Cyber Monday has now surpassed Black Friday as shopping day of the year, and the reason is obvious: You don't have to put on pants searching for gifts online. Some of the best stores on earth are in New York, particularly when it comes to food, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use their Websites. Have your party supplies delivered or gifts sent to far-off, NYC-deprived friends. To those ends, here's five food categories and the merchants that have them on lock.
Alan Yau's restaurant-to-be in the Gramercy Park Hotel is now poised to open in late January or early February, or so a beleaguered manager told us. In the meantime, private-partygoers have gotten a look at the surprisingly demure and loungy L-shaped room where the eatery will be located (provided the Chinese chefs' visas come through). At the Svedka-sponsored event featuring "erotic readers" Jay McInerney and Candace Bushnell, we scoped out the one area that probably won't change much before the place opens: the restrooms.
A dinner at 7 Square next Tuesday commemorates one of the great moments in U.S. wine history: the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. The "Judgment of Paris," as it's called by grape geeks, was an epochal event it was the first time that California wines met French wines on their own turf and emerged victorious. To honor this great victory, Manhattan Wine Company (a private storage facility for high-powered wine collectors — isn't that fancy!) will break out five 1986 Bordeaux with five 1986 California wines of comparable character and pair two at a time with each course in chef Shane McBride's robust menu. (The final dish comes with four different glasses, yeah!) Read on for the lineup. $250 per person. Contact the Manhattan Wine Company at 973-243-8700 for reservations.
The Underground Gourmet has nothing against sending a mail-order fruitcake to the gastronome on your holiday gift list (provided, of course, that the fruitcake is made by Berkeley preserves specialist June Taylor). But who in their right mind wouldn't rather receive a nice Reuben sandwich in the mail? Zingerman's, the excellent Ann Arbor–based purveyor of everything from Hungarian Liptauer cheese to sour-cream coffee cake, has practically made Reuben-giving a sacred holiday tradition — at least that's how it is chez UG. And although you will find no reference to corned beef, sauerkraut, or Swiss cheese in any of the works of Charles Dickens, according to Brad in the Zingerman's mail-order department, the company ships approximately 3,000 Reuben kits every year, 1,000 of which are ordered in the month of December. That may not approach national fruitcake numbers, but you have to consider the fruitcake regifting factor — no one, as far as the UG knows, has ever regifted a Zingerman's Reuben. s
Joe Bastianich, Mario Batali's partner in Babbo, Del Posto, and so many other elite restaurants, has dreamed up a radical new project: a fast-food joint, tentatively called Heritage Burger, run as a nonprofit serving sustainable food. His goals are lofty: "We can capitalize on the burger craze a little bit. We'll pay the employees more and give them better benefits." Although the venture is still in the planning stages, Bastianich is already arranging for small farmers to sell the non-steak-and-roast parts of their cows to him, rather than unloading them onto the industrial bulk market. That's all fine and good, but it all comes down to the burgers. "Eating the product will get the message across more powerfully than any marketing campaign could," the restaurateur promises. "You know how it is with food — when it hits you, it's like you never saw light before."
Few chefs in New York are more in tune with animals than Cesare Casella; he's even developing a new breed of pigs, as we recently pointed out. But tonight at Maremma, he'll be serving something even more special: purebred Italian Chianina beef, from his Tutto Bene ranch upstate. Chianina are the classic Italian cows; no bistecca fiorentina made from Black Angus or other British breeds can truly be considered authentic. Supplies are limited, so you're not guaranteed a steak, but the restaurant will also be offering Chianina carpaccio and a ragù made from the aged beef. We sampled each preparation last night; the meat is extraordinarily lean, with a light, delicate texture reminiscent of veal. Call 212-645-0200 now for dinner reservations.
Will the "aptly-named" Spicy & Tasty be the next Sripraphai? Making a rare trip outside of Manhattan (but somehow missing the signature tea-smoked duck), Bruni hails the pleasure-per-dollar ratio of "some of the most distinctive Sichuan cooking in any of the five boroughs." [NYT]
Carroll Gardens' so-new-it's-not-even-open-yet homegrown pizza spot Lucali: not exactly DiFara, but on its way. [NYT]
Oft-overlooked Escoffier time warp and Capote haunt Le Veau d'Or gets some love. [NYO]
There has been a jolt forward in the ongoing saga of Del Posto's battle with its landlord, William J. Robbins: Although the larger case between the restaurant and Robbins's firm has yet to be resolved in State Supreme Court, a separate case was just decided in Del Posto's favor in Manhattan civil court over the restaurant's use of the basement vault, where they keep their refrigerator compressors and water heaters. Without the basement, Del Posto most likely would've had to move out; Judge Barbara Jaffe declared that the use of the vault is "necessary to the full beneficial use and enjoyment of its business." Now, on to the Supreme Court.