Wednesday, March 20, 2013
There was something in the air that night, something special, magical if you will. March 14th at Angelo's Prime Bar + Grill in Clifton Park was the official kick off to my "Eat, Drink, Be Merry and Do Good" Campaign. If you haven't heard already, I have been nominated for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Woman of the Year, which is such an honor for me. So this was the first of a series of events. It was an all star line up of chefs, Teddy Folkman of Dr. Granville Moore's in D.C and the National Culinary Ambassador to Brewery Ommegang, Rachel Mabb of Bitches Kitchen, Ric Orlando of New World Home Cooking & New World Bistro Bar, Brady Duhame of Angelo's Prime Bar + Grill and myself (while I'm hardly a star it was super fun to be able to cook with these incredible chefs). The food was incredible...ridiculously incredible, some of the best that I've seen at a culinary dinner in a long time. The beer was amazing...you all know how I love Brewery Ommegang and they just really outdid themselves. Beyond that we had Erik Budrakey, of DeCrescente, leading the beer talk and Bobby Mac stepping up with Miss Rachel Murrary, our Girl of the Year, to lead an impromptu auction.
It was just fun on so many levels, for me to be able to hang with the chefs; to be a part of that camaraderie was pretty special. But then to be able to also share my food for the first time was also pretty awesome for me. Then to go out in to the room, to talk to my friends....and everyone in the room was someone special to me....it was just amazing. I think what touched me the most though was standing in front of the room, while I was talking about my connection to LLS and why I support this incredible organziation, I looked around the room and I saw my friends,smiling, happy, supporting me, supporting LLS...the warmth, the love in that room ...the only word I have is magical.
Thank you all so much!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Reason number 1: The Truffle Shuffle (just order it and thank me later)
Reason Number 2: The Cinnamon Bun (especially with apple butter)
Reason number 3: The Bialys ( ok hello, when was the last time you had a real bialy like you were in Brooklyn, I rest my case)
Reason Number 4: The flour comes from NYS grains, it's real, it's not over processed, it's beautiful, and has more nutritive value (if you need more info just ask)
Reason Number 5: Pain au Chocolate....do you know what I mean...like you've had the real deal in France and you just can't find it here in a way that doesn't reek of preservatives and un-natural BS, except of course if you went to Ce Ci Ce La in NYC, but alas we aren't in NYC...and this is the best place to get it and the rich dark chocolate that runs down the center is exactly what it should be
Reason Number 6: Britin's Butter....(shhhhsssh Britin makes butter, for real, by hand. To be honest, I only shared my butter with Donna Purnomo, because well...it's that good and I just couldn't give it up)
Reason Number 7: The Breakfast Sandwich...it's medicinal for certain (ahem) ailments and delicious
Reason Number 8: The Philmore...specifically the apple one. Love that one. Never had a philmore until I met Nick & Britin but I'm telling you those things are delish.
Reason Number 9: How much do you love their commitment to using local products, sustainable practices and helping the community. Good stuff in Good stuff out, it's an easy principle.
Reason Number 10: Nick & Britin...I met these two amazing people on the recommendation of a friend. I never would have thought that we would become such good friends. But this is the thing, they are awesome, warm welcoming and they care. Not just a little, they care huge about what they are doing and how it impacts not just the community, but the world. And then on top of it, they are just the nicest people.
So while I could go up to reason 110, I'm going to tell you this...if you haven't gone to All Good Bakers yet, just go, experience it and enjoy. I guarantee that you will make a few friends in the process and come out having had a tasty treat or three.
If you have been there, well then write about it and tell everyone how they made you have an "All Good Day"
ALL GOOD BAKERS: One Year Anniversary at 540 Delaware, CONTEST!: Happy Almost Spring Everybody!! March 21st is our one year anniversary at 540 Delaware Ave.! It hasn't been an easy first ...
Monday, March 18, 2013
It all started on Friday night at Javier Rodriguez's new place, Javier's. He was hosting a little cocktail party to celebrate his friends and family and those that have supported his dream of opening a restaurant here in Saratoga. It was a beautiful evening with so many good friends both old and new.My buddy Deanna Fox of the Times Union's Eat Local Blog, Eric Paul of the Cheese Traveler (who by the way put together the most stellar cheese tasting plate...seriously it was off the charts good and I can't stop thinking about the third one which I so wish I had taken notes to know what it is), the super awesome James Morrell and family, and Maya McNulty of Portofino's were all there, along with a bunch of other incredible people. Javier gave a little speech and it touched my heart, he talked about his good fortune and how everything happened for a reason;he talked about the night that we all met Chef Brian Bowden, Javier and I.
I felt so honored to be recognized. There's just something magical about Javier... I can't put my finger on it quite yet but it's this wonderful combination of inherent goodness mixed with a certain joie de vivre and sagacity that just makes him sparkle. I can't wait for this launch of his restaurant and I wish nothing but the best for him, his beautiful wife Katie and Chef Brian Bowden.
As we left Javier handed me this little gem, my favorite caviar! And psst....here's a secret I hear there might just be a little caviar bar offering at the new restaurant...yay!!! So anyway, after the party a few of us headed over to Bailey's Cafe to continue the festivities. At midnight we toasted to the two of us that had birthdays at the table and to our good friends...and then wrapped up what had been a wonderful evening.
The next morning, well we'll call it morning but it may have been leaning into afternoon....Chef Rachel Mabb and I went up to Saratoga for brunch at the Henry St. Taproom, where our good buddy Ali Benamanti is the Executive Chef. So it was the first time that they were offering up brunch so we had to go...that and we just love Ali! And speaking of friends I love, Lisa Henderson & her beau Brian stopped in and joined us which was a happy surprise for us all! Well, it was my first time there, and I have to say it was just so cozy and inviting. It was like the Confectionery but beer & scotch centric. The place was fantastic and the menu was creative and well thought out. We had a whole bunch of stuff because well, that's just what we do. Ali sent out this beautiful cheese plate which I'm particularly fond of the Red Hawk, just delish.
Then we did a little sampling of the brunch menu, with the egg sandwich, Rachel with the breakfast burger, and Parry with a grownup grilled cheese. I have to give a nod to the beer selection, it's just awesome and by the way our server was well versed in all of them and could speak to the qualities of all including the features....being n the industry can I just tell you, that's pretty rare. So kudos to whomever is doing the training up there! Oh and by the way, the food rocked too! I can definitely see this as a place I'm going to be a regular at, nothing pretentious, just simple good food that has good quality and good thought behind it.
Brunch complete, I was on the run back down the highway to a birthday party for one of Parry's school friends. We're not going to talk about that because this is my positive post...but someone remind me to go on a tare about serving 7 year olds soda. Seriously, wow. Deep breathe.
Ok, back to good stuff. After a mad dash back to the house, we were on our way to MezzaNotte Ristorante in Guilderland for my birthday dinner. It was a family affair, with my mother, cousin, Parry and two of our good friends Priscilla & Gerry. Sometimes it's nice just to be with your close family.
I love walking into a restaurant and being greeted warmly, not just because it's someone's job to greet you, but that sincere welcome, like when someone invites you into their home...and that's what happens at MezzaNotte. I don't think it's just for me either, I think it's about sharing your heart in hospitality and some people are wired like that or they aren't...and they certainly are there. No sooner had we been seated ,we had these wonderful platters of Brussels sprouts chips land in front of us. The were crispy and delicious with a sweet spiced chili sauce to dip in. Now, Parry & I being the only foodies at the table, some of the group was a little nervous but once they were coaxed into trying them...well, now I've been listening to my mother , the woman that wouldn't eat Brussels sprout if it were the last thing on Earth, rave about how good they are for a day and half.
As we were perusing the menu Chef Elliot sent out an amuse. A beautiful pan seared diver scallop with roasted garlic and sweet pea puree, creamed salsify, butter toasted sunchoke and baby turnip. I think that was the single best thing I've eaten in a while. Beautifully cooked scallop, you know when the caramelization makes a sweet, nutty, butteriness to it contrasted with the fresh pea and complimented by the earthiness of the turnip. It was just lovely. Oh and you know what was pretty special too, Elliot sent Parry out an amuse of sliced fruit...it was so thoughtful, thank you!
Then it was on to calamari, because we all love calamari...prepared their way for my cousin & I and plain for the rest of the group. So this is the deal with calamari, it needs to be fresh, it needs to be cooked just long enough but not too long, it can't be over dressed if you're dressing it and it should have just the right amount of salt..not that I'm particular or anything, but that's just the way it should be. And that's exactly how it was, perfect.
For the entree, I had one of the nightly features..Pan Roasted Sea Bass with Purple & Fingerling Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts and Port Reduction. Sea Bass is such a beautiful fish, it's both rich and delicate at the same time. The port reduction was so nice and astringent against it, cutting through and balancing the dish. The skin was crisp, the potatoes were perfection. It was a very well done dish and I was one happy camper. Everyone else at the table was raving too about their Saltimbocca of Veal and Linguine & Clams.
And then a little treat of gelato, wonderful, creamy hazelnut gelato...with a candle on top.Thank you so much to Connie,Mitch, Elliot, Paul and our wonderful server who was just incredibly fabulous (and I'm absolutely dying because I didn't hear your name right at the beginning). My family and I were so thrilled!
So it's my birthday so I hope you all will indulge me for a moment. Chef Elliot Cunniff is the Executive Chef at MezzaNotte Ristorante. He was also one of my 2012 Rising Star Chefs for the Albany Chefs' Food & Wine Festival. While we all wondered who could possibly be great enough to fill Chef Mark Graham's enormous shoes, Chef Elliot has certainly come into his own, making his own generous footprint. I've known Elliot for quite some time now, I've watched him grow as a chef true...but Elliot has a gift, I noticed it a long time ago at the Crowne Plaza...and then there was the time at the Mansion that he made me a cornmeal crusted tofu dish with a tomato compote. It was a food moment. I can taste it as I write this, the flavors were bright and just popped on the palate; the texture was crispy and smooth at the same time. It was was awesome. He's cooked for me so many times, we often talk about food and share food photography. His passion is equal to his talent; both have infinite potential. It's just exciting for me, to watch to see where he's going to go as a Chef , which by the way I think will be very far. Just remember his name and visit him at MezzaNotte, because he is a star who's future burns bright.
Continuing on my little tale of 24 hours...Next it was on to the Charles F. Lucas Confectionery in Troy for a nightcap with Chef Rachel. No sooner had I arrived then I see Vic, descending the stairs with slate of truffles and a candle. How amazing is that. He knew it was my birthday and welcomed me like family, it kind of made me tear up a little it was so unexpected. 4 beautiful hand crafted truffles and written below, "Happy Birthday MHA" .
So I blew out my candle and made a wish....and there's only one thing more I could wish for in my beautiful life, but I not telling you that because, well, that's what wishes are for. Thank you to all my friends that made my birthday so special, I am truly blessed to have you all in my life.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
For my industry folks, I've had a couple of friends reach out to as happens from time to time, that are looking to fill staff positions at their restaurants. I thought I would put this out there and if you are interested, please email me your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward it along. Both have asked to remain confidential so hence the process.
Chef de Cuisine
Fantastic local restaurant looking for a chef de cuisine. Great culinary skill is important, but management, organization, leadership are equally important as is personal appearance/grooming.
Restaurant GM Private Club
Private Club looking for a restaurant GM to manage daily operations & service. Will be responsible for catered events, weddings and golf outings. This should be a dynamic individual that is equally adept at managing the floor, selling weddings and making membership feel welcome & appreciated; as well as the back end operational logistics. They are offering a very competitive package.