Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bits & Morsels dines at The Four Seasons

Seafood platter at The Four Seasons.

Last Saturday night I went to dinner at the Four Seasons. It’s been a while since I was there last but the iconic dining room with its high ceilings, prodigious windows and its glowing, almost magnetic pool in the center of the room, still takes my breath away. For a Saturday night in this rocky December the restaurant was busy, if a bit subdued. It was as if the cozy, quiet energy of the snowstorm outside was released into the cavernous rooms of The Four Seasons. The metal chain curtains on the momentous windows slowly stirred with the air calming the room's mood.

The Four Seasons is what a restaurant should be. Opened in 1959 and designed by Phillip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe, it is one of the few restaurants in which the interiors are designated landmarks. The Four Seasons is almost untouched from its creation nearly 50 years ago, and the genius of the restaurant is that it does not feel dated or old — at all. "The Four Seasons" name represents natural change and there are immense plants (especially around the marble pool) that reflect seasonal changes. The menu at The Four Seasons is very American with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients.
The Pool Room.
The dish that everyone around us seemed to be ordering was the crispy duck, which is carved tableside. At The Four Seasons they make their Caesar salad at the table. Caesar salad is my guilty pleasure and I still get a kick out of watching it being whipped up tableside. It’s also a luxury to be able to tell the waiter how much of a certain ingredient you want (extra cheese for me) and to leave certain items out (i.e. no raw eggs). If you like Dover Sole; this is the place to indulge. It’s filleted at the table and served in a light, lemony butter sauce. For dessert, go with the signature cotton candy and the chocolate soufflé. You will not be sorry. The Four Seasons, 99 East 52nd Street (212) 754-9494.
One of New York City's better bread baskets. Rosti, basically latkes.
Smoked salmon sliced at the table. Smoked salmon with onion and capers.
Caesar salad tableside in the making.
Caesar salad plated. Saga Wagyu Rib Eye.
Short ribs. Corn cakes.
Crisp Long Island Farmhouse duck. The duck is plated.
Dover Sole in the pan and being plated.
Chocolate souffle with whipped cream and chocolate sauce -- now that's how you eat a souffle!
Cotton candy. Plate of cookies.
The kitchen. The History of The Four Seasons available for purchase at the restaurant, of course.
This article will make you rethink those insane holiday meals when we all seem to over do it. It’s very easy to convince yourself to pig out ... just during the holidays. But it turns out that even one big meal can lead to health issues and raise the risk for heart attack, gallbladder pain, and drowsiness, which can lead to accidents if you are driving. [Well]

Here are some easy ways to cut calories from your diet. This is a smart thing to start doing after the holidays when we start with our New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier foods. Some of the tips include not taking in calories through liquids, i.e. start using skim milk in your coffee. The tips are all manageable but can produce big results. [CalorieLab.com]

I love Mark Bittman and his diet plan
is smart; and if followed, it will put you on track to a healthier lifestyle. It’s a good diet if your favorite meal is dinner and you don’t want to cut back (and so you won’t feel deprived). During the day you are instructed to eat a (basically) vegan diet and for dinner eat whatever you normally eat. The idea is that it is better for the environment (yes, us too) if we get more of our calories from vegetables rather than animal and fish sources. So much of our fish and meat sources are filled with hormones and other chemicals that we should not be eating. [Reader’s Digest]

Shortbread covered in chocolate candy cane bark.
Shortbread cookies and holiday chocolate bark are two of my favorite treats. I especially like the chocolate bark with crushed candy cane bits mixed in. Check out this gorgeous recipe of shortbread covered in chocolate candy cane bark. [Culinary Concoctions by Peabody]

Nintendo DS came out with a new product called Personal Trainer Cooking. The recipes have actually gotten legitimately good reviews. The coolest feature: as you cook you can talk to the device asking it to repeat a step or continue. This is one gadget I am excited about. [The Epi-Log]

Alfanoose in the Financial District is one of my favorite places to go for a quick lunch. Give me a falafel and baklava every day for lunch from Alfanoose and I'm more than satisfied. Earlier in the year the New York Times started a series on businesses being negatively affected by the economy. Alfanoose is one of the restaurants they chose to profile and they are not holding up well. All of the jobs that were lost on Wall Street have really hurt their lunch crowd. I will be sad if Alfanoose has to relocate or close. If you find yourself hungry and downtown, stop by for some baklava. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. [Alfanoose on NYSD] & [The New York Times]

The best part of year's end for me are all the lists and roundups that are published. Here is a list of all the great books that were published in 2008 about food and New York. All of them are worth reading and some will even change how you cook and view the restaurant industry. Others (such as Baked: New Frontiers in Baking) are essential for any cookbook collection. [Gothamist]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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