Gotham Bar and Grill, NYC

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We love this restaurant, and in fact, look forward to dining here when we are in the city. The restaurant space is open, airy and not overwrought and the service is warm, efficient and never-in-your-face or lax.  Neither tries to complete with the food, but both simply compliment the food.

Right now, Gotham is featuring a $25.00 prix fixe Anniversary Celebration luncheon special which is a great deal. The selections on the menu are highlight dishes from days past and present in this successful restaurant’s history. In this era when many restaurants appear to be feeling the pinch of the current economic upheaval, this restaurant was bustling. Alfred Portale, the owner and Executive Chef at Gotham is not only an accomplished chef but a smart businessman.

This is what we chose from the menu:

Me:

roasted black plum salad

grilled New York steak w/Bordelaise sauce

Gotham chocolate cake with basil-chocolate chip ice cream

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Bob:

carrot soup w/shrimp garniture

roasted haddock

trio of sorbets: strawberry-watermelon; apricot -pineapple; cucumber-lime

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Waldorf Astoria Hotel

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Staying in this grand art deco hotel is a wonderful way to get in touch with the glorious history of this amazing city. The Waldorf was built in 1931 and immediately became a beacon of style and grace. Since then, dignitaries and illuminaries, presidents and royalty have stayed in the hotel’s lavish suites, and countless charity balls and debutante parties have come to pass in many of the hotel’s elaborately decorated, European-treasure-house inspired ballrooms.

Walking through the hotel is tracing the steps of history –  architectural details from the Art Deco period when the hotel was built are evident throughout the lobby and public spaces. The grandure of the hotel is not diminshed by time, but rather underscores the elegance and importance that New York exemplies.

The lobby shops contain splendid displays of jewels and antique treasures.

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However, modernity does intrude. We were awakened in the middle of Friday night by the shrill sounds of the hotel’s fire alarm. By the time the reality of what was happening set in, we could hear room doors around us opening and slamming shut and fellow guests running down the hall. As we raced to get dressed and grab essentials such as camera and laptop, the alarms continued. Just as we were ready to leave our room, a voice came over the floor intercom ( who knew there were such intercoms ? ) announcing that the alarm system was malfunctioning and all guests should return to their rooms. Relief brought an easy return to sleep.

Getting Ready for the 2009 Summer Fancy Food Show NYC

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This weekend Bob and I will be in the Big Apple for the Fancy Food Show. This will mark our 30th attendance as buyers at this premier food show, and we love re-connecting with colleagues, vendors and old friends in this joyful atmosphere of glorious food stuffs from around the world.

This time we will also be working as we are presenting two educational seminars; one on Saturday and one on Sunday. I guess that is what happens if you hang around long enough – they put you to work !

Kidding aside,  we love the educational aspect of our job.  Bob has been presenting a dynamic seminar for NASFT (with a colleague ) for a few years titled: Fundamentals of Specialty Food Retailing, which he will deliver again. It is a very worthwhile seminar for anyone thinking about opening a specialty food store, and who would like the inside skinny on the pros and cons, pitfalls and benefits, etc. to operating what for many is a dream-come-true business.

Yes, Bob gets to tell everyone that running a specialty food store is harder than it appears and yes, the owner(s) should plan on working in their store and not just hand the business off to managers ( if he or she wants to still be in business a year from now or have any savings left in the bank).

Our Tea Tasting: A Primer seminar will cover as much basic information about the six classes of tea as we can fit into one fast-paced 90 minute time-slot. We will feature a PowerPoint presentation of photographs from our tea buying trips, build a good foundation lesson about the cultivation and manufacture of tea, and taste and discuss 7 premium teas. We did this in San Francisco and everyone had a good time. I think that attendees will move through the rest of their day a little faster and place many more orders after sipping 7 cups of tea !

Thirty years worth of Fancy Food Shows means exposure to a vast quantity of foods, companies and amiable characters from near and far that influenced and educated us along our food journey. Many of these memorable folks helped to shape our store into what it is today, and cheerfully spread the word about their products and their countries.

I will be blogging about our discoveries at the food show as well as our jaunts around town. This trip we have plans to go outside of the city and shop and dine in places we have never been before !

Room in the Bowl – IACP Gumbo Giveback Project

 

I had the honor of being one of the writers involved with the creation this seductive book  via the IACP Gumbo Giveback Project. Our diverse band of sixty photographers, writers and editors fanned out across the city of New Orleans and southern Louisiana over the course of three days last spring to interview and photograph chefs, shrimpers, crabbers, oystermen, restaurateurs, farmers, sausage makers, rice growers, crayfish farmers, and a file gumbo producer.

We covered a lot of ground and met some truly amazing people, who are indeed the heart and soul of this book. I was impressed and at times overwhelmed by the pride of place and humility expressed by everyone that I spoke with. This was my first trip to New Orleans and I fell in love with the people and the place with an intensity that I had not expected prior to my arrival. Since leaving, I have a constant gnawing feeling in my bones that I suspect won’t go away until I return.

We ate wonderful fresh seafood and gumbo and absorbed as much of the culture of Louisiana as we could. We admired the strength of those who had no choice but to continue on with life as usual after ‘the Storm (Hurricane Katrina). For me, this was one of the most enjoyable and special weeks of my life, and I shall always be grateful for the opportunity to be involved with such amazing group of people and so rich a project.

My interview with Chef Frank Brigtsen was a clear example of this man’s deep hospitality even as I took up valuable space in his small, busy kitchen about 4 PM on a Friday afternoon.

All of us who worked on this book were thrilled to donate our time and talents to the project. All net proceeds from the sale of this book will be divided equally between the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans and the Culinary Trust of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

This book contains photographs and essays about the beloved dish known as gumbo – it is not a recipe book. Sales of this book will help to keep the food culture of New Orleans alive and healthy, and give those who purchase it a peek into the tasty world and history of Louisiana gumbo.

Click here to read what Judy Walker, Food Editor of  The Times-Picayune, New Orleans had to say about this book:  http://blog.nola.com/judywalker/2009/05/new_room_in_the_bowl_from_iacp.html

Who the proceeds recipients are:

The Culinary Trust solicits, manages and distributes funds for educational and charitable programs related to the culinary industry, and is the philanthropic partner of the IACP. Its Endangered Treasures Program recently funded the restoration of the world’s oldest existing cookery manuscript, the 9th century Apicius manuscript held by The New York Academy of Medicine.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the American South. It opened in June 2008 at the Riverwalk Marketplace in New Orleans. The museum hosts special exhibits, demonstrations, lectures and tastings that showcase the food and drink of the South. It cooperates with local and regional museums, restaurants, theaters, academic institutions and artists to present richly-textured experiences in multiple venues.

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