Good Reads

The Premiere Issue of ‘Edible Manhattan,’ Page by Page

Edible Manhattan launches with a party at the Fulton Market stalls next week, featuring Peconic Bay oysters, appetizing from Russ & Daughters, Long Island wines, New York craft beer, and Manhattans (the drink!). Meanwhile, the issue just hit our desk, and if you like Edible Brooklyn and Edible East End, we can attest that you’re going to love, um, burroughing into this one! The stories aren’t online yet, so here’s an article-by-article rundown of the handsomely illustrated 88-page issue.

Notable Edibles
The front-of-the-book column introduces readers to the freshly grated wasabi at 15 East, a yacht cruise featuring New York wines, Amy Goldman’s book The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table, the De Gustibus cooking school, and a community-garden dinner thrown by Outstanding in the Field.

Sticky Bun Heavyweights
A taste test overseen by a judge of our smoke/fry-off, Benjamin Schmerler, pits the sticky buns at Balthazar and Bouchon against each other. “The split-decision verdict: two to one Bouchon.”

Breakfast Sandwich of Champions
Ed Levine considers La Nacional’s chorizo, fried egg, and toasted baguette sandwich “the ultimate Manhattan breakfast sandwich,” though it isn’t served in the morning. It’s “meaty and eggy and creamy and sweet and just crunchy enough from the chorizo and the toast.”

More Than A Bookstore
Regina Schrambling spends a day with Nach Waxman at his bookstore and labor of love, Kitchen Arts & Letters, where foodies (including an unnamed “downtown star” that recently left his restaurant after a dispute with the owner) peruse 1,000 cooking-related titles in French alone, as well as a basement stocking 2,000 to 3,000 out-of-print volumes. Waxman, it turns out, is also a behind-the-scenes player in the publishing industry. His goal? “To make food books more challenging, less dumbed down.”

New York Gets Pickled
A preview of New York International Pickle Day, the fermentation fest that takes place on the Lower East Side on September 14.

Salad For Breakfast
Farmer Eugene Wyatt shares some anecdotes about messin’ with vegetarians at this Greenmarket stand: “When I have vegetables for sale at my stand, customers see the lamb on the table and say, ‘oh, you have meat too,’ turning up their noses. I smile and ask if they are vegetarian. I tell them their vegetarianism is healthy, that I like vegetarians, that sheep are vegetarians and I like to eat them.”

Eng’s World
Dan Barber recalls how Blue Hill’s cheese plate was born. His molecularly minded pastry chef, David Eng, had an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese, but didn’t truly know his stuff until Barber treated him to Artisanal’s grand cheese plate. Soon after, the light bulb went on over Eng’s head: Pair three old-world cheeses with three new-world cheeses that were inspired by them.

Big Personality
A profile of Little Giant’s hands-on owners, Tasha Garcia Gibson and Julie Taras Wallach, and Wallach’s rules of the house: “She’ll always include a fin fish, a shellfish, fresh pasta from Raffetto’s, and a ‘swine of the week,’ but never, ever, she insists, will there by chicken.”

In the Kitchen
A peek inside Isaac Mizrahi’s fridge: “All you have to do is bake a potato and put caviar on it and you have men falling at your feet.”

Foraging A Fetid Delicacy
A fantastic piece about Matt Weingarten, of Inside Park at St. Bart’s, and his knack for urban foraging. Weingarten seeks out local botanicals such as “rose hips for marmalade, chamomile from sidewalk cracks, wild quince, wild blackberries from a vine that grows helter-skelter across a carriage house, white mulberries from a nearby college campus,” and the like. He was inspired to forage for malodorous ginkgo nuts when he saw Chinese women gathering them for sale in Chinatown, where they’re used for egg custard.

Under The Gotham Sun
A profile of Sara Jenkins of Porchetta, with a couple of recipes from her cookbook Olives and Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Beyond. She admits her corn risotto isn’t the sort of thing you’d find in Italy (Italians rarely eat fresh corn and the recipe would call for pancetta rather than bacon), but hey, it’s true to the spirit.

Decline and Fall of the Manhattan
In a meticulously researched essay, bar star St. John Frizell ponders why the Manhattan went from being an international sensation, indeed the “king of cocktails,” to being overshadowed by its younger brother, the martini. The Manhattan, he says, “may never be trendy again — it’s got way too much flavor for that — but it’s got a gutsy, good-enough-for-Grandpa appeal.”

Sweet Honey in the Block
The Greenmarket’s David Graves isn’t the only urban beekeeper in town — Saskia Cornes reveals that “a semi-clandestine network of urban beekeepers has grown astronomically in the past year.” Cornes visits a Lower East Side community garden that keeps hives (“One call to 311 and it’s all over,” says the beekeeper), and tells of another keeper who was forced to move his bees when his landlord caught wind of them (the penalty for keeping bees is a $2,000 fine). Fun fact: “Manhattan’s bees ‘work harder’ than their country brethren.”

Wölff in Sheep’s Clothing
A profile of Roman Roth, who has helmed Long Island’s Wölffer Estate for sixteen years. Says Roth: “There is this traditional style on Long Island. A really rustic tradition, and some people don’t like that. We don’t do modern winemaking things like heat up the tanks to make the process go faster. From my point of view, I cannot make a better wine anywhere.”

Pedestrian Pastry Goes Gastro
Gabriella Gershenson visits the Doughnut Plant. With locations planned for D.C., New Orleans, and Toronto, the original is still pumping out 2,000 doughnuts per day, made from fresh ingredients like homemade preserves, roasted and grinded peanuts, Valrhona chocolate, real vanilla bean, and Greenmarket fruits and berries for glazes. “If you saw what the ingredients cost,” says owner Mark Israel, “You’d know we’re charging way too little.” As for a second location, Israel is still looking: “Landlords love chain stores, and banks. They don’t have much vision as far as what’s good for New York.”

Tap Dance
In a fascinating article, Brian Halweil explores the history of New York City’s tap water, explains what makes it so unique, and explores the symbiotic relationship between upstate farms and our local water supply. So is it true that it makes bagels and pizza taste better? Food chemist Harold McGee and Sim Cass, the founding baker at Balthazar, say not really, though the water’s neutral pH balance makes it easier to knead. And Kelly Taylor of Heartland Brewery says it’s a good blank slate for fermentation. He’s dismayed to learn the Croton Aqueduct will soon be filtered. With New Yorkers buying about 2,937,000,000 mostly plastic bottles of water a year, restaurants such as San Domenico and Gotham Bar and Grill are switching to Nutra filters; filtering, carbonating, and bottling their water on-site, such as at Gemma; or simply throwing caution about chlorine to the wind and serving tap water straight, such as at Back Forty and Market Table. “It tastes good to me,” says chef Mikey Price. “I always figured that all our shit flowed down to New Jersey.”

The Premiere Issue of ‘Edible Manhattan,’ Page by Page