Category Archives: Manhattan

Pastry Chefs Vie for Top Honors in NYC Desserts Faceoff

Paco Torreblanca puts olive oil to use in lieu of butter. Photo: StarChefs.com.

How sweet it is. The winner of the The 3rd Annual StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition taking place now in New York will walk away with a $5,000 cash prize. But first, the 20 chefs vying for top honors in the annual pastry contest have to get through two elimination rounds in order to make it to the finals Oct. 2.

A host of pastry luminaries have been tapped to judge the flour faceoff. “Top Chef Just Desserts” star Johnny Iuzzini will lead a team that includes Alex StupakJeffrey SteingartenElizabeth FalknerStephane Treand, and Michael Laiskonis.

I’ll be live-tweeting the final round Oct. 2, which pits two pastry chefs against each other. Follow me at @Foodandthings.

Click here for daily updates.

Here’s a brief summary of each day’s events:

Pre-competition, September 29: Pastry training and prep for Round 1.

Round 1, September 30: Pre-dessert competition–20 chefs compete for 10 spots to advance to Round 2.

Round 2, October 1: Plated dessert competition–10 chefs compete for three finalist spots and prizes and advance to the final round.

Round 3, October 2: Finalists create three corresponding desserts, each showcasing a different technique–1 pastry chef wins the grand prize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rosh Hashanah: Gefilte Fish Conclave Draws Crowd of Hungry Haters

 

Photo: Gefilteria web site.

By Laura B. Weiss

It’s almost Rosh Hashanah, so it’s time to talk about gefilte fish. Or at least that’s what the Center for Jewish History must have decided when they put together a panel of fish mavens last week to discuss what’s perhaps the most reviled holiday food of all times.

In fact, that’s what most of the discussion was about as the panelists, along with moderator Mitchell Davis of the James Beard Foundation, aimed bullet after bullet at the gray-hued Ashkenazi standby. The panelists were Elizabeth Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz of the Gefilteria, Brooklyn; Zach Kutsher of Kutsher’s Tribeca; Jack Lebewohl of 2nd Ave Deli; and Israeli chef Omer Miller.

Let me be frank:I loathe gefilte fish. Gray is not my food color of choice. Anything in gelatin makes me gag. Gefilte tastes like rotten water, if there is such a thing.

And then there’s its smell, kind of like damp laundry that’s been left out too long to dry.

“I smell gefilte fish,” a customer once told Lebewohl upon entering the 2nd Avenue Deli. Is this a good thing for a restaurant trying to sell people its food? I doubt it.

Zach Kutsher, whose family owns the iconic Borscht Belt resort of the same name, said gefilte fish was the most polarizing dish on the menu of his new eatery, Kutsher’s Tribeca.  Another panelist provided the only positive review of the benighted dish—that it’s associated with Sabbath dinner and thus contains a heavy dose of nostalgia along with its mother lode of carp.

In an effort to make gefilte fish more trendy—trendy gefilte fish? Sorry, that’s an oxymoron—places like Gefilteria are making theirs with newfangled ingredients like sustainably sourced whitefish, pike and salmon. It’s Ashkenazi food for hipsters.

But at a tasting afterwards, I decided that gefilte was immune to a culinary rehab. Mobs of people crushed against the tables as if the tiny nibbles of giflte were their last morsel of food on earth. I only managed to snag two samples, one from the Second Avenue deli (your standard issue gefilte) and one from Kutscher’s. That rendition was light and a bit dry with not too much flavor, which in the case of gefilte can only be viewed as a plus.

Sorry, I’m still a hater no matter how much the dish is gussied up. It’s trendy-proof.

Here’s a recipe for Gefilte Fish from Joan Nathan, the noted Jewish cookbook author via Epicurious. Click here for the recipe.

 

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Get the Scoop at New Amsterdam Market’s Ice Cream Fest and Book Signing

From Ice Cream: A Global History (Reaktion Books) by Laura B. Weiss. Photo: Image Source/Rex Features.

Ice Cream Fanatics: The New Amsterdam Market’s 3rd Annual Ice Cream Sunday is Aug. 19. If you’re in NYC, stop by for ice cream from some great purveyors—plus, I’ll be signing (and selling) copies of my book, Ice Cream: A Global History.

The event’s from 12pm-4pm. I’ll be perched in a booth amongst the ice cream folks signing books from 1:30pm-3:30pm. Probably won’t have a whole lot of time to sample the ice cream. So…I hope someone brings me a few tastes.

Here’s who’s scooping and the scoop on tickets, hours, etc.

Gabrielle Carbone of THE BENT SPOON

Joseph Roselli of DREAM SCOOPS

Amy Miller of EARLY BIRD COOKERY

Tracy Obolsky of ESCA

Keren Weiner of IL BUCO & IL BUCO ALIMENTARI & VINERIA

Ashley Whitmore of MARLOW & SONS

Fany Gerson of LA NEWYORKINA

Catherine Oddenino of LUCA & BOSCO

James Distefano of ROUGE TOMATE

Forbes Fisher of STEVE’S ICE CREAM

Ben Van Leeuwen of VAN LEEUWEN ARTISAN ICE CREAM

TICKET INFORMATION

EARLY BIRD ADMISSION $30 – Starts 12pm

(10 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 10 miniature cones)

GENERAL ADMISSION $20 – Starts 1pm

(8 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 8 miniature cones)

At the door: $35 for Early Bird and $25 for General Admission

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

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The Georgetown Cupcakes that Ate New York

 

by Chef Renee Marton

I’m so over cupcakes, but at the urging of my friend Ming, I trekked to Soho to taste Georgetown Cupcake’s treats.

I may be sick of the sweet round morsels, but these cupcakes were very tasty. I sampled just two—vanilla with coconut butter cream frosting and chocolate banana with a chocolate frosting.

We checked out Georgetown Cupcake—decorated in what seems to be the de rigeur cupcake color scheme of pink and more pink—one early weeknight. We were the only customers in the place.

Both the vanilla and the chocolate banana, priced at  $2.75 apiece, were very tasty if a bit too sweet. They were moist and fluffy, with a generous swirl of frosting. Uniformly creamy and smooth, the frostings are made from butter cream and cream cheese. A little salt in the icings would have lent these cupcakes greater dimension.

After Ming took a bite, she declared that the cupcakes were topped with too much frosting. Some folks, of course, would say that there’s no such thing as too much frosting when it comes to cupcakes.

Georgetown Cupcake
111 Mercer Street (between Spring and Prince)
New York, NY

212 431 4504

Monday – Saturday

10am – 9pm

Sunday

10am – 7pm

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Hidden Vintage New York Hotel Menus Unearthed

I found these spectacularly beautiful menus from The New Yorker Hotel when I was on assignment for Interior Design magazine. Joe Kinney, the hotel’s chief engineer informal archivist, has over the years amassed scores of menus, door hangers and other hotel memorabilia, most of which date from the 30s and 40s.

To see more of menus, go to Big World Magazine.

To read my New York Times story about the entire collection, click here.

One of the New Yorker Hotel’s collection of menus from the 1939 World’s Fair.

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