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photo courtesy of The Warwick Advertiser (remaining photos by gluttonforlife)

5.27.14 Fork in the Road

Last year I drove to Warwick, NY, (about an hour from me) to have lunch with Kim Gabelmann at her newly opened café and juice bar, Conscious Fork. Kim had graduated from selling juice at the local farmers market to a cozy place off the beaten track where she was serving lunch to health-conscious locals. I was impressed with what she was calling "vegan comfort food" and apparently her customers were, too, as this spring Conscious Fork has moved to a much bigger place in a more prominent location in downtown Warwick. Kim, seen above (black t-shirt, strawberry-blonde hair) with members of the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, a self-confessed "enthusiastic member of the rat race," walked away from corporate life to follow her dream of what she calls "slow living." Now, a certified health counselor and graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, she is not only pursuing her own wellness and balance but helping others do the same by offering them the kind of nutritious and delicious food that supports radiant living and a healthy planet. Kim calls this "nourishing the mind, body and soil."
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photos off the interwebs

9.28.11 Stoned Again

It seems that birthday celebrations call for Stone Barns. And not just birthdays—the place is thick with tipsy bridesmaids and full-on wedding parties. You may recall that last January I chose to turn 48 within its glorious confines. G and I dined there recently with a group of friends to fête the marvelous Matthew on the occasion of his 50th. Each of the three times I've been in the last 18 months have been revelatory experiences; not only the food, but the service and the ambiance elevate this restaurant above most others. It's part of a multi-million dollar farming, education and hospitality enterprise, and much of the food served is raised on the grounds or locally. This summer, I was lucky enough to get a little window into the kitchen when my sister-in-law secured an externship as part of her program at I.C.E. In lay terms, that means she worked there. She assuaged my jealousy by religiously recounting tips, techniques and stories from behind the scenes at one of this country's finest restaurants. It was almost as good as eating there...
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iphotos by gluttonforlife

1.27.11 Tales of the City

The birthday is past, but the celebration continues! The lovely Miriam treated me to luncheon at The John Dory yesterday, both of us braving snowdrifts and delayed trains, serendipitously arriving on the very day Sam Sifton’s rave review appeared in the Times. (Just missed scooping him by one day!) Like The Breslin, the restaurant is adjacent to—and part of the same building as—the Ace Hotel; upon inquiring, we were informed that the frigid indoor temperature was a result of the entire shebang losing its heat. I ate with gloves on and the cold endowed the whole venture with a sort of pioneer quality. Things began shaping up from the moment our hot toddies arrived. Cocktails, you gasp, in the middle of a workday?! Yes, I must say, it was rather Mad Men of us, and ushered in a mood of general excess.
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hot, hot, hot: bourbon, lemon, star anise and cinnamon

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all images taken from Stone Barns' website

1.24.11 Everybody Must Get Stoned

It was my birthday on Saturday and I had the great fortune of celebrating with friends at Blue Hill, the restaurant at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills. You may remember I wrote about another delectable meal I enjoyed there back in May. In a perfect world, I would eat there four times a year. The menu is linked to the seasons and what is grown on the farm—beef, pork and lamb included—and sourced locally. Stone Barns is a beautiful and fascinating place, an educational center as well as a non-profit working farm and a fine dining restaurant; please visit their websites (here and here) to learn more about the many things that go on there.
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the picturesque barns are indeed made of stone

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photos by gluttonforlife

1.11.11 Last Gasp

Home sweet home. Stuffed. And officially back in the saddle. But before I dispense with the vacation entirely, let me just wrap up the litany of LA dining. There was lunch at Terroni on Beverly Boulevard, an outpost of an Italian restaurant from Toronto that hits all the basics—salume, antipasti, pizza, pasta—but does them surprisingly well. That pizza above had a super-thin crust with molten pools of fresh mozzarella, and salty hits of caper and anchovy. It was delicious but gave me heartburn, a rare occurrence that for me signals the end (of over-indulgence) is nigh.
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12.28.10 Making Lemonade

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snow daze
Our flight to Mexico was totally cancelled—not delayed, not postponed, CANCELLED! 10 years ago exactly, trying to make my way from LA to Tulum to celebrate Scott's 40th, the same exact thing happened. In the end, I never made it down there at all, but this time G pulled a rabbit out of a hat and got us a flight to Mexico CIty on Thursday. We'll make it to Todos Santos late that night, missing just a day and a half of our vacation. By the 31st, we'll have our day in the sun.In the meantime, we'll make the most of another 2 days tromping around the snowy city, and another couple of nights at the Ace. Yesterday we saw Black Swan and True Grit; the former a hot mess, the latter a beautifully shot and rather compelling film, though not the Coen brothers' best. There followed another flawless dinner at Momofuku Ssam. The duck with plum and cashew was divine, as were the pickled Prince Edward Island mussels. Today, we're headed out to see The Fighter and The King's Speech, then Co. for pizza—G will fall off the gluten wagon for that! Bottom line: it could be worse. Hope you're tucked up somewhere warm...
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12.7.10 Get Baked

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photo by george billard
Have you been to Peels yet? It's the new restaurant from the people behind Freemans, that early proponent of old-timey-taxidermy-comfort-foody hipness, where downtowners still go for their mac 'n' cheese and hot artichoke dip. Owner Tavo Somer has described his new venture as "kind of supposed to be Freemans' girlfriend. He's all old New England, and she's like a feminine, Southern girl.” Hmmm. Not sure if that really comes across since I haven't had a proper meal there, but I did pop in early one morning for a cup of tea and really liked the cozy atmosphere downstairs in this 2-story restaurant. Nowness, LVMH's über-coolness blog, featured the place on Thanksgiving; check out their photos. It turns out that pastry chef Shuna Lydon, whose blog rants are as amusing as her desserts are divine, has taken up residency here and is overseeing a baking extravaganza of homey treats that elevates Peels way above your average downtown cafe. I had a buckwheat muffin flavored with rosemary and lemon marmalade that was truly delicious.
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photo by gluttonforlife

12.3.10 Big City of Dreams

Today was one of those days when I was filled with a great love for New York City. The energy is always particularly high around the holidays, the streets filled with tourists, the shops crowded and a bracing chill in the air. I was walking up Central Park South, watching dogs chasing squirrels in the park, enjoying the lovely vistas, when I came upon the sweetest sight: a couple of chefs from the Ritz-Carlton feeding the carriage horses fresh carrots (greens and all) from a big market basket. So delightful, especially since I always get a pang of sadness when I see those horses gussied up in that cheesy frippery they really don't deserve. (I think I read Black Beauty just a few too many times as a girl.) Anyway, it was an especially New York-y moment—unexpected, extravagant, poignant. And it was the perfect set-up for an exceptional day that included lunch at A Voce, a facial from the incomparable Claudia Colombo, dinner at NougatineA Free Man of Color at Lincoln Center, and a night at The Jane.
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photos by gluttonforlife

11.15.10 Vegangelical

Vegetables are in the zeitgeist. Pro-vegetable articles are popping up all over, like this one and this one. It seems like some people—a vocal minority?—are really starting to embrace Michael Pollan's edict to "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Actually, I'm not so sure about the "not too much" part. We Americans are all about plenty; a surfeit, even. But look, a ton o' vegetables is still a whole lot healthier than a ton o' beef. And I think I'll just take this opportunity to say once more, and probably not for the last time, I loathe the non-word "veggies." As if somehow you're going to make them what, more palatable? more cute? more friendly? Please. Just do me the great favor of honoring them with their lovely and true name: vegetable. Anyhoo. Eating lots of vegetables is always pretty easy during the warm months, when fresh tomatoes and corn and summer squash and lettuces and herbs are so plentiful, but what about now, as the farmers markets begin to dwindle down to a more paltry selection of onions, squash and the like? I feel a teensy bit smug knowing that my freezer is stocked with bags of local blackberries, freshly shucked corn and homemade tomato sauce. We can easily pop into the grocery store for hydroponic greens and grapes from Chile, but I urge you not to abandon seasonal eating quite so readily. Look again: local cabbage, celeriac, sweet potatoes, leeks, carrots, rutabagas, garlic, kale, collards, beets, turnips. And of course, there are always dried grains and legumes like lentils, chickpeas, barley, wild rice, buckwheat groats (kasha, to you Jews out there), farro, quinoa, brown rice, polenta and all manner of pasta. As well as a slew of nuts, seeds and dried fruits and spices to zhush it all up. The reality is, once you stop thinking of animal protein as the center of every meal, a whole gorgeous world of possibility crops (no pun intended) up.
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photos by george billard

9.29.10 Mamma Mia!

I've now made two trips to Eataly, New York City's new temple of Italian gastronomy, and although I haven't actually eaten anything on premises, I'm able to give you my initial impressions. On my first visit, shortly after it opened in late August, I muscled my way through the throngs of gaping tourists and irritated locals in what looked a lot like an Italian airport, barely able to check it all out before fleeing to the relative calm of 23rd Street. Porca miseria, I texted G. What a mob scene! And for what? A small, bedraggled-looking produce section (and alleged "produce butcher" Jennifer Rubell nowhere in sight); aisle after aisle of dried pasta; very pricey imported salume (culatello for $65 a pound!); walls cluttered with the kind of boxed biscotti and candies you find at most corner delis...well, you can see I was underwhelmed. (And the thought of the carbon footprint on much of this stuff gives me pause.) Still, I did get a glimpse of what looked like a very impressive selection of fresh pasta. Pat La Frieda's meats caught my eye, as did whole fresh duck, sweetbreads and tripe—not a common sight in most butcher shops. And the seafood counter, curated by the master David Pasternak, was flawless. La Verdura, a counter serving vegetable-based dishes and the only menu I eyeballed, seemed very promising. Now if all those people would just fuck off...
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