Sipping and Supping

Sangria 46
338 West 46th St., between 8 and 9th Ave., New York
Ph: 212-581-8482

For my last Saturday night in New York, we had managed to get  tickets to Burn the Floor, the ballroom and Latin dance spectacular that so blew me away, that I had to see it again.

For dinner we decided to try Sangria 46, a relatively new restaurant serving traditional Spanish cuisine, a few blocks away from the theatre. I got there a few minutes early and sipped from a glass of Castillo Medina Sauvignon Blanc as I waited for MIke to join me. The place, that can seat about 125 people,  filled up amazingly quickly and the numerous waiters attractively dressed in black pants, white shirts with red scarves, were soon kept very busy.

A bread basket with crusty baguette slices was brought to the table and I munched on a couple of slices until Mike arrived.  He ordered sangria to sip while whe studied the menu.

 Perbacco
243  E. 4th street, New York
Ph: 212 -253-2038 

Perbacco, enoteca e cucina, describe themselves as a casual restaurant and wine bar in the East Village. When we arrived there close to nine pm on a Friday evening the place was crowded and we had to wait  a while for our table to be cleared.

As I confess in my Travelblogue, New York, New York 2009 – Seven Days of Theatre, Food and Dance:  PART  III, I was tired and  very  hungry whe we arrived there  - it being three hours past my usual dinner time - and the loud conversational noise level and cramped table - where I managed to knock over my glass of wine - did little to make me relax. As well the low ambient lighting made it impossible for my tired eyes to read the menu.

Oceana
1221 Avenue of the Americas, @ 49th Street,
New York
Ph: 212-759-5941

I guess it is an excellent sign of restauranteur imperturbability when a guest arrives breathless at  your reception desk, announcing that she has a reservation for 6 pm and without blinking an eye, you take her to her table - although she is obviously blissfully unaware that it is 5 pm rather than 6 pm.  For how this particular guest managed this feat, check out  New York, New York 2009 – Seven Days of Theatre, Food and Dance:  PART  II.

As I learned, this restaurant is part of the Livanos group of restaurants that the family has run since 1992. In this new location Oceana has been open since August 17th and the official opening is planned for September 15th. Hmmm... this is the third restaurant that I have been to that will "officially "open on the 15th.

Aureole
135 West 42nd Street, New York
Ph: 212-319-1660

As I was walking along West 42nd Street en route to my dance lesson and enjoying my  Seven Days of  Theatre, Food and Dance in  New York, I glanced in at  Aureole as I walked past. Something about the look of the place attracted my attention and on the spur of the moment, I reversed my steps and decided to see if I could still get lunch. The decor was inviting with warm copper tones and an usual lighting fixture. I took a seat in the outer Bar Room rather than the main restaurant. I liked the touch of the red-gold orchid on the table.

Sarina brought me the lunch menu  which includes a section of bar snacks, appetizers and main courses, served in both the restaurant and the Bar Room area.  As it was just over an hour and a half before my dance class I did not want to overeat and just  selected two of the appetizer dishes.

The first was a foie gras torchon served with brioche, wild strawberries and anise hyssop. Both the latter are very strong aromatic herbs that I thought might overpower the foie gras but not at all. I savored every lingering taste of the dish. Foie gras is definitely one of my weaknesses. I would choose it over cake and cookies anytime.

 DBGB Kitchen and Bar
299 Bowery
New York
Ph: 212-933-5300

As mentioned in Part I of my  New York 2009 travelblogue our lunch visit to DBGB Kitchen and Bar was spur-of-the-moment as we walked by the restaurant en route to pick up our luggage before heading off to Brooklyn Terminal for a four night Labour Day Getaway Ballroom dancing cruise. On hearing that we had only a short time for lunch,  the staff seated us  at a comfortable table, promptly brought water, bread and the menu, and assured us that whatever we ordered would be right up.

We were seated in the outer bistro section. The decor was simple with a minimalistic style that appeals to me. The menus were painted in white on large wall mirrors round the room.  Our waiter, Frank, told us that this bistro in the Daniel Boulud group of restaurants, had only been open since May.

We decided to share four appetizer dishes, all of which were quite delicious.

The tuna tartare was served with a sesame-harissa sauce. Harissa is a hot red chili pepper sauce of North African origin, and it added a nice kick to the dish. The tuna tartare  was served with sliced cucmber, radish and crispy rice.

Our other fish choice was  the DB smoked salmon with crispy potato latkes and sour cream - nice but the portion seemed a bit small. Or maybe the plate was too large!

Braai
329 West 51st Street,
New  York
Ph: 212-315-3315

My attention was caught by the name of this restaurant when I was deciding which of the many eateries I should sample in this too short 7 day theatre and food visit to New York. Braai is a South African term for barbecue, and just reading the name evoked pleasurable memories of my childhood. So how could I not try this? My reservation was for 6 pm and I was heading to the theatre for an 8 pm show. 

I almost walked past the entrance, but then noticed the steps leading down below street level to the restaurant with a small courtyard adjacent. There were three small tables in the courtyard and I was seated at one of them. I liked the touch of fresh rose petals scattered around the candle holder.  To expose the public to a wide selection of South African wines, they feature three white wines by the glass and change the selection each night. I chose a glass of 2008 Steenburg Sauvignon Blanc.

The sliced bread came with olive oil for dipping, and an interesting blend of Malay spices called dukka  - in this case, sesame, fennel and cumin seeds in a light curry powder. Nice.

I was amused by the menu headings which were in a sort of pidgin English/Afrikaans mix. There were the Istatahs or appetizers and the Main Kos or entrees. They also offered a prix fixe with choice of appetizer, main course and the ubiquitous (in South Africa) Malva pudding (a cake-like pudding flavoured with apricot jam and served with warm custard) for dessert. 

I was specially interested in the game dishes. They offered sosaties of ostrich and venison as well as chicken.  A sosatie is the Cape Malay term for skewered marinated meat,  blending the terms sate for skewer and sous  for spicy sauces.

Apricot-glazed duck confit with cranberry salad

Glass House Tavern
252 West 47th Street,
New York.
Ph: 212-730-4800

One of my missions on this 7 day theatre and food trip to New York was to find new restaurants in the theatre district that served contemporary fresh and light cuisine of the kind that is now everywhere in my home city of Vancouver, British Columbia. It was a pleasure to discover the Glass House Tavern just around the corner from the Longacre Theatre where I was going to see  Burn the Floor. According to their description, Chef Craig Cupani provides contemporary American cuisine, emphasizing fresh seasonal ingredients. Sounded just what I was looking for.

Gaspacho

 The Brasserie in the Seagram Building
100  E. 53rd St.,
New York
Ph: 212-751-4850

For a late-morning brunch in Mid-town Manhattan, my dining companion suggested The Brasserie, as much for the look of the restaurant  (see New York, New York: Part I) as for the brunch menu.

As I followed the hostess down the green glass steps, I appreciated my friend's choice.  We were shown to one of the booths lining the wall. Each booth comfortably seats four and pale green leatherette walls create the illusion of  privacy..  I admired the foam green resin tabletop which my  friend  told me  a class mate of hers from Parsons Design School had a hand  in making.

Soon after we were seated, our server brought water and a whole crisp baguette with a mound of butter.

Potato salad -A frequently used derogatory reference when I was growing up - eons ago before more graphic terms became common usage - was "he is too dumb to  walk and chew gum at the same time."  The implication being that not only could the maligned victim not multitask, but he or she couldn't even multitask at two such fundamental activities.

 I thought about this as I stood in my kitchen sadly surveying the potatoes I had just boiled for potato salad. I actually can't remember the last time I made a potato salad -  it is that low carb thing - but I wanted to make something for our strata barbecue and I did not want to make yet another green salad or roasted vegetables - my usual contributions.

Into my mind popped the fantastic potato salad my friend Jan made during our Reunion Weekend on Vancouver Island, and the thought would not go away no matter how much I tried to reject it. Well,  potato salad it would have to be. And it would have to be the perfect potato salad.  I still have not got over that drive for perfection although I had better work harder at it, as you will see.

Caramel Napoleon: see the fork to the  right

Twisted Fork Bistro

1197 Granville Street,

Vancouver

Ph: 604-568-0749

One of the best kept secrets in Vancouver is a little gem of a restaurant that is located on the south side of Granville Street between Helmcken and Davie Street. It has a warm and welcoming ambience, great service and excellent food at reasonable prices. I have eaten here on two occasions now and both experiences have been great.

We came across Twisted Fork while walking along Granville after seeing a movie, and wanting a light supper, we decided to try it out. We were greeted by partner/bartender/maitre d' Mike Leslie, a delightfully affable host, who invited us to sit wherever we felt comfortable. Although it was later in the evening there were not many empty tables but we  found a  comfortable booth and settled in.

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