Saturday morning we started the day at the popular Belgium chain Le Pain Quotidien. Communal tables are laden with baskets of baguettes, fresh rolls, croissants, and pastries. The air is filled with smells of rich coffee. I ordered several organic soft-boiled eggs- tap tap tap with my knife to gain entry- bread was served with fresh preserves, nutella, and honey. After breakfast we walked down to Grand Central where an Earth Day Fair lined the streets around the station. We talked to lots of folks about green initiatives, building supplies, animal rights, and clean air. We continued on through the Garment District where Susannah reveled in the treasures of the trim shops, walls lined with ribbons, and buttons and other decorative elements.
Lunch took us down to Chelsea to Cookshop. Walking through the threshold is a liminal moment- it’s a comfortable space, sparsely decorated yet filled with life and focused on simple food. “The butcher and the baker were the first chefs, if you ask me, states Chef Marc Meyer whose culinary passions run deep for sustainable ingredients, humanely raised animals, and the support of local farmers and artisans.” Meyer's menu reflects that sensibility. I started with a Bloody Mary that was perfect-salted rim, huge olives, a nice zingy flavor. I took 2 starters for my meal-
Escarole, fried egg, lemon-anchovy dressing & shaved Gran Padano
This was a divine salad- the escarole wilted under the heat of a fried organic egg- the dressing was a perfect combination of the saltiness of the anchovy and Gran Padano with a huge burst of sunshine lemon to give it some oomph.
Seared Montauk Squid, frisee, black olives, toasted almonds and saffron aoli
This had almost too much going on- the local squid was tender and fresh- the olives almost overpowered the natural sea flavors.
After wandering through a slew of Chelsea galleries and the Center for Book Arts, we shopped in the Union Square Greenmarket - lots of looking- ramps were in season, lots of apples, baked goods and the first glimpses of Spring. Spent the early evening back at our flat before heading out to the West Village for drinks and dinner. We started at the Spotted Pig for a few drinks- a very popular new Gastropub with Chef April Bloomfield ( great pedigree including 4 years at the River Cafe in London, Chez Panisse, Bibendum...)- I had eaten there in December, and wanted Susannah to experience the buzz. After a few drinks we headed to dell'anima, an evening that I had been anticpating for weeks. Opened in October by Joe Campanale, a sommelier from Mario Batali's Babbo, and Chef Gabe Thompson, who cut his teeth at Le Bernadin and Il Posto, this hip little 45 seat restaurant has been packing a lively crowd for months. The only reservation that I could get a month or so ago was 10 pm on a Saturday Night.
Started the evening with one of my favorite cocktails, a negroni- it usually a combo of campari, gin and triple sec- Dell'anima's version was stunning - it started with macerated roasted orange at the bottom of the glass that was muddled a bit- topped with gin, campari, and cinzano rosso (vermouth).
We started with Bruschette- a basket of hot grilled bread was served with ramekins of toppings to try including one with hearts of palm, radishes and chives, another a Lily confit, a third with parsley pesto, and finally a sultana mostarda with plump and juicy raisins in a mustard sauce.
Insalate included one with chicories, fresh ricotta, and a campari- honey dressing. The ricotta is made locally, and in fact our friend Dave with One Girl Cookies uses it in some of his recipes. Susannah's was truly outstanding- lettuce hearts with roasted olives, marcona almonds, lemon crema, and gorgonzola.
Pasta courses included a Tagliatelle alla Bolognese for Susannah- the sauce was rich yet tender- it melted in your mouth. I took a Puttanesca sauce over fresh fettucine, black with squid ink. A spicy tomato sauce laced with anchovies, capers, and hot pepper.
We drank a 1996 Barbera "Vigna Clara" Viberti- a nice medium bodied wine with some fruit on it.
Dessert was a triple chocolate confection- the perfect end to a great meal.