We easily take for granted what sits (almost) right under our noses. For example, I’ve spent much time this year lamenting about the delivery dead zone surrounding my apartment and harping on the hummus-laden streets of the Upper West Side. But last night, as I entertained my dad and his buddies before a psychedelic trip down memory lane at one of the last performances ever by The Allman Brothers Band at The Beacon Theatre (which was frikken awesome, btw), I blew their culinary minds. And now, I realize I’ve neglected to ever properly endorse here the best, most redeeming dining establishment to happen to the West 70s since I’ve lived on its perimeter: RedFarm.
Ed Schoenfeld’s and Joe Ng’s RedFarm pays homage to Chinese classics with a farm-to-table, New York spin. A menu of small plates, dim sum, noodles and grandiose mains makes it simple for diners to taste around. But therein lies the problem that once you begin, your stomach can’t keep up with your mouth. Each dish excites more than the last, leaving you wishing you sampled more dim sum, more crispy apps, more noodles – just more.
Admittedly, my husband and I have eaten almost the entire menu, which means I may be more qualified to write about this particular menu than those in any previous post. It also meant I was the most qualified to order for four very hungry dudes last night. I took a chance by starting with the Diced Tuna and Crispy Noodles, partially to test the waters with the group, and partially because it’s my favorite dish that I refuse to skip over. It was a hit. Meaty chunks of diced tuna toss harmoniously with unexpected bites of salt, sweet and crunch in the form of salmon roe, heirloom tomatoes, blueberries, jicama and crispy fried noodles, tossed in rum and a cumin vinaigrette. I knew we’d have some fan favorites with the fried appetizers, too, including Spicy Crispy Beef and of course, in a true moment of welcomed New York kitsch, the Katz’s Pastrami Egg Rolls. I find them to border along overindulgent, but I was working a group here, so it just made sense.
Business takes me on some interesting, but quick, adventures. Take my recent 36-hour dalliance in Los Angeles, when my feet touched California soil for about as long as Bourdain’s on "The Layover." Some would find these trips unpleasant at times, as most reasonable human beings would. But if the stars align just right, you find yourself emerging from arrivals at LAX on a beautiful afternoon, sun shining, right around when the rain clouds rolled in for a rainy evening in NYC. And that is a quick adventure I can get behind.
Official business didn’t leave me with much spare time, so I used it wisely by eating. While I am not familiar with the LA dining scene, I relied on picks from local friends and planned ahead, scoring reservations at two coveted spots in the revitalized downtown area near my hotel. Both left me wondering why the last tough reservations I scored in Manhattan didn’t result in meals half as good.
Bestia means “beast” in Italian, and Chef Ori Menashe sure knows his. The offerings at this homage to creatures that roam this earth are playful in preparation and interactive in presentation, coupling with the surroundings to make diners feel like artists in an industrial loft, pausing for dinner. We were encouraged to scoop out rich bone marrow and toss with its accompaniment of spinach gnochetti, breadcrumbs, and aged balsamic. The chicken liver served via crostino was not an anticipated dainty mousse, but rather, heaping chunks of diced liver tossed with chive, marjoram, aged balsamic, and sea salt. Decadence remained the evening’s theme with cavatelli alla norcina, or light ricotta dumplings served with homemade pork sausage, and black truffles. And the pizza, which was worth the wait to be served as the main attraction of this meal, was served soft with explicit instructions to let rest before devouring its housemade lamb sausage, ricotta, arugula, tomatoes, and spicy chiles. I washed down these sins with the Chef’s Old Fashioned, a combination of lardo (!) infused bourbon, hickory smoked sugar, bitters, and salt.
When my good friend and culinary connoisseur Vicki told me about her one-bowl creations, I felt inspired, yet reluctant. Whole-wheat pasta is usually a battle of epic proportions in our home; I couldn’t imagine convincing The Carb Whisperer to incorporate quinoa into his life.
If you are a Frequent Fat Noodler, you know about our tableware situation. But an unassuming weekend trip to Crate & Barrel changed all that. Under the guise of needing larger bowls for “takeout noodle soups,” we became the proud owners of two giant white soup bowls. Then, a little plating went a long way. We started with Mexican bowls, like a revitalized taco night. Being able to mix textures and flavors together in one bowl made new healthful ingredients appealing to him for the first time. From that first experiment, I knew we had turned a corner in our kitchen.
I’m not providing exact recipes, because these bowls can really be whatever you want them to be. Take chances. Be creative. Here are the favorites I’ve whipped up so far. Thanks again to Vicki for the inspiration!
The fan favorite, because c’mon, look at that fiesta above. Hot ingredients include ground turkey meat, black beans, lightly sautéed kale, and a separately sautéed mix of sliced red onion, halved cherry tomatoes, and corn, seasoned with salt, pepper, and chili powder. And quinoa, of course. Top with avocado, cheddar cheese, green onion, and radish for crunch.
If you have not heard of the inspirational DIY-mecca Brit + Co, you better get clickin'. Its mission is to enable women to incorporate creativity into their daily lives through awesome recipes, projects, style tips, life hacks and so much more. I feel so fortunate to announce I'll be contributing to this wonderful site in the near future.
In two short minutes, this video pretty much sums it up. As an only child, creativity was my lifeline - from music, to drawing, to acting, to writing. Moving along the path towards my career as an attorney, that creative voice slipped further and further away. Even while maintaining a nine-to-five, I believe many women would love to find a creative outlet to enrich their lives. But taking that first step is hard, especially for those of us who have ever felt that our passions were miles out of reach. Brit + Co can be that first step.
How will you unlock your creativity?
Guys and gals, I am so proud to have this piece published in the October issue of Hippocampus Magazine. "Together, in Orange" is a story about my relationship with my Pop-Pop and how we fostered that relationship through sports: the Philadelphia Flyers, and later, the Florida Gators. But really, it's a celebration of him, his life, and the friends who love him. I learned a lot about the importance of community from this man.