Dinner and a Movie

Several weeks ago I ran into an old college friend while I was in the city for an article writing; I suggested that we head over to Union Square Café, for those who may not know its’ location – 21 E 16th Street, Union Square Cafe serves Chef Carmen Quagliata’s American cuisine with an Italian soul, using fresh ingredients from the local Greenmarket.  My friend and I had the Chickpea & Chicken Minestra (Escarole, Corn Flour Pasta, Pecorino Romano) and Sunny Side Up Knoll Crest Egg (Pork Butcher Polenta, Wild Mushrooms) to my surprise three hours has passed so I called it a day.

The weather was holding up perfectly! What more can a gal ask for, had a great lunch with an old friend and landed a catering job “A Dinner & Movie” for 100 people in Brooklyn. Nice!!! Filled with excitement I was following my heart to one of my many favorite places in the city, the old Meatpacking District. New York City has slowly been gaining a reputation as a bastion of food innovation. I have been dining in some of New York City’s best-kept secrets for many, many years now, and I must say it’s quite an experience. This so-called food revolution happening in the Meatpacking District has seen many of the country’s best new restaurants sprouting like mushrooms in this city. I’ve traveled back and forth for many years, finding myself back home again in the big easy!  And for those of you searching for a culinary experience like no other, look no further than Spice Market, 403 W 13th Street, NYC.

Nestled amid the lofts in the trendy Meatpacking District, Spice Market is the brainchild of Star Chef Jean-Georges and Executive Sous Chef Anthony Ricco. Though Jean-Georges is one of the world’s most famous chefs, his skills extend far beyond the kitchen. A savvy businessman and restaurateur, Jean-Georges is responsible for the operation and success of a constellation of three and four star restaurants worldwide.  Jean-Georges developed his love for the exotic and aromatic flavors of the East. His signature cuisine abandons the traditional use of meat stocks and creams and instead features the intense flavors and textures from vegetable juices, fruit essences, light broths, and herbal vinaigrette’s. Jean-Georges’ culinary vision has redefined industry standards and revolutionized the way we eat.

Executive Sous Chef Anthony Ricco
Executive Sous Chef Anthony Ricco

When Spice Market opened its doors in the fleetly evolving whirl of Manhattan’s meatpacking district in early 2004, it was something else, the structure of its menu and many of its dishes are pretty much unchanged from the early days. The restaurant transports you to Southeast Asia, touching down in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and India. It envelops you in the flavors and perfumes of those lands — in lemon grass, ginger, coconut, Thai basil. And it celebrates the sweet heat of the region’s cooking.  The decor allows the simplistic beauty of the food to really shine, though beauty isn’t the only thing bringing folks to Spice Market. The restaurant buzzed with excited energy and was comfortably full with seemingly satisfied patrons.

One of my favor dishes, Crispy pork belly with tamarind herb salad and Thai chili sugar at Spice Market.
One of my favor dishes, Crispy pork belly with tamarind herb salad and Thai chili sugar at Spice Market.

Though I would love to be selfish and keep Spice Market all to myself, is too good to stay hidden for long. What defines a trendy restaurant?  Why don’t you ask all of the people who are waiting hopefully at the bar despite the slim chance that a table will open up?  New or old, these Big Apple restaurants consistently pack in a crowd and the food ain’t too shabby either. Whether you’re looking to impress some out-of-town guests with a cool New York scene or need a place to hit before you head to the club, drop by one of these trendy haunts – if you can get a reservation, that is.

Latest Updated: 1/26/13  I received a phone call last night from my college friend and due to the unpredictable forecast of snow the “Movie & Dinner Event” in Brooklyn was put on hold (for now).  However, last week I had made backup plans for my closet friends tonight, same menu but only for a party of five. Till then, Enjoy!

Dinner & A Movie

White Wine Sangria: The beauty of the simple White Wine Sangria recipe is that it is as delicious as it is easy, and it only gets better as you add your favorite fruits!

Let’s make this happen…
• 1 Bottle white wine (Riesling, Chablis, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc)
• 2/3 cup white sugar
• 3 oranges (sliced) or may substitute 1 cup of orange juice)
• 1 lemon (sliced)
• 1 lime (sliced)
• 2 oz. brandy (optional)
• 1/2 liter of ginger ale or club soda (ginger ale for those with a sweeter tooth!)

Preparation: Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the orange, lemon and lime into the wine, add brandy if desired. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible) and add sugar. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale or club soda just before serving. If you’d like to serve right away, use chilled white wine and serve over lots of ice.

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Let’s make this happen…
• 3 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled
• Kosher salt
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• ½ tablespoon fresh chives

1. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with cold water and add enough salt so the water tastes quite salty. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn’t boil. Set aside until the potatoes are done.

3. As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Place a food mill fitted with a small disc/blade over a glass bowl. Process the potatoes through the food mill, turning the handle back and forth to force the potatoes through the disc. As soon as the potatoes are mashed, slowly whisk in enough of the hot milk/butter mixture to make the potatoes very creamy. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, chives and the sour cream and pepper and whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

Beef, Pork & Veal Meatloaf
Let’s make this happen…
• 1 pound ground veal (preferably naturally raised)
• 1 pound ground pork (preferably naturally raised Berkshire)
• 1 pound ground beef (preferably naturally raised)
• 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
• 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
• 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh Italian parsley, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
• 3 large eggs (preferably organic)
• 1 1/3 cups finely ground Panko
• 2/3 cup whole milk (preferably hormone and antibiotic free)
• 2 tablespoons kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
• Olive oil
• 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
• 1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
• 2 cups chicken or beef stock
• 8 to 10 cloves roasted garlic
• 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1. Place the veal, pork, beef, chives, thyme, parsley, eggs, Panko, milk, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

2. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and film it with extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the celery and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened. Remove the celery and onion from the pan and let cool. When the mixture is cool, add it to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients.

3. Using clean hands mix the ingredients until well combined and everything is evenly distributed. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan (it should have sides at least 1 1/2 inches high to prevent grease runoff from the pan). Place the meat on the sheet pan and pat it and punch it down to remove any air pockets. Shape the meat into a loaf (about 14 1/2 inches long by 5 inches wide by 2 inches high). Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a meat thermometer indicates an internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, for the sauce, combine the broth, roasted garlic and butter over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Add 1 teaspoon of each of the chopped thyme, chives and parsley. Slice the meatloaf into serving portions and spoon the hot sauce over the meatloaf and serve.

Chef EdieM