Fresh and Simple Lunch at Cookshop

July 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Was it Lucius Beebe (or Oscar Wilde) who said (and HG paraphrases): “My tastes are simple. I like only the very best.” ? HG agrees (in part). HG deplores over elaborate, over sauced, fussed over food. Through the years HG dined at many temples of high cuisine (Le Pavillon, Lutece, La Cote Basque, Le Bernardin in New York; Connaught Restaurant and Savoy Grill in London; the once glorious Laperouse in Paris). Even in these vaunted places, HG ordered simple dishes (mixed grill at the Connaught; grilled sole at the Savoy and roast duck with turnips at Pavillon). HG may be accused of favoritism and family pride, but HG’s ideal of dining is Cookshop, the restaurant run by HG’s daughter, Victoria Freeman,and her husband, chef Marc Meyer. It is located on Tenth Avenue in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood and is always filled with a lively, good looking crowd. The restaurant has been in the forefront of the farm-to-table, locavore movement. Meyer treats his superior ingredients with restraint and imagination. A tip from HG. Settle down with a glass of chilled rose (from Slovenia, surprisingly). Have some radishes with herbed butter and sea salt. Follow with roasted asparagus (sauce gribiche). Then, share a Hudson Valley Chicken Breast Salad. This is not the usual mayonnaise-drenched mess. The menu describes it this way: “Chicken, arugula, cucumbers, sliced carrots, radish, spiced walnut, golden raisin, sherry vinaigrette.” Crunchy with summery flavors and hints of salt and sweetness. HG shrugs off charges of nepotism. Can one imagine a better summer lunch? (An afterthought: Alexander Lobrano, the Paris-based food writer for the New York Times and many other publications and the author of the best guide to Paris dining, Hungry For Paris, dined at Cookshop while visiting New York. He expressed a wish that Paris should have more restaurants like Cookshop).


Speaking About the Unspeakable

March 30th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Natural functions being what they are, the bathroom (also known as the sanitary facility, the toilette, the Head, the W.C or the stately “Gentlemen’s Lounge”) is a necessary adjunct to dining, movie going and other pleasurable activity. In HG’s experience, the vilest bathrooms can be found in New York’s Chinatown. The smallest are in coffee bars in Italy. The most inconvenient are in Paris bistros where they are often tucked away in a subterranean alcove. The most luxurious can be found in the best London hotels like the Connaught, Savoy and Dorchester. The Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel in New York had a splendid bathroom supervised by a deft and distinguished attendant (The Plaza has undergone vast changes and HG hasn’t visited the Oak Room for decades so this may no longer be true). HG had a memorable experience in that bathroom. The super debonair actor Cary Grant (a frequent Oak Room diner) entered the bathroom with HG. Unlike HG, he did not remove his jacket. Instead, Grant unbuttoned the buttons on the jacket’s sleeves, did a quick fold and washed his hands. HG was dazzled, having long believed that sleeve buttons were merely decorative. From that time on, HG went to the extra expense of having his suit jackets tailored with operable buttons. The most architecturally distinguished bathroom HG ever encountered was the art deco masterpiece in New York’s Radio City Music Hall. In HG’s recollection, its walls had a mural extolling smoking and tobacco cultivation. It was also the first bathroom with a warm air blower for drying hands. Little HG found this innovation as exciting as any movie and spent far too much time drying and re-drying his hands. Bathroom attendants were usually anonymous personalities, obsequious gents who trolled for tips while handing out towels — but not the old guy at the Polo Grounds, the rickety old uptown New York stadium that once housed the baseball and football NY Giants. He regaled his customers with this bit of doggerel: “No matter how you shake and dance, the last drop always falls in your pants.” And he was not shy about promoting tips, singing out “After you’ve had your little pee, don’t forget to remember me — old Sam.”

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