“It’s a whole different thing for me, and that’s part of the reason I’m interested in doing it,” Colman Andrews says of his new gig as the editorial director of the just-launched food site the Daily Meal. Of course, before taking over there, Andrews was only one of the country’s most well-known and respected food authorities. He’s spent the last four decades writing countless articles and books on pretty much every food-related topic out there. Among the more recent accomplishments for the James Beard Award winner: launching Saveur magazine (and serving as its editor-in-chief from 2001 to 2006), an extended stint as a contributing editor at Gourmet, and penning the new Ferran Adrià biography Ferran. So how does the web compare? “It’s such a … hungry medium, ” Andrews says. “And this site is particularly hungry, and you have to feed it so much, day after day.” Yet along with those daily rigors, Andrews also found time to keep track of everything he ate for this week’s edition of the New York Diet. (Granted, keeping track of everything he eats is probably second nature for Andrews by now.) Read it all, straight ahead.
Friday, January 7
My day always starts with coffee. Bean-bozos and grind-geeks may scoff, but I am a Nespresso fanatic. I love my machine the way some folks love their BlackBerries. I can scarcely imagine life without it. Does it make the best espresso I’ve ever had? Of course not. Does it make the best espresso I’ve ever had in my own kitchen at 6 a.m., in my underwear, with about two minutes’ notice? Hell yes. The crema alone is worth getting up for. When I’m working at home, I go through six or eight capsules of the stuff a day, mostly the blends called Ristretto and, in the afternoon, Decaffinato Intenso. I always try the seasonal specials, though, and I got hooked on last fall’s Kazaar. It’s very intense and Latin American. When I didn’t reorder it in time and found out that it had run out, I even bought a bunch of capsules off eBay, paying about twice as much as they had cost originally. My wife doesn’t know this.
So anyway … Friday morning. A double shot of Kazaar. Then nonfat Greek yogurt, which I love and almost always eat with something savory — not sweet — mixed in. Today it was minced sun-dried tomatoes and part of a very spicy habanero chile from my mother-in-law’s garden in Florida. With that, a couple of pieces of wheat toast with butter and a few anchovies. And two more shots of Kazaar for the road before heading for the train.
Lunch: I disapprove of myself for this, but I have so much to do at the office — I became full-time editorial director of thedailymeal.com this month — that I eat at my desk. It was snowing, so the boss ordered in pizza for everyone from Patsy’s — the all-American soggy-crust crisp-pepperoni kind that has launched a thousand start-ups. È quello che è, as they almost certainly don’t say in Naples.
My wife and I got the same train home, then drove straight from the station to a new Mexican place we’d heard about in Port Chester, a few exits down the I-95 from where we live. I’m from Southern California, so Mexican food, or some approximation thereof, is pretty much a dietary necessity for me. The place, opened by the group that runs the Barcelona tapas restaurants around Connecticut, is called Bartaco, which pretty much describes it — a big, casual taqueria plus bar in a building that looks like it used to house an auto shop. It felt very Californian, or would have if it hadn’t been for all the snow piled up out the window. We had assorted tacos — chorizo, tongue, veal cheek, pork in chile verde, Baja-style fish — along with some silver-dollar-size gorditas (chicken, chorizo, and cheese), some pickled jalapeños and carrots, all pretty good.
Saturday, January 8
I’m going to stop mentioning my espresso. Just assume that I have as many shots as I have time for every morning before I head for the train — and a few more than that on weekends. Breakfast was a blood orange, some thin slices of Ibérico caña de lomo (cured Spanish pork loin) that somehow found its way into the country, a piece of wheat toast, and some hummus. I was working all day, trying to get through the galleys for my next book, The Country Cooking of Italy (to be published by Chronicle Books this fall), but I broke to make grilled-cheese sandwiches for my wife and myself. We made it with Black Swan from Sweet Grass Dairy in Georgia, a semi-sharp cow’s-milk cheese washed in Arrogant Bastard ale; organic American cheese — hey, she’s from Ohio — and avocado for her. Plus a little salad — our usual thing of assorted greens with a squeeze of lemon juice, a free pour of olive oil, and a fistful of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
That night we drove into the city to meet some friends at the Highline Ballroom to see Edwin “I’ll Be” McCain. No dinner per se, just some shared plates for the table. A few glasses of Argentine Cabernet, a fistful of surprisingly good fries, and half of one Kobe beef slider. There should be an after-school special: Kobe Beef: From Gastronomic Legend to Punch Line Almost Overnight.
Sunday, January 9
Same breakfast as Friday, but with dark Russian rye instead of wheat toast.
For lunch, we just heated up a couple of Maître Pierre Tartes d’Alsace from Trader Joe’s (about our favorite frozen “pizza”) and I made another salad, the same as Saturday’s.
To keep me company while I cooked dinner, I made a margarita. It’s a cocktail I almost never order out because bartenders tend to put all kinds of crap in it: Sweet-and-sour? Bar syrup? Please. Mine is the juice of one juicy lime, a healthy dose of tequila (my standard is Cuervo Tradicional Reposado), and a drizzle of Controy, the Cointreau clone I always bring back from Mexico, shaken with ice, then sipped straight up from a salt-rimmed glass.
To eat, I grilled an assortment of long, thin sausages, really excellent, from Bernard’s in Ridgefield: veal, porcini, and caramelized onions; chicken, garlic, and parsley; pheasant, chanterelle, and juniper; turkey, bacon, and cranberry; pork and truffle; duck, orange, and rosemary; and merguez. With those, I grill-panned some gray squash, which is like truncated plumb zucchini, and oven-roasted some potatoes with onions, shiitakes, and oyster mushrooms.
Monday, January 10
Same breakfast as Sunday.
Lunch was one of those design-your-own salads from the deli up the block from my office — romaine, cubed chicken, carrots, celery, chick peas, and marinated peppers in sesame-ginger dressing.
Dinner was Mexican again. Do you sense a certain theme here? Last spring I discovered a great taco truck in Stamford, called El Charrito. The food was really something special, and the homemade salsas were as good as I’d ever had. The couple that owns the truck had the good sense to go bricks and mortar, that day opening a take-out place in a former deli about six blocks from where we live. We were among their first customers, ordering nachos with black beans, chorizo, and guacamole; green chile enchiladas; and carnitas and cecina tacos, which we took home and consumed happily with flagons of wine.
Tuesday, January 11
For breakfast, a bosc pear, some Gruyére, some caña de lomo, and a piece of toasted Russian rye.
I bought lunch on the street from the Cevap Truck, which parks a couple of blocks from my office, on Fifth at 22nd. It’s run by a couple of nice young Bosnian kids whose family has had a restaurant called Ukus in Astoria forever. They serve burgers and kebabs, which I’ve never tried, but also cevap “sausages” on pitalike somun bread, with raw onions, the pepper relish called ajvar, and a kind of cream cheese called kaymak on the side, and also flaky pastries filled with spinach, cheese, or ground meat. I had one of the meat ones, burek, which was just the thing for a chilly day.
That night I made veal burgers, no bun, with the usual salad and a kind of cottage-fried potatoes I like to make: I lightly grease a paella pan with olive oil, slice one big potato paper-thin on a mandoline, array the slices in pretty much a single layer, and then put the pan into a 500-degree oven. When the bottom browns, I flip the potatoes over — theoretically in one piece — and let the other side brown. It’s really good, and involves only one potato and about a teaspoon of olive oil, so it’s pretty virtuous too.
Wednesday, January 12
A blood orange, a toasted bagel, and some pastrami-cured salmon left over from New Year’s Eve for breakfast.
We were snowbound early in the day and couldn’t get into the city until early afternoon, so we had an early lunch at home — tuna-salad sandwiches on “health bread” with a side of celery for me.
I’d been looking forward to dinner out with Jeff Zalaznick, a colleague from the Daily Meal, at a fancy new Indian place near the office. It turned out to be big and mostly empty, expensively furnished — the bar smelled of freshly finished wood — and sort of pretentious; the food hit the mark maybe 50 percent of the time. I’m not going to mention it by name, because I don’t think it’s going to be around for very long.
And that’s what I’ve been eating. The fact is that on a day-to-day basis, I don’t make a big deal out of food; it’s much too important a part of my life for me to be serious about.