of the pizzas that come out of this kitchen are completely kosher, right down to the meat toppings. For anyone who keeps kosher but still craves America's favorite food, Pete's is a real garden of eatin'.

Pete's Pizza makes a righteous pie -- and that's even more impressive since all of the pizzas that come out of this kitchen are completely kosher, right down to the meat toppings. For anyone who keeps kosher but still craves America's favorite food, Pete's is a real garden of eatin'.

While some Japanese restaurants focus on sushi and others concentrate on cooked dishes, Domo offers the entire Japanese experience -- from the folk-art museum that depicts daily life to the Zen garden and aikido dojo to the fabulous, country-style foods. The latter includes nabemono, with many ingredients cooked together in a clay pot yakimono, with a choice of meats or seafood in one of three sauces and tojimono, dishes made from meats with shiitakes and seaweed, all sautéed in soy or miso broth before being steamed in an egg custard. The country-style sushi, or wankosushi, is chef/owner Gaku Homma's take on the sushi of his youth: raw seafood topped with special seasonings and served alongside little wooden bowls of rice. Domo also has an extensive sake selection try one or two or three while sitting in the attractive dining area, which is filled with flagstone-covered tables, tree-trunk stools and delicate Japanese knickknacks.

While some Japanese restaurants focus on sushi and others concentrate on cooked dishes, Domo offers the entire Japanese experience -- from the folk-art museum that depicts daily life to the Zen garden and aikido dojo to the fabulous, country-style foods. The latter includes nabemono, with many ingredients cooked together in a clay pot yakimono, with a choice of meats or seafood in one of three sauces and tojimono, dishes made from meats with shiitakes and seaweed, all sautéed in soy or miso broth before being steamed in an egg custard. The country-style sushi, or wankosushi, is chef/owner Gaku Homma's take on the sushi of his youth: raw seafood topped with special seasonings and served alongside little wooden bowls of rice. Domo also has an extensive sake selection try one or two or three while sitting in the attractive dining area, which is filled with flagstone-covered tables, tree-trunk stools and delicate Japanese knickknacks.


Best Of :: Goods & Services

Here's a gift for bakers that takes all the guesswork out of making a pie: Littleton-based Mudworks makes colorful, hand-painted, dishwasher- and oven-safe earthenware pie dishes with recipes indelibly glazed into the edges. A wide range of available recipes includes a 1998 best-of-show-winning berry-and-rhubarb tart from the annual National Pie Baking Championships in Boulder and the Perfect Flaky & Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust, from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. Potter Julie Vincelette will also do custom work for folks looking for a novel way to hand down the ingredient list for their dear old Granny's best apple pie.

There are any number of travel agencies and Web sites out there willing to explain the joys of hacking through some fetid South American rainforest. When you need the real dope, though, head to the Jefferson County Health Department's International Health Clinic. There, Janet Ballantyne, the take-no-microbes registered nurse who runs the joint, will give you the lowdown on -- and vaccines for -- the tubercular-ridden, Japanese-encephalitis-infested corner of the world you thought you wanted to visit (until now). An office visit is $15 plus the cost of the vaccines a full "be scared -- be very scared" consultation is $50.

Tired of viewing old pot shards and ethnic weaving products in tasteful displays behind glass? Time to pay a call on Window to the World Museum, a private museum-in-a-mall that holds a globe-girdling collection of memorabilia and souvenirs from its owner/curator's adventures. Sue Koenig taught in Jefferson County schools for twenty years, traveling on her summers off. But in 1984 she decided she wanted something entirely different, so she signed on with an oil company to teach in Saudi Arabia. But when she arrived, she discovered a single woman couldn't check into a hotel room alone, much less run a classroom. Koenig eventually found a job arranging and leading tours outside of the country, and didn't return to the States for good for another twelve years. Today, she keeps busy tending to her 44,000-pound collection of keepsakes from 108 countries, which she shows to groups-- by appointment only.


French Cooking Is Back (and America Has Daniel Rose to Thank)

Jeremy Repanich

Jeremy Repanich's Most Recent Stories

Photo: Kelsey Fain

On a Friday afternoon, Le Coucou in New York is booked solid. The dining room is full of friends celebrating a birthday, coworkers on leisurely lunches, parents treating their college-age offspring to something superior to Kraft Easy Mac, and an enthralled couple leaning in so far across the table, there&rsquos hardly room for the waiter to place their plates. The palpable buzz in the room is what Le Coucou&rsquos chef, Daniel Rose, excitedly refers to as &ldquoaction&rdquo&mdashthe feeling that there&rsquos a soul to a restaurant.

The diners aren&rsquot enjoying some trendy avocado toast, and there&rsquos no Salt Bae wandering around to spill sodium into their laps. They&rsquore eating fusty French food and loving it. And it&rsquos not just them.

In cities large and small across the United States&mdashand even in the suburbs&mdashclassic French is making a comeback. This isn&rsquot your father’s French food it&rsquos your grandfather’s. New restaurants keep popping up showing that butter-laden sauces, pâtés en croûte, escargots, and all manner of old school preparations are fashionable again.

&ldquoA lot of chefs are trained in classic French, and we don&rsquot want to see that style go away,&rdquo says Gavin Kaysen, who recently opened Bellecour in the Twin Cities. &ldquoIt&rsquos coming back strong. Ludo [Lefebvre] is doing it with Petit Trois in LA, and there&rsquos Le Coucou in New York.&rdquo

A few years ago, so many restaurants cooking this anachronistic fare would have seemed odd. Le Coucou and Rose helped change that perception. &ldquoIn France they say le vrai and à peu près: the real and the approximate. In life we&rsquore striving to fill it with things that are real and avoid things that are approximate,&rdquo Rose says. French food had become approximate, a shell of its former self and devoid of the character that made it great in the first place. At Le Coucou, Rose has imbued it with life again.

He didn&rsquot plan this when his foray into French cooking began. The Jewish kid from Chicago who moved to France as a young man has improbably become one of the great evangelists for the country&rsquos classic cuisine. But before reviving it in the States, he had to spend nearly two decades in France&mdashlearning, experimenting, and cooking&mdashto figure out what in life was approximate and what was real.

&ldquoI moved to France on a whim,&rdquo Rose says. &ldquoI found it intriguing.&rdquo But curiosity alone wasn&rsquot enough for French immigration officials to let some American bum around the country indefinitely. In 1998, he enrolled at the American University of Paris to earn a degree in art history and philosophy. But really he was studying France, and he soon became obsessed with the culture. He found cuisine the ideal gateway drug for a Francophile: &ldquoYou don&rsquot have to speak the language to get into it, you can just go to restaurants.&rdquo

The more he learned, the more his fascination deepened. After graduation, Rose left Paris for Lyon to continue his food education, enrolling in culinary school. &ldquoI didn&rsquot know I wanted to be a chef,&rdquo he says. &ldquoI just thought, &lsquoWell, this is a way of getting into France in a more profound way.&rsquo It turned out to be quite true.&rdquo

The French approach to food&mdashample structure and endless indexing&mdashsuited his style of learning. &ldquoI couldn&rsquot have become an Italian chef, because I&rsquom a student. You go to Italy to hang out with a bunch of Italian grandmothers and spend 30 years trying to learn the same thing,&rdquo Rose says. &ldquoFrance is a very structured culture, so you can access it in very structured ways&mdashby going to school, for example.&rdquo

The home of Daniel Boulud and Paul Bocuse, Lyon and its surrounds are legendary in French cooking and a magnet for young cooks. The city has long been considered the country&rsquos culinary capital, but Rose arrived to find that was no longer the case. &ldquoIt has a mythology. There&rsquos a strong history and identity, but it&rsquos a little museum-​esque.&rdquo Yet for someone like him who was interested in learning the roots of French cooking and culture, Lyon was the place to be. Its rich history offered him the chance to learn the old ways in order to forge ahead with his own cooking.

At culinary school the traditions began to cohere, but not always in class. One day Rose saw a teacher making quenelles for himself. It was a profound moment for him. The instructor painstakingly crafted an airy dumpling by deboning a fish, mixing it with egg and cream, and poaching it before topping it with a crayfish sauce. &ldquoYou take what&rsquos essential from it,&rdquo says Rose, &ldquothe subtle taste of the river with pike, and you use technique to amplify that taste, then make a sauce with crayfish from the same place. A sense of terroir.&rdquo Years of tradition and refinement had created this classic, and Rose found himself as taken with the process of creating it as with the intended result.

&ldquoFrench cooking has cataloged and determined what is satisfying,&rdquo Rose says. &ldquoThe point of all the effort&mdashthe cataloging of these recipes, the study of technique, the hierarchy of the kitchen&mdashwas a hedonistic attempt to create a pleasurable moment. It&rsquos a handbook for a good time.&rdquo When the time came for him to open a restaurant, he decided that he would capture that essence and use food to facilitate what he regularly refers to as &ldquolife-affirming moments.&rdquo

In 2006, after a few years of bouncing around Brittany, Paris, and even Guatemala, he opened Spring, a 16-seat restaurant in Paris with himself as the lone employee. Though open kitchens existed elsewhere, it was revolutionary in France when he literally tore down the wall separating himself from the dining room. He did it so he could see the tables and thus not need as many employees, but there was a fortunate side effect: It was easier for him to interact as he cooked and read people&rsquos reactions, forging a stronger connection with the diners. He also served the same set menu to everyone at the same time to create a sense of shared experience&mdashanother feature that admittedly had a very practical raison d&rsquoêtre.

&ldquoThere was a certain energy from serving everyone at the same time that got people excited,&rdquo Rose says. &ldquoThe reason I did that was not because I thought it was spectacular. It wouldn&rsquot have been possible to cook for all those people at different times, because I didn&rsquot have the skills to do it.&rdquo

Not yet confident in his grasp of classic dishes, he served contemporary fare rooted in French traditions. If he offered a quenelle, he wouldn&rsquot necessarily create the version he saw his teacher make he&rsquod change the sauce to something more modern. Eventually he added more employees, and the small operation found its groove. Curiosity grew for the energetic American devoted to French food. And despite some hiccups, the restaurant started booking up months in advance.

&ldquoThe coolest thing anyone ever said when I opened Spring is that it&rsquos a restaurant that resembles life. This has stuck with me ever since,&rdquo Rose says. &ldquoWhat is life? Sometimes it&rsquos high, sometimes it&rsquos low. Sometimes it&rsquos love, sometimes it&rsquos despair. Sometimes it&rsquos intense, sometimes it&rsquos boring as fuck.&rdquo

Spring ascended as Paris experienced a culinary identity crisis. The city&rsquos grand restaurants were disappointing the populace. French fine dining lost its way, becoming overly complicated, fussy, and a little too obsessed with what a tire manufacturer turned restaurant guide deemed worthy. &ldquoI don&rsquot think Michelin is an adequate barometer of anything that&rsquos going on in the food world anymore,&rdquo Rose says. Chefs tried to satisfy Michelin&rsquos definition of quality, and restaurants grew almost monastic&mdashchurches of food that sucked the life out of going out.

&ldquoThe greatest French restaurants are formal, but so excellent at it they put you at ease. The point of the formality was to incite pleasure,&rdquo Rose says. &ldquoBut then it became formality for formality&rsquos sake, and they forgot about the pleasurable part.&rdquo In other words, the real had become approximate, and people looked elsewhere for more creative and lively fare.

Though Rose sometimes gets lumped in with the bistronomy movement in Paris, which cultivated a dining scene in which people flocked to bistros instead of the grander venues, his food was distinct from what the hip chefs in town served. Many of them had grown up in France and looked outward to Asia, Basque Country, and New Nordic cuisine. &ldquoFoodwise, he was representing more true French ideas,&rdquo says Jeremiah Stone, a U.S. chef who cooked in Paris in the early 2010s. &ldquoIt resembled classic or fine dining, but with a more casual atmosphere.&rdquo

Rose&rsquos style had detractors. &ldquoThe French either loved him or hated him. He&rsquos an American coming into Paris and embracing French cooking at its core, loving it more than some of the French do,&rdquo says Daniel Eddy, a former chef at Spring. While eating lunch elsewhere on a day off, Eddy witnessed a telling exchange between two restaurant gadflies. &ldquoThey were gourmands&mdashguys who spent their time eating in restaurants and discussing food. They were having a heated discussion about the state of French cuisine in Paris, and at one point one of the guys slams his fist on the table and he&rsquos like, &lsquoThe worst part about it is, the person who&rsquos cooking the best French food right now is American!&rsquo &rdquo

The success of Spring led Rose to a bigger incarnation. He spent 2 years converting a skateboard shop near the Louvre into a new, larger establishment, which brought with it new pressures.

&ldquoI saw fits of rage when the quality wasn&rsquot where it needed to be, and it drove him mad. I saw food fly in that kitchen,&rdquo Eddy says. &ldquoI can look back on it fondly now, but in the moment, I thought, &lsquoThis guy&rsquos crazy.&rsquo &rdquo

&ldquoI was extremely intense,&rdquo Rose says. &ldquoIt was like the universe was crumbling because of this one thing going wrong. I&rsquod show people how to do things, and they didn&rsquot do it right. It was so obvious to me and not as obvious to everyone else. That&rsquos probably because I&rsquod spent 5 years thinking about it.&rdquo

With age came mellowing. One day Eddy&rsquos father visited, and though the cook had a long list of items to prep before service, Rose insisted the team break for lunch. &ldquoAll of a sudden this bountiful meal was created. We were eating like royalty,&rdquo Eddy says. &ldquoMy dad comes in to sit with us and our 30-​minute meal turns into an hour and a half. Out comes a bottle of Champagne, then another bottle of wine. Daniel was very much like, &lsquoIf we&rsquore not having fun, what&rsquos the point?&rsquo You have to understand what generosity feels like if you want to be generous to others. And he is one of the most generous people I know.&rdquo

In 2014, as his stature and Spring&rsquos waiting list were growing, Rose returned to New York to cook there for the first time. The night left an impression on Alex Baker, a young cook who assisted him at the event and is now the chef at Yves in Tribeca. &ldquoHe was all over the place and running around, but organized and knew exactly what he was doing,&rdquo she says. When, in a pinch, he had to make a vegetarian dish, he set Baker to execute an idea he had right then that started with a vegetable stock. &ldquoHe told me to put vegetables in water and simmer it. I go to the sink, thinking because we need it quickly, I&rsquoll fill the pot with hot water,&rdquo Baker says. &ldquoAnd he&rsquos like, &lsquoNo, no, no, no. Use cold water.&rsquo I said, &lsquoWhy?&rsquo He responded, &lsquoBecause the cold water is more pure. It&rsquos not going through the heated pipes and the hot water will taint the flavor of the vegetables.&rsquo I&rsquoll never forget that. He just came up with this beautiful stock and dish right on the fly, and it was just so natural for him.&rdquo

The New York event did little to convince Rose to leave Paris for the Big Apple. &ldquoIt did the opposite,&rdquo he says &ldquoI knew my time in France wasn&rsquot over.&rdquo That feeling didn&rsquot last. Not long after New York, he acknowledged that Spring&rsquos tasting-​menu format had started wearing on him. &ldquoI had told people for 10 years to come and have dinner, but they didn&rsquot get to choose what to eat,&rdquo he says.

Eventually the idea of opening a restaurant in New York began to intrigue him. For one, &ldquoMy wife always wanted to move to the States,&rdquo he says, and he was curious to see if his notion of French food could succeed in the city. But career restlessness alone didn&rsquot make him leave. Sheer terror played a role as well. &ldquoCharlie Hebdo, when they killed the cartoonists, I remember thinking, &lsquoOh good, I&rsquom not that funny, so this is not a dangerous place to be.&rsquo But then late that year, on Friday the 13th, the attacks,&rdquo Rose says. Bombers and shooters struck across Paris&mdashoutside the national soccer stadium, at cafés, and at the Bataclan theater. The attacks killed 130 and injured 413 more. It made him believe that life was too short to not take this new challenge. &ldquoWe were locked down in the restaurant. After that I accelerated the process of leaving,&rdquo he says. &ldquoI thought, &lsquoI don&rsquot know if this is what I want to do, but life is meant to be lived. We&rsquove got to go.&rsquo &rdquo

Inside Le Coucou&rsquos open kitchen, it&rsquos easy to spot Rose, who stands in stark contrast to his brigade. While he&rsquos dressed in black and gray, the remainder of the staff are resplendent in starched whites, some donning the old-school toques as if playing French chefs in a movie.

Unlike many chefs, Rose isn&rsquot stationary at the pass, calling out tickets and organizing the chaos. He is the chaos. He darts around the U-shaped kitchen stations tasting sauces, seasoning, and offering guidance&mdashspinning himself in circles as he tries to direct two stations at once.

This wasn&rsquot supposed to work. For a decade, the classic French he&rsquos serving at Le Coucou wasn&rsquot exactly cool. The public was still sort of eating French, with some chefs applying French technique to the dishes of different cuisines and others refracting French dishes themselves in ways that confounded Rose.

&ldquoDirty French gets it all wrong. It&rsquos a provocative break from French tradition, but it&rsquos just a misunderstanding,&rdquo Rose says about the popular New York restaurant from chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi that tweaks traditional French dishes with ingredients from other cultures. &ldquoIt has nothing to do with the quality, it&rsquos an intellectual problem. You have to have a deep understanding of the original thing before you go messing with it. My wife and I love their restaurant Carbone. They have a deep and fundamental understanding of Italian-American food,&rdquo he continues. &ldquoWith Dirty French, there&rsquos a lack of understanding of the pleasures of the original dish. The grilled lamb with potatoes cooked a certain way doesn&rsquot get better with these Moroccan spices. Sure, it gets more remarkable, in that people will remark on it.&rdquo

Coming back to the States, Rose wasn&rsquot going to mess with the original. He felt 18 years in France had given him the understanding of French cuisine and the tools needed to execute the classics and introduce them anew in a way he couldn&rsquot in Paris. And he wanted to test his belief that French food and great French restaurants were engineered over a century to give people a good time.

Not everyone was so confident. His business partner, the successful restaurateur Stephen Starr, had ideas about the menu. &ldquoHe told me &lsquoWe&rsquove got to have something like this, and this, and where&rsquos the salad?&rsquo I said, &lsquoIt doesn&rsquot matter.&rsquo People told me, &lsquoIt won&rsquot work, it&rsquos too subtle. It&rsquos not punchy enough. Critics are going to panic.&rsquo I kept saying things like, &lsquoI&rsquove served worse food to better critics.&rsquo &rdquo

He got his way with the menu, and the critics came down on his side. The reviews embraced his vision of old-school French. And when the Oscars of the restaurant world&mdashthe James Beard Awards&mdashcame around, Le Coucou took home the prize for the country&rsquos best new restaurant. Such high-profile success gives others who love the cuisine&mdashand, more importantly, investors&mdashthe confidence to create French restaurants again.

Right now, French is in the best phase in the common arc of a food trend, where a committed collection of talented chefs like Gavin Kaysen, Dominique Crenn, and Jamie Malone have devoted themselves to a cuisine with their full heart and soul behind it. Soon will come the copycats with the technical ability but not quite the emotional investment in the food, and their version will be good but not special. Then will come the bad versions, where it&rsquos people trying to make French because it&rsquos cool. Diners will eat enough bad quenelles that they&rsquoll be bored with French food all over again. &ldquoWhen that happens,&rdquo Rose says, &ldquothe only thing I can be sure of is that I&rsquoll be on to something else.&rdquo It won&rsquot be an approximation.


By Robrt L. Pela

Myke Olsen of Myke's Pizza

Myke Olsen dreamed of opening a pizzeria.

"It's a cliché to say so, I know," the owner of Myke's Pizza admits. "But getting fired from my accounting job was one of the best things that ever happened to me."

Olsen had been unhappy counting beans, but he loved pizza. He'd been hosting monthly pizza parties with his friend Jared Allen, founder of beloved bakery Proof Bread, for a couple of years. "I started to notice that my friends really liked the combinations I was creating," he says of his amateur pies. "I started to think maybe I could do this."


RELATED ARTICLES

Preparing your own snacks is one cost-effective way to ensure the family is eating enough nutritious, filling food every day

2. Cook larger meals using base ingredients

Susie's 'cook one, eat twice' method involves finding a meal base that can be used in multiple recipes, resulting in more meals and less cooking time.

Through this technique, at least two healthy meals can be cooked at once and Susie recommends using lean meat as the 'base ingredient'.

'Pasta bakes and lasagnes work particularly well, as does a mince base used in multiple recipes, soups, stir fries and pies which all freeze well and are well liked by all (or at least most) family members,' she said.

Incorporating at least one vegetarian dish into the weekly meal schedule is not only another healthy option but will save you at least $20 per meal, Susie said

3. Choose one vegetable-based meal

Incorporating at least one vegetarian dish into the weekly meal schedule is not only another healthy option but will save you at least $20 per meal.

Vegetarian meals such as nachos and haloumi burgers often only cost $3 per serve, which is perfect for large families.

Purchasing seasonal produce is Susie's final tip to shopping for healthy food catered to a large family.

'Seasonal produce is always a cheaper option, but another trick is to freeze extra produce when it is in season, so you always have a supply on hand,' she said.

Consider purchasing and freezing fruit such as mangoes or berries, which can be stored for up to 12 months in the freezer.

The frozen fruit can then be added into smoothies or baked in homemade fruit cakes.


Watch the video: Το κίνημα των Vegan στην Ελλάδα.Αυτοψία 1432019 (December 2021).