The New York Diet

Gael Greene Finishes Trabocchi’s Veal and Follows the Food Pyramid

“I’m making room to be wanton in the evening.” Photo: Melissa Hom

Gael Greene has written about food for New York Magazine since its inception 40 years ago — and lived an enviably adventurous life along the way. She’s currently hunting for “adventurous men who will pay $10,000 to come to a women’s power lunch” on November 21 at the Rainbow Room, and there’s a children’s book in the works about a little girl whose mother is a restaurant critic, too. But Greene still maintains a demanding eating schedule, usually chronicled in her regular column and on her Insatiable Critic Website, and here, recorded in exacting detail, for her New York Diet. Prepare to be impressed.

Saturday September 20
Breakfasts always start with two mugs of Fairway Italian blend espresso grind coffee. I had plain, no-fat Dannon yogurt with a tablespoon of Light and Fit blueberry yogurt, three strawberries, six dried cranberries, a half a cup of All Bran, and two tablespoons of low-fat granola with two raisins, and I had a tangerine.

Every day at the office I make a salad. On Saturday it was four cups: romaine, celery, carrots, grape tomatoes, a quarter-cup Fairway healthy tuna, a quarter-cup coleslaw, and Citarella balsamic vinegar. I’m a great believer in nine half-cups of vegetables every day that the government pyramid recommends. It might be seven, but I’m up to nine.

Saturday night was a pizza tasting for a story I’m working on. We — my guy (Steven Richter, the Road Food Warrior) and a Neapolitan friend with a car — went to Staten Island. I’m saving where for my article. At the first [of three] I had a third of a slice each of Margherita, white ricotta, eggplant, and tomato with sausage and basil. We stopped at the house of a friend who makes wine, and I had two ounces of his Cabernet. At pizzeria No. 2 I had a third of a slice each of ricotta, clam, Margherita, and meatball with ricotta, and the crust was so good I had extra crust. At the third, a fourth of a slice because I could hardly eat at that point — Margherita, shrimp, vodka, and I didn’t taste the anchovy. We had two wonderful chocolates that I brought by Daniel’s ex–pastry chef Thomas Haas who’s now in Vancouver. They came in a goody bag from the party celebrating the re-opening of Daniel.

Sunday, September 21
Whenever I have too much fat, I always have oatmeal, so I had Uncle Bob’s Red Mill, which has five grains, with two tablespoons of no-fat yogurt, two mugs of the Italian blend, and half a tangelo.

Lunch, the same: four cups of salad: romaine, celery, carrots, grape tomatoes, and a quarter-cup of leftover poached salmon mashed with a little yogurt and balsamic vinegar.

A snack when I came home, a president plum.

At Fairway Café — Sunday dinner just with my guy. Sometimes I don’t have wine one day a week and usually it’s Sunday. I had mache salad with half the vinaigrette and it had ten pine nuts, half a slice of seven-grain bread with a teaspoon of baba ghanouj, marinated game hen split and roasted. I ate the dark meat only. I had one thin French fry. I would never order a chicken breast on a menu, unless it was a genius cooking it like Freddy Girardet — then I would have to taste it to see what great cooking could do. I had a small prune plum before I went to bed.

Monday, September 22
My usual yogurt, fruit, and All-Bran breakfast with two mugs of Italian blend and a half a tangelo, then I went to the office.

Same salad: three cups instead of four because I was trying to eat less, and half of the leftover Guinea hen.

Later it was the Food Arts magazine twentieth-anniversary gala at the Plaza. I missed the Champagne reception because of Clay Felker’s memorial and arrived when everyone was sitting down. I ate three tablespoons of oil-poached halibut in cucumber broth with yogurt and American sturgeon caviar by Michael Psilakis, and that’s all because it was too cooked. For the main, slow-cooked Meadow Reserve veal cheeks with celery-root purée and hazelnuts by Fabio Trabocchi from Fiamma. It was fabulous. I finished every morsel. I had about nine ounces of Château Margaux — my favorite wine of all time — it was a 1995. They had a dessert buffet. I took balsamic-roasted strawberries with cheesecake, red-shiso graham streusel and red-wine sorbet by Johnny Iuzzini, teeny tiny. I took a second dessert, but I only had one bite. It was a milk-chocolate leaf by Sandro Micheli of Adour, and it had foam on top so that sort of put me off, a caramel emulsion. Emulsion and foam are my least favorite things: they very rarely add anything to the dish; they usually don’t have any flavor; they’re insipid. At the restaurant I thought Adour’s desserts were extraordinary, the best thing in the dinner.

Tuesday, September 23
Scrambled egg whites with no-fat plain cream cheese melted in it — I’m making room to be wanton in the evening — three Eli Zabar health crisps, like brown-bread melba toast, some cantaloupe, and two mugs of coffee.

At the office, it was a small salad, because I only had a chance to eat around 3:30 — about three tablespoons of healthy tuna, and balsamic vinegar.

For a tasting at Double Crown, we were four. I had a teeny duck bun, very small, leftover roasted duck. They serve cracker crisps and they’re very small with a quarter-teaspoon of the raita, just enough to taste. I like generous portions as a critic, whether I eat it or not. I had three other appetizer tastes: My guy had Singapore laksa soup with green-tea noodles and crab (it wasn’t a clear soup); a few leaves of endive and Stilton from my friend’s salad; a tiny bite of crispy drunken quail. And tastes of four main courses: twice-cooked chicken; two tastes of pheasant and licorice pie with smoked bacon bits — they were very tiny; a third of a lamb-cashew meatball. I ordered the roast half-duck with cabbage slaw, and it was a larger portion. We had two side dishes: pickled cabbage and shredded green-bean salad. A glass of Côtes du Rhône. For dessert, Treacle pecan tartlet, and a chocolate plate turned out to be bonbons, a truffle, marshmallow, and chocolate.

Wednesday, September 24
Breakfast: yogurt, fruit, All-Bran, half a tangelo, coffee.

At lunch, three cups of salad, again it was very late. When I went out to pick up the coleslaw at the corner grocery, Salumeria Rosi was open — it was a private party for Italian journalists. So I went in and Cesare [Casella] gave me a piece of prosciutto, which was fabulous. I had a cube of truffled caciota, and a taste of foccacia.

Then I had dinner at Pearl Oyster Bar. A Caesar salad and a lobster roll — exactly the right amount of mayo for me, a huge amount of lobster on a toasted bun of which I had half. I had mixed greens instead of fries (I tasted five of my neighbor’s shoestring fries), and a glass of Spanish wine. They sent over fried oysters so I had one, which was on tartar sauce, very mayonnaise-y, very rich. We ordered the classic apple tart, which came with a huge slab of vanilla ice cream, and they sent a chocolate mousse, of which I had a few spoonfuls.

Thursday, September 25
This morning, the usual. I call it Kibbles n’ Bits — All-Bran and fruit and yogurt.

Gael Greene Finishes Trabocchi’s Veal and Follows the Food Pyramid