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Monday, December 30, 2013

Next Magazine - Bea

Le Madeleine may be gone, but fortunately Bea forges on. Such a satisfying conclusion for the year!

403 W 43rd St @ 9th Ave

Short Order: Exquisite cocktails and great food at sound prices make Bea the place to be.

Peter’s Picks: chicken livers; macaroni and cheese; kale salad; salumi/cheese platter

Peter’s Pans: The loss of Le Madeleine

Prices: Appetizers: $7-$12; Entrees: $14-$20; Alcohol: wine, beer, full bar, specialty cocktails

How fondly I think upon candlelit dinners and careless, sunlit brunches spent in the atrium at Le Madeleine. Perhaps I’m waxing Proustian, but those are times past that I do quite remember. Now that Bea has taken over, my sense of despair has been readily remedied. The space has been updated and brushed over with a fresh coat of whitewash covering the exposed brick, on which, incidentally, muted classic movies play, such as A Streetcar Named Desire serving as moving wallpaper. The feel of an old bistro may be somewhat lost but there is much else to be found at the lovely Bea (pronounced Be-a, named after owner Sotir Zonea’s grandmother). It’s a small-ish menu, but still manages to cover a range of cuisines from Asian-inspired pork dumplings, Indian-influenced lamb meatballs to Italian-flavored pizzas and pastas as well as good old American macaroni and cheese.

The cocktails were devastatingly good. The Boulevardier was like a negroni but with Old Forester bourbon instead, along with Campari and distinguished Noilly Prat sweet vermouth. A curl of orange was tucked in, with fragrant, faint sprays of its oils glittering on the surface. A wonderful Smoked Side Car steered by Lapsang Souchong tea-infused brandy with a scoche of Cointreau and lemon juice had the nose of a recently fired pistol. A mix up at the bar turned into quite a happy accident with this cocktail—instead of a sugar rim, we were given a smoky salted rim, which resulted in something akin to a smoky tequila that we much preferred! We also thought of the Thyme & Tonic, with thyme-infused Oxley gin, the Classic Mai Tai and the Bitter Duchess with Scorpion Silver Mezcal but we further thought it was better just to leave things well alone.

Chicken liver tartine was appropriately iron-rich, simple and unfussy, with caramelized onions, a hint of balsamic vinegar and a flutter of chives on thick slices of toast. A Caesar comprised of a lovely pile of ruffled kale with lively vinegar and Parmesan was peppery and perfect. The warm asparagus salad was more subdued, topped with a poached egg and a fistful of pistachios, amply dressed with a subtle miso vinaigrette.

While not overly exciting, we still ate the gooey, chewy, ripe taleggio cheesy pizza with a stiff crust, gently roasted maitake mushrooms and caramelized shallots. An excellent bowl of softened buttery macaroni and rich, fully-flavored cheeses with a crisp topping followed. But we weren’t done with our glut of cheese yet! The next round involved a platter with puffs of pillowy fried bread that were merely decent but the accompanying cheeses, meats and other assortments knocked us out. Sumptuous, spicy, briny olives tickled braised pickles and fennel amid wedges of dainty bleu cheese, an absolutely transporting ricotta salata froth and smoked gouda that tangoed with plump blackberries. A fabulous salumi combo of nutty mortadella, fragrant as a forest, carefully cured prosciutto and handsome ham rounded out the considerable presentation.

Against our careful judgment, we tossed consideration thoroughly into the wind and ordered the dark chocolate mousse with whipped cream to finish up. We sidled up to another cocktail and lingered, delighted to be at Bea. 

First published in part in Next magazine

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Next Magazine - The Year of Living Deliciously

The Year of Living Deliciously

This year revealed many classics, both new and old with some unexpected treasures—in other words, just what you’d expect from old New York. So, here is a taste of what we found to be most tempting and divine as we dined around town!

We luxuriated for hours over the sprawling 15-course tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Ave, 212-889-0905, The entire experience was pure theater, involving a misty morning Maine “clambake” as well as glittering striped bass and pink roasted duck. An enchanting beach-ready picnic basket was loaded up with pretzels, a Mason jar of mustard and a couple of chilly beers.

@Nine (592 9th Ave, 212-265-4499, was a step beyond many of the other Thai joints in gay HK. While sipping refreshing Fresh & Young cocktails, we delighted in gently fried Crab Ragoon and bright, tangy beef salad. Vegetable pad see ew arrived in a beautifully crafted, crisped cellophane noodle bowl.

If only we could have stayed overnight at Juni (12 E 31st St, 212-995-8599, to continue our feasting! A spectacular, elegant and seasonal menu offered foie gras with pert apple relish and warm brioche, rich kale soup with simmered pork neck, creamy blankets of salsify agnolotti and sumptuous duck, all served in an intimate, social atmosphere.

Le Périgord (405 E 52nd St, 212-755-6244, was such an old-world experience; a sophisticated, secluded French restaurant on the Upper East Side. Greeted by a lined-up arsenal of waiters, we were led into the dining room full of bloomed roses quietly gracing the tables. We gladly supped on mushroom-stuffed fat quail with black truffle sauce and roasted lobster tails. Sheer heaven.

We dined on caviar with blini, borscht and stroganoff at The Russian Tea Room (150 W 57th St, 212-581-7100,, where the storied opulence has grandly returned with much of the restored, historical elements intact. Contemporary items such as sliders and brined pork chops now share the menu as gracious gentlemen handsomely attired in Russian military jackets wait on you hand and foot.

In a breezy environment evocative of the sand-tanned Hamptons, Greenwich Project (47 W 8th St, 212-253-9333) presented us with the keenly matched Odd Couple, a pairing of sautéed sweetbreads, salty cubes of bacon and sea-worthy snails, laced with a garlic froth. The halibut with brioche crust was extraordinary! We finished with red velvet cake, of course.

Pennsylvania 6 (132 W 31st St, 212-727-3666, in the Penn station ’hood was surprisingly wonderful. While combating the transient, boisterous commuters flooding the bar, we quite enjoyed embarking on oysters from both the East and West coasts. Blue crab mac followed, lushly robed in a fontina cream sauce. The bone-in pork chop was enlivened by a spicy maple glaze and mashed sweet potatoes.

Joe Allen (326 W 46th St, 212-581-6464, is the lullaby of Broadway on Restaurant Row. Although hardly our first visit, we still started with the aromatic, buttery steak tartare and Caesar salad before moving on to a juicy burger. The chocolate pudding cake and banana cream pie are keepers. Keep an eye out for the fabulous Joan Rivers, a frequent visitor!

Beautifully lurking in the Meatpacking district, Manon (407 W 14th St, 212-596-7255, has a revolving menu that rises up like the spring, ladling out vibrant pea soup, sweet corn tortellini, bursting Amish chicken breasts and outrageous smoked butter mashed potatoes.

The winner of the most gorgeous place we encountered this year is…Villard Michel Richard (455 Madison Ave, 212-891-8100, in the legendary New York Palace hotel. We were spirited by our negroni cocktails, lobster bisque, côte de boeuf au poivre, fried chicken and a puff pastry Napoleon piped with ridiculously good cream.

Do enjoy!

Shown above, clockwise: Greenwich Project, The Russian Tea Room, Manon, Le Perigord.

First published in part in Next magazine

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - A Recipe for Cooked Goose!

Here I present the final clue to be revealed from my baffling, curious novel featuring food, flatulence, and foul play! There is more of course to be found in my pages so do read on and do enjoy! The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery is available now at and, and there is still time to order this jewel as a perfect gift for the impending, thrilling holidays.  

{As We Proceed…}

A Recipe for Cooked Goose!
1 goose
Suspicious salt
Bothersome black pepper
Several viciously chopped onions
1 crushed garlic clove
2 teaspoons scorched thyme
2 cups white vermouth
2 groupings of ghastly canned gooseberries in syrup
2 cups of miserable Mandarin oranges

            Dispatch of a good-sized goose without guilt. Wring the neck, rip it off, remove the innards, and toss all of it quite away. Season the cavity with salt and black pepper and stuff it with the horrible onions, off-putting garlic, and thyme. Truss the bird with vigor, using something as insidious as kitchen twine. Put the goose then into a 325-degree oven, its hollow breasts side down, resting on a rack in a roasting pan. Turn and continually prick to your lonely heart’s delight, ridding your catch of its fat, 30 minutes per side.
            Baste with vermouth and abandon, and any juices that have leaked out and into the pan. Add the gooseberry syrup until utter boredom sets in, adding the gooseberries and orange sections too, while you may, before armed guardsmen knock at the door.       Remove 2 cups of pan juices, making sure the bird is well glazed, even as your eyes may be glazing over. Empty the cavity and serve with the fruit and juices poured on it. The whole process involves about 3 ½ hours; roughly the time it takes to properly dispose of a butler’s body that has been hidden away for several days.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - A Fiendish Kettle of Fish

{As we proceed...}

A further look into clues from my "thrilling page-turner" as Joan Rivers called it, available now on and Just in time for the holidays!

A Recipe for a Fiendish Kettle of Fish
1 bottle white wine
A sad pile of leeks, onions and tomatoes that have been hacked apart
Mashed garlic
Basil, thyme, fennel, saffron, bay leaves or anything else that may have been stolen from an unwitting neighbor.
Several pounds of fish from a chum bucket that are not quite dead yet and still flopping about. Any kind; it hardly matters. Gut them and keep the bones.

Open the bottle of wine and drink it. If there is any left, add it to the base for your soup should you get around to it. Sauté onions, garlic, and leeks in some sort of oily resin and add tomatoes. Add the regrettable collection of fish heads, bodies and the like to your kettle and add water drawn from rusty pipes to cover. Bring to a barbarous boil. Cook it all down until any remorse has been left behind. Strain. Dress it up with moldy bread and roughly abused parsley. Or go out to dinner.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dave's Holiday Cheesey-Choco-Pumpkin Bars

Baby was as busy as a holiday elf this weekend, but instead of a workshop, he went to work in the kitchen to create these special bars. I suggest you do too. How the aromas of vanilla, sugar, spice--you know, everything nice--filled the entire apartment and wafted down the hall as our neighbors with wondering eyes asked just what should appear! Any remaining fillings may be put into a graham cracker crust pie shell and baked until firm, about 30 minutes--or put into individual ramekins as shown below. Do enjoy!

Dave's Holiday Cheesey-Choco-Pumpkin Bars
Brownie Layer:
1 box Duncan Hines dark chocolate brownie mix
1 cup chopped pistachios 

Pumpkin Layer:
1 30 oz can of Libby's pumpkin pie filling
2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 TB maple syrup

Cheesecake Layer: 
3 8 oz packages of Philadelphia cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

Shredded coconut, for topping

Prepared brownie mix as directed on box, add pistachios but only put in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes in a 9"x 9" pan with bottom only greased. While that is cooking, mix in eggs, evaporated milk and maple syrup to the pumpkin pie filling. When the brownies have finished baking after 15 minutes, remove from oven. Turn oven up to 425 degrees. Gently pour 2/3 of pumpkin mixture over the brownies and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Return to oven for 15 minutes. While that is baking, prepare cheesecake batter. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time until each one is fully incorporated. Take out brownie and pumpkin mixture and turn oven back down to 350 degrees. Using 2/3 of cheesecake mixture, spread evenly over the brownie and pumpkin mixture. Put all back into oven, top with shredded coconut and bake 30-40 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate for two hours. Cut however you like but should serve about 12 or less depending on your eager guests.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - A Very Bloody Mary

Vodka and tomato juice are not the only ingredients in this wicked cocktail laced with murderous intentions. Do read on in my hilarious and chilling novel, The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery available now on and!

A Recipe for a Very Bloody Mary
Serves a single solitary sot 

1 ½ ounces vodka, or more
4 ounces squeezed juice from the innards of a rotting tomato
Crushed black pepper
Half of a bitter lemon, the mournful life all but squeezed out of it
1 teaspoon sauce from Worcestershire
Horseradish left unattended in the back of the ice box
Dash it all with searing-hot pepper sauce

Combine all of the unfortunate ingredients together in a shaker filled with doomed bergs of ice. Throttle repeatedly with vituperation. Drain the contents into a large, unwilling glass and clutter your concoction with the following:

Towering, ominously stiff stalks of celery
Wilting fronds of dill
Speared cornichons
Slimy pearl onions, floating belly up
Grim, green olives stuffed with highly odiferous blue cheese

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - A Recipe for Devil's Eggs

Vile deviled eggs are delicious at any social situation but what do they imply when murder is afoot? Find out in my fiendish novella, The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery available now on and

A Recipe for Devil’s Eggs
Serves an unwelcome brood
12 mewling eggs
4 tablespoons unctuous mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dreadful Dijon mustard
A dashed shallot
Salt and pepper, suited to a grim taste
Caviar, for a funereal wreath garnish
Boil fresh eggs to death, cool and cut in half, depositing the yolks in a small bowl. Mash them with mayonnaise, further assault with mustard, screw in the shallot and season with salt and pepper. Stuff the eggs until they suffocate, scatter the caviar on top like ashes and serve over a hornet’s nest of greens.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - Smoked Duck Tea Sandwiches

Despite everything else, one might as well eat. Read on as my fiendish murder mystery hits the shelves. A sneak peak of the dastardly recipes fraught, rigidly fraught! is here on hideous parts. Clues that lace the pages of The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery in full are available now on or Start clicking straightaway to order your copies, just in time for the holidays! Such a wicked gift! 

Smoked Duck Tea Sandwiches with Watercress and Chutney Butter
Serves Three
Whip salted butter into bitter orange chutney.
Wrest some smoked duck from a doomed endeavor.
Wrench a bunch of watercress for greens.
White bread, crusts removed, for delicacy.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - An Impromptu Menu for an Unexpected Guest

Uninvited, unexpected guests are such a nuisance, aren't they? Particularly when murder is involved! What to serve? Find out here, with things collected from such places as random cupboards or perhaps even suspicious clothing hampers, at last unearthed in a menu from my new novel, The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery...other recipes may be found here on as hideous parts...

An Impromptu Menu for an Unexpected Guest
To Sip
Sanguine ruby red port

To Snack
Smoked almonds
Gutted herring
Withered figs, apricots and plums

To Sweet
Treacly Tart

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - Blood Curdling Duck Breast!

As my fiendish murder mystery hits the shelves, I present a sneak peak of the dastardly recipes fraught, rigidly fraught! with clues to be found in the pages of The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery. Go to or to order your copies, just in time for the holidays! Such a wicked gift!

While we anticipate the foul murders in my novel, please peruse the series of recipes and cocktails in the upcoming weeks, here on hideous parts. See what the Grosvenor girls cooked up for their fiancees as demonstrated below!

A Recipe for Blood Curdling Duck Breast with Red Wine Sauce
Slays Four

2 rough handfuls of shriveled, black Mission figs
2 cups of scorching, dry red wine
2 cups of hideously canned chicken broth, or thereabouts
2 shards of cinnamon
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup hacked apart shallots
1 pound of wildly assorted mushrooms, sliced to ribbons
A teaspoon of ginger, chopped and relieved of its skin
3 tablespoons furtively achieved chives
¼ cup drearily drizzled honey
4 6 ounce duck breasts, ripped off the bone, skin intact
1 tablespoon olive oil

Halve most of the figs and simmer in an appropriate pan with wine, broth, and cinnamon until thick, about 30 hand-wringing minutes. Strain and throw out the solids. Light a fire in the oven to reach 450 degrees. Sear the shallots in four tablespoons of butter. Proceed to toss about the mushrooms and ginger until all is unspeakably calm. Pour in the rest of the liquid and simmer down for a few minutes before tossing in the chives. Cloak remaining figs in honey about a glass baking dish and cook until they have surrendered. This should take less than 15 minutes. Litter the duck breasts with salt and pepper before abandoning them skin side down in a heavy skillet laced with melted butter and olive oil, placed over medium heat. Turn and turn until boredom sets in and breasts are still nearly bloody. Serve with a portent of the mushrooms, figs, and a wicked whim of warmed sauce.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - Persephone's Bush

As my fiendish murder mystery is about to hit the shelves, I present a sneak peak of the dastardly recipes fraught, rigidly fraught! with clues to be found in the pages of The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery.
While we anticipate the foul murders in my novel, please peruse the series of recipes and cocktails in the upcoming weeks, here on hideous parts.  

This will take some time, so prepare accordingly. First, address the following:

Purloin fresh lavender and stick it in a bottle of vodka. Let it sit in darkness for about two weeks to make the extract.

Put sprigs of rosemary and perhaps some thyme in a bottle of Stoli honey flavored vodka. Let that sit for about two weeks as well.

Once these agrarian touches have come to fruition, do this:

Rinse chilled Champagne glasses with the lavender extract. In an ice-filled shaker, use about 2 oz per serving of the rosemary/thyme steeped honey vodka. Add perhaps the barest breath of rose water if so inclined. A squeeze of lemon is welcome. Shake and pour into your glasses. Top off with fizzy, almost freezing Champagne. Do note that this cocktail must be served vitally cold--and garnish with fresh, fragrant thyme sprigs.

Then throw it on the floor.

Do enjoy!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - Presumptive Pie Pastry

As my fiendish murder mystery is about to hit the shelves, I present a sneak peak of the dastardly recipes fraught, rigidly fraught! with clues to be found in the pages of The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery. My Nana used this basic recipe for pie pastry and somehow it wound up in my book. Think of it would you when turning toward the holiday season--pork pies! Pumpkin pies! Pecan pies!

While we anticipate the foul murders in my novel, please peruse the series of menus in the upcoming weeks, here on hideous parts. 

A Recipe for Hamwich Gumm’s Presumptive Pie Pastry

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
3 tablespoons plus ice cold water

Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in shortening with a destructive device such as a blender or two very sharp knives until crumbly. Add ice water, stir cautiously with a fork and add more water just until it holds together. Make into a ball and knead with prudence.
Beware: Handle as little as possible.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery - Curious Creamed Spinach

As my fiendish murder mystery is about to hit the shelves, I present a sneak peek of the dastardly recipes fraught, rigidly fraught! with clues to be found in the pages of The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery. While we anticipate the foul murders, please peruse the series of menus in the upcoming weeks, here on hideous parts.

A Recipe for Curious Creamed Spinach

Makes 10 servings

3 lbs of spinach 
1 1/4 cups soured milk
1 cup cumbersome cream 
1 diminutive onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced and mashed 
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup purposeful flour 
1 tablespoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg from an old woman’s purse

Rinse spinach bundle and then drop in a wee dram of boiling salted water until wilted, one to two minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water. Strangle the bundle of spinach to release the water, then vehemently chop into bits. Slay the onions in the butter until softened, about four minutes. Bring the milk and cream to a conspiratorial simmer in a separate pan. Kill heat. Put aside. Take the flour to task, whisking into the onion and butter mix to make a roux with the consequence of milk and cream slowly stirred in afterward to settle for about three minutes, continually whisking with fervor to avoid lumps, and simmer until thickened, three to four minutes more. Add a slash of nutmeg, the mutilated spinach, and resolve with thyme leaves removed from their stems, and a dash of salt and pepper. Bring to a heated conclusion.

Do enjoy!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Shouldn't You Just...?

Launch applauding bouquets of roses all about the room for any occasion--or none at all?

Modern advice on etiquette for the not-so-new-millennium.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Next Magazine - Villard Michel Richard

The legendary New York Palace is still going strong, with Villard Michel Richard to bolster it! 

Villard Michel Richard
455 Madison Ave (btwn 50th/51st Sts)

SHORT ORDER: An exquisite experience helmed by master chef Michel Richard, and extraordinarily designed by the divine Jeffrey Beers.
PETER’S PICKS: Negroni; lobster bisque; perfect steak; fried chicken; Napoleon
PETER’S PANS: We didn’t experience an ectoplasmic visitation from the long-departed Leona Helmsley. Also, I’ve run out of superlatives.

Having recently visited the extraordinary Villard Michel Richard helmed by the gentleman himself, master chef Michel Richard, in the legendary New York Palace hotel, I can confidently assert that even former proprietress Leona Helmsley would be proud. Interior designer Jeffrey Beers has created an exquisite, remarkably ornate experience that must be seen to be believed—seriously, there’s enough gorgeous grandeur and intricate pomp that, were circumstances somewhat different, Marie Antoinette herself would lose her head. Illumined golden curls blaze upward on the sconces that flank the marble finishes and original paintings lining the walls and all the while, an outrageous temperature-controlled chamber known as the “wine cube” is stocked with 1,000 bottles and anchors the sprawling dining room.
Cocktails crafted from age-old recipes border on the mystical and are taken quite seriously at Villard Michel Richard. The few rounds my friends and I encountered while we lingered were devastatingly good, but certainly not for the uninitiated, and should be sipped slowly. Alongside a basket of petite gougères (fancy French cheese puffs), an evenly balanced sidecar rattled forth, straight up in an elegantly etched coupe that lent a feminine touch to the otherwise masculine tables. My Negroni was on the rocks, however, in a brew of G’Vine gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and a conspiring orange zest.
Cubes of tuna tartare tangoed with watermelon; at once a wonderful chewy crunch left to dance on the palate with a suggestion of sesame oil. We shared spoonfuls of superb, steaming sherried French onion soup with luscious violin strings of cheese, and also leaned toward rich, sumptuous lobster bisque poured over chopped lobster meat and onions that all came to full flavor as the bowl rested near to room temperature. The sole crab cake was bedded by finely shredded leeks bathing in a bright drizzle of chive oil. Mushroom feuilleté delighted—we devoured the luxuriously plump shiitake mushrooms neatly sandwiched between layers of puff pastry.
Mushroom risotto outfitted with pearls of pasta and topped with a crumbled Parmesan tuille was a delicious interim course that we also shared, before launching into mains. Seared salmon was served fairly rare with just enough salt. Tender, tiny lentils, carrots, and shallots accompanied. A gargantuan slab of medium rare côte de boeuf au poivre was prime perfection. Served with French fries and a side of haricots verts tossed with crispy shallots, it readily warranted the $59 price tag (and is the most expensive item on the menu). Michel’s fried chicken was beyond. Start taking notes: the breast and legs are first wrapped with chicken mousse and shaken with bits of country bread before being fried. The end result: tender, mouth-watering pieces of chicken resting upon absolutely dreamy mashed potatoes.
We easily succumbed to the banana split topped with cubes of pineapple and served with plots of vanilla and chocolate ice cream as well as strawberry sorbet with sugar-browned Rice Crispies. The Napoleon featured more puff pastry, lighter than air, filled with a ridiculously delicious cream.  

Prices: Appetizers: $12–$20; Entrées: $24–$59; Alcohol: wine, beer, signature cocktails, full bar

First published in part in Next magazine.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Next Magazine Review - Juni

Easily one of my top ten picks for the year! Do enjoy!
Juni, 12 E 31st St (btwn Fifth/Madison Aves)

SHORT ORDER: A spectacular seasonal menu in a soothing, intimate setting.
PETER’S PICKS: foie gras with warm brioche; kale soup; salsify agnolotti; sumptuous duck
PETER’S PANS: Where was the bed in which we might stay and continue to sup overnight?

Even though we were only in the East 30s when we went to Juni, we could have sworn the cab driver took a wrong turn and dropped us off somewhere else. Juni is an immediately soothing, refined, palely considered salon, perhaps not as hip as the neighboring Breslin or as gorgeously grandiose as the NoMad Hotel, but we felt like we’d been transported to the intimate social atmospheres that were once found at Lutèce or La Côte Basque in days past. Executive chef Shaun Hergatt hails from Australia and his revolving seasonal menu is unassuming, elegant and precise, displaying a keen sense of culinary artistry—and the place has only been open for a little over two months! My two companions and I eagerly launched into the personally customized six-course menu (and we shared each other’s orders too).

A black tea and lavender cocktail seemed such a bizarre conglomeration at first that I had to try it. Somehow, splashes of rye, artichoke liqueur, scotch, a black-tea-infused aperitivo and lavender syrup worked together marvelously. My fella readily rode the Sidecar with cognac, juice from McIntosh apples and a fine lace of honey.

The fragrant amuse-bouche trio was a delight, featuring a petite carrot tuile with a dot of goat cheese, root vegetable tapioca with parsley oil, and thinly sliced mushrooms with summer truffle vinaigrette. Even the crusty, warm table bread was fantastic, served with an herbed green olive oil tapenade.
“Pearls” of rooty kohlrabi and butternut squash served with kingfish were quickly outdone by Hudson Valley foie gras over a Granny Smith apple purée, apple gel and a sassy apple relish. The accompanying miniature pot filled with steaming brioche was charming and perfect to swab the plate with. Tuscan kale soup was rich and earthy, outfitted with sprouted lentils and simmered pork neck. Creamy black salsify stuffed into gentle blankets of agnolotti made us weep delicious tears.

Moving toward mains, we picked a perfect pairing with a Pouilly-Fuissé that had touches of apples and honey and even traces of lemon. Black bass, featuring a fascinating latticework on the grilled skin, was graced by leaves of purslane, little leaning towers of flourless gnocchi and a truffle sabayon sauce. Atlantic salmon was enlivened by sharp fennel, a lemon yogurt cotta and watermelon radish chips. Duck lightly bathed in an anise-hyssop emulsion, flattered by small “cannons” of candy beets. Veal tenderloin was delicately flavored but found balanced depth with accompanying quinoa, burdock root, hon shimeji mushrooms and a trickle of mushroom sauce, poured at the table.

By dessert, we went for a few batches of nosey, satisfying Hudson Baby bourbon. Between sips, we tried homey, roasted Fuji apples with a touch of maple syrup and smoked mascarpone. Spongy chocolate prepared with a sweet potato purée and a bit of bay leaves left a nice touch, and taste. Sweet corn was tied up with a ribbon of tarragon lime gel and salty cheddar crisps.

Prices: Four course: $90; six course: $120; 10 course: $180; Alcohol: wine, beer, full bar, specialty cocktails

First published in part in Next magazine

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Next Magazine - '21' Club's Fatal Mistakes

Having long been a fan of the '21' Club, I was delighted to discover a cocktail inspired by the prohibition era series Boardwalk Empire at their recently installed bar. Now, this booze-fueled concoction really packs some heat! Do enjoy--but responsibly! 

21 Club's Fatal Mistakes


1 ½ oz Canadian Club

1 oz Applejack brandy (a.k.a. Jersey Lightning, from the oldest licensed distillery in the U.S.)
1 oz maraschino liquor
1/2 oz dry vermouth
3 dashes Fee Brothers bitters


Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Rim and garnish with a lemon twist.

21 Club is located at 21 W 52nd St (btwn Fifth/Sixth Aves). Visit for more info. 

First published in part in Next magazine

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blue Apron - Lemongrass Shrimp

Baby's sister-in-law recently introduced us to Blue Apron, a wonderful, purposeful, hands-on food delivery service. First person to comment in an email to will receive a week's selection of three meals for two--free! This does of course depend on whether they deliver or not to your area--but I do believe they are slowly taking over the country. Check out to find out more about them and where they deliver.

Here's what's great about Blue Apron:

Three meals for two are about $60 and there are usually leftovers--and you don't have to think about what to make for dinner every night because colorful recipe cards arrive in a box filled with fresh, insulated, refrigerated measured-out produce such as snap peas, shrimp, ground lamb and beef mixtures, chicken thighs and herbs such as tarragon, cilantro or parsley to suit the recipes. There is also a charming bag of Knick Knacks included with perhaps two tablespoons of sesame oil, soy sauce or butter for example, or a 1/4 cup of flour depending on the week's recipes. I love this because you don't have to try to locate a bottle of oyster sauce and then stare at it wondering what to do with the rest--or deal with the tedium of measuring out everything.

The way the recipe cards are configured, it also teaches a good method of cooking, such as preparing your ingredients first in ramekins, to set up your mise en place and have the chopped goods at the ready for more efficient cooking. The recipes take less than an hour from preparation to table.

If you can't attend to Blue Apron's weekly visits right away, throw the meat and fish in the freezer! Put the produce in the crisper and try to use within the week! Improvise! You don't need to follow the recipes exactly and you will have staples on hand for other uses.

A calorie count is listed (this shrimp and soba recipe is about 560 calories per serving) and you may cancel from week to week by going online or calling them about six days in advance before your next delivery.

Lemongrass Shrimp with Soba Noodles and Chinese Broccoli
6 ounces Chinese broccoli
3 scallions
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks lemongrass
1-inch piece ginger
5 1/2 ounces soba noodles
10 ounces shrimp
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 lime
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Prepare your ingredients:
Heat a large pot of water to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Chop the Chinese broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Slice the scallions. Peel and mince the garlic and ginger. Cut off the ends of the lemongrass stalks, then peel away the fibrous outer layers until you reach the white, pliable cores. Mince the lemongrass cores.

Cook the soba noodles:
Add the soba noodles to the boiling water. Cook about 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly.

Cook the shrimp:
While the soba noodles cook, heat some oil in a large pan on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, lemongrass, ginger, shrimp, and half the scallions. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until the shrimp are pink.

Add the Chinese broccoli:
Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until bright green. Remove from the heat.

Add the soba noodles:
Add the drained soba noodles, oyster sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, and the juice of half  the lime. Stir about 1 minute to coat everything in the sauce.

Plate your dish:
Divide the noodles with shrimp and vegetables between 2 bowls. Garnish each with the remaining scallions. Serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

First published in part through Blue Apron.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Joe Allen Review - Next Magazine


Joe Allen
326 W 46th St (btwn Eighth/Ninth Aves)

SHORT ORDER: The straightforward, consistent Restaurant Row joint is a New York classic that is pretty hard to beat. 

PETER’S PICKS: Joe Allen! Meeting Joan Rivers! 

PETER’S PANS: The “flop wall” featuring posters of panned Broadway shows that suffered at the hand of theater critics and indifferent audiences. 

Joe Allen, the fabulous, storied, classic New York joint on Restaurant Row has been a favorite for me ever since I first experienced it over 20 years ago. With all that goes on in this ever-changing borough, Joe Allen is a constant, and we sat comfortably with a soothing soundtrack in the background by Ella, Billie and Bing. We pretty much had the place to ourselves, as the 7pm theatergoers had already left, and were excited to learn that we were seated at Joan Rivers’ favorite table. Later, much to our jaw-dropping surprise, she actually walked into the restaurant! Since we were lingering over cocktails, having already finished dinner, we gladly offered her our table, but the grand lady graciously declined after talking to us for a while and sat instead at her “second favorite table” with entourage in tow—and yes, she looked gorgeous. 

When it comes to cocktails, I can’t think of anything else to order at Joe Allen but a brisk martini, and Belvedere vodka made the grade this time. My fella conservatively slugged back some sparkling water. For starters, a huge portion of aromatic steak tartare was buttery, flavored with strong mustard; sharp, pungent onions and tangy capers plated with a glistening arugula side salad. Toast points provided a fine conveyance. Escargots were tender and not chewy at all, as they so often are. This dish was done right, with fresh herbs, garlic and simmering oil. A small, fantastic Caesar salad was certainly enough for two to share and was exactly what it should have been—fresh, crunchy romaine perfectly coated with a creamy dressing, composed of pert lemon and pungent garlic. It’s a simple preparation that so many restaurants mess up all the time.

About here we stepped up to an Austrian Grüner Veltliner, which was crisp like a lively autumn day with creamy, resonant green and floral notes. I do find the Joe Allen hamburger to be one of the best in the city (for years it was never even listed on the menu), but we turned our thoughts elsewhere and ordered the shrimp and grits as a sort of pasta course. We loved it, just like a country breakfast with andouille sausage and jumbo shrimp in a lobster consommé with a fried egg on top and a peppery finish. 

Thinly sliced sautéed calf’s liver served medium rare was a rapture with grilled onions, a delicious torrent of whipped potatoes and wondrous, diaphanous slivers of bacon love notes. The moist, bone-in pork chop had a great sear, served with Jersey peach chutney. It was surely sent courtesy of Henry VIII—it was a huge, gluttonous piece of meat that we could only eat half of! Accompanying roasted Brussels sprouts were wonderful and further fit the bill. 

The chocolate pudding cake with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge has always  been a delight, but having been alerted to Ms. Rivers’ favorite, we ordered the banana cream pie instead, such a light, elegant finish to an extraordinary evening!       

Prices: Appetizers:  $7-$17; Entrées:  $13-$33; Alcohol:  wine, beer, full bar, specialty cocktails

First published in part in Next magazine

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lettice and Lovage (and Pete)

Years before Maggie Smith assumed the role of the sniffy, domineering Lady Grantham who can wither with a glance in Downton Abbey...once upon a time, when I was going to school at Regent's College in London, waaay back in 1987, I took in a performance of Peter Shaffer's brilliant and hilarious play Lettice and Lovage. It starred none other than the incomparable lady herself in the role of Lettice Douffet, which was written for her (she won the Tony for it stateside in 1990).

I didn't know what the play was about and wasn't sure if it would be some sort of period drama that I might not care for. I just wanted to see the Dame on stage. What I witnessed was absolutely unforgettable and the astonished socks reaching up to my then 19-year old ankles were completely knocked off. I waited for close to an hour in the alleyway by the stage door after the performance to await the grand lady. She was so kind as to sign my program and then I ushered her to a cab. I myself walked home on winged feet propelled by utter elation.

Here's what you can do with a little lovage when captured in season; such a lovely, fragrant green that reminds one of vibrant celery leaves:

Lovage Simple Syrup
A fistful of lovage
1:2 cups ratio of sugar and water (may be altered, as some like it sweeter)

Bring sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir for several minutes to dissolve sugar. Add lovage, stir and let cool. Strain out the lovage and then refrigerate the liquid for a few hours, tightly sealed in something such as a Mason jar, in miniature.

This little concoction is a refreshing pause when added to seltzer water and perhaps a squeeze of lemon. Hendricks gin, which has notes of cucumber and rose petals, may also make an excellent cocktail companion for your dashing lovage syrup, briskly stirred together over ice. A touch of St. Germain liqueur, perfumed with elderflower added into the mix surely wouldn't hurt either. Campari or chilly chamomile tea over a game of croquet. Why be mere? The only limit is the imagination! As Lettice Douffet says, "Enlarge! Enliven! Enlighten!"

Thanks to for the image of the lovage. And of course always, Dame Maggie Smith.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Peter's Summer Pasta

Here we are, back at the larder with a number of items staring back at us. Somewhat exhausted from an overly long excursion home, we wondered, "What to have for dinner?" Saffron-laced malloreddus pasta from Sfoglini seemed an easy go and once having made our dish, we thought orechiette or any smallish noodle such as rigatoni or elbow noodles would do as well in a pinch. Spigarello from a greenmarket was an option for an ingredient too. So, with a careful consideration of what we had on hand, I set to work which resulted in a joyous dinner.

Peter's Summer Pasta
Serves 2

1/2 pound pasta or more, if you're really hungry. Adjust ingredient portions accordingly. 
Large shallot,  thinly sliced
Bunch scallions, chopped
2 TB garlic paste
2 TB vibrant mustard, such as Roland's Dijon
2 TB anchovy paste
1 bunch spigarello greens, or broccoli rabe, perhaps arugula
Fistful of parsley
3 TB olive oil
2 TB butter
Summery combo of 4 smallish zucchini and yellow squash, thinly sliced
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
Grated Grana Padana cheese or Parmesan
Amaretti cookies or ginger snaps, crushed

Bring enough salted water for your pasta to a boil. In the meantime, chop the stems of your greens and in a large pan, saute gently with shallots and scallions in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When softened, add in half of the garlic paste, anchovy paste, and mustard. Season with fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the zucchini and squash with half of the butter and turning occasionally, cook until tender. In a smaller pan, saute the leaves of your greens with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and butter. Add in the rest of your pastes and mustard until the leaves are wilted. Season with more salt and pepper. Drain the pasta when done according to the directions on the box or bag, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Pour this in to the vegetables and let it simmer for a moment. Toss everything together gently and add cheese and more pepper, to taste. Top with the cookies or simple ginger snaps for a final flourish. A few glasses of a Pinot Gris and a  simple green salad tossed about with olive oil and red wine vinegar would be nice with this too. Do enjoy! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strawberry Risotto

Strawberries--in risotto? Sure it may sound unreasonable but boy, is it ever delicious! I hadn't made this seductive plateful in years and as I experienced the ripe, summery, creamy goodness once again I wondered why I had taken so long to make it once again! Chicken stock is fine to use, but surely any stock such as veal, mushroom or vegetable is entirely suitable, and liberally dose your dish with grated Parmesan and cracked pepper. It's patient work, continually stirring the stock in this particular rice over the course of about half an hour, but risotto is hardly deserving of all the fuss given; instead, it's all rather quite easy and creates a fine impression for guests while at it. Toss about a salad of fresh greens enlivened by a dressing of spring onions, shallots, Dijon mustard, more pepper and fruity olive oil. And as the recipe only requires a quarter of a cup of a crisp white wine, naturally, spill a few glasses while enduring the stirring and then pour some more with the rest of your finished dish!

Go here for the recipe, and thanks to my weather-worn copy of Saveur from May/June 1995.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blue Crab Vichysoisse

A veranda with a view! Baby and I went on vacation recently to celebrate a very special occasion. At Pierre's in Isla Morada, we experienced a wonderful, cool vichysoisse that helped stave off the day's heat, still beating down around the bushes (and palm trees!). Here is our table with a sunset view.

Blue Crab Vichyssoise 
Serves 6-8
3-4 cups boniato potatoes (similar to a sweet potato but paler). Peeled, canned potatoes also work quite well in a pinch
1 bunch leeks, thinly sliced to yield about three cups
1 half bulb fennel, thinly sliced to yield about one cup
1/3 cup heavy (or light!) cream
2 cans lump crab, or fresh! 
Several teaspoons of thyme, to taste
Salt and pepper (white pepper is preferable, aesthetically), to taste
Key lime oil 

Simmer the vegetables together until tender for about 45 minutes. If using canned potatoes, just simply heat them up with leeks and fennel simmering in another pan. Strain and mash potatoes with a fork. Puree leeks and fennel. Add seasonings all else together and gently simmer over a low flame. Take off heat and stir in cream just when about to serve. Add a tablespoon of crab to each bowl and drizzle with the key lime oil. Do enjoy! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Shouldn't You Just...?

Freeze beautiful nasturtiums or other edible flowers in capacious ice cube trays and use to enhance the summer's sangrias and herbal iced teas?

Advice on modern etiquette for the not-so-new millennium.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Agnolotti and Ramps

It's amazing what encounters there may be hidden in the recesses of a refrigerator. I found about 9 oz. or so fresh agnolotti pasta stuffed with crimini and portobello mushrooms (I wish there could be a universal spelling for the latter fungi and that we could all just get along). Fresh ravioli of any sort would work too. They hadn't exceeded the expiration date so as I was feeling a bit peckish, I set to work. Baby was out of town, so I was eating for one. Remnants of ramps, the leafy, showier sister of scallions that sends everyone raving around May were also on hand. I thought to make a garlic and ramp olive oil to enrobe the agnolotti, instead of a red or cream sauce.

I started sauteeing the garlic over medium-low heat in a large pan and then added the devilish ramps...


which were unbridled once in the simmering oil, undulating and ballooning! I'd never seen such a reaction, short of my great-grandmother one year at the end of a most enduring Thanksgiving. 


Once the ramps settled down and were wilted, I removed them with a slotted spoon and set them along with the garlic on a plate lined with paper towels. The agnolotti were seared at lower heat (flat side down first before flipping over once browned, about 5 minutes per side) with a good heft of grated nutmeg and later, fresh cracked pepper. When they were sufficiently done, I took tongs and carefully placed them in a wooden bowl and grated cheese over them--a salty sheep's milk cheese works well for this. A fistful of fresh spring greens such as watercress, arugula, went into the still warm pan until they too wilted. After that, it was simply a matter of tossing it all together, plating it and topping the dish with a smattering of uncooked greens.

A dry, full-bodied, Californian Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay blend was also taking up too much space in the refrigerator and it ended up very evenly balancing the garlicky ramps, pungent mushrooms, the bitter greens and the salty cheese, that had all just been sitting around awaiting their particular call of duty.  It's grand that someone came up with the phrase "Waste not, want not," don't you think?

Try any variation of what you have on hand--and instead of seasonal ramps, consider a mixture of chopped leeks, green onions and shallots and do enjoy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spanakopita with Pe-tah!

It was a busy weekend, what with our Derby party Saturday and Cinco de Mayo/Greek Easter on Sunday! David and I had tried Mrs. K's spanakopita a few months ago and we absolutely had to have the recipe. She did send it to us and we made it to celebrate Greek Easter. This huge platter was absolutely delicious even though we did not have parsley, as we had used it for our Derby party and didn't want the bother of going out for more. It was of little matter; we grabbed a bunch of ramp leaves that we had on hand instead. We also misjudged the amount of  melted butter and didn't want to take the time to melt more but Pam cooking spray actually worked just fine. Nothing was a terribly difficult effort, it just took a long time to strip the spinach of its stems. Although it might sound unforgivable to some, when we make spanakopita again we might use frozen spinach instead for ease.   

So take it away, Mrs. K!

Serves 10 to 15
3 pounds fresh spinach
2 bunches green scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon dill
1 pound crumbled feta cheese
8 eggs, beaten
Olive oil
1/2 pound filo pastry leaves
1 cup melted butter

Wash spinach and cut off stems, dry completely with towels, then chop. Brown scallions in 1/2 cup olive oil until tender. Combine spinach, parsley, dill, beaten eggs and cheese; add cooked scallions, season with salt lightly and mix well. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan and line with 5 sheets of filo, brushing each sheet with melted butter combined with 1/2 cup olive oil. Spread the spinach mixture over the filo evenly and cover entire top. Top with remaining filo, brushing each sheet with butter and oil, including top sheet. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool and cut into squares.   

Note:  For best results, cut through the top layer of filo with a razor blade or a very sharp knife BEFORE baking, this will ensure that the squares will not be crumbly and then you can finish cutting them when the pie is completely cooked.

May be served hot or cold in small squares or large squares. I usually cut them into 2" x 2" squares.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Derby 2013

Derby may have left the gates and galloped past this year, but I do believe the memories will linger, at least for me. We had a real humdinger of a party--and behold the beautiful lilacs in the waning afternoon light!

And no, my horses didn't win. Orb ran fleetingly by Falling Sky and Slim Shady. 

Of course, there were mint juleps! We actually froze them this year and served them right out of the blender and they were marvelous. Equal parts bourbon and simple syrup (2:1 water and sugar boiled with lemon wedges and cooled). A fistful of mint went into the blender filled with ice and we topped each individual icy pour with dark rum. Biscuits and tomatoes along with Benedictine cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches were sampled shortly thereafter, once our guests were duly situated. I took advantage of seasonal ramps and shallots this year, substituting both for yellow onions, to quite good effect. The more traditional recipe is here and the picture is below, our Pepperidge Farm thin white bread having been shorn of its crust, stuffed, sliced and stacked on a vintage cake stand.

The annual shrimp and peppers served over grits made their annual appearance, courtesy of Martha Stewart's Menus for Entertaining.

Grasshopper Mousse for dessert, laden with creme de menthe, was right out of a 70's dinner party. I wrested the recipe from the Leah Tinari, the owner of Fatta Cuckoo in Manhattan. Her mother was kind enough to pass on her secret. Our friend was kind enough to make it and bring it over. She said it's so easy and everybody loved it--and the recipe makes a ton! She also made Crack Pie, that is similar to Chess Pie, and served at Momofuku Milk Bar in our fair city. It was beyond. But that's a different post entirely.

Grasshopper Mousse
2 large boxes of vanilla pudding mix
6 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups creme de menthe
1/2 cup creme de cacao
Package of Oreo cookies

Whip pudding and heavy cream together and gradually add both liqueurs. Whip until mousse-like and desired consistency is reached. Give it a taste and add a tblsp or two more of liquor for a stronger flavor. Place in a container and chill. Crush Oreo cookies in food processor.

Place some cookies crumbs in bottom of martini glass. Add grasshopper mousse, top with whipped cream and sprinkle on more cookie crumbs.

Our rosy centerpiece for the table!

Soundtrack: XTC, Skylarking; Sippie Wallace, Sippie; Atlantic Blues: Piano; Antonio Carlos Jobim, Sun Sea and Sand Favourites