2010 was a fabulous year....see my favorite picks on FB, best BITES, best SALADS, best ENTREES, and BEST COCKTAILS for the year. And thanks to all who stop by...best of luck to all of you in 2011. See you next year!


Edi & the Wolf: Austrian comfort in the East Village

The owners of Michelin-star restaurant Seasonal have branched out to Avenue C with a cozy, relaxed wine bar. The space is reminiscent of a barn, whose ceiling mimics light filtering through the cracks (photo), accented with hipster Victorian accessories, and a cushiony, tufted banquette. I don’t know if it’s because of the holiday season, or because of being so warmly hosted by owner Eduard Frauneder, but people are flocking to Edi and the Wolf. Specially selected Austrian, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Hungarian and Argentinian wines and artisinal beers accompany excellent Autrian fare, served until the late hours. It’s a fantastic spot to end the night with a bit of upscale comfort food and coddling. See photos of the space and food here.

FIESTA TIME: Antojitos Cookbook

Party throwers looking for new ideas will get their fill from Barbara Sibley and Margaritte Malfy’s new book. Antojitos is jam-packed with Mexican small plate ideas, gathered from the homes and the streets of Mexico, where the authors have traveled. These “snacks” that were designed to be the bite that holds you over in between meals are perfect for parties—especially because they provide a good base for holiday cocktailing. At La Palapa in the East Village I tried the Crepas de Huitlacoche, which are corn fungus crepes—hearty, filling and delicious (photo). Head over to their east or west village locations for a NYC escape to Mexico City. Go with a crowd, the portions are enormous!

Asellina: Intriguing and Sexy New Italian

Just opened in the Gansevoort Park Hotel, Asellina brings a sexy, sprawling bi-level restaurant and lounge to Park Avenue and 29th. I stopped by last Friday to see what it was all about. We parked ourselves in the lounge with comfortable oversized chairs and fireplace to sample a few of the cocktail offerings before dinner elsewhere. The drinks were great, but the most astounding taste we sampled was the bite that accompanied our sipping. The stuffed Cerignola olives with roasted veal parmigiano and semolina crust (photo) was over-the-top delicious. I will have to return for a proper dinner. See more photos of the space and cocktails here. The space is cordoned off into 5 distict areas, but each one is open to the other, giving the vast space order, yet maintaining peekaboo, people-watching opportunities.

Beautiful Bottles Make Welcome Gifts: Part 2

Act fast, this bottle is available only through December. Belvedere Silver, the holiday edition, is clad in an eye-catching mirrored silver. Your host will be delighted to place this on the bar—front and center. For 600 years, Belvedere has produced their vodka using a special rye only found in Poland’s Mazovia region, mixed with purified artesian water, without any additives. Four-times distilling creates the smooth, creamy, peppery taste. The 750 ml size goes for $35. For an interesting champagne toast, mix 1 oz of Belvedere Silver, with 1 oz of cooled Earl Grey Tea, transfer to champagne flute and fill with champagne. ••• Be the first to show up with this in your party bag. Debuting in New York this month, Excellia makes it’s tequila by aging it in cognac and sauternes casks to marry the tastes with 100% Blue Agave. Reposado, Añejo and Blanco feature sophisticated flavor profiles ranging from wood and spices, to honey and fruit. I have been mixing the reposado with Peller Estates Vidal Ice Wine from Canada. One third tequila, two-thirds ice wine and lots of ice makes for a sweet, appealing after dinner drink. Would be especially great paired with cheese. 750 ml - $55-75 ••• Even beer is getting into the barrel-aging act. Bringing this along to your next gathering will definitely get a conversation started. Innis & Gunn ages their mulitple award-winning beer for a minimum of 30 days, then monitors each batch before allowing it to be blended, adding hints of vanilla, citrus and toffee. Available at Trader Joes, select Food Emporiums, Met Food, and Gristedes. See the website for bars that are carrying the brand, so you can preview the taste. Available in 750ml and 11.2oz., and 4-packs.


Get Lost in Space at Beauty & Essex

I marveled at the scope of the new restaurant and lounge from Stanton Social’s Chef Chris Santos. A former furniture store has been transformed by the designers at AvroKo to simulate a retro-50s cocktail lounge complete with gold fixtures. A pawn shop sits in front of Beauty & Essex, initially obscuring what phenomenal details lie beyond. From front to back is about as long as a city block, with 4 atmopheres to choose from. Up the grand staircase leads to DJ booth, and The Pearl Lounge whose chandelier dramatically drapes below an entire tin ceiling. In the ladies room downstairs, a lovely woman serves free champagne. To accompany the regalia, Chris Santo’s small bites will take center stage, with his take on comfort food from around the globe: grilled apple, bacon and blue cheese crostini with black pepper, truffle, and honey, steaks from Creeksotne Farms, beer battered lobster tacos with red cabbage slaw, jalapeno mayo. Incredible cocktails too. See more photos of the space and night here.

New Spot for Sipping: Cocktails at 1534

A talented team of mixologists have created a sweet little underground getaway—with drinks inspired by a French Colonial explorer and decor that feels a bit formal and a bit like a ‘40s cafe. Pre-opening we stopped in at 1534 to see what Raphael Reyes was mixing and tried the Tahitian 75 (photo), a blend of Hendrick’s Gin, Hibiscus syrup, fresh lemon juice, and topped with sparkling wine and edible candied hibiscus. Marshall Alteir was behind the bar at the opening, who slipped us sips of the talked-about Bang the Drum cognac concoction with oversized ice cube, and many other delights. See more photos here of the cocktails sampled and the space at 20 Prince St, between Elizabeth and Mott St, downstairs from Jacques.

New Amsterdam Market: Artisinal Offerings

A week ago I visited the New Amsterdam Market. I could just kick myself for not going sooner, as of December 19 the market will be closed until spring. Take advantage of this last chance to get stocking stuffers and goodies for hosting. The market features a nice variety of vendors: luscious baked goodies from Shandaken Bake, fresh pasta from The Ravioli Store, unique blended teas from Bellocq, and a vast array of meats and sausages (my weakness!). I did stock up on meaty goodies from Mosefund Farm, Dickson’s Farms and Meats, and Hudson Valley Duck Farm so when company arrives I can offer them smoked duck breast, fully cooked white sausage, and bratwurst. It is a tradition in my Slovak family to stock up on cold cuts, headcheese, and kielbasas for the holidays, so I was delighted to come across such amazing selections. Go to this market to eat! I warmed up my bones with a über-tasty pork sandwich from Porchetta, my friend Mina had a lobster roll. Plus I was able to sample bites of meat before buying. And, after sampling the Finnish rye from Nordic Breads (photo) I got two large loaves to store in the freezer. I can’t wait to go back and experience what’s happening next year, when they will be continuing to offer a great mix of vendors, themed weekends and foodie events. Located at South Street between Beekman St and Peck Slip. More photos here.

A Cake with a Kick: Full Spirited Flavours Prosperity Cakes

Looking to bring an amazing dessert to your next dinner gathering? Three sisters from Pennsylvania can supply you with the sweet that will have everyone raving. After their own families oohed and ahhhhed over their cakes for years, the sisters decided to combine their talents and showcase their fabulous liqueur-infused buttery cakes. Whether you choose the amaretto, limoncello, raspberry liqueur, or coconut rum cake, they will arrive beautifully presented in recycled boxes. They come in two sizes: the FULL serves 10 to12, the JUNIOR serves 2 to 4. Cakes can be served right away or frozen for up to 3 months. I suggest ordering one for your party, and a couple more for yourself, to have tucked away, just in case.

Dressed for Dinner with Kuhn Rikon

The Cook & Serve stainless steel pot will not only look great on your holiday table, the neoprene sleeve keeps food warm while protecting the table’s surface. Comes in 2-, 3-, and 4-quart sizes all with tempered glass lid, with slipcover sleeve in red, orange, chartreuse, or royal blue.

Beautiful Bottles Make Welcome Gifts

Delight your hostess with a pretty bottle of Chambord Flavored Vodka, whose light pink tones will have everyone curious. It adds a nice dimension to typical vodka combinations with its black raspberry hints. I have been mixing it half and half with Pinnacle Crème de Pommes, a Canadian Ice Cider Cream Liquor, to create a more sophisticated substitute for egg nog. For a lighter version, thin out with ice and Raspberry Emergen-C-infused water. ••• L’Esprit de June liqueur is made from a combination of grapevine flowers in Cognac, France, which bloom for only a few days. Each handpicked flower is mixed with spirit to extract the unique flavors, then distilled by artisans, resulting in a delicate, floral and fruity liqueuer. Perfect to mix with champagne for a grand toast. ••• Galliano has re-issued Galliano L’Autentico, based on the original recipe of 1896. Juniper, anise and yarrow musk add herbal and botanical complexity to the signature vanilla flavor. Create a buzz by serving the original Harvey Wallbanger. In a tall glass mix 1.25 oz vodka, .25 oz Galliano, 3 oz orange juice and garnish with a slice of orange.


A gift for the nurturer: Bialetti Hot Chocolate Maker

I was skeptical upon first eyeing this piece. Why would anyone need a hot chocolate maker? One sip of the results was enough to change my mind! This appliance does more than heat up milk, it adds a wonderful frothy consistency, and works on a timer, so you don’t have to worry about burning the milk. Just add an organic hot cocoa mix or your favorite shaved chocolate (the preferred method) to create a soothing, sweet winter treat. Alternatively, you can also let the appliance froth milk for many cappucinos with its 32 oz. capacity top. Once summer comes around, you can flip the switch and use it to make iced coffee drinks, shakes and cocktails. Available on the website for $99.

A gift for the show-off: Bialetti Eco-Friendly Non-Stick Cookware

These pretty red pots and pans from Bialetti will make the perfect statement on your holiday table, especially if you care about cooking without harmful emissions in the mix. Aeternum cookware has a water-based coating which is PFOA free, PTFE free, and cadmium free. Saute pans come in 8-, 10.25-, and 12-inch sizes, the 12” comes with see-through lid. There’s also a 2 quart sauce pan, with see-through lid that’s awfully cute. Order them at the website.

A gift for the perfectionist: Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder

Who doesn’t love the smell and taste of just-ground coffee? Though most people would agree, the percentage of people that actually grind before every cup of coffee is probably pretty low. The Bistro Burr is designed to make that job simpler and more convenient. Here’s how I would do it: Store the beans in the glass container on top. Test results by rotating the top to produce the desired grind. Once that has been established, on a daily basis you can just grind the amount you like, slip the static-free glass container from the bottom and brew accordingly. The grinder uses conical burr grinders, which crush, rather than chop the beans, and do so without heat, thus adding to the flavor. Choose from three gorgeous colors: red, orange, chartruese, or simply black, or white. $79.

A gift for the organizer: Stelton Paul Smith Collection

I fell in love with Paul Smith's Dot collection as soon as I laid eyes on it. I am definitely not alone, because since then I am seeing these colorful bowls all over the place. For instance, the kitchen at the Kips Bay Showhouse this year featured them along the fireplace mantel (photo). I can think of a ton of uses—on a desktop, a bathroom, dressing room, or in the kitchen. The exterior is made of brushed stainless steel, the interiors are enamel-like without the fragility. They range from $59 to $79. Buy it online at Unica Home. See more photos of my Kips Bay Showhouse’s favorite rooms here.

A gift for the decorating diva: Hats OFF to Mary McDonald

Once hat designer, now interior designer extraordinaire, Mary McDonald has come out with her first book, Mary McDonald Interiors: The Allure of Style. The book is loaded with beautiful objects and tons of design ideas for tieing rooms together. I like how the book is divided into in themes, like the Theater chapter, which features the Hollywood homes that have been boldly color-coordinated and artfully accessorized in moods of: Classic, Graphic, Obsession, Exotic. The book is truly a visual feast.

A gift for the retro-afficianado: Yubz Talk Cell Phone Handset

Anyone who misses the feeling of holding a substantial, durable receiver which transmits sound loud and clear should love getting this. The handset has a button to answer and hang up calls, volume control, and plugs right into the headphone jack. Check the Yubz Talk USA website to see compatible phones, and be dazzled by the color selections, and artist series. It also keeps the radiation from cell phones from being right next to your head (think about it!) This company also make a nice looking line of speakers for Ipods, a bluetooth portable speaker, and tiny lamps for use with your laptop. $45 in color, $65 for the gold.

Organic Spa Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide

See my gift picks for 2010:
For the Home: Smoky Root of the Earth Bowls, Artenica tranSglass Cut Vase, photographer Garry Wade’s insect specimen prints, modern, minimalist quilts by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle, Ikebana, a warm glowing LED light.
Wine Picks: 2007 Montes Cabarnet Sauvignon, 2008 Würtz Riesling Trocken, 2008 Wurtz Riesling Potate.
For guys: a humorously informative book, Guide for the Modern Gentleman, and hip bow ties from Skinny Vinny.
Green Design: a see-through, biodegradable umbrella from Brelli, green neoprene lunch tote from GreenSmart.
Help Others: a meaningful gift card from Opportunity International

A gift for the warm and fuzzy: Ewe Cuff Bracelet

This bee-ewe-tiful cuff cradles your wrist in 100% Merino wool felt, and is designed to be worn in a variety of ways. First, the cuff is reversible, from color to grey, and the die-cut shapes can be pushed in or out, depending on the mood of the day. Designer Brandon Perhacs, added strongly-attracting rare-earth magnets to the closure which snap together, adding to the joy of adornment. See Lichen’s website to find a store near you, or order online. Free shipping until Christmas. $44

A gift for the cook who can get messy: Utility Canvas Apron

Utility Canvas has designed a 5-pocket apron suitable for either man or woman. Wearers can create custom fit by adjusting the straps over the shoulders, through the holes in the back. Their range of colors allows you to have one to match every outfit. $48 available from their online store.

A gift to bring to a holiday party: Beautifully Bottled Olive Oil

Next time you show up at someone’s door with bottle in hand, make that bottle be a pretty bottle of olive oil. It’s an ingredient that’s welcome in every kitchen, and your host will appreciate your thoughtfulness. Allure Estates in California houses their award-winning oil in a lovely black bottle, for the sophisticate. O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil would satisfy the experimenter in your life. L'Olivier Extra Virgin Olive Oil looks great in a country kitchen, for the cook who likes to pamper his guests. Terra Medi Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a perfect pick for the person with a modern sense of style.


Dovetail, The National, and more

The end of the month brought many get togethers and indulgent feasts. My lunch at Dovetail was like a mini-vacation in a spa-like setting. See photos from the tasting menu, that my friend Jude and I enjoyed on a recent Friday, including the foie gras, shown above. My friend Pamela’s birthday had us up in midtown at Geoffrey Zakarian's new spot The National for a late-night supper. A great spot to stop in for a cocktail or bite—it has a pleasant, convivial, bistro vibe, as seen in photos below and of Chef Paul Corsentino's goodies at this link. Some other tidbits: dinner at Union Square Cafe, cocktails at 1534 and in the Empire State Building, and a green kitchen cocktail party, see all the photos of the Pre-Holiday Blitz at this link.

Apiary: Comfort Food Cornucopia

Chef Scott Bryan, formerly at Veritas, definitely has a hit with his oddy located restaurant, Apiary. Our visit was rewarded with not only a fabulous assortment of filling fare, we also got to sample some of the upcoming cocktails with beverage director Brett Feore. If you are in the mood for a hearty mushroom soup, (seen in photo) pappardelle and rabbit, or roasted organic chicken head over to Third Avenue and 11th Street. They even offer a $35 three course prixe fixe menu on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights. See photos of our meal and cocktails here.

Harry and David Pop Up Orchard

For their 75th anniversary, Harry & David are celebrating with pop-up stores in cities where they do not have a retail presence. I got to meet designer Matthew Goodrich (seen here with me as the other pear), who, along with David Rockwell of The Rockwell Group, was responsible for the green design. See more photos of the space here, and be sure to pick up some delicious salsas (love the pepper and onion relish) and other holiday goodies before they skip out of town. Fifth Avenue near 22nd Street.

Escape to the islands: Lani Kai

For delicately prepared tiki bites and cocktails of the same head downtown to Lani Kai. The two-story establishment (which was Tailor’s) has been tastefully tranformed into a modern, urban-style island escape. See photos from a Banks 5 Island Rum tasting I attended way back in October...yes, I have been busy... the cocktail in photo was created by Joseph Swifka, called The Last Luau Swizzle: Banks 5 Island Rum, House Falernum, Cinnamon Syrup, Lime, Ginger Beer and Grilled Pineapple. The flavors were a wintry, holiday take on tiki.


Fair Quinoa Vodka: That’s Fair

Ward III hosted a delectable cocktail tasting featuring the spirits from Fair, a company that truly believes in fair trade—and fabulous tasting products. From the Andes, the award-winning Fair Vodka takes the knowledge passed down from Incas from the past 5000 years, plus French distillers, to create its unique taste. Fair also produces a Goji Berry Liqueur, which tastes great on its own, or in cocktails, with berries from the Himilayas, and a Café Liqueur from Mexican coffee. Stock up for the holidays! Photo shows the TIBETAN SPRITZER made with Fair Goji Liqueur, Lillet Blanc, Lemon Juice, Angostura Bitters, Marquis de la Tour Sparkling Wine and topped with some Goji Berries. See more photos from the tasting here.

Test your WINE knowledge

The Juice, the newsletter from LocalWineEvents.com will be featuring a wine quiz every week. Wine expert Kevin Zraly will be brain-teasing your knowledge on all aspects of wine making and history. Here’s how it works: Clicking on a question brings you to a multiple choice response area, then clicking on a response let’s you immediately know if you were correct. For instance: Where are some of the oldest vineyards in France? A. Burgundy B. Bordeaux C. Rhone Valley D. Loire Valley E. Champagne. My answer of Burgundy was incorrect...head to the site to see how you do!

October Dine Around: DGBG, Recette, La Fonda del Sol

Fall dining hits and misses: My first foray from the bar to dining room at DBGB was a mixed bag. Sadly, the server did not go out of his way to make the dining experience a positive one. What was learned: 1. When your order a pumpkin cupcake at DBGB, this is what appears (photo, top) so there’s no need to order two, like we did. 2. Be sure to ask the price of oysters, or pay! We had the specials, which cost $42 for a half dozen, as opposed to $18. Boy, were we surprised when the bill came. On the up side—all the food was memorably and fantastically good. More photos from the dinner can be seen at this link. Recette, in the west village (my old ’hood) had a very interesting menu, that calls for another exporatory trip. The sweetbreads, prepared to taste like buffalo wings were my favorite pick of the night. The cachaca cocktail was also a taste treat: prepared with Leblon Cachaça, apple juice, beet juice and fresh ginger. See more photos here. La Fonda del Sol’s side dish of Crispy Eggplant comes with a tomato, raisin, and pine nut chutney. It’s a unique dish, and makes for a great bar snack as well as a side. We just had a few bites before having to run off to the a capella contest we were attending that night. See more photos from our dinner here.


Pretty Stuffed Pumpkins

It’s the time of year when squashes and pumpkins abound. What to do? Refer to The Earthbound Cook by Myra Goodman—a book that is packed not only with recipes, but also with tips on living an über-green lifestyle. You will definitely learn something about the planet, including: the pros and cons of the farming of fish, how to read eco labels, how to eat organically for health, and much more. This recipe not only makes for a gorgeous presentation, it’s ranks 10+ on the health scale.

An excerpt from the book:

Pumpkins Stuffed with Quinoa, Butternut, and Cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
About 1 cup diced yellow onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup quinoa, rinsed in cold water and drained
2 cups Vegetable Stock, or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
4 small edible pumpkins, Sweet Dumpling squash, or small acorn squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds each)
1 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and ground cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the quinoa to the saucepan and stir to coat the grains. Add the stock and raise the heat to high. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, add the cranberries, and cover the pan. Cook at a slow simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cut the top off each pumpkin, reserving the tops, if desired, for decorative effect. Scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. If the pumpkins do not sit flat, trim a small slice off the bottom to create a flat base. Place the pumpkins on a rimmed baking sheet and set it aside.
4. Place the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and heat it over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the cubed butternut squash and cook without stirring until the squash is browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Toss to turn the pieces (or use a spatula to accomplish this) and cook, stirring frequently, until the squash is just tender, about 2 minutes more. Set aside.
5. When the quinoa is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Add the butternut squash, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
7. Divide the quinoa filling among the pumpkin shells; do not pack the mixture. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the quinoa is hot and the flesh of the pumpkins is tender when pierced with a skewer or fork, 45 to 60 minutes. Avoid overcooking, because the pumpkins may collapse. If you intend to use the pumpkin tops, add these to the oven during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
8. Serve immediately, with the tops (if using) leaning against the stuffed pumpkins. Serves 4.

Ty Ku cocktails: Halloween Sweets for Adults

Boo! Ty Ku came up with some super sweet concoctions that harken back to the days of trick or treating. From left to right: The Sweet Tart takes Ty Ku Liqueur and Soju and mixes with pineapple juice. The Tootsie Roll is a blend of Ty Ku Soju, coffee liqueur, and a splash of orange juice and raspberry liqueur. A Pumpkin Martini may be on your menu. Mix Ty Ku Sake with vanilla rum, sugar free pumpkin syrup, and top with whipped cream.

Halloween Brights

Happy-colored tableware from French Bull is available for your Halloween entertaining needs. Choose from the large Orange/Pink bowl ($24), small bowls ($7) in orange or black, or round black-and-white tray ($24). Best of all, it’s on sale! To receive the 20% discount on anything in the store (except sale items) enter the term: FBSPOOKY in all caps.

Sca-wey Cookie Cutters

Kids will enjoy baking with you more when they have their very own cookie cutters. Curious Chef has designed a set for halloween which includes a cat, pumpkin, ghost and leaf. Order online now for only $6.49 with auto coupon.

Agua Dulce: Ceviche Heaven

A few Fridays back, we had a very happy and lively dinner in Hell’s Kitchen's Agua Dulce. Not being able to resist the descriptions, we tried nearly all of the ceviches offered, which is a benefit of going out with more than 2 people. Pictured is the Laughing Bird Shrimp Tacos with cucumber and scallion salsa. What a nice little surprise to get the ceviche served this way. The guacamole was so good, and devoured so quickly that I did not even get a photo. The staff was lovely, friendly, and accomodating. Definitely want to go back. See more pics of our meal and the space here.

Junoon: Indian Cuisine In-depth

Get ready for Junoon, an18,000-square-foot, palace-like restaurant coming to the Flatiron area. I was able to sneak a peek into the construction zone last week, while meeting with Chef Vikas Khanna to talk about his upcoming cookbook. The restaurant will feature an sleek open kitchen which will also showcase the five traditional styles of Indian cooking: curries and sauces, a tandoor oven, a cast iron griddle, and a stone for searing meats and char broiling. Downstairs, a special Spice Room will be creating fresh blends for the kitchen, and to sell to the public. The dramatic, sophisticated decor features an entrance with reflecting pool, leading to another one—which spans from front to back. The lounge and private dining areas come adorned with ancient, intricately-carved Indian artifacts, that emit a nice warm vibe. I can’t wait to try the food. Opening in mid November.

Bar Henry: Underground Eatery with Simple Good Eats

If I had walked past this place before hearing about it I would have never walked down the steep set of stairs to enter Bar Henry. But who knew what simple pleasures lurked beyond. Everything we ordered was fantastic, and the back dining room was not crowded, though the bar in front was, when we were leaving. I highly recommend! More photos here.


my latest design project: SOUPS + SIDES cookbook

Catherine Walthers, author of Raising the Salad Bar, has followed up with a soup compendium. Soups + Sides features a savvy collection of flavor-matching duos, from standards like Tomato Soup with Herbed Grilled Cheese Sandwiches to truly creative combos like Minted Honeydew Melon Soup with Coconut Sorbet and side of Lime Spice Cookies. The book contains great choices for all the seasons, plus handy tips on how to simmer a soup and create stocks for use in future cooking projects. Allison Shaw’s colorful, minimalist photos, had my mouth watering the whole time I was designing the book! Luckily, I had the recipes right there, so could immediately address my cravings.

Philadelphia’s JG Domestic

Super Chef Jose Garces has quite a few projects up his sleeve. I got to hear the inside scoop all this week while at the photo shoot for his new cookbook, due to come out some time next year. Photos here show the work-in-progress of JG Domestic, which will feature a high end, farm-to-table menu, with all ingredients sourced in the USA. It connects right to the main train station in the Cira Centre, so New Yorkers can zip in and get a taste of what Philadelphians have been raving about. Also on the agenda: Iron Chef battles, a taco truck called Guapos Tacos, a 38-acre farm to supply food to all his places, and Frohmans Wursthaus, a beer and wurst spot. (Can you guess where the name Frohmans comes from?) If you are planning to spend any time in Philly, I suggest a full restaurant tour. You will not be disappointed. Photo at the top shows staff-drawn mural over the open kitchen, and below, future booth area. Restaurant opens in early October.