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Pete Wells Gives 2 Stars to Rôtisserie Georgette

Pete Wells Gives 2 Stars to Rôtisserie Georgette


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"Earlier this year Rôtisserie Georgette put a new chef in charge of its spit-roasted chickens and fish, its fries flecked with tarragon and its baby potatoes heavy with meat drippings, and I couldn’t tell the difference," says Pete Wells of Rôtisserie Georgette.

This week, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells gives two stars to Upper East Side’s Rôtisserie Georgette, where a new chef is in charge, and Wells “couldn’t tell the difference.”

He means this as a compliment, comparing the new chef’s cooking style to classic French music: “Rôtisserie Georgette isn’t writing any new music,” he says. “The kitchen, now under Chad Brauze, plays standards from the French songbook and plays them well, with what a colleague who has eaten high and low around the city calls ‘a refreshing lack of creativity.’”

Two rotisseries, standing back to back in the kitchen, are the chief cookware in this restaurant: “The one facing the dining room is a tall steel model with brass trim, loaded up with pudgy chickens, small flocks of stuffed quail, dorade locked in a cage with lemon wheels and thyme branches.”

Wells spends two chunky paragraphs on the chicken, where it comes from, and it’s flavor and taste.

“Rôtisserie Georgette will sell you half a chicken for $24 or a whole one, which feeds two people for $36 each. The economy model, raised on an Amish farm in Indiana, is rubbed with herbes de Provence and cracked coriander seeds. Roasted chickens don’t always pick up the flavor of the herbs they’re stuffed with. These birds do. The legs are tender without disintegrating into strands, as rotisserie dark meat can do. The white meat is close to ideal, with just a whisker of dryness at the narrow tips…”

For Wells' full review, click here.


NYT Gives Zero Stars to Fast-Casual Restaurant from Eleven Madison Park Team

New York Times critic Pete Wells may love Eleven Madison Park, but he is decidedly not a fan of Will Guidara and Daniel Humm’s attempt at fast casual. The critic awarded the Made Nice, the much-anticipated fast-casual restaurant from the often celebrated fine dining duo, zero stars today.

Wells laments that the salads and composed plates at Made Nice are are mere shadows of the versions at Eleven Madison Park and the Nomad, the New York City fine-dining restaurants from Guidara and Humm. The chicken at the Nomad “tastes as if it comes from some lost island where the gene that controls delicious chicken flavor has been passed down intact for centuries,” Wells writes. “The Made Nice chicken, by contrast, is ordinary — moist without being juicy, as if all its flavor had leaked out of the meat in order to make the stuffing as gummy as possible.”

But, Wells continues, “some of the food at Made Nice doesn’t just suffer by comparison it can also suffer all on its own.” There are just three dishes on the menu that Wells would eat again: a watermelon and quinoa salad, the steak salad, and a smoked salmon salad. Made Nice’s soft serve dessert, a take on the milk and honey at Eleven Madison Park and the Nomad, is also worth trying, according to Wells.

Wells admits that the takeout and delivery experience, likely the one for which Made Nice was designed, is passable — “Eating food like this at your desk would not feel like a complete surrender,” he writes — but as a restaurant, Made Nice falls short.

Eater New York’s restaurant critic Ryan Sutton also reviewed Made Nice today, noting that the “unexciting” lunch bowls do little to recapture the magic of World’s 50 Best restaurant Eleven Madison Park.


14 Restaurants That Prove the Upper East Side is Cool Again

Because the smartest diners aren't going below 57th Street these days.

From standout Italian to world-class sushi, here are the best Upper East Side restaurants to try now.

Vibe: Omar Hernandez, a Venezuelan native who runs the Greenwich Village supper club Omar's, brought his vivacious downtown energy to the bar and upstairs dining room of Michael White's French restaurant. "I want to bring more fun to the Upper East Side," Hernandez told the New York Times in advance of the restaurant's opening. "It&rsquos having a revival, and I want to be part of that." Unlike anything else in the neighborhood, the candlelit dining room features a disco ball and live music (check the schedule here).

Standout Dishes: Chicken Tagine, Spaghetti Carbonara, White Label Burger

100 East 63rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues) [email protected] omaratvaucluse.com

Vibe: Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten gave his first restaurant his own childhood nickname when he opened it in 1991. Located on the ground and parlor floors of a townhouse, the restaurant got a major design revamp and reopened in late 2017. The dark decor was traded in for pale parquet floors and brick whitewashed walls, and the farm-to-table menu includes mostly organic and local ingredients.

Standout Dishes: Peekytoe Crab Dumplings, Marinated Charred Duck Breast, Passion Fruit Pavlova

160 East 64th Street (between Lexington and Third Avenues) 212-223-5656 jojorestaurantnyc.com

Vibe: Former White House Pasty Chef Bill Yosses worked for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who declared, "Whatever pie you like, he will make it and it will be the best pie you have ever eaten." Upper East Siders are lucky, as Yosses recently opened this all-day, French-inspired café near the corner of 63rd and Lexington. The pastries and desserts&mdashmany of which are displayed in a case near the front door&mdashare the stars of the show, but you can't go wrong with the savory menu items either.

Standout Dishes: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Duck Breast, Pies

134 East 61st Street (between Lexington and Park Avenues) 212-410-3262 perfectpie.com

Vibe: An homage to the late Italian-American actor Rudolph Valentino, Il Divo is an outpost of restaurateur Antonio Sinesi's Al Valentino in Milan, which has been open for 15 years. Photographs of Valentino line the walls of the intimate space, which features white-tablecloth tables and wallpaper by Ralph Lauren.

Standout Dishes: Hamachi Carpaccio alla Pizzaiola, Cavatelli with Octopus Genovese Ragout, "Acqua Pazza" Codfish, and Caprese Chocolate Ice Cream

1347 Second Avenue (at the corner of East 71st Street) 212-380-8164 ildivo.restaurant

Vibe: This buzzy offshoot of Greek hotspot Avra offers a selection of 30 different fish flown in daily from around the world and caters to regulars like Tony Bennett, Laura Dern, and Ronald Lauder.

Standout Dishes: Grilled Octopus, Greek Salad, Fish by the pound such as Fagri or Lithrini

14 East 60th Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues) 212-937-0100 avrany.com

Vibe: In the space next door to Avra Madison is this temple to roast chicken and other classic dishes. The space, helmed by former Daniel Boulud public relations honcho Georgette Farkas, attracts a well-heeled, elegant crowd including shoppers stopping in for a repast after visiting Barneys across the street.

Standout Dishes: Salade G, Poulet Rôti, Poule de Luxe, Rôtisserie Potatoes

14 East 60th Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues) 212-390-8060 rotisserieg.com

Vibe: This charming neighborhood spot relocated from the West Village, where it was a beloved fixture on Bleecker Street. The Upper East Side crowd took a liking to it early on&mdashwith good reason. It's the kind of place one wants to return to night after night.

Standout Dishes: Cauliflower Risotto, Roasted Organic Chicken, Braised Short Ribs with Honey Sriracha Brussels Sprouts

791 Lexington Avenue (between 61st and 62nd Streets) 212-935-1433 augustny.com

Vibe: This collaboration between chef Masayoshi Takayama and gallery owner Larry Gagosian is in the same building as Gagosian's UES gallery, so you can be sure to see art world machers who don't mind paying a pretty penny for Takayama's Japanese cuisine. (The chef's main restaurant, Masa, in the Time Warner Center, is the most expensive restaurant in New York City.)

Standout Dishes: Baby Dancing Shrimp, Sizzling Grilled Octopus

976 Madison Avenue (between 76th and 77th Streets) 212- 906-7141 kappomasanyc.com

Vibe: The third Boqueria to open in NYC, this buzzy Spanish tapas bar attracts a chic crowd that resembles that of its downtown locations.

Standout Dishes: Cojonudo (fried quail eggs and chorizo on toast), Pulpo a la Gallega (grilled octopus, picual olive oil mashed potatoes, fennel, smoked pimentón)

1460 2nd Avenue (between 76th and 77th Streets) 212-343-2227 boquerianyc.com

Vibe: Chef Michael White made a name for himself with Marea, his paean to Italian seafood on NYC's Columbus Circle. After a series of subsequent hits, White opened Vaucluse, his first foray into French cuisine. Here, White and his business partner Ahmass Fakahany have created a neighborhood restaurant for a clientele that has craved an elegant French brasserie since the shuttering of La Goulue. The updated classic French dishes alone make the restaurant well worth a visit&mdashif you can snag a table.

Standout Dishes: Foie Gras Poêlé, Lobster Raviolo, Duck à l'Orange (for two), White Label Burger

What to Drink: Among the cocktails, the Le Diplomate (Old Forrester bourbon, Lillet Blanc, and elderflower liqueur) is a standout, especially for its flower garnish. The wine offerings are mostly French, but a special selection of 300 French-influenced bottles made by American producers (half of which are under $100) is an attractive option.

100 East 63rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues) 646-869-2300 vauclusenyc.com

Vibe: This eatery opened in early November from Tom and Anthony Martignetti, who also own the aforementioned Pizza Beach and The East Pole. It replaced Cafe Americano, the brothers' ode to Italy, after the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a permit for a gas kitchen in the rear of the building. The restaurant is open seven days a week for dinner from 5 p.m. to midnight, and for brunch on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a focus on local fish and seafood dishes.

Standout Dishes: Fried Oyster Sliders, Lobster Burger, Grilled Striped Bass

What to Drink: Try one of the natural white wines.

964 Lexington Avenue (between 70th and 71st Streets) 646-870-9007 theeastpolefishbar.com

Vibe: New Yorkers know the name Eli Zabar from his high-end markets around the city and in the Hamptons. His charming full-service restaurant features a menu that changes with the seasons.

Standout Dishes: Dry Aged Steak for Two & Hand Cut Pommes Frites, Eli's Rooftop Greens with Banyuls Vinaigrette (sourced from his rooftop greenhouse on York Ave)

What to Drink: Choose from among the wine cellar's more than 22,000 bottles the list focuses heavily on Burgundy and Piedmont.

1413 Third Avenue (between 80th and 81st Streets) 212-717-9798 elistablenyc.com

Vibe: Forget just the Upper East Side&mdashFlora Bar is one of the top critics' darlings in all of New York City. The restaurant received two- and three-star reviews from Pete Wells at the New York Times and Adam Platt at New York magazine, respectively. That perhaps should not come as a surprise considering how beloved restaurateur Thomas Carter and chef Ignacio Mattos's original spot downtown, Estela, is. Here, the duo has infused the museum cafe downstairs at the Met Breuer with new energy and some of the best seafood in town. And for fall 2017, Flora Bar has extended its hours on both Saturday and Sunday and added dishes like an Egg and Cheese Sandwich with tomato chutney to its brunch menu (be sure to request a table in the outdoor garden when it's open).

Standout Dishes: Blue Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce, Lobster Crudo, Steak with Beets and Béarnaise, Rutabaga and Raclette Tart, Chocolate Parfait with Amarena Cherries

What to Drink: Tuxedo # 2 Cocktail and pretty much anything from the very comprehensive wine list

Vibe: Chef David Burke transformed his former restaurant Fishtail into David Burke Tavern, a neighborhood spot focused on elevated pub fare. The modern American tavern features a lounge and main dining room along with private event spaces that include an intimate "salt room" whose walls are lined with Himalayan salt bricks (a nod to the Himalayan pink salt slabs on which Burke cooks some of the dishes to give them extra flavor). There is also a newly opened chef's studio decorated with some of Burke's favorite pieces of art. The space includes two long, rectangular tables that seat up to 15 guests and provide the setting for Burke's monthly wine dinners.

Standout Dishes: "Clothesline" Candied Bacon, Duck, Duck, Duck (duck prepared three ways), Cheesecake Lollipop Tree

What to Drink: Try the OOlongIsland Iced Tea, served in a mason jar.

135 East 62nd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues) 212-988-9021 davidburketavern.com

Vibe: Oath Pizza began as a fast-casual concept on Nantucket and quickly gained acclaim for grilled thin-crust pies that are seared in avocado oil and topped with ethically sourced, all-natural ingredients (it's the first pizza to receive the Certified Humane seal of approval). The Upper East Side location, its first in New York City, is bright, airy, and features an extra-friendly staff.

Standout Dishes: The "Bella," shown here, is made with mozzarella, ricotta, and Grana Padano cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic, balsamic drizzle, and fresh basil. Also try a seasonal special like The "Reuben," which includes pastrami and sauerkraut from Dicksons Farmstand Meats.


Millions of animal species roam the earth. Only a few dozen end up on posters for the zoo, though, or featured in calendars mailed out by environmental organizations. These animals, which tend to be impressively large, all have a certain star quality: the elephants, the giraffes, the gorillas, the big cats. In the phrase used by zoologists and conservationists, they are charismatic megafauna. A pride of lions on a fund-raising pitch can be relied on to bring in money that can be used to save the ground squirrel and the lilac-breasted rollers.

Back when the restaurant ecosystem was functioning healthily, it had its charismatic megafauna, too. These were the places that people halfway around the world have heard of, the ones whose names would be mentioned whenever the best food cities came up for debate the ones around which a whole class of tourists would plan international food safaris.

But a city’s most famous restaurants aren’t always its most important, just as the giant panda isn’t necessarily the species most crucial to the health of its habitat. If this distinction wasn’t already obvious, it has been made clear over the past year. Some of New York’s most avidly followed kitchens have been dark for most or all of the pandemic, including the Grill, Atomix, Per Se, Balthazar and Le Coucou. One predictable, if still very weird, effect of this is that these restaurants, once constant attention getters, are now talked about so little that it’s as if they never existed.

Most of the places that have played significant parts in the pandemic lives of New Yorkers — the New Yorkers who stayed, not those who fled — are virtually unknown in Los Angeles and London. To qualify, a restaurant needs to cook exactly what you want for dinner tonight. If it’s within walking distance of your home, even better.

Winner, in Park Slope, is too far from my own Brooklyn neighborhood for me to walk round-trip on an empty stomach. But in almost every other way, it is my ideal pandemic restaurant and its rotisserie chicken, brushed with smoked honey and rounded out with a pound or so of roasted potatoes, some braised kale and a noticeably fresh sourdough baguette, is my ideal pandemic meal.

Daniel Eddy, its owner and chef, opened what was meant to be the first part of Winner’s operation, a corner bakery and cafe, last March. It ran for four days before closing an adjacent wine bar hadn’t opened yet and still hasn’t. Ever since, Winner’s food has been strictly to-go. Most of it is destined to be eaten elsewhere, although in decent weather it’s possible to unwrap your haul at one of the small tables on 11th Street, just off Seventh Avenue.

I’ve been a semiregular customer over the past few months. In the morning I’ve swung by for a macchiato and one of the remarkable sourdough croissants, tangy and a little salty, that the pastry chef, Ali Spahr, makes. I’ve picked up dinner on several evenings, too. Each time, I’ve been impressed by Winner’s ability to pack so many of the things I miss about restaurants into a simple exchange transacted through a window.

One way the restaurant achieves this is by refusing to do delivery. You can order breakfast and lunch at the window dinner has to be arranged in advance, by email. Either way, your first encounter is with one of Winner’s employees or Mr. Eddy himself, not a third-party app. Apps may be convenient, but I’ve never used an app that remembered that a member of my household has a life-threatening food allergy, as a Winner employee did the second time I placed a dinner order. Nor have I had one offer to set aside a few loaves of bread, which typically sell out by late afternoon.

Those breads are worth the trouble. Kevin Bruce, whose last job was kneading Danish rugbrod and grantoftegaard at Great Northern Food Hall, bakes six kinds of loaves a day in a two-rack oven on a tight schedule. It starts at 7:30 a.m., when hefty little bricks of dark rye shot through with sunflower seeds are ready. A sourdough boule whose composition changes day to day comes out at 11 a.m. the buckwheat version sold on Tuesdays and Saturdays is something of a miracle, at once suave and earthy. The baking day ends at 2 p.m., when the baguettes go on sale.

A baguette plus a rotisserie chicken nearly always equals a satisfying dinner. They add up to considerably more than that at Winner, where the bread is just a few hours old and the roast was finished within half an hour or so of your pickup appointment. While you wouldn’t call Winner a French restaurant, the extraordinary attention it pays to ordinary staples may remind you of the neighborhood shops in Paris, where Mr. Eddy lived while he was cooking under Daniel Rose at Spring. (More recently, he was the opening chef at Rebelle, a French restaurant on the Bowery that is now closed.)

The pandemic has brought the city a flurry of new pop-ups. Winner hosts one every week, with a guest chef who cooks a “friends and family meal.” A few weeks ago, the program introduced me to the rich delights of collards in shrimp sauce as prepared by Telly Justice, a trans woman who is planning to open “a restaurant by queer people for all people” in Brooklyn, to be called Hags.

I don’t exactly remember which wine Lisandra Bernadet, the sommelier, recommended with Telly Justice’s cooking, but I believe it came from Slovenia, glowed with a pale-gold skin contact tint, had been made about eight years ago and, like almost all the bottles at Winner, cost well under $40. A conversation through an open window about Slovenian orange wines is another thing I’ve never gotten from GrubHub.

Winner’s wine bar is in a former carriage house, where there is just enough room for the rotisserie oven, a few standing customers and a single table. Will strangers ever rub elbows there? Will travelers with freshly scanned passports give Winner’s address to their drivers at the airport? They should. There isn’t anything mega about the place, but it’s loaded with charisma.

What the Stars Mean Because of the pandemic, restaurants are not being given star ratings.


Pete Wells Gives 2 Stars to Rôtisserie Georgette - Recipes

Note: General Assembly quickly flopped, and closed in September 2014. The transfer of the same owners’ Park Avenue [name-your-season] concept from its original location (where it lost its lease) has replaced it. This will be the third concept in the space in a matter of a few short years. Park Avenue was a long-term success in its first home, so if it fails here, I have to think the owners will give up on the location.

For about 10 minutes in 2010, it looked like Tiki Bars were going to make a comeback. Hurricane Club was the glitziest of them all, a 250-seat behemoth that could’ve put Tahiti out of business. If it had worked.

By mid-2013, it was called Hurricane Steak and Sushi, and by late 2013 it was kaput. What must’ve been the most expensive AvroKO design concept ever was hauled out to trash, and replaced with another expensive AvroKO design concept called General Assembly.

The bright, airy space is an Art Nouveau revival. The cuisine is either “a market-driven grill” or “a bistro with . . . French and Italian influences.” It’s a crowd-pleaser without a point of view. Craig Koketsu, the corporate chef at Fourth Wall Restaurants, has long since proven that he can run a competent kitchen, and he does so here. If there are no revelations on the menu, there are no weak spots either. It won’t enter the culinary conversation, but most diners in its target demographic will go home happy.

During our visit, the restaurant was subjected to one of the few forms of legalized terrorism, a visit from the Department of Health. For the record, GA’s predecessor, Hurricane Club (with the same operators), earned an “A” grade a year ago. A repeat visit in January netted just 2 violation points. Three of its four sister restaurants currently have “A” grades one has a “B”.

Despite this exemplary record, an inspector shut down the whole restaurant between 6:00 and 8:30pm on a Friday evening. No parties were seated. At the bar, the staff tossed all of the prepared sodas and syrups, apparently as a precautionary measure. Wine and beer were served on the house, while they awaited the all-clear. After a couple of hours, runners brought out canapés, free of charge. I was determined to support the restaurant, but by then many parties with reservations gave up and left. General Assembly passed its inspection, but I’ll bet the visit cost them $10,000 or more in lost business and food/drinks both given and thrown away.

This is not the first time I’ve visited a perfectly safe restaurant during a DOH inspection, and it is not unusual. In 2013, the DOH shut down La Grenouille twice during dinner service (once with then-Mayor Bloomberg present), both times renewing its “A” grade (see stories here, here). These terror inspections at perfectly clean establishments ruin dinner for dozens or even hundreds of people, and impose huge costs on restaurant operators.

Due to the length of our wait, and perhaps because I was recognized, General Assembly comped the entire meal for our party of four. (I couldn’t tell for sure if anyone else was comped.) The online menu does not show prices, and we didn’t receive a bill. As I recall, prices were in line with other Fourth Wall places, with entrées generally in the $20s and $30s, and some steaks above that level.

The bread (above left), served warm in a cast-iron pan, was terrific. We started with the Raclette (above right), which came with sliced meats, grilled potatoes, and pickled vegetables.

I didn’t try the Sea Bass with avocado, snow peas and shiitake (above left), but our friend seemed pleased with it. Lamb Ribs (above right) were terrific, but the menu failed to state that this is an extremely spicy dish, which I wouldn’t have minded, but the companion who ordered it did.

Wendy wasn’t that hungry, so she ordered a soft-shell crab appetizer as her main course (above left), and was quite satisfied. I ordered the duck confit with gingered kumquats and apricots (above right), a good preparation of this classic dish.

Three of us ordered desserts. I didn’t note the description of the first two, but my own choice, the lemon&ndashblueberry chiffon ice cream (far right, above) was a fine way to end the meal.

A DOH visit makes for a stressful evening. The staff handled it calmly, keeping us abreast of the situation while we waited, and serving us promptly after it was over. I wouldn’t call General Assembly an ambitious restaurant in any sense, but it offered exactly the kind of experience our guests wanted. It took two hours more than we’d planned, but I’m glad we offered our support while the health department terrorist inspector shut down a perfectly safe restaurant for no reason.

General Assembly (360 Park Avenue South at 26th Street, Gramercy/Flatiron)


Cooking


After traveling across three continents to stalk the modern story of butter, award-winning food writer and former pastry chef Elaine Khosrova serves up a story as rich, textured, and culturally relevant as butter itself.

From its humble agrarian origins to its present-day artisanal glory, butter has a fascinating story to tell, and Khosrova is the perfect person to tell it. With tales about the ancient butter bogs of Ireland, the pleasure dairies of France, and the sacred butter sculptures of Tibet, Khosrova details butter's role in history, politics, economics, nutrition, and even spirituality and art. Readers will also find the essential collection of core butter recipes, including beurre manié, croissants, pâte brisée, and the only buttercream frosting anyone will ever need, as well as practical how-tos for making various types of butter at home--or shopping for the best.

"A fascinating, tasty read . . . And what a bonus to have a collection of essential classic butter recipes included." --David Tanis, author of A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes

"Following the path blazed by Margaret Visser in Much Depends on Dinner, Elaine Khosrova makes much of butter and the ruminants whose milk man churns. You will revel in dairy physics. And you may never eat margarine again." --John T. Edge, author of The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South

"Butter proves that close study can reveal rich history, lore, and practical information. All that and charm too." --Mimi Sheraton, author of 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die

"Irresistible and fascinating . . . This is one of those definitive books on a subject that every cook should have." --Elisabeth Prueitt, co-owner of Tartine Bakery

"The history of one of the most delectable ingredients throughout our many cultures and geography over time is wonderfully churned and emulsified in Khosrova's Butter . . . Delightful storytelling." --Elizabeth Falkner, author of Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake


A Tangy, Crunchy Twist on a Mumbai Street Snack

What's in your refrigerator at any given time says a lot about you. In this series, GQ reached out to famous chefs with a deceptively simple, if revealing, question: What do you cook when you're by yourself and no one's watching?

There’s Indian food, then there’s Indian Accent, a restaurant that takes all the aromatic dishes and flavors of India that you love and presents them in a way unlike anything you’ve ever seen (or tasted) before. It’s the handiwork of Manish Mehrotra, a wildly creative chef considered to be one of India's best. He helped start Indian Accent in New Delhi back in 2009—the only restaurant in India to land a spot on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list two years in a row—and has since set up the restaurant's first outpost in Midtown Manhattan. From the first few bites, you can tell you’re eating something really spectacular. In fact, The New York Times’s finicky, prose-loving food critic Pete Wells just gave Indian Accent two stars, citing the sweet pickle ribs, soft-shell crab koliwada, and soy keema.

Chef Mehrotra has traveled the world over, incorporating new flavors and techniques into traditional Indian dishes. When he finds the rare moment to cook something for himself (opening restaurants is a time-consuming affair, understandably), Chef Mehrotra opts for something quick and light, with a touch of nostalgia. Take his recipe for bhel puri, a popular snack made out of puffed rice, red onion, tamarind chutney, and chaat masala that originated from street food stands in Mumbai. But as you’ll see from the ingredients list alone, Chef Mehrotra rarely settles for what’s traditional. The results: incredibly tasty food with a hint of “what did I just eat?”

Chef Manish: “I find inspiration for my recipes from day-to-day life in India and from my travels. Everyone misses their childhood, so I take a lot of inspiration from my childhood. All of these things inspired me to create dishes that are very traditional but with a twist. It becomes not only Indian cuisine but global Indian cuisine. Bhel puri is a very, very basic thing to make, but with all the different ingredients here, every person in America can relate to it and even make it themselves. There's nothing difficult about it. There's so much mystery and fear around Indian food, that there are so many spices. People are intimidated, so I really want to make these Indian recipes in an easy, relatable way.

In different parts of India you get different versions of bhel puri. If you go to the eastern part of India they drizzle a little bit of raw mustard oil, which gives it a really big wasabi punch to it. This one is very refreshing, not too heavy, and easy to digest. And it's fun! Sometimes you don't really feel like having salad with lettuce. You force yourself to eat that. Because this is made with rice, it fills you up. It has a nice mix of texture, all these different flavors, colors. And it's completely vegan.

Everybody has avocado, cucumbers, onion. Fox nuts are a little harder to find, but that's optional. You should always add some kind of nut, whether it's almonds, pine nuts, peanuts. You can also add whatever seeds you like: sunflower, flax, pumpkin. You can add really anything. There's no hard and fast rule to this, other than the puffed rice. You can buy any kind of puffed rice you want. Making it at home is slightly difficult. If you're going to do it, take leftover rice and spread it on a baking sheet and put in the oven at a very low temperature overnight until it becomes dry. Then flash fry it.

The essential ingredients for Indian food are very simple: onion, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic, which everyone already has in their house. In terms of spices, I think everyone should keep chaat masala around, especially during the summer. It's great to sprinkle on watermelon or salad, anything you want really. It's perfect.”

Puffed Rice and Quinoa Bhel Puri

Ingredients
1 tbs Black rice puffs
1 tbs White rice puffs
1 tbs Quinoa puffs
1 tbs Roasted fox nuts (makhana)
1 tsp Roasted pine nuts
1 tsp Crushed roasted peanuts
2 tsp Diced avocado
2 tsp Chopped onion
2 tsp Chopped tomatoes
1 tbs Microgreens or Chopped lettuce
1 tsp Fresh coriander
2 tsp Lime juice
2 tsp Dried cranberries
1 tsp Tamarind chutney
Sriracha
Chaat Masala

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the puffs with nuts (you may use any other puffed grains or nuts of your choice). Add chopped tomato, onion, avocado, cranberries, and coriander. Drizzle tamarind chutney and Sriracha to taste. Sprinkle chaat masala, a squeeze of lime juice, and lightly toss until thoroughly mixed. Fold in microgreens or chopped lettuce. Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately.



A British-born son of publicans, he became a bartender in New York, a saloonkeeper, an author of 18 books and a columnist and commentator.
By SAM ROBERTS


His menu, most notably the grilled duck breast, made a region of southwest France a required stop for traveling food lovers.
By WILLIAM GRIMES


The Spicy, Crunchy Condiment That’s Also an Ice Cream Topping

One of my favorite quarantine food discoveries is chile crisp, a spicy condiment from the southern Chinese province of Guizhou. The version I’ve been using is called Lao Gan Ma, and consists of soybean oil, chiles, fermented soybeans, and onion, as well as other spices and additives. The chile-infused oil lends the sauce a rich, citrusy heat, but the addition of fried chiles and onions also gives it a pleasing crunchy texture. Food & Wine magazine says that Lao Gan Ma is the best-selling hot sauce in China, and Chinese media reported that the label had over $700 million in sales in 2019.

Another brand that’s commonly available is Fly by Jing, which is “turbocharged with fermented black beans and fresh Sichuan peppercorns, mushroom powder, dried seaweed, ginger and who knows what else,” according to Sam Sifton of the New York Times. “You could spread that concoction on a mitten and be very happy with your meal,” Sifton says.

I’ve enjoyed chile crisp lately as a condiment for the Lunar New Year dumplings I made last week, both by itself and as a dipping sauce in combination with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. But, inspired by an article by Kenji Lopez-Alt, I’ve also found that it makes a surprisingly tasty ice cream topping. The chile heat offers a pleasing counterpoint to the creaminess of the dessert (I used gelato, but ice cream would work just as well), and the crunchy bits of chile and onion in the sauce provides some textural contrast, just like chopped peanuts or chocolate chips do on an ice cream sundae.

Lopez-Alt says that after testing the combination of ice cream and chile crisp in his restaurant kitchen, he removed the onion, and infused chile oil with garlic and ginger as well as Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cumin, and fennel. I haven’t tried his recipe for a Sichuan chile crisp sundae, which he tops with peanut streusel, but Lopez-Alt says you can just as easily use Lao Gan Ma chile crisp and crushed peanuts. I don’t see any reason you couldn’t also add whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Have you tried chile crisp or any other condiments as a dessert topping? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!


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Comments:

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  3. Ahriman

    As it is curious.. :)

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