New York and breakfast
Just got back from a 72-hour, 9-restaurant eating visit to New York City—not a feeding frenzy, more an exercise in relentlessly sustained satiety. With me was Nathan Isberg, chef at Czehoski and Coca, who proved a thoroughly delightful travelling companion, partly because we seem to like pretty much the same kind of food but also because he generously bought me the latest copy of Seaways’ Ships in Scale magazine. He certainly knows how to butter up a critic. We encountered some unexpected disappointments but they were more than made up for by inspired cooking at Casa Mono, Del Posto, Blue Ribbon Brasserie (the Manhattan one, not the Brooklyn one) and The Spotted Pig. Did we eat a lot of duck eggs? I rather think so, but with duck eggs even two can seem like a lot. I must get my notes in order and generally sort through the mare’s nest of memories that remain from the trip, separate fact from fancy, and fashion the more accurate bits into a column for June’s Toronto Life.
Meanwhile, one must eat. We went to Habitat on Friday to see what the new chef, Martin Warnick (ex-Crush and Didier) is up to. There was his former chef from Crush days, Scott Kapitan, helping out in the kitchen. Kapitan now owns and runs The Bloomfield Carriage House with his wife, pastry chef Jackie Vickers, but they don’t reopen until May, so he’s free to lend a hand. Warnick has some big shoes to fill, given the accolades heaped on his predecessor, Scot Woods, but he has sensibly decided to plough a different furrow of his own. Conventionally structured, his menu is a model of tidy modern dishes, cleanly interpreted and often delicious.
One new Habitat starter is a fantasy breakfast of smoked bacon, quail’s egg, French toast brioche and seared foie gras with a maple jus. It was amusing and scrumptious but I couldn’t help thinking I had tasted something like it before. Oh yeah—at Harvest, last month: virtually identical components but spread out on the plate instead of brought together into a vertical tower. And then again, two days ago, at Casa Mono in New York, though there it was a duck egg with sautéed fingerlings and slivers of dried pressed tuna called mojama taking the bacon role in the petit dejeuner performance. David Lee has played in a similar vein at Splendido and I’m sure I could think of more examples if you were to give me half a minute. The whole notion of the cooked breakfast as template in miniature for a dinner appetizer sure is a cute notion. Yes sir. Cute as a button. As a little squidgy-widgy poochy-woochy button!! But I may have had my fill of that particular piece of whimsy for a while.
Something I can’t get enough of, on the other hand, is a short movie from Finland, beautifully made and recklessly funny. Watch it here. Then click here for the tragic sequel.