the grub street diet

Art Dealer Sarah Hoover Respects Spicy Arugula

“It makes other lettuces seem weak and pathetic.”

Sarah Hoover with one of her favorite doughnuts at Balthazar. Photo: M. Cooper
Sarah Hoover with one of her favorite doughnuts at Balthazar. Photo: M. Cooper

“I am deeply opinionated about cheese,” says Sarah Hoover, who, as the director of Chelsea gallery Gagosian, is both an artist liaison and art dealer. While she works in the art world, her mother is Martha Hoover, the Indianapolis-based, James Beard–nominated restaurateur. So Sarah — who is involved with a foundation addressing food insecurity in Indiana — was probably the perfect person to create the menu for this year’s Art Production Fund gala, at which she was also being honored. During the rest of her week, she ate some of her favorite things, including Maialino’s cacio e pepe eggs, Peter Pan doughnuts, and Whit’s End pizza. Read all about it in this week’s Grub Street Diet.

Friday, March 6
I’m a wake-up-and-go type of person. If I hang out for even 15 minutes, I’ll find reasons not to work out. And I gotta work out, because I actually love how it makes me feel — it keeps my mental health in check. I realized when I had postpartum depression that a workout could really help. I mean, not as much as anti-depressants and a fuck-ton of therapy, but it’s very mentally balancing.

On Fridays, I have my trainer Beth Nicely at Body by Simone. She’s one of my dear friends yet she always kicks my ass. I showered at the gym and put on some glitter eyeliner and run to my 9 a.m. pre-office breakfast meeting with my book editors at Maialino (I wrote a book about having a baby regarding the pure terror and horror that no one tells you! It’s so scary, you guy, and so emblematic of how little the world cares about the health of women.). Maialino has the most delish breakfast, but they have so many rules, and they actually follow them; for example, a hard stop on the breakfast foods at 10:30 a.m. on the dot. I’ve spent many, many hours working in my mom’s restaurants, and I still don’t fully understand this. Like, sure, you have to put the waffle machine away to make room for lunch, but why I can’t get eggs everywhere in New York at 1 p.m. is a mystery to me.

I started with an Earl Grey tea, raw local honey (commodity honey is absolute trash for so many reasons; I carry honey around with me and have a giant jar on my desk) and half-and-half. I got the cacio e pepe eggs, served with a large homemade cracker instead of bread, which left room for their cinnamon roll, which is an excellent, very fluffy and light version. Let it be known that I have yet to find the perfect cinnamon roll in NYC. Perfect to me is doughy, yeasty, cream-cheese frosting, no raisins, no nuts. At home, I’ll make Jessie Sheehan recipe, but most days I’m lazy and I’m not really that good at baking. Let it also be known that cinnamon sugar is goddess food and better than chocolate. I bet Beyoncé agrees with me. My mom’s cinnamon toast is legendary and I think that started an addiction or at least an overpowering appreciation of the stuff.

Okay, and I also had a fruit salad, which had lots of pomegranate seeds on it, and tons of citrus. I love citrus fruits in salads, and grapefruit supreme is my everything, but I think citrus mixed with chocolate is blasphemous. The thought of orange chocolate makes my soul hurt.

Normally, on a Friday, I’d be in the office at Gagosian in Chelsea, where the food pickings are slim (all I eat is Cookshop, which is great — the salad with chicken and the french fries are top notch—but this Friday I went to an International Women’s Day lunch hosted by Aerin Lauder, who is a smart, lovely, and deeply philanthropic icon. It was showcasing Ladurée’s new vegan menu. Luckily, I was seated across from the hilarious writer-actress Jill Kargman (and her adorable and poised 16-year-old daughter), so we mostly talk shit about vegans and motherhood and NYC schools. Totally joking, vegans are extremely admirable, and veggies are delish. They fed us a beautiful lentil salad, and I adore lentils; they are like veggie caviar.

I drank iced tea with simple syrup because Ladurée has really flavorful — I would say pretty special — iced tea, which I like extra sweet, like iced tea flavored nectar. I left with a bag of macaroons and ran to Brooklyn to a seating meeting for the Art Production Fund gala with two of my dearest girl friends, Michelle Hellman and Casey Fremont, and Casey’s fabulous APF team. We sipped Ruinart Champagne while we did seating, and then I ran home to do bed and bath time with my little boy, Guy Louis Armstrong Sachs, the actual love of my life, and I mostly just smelled his hair and told him on repeat how much Mommy loves him, until he fell asleep in my arms while I cried about how soft his skin is.

After, I rushed to meet my girlfriends at Balthazar for our Friday-night dinner. Balthazar is my cantine. I live nearby, my husband moved to Soho before it even opened, and we’ve eaten there at least once every week for many, many years. I love it for its remarkable consistency. You always know what you’re going to get. It’s also really pretty and makes me feel special, like I’m in a movie. I was there when the mirror fell down, I was there once when a fight broke out at the bar and someone was carried out, and I was there when the fire alarms went off for a full 20 minutes and everyone just pretended it wasn’t happening so we could finish our seafood towers. I also had my first date with my husband there — he forgot his wallet — and pretty much every celebratory occasion since then.

I had Champagne, the Balthazar salad with no ricotta salata (I’m dumbfounded by the use of this cheese when there are legitimately 3,000 better cheeses), and split an onion soup and chicken liver with my friends, which is not a smart coronavirus move, but I wanted it all very badly. I also had one piece of their sourdough bread and butter, salted heavily (why does unsalted butter exist?), and with my best friend Emily split a cheeseburger (double cheddar, cooked medium, no tomato because tomatoes are disgusting this time of year so what’s the point, no onion, no lettuce) and french fries extra crispy.

A never-ending amount of Champagne somehow made me wiser, so by the time dessert rolled around, I requested to our server that we each get one single profiterole instead of sharing a plate. We stayed for a final vodka-soda nightcap so that we could, each and every one of us at least 30 years old if not closer to 35, learn the ins and outs of TikTok.

Saturday, March 7
The next morning, we loaded up the car with my firstborn son, our French bulldog Napoleon, and Guy, and drove to Greenpoint for my monthly Peter Pan doughnut fix. I’m a doughnut expert, and I prefer cake doughnuts, which I know isn’t an entirely popular opinion. But I prefer their texture when milk-soaked, when, I would argue, they retain their flavor best.

Peter Pan doughnuts are the most perfect, humble, homemade, correct doughnuts in New York. I got the cinnamon crueler and red velvet, and then we drove out to Rockaway Beach to our little surf shack because we heard the waves were amazing. (There’s absolutely no way I am getting in before mid-July, but I really wanted you to know I surf so I’d have a better chance of you thinking I’m cool.)

Now, the best thing about Far Rockaway — besides my cozy house and my beautiful baby and my puppy dog and my wonderful husband and some of my best friends who are also in the neighborhood and the sound of waves and the multiple, clean, nearby playground —  is the food scene. Our first stop was Whit’s End. Whitney brought it out to the car to say hello. The man is a genius and a renegade. Also he brings his pizza oven to my house on a flatbed truck for my birthday so I owe him everything.

Once home, we ate three pizzas, including the plain margherita and another with Brussels sprouts. Tom tried a meatball one, but I don’t eat pork so I just looked at it and thought about how much I wished I ate pork. (It is pure cognitive dissonance that allows to eat other animals, and I am slowly reevaluating, this so don’t come for me.) The thing about Whit’s pizza is the sauce, which is sweet and a tiny bit spicy, almost like it has a touch of, dare I say, raw local honey in there? The crust has integrity. It isn’t as floppy as a Neapolitan pizza crust. We also shared Whit’s legendary cheeseburger and a special of corn-beef-and-cabbage hash with really tender meat and some truly luxurious, hydrating cabbage on top creamy, mashed potatoes. You guys, I fucking love food. I wish I was a food critic, but my problem is I don’t like to eat the weird stuff. I’m a purist and I’m boring. I’m never gonna eat the uni with beef heart and duck fat and pistachio or whatever.

Oh, also, we had an arugula salad. Whit’s salads are amazing because he dresses them lightly and sweetly and tosses in tons of veggies, fruits, and crumbled fresh cheese. The produce all comes from our local urban farm and market, Edgemere Farm. Arugula is one of my favorite foods. It is so peppery and spicy, it makes other lettuces seem weak and pathetic. I imagine how sheep feel when they find a patch of wild arugula. Having never had pizza or sushi or ice cream, they must think that it’s an absolute gift from the heavens. They must lose their shit and think they are stoned.

I finished my night with caramel M&M’s and Reese’s Thins that I had stowed in my freezer before dinner, because PMS, man. A full supermoon was coming for me, and I could feel my deep-seated anger towards the patriarchy brewing in my bones. Cheap chocolate was needed.

Sunday, March 8
We started the morning at Rockaway Beach Bakery, one of the best bakeries in New York, a bold statement that I make fearlessly. They make their own croissant dough, which, spoiler for ya — a lot of bakeries buy theirs frozen. We got the cheese danish, a maple scone, and their breakfast egg and cheese on a biscuit, which is a truly dope morning treat, I would say on par with the Daily Provisions’ egg and cheese. I saved the half of my biscuit without the special sauce and cheese on it to toast in my toaster oven later with butter and honey, just like my southern daddy taught me.

Sunday is my one day of the week I’m a real bad girl and let myself have coffee, and I take it seriously. Coffee is gross to me unless it’s really high quality and perfect, and it should be enjoyed as if it’s melted coffee ice cream; i.e., seven sugar cubes and half a cup heavy cream or half-and-half. We used an Aeropress and the beans from Happy Bones.

I wrote while Guy napped and then Tom took him to the park while I called in a carry-out order of borscht, chicken skewers, fluffy rice, and raw carrot salad at Uma’s, the Uzbecki restaurant. We take that back to the city and ate it standing up in the kitchen while Guy had a chicken sausage. He’s in a pizza-and-chicken-sausage-only phase right now, and frankly I don’t judge him.

Monday, March 9
Monday was a big day for me, because I was being honored at the Art Production Fund gala at the Grill. I designed every bite of food and a fully hand-annotated menu for our guests, because I am honored to be honored and care about my people who are risking their coronavirus-free immune systems to turn up for me.

So my day was nuts, and by nuts I mean truly embarrassingly and indulgently filled with self care. I call it over-self care. It’s this fake way of being where you think if you just spend all your money to make yourself look better you will then feel better and it works like 20 percent as well as actual therapy and meds and proven scientific methods of treating mental-health issues, but once you start you get addicted.

I had an Earl Grey tea at David Mallet Salon while getting my hair dyed lavender — David has his amazing own brand of tea — and then I ran to Sant Ambroeus to pick up a tuna-artichoke sandwich on a soft Italian bun. I always eat it standing up at the bar. It is the greatest 15-minute lunch in NYC, not to be confused with the greatest lunch “deal” (if you can call it that) in NYC, which is the three-course prix fixe at Le Bernardin.

I rushed uptown to get to the gala early and then I ate — okay, are you ready for this? First I had Ruinart Champagne because I love bubbles even though all Champs makes your breath smell like Chernobyl. I figured with coronavirus no one would be getting that close to me anyway. I snagged some crispy potato-pancake bites with applesauce and sour cream, and one little crab cake, but I was doing a lot of talking so I didn’t get to go in as hard as I wanted on the tuna toast and barbecue shrimp. I had one Jell-O shot out of a NASA cup at my husband’s performative-art installation, which he had set up at the gala, where he was also overseeing manicures. We are big Jell-O shot fans in my family; it’s just so easy and fun, and deep down, don’t we all kinda like Jell-O in small doses, Bill Cosby association aside.

When we sat down to dinner, we had so many of my favorite things, I was literally dancing in my seat with joy and also because the dinner playlist was all Beyoncé, which coincidentally so was my 19-hours-of-childbirth-labor playlist. Even though I was a little bit triggered, this time my husband wasn’t napping THE ENTIRE TIME, and I wasn’t in immense psychological and physical pain, so I was able to enjoy myself. First there was Regalis caviar and Lay’s potato chips and crème fraîche, and then Carbone Caesar salad because those chewy, crunchy, garlicky croutons are a sexual experience I wanted to share with 350 people. I almost put my Ed Ruscha–designed napkin (thank you, Ed) over my head so no one would see me dip the croutons in the caviar after I ran out of chips.

Next, we got double cheeseburgers and tater tots with a side of ranch. I’m from Indiana and ranch is fucking good and I consider you a snob if you disagree. The bun was so, so soft and gorgeous, a work of art, a Parker House roll made large. More Jell-O shots went around, I had a Belvedere martini at some point and also had a Diet Coke on ice. One of my most disgusting habits is I love chemicals over ice. Some days it’s Diet Coke, on really bad days it is Pedialyte — no one is perfect.

Finally, we had vanilla-ice-cream sundaes. (Worth noting: It’s almost impossible to find a good hot-fudge sundae at a restaurant in NYC, but shout out to the newly opened American Bar.) The Grill makes a great vanilla ice cream, though my gold standard is … believe it or not … vanilla Häagen-Dazs. Why is that shit so good? The biggest risk with it is freezer burn from my deli. I am very particular with my ice-cream sundaes. I did whipped cream, sprinkles, and fudge (which is different than chocolate sauce, you know?) for half of it, and then whipped cream and Oreos for the second half. Then I took the whipped-cream canister and did a couple whippets before continuing to the Bowery Hotel for several more nightcaps and a 2 a.m. spaghetti pomodoro. JK about the whippits! My mom was there!

Tuesday, March 10
The next morning, I woke up and I would not say I was my best self. I really wanted churros, with every part of my soul, but I still haven’t found the perfect neighborhood churro spot. I like the ones from Otto’s Tacos but that felt too lowbrow for this. So instead I did what any empowered, modern feminist would do and I ordered delivery chicken pot pie and chocolate cake from Tea & Sympathy, a New York treasure. Their pot pie is so damn creamy, and the chocolate cake is one of my absolute favorites in NYC. It is dense but not flourless-dense, just really — I’m so sorry for what I’m about to say — really moist.

I had lots of snuggle time with my kid, who was so happy I let him watch Blippi while I tried to make my brain work, which it was still not fully doing and may not do again anytime soon. I thought endlessly about what to eat for dinner. I had narrowed it down to Bar Pitti, where I’d do the turkey-sausage pasta and spinach saltati, or Uncle Boon’s beef curry with that amazing crab rice and a coconut sundae for dessert, but I went completely rogue and picked up beef empanadas, arroz con pollo, and chicken soup from ABC Cocina.

That soup is so chock full of veggies, even avocado, that I felt like a renewed human after eating it. On some days, I prefer the Veselka version of chicken soup, which tastes just like my grandma Frieda’s, but I needed the full flavor punch of a Cocina moment. By this point, the supermoon had decided to ruin my mood, skin, and sheets, and I was fully serving the crimson wave, so I finished my night with a bowl of the best granola there is from one of my mom’s restaurants, Patachou, which she sends me in bulk, and which I had with whole milk.

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