Cosme

In the winter of 2012 I went with a friend to Mexico City for a few days.  Loved the trip and loved the city.  One of the restaurants we went to was Pujol.  She went back with her family a year later and returned to Pujol.  The group and chef behind Pujol ventured out of Mexico and made their way into NYC and opened Cosme.  My friend scored a reservation on the second night they were open.  Always wary of a meal at a place where the paint has barely dried but was excited to go regardless.

cosme.0.0_standard_800.0We got there at 7pm and they did not have our reservation in the system.  My friend took our her phone and showed them the confirmed reservation.  So yes they sat us.  Originally at the one long shared high top table in the back but we resisted and got our own seat.  We were a bit concerned that the rest of the meal might be just as unorganized.  We were dead wrong.

15378633256_b3f78225b1_h.0.0_cinema_350.0The restaurant has a concrete floor and ceiling.  A large bar and bar tables in front and that is separated by a wall where the dining room is located.  Very soothing grey colors almost flat.  The noise level is loud but there is a definite chic yet gritty vibe just like Mexico City.

chipsThe menu is tight with three separate options yet the expectation is that everyone shares or not.  We ordered 5 things and of course tequilla.  They bring over a large airy crispy chip with a spicy ground pepita seed dip on the side.  Really good dip.

musselsOur first thing out of the kitchen was the mussel tostada.  A large chip (the same that we were served to start instead of a bread basket) with salad and I think some potatoes mixed with a Russian dressing that uses chipotle mayonnaise for a kick and then mussels served over the top.  It is excellent.  A really interesting mixture of flavors and textures.  We are thinking right now that this might be a really good meal.

octoWith this comes out an octopus cocktail.  Plump poached pieces of octopus served with a purple occidental corn atole, slices of red onion and pieces of avocado.  Mexican ceviche.  Another winner.

tomalFrom the “salad” type selections we had a tamal.  Sauteed wrapped as a leaf stuffed with a rice mixture ( I believe ) with ricotta,  tomato salsa and a few pieces of cilantro on top.  Amazing.  A really interesting twist on a tamal.

chilaquilesFor our mains we split two things although you can tell from the size that they are not so large.  Chilquiles with salsa rojo, queso fresco and a runny egg.  Chips that become almost soft when you mix all the content of the bowl together.  It is a great share for the table.  We licked the bowl clean.

meatA very well sourced NY strip steak with pan fried shisitos and an avocado tarragon puree.  I am not a huge fan of tarragon but this was insanely subtle.  The dip tasted fresh and light.

dessertDessert was a must and this dessert is off the charts.  A meringue, cut in half and stuffed with a very eggy custard.  The melt in your mouth meringue with the custard was over the top.

I can hardly wait to go back.  Having a real deal Mexican restaurant where the flavors are unique, seasonal and light at the same time is a win win for NYC.   I hope the kitchen can keep this up.

 

Dear White People

17DEARWHITE-articleLargeWe see movies all the time but I rarely write about them.  Dear White People is in a separate category.  I now know why A.O. Scott, the movie reviewer at the NYTimes wrote that every person should see this film, period.

The film is Justin Simien’s first feature film and I can hardly wait to see what he makes next.  It is a comedy set on a college campus hitting on issues from race, privilege, power and diversity.  Dear White People is a radio show that is run by one of the main characters of the film, Samantha.  She herself is a product of a mixed marriage.  The show pokes at the encounters that black people feel daily in their ongoing life that white people never have to deal with such as not being served timely in a restaurant, the conversation around their hair, their lack of power on the campus.  It is funny and poignant yet uncomfortable.

The timing of Dear White People could not be more perfect.  The underlying issues on race in America continue to hit us smack in the face every day.  Ferguson, MO is dealing with the aftermath of a white policeman shooting an unarmed young black man at close range. A city with a large population of African Americans run by white Americans.  Thank god the 57 year old white man in Florida was just sentenced to life for shooting a young black man sitting in his car unarmed because his music was blaring too loud and he refused to turn it down.  What happened in Florida where Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman has race issues written all over it.  You can not help but wonder if Obama was a white man would he get the amount of turbulence and push back from the GOP and others if he was not black.

The film is beyond smart.  Undertones of so many issues in this clever comedy such as the power issues between blacks, the power issues among whites, interracial relationships, struggles of black men who want to succeed in an overpowered white mans world instead of being honest to themselves, growing up with different values and even different cuisines, being black and gay, being gay, false power that comes with privilege, diversity that is questionable, etc.  Each of the individuals in this movie are stereotypes but stand on their own two feet and Simien portrays them all in a clever way.

Dear White People is funny, well written and fun to watch yet the undertones of racism are all over the place.  It is a movie to see and a movie to be talked about and I hope it is discussed for years to come.  Simien’s voice is saying something to all of us loud and clear not only to the dear white people but also to the dear black people.

Marta

When we first moved to NYC in 1983 we knew nothing about what neighborhood to live in.  In typical fashion which we did not realize was our typical fashion until later on we came in to NYC after traveling around the country in a car for 6 weeks and found an apartment in one day. It was the right neighborhood because Fred and I could walk to work.  Located on 28th and Madison in a new apartment building we rented a studio loft so our bed was accessible by a ladder.  Underneath that loft was a walk-in closet with a single bulb where we sat on two old trunks playing cards most nights until our first purchase of furniture arrived.

Little did we know that this neighborhood was full of single room occupancy hotels filled with drug dealers, the elderly, unstable homeless people and prostitutes that hung out at every corner as soon as the sun set.  Not a pretty time for the city as these people were all thrown into pure chaos and were all scared of each other.  One of the hotels that housed this group was the Martha Washington.

kitchenToday the Martha Washington hotel has transformed itself as has the neighborhood.  Danny Meyer’s latest restaurant is front and center in the newly renovated absolutely beautiful Martha Washington Hotel.  The restaurant is called Marta.  The restaurant is bright, airy and hopping.  Instead of closing itself off to the hotel it literally bleeds into the lobby creating a warm inviting atmosphere.  You see this beautiful open kitchen with wood fired stoves upon entering the hotel.  If I had just arrived to stay here it would make me smile the second I wanted in the door.

Danny has been a pioneer in the restaurant business starting with the opening of Union Square Cafe in 1985.  He redefined white table cloth dining in NYC with that casual air of elegance and fresh ingredients.  He continued to open up restaurants that have made their mark on the NYC landscape such as Gramercy Tavern, the Modern, 11 Madison and plenty more.  He handed over the keys to 11 Madison to Daniel Humm and Will Guidara a few years ago which IMHO was the right move.  Danny opened Shake Shack years ago in Madison Square Park as an anchor of a park that he got behind transforming it from a unkempt scary park into a beautiful destination location.  Just a note it was also the first major donation that Fred and I had ever given located just down the street from our first apartment.  It was the first park where the public/private partnership transformed an area.  That is the essentially the model that the High Line used.  Then he took Shake Shack on the road and there are now over 57 of them across the globe.  Once again ahead of the curve building out a next generation burger stand.

His latest venture is Marta. Marta is one of those restaurants you just want to come back to over and over again starting with breakfast all the way to a late night meal.  The wine list is large and approachable and the menu changes seasonally.  A group of starters that come under different headings from Fritti, Insalade and Dal Forno A Legna.  Then the pizzas; Rosse and Bianche.  Next is Alle Branche, entrees of fish, meat and chicken.  Last is Contorini a smattering of sides to go with anything you choose.

rabbit meaballsWe started with the rabbit meatballs.  Dense yet light slightly caramelized meatballs sitting in a red sauce with small dollops of ricotta on top.  They are delicious and I particularly loved the spicy kick.

pizzaIt was tough to choose the right pizza.  We finally decided on the cauliflower, brussel sprouts, pickled chili and parmigiano under the white pizza heading.  Thin crust with the toppings finely chopped so that it was not so heavy that you can not pick it up and eat the slice.  A winner.  All the pizzas coming out of the oven and touching down on the tables around us were hard not to stare at.  Everyone of them looked absolutely divine and creative.

chickeHad to try one entree.  Beer brined juicy chicken.  I am a sucker for a good chicken and this hits the high notes.

squashOn the side we had a mixture of roasted winter squashes that had browned butter and balsamic vinegar dribbled over the top.

Marta is an absolute winner.  Returning very soon to check out the other meals too.  After all, this was the neighborhood where we started our life in NYC.

 

The hook-up generation

No-means-No-300x172We have all read about the escalation of rapes that have taken place on college campuses.  There are so many conversations to have on this topic.  Are college campuses educating incoming freshman about safe sex and rape.  It is refreshing to see that women are actually coming out and saying this person raped me vs sweeping it under the carpet.  Unfortunately most campuses are not equipped to deal with the aftermath of these abuses as they would prefer to continue to sweep a rape under the carpet.

Education is obviously key. Sexual education should begin at a very young age and in many schools it does where as in other schools there is none.  Sex is one of those topics that parents rarely talk about.  They realize that they should talk to their kids about drugs and alcohol but when it comes to sex many just want to know if they are using birth control.

The reality is that once your kid reaches a certain age they are more than likely going to become sexually active because of the hook-up culture that is essentially the long tail aftermath of the sexual revolution.  Birth control has given women the same opportunity as men when it comes to having casual sex.  Because both men and women are having one night hook-ups there seems to be this broken communication around when no means no.  What is incredible is because so many women are now empowered to have casual sex and feel comfortable about the one night hook-up that they also feel powerful enough to say I have been raped.  They are not holding back but putting it out there because they realize that they were raped, it is a crime and it is not ok.  I applaud every single one of these women who have come forward.  However the system has to get better at gathering information and investigating rape.  After all, in our country you are innocent until proven guilty and you have to prove a crime in order to prosecute those individuals.

Let’s go back to the importance of education.  Young men ( and women ) have to understand that no means no.  Make sure that you are both consenting to having sex.  Communicate and if  someone is so wasted that they can not communicate I would take that as a no.  Second is use protection.  Third is sex is a two way street.  These are conversations that should be taking place at home not only at school.  Respecting each other when it comes to sex is an important lesson to learn young.

Colleges should be talking about rape, educating incoming freshman about no means no and understanding that there will be repercussions, prosecution and immediate suspension if someone was found to have raped another individual.  Colleges should be safe places where you can go wild among friends and are free to have a one night hook-up without fear of being raped.

Merge Lane, an accelerator focusing on women entrepreneurs

539152121dc8288f4003d721_mergelane-logoMerge Lane is a new accelerator program out of Boulder focusing on women entrepreneurs.  The two women behind this are Sue Helibronner and Elizabeth Kraus.  They launched this program to bring more women into the startup community.  Elizabeth is an entrepreneur who has been doing angel investments for quite some time.  Sue’s career is just as impressive working as a CEO, President leading and selling multiple start-ups.

The concept behind Merge Lane is to investment in women who will create high-performing gender-diverse companies.   Their thesis is built on data that Venture-backed women-led companies achieve 12% high revenue and when there are women at the helm the returns are 34% higher.  They want to change that only 7% of VC-packed start-ups are run by women.  They no longer want to be the only woman in the room.

The first program starts on February 2nd and applications are now open thru December 1st.   They will accept 8 companies into the first program.  The program will run from February 2nd to April 24th, 2015.  MergeLane offers a guaranteed investment of $20K for each participating company with up to $100K of additional discretionary investment.  The teams are only required to be in Boulder for the first and last week of the program.  That is impressive.  It actually allows women who have families to be part of this.

The program will be run similar to other accelerators with diverse mentors, executive coaches, virtual mentors and will address many of the common challenges women entrepreneurs face.   They will consider companies from any industry.  The candidates must have at least one female as a substantial equity owner, some evidence of traction ( not just an idea ) and an implied ability to scale.

Bravo to both Elizabeth and Sue for doing this.  The timing is perfect.  Love their tag line too; broadening the on-ramp for Women-led companies.  I am looking forward to see the lucky chosen 8 companies.

Lemon Pistachio Cake, Huckleberry Cookbook

lemonOne of my favorite haunts in Los Angeles is Huckleberry Cafe.  The vibe is so LA and the baked goods are seriously off the charts.  Breakfast is my favorite meal there.  I was out there recently and saw their cookbook for sale.  It was calling out my name.  I read the entire book cover to cover on the way back to NYC.  I got inspired to bake up some goodies for the kids who returned for their fall break.

I have been looking for a lemon pistachio cake recipe after tasting the one at Brooklyn Larder which I dreamt about for weeks on end.  This one is just as good.  Some of my favorite ingredients; pistachios and lemons.

1 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature.

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 tsp kosher salt

zest of 3 lemons

1 tsp vanilla extract

8 eggs

2 cups grounded pistachios

2 cups almond meal  ( I used almond flour )

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

Glaze:

1/2 cup toasted chopped pistachios

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat the oven to 350.  Line and grease a 10″ round cake pan.  I only had an 8 inch so the cake dripped over in the oven.  I immediately bought a 10 inch for future use.  The beauty of the internet.

Cream the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and eggs ( one at a time and beating well after each putting in each egg ).  Scrape the sides well and then add in the grounded pistachios, almond meal, flour and baking powder on a low speed.  Mix until just incorporated.

Put into the cake pan and bake for about an hour (until the tester comes out clean).  I over baked the cake just a bit but it worked out fine.

While the cake is cooling make the glaze.  Simmer the pistachios, sugar and lemon juice together until the pistachios are completely coated.

Take the cake out of the pan when cooled, flip over and dribble the glaze over the top.  I used an flat icing utensil to spread the glaze over the top.

Serve.  A real winner!

Raising good eaters

kidThe NYX magazine section a few weekends ago focused on the question “what should children eat”.  To some it might seem like an absolutely ridiculous question but to others it is a real concern.  This could be a stretch but I believe that children who are good eaters generally come from a family of good eaters.

There is no doubt that we all have different taste buds and there are just some things that do not taste good but in general it is about being exposed to tastes and textures from early on.  Mark Bittman wrote an article in the magazine about how him and his wife raised their two daughters and although I was not writing a cookbook as he was when raising our kids we basically did what they did.  We ate everything and there was never this conversation of us begging them to try something because we swear it tastes good.  They ate what I gave them and if they were unsure at least they would try it.

Whatever I made for dinner we all ate.  I was not a short-order chef.  If I was making a leg of lamb with a greek salad or a curry noodle soup or a chicken in the pot then that is what we all ate for dinner.  We didn’t do chicken fingers and frozen pizzas.  Sure I kept string cheese and some of those packaged products that kids love to eat for a snack but in general I made cookies and served a healthy meal.  They knew nothing else and were always amazed when their friends came over.  BTW, I converted many of their friends by just giving them what we were eating and prodding them to try it.

When Emily was about 13 months we have a picture of here sitting in a high chair at my Mom’s house with a stalk of broccoli in her hand chowing down.  I remember the moment quite clearly.  She just kept eating the stalks.  My Grandmother was still alive and was not only amazed at the eating frenzy but concerned she was putting away way too much broccoli.  She obviously liked it.

I even remember going to Barcelona with Josh when he was ten and the people at every restaurant were absolutely blown away with what he was eating and with what he ordered.  One place brought him out a few desserts on the house to acknowledge what he ate.  It was hilarious and the chatter among the wait staff.

Fast forward, all of our kids cook and bake.  They all eat about anything except for a few things here and there because they just don’t enjoy them.  They eat healthy and certainly enjoy a good meal.  Food is an integral part of our family life.  So in regards to the question what should kids eat I believe that they should eat everything and taste everything as soon as they can.  Don’t treat them as kids but as another mouth at the table.  Otherwise you could end up with picky eaters for life.

Dirty French

Dirty French is the latest restaurant opening from the Major Food Group team; Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick.  They have been on the move for the past few years opening up new restaurants with an Italian slant.  This one has a completely different edge and they have hit the nail on the head.

Located in the Ludlow Hotel on the LES.  A great vibe.  Large booths, tables, a long bar and an intimacy to the room.  The decor is great, the music is always a little louder than I’d like but good tunes.

oystersMy camera was definitely on the fritz and of course I could not figure out the issue so bear with me.  I plan on returning sooner than later so new pictures will be taken.  We began with a course of oysters.  They bring out a small plate of oysters showing you one from each location available that night.  The ones we chose were plump, briny and delicious.  Served with a few options for dipping if you so choose.

lambcarpThere are salads and appetizers.  I went with the lamb carpaccio.  Thinly sliced raw lamb covered with roasted eggplant slices and a cumin yogurt sauce.  This dish definitely has an intensity to it.  Really creative and unique with a Moroccan twist.  The other two had salads.  Frisee with sizzling giblets, lardons and a runny egg.  Honestly the perfect French salad.  The other salad was a mixture of greens, beets, cashews and roquefort.  If you like roquefort cheese this one is for you.  The combo of these flavors are delicious.  Most beet salads come with goat cheese.  I like how they shook it up.

beefFor dinner the boys split the Cote de Boeuf for two.  There is one other dish for two that is the Chicken and Crepes.  I do plan on returning to try that.  The beef comes served underneath an old school ornate silver lid.  Quite fancy and kitschy in a way that works.  They serve the beef along with the charred fat cap thinly sliced to lay on top of each slice.  The good fatty stuff.

duckI had the duck.  I have nothing to say except it was just excellent.  Crispy skin on top of a perfectly cooked piece of duck breast.  Roasted glazed oranges on the side with a mixture of North African herbs.  A large portion but I honestly finished every single last bite.  This screams winner.

On the side we had the broccoli gratin and a simple salad.  I kept the salad to myself.  Just simple greens with a nice tart vinaigrette.  Perfect side for the duck.

beignetsDessert was called for.  The beignets are big, airy, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and covered with powdered sugar.  Dip them in the caramel sauce on the side.  A bit of a mess but kind of the perfect end to the meal.  Except for the music being a few decibels louder than needed Dirty French is a great addition to the NY restaurant landscape.

Saturday in NYC

gansevoortThe way we spent our Saturday is what I just love about NYC.  Walking, talking, exploring and bumping into people along the way.  We started out at the new Gansevoort Street Market.  We had checked it out on Friday night seeing vendors trying to get it together for the next day.  Located half a block from the first staircase that gets you on the High Line.  A really great addition to the neighborhood.  Fresh greens, Sushi Dojo, Champion Coffee and others.  20 vendors.  I had some sushi.

tacotruckFred went with the tacos from Tacombi taqueria.  This pic is from the night before opening

souphighlineAfter lunch we took a walk on the High Line.  I totally forgot that they were having their annual soup event.

soupbowlIt is a wonderful community event.  A few seatings.  $7 for a huge bowl of soup.

soupWe popped our head in to say hello and tasted the soup and said hi to the chef this year, Marco Canora of Hearth.  

Winter_Sunrise_over_Yosemite_Valley_Yosemite_California_201We got off at 23rd street to hit up some galleries.  Our first stop was at James Danziger Gallery to see the David Benjamin Sherry exhibit.  We own two pieces of Sherry’s work and wanted to see his latest show.  He takes photos of nature and shoots beautiful colors through the landscape.

joseparlaNext stop was Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.  Jose Parla is the work that is up now.  The pieces are amazing.  I loved this one piece.

wolfwitzThe other pieces which were super cool were these large cement walls that he had built and painted on.  Has this graffiti aspect to them.

PS- ParisA few years ago I was in the Wolkowitz gallery to see the Paula Scher show.  We were talking to Bryce about that show and I told him I was still pining for that Paris map piece.  He happened to have it in a limited print vs the huge painting.  It took me less than 5 seconds to buy it.

stephenshoreWe walked next door to 303 Gallery to see the Stephen Shore exhibit.  The work is photos of the Ukraine and Israel conflict zones.

fredwilsonmirrorOur next stop was Pace to see the last day of the Fred Wilson exhibit.  Big fan of him ( the artist ) and his work.  This mirror is jaw dropping.

fredwilsonHis other work in this show was around flags and identity.  Taking out all color and only leaving black and white.

highlineIt was time for a pick me up.  We strolled down to the High Line hotel  to get a shot of coffee and a sweet.  The backyard is a small oasis departure from the beat of the street.

campari_aperitivoOne more stop was to check out the Vintage Poster fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion.  I look for posters online sometimes but have a hard time pulling the trigger.  This Campari poster grabbed us both.  Made in 1926 and printed on linen.  Not sure how many are left out there but at least we have one now.

We ran a few more errands picking up a house warming gift for our friend before going to see his new apartment and then out to dinner later that night.  A really great Saturday.

Women’s Equality Party

c.H.79.3c1.Screen-Shot-2014-10-14-at-3.45.39-PMThe Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the US Constitution to guarantee equal rights for women.  In 1972 this was passed in both houses of Congress and then went to the state legislatures for ratification with a deadline of March 1979.  Yet in 1977 only 35 of the 38 states needed to ratify the amendment came through.  And so, the ERA was never passed.

I clearly remember this.  I could not understand what the big deal was.  How could the ERA not be passed?  It just seemed so ridiculous that anyone would not want to give equal rights to women and acknowledge that through the eyes of the law.  It was probably the first time I realized how ridiculous and out of touch Government can be.

Supposedly Senator Bob Menendez reintroduced the ERA amendment in March of 2013 under the 113th Congress that has more women than ever before.  I do hope that this makes its way through the channels to become law.

Now there is a group of women, Chris Quinn being one of them, leading the efforts of the Women’s Equality Party in NY. If 50,000 people cast their vote for WEP on election day (Nov 4) they will have formed the first women’s agenda political party with the hope that women’s rights would no longer be put on the back burner.

This is a step in the right direction.  They want to ensure that candidates support women’s issues and that women are treaty equally.

There is an event tonight at the Tai Ping Showroom, 860 Broadway, 4th floor at 17th Street between 630-830.  You can click here to RSVP and attend.  If you can’t attend at least make sure you vote for this on November 4th.

It is smart and it is about time.  #WomensEqualityParty