Wednesday, 29 September 2010

NYC Eating

Coffee and Continental breakfast
Cafe Gitane - Italian and Frog petit dejeuner hang out
McNally Jackson - Self-consciously curated left wing books for all day browsing and chewing
Think Coffee - Crap coffee but good outdoor seating on Bowery
Joe - Thick black coffee on a bench in West Village

The Standard Grill - Big sunglasses, models and fantastic food (ghetto chic)
Cafe Habana - Bad cuban food, great cuban music, waitresses that look fresh from Havana (ghetto chic)
Bubby's - Same as The Standard Grill but with babies. Arrive early or risk being run over by prams (preppy)
Bar Marche - Good food for crying over boys (preppy)
Public - Australian modern food (upscale-ish)

Lunch (all are good for taking parents, in-laws and clients)
Any michelin star restaurant with a prix fix menu (Nougatine, Bouley, Joel Rubichon etc)
Any Keith Mcnally restaurant (Balthazar, Pulino's, Mineta Tavern, Pastis etc)
Cipriani Downtown - Yuppy-st Tropez sort of place

Momofoku - Ramen. If the queue is killing you, go round the corner to Leon (hipster casual)
Hecho en Dumbo - Modern Mexican, mean Mezcal cocktails. Don't expect to leave sober
EN Japanese Brasserie - (minimalist)
The Modern - Full on at the MOMA (parentally friendly)
Adour at the St Regis - Deliciously French (parentally friendly)
Wallse - Minimalist Austrian (parentally friendly)

Detox (Go alone with your dog)
Liquiteria - every juice on earth
Angelica's Kitchen - raw, vegan food for those who love their bodies more than life

Parentally friendly = somewhere your father feels comfortable. Well lit, tablecloths, space between the tables and waiters in closed shoes
Ghetto Chic = fashionably grungy. Kate Moss sort of hang outs
Minimalist = upscale but no table cloths
Preppy = pea coats, navy blue jeans and alice bands


4am in Hong Kong. Can't wait for the old body clock to re-set. Any appetite I had for writing was sucked out of me by the 17 hour flight, which was made even more arduous when my freshly unopened FT Weekend (with mag) was swiped when I went to the bathroom. I spent 10 hours festering and thinking of ways to track it down - loudspeaker, frisking everyone before they left the plane..the air hostess (tron?) gave me the WSJ to appease me, but that's like replacing a baby's dummy with its finger. Not quite the same effect.

So, here are some shots from my crap iphone camera of my wonderings through the city. Loved every minute of it, but oh so happy to be home.

Early morning in the Upper East Side. Just before the poodles and facelifts hit the road.

Soho after trying on Ralph Lauren shoes that actually fit.

Any-juice-on-earth bar with Micheal Jackson hits blaring over the blenders, patrons with designer tattoos and orange nails (on the girls..and some boys). Need I say it's the East Village.

Our coffee shop. On our street. By our home. Obligatory attire: Ray Bans.

Great Jones Street. Sorry this is an even more crap picture than the other four.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

NYC - Part I

It's 2 am and I'm wide awake in New York on a school night. I'm here for meetings with Le Bureau. Here to meet the team etc. As I've promised myself not to write about work, I thought I'd fill you in on what I've been up to otherwise.

Other than relieving Duane Reade of its entire stock of Tylenol PM, buying shoes my size, blubbing throughout the Matisse exhibition at the MOMA and wondering around the city, I also managed to get stuck in the Hudson Hotel lift for 43 minutes (no, I wasn't counting) which, after letting them know that I was fully aware that they had breached every safety regulation in New York state, resulted in me getting upgraded from my wooden cell to a larger wooden cell with studded white sofas, a bathroom that looks like it was used in "Psycho" and free booze and lodging for the rest of the week. Not bad for 43 minutes of suspended disbelief.

After the lift experience, I then went out with a friend to recover at a restaurant in the Upper West Side (I was an hour late, so we stayed close to the hotel. Yes, I do feel I have to defend why I went for dinner in the UWS - one of the deadest neighbourhoods in NYC), where we were joined by a mouse. Needless to say, more free booze followed along with much bowing and scraping from the manager. Again, not bad for a little fur in our soup.

Despite all the above, it's so good to be in our old home, and, as the Americans would put it - I'm feeling "blessed" to be here.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Seasons greetings

There's something about the note in the lift that sends a shiver down my spine. I can only think it's the interweaving of well-wishing with flashes of imagery of your children getting hurt, you getting arrested and someone from "Leisure and Cultural Services" coming by your home and hoisting them off to a workhouse, to become pauper apprentices.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Cooking Class for Cooks

I've just come back from a French cooking class.

6 of us gathered together at 10am this morning. All girls. All with "starving" men at home. One girl had actually been given the class by her boyf as a birthday present. I spotted him just before we begun, kissing her goodbye before hastily running off to get his hair cut. Well they do say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

Anyway, there we were, a Scott, a Canadian, an American, a Frog and me. And, of course, the French chef and his Sri Lankan sidekick, Jaguar. No I didn't make his name up.

So, aprons on and the class begins. Chef thinks outloud as he throws ingredients together and adds odds and ends to our mixtures. Questions asked in English are ignored and anything referring to measurements or quantities are answered with a shrug and a huffing sound. Other questions considered too silly to answer include where to buy the lamb we were making, "ziz is a restaurrant, we ave a supplier", do you have this recipe written down anywhere "mais non" shrug and, can I beat this in a blender, "Aie aie aie, t'es americaine ou quoi??!"

So, with much follow-the-leadering, secret additions from le chef and fetching-and-getting by Jaguar, lunch was made. And wolfed down by the girlies. Sorry boys.

Here's the recipe (typed hastily into my iphone with grubby hands):

Lamb with garlic sauce

Garlic Sauce
White wine 1 cup
4 garlic cloves crushed
Large pinch pepper
Bunch fresh thyme
Beef stock cube
Add cream at halfway reduction (1 dollop)
Boil until reduced
Put through sieve with spoon (squeeze)
Bring mixture to boil
Add roux (flour, water, butter over heat) and mix
Add salt or anchovies to taste

Garlic Sauce
Remove fat
Paper towel dry
Cut in half
Olive oil in pan
Pepper and dried thyme
Hot pan
Fry on outside in small batches
Sage and thyme (dry)
Put in oven at 180c or let sit

Cherry tomatoes
Cut in halves
Add olive oil
Stick in oven

Ratatouille (ziz we learn in anozer class if we want)

Warm water (2 cups)
Butter (1 cup)
Pinch salt
Tsp sugar
Let butter melt in hot water
Add 1 cup flour once butter is boiling (take off flame)
Put on lowwww flame and knead until it's no longer sticky
Add three eggs and knead until you get ribbons (keep adding eggs until you get ribbons)
Pipe onto baking sheet




200 c slightly open open ( to let steam out). 20 min. Then close and reduce to 170c and let dry 20 mins

Chocolate sauce
Black chocolate (72%)
Put in 1 cm water
Don't burn
Add water to make a little runny

Profiteroles with vanilla ice-cream, chocolate sauce and almond thingies

Now I'm recovering on the sofa. Tonight we will be eating spaghetti or something equally innocuous.

By the way, in case you're thinking of also doing a mad hatters cooking class, here are the details:
La Terrasse , G/F, No.19 Old Bailey Street, Mid-levels, Central, Hong Kong (852) 2147 2225

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Proust and Churros

The moment I bit into the toasted pan con tomate piled high with jamon and dripping in olive oil, I was transported back to lazy days spent in Sitges, long walks in Llafranc and family lunches on the terrace in Barcelona.

Morcilla de Burgos sent me back to my first taste when I was 7 or 8 at the "Captain" bar where my parents used to spend hours on a Sunday morning reading the paper, while I sat there staring into space and getting fidgety. I remember complaining, bored as usual, and my mother looking over her paper and saying dryly "the wall has come down in Berlin - and you're bored...."

The paella, the rice perfectly a punto, took me back to many summer lunches had in Llafranc at our favorite restaurant - until they told us never to come back after mum complained that the muscles weren't fresh and the crema catalana was too burnt. Dad then had to swoop in and talk to the restaurant owner, who was a grumpy tight lipped granny with a red beehive. She said that he was always welcome. Just not with her.

Finally, the churros con chocolate. Delicately sprinkled with sugar. Have only been enjoyed out of a truck at 6am by yours truly. Daylight eating was quite delightful.

So to all who love Spain. Here's to FOFO.

Catalan Kitsch (the penguins..not me)

Churros in something more presentable than a paper cone

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Women's Weekly

Yesterday I went over to the office manager's desk to ask about some mundane subject like expenses. As I walked over towards her, she looked up from what she was reading, and stared across the room in a sort of daze.

I looked over her shoulder to see what she was reading, and for all intents and purposes it was Chinese Playboy. Petite women pouted on the pages, wearing frilly knickers and bras over their bits and pieces. I said something along the lines, of oh-that's-nice and she nodded and glowed in appreciation.

I then noticed as I looked round at the rest of the desks, that most of the women had a copy of this mag balanced on top of their paperwork, or jutting out of their bags. It would seem that this is the magazine de jour. The "People" of Hong Kong. It's called Face, and the girls LOVE it.

Now, if that's what the chicas are reading..what are the chicos reading? I wonder...