Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Seems that tasting restuarants are all the rage in New York now. When I was there two weeks ago, I ended up going to two very different places, one was fairly middle brow on the upper East Side, close to the apartment that I use when Im there and the other was down near Gramercy Park in a very chi-chi part of town. The tables were about three inches apart in this place, and at the end of our meal there (I was taken there by a client) we were asked to vacate our table for the waiting customers at the door! I've never seen anything like it.

The first place I went to with Greg near the apartment was called Fig and Olive on Lexington and 64th. It is a small place, serving wine only, with the cool added attraction of a long communal eating bar in the center of the restaurant. When we sat down, our server brought us four different olive oils and bread, with a side of figs. The menu offered two ways of ordering. One could either get a variety of tasting appetizers such as cheese, vegetable, or meat plates or toasted crostini with a variety of toppings to spoon on. OR one could order more filling meals to share that were more like lunch portions. We decided to just order the whole first menu minus the meat tray. Crostini toppings included roasted red pepper, a confit of different colored tomatos, an eggplant caviar, and other things I can't remember. Cheeses were mostly hard and sharp but with a gorgonzolla and a goat cheese added in, the vegetables were mostly hip, New York style things like roasted leeks, chard, etc.
I know we got out of there pretty full for under $60.00, which is very good for two people in New York City.

I'll talk more about the other place when I can remember what the name of it was.


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Good Pizza

Well, last night I think I made a really perfect pizza. I've been experimenting over the last couple of years with sauces and crusts and toppings, but I really liked what we came up with last night. I've tried to make a healthy crust with a mixture of cornmeal and oat flour, but the dough just doesn't rise and the pizza ends up tasting like yeast! I then tried cornmeal and whole wheat flour and the same thing happened, so I went back to plain old whole wheat flour and only let it rise once for a single pizza and twice for two pizzas. I also just dispensed with making sauce all together because after watching the pizza makers in NYC...if you love pizza, you know that NYC has the best pizza ever made. Someday, I will apprentice myself to a pizza maker in NY and find out exactly how to make their crust. is what I did:
You'll need a pizza stone...never thought they worked until Vicky gave me one for my birthday...thank you Vicky!

for the crust:

1 cup hot tap water (not too hot)
2 packs yeast

dump the yeast in the bottom of a bowl and sprinkle the hot water overtop let stand ten minutes until frothy.

2 cups whole wheat flour
couple of dashes of sea salt
crumbled rosemary leaves
perhaps some oregano and or garlic powder
olive oil

Fresh tomatos (with basil when the season hits)
chedder or monteray Jack cheese
and your favorite toppings

Put ingredients except olive oil in a bowl and pour ready made yeast mixture on top. Stir together with a fork until dough comes together. It should be dry. Add 1/4 cup olive oil as needed over dough and begin kneading dough in the bowl with your hands. Dough should come together in a ball at this point. I keep my dough in the bowl and knead it for several minutes, adding more olive oil as it gets sticky. Don't over knead! When it feels right, cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and a tea towel and place in a warm spot (I have this nifty warmer burner on my oven that I use sometimes) and let stand for about an hour or until doubled.

If you want to make two pizzas: After the dough has doubled, punch it down, halve it with a dough blade and let the two doughs rise for another hour.

Spread olive oil on your pizza stone and dump dough in the middle, pushing and pressing it to the sides and corners...if your dough doesn't cooperate, let it sit for a couple of minutes on the stone and it will rise again for you enough to push and prod some more.

Cover dough with a sprinking of olive oil and a dash more sea salt for flavor, cover with tomatos and your favorite toppings (last night was spinach and sausage) and then your favorite cheese..we use either monteray Jack or chedder most gives the pizza that much more flavor. There is a great jalapeno chedder that works wonders. Pop in a 400 degree oven on a lower shelf until the cheese is golden brown.

I can't believe we ate the whole thing!