Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bits and Morsels dines with The Times

Fresh fish to select at Avra Estiatorio.

I had a wonderful lunch at Avra Estiatorio last week.
My dining companion was Andrew Ross Sorkin, the chief mergers and acquisitions reporter and columnist for The New York Times. He is also the editor of DealBook, an online daily financial report he started in 2001, and the author of Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System---and Themselves.

Andrew has the magic touch when it comes to relaying a true piece of history in a riveting and accessible way. It is one of the best books I have read this year. I stayed up way past my bedtime on many nights reading this book; I just could not put it down. He researched everything down to the last detail. For example, if there was a sequence of phone calls and there were any doubt as to the correct order, he would actually go and pull up the phone records.

Andrew Ross Sorkin and Jordana Z. at Avra. Click to order Too Big to Fail. (Photo: Jill Krementz).
The table where Jamie Dimon got the call.
Besides meeting Andrew it was exciting to have lunch at Avra, where JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon celebrated his 52nd Birthday and got the call from Bear Stearns' CEO Alan Schwartz that the firm had run out of cash. The book is a real New York story with lots of color and detail about the lifestyles of these Wall Street CEOs. It seems as if half of the financial emergencies materialized as these guys were heading to dinner.

Avra is located at 141 East 48th street and serves up delicious Greek food. They have a busy lunch scene and the midtown location makes it a perfect meeting spot. It’s a low-key version of Milos and they have a lunch special that’s three courses for $28.95. Now that's 'a steal.'

Over olives, spanikopita, beefsteak tomatoes and black cod we had an easy flowing conversation about everything from how pita chips and honey wheat pretzels make the best snacks when you are writing, to what executive dining rooms have the best food, and concluded that a year after the financial mess coalesced, Wall Street unfortunately hasn’t changed much. I learned that historically Citigroup always had the best food in their executive dining room, because Sandy Weill is a foodie.

If you want a great read and are interested in how Wall Street really works, then this is the book for you. The New York Times is lucky to have him.

141 East 48th Street
Snacks to munch on. Sliced beefsteak tomatoes with red onions, oregano and olive oil.
Spanikopita. Black cod with capers and couscous.
Fresh fruit. Baklava.
Recently, I met up with the lovely designer of The Hookup, Fafa Fathi, at Rouge Tomate. The Hookup is a stylish and portable hook that you use to hang your bag on just about anything. It is a must-have accessory especially if you are on the go and don't want to throw your bag or purse on the floor. It comes in gold and platinum and holds up to 30lbs, which is perfect for me as I am the type who carries a cumbersome bag. Between my blackberry, wallet, camera, notebook, laptop, you get the picture.

You can use The Hookup to support every kind of bag from a diaper bag to a garment bag. It’s awkward, especially in restaurants, when you don’t want to check your bag or put it on your chair, many times resulting in a bag in your lap. With The Hookup, your handbag just hangs from the table where you can see (or guard) it and looks precious clipped to your bag handle in the shape of a heart.
The Hookup designer Fafa Fathi.
Taking The Hookup for a test drive.
In addition to being available here, it’s also sold at the Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, 212.299.7700.

They also have a holiday pop-up store which is open until January 15th on the Upper East Side at 1282 Third Avenue at 74th St., 212.299.7700.
Clockwise from top left: Spiked Cucumber Vodka, Cucumber, Dill, Lemon Juice; Pumpkin sake drink being poured; Lemon Potato Gnocchi Broccoli Rabe, Grapes, Raisins, Pine-nut, Feta Cheese; Nantucket Bay Scallops Caramelized Fennel, Grapefruit, Pine-nut; Peppers, olives, and hummus, and flat bread.
Kickstart your new year’s resolution now! Here are some weight loss tips from Chefs (of all people). If they can lose weight while being surrounded by delicious foods, then there is hope for us all. [Time]

Here is a gift guide from Serious Eats of all New York foods. It includes everything from cheesecake, bagels, smoked fish and pickles. Some of these items can be shipped across the country, but all are delicious reminders of New York. [Serious Eats]

You can eat the same dinner that was served to the guests of the recent White House State Dinner. Chef Marcus Samuelsson, who prepared the dinner at The White House, will be re-serving the same menu at his restaurant, Rinngo on 45th and third. The menu will be available from December 14th through December 20th. Reservations recommended; no crashing please. [Grub Street]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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