Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Montauk, part three: breakfast.

My friend Stacey is my Food Wife. She has impeccable taste, serious cred, and a remarkable ability to throw a ridiculous cocktail party at a moment's notice. She volunteered to make breakfast the morning we spent in Montauk, and that turned out to be a really, really good idea.

She made an incredible batch of slow-scrambled eggs with cheddar and chives. She cooked up some Black Forest bacon from the venerable Schaller & Weber. Best of all? She made some of the most delicious biscuits I have ever had. Light, fluffy, tender. Pretty much perfect.

That's why I food-married her.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Montauk, part two: Lunch time.

Our first order of business in Montauk? Two hours on the beach. Our second? Lobster rolls.

After spending some time sunning ourselves on the sand, we piled into our cars and headed west to Amagansett, home of The Lobster Roll, better known locally as Lunch. The paper placemats on our table listed endorsements from celebrities as varied as President Nixon, Barbra Streisand, and Christie Brinkley & Billy Joel (in case you thought this restaurant was new, it's clearly not).

We ordered drinks (mine was the Lobster Ale, which was pleasantly satisfying and a bit round in the mouth) and lobster rolls - plus some clams casino. (Thanks, Stacey!)

As you can probably guess from its given name, Lunch is known for its lobster rolls, and they were pretty good. Flavorful meat, tasty toasted buns, and a touch (perhaps too heavy a touch) of celery. I liked the mayonnaise to lobster ratio and the not-at-all mayonnaise-y coleslaw, but there was something missing here, some alchemy that I've found in other rolls that just didn't make itself known. Solid, though? For sure.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Queenie's Treasury

Happy Saturday, kids! I've had something of an unusual week, what with my whirlwind trip to Montauk and a very busy couple of days at work. I'm ready to enjoy the weekend, and have already been for a run and visited the Greenmarket. Before I head back out to sun myself and read in Central Park (wearing SPF 30, minimum, of course), let's take a look at this week's Treasury!

First up, the gorgeous, almost unbearably cool Brooklyn abode that's home to Solange Knowles and her family. It seems like a seriously fun place to be - not to mention effortlessly stylish and comfortable. I wouldn't mind an invite, is all I'm saying.

Next, some exciting news courtesy of SF Girl By Bay, who attended a launch party for the new collaboration between The Curiosity Shoppe and The Shops at Target. Everything looks great, but I'm particularly excited about this continental US-shaped serving board. It will most definitely be making an appearance chez Queenie come October 20, when the line becomes available.

Last, but certainly not least, these incredible photographs by artist Alberto Seveso, created by injecting water with two different inks. Don't they make you think of billowing, delicate silk? I cannot get enough of these.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Montauk, part one: the beach.

A couple of weeks ago, my friends Matt and Marcia invited me and our friend Stacey to join them in Montauk for a couple of days. They'd rented a house for the week to celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary, and wanted to have friends out to join them in the revelry.

Obviously, I said yes.

Montauk is a tiny little village out on the eastern tip of Long Island's South Fork - in fact, it's so far east that it's the easternmost point in the state of New York. It's long been considered the chillest part of the Hamptons, thanks to its history as a surfing and artist-friendly enclave. (Rufus Wainwright married his longtime partner at their home there just yesterday.)

Town laws forbid chains of any kind, so all of the hotels are tiny and charming, and Starbucks is nowhere to be seen. Hipsters have invaded in recent years, but I have to say: they weren't too annoying.

Several hours of both days were devoted to serious beach time. The waves were strong (both Marcia and Matt took serious bangs when coming in from paddle boarding), and the sand was soft.

And though I didn't snag a photo, I can tell you that the stargazing was likewise amazing from the beach. Matt, Stacey and I trekked down there one night (powered by a not inconsiderable amount of wine and bourbon) and laid back on the sand. It's rare for a New Yorker to see more than a couple of stars at once; to see clouds and bands of them - and to understand why we call it the Milky Way - is a rare treat, and one to be savored.

And we ate a lot, too. More on that soon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Finger licking good.

One of my very favorite things to order at Uchiko in Austin are the shishito peppers. They arrive piping hot from the pan, blistered and sprinkled with crunch salt, and I can't help but burn my greedy little fingertips eating them. Shishitos are a relatively mild pepper - with a spicy lurker here and there - and so you can eat the little guys in one bite, seeds and all.

When I saw shishito peppers for sale at the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday, I sprung at the chance to try my hand at blistering them at home. How hard could it be?

Turns out, not hard at all. I highly recommend you try it as soon as possible. Like me, you can eat them up on your own. Or, if you're in a sharing mood, make them (and a batch of gin gimlets) for a crowd.

Blistered Shishito Peppers

1/2 pound whole shishito peppers, washed and completely dried
1 tsp. canola oil
Sea salt

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until screaming hot. (A drop of water should dance across the surface.) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the peppers with the oil until evenly coated. Once the pan is hot, add the peppers and cook until well blistered all over, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Remove the peppers to a plate, sprinkle generously with salt, and serve immediately.

Serves two as a snack or appetizer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chappaqua, August 18.

A gorgeous sky in Chappaqua last weekend. We've been having ridiculously nice weather in New York of late, especially given that August is supposed to be the most miserable month of all around these parts.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A little bowl of summer.

Some of the most delicious things are born of necessity. My corn, avocado and cucumber salad most definitely falls into that category. I first made it one hot, sweaty night when I couldn't face cooking but was too hungry to wait for delivery. The only vegetables in the fridge were corn and cucumber, and one lone avocado hung out in a bowl on the counter.

Figuring that nothing tastes bad if you add enough basil, I husked the corn and sliced the kernels off into a shallow bowl, chopped and added the cucumber, and pulled a few leaves from my windowsill basil. Finally, I split the avocado and added half of it to the mix. A healthy amount of salt, dash of pepper, and light pours of sherry vinegar and olive oil followed. (My feelings about sherry vinegar are akin to those I have for basil: it makes pretty much everything better.)

The resulting salad was far tastier than I expected. The avocado melted just a bit under the salt and vinegar, becoming part creamy dressing, part vegetable. The raw corn popped with every bite, and the cucumbers added satisfying heft. (Cucumbers, heft - who knew!) And, of course, the basil was delightful. Nothing says summer like a shower of basil. (And if you need more punch, just add a scallion to the mix.)

Corn, Avocado & Cucumber Salad

1 kirby cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Kernels from 1 ear of sweet corn
1/2 an avocado, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
5-6 basil leaves, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil and sherry vinegar

Combine the cucumber, corn, avocado and basil in a medium bowl. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, then dress with a drizzle each of oil and vinegar. Toss until well combined and let sit for 10 minutes or so. Taste for seasoning, adjust to your liking, and serve immediately.

Serves one as a main dish or two as a side.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Queenie's Treasury

Happy Sunday, my doves! It's a gorgeous morning here in New York, and I'm headed out to Brooklyn for some quality time in the sun with a very dear friend. Before I go, though, let's take a look at the goodies in this week's treasury, shall we?

First up, the truly lovely, tiny apartment inhabited - until recently - by Katie Armour, one of the two founders of Matchbook Magazine. Katie's 500 square foot space oozes with personality and is filled with treasures. It's a little jewel box of a home. Shortly after her place was photographed for the August issue of Matchbook, Katie moved from San Francisco to New York. I'm sure her new digs (in my neighborhood, no less) will be every bit as lovely.

Next, I have a birthday coming up, and I have my greedy little eyes on this ring from Bauble Bar. I love a monogram, and I love a signet ring, and I simply love this. Trying to decide which finger it should live on. Ring or pinky?

Finally, a ridiculously large house on the Bowery, made possible by a genius real estate buy back when property in the neighborhood could be had for a song. The 72-room building is now a single family home for an artist and his family. Crazy, right?

Friday, August 17, 2012

The cold stuff.

Each summer, sometime in July, I remember: I have an ice cream maker. (A cheap one that has lasted five summers so far.) It's not that I truly forget about my ice cream maker; after all, its canister stares me in the eye every time I open my freezer. But I seem to forget about the glories it can bestow upon me. Then it gets hot and nasty and my cravings increase, and I remember: it's time to make the ice cream.

This year, I bought my first-ever ice cream cookbook, the incredible Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. After just one outing, it is now my official ice cream bible. Why? Well, Jeni doesn't have you fuss around with eggs and custard. Instead, she explains the science behind her American ice cream base, including the reasons for using a little corn syrup, and the genius addition of softened cream cheese to help emulsify the mixture. And her recipes are organized by season, emphasizing fresh, local ingredients. But not in an obnoxious way, I promise.

And, let me tell you: it works. This is wonderful, creamy, balanced, stress-free ice cream. I tried my hand at her recipe for sweet basil with honeyed pine nuts, and it was magnificent. The pine nut praline was a snap to make (my one alteration: use parchment paper to line your baking sheet), and the crunchy, sweet bits of nut added interest and earthiness to the sweet and spicy basil-flavored ice cream.

I think my next attempt will be her beet, mascarpone and poppy seed ice cream. Oh, yes. (And, if you're not game to make the stuff at home, you can always order Jeni's ice cream, made with love in Columbus, Ohio, from her website.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A little bit of France on Third Avenue.

The food blogosphere has been abuzz of late about the opening of a New York outpost of Maison Kayser on the Upper East Side. Founded by French baker and pastry chef Eric Kayser, the bakery and patisserie has shops all over the world, and is now taking the Big Apple by storm. Obviously, I had to stop by as soon as possible to see what all the fuss was about.

The goods (I sampled a few different kinds of brioche, a bit of raisin bread, and a bite of baguette) were uniformly delicious. The plié au chocolat I ended up spiriting away to Central Park was delightful - its custardy innards cut through with dark chocolate, its pastry hardy but flaky.

That said.

I tried to grab lunch in the café, and it was a nightmare. Since it was their first weekend open, and since the Upper East Side tends to descend upon any decent restaurant like a horde of hungry teenagers, I knew it would be crazy. I was ready for crazy.

But I wasn't ready to be ignored while the host chatted with the people on either side of me, or to be brushed off when I asked if I could put my name on the list to be seated. (Given the whole being ignored thing, I wasn't going to trust someone about my place in line unless it was written down.) While the storefront crew were incredibly helpful and pleasant (especially given that I saw several customers cut the line and generally act like jerks), I am still pretty peeved about my experience with the cafe staff.

I'll likely give them one more go, on a weekday this time, but that's about it. Hopefully it will be a different host, and the Real Houswives rejects around me won't be as exciting for him.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia at 100.

Today is Julia Child's 100th birthday. It's safe to say that if you live in the United States and eat food, you owe a debt to Ms. Child. She was one of the driving forces behind the home cooking revolution that swept through our kitchens in the 1960s (and continues to this day), and her influence is everywhere.
Tonight, as I make gougères to take with me to a friend's house on Friday, I'll think of Julia. As I eat my heirloom tomato salad (recipe here), I'll think of Julia. And as I pick up her wonderful memoir My Life in France for yet another read, I'll think of Julia. And, apparently, every time I use Google today, I'll think of Julia.

Even setting aside the mammoth accomplishment of her Mastering the Art books and her status as the biggest TV food star of all time, Julia Child was a seriously fascinating lady. She worked for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, helping build the organization that would later become the CIA. She lived all over the world, and her relationship with her husband Paul was an inspiring partnership - not to mention the inspiration for some seriously adorable Valentines.

Even if you don't have Julia's boeuf bourgignon on the menu tonight, I hope you'll take a moment to remember her in your own way. And if you don't take a few minutes to watch PBS' amazing remix of her shiniest TV moments, you're a fool. Bon appétit!

What I spied a-marketing.

Spotted at the St. Stephen's Greenmarket on East 82nd Street last Saturday. Amazing colors, right?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ladies who lunch (at Babbo).

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Marcia and I met for a ladies' lunch at Babbo. It was a rainy Friday afternoon, and so a glass of red wine seemed very much in order. No doubt you agree. I have no idea what the wine was, as the bartender poured me something based on a string of somewhat silly adjectives (I know nothing about Italian wine), but, yum.

We shared two appetizers to start with, both crazy seasonal and yet perfectly Babbo-esque. Strong flavors marked by high acid and spice, and a mix of textures to delight the palate. First up, a market bean milanese. The duck egg was the crispy part, and it sat atop a pile of green and white beans - a mix of string and flat - tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. A smattering of cheese grounded the dish with a bit of dirty, earthy, aged flavor.

Second, some teeny fairy tale eggplant grilled and tossed with a corn dressing and served atop a piece of grilled bread. The sweet corn popped against the creamy, smoky eggplant and the crunchy bread. I could have eaten ten of these.

My main was guinea hen alla cacciatore. A very tradition preparation (ridiculous rich tomato-and-veg sauce, a slight amount of heat), save for the shaved green onions on top. The peppery bite was welcome against the rich, dark meat. It reminded me that it was still lunch, and I had miles to go before it was time to sleep.

As we went to leave the restaurant, we opened the door to a complete and total downpour. The hostess let us know that it would rain on and off all afternoon, and said she hoped we had umbrellas. We did, and it did, but I hardly noticed a thing. I was too busy dreaming of eggplant.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Just a quick roundup of things I've eaten and sipped lately. First up, superlative green papaya salad from Wondee Siam II in Hell's Kitchen. This place has some delicious Thai and is a stone's throw from Ars Nova (my brother's theater), so we spend a serious amount of time here. (Also worth trying? Any of the curries.)

Speaking of curries, they come with a pyramidal side of fluffy white rice. As a rice lover, I hardly need any inducement to eat mine, but come on. That's too fun.

Shake Shack does day-of-the-week flavors, which change up once a month. August's Friday flavor is blueberry coffee cake: soft blueberry custard with coffee cake mixed in. It's pretty freaking good, and is delightfully redolent of cinnamon (my favorite compliment to the juicy blueberries of summer).

A gin gimlet at Ouest on the Upper West Side. These guys sling the most reliably delicious cocktails north of 59th Street, and I love spending an evening sipping and nibbling - the kitchen sends out regular batches of toasty warm gougeres.

Finally, a pickle sampler from the new restaurant Jacob's Pickles. The biscuits are good; the pickles are awesome. From left to right, we've got dill spears, carrots, spicy beets and dilly green beans. More pickles than even this obsessive could finish.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

July 22, 5:19 PM, 66th Street and Broadway.

I think the mosaics at the 66th Street subway station may very well be my favorite subterranean art in the city. They take their inspiration from the world of opera, in tribute to the Metropolitan Opera House, which sits just one story up from the platform.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Queenie's Treasury

Happy weekend, my doves! Saturday has dawned bright, sunny and incredibly humid here in Manhattan. I'll be spending my day avoiding direct sunlight, reading, and drinking as much iced coffee as possible. In the meantime, here are a few bits and bobs to fill the hours before sundown.

First up - despite my current horror of turning on my oven - is a gorgeous new cookbook from Ashley English, baker and Design*Sponge contributor extraordinaire. A Year of Pies features recipes for pies and tarts both sweet and savory, organized by season and accompanied by lovely photographs. Not a bad add-on to an off-the-registry tart pan or rolling pin gift, right?

Next, courtesy of Food52, a truly lovely food blog. Food on Paper is a collection of artist Elizabeth Graeber's original drawings and paintings, all featuring - you guessed it - food! Her recent watercolor of a soft serve cone with sprinkles is really hitting the spot for me today.

Despite the heat and humidity, I haven't been able to stop daydreaming about my fall wardrobe. I wear dresses an awful lot, in part because they're easy and in part because they just work for me. I'm a little bit in love with this richly textured number from Boden, which will be wonderful in the early autumn with pointy-toed flats, and just as great through the winter with tights and boots. But it's not quite time for that, is it?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pig and pool.

Way back when, back before we went to Maine, back before the Olympics, my friend Jeremy (and his friend Chris) threw himself a 30th birthday party. This wasn't just any birthday party, though - this one featured two whole roast pigs. And a pool. And rose in Solo cups.

I know.

Chris and Jeremy hired Redbones, a Somerville, Massachusetts-based barbecue joint, to come cook overnight so that the rest of us could enjoy pig come the morning. A pretty excellent idea paired with a pretty kickass execution. After all, who doesn't love barbecue? (Answer? Vegetarians. Luckily, there were some top-notch sides, too. I ate my weight in coleslaw and cornbread.)

And watermelon.

 The party was held at Chris' parents' place in Lewisboro, a teeny little hamlet just north of New Canaan. The house was lovely, and the lawn and garden were just stunning. Best of all? There was a pool! After lunch, I headed down that way to cool down...

And to enjoy some serious amounts of rose.

I was not alone.

And, for dessert, a final pig. This one was veggie-friendly, though.
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