Monday, June 15, 2015

Bouley Restaurant

Bouley Restaurant

In the early 1980’s, I used to spend every weekend at the Ram’s Head Inn on Shelter Island. One Friday evening, having arrived after the restaurant’s kitchen had closed, my husband and I ordered the last of the crème brulee left in the pantry. The following evening, the amazing chef, Ray Bradley, came to our table to meet those people who ate 7 crème brulee the previous evening. And Ray began telling us about his dear friend, David Bouley, who was opening a new restaurant in Manhattan, the first to focus on local produce.

The original Bouley was a magical place, which smelled of apples and sugar. The herb infused sauces were sublime and every dish was a perfect balance of flavor and beauty. I love bread and David Bouley bakes the most fabulous bread on this planet, my personal favorite being the olive bread. We ate there often and always when my brother came to visit from California.

Later, this great chef opened Bouley Bakery around the corner and served his masterpieces in a slightly more casual atmosphere. Then came September 11th. I heard that Bouley shut down and the staff alongside David Bouley, were cooking for the volunteers who came from all over the world. I went to help and after burning myself four times in five minutes while trying to cook salmon, the Maitre D’ sent me to serve at Ground Zero.

In your wildest dreams you could not imagine the quality of the food being transported to the “green tarp.” Salmon, chicken, varieties of vegetables, many desserts and of course his signature bread. Word got around pretty quickly that the food being served for free under the green tarp was infinitely superior to the food from the MacDonald’s stand nearby. And the thanks from the volunteers made all of us know how much his food was appreciated.

If I had to pick one favorite restaurant in New York, it is Bouley. Always rated highly in Zagats, David Bouley is a true New York hero and an outstanding chef. And, one of his sous chefs opened the only restaurant in Brooklyn to get 3 Michelin Stars…a testament to his great ability to share his expertise.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer in the City

Summer in the City

Summertime in New York City can be brutal with temperatures in the 90’s and heat radiating off the buildings and sidewalks. But on summer weekends, the city is virtually empty; you can get into any restaurant. Restaurant week 2013 lasts from July 22nd to August 16th when you pay only $25.00 for a three course lunch and $38.00 for a three course dinner at many of the city’s finest restaurants.

Throughout the summer, Central Park and Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, Crotona Park in The Bronx, Cloves Lake Park in Staten Island, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Coney Island, Metrotech and Prospect Park in Brooklyn come alive with outdoor concerts, movies and performances. The New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera stage free (yes, free!) performances where you can bring a picnic basket and a blanket and sit on the lawn to listen to extraordinary world class music. From May to August, you can attend a variety of concerts for free from Blues to opera to Indie Rock. Even the Martha Graham Company stages free performances.

On summer weekends, street fairs with every imaginable type of food pop up throughout the five boroughs, the High Line is emptied of New Yorkers, all the stores have sales, some at even 90% off to make room for incoming fall styles. Just go to the back of each floor in Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman and find that perfect outfit marked down from $1000.00 to $100.00.

There is another alternative: head to the beach. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are located in the Hamptons and Fire Island.  It’s an easy train ride to Bayshore, Long Island where you can hop on any ferry to cross the Great South Bay and walk 3 blocks to the ocean in Fair Harbor, Ocean Beach or any of the tiny towns across the Island.  Or take the train to Montauk, dine on lobsters, swim in the ocean or even go whale watching and deep-sea fishing.

If you have a car, head out to Shelter Island, located in between the North and South Forks of Long Island. You can take the car ferry from Greenport on the North Fork or North Haven (just north of Sag Harbor) and watch a glorious sunset at the famous Sunset Beach Hotel & restaurant located on Crescent Beach.  My favorite restaurant is Vine Street but there are many other fabulous ones including La Maison Blanche, which has awesome food or the Ram’s Head in where the food is mediocre but the view from the outdoor tables is spectacular.

If you go via the North Fork, there is a huge assortment of wineries and a vodka distillery on the way. Many are worth a stop and a quick taste and welcome small groups. You can continue all the way to the end of the North Fork where you can drive on to the car ferry to Block Island (which is actually part of Rhode Island) where the pace is slow and the beaches are dramatic. It is a huge boating community with sailboats, trawlers and speed boats.

Summer in the City is magical…if you can stand the heat!