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.

West Village Hideaway: Commerce Restaurant

Commerce had been on my mind since my last visit, and late on a Thursday in August, I thought to re-visit. It is one of my favorite spots in the city, tucked away on a winding, village street. As it was late (after 9:30), there was only a short wait for a table. My friend Bob and I went a little overboard in ordering—4 appetizers, one entree AND dessert—every single dish was fantastic. We were graced with a lovely server, who matched and timed our dishes perfectly. Now, if they could just do something about the noise level in that gorgeous room! Still, well worth the cacophony. See pics of our dinner here.

September 24 & 25 in the Hamptons: Harvest East End

In two weeks, a celebration of the fall season is taking place on the East End of Long Island. The best wineries, farms, chefs and restaurants combine to showcase the best of the harvest with wine tastings, classes in wine appreciation, plus private chef dinners hosted in exclusive Hampton homes. Harvest East End's Gala Dinner has sold out, but you can still place a bid online for half barrels and special lots of wine. Go to the website to buy tickets and see the schedule of events. Best of all, proceeds benefit East End Hospice and the Peconic Land Trust, which preserves Long Island’s working farms. PS: Logo and all festival graphics, by yours truly.