As the restaurant and drinks editor at Bon Appétit, it’s Andrew Knowlton’s job to travel around the country and try as many new, buzzy restaurants as possible. "I’m just coming off of three months of straight travel for the September issue," he explains. "So I binge-eat during that — like six meals a day. When I am home, I like to spend time in my neighborhood with my family." For Knowlton, that means staying in Carroll Gardens — where he hits the neighborhood’s best places, like Prime Meats, or the backyard of Frankies 457. Read all about it in this week’s Grub Street Diet.
Friday, May 30
Breakfast really isn’t my meal. It’s usually a piece of toast with brown cheese (Brunost), or a few bites of whatever I’m making for my daughter’s lunch. Perhaps it has something to do with people constantly telling you it’s the most important meal of the day that makes me run away. More likely, it was because I hit up Ivan Ramen the night before, ate too much for my own good, and was still feeling it the next morning.
I ate some seedy bread with a slather of hummus, cucumber slices, and a dusting of Aleppo pepper — the unofficial spice of our test kitchen. For the rest of the day, it’s snacks on the free table at BA and some bites of dishes that the web team was testing out for a feature: New York-style bagel crisps, beef-jerky trail mix (it’s some sort of Paleo thing, and not as bad as it sounds), and something called Plentils, which are lentil chips. The amount of gluten-free shit that comes into our offices is mind-boggling.
The best part about Summer Fridays means that my family can go have an early dinner somewhere in my neck of Brooklyn. I met my two daughters (ages 5 and 2) and my wife, Christina, at probably the restaurant I’ve been to the most in my life: Prime Meats. We sat out in the sun and drank margaritas, and then we decided to head next door to Frankies 457: The backyard is a pretty special place. We got a bunch of sliced meats, some salads (will always love the escarole with sliced red onion, walnuts, and pecorino). some meatballs, a few pastas (of course, the addictive cavatelli with hot sausage and browned sage butter). And Christina and I split a bottle of chilled bubbly Lambrusco.
Saturday, May 31
I’ve been working on my omelette game. I would happily eat one every day. No cheese or vegetables: just butter, egg, salt, pepper, and a handful of herbs. There’s this amazing video of Jacques Pépin online where he demos two styles of omelette: country (large curds, slight browning) and classic French omelette (find curds, no browning). Saturday’s was good, but the inside could have been a bit more runny.
The weekends are all about ballet, the park, and, increasingly, 5-year-olds’ birthday parties. We headed up to Long Island Bar to get our weekly CSF pickup from Mermaid’s Garden. This week was monkfish and steamer clams. After that, it was our weekly stop at Sahadi’s for hummus, baba, and olives. My daughter and I got some grape leaves for the walk home.
One last stop at the new Shelsky’s for some kipper fillets (they have these really good ones from Stonington, Maine). I also picked up some pickled herring for my wife. On the way to the birthday party, it started to pour. I wasn’t planning on a Prime Meats stop, but we got beer, lemonade, and pretzels.
I always make a 50/50 martini before the babysitter comes. It’s something I first had at the Pegu Club back in the day: It’s half dry vermouth, half gin, with some orange bitters. That’s my go-to drink.
And then I went to Take Root with my wife. When you have kids and you go out for dinner, even if you just go out to get pizza and it costs $3 a slice, it’s actually costing you $23 because you’re paying a babysitter $20 an hour. So we stay local.
We had this amazing little English pea tortellini that were stuffed with a cheese purée, and a wonderful braised octopus with a smoked egg-yolk sauce. And then we had a nightcap at Prime Meats: I had a whiskey and Christina had an Old Fashioned.
Sunday, June 1
I went for a run, and then made another omelette. My daughter wanted Elmo on the iPad, so I kind of lost track of seconds and F’d that one up. I made her eat that one and made a new one.
I went to the farmers’ market for shiners, and I spent half my paycheck at Lani’s farm stand buying greens, pea shoots, and flowing broccoli rabe.
I headed into the city for a Norwegian Icons design show at Open Gallery on the Bowery. It’s hard to walk by Prime Meats on a sunny afternoon and not sit down for a bottle of rosé. My daughters are practically raised on their pretzels (extra butter, hold the mustard). Christina and I drank a bottle of wine and split a tuna Niçoise.
Sunday is all about cooking for me. My neighbor across the hall used to cook for Charlie Trotter, so we usually combine forces for something special. That night, it was harissa monkfish and spring-onion skewers. Plus smashed peas with mint-and-chile-flake sautéed fava leaves (from Lani’s), fried shiners, and potato salad with charred leeks.
I’m trying to stop drinking so much whiskey at night. One is fine, but one never seems like enough. Especially when watching Game of Thrones.
Monday, June 2
I caught an early train to a city I can’t reveal to meet with a chef I can’t name. We are working on an October story with him, so I trailed him in the kitchen the entire day. Suffice it to say that I ate my weight in all kinds of good things. The staff meal was carnitas tacos! I drank too much Willett whiskey, and as I was buying toothpaste at CVS, I succumbed to the siren song of Cheetos. Those little temptresses get me every time. It’s never fun waking up the next morning with an empty bag of them in bed with you.
Tuesday, June 3
I took an early train back to New York. On my way back from Penn Station, I stopped at this trippy sushi joint that individually wraps all the sushi. I’ve got a thing for onigiri, those rice triangles stuffed with all kinds of stuff. It reminds me of trips to Tokyo.
Tuesday, we had lots of tastings in the kitchen at BA. That happens every day at 3 p.m. We all gather around the table like a family and talk about the dishes: what went into it, what could be tweaked, etc.
That night, I was back at Prime Meats doing some "research" for an upcoming aperitif and digestif story we are working on. I also managed to have another 50/50 cocktail and the staff drink at Prime Meats, which is called a Hard Start. It consists of half Fernet Branca, half Fernet Menta. It’s not for everyone.
I tried to eat at the Mission Chinese pop-up, but the wait was two hours. The last time I waited two hours for a reservation was back in the day at Lupa. I love food, but waiting for two hours plus for anything is bonkers to me. But it was late, and all I could really think about was a burger and French fries, so Prime Meats it was.
Wednesday, June 4
A foggy morning, to say the least. It was our annual BA editors retreat at the rooftop at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Breakfast was scrambled eggs with bacon and some mixed fruit. Not great.
Lunch was kind of a bummer: mediocre BLTs with, I’m guessing, the bacon we didn’t finish in the morning, a ho-hum strawberry salad, and I can’t remember what else. A few of us decided to go downstairs to Maialino for some nice prosciutto and mozzarella, fried artichokes, and some pastas that actually never came. We had to get back upstairs to hear our first guest speaker, Anna Wintour. During the talks, we drank rosé.
After that, it was time for the party out at Roberta’s. It was a pizza party with lots of beer, wine, and whiskey. The Bee Sting pie they do, with hot salumi and honey, is pretty amazing. At some point around 10 p.m., I got an Uber and crawled into bed. I had to get up early to get my picture taken for this column! Ten years ago, I would have been very irresponsible and stayed up until 2 a.m. I’m learning the key to being a parent: drink early.