RECIPE / strawberry gazpacho with basil

Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park created a buzz at the sub-zero showroom in May with this refreshing and delicious recipe for gazpacho:
4 med strawberries
4 oz olive oil
2 oz country bread
Sprig of thyme
1 clove garlic
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 pounds of strawberries, plus 4 med strawberries
3 oz tomato juice
1 1/2 oz red wine vinegar
Hot sauce
crouton garnish:
1 slice country bread, diced in 1/4” cubes
1 TB olive oil
1 sprig of thyme
1 clove garlic
to finish:
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
4 basil leaves
1. Make ahead for garnish: cut 4 strawberries into quarters, place on parchment. Let dry in 195º oven for about 2 hours.
2. Toast the country bread in a pan with 1 oz of the olive oil, thyme, and garlic until golden brown.
3. Dice the rest of the ingredients, combine with tomato juice, vinegar and rest of olive oil. Marinate for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.
4. Put everything in blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a china cup.
5. Season with a couple drops of hot sauce.
6. To make croutons for garnish: Toast bread with olive oil, thyme and crushed garlic in sauté pan. Season with salt.
7. To create dish: ladle the soup in a cold bowl. Garnish with croutons, 4 diced fresh strawberries and the dried strawberries. Finish with basil, drizzle with olive oil and crushed black pepper.

Sub-Zero / a showroom that cooks

One of my favorite restaurants in NYC, Eleven Madison Park, did a live cooking demo at the Sub-Zero showroom during the ICFF show with Chef Daniel Humm. They featured a recipe for Strawberry Gazpacho with Basil (see recipe) which was refreshing and an interesting departure from tradition. This showroom has to be seen to be believed, and has on-going cooking demos hosted by Chef Coleman Titelbaum. See the website for the schedule and to make a reservation at an upcoming cooking demo.

Good Earth COFFEE + Rowenta Coffee Maker / perfect pair

I love good design and I adore organization. This Rowenta coffee maker, designed by Jasper Morrison, defines both with its sleek and efficient design which puts all the necessary parts where you need them. I wish everything in life were like this. Under the lid are the filters, scoop and removable basket. All that’s missing is a good organic coffee. Enter Good Earth, the maker of great organic teas with a new line of organic coffees. My favorite, Mystic Blend, is a dark roast that has an extremely smooth, balanced flavor that will get you and your guests goin’!



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"matching sweets to drinks to scent"


This restaurant scores points with me for its beautiful design, which included a mosaic staircase and lace-patterned bar, both illuminated. I was accompanied by my charming friend, Vera Eisenberg, a.k.a. "the strudel queen". You have, no doubt, seen her artful food stylings on various Food Network shows. The Restaurant Week menu was interestingly divided into 2 categories, one featured an assortment of "bar food", where you were able to sample 4 small plates, which is the route my friend chose. I stuck with tradition, and had an appetizer of watermelon gazpacho, which tasted exactly as you would expect—like a sweet, juicy, summer melon. For the main course, I sampled the short ribs, which was an extremely rich, delicious and decadent contrast to the soup, which made it all the more enjoyable. For dessert, my chocolate sorbet seemed a little washed out. But then again, I find eating sweets at the end of a meal unnecessary. Vera had the panna cotta dessert, which I believe was flavored with lavender—that had a light, slippery texture and was nicely sweet. We visited this restaurant after attending a delicious sauvignon blanc wine tasting at Morrell's, which we enjoyed so much that we giddily and tipsily ordered 3 cases to be delivered to our homes! If you want to get in on wine tastings in your area check out this link.

RESTAURANT Denver: 1515 Market St / fine dining meets honky tonk

1515 Market Street, Denver, CO I ended my trip in Denver on a high note, food-wise that is. This place had a split personality, consisting of a funky bar downstairs and a dining area with fancy glassed-in wine room upstairs. I must have arrived at an odd hour (9:30?)—as the serious diners upstairs were on their way out and the serious drinkers downstairs had not yet arrived. Faced with the option of dining categorically solo, I almost chose to exit, but then opted to sit in the downstairs bar—which totally worked in my favor. I had the super cool and friendly staff all to myself and at my beck and call. My luck continued with my picks from the menu. The dandelion salad was extremely fresh and vibrant, with perfectly balanced tastes of bitter and sweet and textures of crunchy and creamy. They did not skimp on the portion of the Three Styles of Duck, which consisted of a confit leg, spring roll, and rendered breast. I don’t think my photo does justice to the Pollock-like styling of the dish whose components' flavors played to each other so beautifully. Having been so impressed by the offerings so far, I re-examined the menu and came across Cold Caesar Salad SOUP with bacon foam, croutons, tomato concassés, and caesar dressing. What? How did I miss this item? Though I had already done two courses, I decided that I HAD to try this, and was more than pleased with the outcome. This soup all-of-a-sudden made gazpacho obsolete, and upped the ante for sophisticated summer fare. My compliments to Chef Chris Laramie.

RECIPE / avocado chicken salad

Why not substitute avocado for mayo the next time you do a chicken salad? You’d be adding unsaturated fat, and a combination of 20 vitamins and minerals. Plus it tastes great. Chop up a baby yellow squash, some roasted yellow pepper and a grilled lemon chicken breast. Scoop out half of a really ripe avocado, mash it into the chopped mix, add a dash of cayenne pepper. If you don’t have the squash, a chopped up cucumber (remove seeds) would add a refreshing twist.

Lever House WINE CLUB / champagne

PICKS I must say this was my favorite of all the tastings, and they were all grand. From Pommery, the driest and peachiest of the lot, we had the Reims Brut Royal, the 1998 Brut Grand Cru, and the Reims Brut Rose. Krug MV was slightly heavier on the tounge and had hints of walnuts and smooth bubbles. Ruinart Rose had a superb taste, but was a little flat to me. My absolute favorites were all from Louis Roederer, the Reims Brut Premier was quite bubbly, the Blanc de Blanc was smoother, with finer bubbles, and the 2002 Reims Brut Vintage Rose was tops—due to its excessive evaporation, it literally danced in your mouth! Almost like drinking air. Check out their beautiful website to see how they grow the grapes. Very educational! See more Lever House Wine Club in the OUT AND ABOUT section.

Lever House WINE CLUB / burgundy

BASICS The region produces Pinot Noir for red wine and Chardonnay for white. Burgundy is composed of small-scale growers. Négociants, who do not own a vineyard, but have stakes in rows of grapes, finish and bottle the wines. Terroir refers to the soil, the climate, and the angle to the sun, which gives specific characteristics to the wine and is how the wine is classified. Grand Cru is considered the best and must age for 5 to 7 years. Premier Cru is second and must age for 3 to 5 years. Villages must age for 2 to 4 years, and is sometimes blended.
PICKS Of the whites, I really liked the 2006 Puligny-Montrachet, Jean Marc Boillot, a nice winter white, with a vanilla, perfumey smell. Out of the reds, the 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin Emile Geantet was smooth, with a “dirty” smell—this would be great decanted along with a steak. Everyone in the group was raving about the Domaine Chanson Beaune Greves, which comes from a single vineyard. See more Lever House Wine Club in the OUT AND ABOUT section.

Lever House WINE CLUB / napa cabernets

PICKS What can I say? I lost my notes from this tasting, but have photos of my favorites. I remember vividly, how I was in reverie over the 2004 Reverie; Honig, a vineyard that developed sustainable practices for the area, like using solar power, reducing water usage, and composting the skins, got my vote for their 2004 from Bartolucci Vineyard; and the 2004 Opus One came in as my third choice. Arnaud’s vote was for V Madrone, made by Christopher Tilley. With super cherry and plum notes, it concentrates on terroir from Napa floor and shows great potential for aging! See more Lever House Wine Club in the OUT AND ABOUT section.

Lever House WINE CLUB / learning the easy way

I didn’t know much about wine, except that I truly enjoy drinking it. So, this past winter, that lack of knowledge prompted me to join the Lever House Wine Club, conceived and hosted by sommelier Arnaud Devulder. The 15-week experience turned out to be divine, housed in the ultra-cool back room at Lever House. Each week, a different group of learned and sophisticated guests would savor Arnaud’s cavalier, yet informative, presentations into the many worlds of wine. Arnaud had a knack for mixing expensive wines with surprising picks for everyday enjoyment, under $20. Tasting was done in an ascending sequence, leading to a crescendo, which allowed your brain to grasp the basic flavors, yet focus on the subtle differences. Arnaud has intimate knowledge of his subject, having lived at various vineyards, and can speak about it on any level—be it about the sensual qualities or knowing the specifics on terroir, winemaking practices, and prices. See my recaps of each session for some basic facts about the various regions and my favorites of each tasting. I can’t wait for the next session! Check out arnaud.com for information on the next phase of the club.