Maury Rubin Is Making City Bakery and Birdbath Greener by the MinuteLast week we wondered why notoriously progressive Birdbath wasn’t on a list of restaurants certified by the Green Restaurant Association. Owner Maury Rubin, who also operates City Bakery, tells us he didn’t seek certification from the GRA partly because he feels their requirements don’t go far enough. And how far is he willing to go? By this summer, he says, he’ll institute a program which offers his employees incentives, via a “company-wide friendly competition” for saving energy in their private lives. He’s also launching a program that will give his customers price cuts if they sign up for wind energy. We asked him to share some wisdom he’s gleaned from trying to run the most environmentally sound (and still profitable!) food business in the country.
Hot-Chocolate Frenzy in Flatiron; Know You’re Eating Sperm in MidtownAstoria: Sunswick is having an Abitas beer promotion on Sunday with drink specials, but if you’re less concerned about game day, you could check out the renovation at Il Bambino. [Joey in Astoria]
Carroll Gardens: Naturally Delicious caterers, who also did this blogger’s wedding, will deliver a V-Day menu that includes baked oysters, lobster bisque, tenderloin, a cheese plate, and a Valrhona flourless chocolate cake to those who want to stay in but aren’t able to whip up our sexy stash of recipes. [A Brooklyn Life]
Flatiron: City Bakery kicks off its monthlong hot-chocolate festival tomorrow, which highlights rotating “additional flavors, from Caramel or Banana Peel to the Chili Pepper or even Beer varieties.” [Restaurant Girl]
Midtown East: If you show up at Sakae Sushi and find that it’s closed for a couple of days, you can stop into nearby Yakitori East on 44th Street. Just remember: The winter specialty shirako that their menu dubs as “soft cod roe” is “rather beige globules of sperm sacs.” [Gothamist] On February 12, eliminate “menstrual and sexual health concerns” through food at D’Or; let’s hope there’s chocolate involved. [Love Your Femme via Gridskipper]
Union Square: Mesa Grill impresario Bobby Flay just got back from Greece and would fly there again for all that “delicious Greek olive oil and some lemon and some potatoes and Greek salad,” but if he would just stay in New York, maybe Mesa Grill would have been able to hold on to more of its stars. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Ben Stiller Crashes a Party at Fiamma, Penélope Cruz Makes Out at
Every Friday a notable New Yorker tells us where they’ve been eating, but where are the rest of them chowing down? Starting this week we’ll sort through the gossip columns à la Ils Vont (RIP) to tell you who’s been seen where (casual sightings only — boring galas, vodka launches, and pluggy appearances don’t count). We’ll eventually compile a ranking of restaurants most often visited by celebs. Not that you care about that sort of thing! Oh, but if you do, won’t you please leave your own sightings in the comments?
Green Greek Comes to Flatiron; Thanksgiving Eats AplentyChelsea: Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit will present a free Thanksgiving 101 wining and dining seminar on Saturday, November 17, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. that will be catered by City Bakery and feature chef Don Pintabona of Dani, pastry chef Nancy Olson of Gramercy Tavern and chef Galen Zamarra from Mas (farmhouse), giving cooking tips in addition to the requisite wine tasting. [Grub Street]
East Village: Chikalicious will be serving on Thanksgiving, if you’d like to pass up a traditional feast for a $12 tasting of “warm cornmeal pound cake with corn ice cream and a duo of grapes in Moscato d’Asti.” [Restaurant Girl] The new and improved Momofuku Noodle Bar now features soft-serve ice cream served in brownie-stuffed cones. [Eater]
Financial District: Blue Ribbon Sound on Ann Street is a recording studio brought to you from the restaurant group of the same name because the owners of the sushi houses and bakeries around town are also “dedicated to high quality sound production in a comfortable and professional environment.” [Down by the Hipster]
Flatiron: Parea will be remade into a rustic Greek eatery, with an organic menu and green architecture. [Restaurant Girl]
Flushing: Sai Bhavan Snack & Sweets at 141-20 Holly Avenue is a good place to find vegetarian South Indian fare to celebrate the India’s annual Festival of Lights. [Gothamist]
Harlem: The farmer’s market outside of Morningside Park at 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. will close for the winter after November 17. [Uptown Flavor]
Midtown East: Alto has a special table for two that overlooks the dining room, but protocol for securing the prized seating remains hazy. [Eater]
An Interactive Tour of the Country’s Greenest Food BusinessMaury Rubin has more on his mind than pretzel croissants. The chef-owner of bi-coastal branches of the City Bakery has become consumed of late with food miles, volatile organic compounds, and wax-lined coffee cups, those pernicious symbols of our disposable (but non-biodegradable) society. He has just opened the second outpost of Birdbath (code name: Sparrow), his pastry-shop side project that originated as a way to generate cash flow out of the front of his East Village commercial kitchen and has become, according to Rubin, “the greenest food business in the country.”
The Underground Gourmet
Sandwiches of the Week: In Celebration of National Peanut MonthNational Peanut Month — like National Baked Bean Month (July) and National Accordion Awareness Month (June) — comes but once a year, and that means celebrating, Peter Pan salmonella outbreak notwithstanding. Our top five nut-butter sandwiches, below.
1. The Elvis at Peanut Butter & Co.
Excellent peanut butter, honey, sliced banana, and optional (but recommended) bacon on white toast. Historical culinary note: In what might be the most famous case of the munchies, Elvis flew from Memphis to Denver on his private jet just to sample the progenitor of this fine sandwich, which was a loaf of Italian bread sliced lengthwise, a jar of Jif, a jar of jelly, and a pound of bacon. It was meant for sharing, but Elvis wolfed one down all by himself. 240 Sullivan St., nr. W. 3rd St.; 212-677-3995.
The Underground Gourmet
Sandwich of the Week: City Bakery’s Barbecued Tofu — Yes, TofuEver since man discovered tofu, he’s been trying to trick himself into thinking it’s meat. Traditionally, this is attempted by playing with texture, form, and flavor, and the results, needless to say, aren’t always successful. There is good fake-meat tofu (Chinese mock duck, the Unchicken Buffalo Wings at Kate’s Joint in the East Village), and bad fake-meat tofu (the Tofurkey). Now, however, comes what some might consider a major breakthrough in the history of tofu chicanery — the City Bakery’s new barbecued-tofu sandwich.
The New York Diet
Comedian Michael Showalter Loves Pickles, Milk, and CookiesBefore the cult success of his television shows with Michael Ian Black — MTV’s The State and Comedy Central’s Stella — comedian Michael Showalter shoplifted bologna from Key Foods (or so his bio says). These days, the Fort Greene resident and writer-director-star of The Baxter, who performs at Southpaw tomorrow night, is never short on olives, pickles, and Tate’s cookies (“the best you can buy at a deli”). Given that his Ten Commandments of Sandwich Making decree that “everything is in play,” we thought the card-carrying “burger boy” might have noshed on some interesting things this week.
Back of the House
Crisco Czar Lightens Up, Cuozzo Requests Bans of Everything But Trans FatEater tries every which way of getting into the Waverly Inn short of just barging to a table. [Eater]
Lard czar admits eateries have “valid concerns.” [NYP]
Cuozzo tells the city to ban transsexuals, not trans fats. Seriously. [NYP]
Eaters turning to small, local farms; Willie Nelson presumably psyched. [NYT]
Bruni ponders the meaning of “market price,” chats with Danny Meyer “for a good 10 minutes without a moment of tension.” [NYT]
Blogs buzz over the City Bakery bread that need not be kneaded. [Chow]
“Bordeaux guy” (and New York Magazine contributing editor) Jay McInerney, spotted at Cafe Cluny last night, likes his zins too. [NYS]
On West 28th Street: Crobar to shutter? [NYP]
On West 29th Street: Will the real Stereo please stand up? [NYP]
* Correction, November 17, 2006: The no-knead bread is made by Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery, not City Bakery as originally stated.
Ecofriendly Bakery Suddenly Bent on World DominationCity Bakery’s Maury Rubin employed CIA-worthy stealth tactics last winter to open Birdbath, his environmentally friendly, sustainably built organic bakery where the staff wears hemp and the walls are made from sunflower-seed husks. Now, though, with two new branches under way and more on the horizon, an expansionist-mode Rubin dispenses with the cloak-and-dagger routine. By January, he expects to open Birdbath No. 2 in a highly visible West Village location across McCarthy Square from Keith McNally’s impending Morandi, at the corner of Seventh Avenue South and Charles Street, and next fall, the third outpost should materialize at the megagreen Riverhouse luxury-condominium project in Battery Park City. Besides keeping Manhattan well supplied with oversize chocolate-chip cookies and raspberry bran muffins, Rubin aims to align the organic ingredients in his food with the renewable, ecofriendly construction materials used to build the stores where it’s sold. Learn more at buildagreenbakery.com.
— Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld
Mystery Muffins [NYM]
The Underground Gourmet
Sandwich of the Week: Egg’s Amazing Breakfast TreatWhile the humble egg — gently poached at low temperatures and served in creative ways once reserved for hunks of meat or fish — is having its moment on dinner menus across the city, so too is the even humbler egg sandwich. Witness City Bakery’s new fried-egg-bacon-and-Cato-Corner-cheese brunch biscuit, the “Egg on a Roll” on Prune’s just-debuted lunch menu, and Starbucks’s McDonald’s-inspired line of breakfast sandwiches available throughout the day.
Banker Cash Meets Working-Class Eats in Flatiron SouthThe micro-micro-neighborhood centered around Broadway and 20th happens to be the capital of Danny Meyer’s small but beloved empire of restaurants, where Credit Suisse First Boston financiers do lunch; actors and temps, meanwhile, have an array of lowbrow eats to choose from.
Trans-Fat Ban: The Restaurants at RiskWhere would we be without trans fats? The joys of margarine and shortening know no end in New York. Few restaurants care to admit to using it. But going by our taste buds and instinct for human nature, we’ve got ten educated guesses at great local restaurants with foods containing the magical substance. None of these dishes would be the same with replacement fat: It would be better to stop serving them entirely. But a ban poses more risk to the business of some restaurants than others, of course. A RUB without the deep-fried Oreos would still be the city’s best barbecue, but if the Arepa Lady had to spray Pam on her griddle, even her cult might disband.