Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bits & Morsels

Pommes Soufflées at '21.'
This past weekend I needed a break from the dress-downers, the non-dressers, the dress-less, whatever you wanna call those people who don't bother dressing or bother to think about dressing appropriately. I felt like slipping into an era where it would have been unthinkable to wear shorts to theater. Granted, I dress casually whenever appropriate, but I have my limits.

So to fulfill my urge, I got all dressed up this past Saturday night and went to '21' Club for dinner. '21' is one of the few restaurants in New York that has a strict dress code, which means: no jeans and sneakers. Maintaining and enforcing a dress code gives the restaurant a certain je ne sais quoi that is hard to come by, especially in this day and age.

‘21’ is one of the most recognized restaurants in the world and while I had never dined there before Saturday night, I felt right at home, almost as if I was having a deja vu moment. My dinner partner and I were seated at a corner table in the famous bar room. Between the toys dangling from the ceiling and the various plaques on the wall, one would expect the room to feel ... dated. So, I was surprised at how fresh and alive the room felt. The whole room was buzzing with people just plain enjoying a night out. The crowd was a mixed bag of noo yawk regulars, tourists, and diners like me who were hoping for that quintessential ‘21’ experience. The menu features a long list of ‘21’ classics like Steak Tartar and Steak Diane aside from a few modern additions.
The view into the dining room from the bar.
It’s an undeniable letdown when trying out a trendy new restaurant (which run at the same price point as ’21’) and seeing how careless its management and staff can be in all aspects of the business. My point: They should take their cues from '21.' I stuck with the classics for my dinner and had a very garlicky (I love garlic) Caesar salad and a plate of smoked salmon for my main course.

For dessert we split the hot rice pudding and the profiteroles with chocolate sauce. I wanted to dive right into the bowl of hot rice pudding, with its perfect vanilla flavoring and creamy texture. Nothing beats simple food executed perfectly.
Restaurant Manager -- Roger Rice. Joseph has been working at '21' for over 40 years.
After dinner I went on a tour of the secret wine cellar. The wine cellar is hidden behind a two and a half ton door that is disguised as a brick wall (you guessed it, for during the days of Prohibition). When you step into the wine cellar you will see vintage bottles of wine placed on reserve by the likes of President Nixon and Elizabeth Taylor. It's at that moment you realize the instrumental role '21' has played in the richness of New York's social and political history. I was blown away. The ‘21’ Club, 21 West 52nd Street, (212) 582-7200.

I could never write a social history of ‘21’ like DPC can, so click here for his take.
’21’ Caesar Salad with garlic croutons and aged Parmesan. Boston Bibb Lettuce, blue cheese, vine-ripened tomatoes, aged balsamic.
Diet coke poured from a cold glass bottle. “Speakeasy” Steak Tartare, mesclun greens, rye toast.
Smoked salmon with capers. Halibut with spinach.
The door opens to the wine cellar ... notice the thickness of the door, all two and a half tons.
The private stock of Elizabeth Taylor along with countless celebrities and faithful patrons of '21.'
Clockwise from top left: Grand Marnier Soufflé, chantilly cream, medley of berries; Warm vanilla bean rice pudding; The entrance to '21'; Profiteroles.
The cost of pizza. No industry is being affected more by rising food costs than the pizza parlors. The costs of almost all of the ingredients that go into making a pizza have doubled and even tripled in some cases. A 50lb bag of flour which used to cost $11 is now $35. And even the cost of the cardboard pizza boxes has increased. Pizzeria owners are starting to raise their prices so they can accommodate the cost increase. So what was once considered the ultimate inexpensive snack is no longer. [NY Daily News]

In a pickle. I love pickles. I always have jar in the fridge for snacking. They are a relatively healthy no-cooking-necessary kind of snack. Here is a recipe for kosher dill pickles. Make them yourself and give a jar away as a homemade summer hostess gift. [David Lebovitz]

WastedFood is a fascinating blog about all the food that goes to waste. With millions of people going hungry in the world, it is heartbreaking to see this much food (most of it being perfectly edible) being disposed of. Besides the blog, there is also a gallery and a section to instruct you on how to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste. [WastedFood]

For the dogs. Happy 100th anniversary to Milk-Bone. To celebrate the occasion Milk-Bone constructed an 18ft-high doghouse in Times Square, which will be today, May 21, 2008. It will be available for viewing from noon to 3 PM at Broadway and Seventh Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets.

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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