A LA MINUTE
A la minute is a constantly updated list of the goings on around foods. Think pop up jump offs, amazing articles, art shows you have to see and the restaurants you have to go to afterwards. More succinctly: what we're OBSESSED with rn.
From Thanksgivings to Holiday parties* to “Friendsgiving” (please stop with that, it’s a damn dinner party) to whatever Holiday you celebrate in or around December… I’ve been around a lot of people. I shared delicious wines and bad shrimp and managed to pull off a pretty good Yorkshire Pudding (well, I didn’t do anything but pull out the pan at the end of the whole process but I was near it, and that counts).
But, buckle up, because there is still one more holiday before the year is over…you know that one where you make 9 plans and go to none of them? That one time of year where you figure out if you really want to spend $120 on a tasting menu at a restaurant that doesn’t do tasting menus. That time of year when you have to figure out how to find your light at midnight….NEW YEARS!
So if you’re still confused about what to do for the holidays, need some guidance, or just want to amp yourself up for New Years -- we’ve got a few little tidbits from our next issue, FAMILY STYLE, to help you out, a la minute.
*side note: why do bosses schedule holiday parties on a week day? We all know we’re going to roll up to work the next day with a coconut water, vitamin water, essentia PH water, a kombucha, bacon egg and cheese, four advil and no socks on the next day…. Or is that just basic ol’ me?
New Year Old Tradition
Southerners have an inherent yen for food. Family gatherings are always centered around the meal, and part of the ritual is the weeks of planning that take place prior to the big event. “Is Marianne making the deviled eggs?” “Is Sharon making her broccoli cheddar casserole?” “Did Cliff pick up any pusharatas?” “You know how much daddy loves coconut cake.” The answers are always yes because we have the same meals at the same holidays every year, and it never feels stale. These events aren’t the time for experimentation, only the usual suspects need apply. Every year we have the same thing, and every year we applaud each other that the macaroni, the roast beef, the gravy, and basically everything else we had was the best that had ever been made in the thirty or forty years that we’ve been doing this.
When my grandmother passed away in November, my family took solace in our memories of her and the legacy of recipes, some oral, some written, that were passed on to us. Thanksgiving will never be complete without her sweet potato pie, Christmas Eve cannot be merry without her seafood gumbo, and woe to the soul that does not have peas, cabbage, or collards and cornbread for New Year’s. My cousins and I made an unspoken pact that these recipes would henceforth be passed down to our children and kept alive at the holidays as our lives move on. The New Year’s tradition was always extra-special because she and my grandfather grew the peas, greens, and dent corn we used for many, many years. It was a humble meal that reminded us to be grateful for the fruits of the past and inspired us to be hopeful for what was to come. To miss this meal was akin to committing one of the seven deadly sins.
After living in New York City for twelve years, this is my home now; however, there are times at the holidays that I long to feel connected to my family in Mississippi. Usually this feeling can only be satisfied with a skillet of crusty cornbread, a bubbling pot of black-eyed peas, and greens, smokey and salty from country ham or bacon. This year I’ll feel grateful for the recipes and gift of cooking that my grandmother passed along, and I know that when I dip my cornbread in the potlikker on New Year’s Day that I’ll be connected in spirit with my family 1200 miles away.
Stay tuned for the next issue, FAMILY STYLE, due out early January
With the first wave of “first snow day! #winter #newyork #snowday” instagram posts out of the way, we move from falling leaves to falling flakes (and plenty of cheesy quotations, texts, and cards, just like that). With that shift -- even if the holidays mean beach trip (I see you Southern Hemisphere) -- we are all figure out plans with family (chosen and given) and group gathering, new parkas, and cabin fever escape plans.
This month’s a la minute brings you a bit of inspiration for your next trip, special dinner series that you have to get in the know about, an incredible artist we at Counter Service have been obsessed with, and a playlist to keep you warm.
Italian Cravings || Gabriela Acero
I’m standing in the restaurant kitchen, once again chopping [onions, garlic, squash, eggplant] when my mind begins to wander…
...that hot steam as you take the lid off. The gentle tenderness of lifting that packet of joy into your spoon without breaking it. Nibbling off a corner, and testing the temperature, or just going for it, and burning the shit out of your mouth. Pouring a bit of soy into the waiting, steaming opening. Nudging the side so enough liquid comes out that you can slurp it once it’s cooled. And then, blessedly, being able to down the whole thing in one go and end up with a full mouth of meaty, chewy, acid-pop, warm and comforting. KEEP READING
PPX Report: 29B || Counter Service
A stone’s throw from where Josh used to live in the East Village, in an old pretzel restaurant (yes… a pretzel restaurant) now stands 29B -- the Tea Dealer’s incredible new storefront. One part retail shop for their tea -- the most distinctive and highest quality tea I’ve ever had. One part show room for Sugahara -- a Japanese glassware company whose work should be in a museum. And One part all-day tea house and restaurant. The idea is genius -- opening up a space that is so diverse in its offerings and yet centered around a similar concept -- it effectively allows anyone to feel comfortable there.
There to shop? Great. There to just admire? Okay. Sashimi and mind blowing green tea is on your agenda for today -- they’ve got you. On top of the genius of the model, is their passion. KEEP READING
Plates: Henne Berlin || Counter Service
When I booked my ticket back to Berlin, I knew that (nearly 5 months ahead of time) that I would be returning to probably my favorite restaurant in the city -- Henne.
This old school restaurant is packed most nights, serving up bright lights, uncomfortable chairs, two floors (one being full of dark wood paneling, red checkered table cloths, and the other… the same), and basically one thing: Chicken. I’m sure there are other options but when the server comes up to take your order, the don’t make it seem like there is another choice:
“Four people, 4 half-chickens… coleslaw or potato salad” You have no wrong choice here (see: Vinegar, sugar and some cabbage OR mayo and some potato slices).
Most of the menu is your drink selection, but I always stick with “an adult sized” beer (as my lovely host, Lyz, duly calls it). The “salads” hit first, followed by a half of a baked/fried/marinated/cook to order/ crispy as hell chicken with a slice of bread. Crispy. Juicy. Good enough that not a whole lot of conversation happens between plate drop to chewing on the ends of bones (how… crude but how…. good). I haven’t seen someone leave anything on their plate yet -- so I encourage you when you go – you have to go – to eat the whole thing.
Elio's Wardrobe || Josh Hamlet
I recently saw Call Me By Your Name and it was an experience that I can say properly shook me. Arriving an hour before show time to purchase my ticket (after having turned down a wonderful dinner invitation), I was left to choose from only a handful of seats that were available -- this show was selling out.
I had finished the book months ago -- so I already knew the story but was excited / curious / skeptical of how Director Luca Guadagnino was going to interpret it all. How would he cast Elio and Oliver? What would happen in those long swaths of time where we lived only in Elio’s head, wrestling with decision and lack thereof? How present were the parents going to be? But as the movie began, I basically stopped thinking about anything other than: I am obsessed with this movie, this story. The love story entwined with lust, a summer daze, guilt, questioning, and a need to be wanted, held, comforted, has had me thinking about everything. Legit.
More than the dreamy long shots of Elio & Oliver riding down dirt roads or lazy afternoons spent reading. More than perfect weather, and scenes of swimming and afternoon reading sessions and biking into town with espadrilles, half-buttoned button-downs, and swim trunks. More than the soundtrack that I can’t stop listening to. This movie’s ability to capture the overwhelming confusion, desire, lust was heart wrenching. I can’t get over the peach scene, not for the actual self-discovering moment, but for Elio’ s reaction to Oliver, throwing his emotionally torn body at Oliver in such a way that makes you feel his need for touch, his need for comfort and affirmation and safety in more than words. I couldn’t stop crying the rest of the day and I can’ stop thinking about this movie. I guess that’s a proper obsession.
this month's a la minute is dedicated to LONDON
Honesty. Creativity. Respect for ingredients. Integrity.
Hospitality that goes beyond the pomp and circumstance of Server and Guest.
And damn good food and wine.
Here’s where we ate, what was spectacular about them, a few bad photos using a good camera, and why we think you should go there. There are no stars, or ratings, or rational order because I think that’s kinda wack, but this is a curated list for a reason (we like these jump offs, and we only had so much time in the city).
Go here. Quickly. The food is simple and thoughtful. The atmosphere is communal and for lunch groups gather to talk about the neighborhood or their next vacations or how good the food in front of them is. The garden / courtyard outside is stunning. I adore this place.
Brawn Wine Bar
I wanted to say "I'll have one of everything"... about their wine list. My liver wouldn't have loved that but what we did drink... god DAMMIT it was good. Natural wines, classic references, and a whole page of Ganevat... We also popped in later for dinner because the vibe, the decor (I loved their tables and chairs and was too geeky about them), and had a stellar meal of small plates, and restrained entrees (in the best of ways).
Accolades sometimes are for all the right reasons. Small plates with all of their flavors in balance. Gorgeous design in a pseudo-loft-ish space. I don't have the appropriate words for my love of this place other than Sarah was like, half way through the meal "I would come here every week if I lived here.... when I live here."
The River Cafe
Okay. I've been hearing about this place from Ignacio since I started working at estela back in 2015. I have heard how perfect it is. How amazing the menu set up is. And I've coveted this place for the past 2.5 years... consistently. Everyone I ever asked about it simply said "You have to go." High hopes. High expectations. And, lo and behold: it lived up to everything I ever thought. Situated on the... river...you are going to wish you had a standing reservation here for Sunday at 2:30 forever and ever and a Vintage Mercedes to drive off in.