Archive for the ‘NYC’ Category


Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The temperature is warmer today in NYC, and the fruit and vegetable vendors have returned to the streets. That’s excellent news because I need strawberries. These vendors have multiplied in recent years; and they can now be found all over Manhattan.

Fruit Vendor in NYC

I was spoiled when I lived in Santa Barbara because the strawberries were grown locally and always tasted delicious. In NYC, supermarkets dominate the produce landscape; and they all promote one brand of strawberries – Driscoll’s. I think they are overpriced and tasteless. I am going to continue to buy my strawberries from the street vendor. He typically offers better quality at a bargain price.

Why strawberries in January? I eat them daily for breakfast, but why not serve them for dessert with an aged balsamic vinegar.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Pistachios

Friday, January 25th, 2013

The other day I made a Pumpkin Ravioli with a butter sage sauce. An easy dish that’s made with ravioli, butter, sage, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. This simple dish is in dozens of cookbooks, so I won’t bore you.

But did you ever think that one more ingredient could make a great dish extraordinary? I believe in “less is more”, but I don’t think we are over doing things if we add 5 ingredients rather than 4. When I was buying Pumpkin Ravioli the other day from Rana Pastificio in Chelsea Market in NYC, my wife Nora suggested I add the pistachio nuts that we had in the pantry.  Brilliant.

Pumpkin Ravioli

I was amazed how adding a little nutty crunch transformed this dish into something special. What’s lurking in your pantry that could transform tonight’s meal?

Buon Appetito.

Christmas Memories

Monday, December 24th, 2012

As you might expect, my memories always revolve around food. The other day I walking down Lexington Avenue in NYC, and saw some exquisite Gingerbread Houses in the window of William Poll, a specialty food shop that has been around for 90 years. A bit further downtown in the window of a French Patisserie was a Buche de Noel; which rekindled memories of many a Holiday meal.

My curiosity got the better of me, so I asked a few friends to name the one food that epitomized Christmas for them. The responses, as you might expect, were quite diverse…spiral ham, chocolate wreaths, lasagna, candy canes, popovers for breakfast, and prime rib to name a few.

About 10 years ago I was in Milan and had the opportunity to spend a day with a friend Roberto. When we started discussing Christmas he became so excited; and he dragged me across town to the shop where he bought Panettone for the last 30 years. My Aunt Helen was equally as passionate about Stollen, the traditional German fruitcake. She made Stollen from scratch every year, and shipped them all over the country to friends and family.

When I was growing up, my favorite dish on the Christmas table was my mother’s au gratin potatoes, which I still make for special occasions. Food can play a special role in Christmas, or any Holiday that you celebrate, not just because it’s delicious but because it triggers memories of the past.

Happy Holidays!

Lunch at the Ssam Bar, NYC

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Momofuko Ssam Bar was opened by acclaimed chef David Chang in 2006, the second in his rapidly growing restaurant empire. Earlier this week I had a great lunch there with my friend Mitch.

We started with Pork Buns just to whet our appetites.

Pork Buns

Next was their specialty, Rotisserie Duck over Rice which is served with lettuce leaves and a chive pancake. The lettuce and the pancake can be used to make little sandwiches.


I also had a delicious broccoli salad on the side. The acidity of the vinaigrette was perfect to balance all the rich food.

Broccoli Salad

This is a great place; and the menu is quite unique. They don’t take reservations, but at lunch time that is not a problem. The Momofuko Ssam Bar is located at 207 Second Avenue (13th St.).

Pork & Flying Pigs Farm

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I love pork. Whether it’s a chop, a rack of ribs, bacon, sausage, or lardo on my pizza…I eat it all. Last year I had my first taste of porchetta at a Slow Food event. The juicy meat was flavored with fennel pollen and encrusted in a crispy skin; it just melted in my mouth. This year I want to cook many other variations of pork that hopefully will be as tasty as that porchetta.

Since I have been unhappy with most of the pork available locally, I purchased several pork products from Flying Pigs Farm in Upstate New York. Flying Pigs breeds Large Black, Gloucestershire Old Spot, and Tamworth pigs. Their goal is raise heritage pigs the old fashion way resulting in a product that has more moisture and flavor. Although their pork is not cheap, I am very pleased with their quality.

I purchased bacon, sweet Italian sausage, pork chops and a loin roast. I liked the bacon but I don’t think it’s necessarily better than premium brands, like Niman Ranch, which is available locally. The sausage was great; I used it on pizza and in a tomato sauce. The sausage has a course texture and a ton of flavor. I think the sausage made both  the pizza and and the tomato sauce better.

Pork chops are the biggest test because I feel most chops lack fat, and are therefore tasteless and tough. Flying Pigs pork chops were about 3/4 inch thick and had a good amount of fat. My wife, Nora, saw a recipe in Martha Stewart that cooked pork chops in apples and onions, which I thought was a great combination. I didn’t like the recipe quantities or timing, but after several tries I was able modify the recipe to my liking. Below is my version…

The key to a good dish is good ingredients. Note the pork chops below are a healthy thickness and are not too lean. I actually trimmed a bit of the fat around the outside of the pork chop prior to cooking.

Pork Chops

Pork Chops

Pork Chops with Apples & Onions

2 pork chops, 3/4 in.                                1 tbs. olive oil

2 tbs. butter                                                 1 small onion, sliced

2 apples, sliced                                            1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup apple juice                                     1 tsp dried sage

salt & pepper                                               1/4 cup white wine

Trim pork chops of excessive fat then season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat saute pan (stainless will work better than non-stick for browning) and add olive when hot. Add pork chops for 3 minutes per side, cooking on high heat to nicely brown the pork chops. Once browned, transfer to a plate.

Add butter to the pan then add onions; a couple minutes later add the apples. Season with salt and pepper. Once the onions begin to turn translucent add white wine. Once the wine has almost evaporated add the chicken broth, apple juice and the sage. Simmer for about 5 minutes and return the pork chops to the pan.

Pork Chops with Apples & Onions

Cook until the pork chops are tender, which should be about 5 minutes. Flip the pork after 2 minutes to ensure both sides cook evenly. Note that the pork is done when an instant read thermometer registers 145 to 150 degrees. I recommend testing the pork often to ensure that you don’t overcook. Once the desired internal temperature is reached, turn off the heat and let the chops rest in the pan for a minute or two while you plate your other vegetables. Then plate your chops and spoon the apples and onions over the pork. Enjoy!