Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bits & Morsels celebrates Citymeals-on-Wheels

Vegetable burger with aged gruyere cheese and shallot gastrique at Ze Café.

Last night I went to the launch of a new book, Dining in New York City, by Jan Bartelsman, benefiting Citymeals-on-Wheels. The book is filled with delectable pictures of great eats and restaurants in New York. The benefit was held at 15 Union Square West, which is still a bit of a construction zone although the apartments that I did see were clean and modern.

The event, which was chaired by Daniel Boulud and Marco Moreira, featured tastings of dishes from Per Se, Daniel, Nobu, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Hill, Anthos, Estiatorio Milos, 15 East, Tocqueville, Devi, Wallse, Scalini Fedeli, Annisa and Veritas.
A suckling pig on the Tocqueville table.
It was especially nice to see Daniel Boulud who was gleaming thanks to Daniel's four-star review from the New York Times. Citymeals-on-Wheels is an extremely important organization that delivers meals to homebound elderly people in New York. There is a full season of events coming up to benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels, the next being Daniel Boulud’s annual Sunday supper, on Sunday March 8th at Daniel, celebrated in the name of “Black Truffles, Blue Jeans, Burgundy and Blues.” The event offers a unique chance to dine at Daniel in your blue jeans all while benefiting a great cause. [Citymeals]
Mike, the friendly elevator man of 15 Union Square West.
Daniel Boulud and Jean-Francois Bruel. Kurt Gutenbrunner and Daniel Boulud.
Caipirinhas. Daniel — poularde and foie gras terrine.
Blue Hill — Beet salad with a farro cracker. 15 East — Monkfish foie gras with caviar.
Tocqueville — crispy terrine of suckling pig with Brazilian farofa. per se — cornet of atlantic salmon with sweet red onion creme fraiche.
Georgette Farkas, Alison Buckley, and Katy Leibold. Georgette Farkas and Josh Ozersky.
Veritas — red wine poached foie grad with red onion marmalade. Exploded apple pie from De Librije (Netherlands).
Jan Bartelsman and Jeffrey Steingarten. Sylvie and Paul Vaccari with Marco Moreira.
Under the radar. About 2 months ago Ze Café opened up at 398 East 52nd Street, not more than a stones throw from the East River. Ze is short for the (amazing) florist Zeze and the restaurant is set up in his old shop. People in the know use Zeze flowers for every occasion. Every.

Ze Café has a very calm, almost California-cool vibe. Something about the atmosphere reminds me of the Bel-Air hotel in Los Angeles. The space is minimal but bright and cheery. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a long wooden table replete with a beautiful display of homemade pastries, croissants, and donuts; and topped with three large bouquets of freshly cut flowers. For brunch: menu items include omelets, cornflake crusted banana French toast, and homemade granola. And a veggie burger topped with Gruyere cheese; fresh, not frozen, a thick potato (base) patty, loaded with vegetables.

Almost everything they serve is homemade. They even make their own bread and English muffins, which are better than Thomas’s (and I do love Thomas’). Ze Café has a restorative quality. Take advantage and go there for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Ze Café - 398 East 52nd Street – (212) 758-1944
They don’t have a web site yet, but here is the site for Zeze flowers.
The California-cool interior.
Inside Ze. Two cups of tea.
Cornflake crusted banana & mascarpone french toast. Granola and fruit parfait.
Clockwise from above: Assorted pies and desserts; Vegetable burger with aged gruyere cheese and shallot gastrique; Homemade english muffin with real canadian bacon, Zeze farm egg and cheese fondue (before plated).
Butternut squash soup. Veal and foie gras ravioli in a white wine sauce.
Green onion hash browns. Spinach and gruyere omelette with fresh fruit.
Bomboloni — chocolate, vanilla, and raspberry. A selection of cookies.
The Chinese New Year is coming up. The Year of the Ox begins on January 26th. A good place to celebrate is Shun Lee Palace on 155 East 55th Street. There is also a Shun Lee located on the Upper West Side, but this location is sedate and low-key. It’s on the pricey side but the food is worth it. All of the food is served family style and items on the menu include crispy vegetarian duck pie and whole crispy sea bass in a Hunan Sauce. I love sitting in the dining room to watch people order the whole duck. It is presented table side, skin removed, and then sliced and diced (with a cleaver; and with amazing finesse) and wrapped into Chinese pancakes. [Shun Lee Palace]
Shun Lee Palace from the outside and in.
Crispy noodles and all the fixings! Steamed vegetable dumplings.
Oolong tea. Whole crispy sea bass.
Beijing duck being carved.
Crispy vegetarian duck pie and Buddhist vegetarian delight. Fortune cookies (Mine: "You will be unusually successful in business").
Here is a list of places to go for the traditional foods of the Chinese New Year. [Time Out New York]

The FDA issued a warning on chicken jerky dog treats manufactured in China. The FDA is advising consumers who have fed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely to monitor any changes in behavior, decrease in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and an increase in water consumption. Call your vet for more information.

Restaurant week is always popular in New York but even more so right now given the present economic situation. The restaurant business needs all the help it can get, and there is a good chance that restaurant week will be extended until February. [Crain’s]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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