Posts for March 17, 2011

Disaster In Japan Already Affecting U.S. Sushi Bars, Food Exports

If you're a fan of tobiuo (flying fish) or Hokkaido scallop nigiri, you may not find much of it in the coming weeks. San Francisco sushi restaurants are already having trouble getting certain products from their Japanese suppliers, and CBS is reporting that what meager supply there is will be reserved for restaurants in Japan. One might argue that whining about the possible effects on the sushi supply while Japan faces a nuclear catastrophe makes us look like assholes. Meanwhile, South Korea and Thailand are measuring their Japanese fish imports for radiation. And furthermore, U.S. exports to Japan of corn, soybeans, California rice, and pork have already slowed due to problems in shipping to many parts of the beleaguered country.

Bay Area Sushi Bars Face Daunting Supply Shortages [CBS 5]
Related: Nuclear Holocaust May Affect Distant Nation’s Sushi Supply [Wonkette]

Savoy Serves Shad Special; Social Eatz Openz for Lunch

East Village: In honor of the warm weather, Cooper Square Hotel's Second Floor Bar will be open at 5 p.m. for drinks and outdoor lounging. [Grub Street]
Lower East Side: A new Japanese place called Ha'chi Restaurant & Lounge has put up "coming soon" signs at 185 Orchard Street. [Bowery Boogie]
Soho: Savoy chef Peter Hoffman will be serving four courses of shad on Tuesday, March 29. For $95, diners will take in not only traditionally cooked shad, but also pickled shad fillets, shad roe bottarga, sautéed roe. For more details, call Savoy at 212-219-8570. [Fork in the Road/VV]

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Rosa Mexicano to Pilot Celiebo Gluten-Free Certification Program

With the ranks of the gluten-intolerant on the rise, there's now a gluten-free restaurant-certification program, called Celiebo. A rep tells us the Rosa Mexicano mini-chain will serve as the pilot (rolling out in a few weeks), which seems like a good fit, since Mexican food is already fairly celiac-friendly with the option of corn tortillas factored in (in fact, Dario Wolos over at Fonda Nolita recently alerted us that he now can do gluten-free tacos, if that's your thing). Still, Celiebo teaches restaurants how to prepare specific gluten-free dishes in "an environment free of cross-contamination," which we didn't even know was an issue. Upcoming NYC restaurants slated to be certified soon are Nizza, Bistango, and Sambuca. So now you'll know where to take your gluten-free friends. For the vegans, you're still on your own.

Groupon Launches GPS App

Groupon is really crushing it (it’s set to generate $3 billion to $4 billion in revenue this year), and Bloomberg Businessweek reports on its latest marketplace grab: Groupon Now will be an app that lets you locate nearby deals in real time, using GPS. [Businessweek]

Alan Richman’s Wine Advice: Drink Riesling

"I am not a compensated pitchman for German wines, stuffed into tight lederhosen, paid in blood sausage. I really believe Riesling is the one wine that people have no business not drinking." —Alan Richman on what to drink. Do we sense another Summer of Riesling coming on? [GQ]

Vai’s Soho Spinoff, Vai Spuntino Bar, Opens Next Week

Left: The Dutch. Right: Vai Spuntino Bar.Photo: Daniel Maurer

Soho is still waiting on tenderhooks for Andrew Carmellini’s the Dutch (it has a logo! It’s hiring! and some of the construction plywood is off, as you can see above); meanwhile, a stone’s throw away, at 105 Thompson Street, a notable newcomer will open next week. Vai Spuntino Bar is an outpost of Vincent Cherico’s uptown spot Vai. The chef, Greg Torrech, was chef at 6th Street Kitchen before Andrew Kraft (who just opened Osteria Cotta), and worked with Kraft at Ryan Skeen’s kitchens at Allen & Delancey and Irving Mill. Here he’ll be doing what he describes as “honest Mediterranean food.”

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Ice-Cream Truck Busted for Oxy

Add this one to the great opening lines about food businesses caught dealing drugs: “As Louis Scala drove through Staten Island in a Lickety Split ice cream truck, it was not just the children who eagerly awaited his arrival, officials said on Thursday. Mr. Scala also used the truck to sell oxycodone … ” [City Room/NYT]

Nuela Team Will Open an Argentine Steakhouse, Marca

A dish at Nuela.

When we got wind of Gaston Acurio's plan to open an outpost of his La Mar cebicheria in the former Tabla space, we wondered whether nearby Nuela would feel the competition. Chef Adam Schop tells us he isn’t worried: "Chef Acurio's announcement to set up shop in NYC is validation that restaurants such as Nuela are not just filling a niche but also helping establish a benchmark for Latin cuisine.'' In fact, he’s not only planning to multiply the Nuela concept (first in Miami and London), he reveals to us that he and his backers will also open an Argentine steakhouse: Marca — which will use live fire ovens and an authentic parilla, and serve staples such as empanadas, chorizo, and grilled meats — will go into the 90-seat space that formerly housed Ottima, at 6 West 24th Street. Expect an opening in late spring. In the meantime, Nuela launches lunch on March 30.

Tables Available at Hung Ry, Lyon Bouchon Moderne; Osteria Morini Mostly Booked

It's 4 p.m., and that means it's time to play Two for Eight. We just asked ten restaurants the best time they can squeeze a couple in for dinner; you need only make your chosen reservation. (As always, we make the calls but don't guarantee the results.) Today: New & Buzzy.

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Weak Links in the Chains

Yesterday the Post reported that Riese is selling the Times Square property that houses one of its TGI Friday’s locations, and today Nation’s Restaurant News reports that the steakhouse chain Morton’s is “exploring strategic options, including a possible sale.” So it’s not all coming up roses for the chains. [NRN]

Batali Jumps Into Rayner-Chang Twitter Tiff

A couple of years ago, Jay Rayner penned a memorable profile of Mario Batali — the two ate at Del Posto together (Rayner thought it boasted two stars “more for the glossy, dark wood, country-club-meets-ocean-liner surroundings than for the workmanlike food”) and Batali the “maniacal, appetite-driven chef” kept Rayner up past his bedtime saying things like, “You haven't asked me if I fucked Gwyneth” and explaining why he banned Gordon Ramsay from his restaurants. Looks like the piece (or something about Rayner) didn’t sit well with Batali, because earlier this week, when The Guardian critic got into it with David Chang (Rayner’s final word to Chang: “been on twitter for yonks and this is the 1st time a chef has used it for a big old whinge. And it had to be you didn't it david”), Batali jumped in and tweeted: “@davidchang Hey chang Jay Rayner is more into jay than anything else gimme more Gill!! Or at least an honest fella!!” (A.A. Gill is the outspoken critic at the Daily Mail). Rayner’s response: “I have been called self-absorbed by @mariobatali As that's come from a master of the vice I shall have to take it as a compliment.” They say fame is a shuttlecock, and in the case of Rayner and Ramsay versus Batali and Chang, it looks like a game of doubles.

Brownie Points

Photo: Danny Kim/New York Magazine

Kermit Perlmutter started baking brownies as a hobby. His wife — who (full disclosure) is a former New York editor — fell for them before she fell for him (he brought them to the party where they met). He has been known, on occasion, to lard them with candied bacon for a subtle porky effect. But only recently has he started selling these super-fudgy specimens retail, and for now, they can be found, pork-free, alas, in just one place: Joe’s Columbia University outpost, where the things are undoubtedly contributing to many an undergrad’s freshman fifteen. They’re smooth and rich, made with unsweetened Callebaut chocolate and lots of butter, plus a bit more salt than is the norm. Production is tiny, and they tend to sell out quick, but brownie fanatics have ventured farther than Morningside Heights for a fix.

Joe, 550 W. 120th St., at Broadway; 212-851-9101

David Chang’s Desert-Island Discs

Earlier this week, the Post mentioned the playlist at David Chang’s restaurants, and now Midtown Lunch founder Zach Brooks, on his newish food-music crossover blog Food Is the New Rock, gets Chang to give up his desert-island discs. Shocker! Pavement is on there. And “T.N.K. (Tomorrow Never Knows)” by 801 (not an AC/DC song?) is apparently the most-played track at the Momofukus. [Food Is the New Rock]

Stinky Bklyn Triples in Size, Adds ‘Hand-Carved Ham Bar’ and More

The folks at Stinky Bklyn write in to say that today they moved to a space three times the size of the original, which opened at 261 Smith Street in 2006. The new store, over at 215 Smith Street (between Butler and Baltic), boasts a coffee bar serving Brooklyn Roasting Co., a newsstand, and more goods from purveyors near and far (the cocktail section, for instance, features an array of syrups, mixers, and of course those ever-trendy bitters). Plus, in addition to the usual variety of cheeses, there’s now a meat case featuring Dixon Farms sausage, chicken, lamb; a “hand-carved ham bar” with rotating offerings from Spain (Navidul), Tennessee (Bentons), Kentucky (Boradbent), and of course Brooklyn (Chestnut); and charcuterie from places like Brooklyn Cured and Dickson’s. Oh, and there’s now fresh pasta and an expanded line of daily specials (mac and cheese, chicken pot pie, Panini, etc.).

Irish Scientists Make Guinness Greener

For research purposes only.

Scientists at Ireland’s University of Limerick are working on creating a greener Guinness, LiveScience reports. And no, we’re not talking about the addition of food coloring to make green beer for St. Patrick’s Day. Students and faculty at the university’s Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry carefully studied the dark stout and the tiny bubbles that give the brew its distinctive frothy head and creamy mouthfeel. Guinness currently uses what it calls a widget to recreate the draught experience in cans. The trouble is the tiny nitrogen-laden balls that erupt to produce a dense head are made of plastic and are not biodegradable. The university’s scientists discovered that microscopic plant fibers can achieve the same results, making Guinness more eco-friendly and cost effective. Still what’s amazed us most is that there are actually college students who will study beer rather than just drinking it. [LiveScience]

The James Weird Awards: Beef Jerky Bandits, Cookie Monsters, and an Alcoholic Baby

There are people who inadvertantly get their tongues pierced at Chili's. There are others who overdose on geflite fish and soy sauce. And there are the overachievers who make the weekly James Weird Awards. These are their stories.

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British GQ’s Remembrance of ‘Loud, Stupid, Uncomprehending’ Elaine Is Online

If you enjoyed pondering the crowded restaurant conundrum yesterday, here’s more food for thought. Michael Wolff’s British GQ story about Elaine Kaufman (yes, the one that incensed "Page Six" because he called her a “loud, stupid, uncomprehending woman,” among other things) is finally online, and besides describing Elaine in a none too flattering light (she was “more threatening than hospitable, muttering discordant and guttural oaths, and, given her size, taking up far more space than the front room in her narrow establishment could afford”), Wolff points to her restaurant as “the first whiff of self-consciousness” in the history of New York City restaurants: Like the Waverly Inn and Minetta Tavern after it, it was “a restaurant as you might imagine a restaurant to be, instead of a restaurant being a business that merely conformed to the standards and requirements of the restaurant business (laundered table cloths, professional waiters, furniture bought from the restaurant supply store: red-sauce Italian; escargot French; steak or chops American).”

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Crumbs Launches New Stores — and Yes, an App

The latest place cupcakes have invaded is your iPhone, courtesy of Crumbs. According to a press release, the chain's newly released free app lets users "send custom CRUMBS greeting cards, locate the closest CRUMBS Bake Shop and save and edit their 'favorite' cupcake flavors that can be shared with friends via email, Facebook and Twitter." You can also purchase gift certificates through the app, and receive coupons and promotions as part of "live news updates." Also, Crain's has a news update of its own: Crumbs is opening a store on Park Avenue between East 32nd and East 33rd Streets in a couple of weeks, and another outpost in Times Square after that. Doughnuts, it's time to step up your game!

CRUMBs iPhone App [iTunes]
Crumbs Bake Shop cooks up an iPhone app [Crain's]

What to Eat at the New, Newly Rechristened Greensquare Tavern

Greensquare Tavern.

We've been holding off on telling you about Greensquare (née Greenmarket) Tavern, which opened in the old Schaffer City space earlier this month, because the restaurant initially ran into a bit of a name snafu. After being open one week, the restaurant received a call from Grow NYC, who owns the "Greenmarket" trademark. Now the eatery is newly rechristened Greensquare Tavern, and you can check out its seasonal-produce-driven menus from chef John Marsh, featuring fare like sausage, lentil, and cannelloni stew, and pan-seared Peking duck breast with red rice and Swiss chard, with an emphasis on sustainable meats and local produce. This evening, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, the restaurant has a special of house-brined Pineland Ranch corned beef and organic cabbage with creamer potatoes, along with fresh-baked Irish soda bread; wash that down with a choice of two organic beers. Full menus below.

Click through for menus. »

Top Chef Recap: Sour Grapes, Salty Losers

Photo-illustration: Jed Egan; Photo: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo (Top Chef), ABC (Locke)

"Let's see what today holds," Tiffany wondered as last night's Top Chef began. "I'm guessing it's cooking with not enough time and not enough equipment," replied Richard, which, now that he points it out, really has been the theme of every single challenge for eight seasons. The Quickfire, naturally, continued in this vein. Guest judge Lorena Garcia of America's Next Great Restaurant helped explain that the challenge would be all about synergy consistency and precision: Make 100 dishes identical in presentation and taste in one hour in two teams.

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Coffee the Musical Planned; Meet Some 9-Year-Old Twin Chefs

Coffee the Musical is coming soon to Broadway. We hear if you buy nine tickets you'll get the tenth free. [Diner's Journal/NYT]

• Meet a pair of overly adorable 9-year-old chefs. Sheesh, if these toques get any younger, soon they'll be cooking in the womb! [ABC News]

• Pepsi might have plant-based bottles and old-timey cans, but data shows Diet Coke surpassed Pepsi sales in 2010, meaning Coke now holds the top two national soft-drink spots. [WSJ]

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