Since Eater co-editor-in-chief Ben Leventhal gave up full-time food blogging last March to oversee his edit team, focus on new projects (expect Eater Chicago to launch in a couple of weeks), and monitor other sites (like us!), he says he feels “less of a responsibility to try the new places.” That didn’t make him any less of a presence at the first NYWFF this weekend. In fact, he was everywhere we turned, thanks to a covenant with festival czar Lee Schrager, which included an Eater-run lounge for press. So what did he pick on in between events? And where else did the man who refuses to cook eat out during the rest of the week?
Saturday, October 11
Friday night I had probably eight to ten burgers at the Burger Bash, a couple Blue Moons, and then went to the Spotted Pig for a cocktail, so I didn’t have breakfast on Saturday. I went straight to the Eater lounge, had a couple of illy espressos there — they were a sponsor. We just got right into work.
Some company called Hot Blondies sent over some blondies around noon, which happened to coincide with me being very hungry, so I had a couple of those. We had [Savoy chef] Peter Hoffman come by with a fall succotash around one or two. They were running a greenmarket at Ninth and 14th. I guess he had prepared a pot and passed out little samples for everyone. I had a tiny cup of that. At these food festivals, you don’t eat a lot. There’s lots of samples; there’s lots to drink; but not a lot of regular meals happening, so you tend to nosh as you can.
Then later in the day, Rob Kaufelt from Murray’s came by with a cheese plate. I had a couple of bread sticks. I had some Prosecco that we were pouring.
I went home to take a little breather from the festival, and around 8:30, for the first time in maybe two years, I ordered Zen Palate. Curry Supreme and a spinach-wonton soup and some edamame. I actually fell asleep on my couch and did not return.
Sunday, October 12
I headed to the festival. Picked up an iced coffee and a yogurt-and-fruit parfait from Dub Spot on the way over (being the closest thing meatpacking has to a proper coffee shop). A kind of mediocre parfait: The granola-to-yogurt ratio was off — too much granola. I try to eat healthy, especially when I’m not doing some kind of tasting. The food I eat over and over again tends to be pretty simple.
Early afternoon I wandered over to the festival tasting tents. I had a great crostini with chicken liver and sautéed onions [from Convivio]. I like the restaurant a lot; they’re not really comparable. At these festivals you do something simple, generally indicative of the restaurant. I went by the Boqueria table and had something good [white-bean soup with salt cod and grape]. It definitely is not something that I would see on a menu and order. My favorite restaurants have a spectacular roast chicken; my tastes are simple, but it was a nicely done dish. Daniel’s bread-maker was there and did some kind of loaf that was pretty spectacular. I didn’t go for any of the sweet stuff. I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth.
I went to a couple of the panels, and when I got back to the lounge, fantastically, I found that Scott Conant had sent over some of his spaghetti with tomato and basil from Scarpetta. I found Dana Cowin nibbling on some spaghetti. Definitely the highlight of the lounge catering. [Conant and Eater editor Amanda Kludt] had chatted earlier in the day, and she was able to convince him, out of the goodness of his heart, seeing how little we had to eat. I had probably a full portion. More Prosecco.
That was pretty much it for me. Then I went over to the Gansevoort for the Mohegan Sun party, had a couple of cocktails there. I generally drink Grey Goose on the rocks, but they were pouring Absolut, so it was Absolut. Then we went over to Morimoto. They were passing around seared Wagyu sashimi, was very good, a couple little bites. I think I missed the foie gras. Maybe another drink, then went home.
Monday, October 13
Back to the office. The morning was an iced coffee from the MUD Truck. I drink it black and tend to get a Red-Eye, with a shot of espresso. I drink iced coffee pretty deep into the fall; my switch to hot probably happens December 1.
At 11:30 a.m. we had a walk-through at the Shake Shack on the Upper West Side. Had a Shack Burger, some Shack Fries, a Valrhona-chocolate shake. The issue of what the perfect temperature is came up, so we went back to the griddle and did an impromptu taste of about four or five burgers, from rare to medium-well. The medium-rare Shack Burger is pretty spectacular.
After the Shack Burgers, nothing ‘til dinner. For dinner, I went to a real-estate-developer friend’s house, sort of a business meeting that turned into pleasure — watching Monday Night Football. And we ordered Philippe Chow Express. A bunch of assorted stuff: some green prawns, a couple chicken dishes, some beef dishes, shrimp fried rice, white rice, sautéed broccoli, shumai. It was all decidedly mediocre and pricey. They use way too much MSG. I’m not a huge fan of the Chow food. All those places are more similar than they are different. It’s junk-food Chinese. But a couple of green prawns were tasty. I had some more Blue Moon, two Belgian ales. Home and to bed.
Tuesday, October 14
Tuesday morning I had an iced coffee from Starbucks because that’s what’s by my apartment. I’m drinking Starbucks virtually against my will. I had a couple bites of a blueberry scone. I’m usually up around seven. Headed into the office around 9, 9:30 and had another iced coffee from MUD.
Lunch was supposed to be at Taam-Tov with a couple of friends, but they were closed for the Jewish holiday so we went to 44 in the Royalton. I had a chopped salad: romaine, grilled chicken, avocado, egg whites, tomato, a citrus vinaigrette. It was exactly what you look for in a chopped salad. I had sparkling water and an espresso.
I had a business dinner at Balthazar — textbook: Balthazar salad, and then the roast chicken for two. The guy I was eating with decided we needed some escargot and ravioli so we did three courses, a little decadent for my taste, but that escargot is good. And that garlic butter with a couple pieces of bread, not bad, not too bad. My passion for Balthazar is well documented. I had one Grey Goose.
Wednesday, October 15
Iced coffee from Starbucks. I made a brief stop at the gym, had a lemon-lime Gatorade. I was going to go to the MUD truck, but for whatever reason, it was not there when I went by. So frickin’ Starbucks.
I had a business lunch at Gemma right down the street. A Racked meeting. We had some house sparkling water, and the spicy Italian sausage pizza we shared to start, and I had the grilled chicken, which is served with some field greens. Nibbled on the bread.
When I came back to the office, Amanda had two little doughnut holes from Panya, classic sugar doughnut holes. They were not very good. The consistency should be soft and fluffy and sweet, and these were very chewy. I might have gotten them a little late. They were sitting around.
Dinner on Wednesday was sort of a catch-as-catch-can array of stuff. There was a cocktail party at a friend’s house in the West Village with crudités. I had maybe a dozen bites of baby zucchini; this is a Dean & DeLuca plate. It was kind of odd: Some of it was steamed, and some was raw. For example, the carrots looked raw and were steamed. I stuck with the raw stuff. I initially went with red wine and switched to Ketel One for round two. Left to go to Thom’s bar, briefly, for a debate-viewing party with old and new media types. Had half a cocktail courtesy of one Lockhart Steele. Then I had drinks with a chef friend of mine [David Chang] at PDT. I grabbed a quick slice of pizza on the way, cheese with whole-wheat crust. We had two Jim Meehan cocktails. One was rye-based and my second, bourbon neat. Chang had two gin-and-tonics.