The New York Diet

Singer-Actress Anika Noni Rose Doesn’t Fear Ferocious Pies and Quasi-Lethal Doughnuts

“If you gave the macaroni and cheese to kindergarteners, you could use it as paste.”
“If you gave the macaroni and cheese to kindergarteners, you could use it as paste.”haha Photo: Melissa Hom

When Connecticut native and Tony Award–winning singer-actress Anika Noni Rose — best known for playing Lorrell in Dreamgirls — visited New York as a child, her parents took her to restaurants like the Russian Tea Room and Sign of the Dove. “I had quail there for the first time,” she recalls of the latter, “and they had a bread pudding that was out of control.” Her education in food wasn’t lost on her— even this week as she rehearsed for a benefit at Carnegie Hall and put the finishing touches on her work in the upcoming miniseries The Starter Wife, the Inwood resident made time for phenomenal comfort food, ferocious lemon-meringue pie, and a certain doughy treat that she insists is “the best thing in the world.

Wednesday, May 16
I made a smoothie with pineapple, strawberry, blueberry, and banana and spirulina. I ran out to do an ADR session [to tweak audio tracks] for The Starter Wife. Before that I went to Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop and had hot pastrami and cheese on rye. I like that with Thousand Island dressing — that’s what really makes it phenomenal comfort food.

I had to look at a gown for Gilda’s Club. I stopped by Prêt à Manger. I was on a sandwich kick, I guess — I got a tuna sandwich with lemonade and some Kettle chips. I really love chips. Kettle chips are great — they have a little bit more heft to them. Everything is made fresh at Prêt — they use mostly organic ingredients. In this climate we’re living in, it’s more important to get organic food because there’s so much crap that we put in our body. At the same time, I actually love Dunkin Donuts. I’m sure I’ll be very sad when they make them healthy.

I came home and had a salad — with beans, broccoli, mushrooms, and avocado, and Newman’s Own balsamic vinaigrette.

Tuesday, May 15
I did a fund-raiser for the New York Festival of Song at Carnegie Hall. I was picking up some jewelry and last-minute undergarments. I met a friend at Georgio’s Country Grill to discuss music for a project. I had stir-fry veggies with chicken. Georgio’s is not that expensive, and they give you a huge portion of food. The food is really good in a very cute environment.

I had a rehearsal at 4 p.m. When it was over, I went to Le Pain Quotidien. I had a hankering for a French cream donut. It’s the best thing in the world — it looks really decadent and like it might kill you upon getting into your stomach, but it’s not. They bake this donut — like a big fat roll — and then they cut it horizontally and then open it up so it looks like Mr. Mouth and put the cream inside and put a little powdered sugar on top. The cream is very light and not extraordinarily sweet. It’s ferociously good. I had that with tea. Then I had the chicken Cobb salad.

After the concert we ate at an Italian restaurant on 53rd Street between Sixth and Seventh, but it wasn’t good. We had veal scaloppine. I don’t eat veal often because I know it is cruel, but I love it — when they said veal, I was like “Yes!” This was free-range veal; it was really tough. That veal didn’t get too much exercise, or they didn’t pound it. It wasn’t very flat, and the sauce wasn’t sufficiently lemony. I had to leave early.

Monday, May 14
I had a rehearsal. I picked up a Balance bar from a bodega and had a smoothie in the morning. And then I met a friend and his family at Yum Yum Bangkok. There are eight of them now; this was the first one, on 46th Street, which has now turned into almost a club because it has been renovated. It really is good Thai, and it’s extraordinarily cheap — lunch can run you about $6 for good and nutritious food. I had a little bit of calamari with a sweet chili sauce. Then I had the coconut chicken soup and sticky rice, which I like to put in the soup. The chicken soup has chicken, mushrooms, lemongrass, and scallions. But I asked them to leave the scallions off because I’m not that into that. And I had Thai iced tea.

I saw Passing Strange at the Public, which is great. Then I went to Dojo. One of them closed because it was nasty — it was rat-snack extraordinaire up in there. I went to the one near NYU. I thought, Why not have another cheap meal? I had the soy-burger dinner. Their tahini sauce is fantastic on a salad or burger — they put carrots in it. I really don’t understand why they don’t bottle it and sell it.

Sunday, May 13
I go to the Kitchenette for brunch. My favorite thing is their macaroni and cheese. If you gave it to kindergarteners, you could use it as paste. It’s a three- or four-cheese macaroni and cheese, and it even has a little goat cheese to add a little bit of smokiness. They bake it. I think all mac ‘n’ cheese should be baked. If you could fry it, I’d be an advocate of that too. I had a salad and the lemon-meringue pie, which is ferocious. I had braised vegetables and a small turkey-club sandwich. And they have fresh pink lemonade, which you get in a jelly jar.

Then I had a rehearsal — I went to the Met and bopped around there. This is embarrassing, but I got a Gray’s Papaya and pineapple juice. Papaya tastes vomitous, but pineapple is really good for your digestion and probably best when you’re eating a hot dog. I really like salt and sweets.

Saturday, May 12
I was coming in from Connecticut, where I took my grandmother to IHOP. I saw a play at Brooklyn Friends School. I went to Mayrose. I wanted a salad with some heft, so I got the chopped salad with beets, asparagus, and avocado. I asked them to cut the tails off the shrimp, and they acted like it was a big deal, but they did it anyway. Why do you think I want to fight with a shrimp tail? I don’t want to reach through my teriyaki sauce — that’s nasty. I just want to stab it and put it in my mouth!

The Starter Wife premieres May 31 on the USA Network.

Singer-Actress Anika Noni Rose Doesn’t Fear Ferocious Pies and