What can someone like me, a girl living in Queens, NY, possibly learn from a bunch of Park Avenue socialites with names like Muffie Potter Aston? A lot, I learned, after I read Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations
, a new book by New York Times
columnist Florence Fabrikant; it's a compilation of recipes and entertaining tips from some of the city’s most celebrated hostesses and members of The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
(proceeds from the book will go to the center). Here, a few surprisingly down-to-earth tips from high society that I'll actually adopt:
1. Be worldly—follow the Swedish tradition of eating birthday cake for breakfast on your birthday.
2. Drink a cocktail before party guests arrive—it'll loosen you up and make you a better hostess.
3. Be a gracious and unflappable hostess, unperturbed by spilled wine or a crying child. Note: See #2, which will help.
4. Lottery tickets make great place cards—that’s one way to make it to Park Avenue.
5. Note for next year: Hand out to-go wine cups for parents accompanying trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
Interesting article on Yahoo today (by way of AFP) about Diageo Chateau & Estates's apparent decision to get out of the Bordeaux market and what's likely to happen to Bordeaux prices as a result. Necessary reading, if you drink or collect Bordeaux!
A month before the New York City Marathon, I clocked in a gluttonous seven-hour day of eating at NYC’s Eleven Madison Park (a leisurely lunch, followed by a lengthy dinner). A waiter overheard me speaking about the marathon, and soon, I found myself talking running strategies with a handful of staff members. I knew chef Daniel Humm was a serious runner, but it’s quite possible that Eleven Madison Park may have the most athletic staff in the city. While Humm had to
bow out of the 26.2-mile race due to an injury, manager Jordan Salcito did him proud by clocking in at 3:37:05, which qualified her for April’s Boston Marathon.
Here, Salcito’s highs and lows.
Low: “The walk to the UPS trucks after the finish line to pick up my things. At
that point, the adrenaline was gone and my legs had become cement blocks.”
High: ”My husband, wine guy Robert Bohr, sprinted out of nowhere with a bottle
of Clif Quench at mile 24. That, and 'Eye of the Tiger' on repeat, kept me
going strong those last two miles. Post-race, Robert had made a reservation at Blue Hill Stone Barns where we opened a jeroboam (a 4.5 liter bottle) of 1980 Gruenchers from Domaine Dujac.”
Cru has been my favorite fancy New York City restaurant since it opened. And now I think it’s about to become my new favorite not-so-fancy place. As Florence Fabricant reported in the New York Times’ Diners Journal blog, Todd Macdonald is Cru’s new chef (once upon a time he was sous chef there). And he’s installing a whole new menu that will be more accessible and less expensive but still wildly compatible with Cru’s extraordinary, and now lower-priced, wine list. Maybe even more so. Macdonald is hugely wine savvy: His parents are the kind of foodies whose vacations in France mean hanging out with Burgundian winemakers and eating at least one three-Michelin-star meal a day. Macdonald has even set his own wine recommendations for the dishes he’s just put on Cru’s menu. Crispy octopus with roasted sunchokes, caraway and celery = Grüner Vetliner; fig-stuffed quail with farro and stewed leeks = Volnay. Can he possibly know more about pairings than Cru’s wine superheros Robert Bohr (partner) and Roy Welland (owner)? I’ll just have to go to Cru to find out.
Each year on Halloween, my husband and I carve a jack-o’-lantern and then roast the pumpkin seeds to snack on. So a few days ago, while I was cleaning out a butternut squash to make my daughter’s favorite soup, Curried Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Soup
(pictured), I thought, Why couldn’t we roast the squash seeds as well? I cleaned the flesh off the seeds, then rinsed and dried them well. I tossed them with olive oil and salt, spread them on a baking sheet and roasted them for about 10 minutes in a 300-degree oven. (Take the seeds out when they start to pop and get golden, because they keep cooking after coming out of the oven.) The hulls are thinner than those of pumpkin seeds, and I think they’re more delicious as well, with a flavor a bit like popcorn.