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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.