Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In A New York State of Mind

A week back and I’m still in that New York state of mind. You know the MO…still coming off the food high and wishing you had all the street vendors to go to for a New Year’s day breakfast.

Some afterthoughts on what makes New York one of my favorite places to be during the holidays.

Peter Lugers Steakhouse - Brooklyn

For 28 years in a row, this place has been voted the best Steakhouse in New York. It is!

The most amazing thing to me was that they cooked our steaks rare and then proceeded to cook them on the rim of the plate to order. This was something I had never seen before and I was fascinated.

At first taste their sauce reminded me more of a cocktail sauce but as I savored every bite, the combination of tomatoes, tamarind, molasses, vinegar, horseradish, shallots and of course “the secret ingredients” made this sauce the perfect complement to aged beef. It can also be used as a salad dressing, over cut tomatoes or on a fresh piece of grilled fish.

Time Square:

Time Square, with its giant billboards and countless lights, is a fantasyland.

It was magnificent to see it on a rainy day. Reminded me a little bit of Paris. Slightly mystical there were lots of people taking in the views.

The best view: The MTV view at my friend Ariel’s office on the 40th Floor.


I was never a dancer when I was young but almost every girl I knew wanted to grow up to be a Rockette.

Since 1925, they perform five shows a day, seven days a week.

Part of an 85 year old legacy, these girls have been practicing their eye-high kicks all year and it shows.

This was the classic and timeless chapter of our Christmas.

Central Park:

This park is so integrated into central Manhattan that every little corner makes a statement.

I personally wandered back for another view because the magic of the park was amazing to me…and it was magic.

Hang out with a hot dog vendor, a street musician or a bicycle cab and they will all tell you there is wonder here you just can’t find any place else in NYC… or anywhere for that matter.

With 843 acres there's a lot of ground to cover but don’t worry. There are about 9,000 benches from which to people watch and that is the park’s most adored pastime …besides running.

I swear I would be an obsessive runner if I had Central Park in my back yard.

Chelsea Market:

If you've been to San Francisco and love the Ferry Building then you will love the Chelsea Market.

From casual restaurants, delis and little markets with ingredients from around the globe, everything here is reliably fresh and fantastically high quality.

My favorite place: The Lobster Place where you can get a delicious, fresh cooked lobster to order.

Chelsea Market is one of the reason why New York is such a food mecca and the high line provided an additional view that made this NYC destination my absolute favorite.


There is something to be said about walking around a food market with a glass of your favorite wine. My kind of shopping.

Eataly is located near Madison Square Park and owned by a partnership including Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich.  

With over 50,000 square feet, Batali has described the place as a grocery store with tasting rooms…and I sampled just about all of them.

It was interesting to watch the buyers in this market and it was a non-stop march from the grocery to the checkout line. I spotted at least 20 educated buyers I wanted to go home with for dinner.

The good news? Eataly is opening in Chicago September, 2013. The new Eataly will be at Ohio Street near Michigan Avenue and will occupy the former ESPN Zone with more than 60,000-square-feet of space. Stay tuned.

While my favorite Eataly dish was made in Chef Pilas’s kitchen with lamb shank, you can swap this beef for lamb or pork. This recipe is featured in the January, 2013 issue of Food and Wine.

Beef Shank Sauce Over Polenta

5 pounds trimmed beef shanks, cut 2 inches thick

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice

4 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 cups dry red wine

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water

Cooked polenta or pasta, for serving

Preheat the oven to 325°. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add half of the shanks to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining shanks.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the onions, celery, carrots and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are very soft and golden, 15 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Return the shanks and any accumulated juices to the casserole. Cover and braise in the oven for 3 hours, until the meat is very tender.
Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the shanks to a plate and let cool slightly. Using 2 forks, shred the meat and scrape out marrow from the bones. Add the meat and marrow to the sauce and rewarm over moderately low heat. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and serve with polenta or pasta.
Make Ahead:The shank sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Sullivan Street Bakery:

I am a huge fan of Jim Lahey. His innovative no-knead bread recipe was first published in The New York Times in 2006.

Fresh out of my Dutch oven, I can never get enough. I am so addicted that it is the only bread I will make any more.

While I enjoyed a Potato pizza the obsession of my visit that day was a Canotta – made with Brioche dough, gruyere, proscuitto, fennel seed and marscapone. Perhaps the most delicious pastry I’ve ever experienced. 

Little Italy:

Little Italy was a mega dose of everything you thought Christmas was going to be and then some. This was the most festive section of the city.

I loved the fact that Italians really know how to deliver a special Christmas.

The Today Show:

While most people were disappointed that Matt Lauer was on vacation, I love David Gregory so it was fun to see him in another role other than on Meet the Press.

My problem? I had to fight my son for camera shots. He moved around quickly he was in every one of them.


NYC’s Chinatown is somewhat small and very active, especially in the fish markets which sold everything from extraordinarily fresh fish to just the heads.

My advice: Stick to the fish and forget the knock-off handbags.

Bon Appetit!