Nello Buys ‘Page Six’ on the Cheap; Jody Williams Trying Not toNello’s Nello Ballan gives Richard Johnson a $1,000 gift, and fifteen “Page Six” mentions of Ballan’s restaurant later, the embattled gossip column has the devil to pay. [NYT]
Jody Williams claims not to have read Frank Bruni’s review of Morandi, though she knows that people are laying odds on the date of her departure. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Related: Not So Bene [NYM]
Restaurant-industry lobbyists express a not-unexpected disappointment with the federal minimum-wage increase passed by Congress, finding it “entirely out of place” in a war-spending bill. [Nation’s Restaurant News]
What to Eat Tonight
A Not-So-European Union of Soft-Shell Crabs and Pickled RampsWe’re coming into prime-time soft-shell-crab season, and we’re about to leave ramps behind us. So tonight’s special at European Union, sautéed soft-shell crabs with pickled ramps ($16), is something not to miss. The crabs coming up from Maryland are bigger and fatter than the ones seen earlier in the season, one reason chef Akhtar Nawab put the dish on the menu. Says Nawab, “The soft-shells are so nice right now, meaty, sweet, and really soft. They’re alive when we get them. The pickled ramps really cut the richness and tenderness of the crab with a nice garlicky and crunchy bite.” Nawab freely offers that he didn’t invent the idea of pairing ramps with crabs, but EU makes the dish their own by also adding pickled red onions, baby leeks, and (for a trace of sweetness) cipollini onions braised in red wine and honey. Be warned, though — even the meatiest soft-shell crab isn’t going to sate you. Be prepared to order a couple, and think twice about sharing them. In another couple of weeks the dish will be a memory.
At the Greenmarket
Lobsters Roll In, Fiddleheads Advance, and Ramps RetreatCool weather and rain have made for a slow growing season thus far, while also creating the ideal conditions for fiddlehead ferns, which sprout in damp, wooded areas and more than compensate for sun-bathing weather in our book.
In the Magazine
New York’s Restaurant Jungle Grows a Little Lusher
When spring comes, branches and leaves appear in the most unexpected places. This week’s food coverage is like that: There are no huge openings, analogous to maples or firs springing up overnight, but rather a rich carpet of new sprouts and saplings. Rob and Robin glory in the pig-out that is Resto, the new Belgian restaurant on Park Avenue South; Gael Greene stops in to enjoy the immense, spanking-new Landmarc in the Time Warner Center; David Chang knows just what to do with the long-awaited, precious ramps in In Season; and other unexpected treats, from a waterside barbecue in one of the Short Lists to a slew of spring Openings fill out the foliage.
Tom Carvel’s Mysterious Death; Tom Valenti’s Awesome Uptown DigsThe old technique of force-feeding geese with a metal tube was the evil secret behind foie gras. Now there’s a new, gentler method: force-feeding them with a rubber tube. [NYT]
Tom Carvel’s niece is convinced that her uncle, the late custard king, was murdered, and she wants his body exhumed. [The Journal News]
Ouest chef Tom Valenti shows his museumlike 157th Street apartment to the world. [NYP]
At the Greenmarket
Ramps Signal Spring; Ripe and Runny Cheese Comes Early
The pink, white, and green flag of spring has been raised: Little ramplets reared their heads a few inches from the damp earth last weekend, and Greenmarketers are already engulfed in the savory fumes of their oniony funk.