Well, here goes. After more than five years of writing, cooking, eating, and traveling, I've decided it's time to take a break from posting here on Queenie Takes Manhattan. I've had an incredible time sharing my culinary adventures with all of you since 2007, but I've decided to spend what little free time I have these days on a few other projects.You can expect to see lots of me over on The Equals Project (I have my latest piece for them up in progress in another browser tab as I type), and hopefully there will be more still - eventually. In the meantime, I do hope you'll stay in touch via Twitter and Instagram, where I fully intend to continue spamming you all with my Saturday morning cappuccinos and Friday night Manhattans.So long for now, kids - and thank you for reading!Much love,Queenie/Meg
Hello, my darlings, my doves, my gentle readers. I know, I know - it's been ages. In my defense, the last couple of months have been among the busiest in recent memory, complete with 16 hour workdays, two weeks in Austin, a quick business trip to Chiacgo...and so on.But, but, but! I had no intention of abandoning you, and I have every intention of putting things right. With that in mind, here are a couple of the remarkably delicious things I've enjoyed over the last ten weeks, along with a promise: I'll be back soon in full force.Honest. Three pea salad from Ottolenghi's Plenty. Shrimp mole from Frontera Grill in Chicago.Plateau de fruits de la mer at Clark's in Austin.Antonelli's Cheese Shop in Austin.Rib-eye fried rice at Elizabeth Street Cafe in Austin.Chicken salad sandwich with gribenes and homemade pickles at Mile End Sandwich Shop.
The last couple of weekends, I've taken advantage of the near-perfect early autumn weather to enjoy a few laps around the Central Park Reservoir followed by a stroll down to Joe for a post-workout caffeine hit.These outings have only added to the love I've been feeling for the Upper East as of late.We're something of the red-headed stepchild up here, what with our reputation for stuffiness and terrible restaurants, but things have been improving like mad. Plus, we have most of the good museums. It's okay; your Metrocard will work up here, I promise. Come visit!
Happy weekend, kiddos! It's a gray Saturday here in New York, and I have a day of chores and errands ahead of me. Before reality sets in, though, let's take a look at this week's Treasury.Up first, these gorgeous posters from Brooklyn Larder, a wonderful specialty foods shop that sits on Flatbush Avenue at the intersection of Park Slope and Prospect Heights. All of the posters are marvelous, but I'm particularly partial to these two, representing salumi and gelato. (Head over to their site to see the others, including beer, cheese and pastries.)I'm loving these gold, crystal-studded pyramid earrings from Etsy seller Tiny Armour. They're a little bit tough, a little bit girly, and all around awesome and right up my alley. (They come in rose gold, too, for those looking to embrace that particular trend.)As a city-dweller, I'm always on the lookout for ways to bring the outdoors in. Right now, as autumn bears down on us, I'm loving this birch sculpture from Urban + Forest. It's simple and neutral, but would add texture and oomph to any space. I'm seeing it as part of a soothing gray, navy and white bedroom, yes?
Over the last ten years, the Bowery, once the place where dreams went to die - usually in a flophouse - has become the place where hotels and restaurants go to open. Several of my favorites are on or within a stone's throw of the Bowery (Peels, Five Points, DBGB, Acme), and now I can most definitely add the bar at The Bowery Hotel to the list. The drink that did it? Their Black Manhattan, made with bourbon, bitters, and Averna. Averna - an Italian liqueur made with herbs and caramel - replaces the traditional sweet vermouth, and does a super smooth job of it. And just look at this little dandy on their cocktail coasters. I can't quite tell if he's a gentleman or a Five Points gangster, but either way, I like his attitude.
I love it when Louisa comes to town. Not only because I get to spend tons of quality time with my best friend (living thousands of miles apart can be rough), but also because having her here reminds me to take full advantage of the wonders of the city.When she was in town in September, we spent a day on the Upper East Side. We managed to do some shopping (thank you, Joe Fresh and J. Crew Collection), but before that could happen, we needed sustenance. Enter Café Sabarsky, one of the very best things within walking distance of my apartment.Housed in the Neue Galerie - itself dedicated to German and Austrian art - Café Sabarsky is a recreation of the cafes of Austria, right down to the Thonet chairs, Hoffmann fixtures and sausage-rich menu. On this visit, we ordered a green salad to share, plus two different plates of sausage (my roasted bratwurst came with riesling sauerkraut and dijon potatoes; Louisa's was flavored with cheddar).The food (and the coffee and hot chocolate we enjoyed afterward) was, as always, delicious. But, for me, Café Sabarsky is always about the experience as a whole. That gorgeous room, that wonderful atmosphere...that sparkly chandelier. I just love it there. I'd say it's something you could only find in New York, but that's obviously not true. But I'm sure glad it's here.
A few weeks ago, my friends Nick and Louisa were in town, which always means I'm in for a few good meals. Even though they've swapped the wilds of rural Ohio for the wonders of Austin, they're still aiming to get a serious New York food fix whenever they visit. Their first night here, we met our friends Liz and Carrie for dinner at Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton's perennial neighborhood favorite, best known for its insanely delicious (and popular) brunch. I ordered a Junipero Gibson (a gin martini garnished with housemade pickled onions) and nibbled on fried chickpeas while I waited for the others to arrive. (They were coming from pre-dinner drinks at Ten Bells; I was trekking in from having my hair done by the lovely Holly in SoHo.) The cocktail was perfectly cool and crisp, and kept me company all through dinner (and for a while afterward, to tell the truth). I started with a special kale salad, which went so fast and was so delicious that I forgot to snap its photo.The kale was shredded and dressed with crumbly cheese, garlic and lots and lots of olive oil. I've had many kale salads, but this one was something special. My main was the grilled steak with a tomato and onion salad. The steak was perfectly cooked to medium rare, and the rings of red onion were just crunchy and spicy enough to set off the sweat, meaty tomatoes. A bit of bleu cheese butter rounded things out, and reminded me of one of the things I love about Prune: the food is exuberant, but not overdone. They know that all you need is a touch of cheese in each bite, not an overwhelming heap of it on the plate.In another nod to disappearing summer, we ordered a side of peas for the table. They arrived, beautifully green, perfectly cooked (English peas, snow peas and - my favorite - sugar snaps), spiked with horseradish and topped with honeycomb. The horseradish accentuated the peas' natural vegetal bite, while the honey upped their sweetness. Peas, amplified. Finally, dessert. We went a bit over the top here, ordering three different ones to try. A rhubarb bourbon bread pudding, a summer pudding with whipped cream, and a pound cake with fruit syrup. All three were wonderful (and the blazing color of the summer pudding outshone the rest), but the bread pudding was my very favorite. The perfect end to a late summer feast. Next time, squash and brussels sprouts will replace tomatoes and peas, and nothing will be quite the same.Now there's an excuse to go back if ever there was one, right?
Hello, my doves! Today is the first day of autumn (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least), so it seems fitting to share with you some of the things I've been craving (food and otherwise) in the name of the new season.First up, these delicious Tate ballet flats from the ladies at Marais USA. I absolutely love the animal print, and I'm delighted that feminine, pointy toes are back in this fall. Just imagine these with a pair of cropped trousers or a full skirt. Perfection, yes?Next, a lovely little print from Ana Victoria Calderon's shop on Etsy. The colors are just perfect for autumn: a little muted, a little soft, all cozy and warm. Just looking at it makes me crave apple cider. And bourbon.Finally, some actual food! This plum and mascarpone pie screams early autumn to me, what with its gorgeous purple color and rich, caramelized glaze. And mascarpone makes everything into its best self.
We've had some wild weather in the northeast as of late - tornado warnings every other week or so, which are, simply put, not normal for this part of the world. A couple of Saturdays ago, a tornado touched down in Queens, and I headed out of the city for a seaside wedding in my hometown, Old Greenwich, Connecticut.Most of the (spectacular) rain fell before things got underway, but the evening remained damp and breezy throughout. The views were gorgeous and moody - plus, I had a sparkly clutch (my prized, vintage Whiting & Davis, which I bought on eBay for a song about 8 years ago) and a well attended to glass of bubbly to brighten things up. Sadly, I didn't smooch anyone on the dock. But I sure hope someone did, because it was awfully pretty.
See, I'm alive! (And I took this picture of a really pretty pre-autumn sky over the Plaza last week as proof!)Sorry it's been so quiet around these parts of late, kids. I've been a bit crazed, both personally and professionally, and haven't had time to tend to the blog as you've come to expect - and, frankly, as you deserve!I'll be back soon with lots of stuff (a few delightful meals out and about, plus one or two late summer recipes to use up that eggplant and zucchini). In the meantime, thanks for being patient and awesome and dedicated and delightful.
I've been trying to enjoy the last of summer's bounty these days. The evenings are falling earlier and earlier, but I managed to sneak in a meandering twilight stroll around my neighborhood last week. The Guggenheim looked gorgeous all lit up by the setting sun to the west. The tomatoes have been ridiculously good. I made a little sauce with the San Marzanos and ate the heirloom ones with avocado and red onion. A couple of Saturdays ago, I stopped into Joe for a pick-me-up cappuccino and a delicious hour of reading. I've been plowing through books on my Kindle this summer; I just finished The Dog Stars and started a Louise Penny mystery. I spied this cookbook when I popped into Barnes & Noble to pick up a gift for a friend. I'd never heard of Leon (a restaurant in London), but I think I might need this book sooner rather than later. Anything with a cover like this one has to be full of deliciousness.
Happy long weekend, folks! (Well, American folks. Happy regular weekend, rest of the world!) It's a sunny, hot day here in New York, and I'll be heading back out into is just as soon as I refuel with my iced coffee. In the meantime, here are a few tidbits to keep you entertained while you prepare for your Labor Day festivities. (Mine include shopping; your mileage may vary, of course.)First up (and I realize I'm late to the party on this one), the incredible work of designer Olympia Le-Tan, who creates embroidered clutches and handbags based on classic book covers. I want them all, of course, but since they cost about $2,000 apiece, I'll have to settle with admiring them from afar for now.I first spotted Christine Lindstrom's work in West Elm (I love the way they're showcasing independent artists in each collection these days), and I love her richly hued watercolors. Her Etsy shop is full of wonderful prints, stationery, and original works. If I had to choose just one, it would probably be this watercolor, entitled Grove, which puts me in mind of a fairy tale forest.On this Labor Day weekend, I'll leave you with a little bit of Paris. Freunde von Freunden's interview with textile designer Céline Saby is great, and I absolutely love the photos of her salon and apartment. The latter has a sort of Parisian surfer chic vibe to it, and I can't get enough of it, or this little reading nook in the windows.
My friend Stacey is my Food Wife. She has impeccable taste, serious cred, and a remarkable ability to throw a ridiculous cocktail party at a moment's notice. She volunteered to make breakfast the morning we spent in Montauk, and that turned out to be a really, really good idea.She made an incredible batch of slow-scrambled eggs with cheddar and chives. She cooked up some Black Forest bacon from the venerable Schaller & Weber. Best of all? She made some of the most delicious biscuits I have ever had. Light, fluffy, tender. Pretty much perfect.That's why I food-married her.
Our first order of business in Montauk? Two hours on the beach. Our second? Lobster rolls.After spending some time sunning ourselves on the sand, we piled into our cars and headed west to Amagansett, home of The Lobster Roll, better known locally as Lunch. The paper placemats on our table listed endorsements from celebrities as varied as President Nixon, Barbra Streisand, and Christie Brinkley & Billy Joel (in case you thought this restaurant was new, it's clearly not).We ordered drinks (mine was the Lobster Ale, which was pleasantly satisfying and a bit round in the mouth) and lobster rolls - plus some clams casino. (Thanks, Stacey!)As you can probably guess from its given name, Lunch is known for its lobster rolls, and they were pretty good. Flavorful meat, tasty toasted buns, and a touch (perhaps too heavy a touch) of celery. I liked the mayonnaise to lobster ratio and the not-at-all mayonnaise-y coleslaw, but there was something missing here, some alchemy that I've found in other rolls that just didn't make itself known. Solid, though? For sure.
Happy Saturday, kids! I've had something of an unusual week, what with my whirlwind trip to Montauk and a very busy couple of days at work. I'm ready to enjoy the weekend, and have already been for a run and visited the Greenmarket. Before I head back out to sun myself and read in Central Park (wearing SPF 30, minimum, of course), let's take a look at this week's Treasury!First up, the gorgeous, almost unbearably cool Brooklyn abode that's home to Solange Knowles and her family. It seems like a seriously fun place to be - not to mention effortlessly stylish and comfortable. I wouldn't mind an invite, is all I'm saying.Next, some exciting news courtesy of SF Girl By Bay, who attended a launch party for the new collaboration between The Curiosity Shoppe and The Shops at Target. Everything looks great, but I'm particularly excited about this continental US-shaped serving board. It will most definitely be making an appearance chez Queenie come October 20, when the line becomes available.Last, but certainly not least, these incredible photographs by artist Alberto Seveso, created by injecting water with two different inks. Don't they make you think of billowing, delicate silk? I cannot get enough of these.
A couple of weeks ago, my friends Matt and Marcia invited me and our friend Stacey to join them in Montauk for a couple of days. They'd rented a house for the week to celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary, and wanted to have friends out to join them in the revelry.Obviously, I said yes.Montauk is a tiny little village out on the eastern tip of Long Island's South Fork - in fact, it's so far east that it's the easternmost point in the state of New York. It's long been considered the chillest part of the Hamptons, thanks to its history as a surfing and artist-friendly enclave. (Rufus Wainwright married his longtime partner at their home there just yesterday.)Town laws forbid chains of any kind, so all of the hotels are tiny and charming, and Starbucks is nowhere to be seen. Hipsters have invaded in recent years, but I have to say: they weren't too annoying.Several hours of both days were devoted to serious beach time. The waves were strong (both Marcia and Matt took serious bangs when coming in from paddle boarding), and the sand was soft.And though I didn't snag a photo, I can tell you that the stargazing was likewise amazing from the beach. Matt, Stacey and I trekked down there one night (powered by a not inconsiderable amount of wine and bourbon) and laid back on the sand. It's rare for a New Yorker to see more than a couple of stars at once; to see clouds and bands of them - and to understand why we call it the Milky Way - is a rare treat, and one to be savored.And we ate a lot, too. More on that soon.
One of my very favorite things to order at Uchiko in Austin are the shishito peppers. They arrive piping hot from the pan, blistered and sprinkled with crunch salt, and I can't help but burn my greedy little fingertips eating them. Shishitos are a relatively mild pepper - with a spicy lurker here and there - and so you can eat the little guys in one bite, seeds and all.When I saw shishito peppers for sale at the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday, I sprung at the chance to try my hand at blistering them at home. How hard could it be?Turns out, not hard at all. I highly recommend you try it as soon as possible. Like me, you can eat them up on your own. Or, if you're in a sharing mood, make them (and a batch of gin gimlets) for a crowd.Blistered Shishito Peppers1/2 pound whole shishito peppers, washed and completely dried1 tsp. canola oilSea saltHeat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until screaming hot. (A drop of water should dance across the surface.) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the peppers with the oil until evenly coated. Once the pan is hot, add the peppers and cook until well blistered all over, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.Remove the peppers to a plate, sprinkle generously with salt, and serve immediately.Serves two as a snack or appetizer.
Some of the most delicious things are born of necessity. My corn, avocado and cucumber salad most definitely falls into that category. I first made it one hot, sweaty night when I couldn't face cooking but was too hungry to wait for delivery. The only vegetables in the fridge were corn and cucumber, and one lone avocado hung out in a bowl on the counter.Figuring that nothing tastes bad if you add enough basil, I husked the corn and sliced the kernels off into a shallow bowl, chopped and added the cucumber, and pulled a few leaves from my windowsill basil. Finally, I split the avocado and added half of it to the mix. A healthy amount of salt, dash of pepper, and light pours of sherry vinegar and olive oil followed. (My feelings about sherry vinegar are akin to those I have for basil: it makes pretty much everything better.)The resulting salad was far tastier than I expected. The avocado melted just a bit under the salt and vinegar, becoming part creamy dressing, part vegetable. The raw corn popped with every bite, and the cucumbers added satisfying heft. (Cucumbers, heft - who knew!) And, of course, the basil was delightful. Nothing says summer like a shower of basil. (And if you need more punch, just add a scallion to the mix.)Corn, Avocado & Cucumber Salad1 kirby cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch chunksKernels from 1 ear of sweet corn1/2 an avocado, cut into 1/2 inch chunks5-6 basil leaves, thinly slicedSea salt and freshly ground black pepperOlive oil and sherry vinegarCombine the cucumber, corn, avocado and basil in a medium bowl. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, then dress with a drizzle each of oil and vinegar. Toss until well combined and let sit for 10 minutes or so. Taste for seasoning, adjust to your liking, and serve immediately.Serves one as a main dish or two as a side.
Happy Sunday, my doves! It's a gorgeous morning here in New York, and I'm headed out to Brooklyn for some quality time in the sun with a very dear friend. Before I go, though, let's take a look at the goodies in this week's treasury, shall we?First up, the truly lovely, tiny apartment inhabited - until recently - by Katie Armour, one of the two founders of Matchbook Magazine. Katie's 500 square foot space oozes with personality and is filled with treasures. It's a little jewel box of a home. Shortly after her place was photographed for the August issue of Matchbook, Katie moved from San Francisco to New York. I'm sure her new digs (in my neighborhood, no less) will be every bit as lovely.Next, I have a birthday coming up, and I have my greedy little eyes on this ring from Bauble Bar. I love a monogram, and I love a signet ring, and I simply love this. Trying to decide which finger it should live on. Ring or pinky?Finally, a ridiculously large house on the Bowery, made possible by a genius real estate buy back when property in the neighborhood could be had for a song. The 72-room building is now a single family home for an artist and his family. Crazy, right?
Each summer, sometime in July, I remember: I have an ice cream maker. (A cheap one that has lasted five summers so far.) It's not that I truly forget about my ice cream maker; after all, its canister stares me in the eye every time I open my freezer. But I seem to forget about the glories it can bestow upon me. Then it gets hot and nasty and my cravings increase, and I remember: it's time to make the ice cream.This year, I bought my first-ever ice cream cookbook, the incredible Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. After just one outing, it is now my official ice cream bible. Why? Well, Jeni doesn't have you fuss around with eggs and custard. Instead, she explains the science behind her American ice cream base, including the reasons for using a little corn syrup, and the genius addition of softened cream cheese to help emulsify the mixture. And her recipes are organized by season, emphasizing fresh, local ingredients. But not in an obnoxious way, I promise.And, let me tell you: it works. This is wonderful, creamy, balanced, stress-free ice cream. I tried my hand at her recipe for sweet basil with honeyed pine nuts, and it was magnificent. The pine nut praline was a snap to make (my one alteration: use parchment paper to line your baking sheet), and the crunchy, sweet bits of nut added interest and earthiness to the sweet and spicy basil-flavored ice cream.I think my next attempt will be her beet, mascarpone and poppy seed ice cream. Oh, yes. (And, if you're not game to make the stuff at home, you can always order Jeni's ice cream, made with love in Columbus, Ohio, from her website.)
The food blogosphere has been abuzz of late about the opening of a New York outpost of Maison Kayser on the Upper East Side. Founded by French baker and pastry chef Eric Kayser, the bakery and patisserie has shops all over the world, and is now taking the Big Apple by storm. Obviously, I had to stop by as soon as possible to see what all the fuss was about.The goods (I sampled a few different kinds of brioche, a bit of raisin bread, and a bite of baguette) were uniformly delicious. The plié au chocolat I ended up spiriting away to Central Park was delightful - its custardy innards cut through with dark chocolate, its pastry hardy but flaky. That said.I tried to grab lunch in the café, and it was a nightmare. Since it was their first weekend open, and since the Upper East Side tends to descend upon any decent restaurant like a horde of hungry teenagers, I knew it would be crazy. I was ready for crazy.But I wasn't ready to be ignored while the host chatted with the people on either side of me, or to be brushed off when I asked if I could put my name on the list to be seated. (Given the whole being ignored thing, I wasn't going to trust someone about my place in line unless it was written down.) While the storefront crew were incredibly helpful and pleasant (especially given that I saw several customers cut the line and generally act like jerks), I am still pretty peeved about my experience with the cafe staff.I'll likely give them one more go, on a weekday this time, but that's about it. Hopefully it will be a different host, and the Real Houswives rejects around me won't be as exciting for him.
Today is Julia Child's 100th birthday. It's safe to say that if you live in the United States and eat food, you owe a debt to Ms. Child. She was one of the driving forces behind the home cooking revolution that swept through our kitchens in the 1960s (and continues to this day), and her influence is everywhere.Tonight, as I make gougères to take with me to a friend's house on Friday, I'll think of Julia. As I eat my heirloom tomato salad (recipe here), I'll think of Julia. And as I pick up her wonderful memoir My Life in France for yet another read, I'll think of Julia. And, apparently, every time I use Google today, I'll think of Julia.Even setting aside the mammoth accomplishment of her Mastering the Art books and her status as the biggest TV food star of all time, Julia Child was a seriously fascinating lady. She worked for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, helping build the organization that would later become the CIA. She lived all over the world, and her relationship with her husband Paul was an inspiring partnership - not to mention the inspiration for some seriously adorable Valentines. Even if you don't have Julia's boeuf bourgignon on the menu tonight, I hope you'll take a moment to remember her in your own way. And if you don't take a few minutes to watch PBS' amazing remix of her shiniest TV moments, you're a fool. Bon appétit!