'New York Times' Dining Roundup

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It's Cookbook Season: From molecular gastronomy to comfort food, arty books to nostalgic memoirs, new cookbooks abound.

The Drops of the Gods: A manga series follows spunky Shizuku as he learns about wine, allowing the reader to do the same. The fictional hero has quickly become the most influential voice in Asia’s wine markets.

Restaurants Feel the Pinch: Restaurants have been hardest hit in places where the economy has struggled longest. The loss is not just financial; "there just isn’t the same buzz.”

Kasha Varnishkes: Kasha, toasted hulled buckwheat, is not especially versatile. But kasha varnishkes —kasha, bow ties, loads of slow-cooked onions, and fat—is wonderful enough to give it kitchen cred.

Suitcase Clones: Consumers obsess over the arcane issue of grape clones. But Eric Asimov says, "The grand cru association is a little like picking up a guitar like one Jimi Hendrix used and expecting 'Purple Haze' to burst out."

One Pot Feast: A bubbling pot of cranberry beans and collards with andouille will coax the inner green-lover out of nearly anyone.

Two Star: That's what Frank Bruni grants Allegretti, which captures south of France magic in briny soup and zippy cuttlefish ragout.

Shake Shack Uptown: Upper West Siders get an indoor Shake Shack in their 'hood.

La Vineria: The new Hell's Kitchen spot serves up unpretentious, simple Italian food.

Avant-Garde Chef Does Upscale Comfort Food: At Bloomingdale Road, the lamb comes with popcorn, and a peanut-butter-and-jelly tart with marshmallow ice cream invokes childhood Fluffernutter nostalgia.

Artisanal Soy Sauce: Bluegrass Soy Sauce was inspired by the small soy breweries of Japan, but boasts an impeccable Kentucky pedigree.

Ceasar Salad's Birthplace: Caesar’s Restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico claims it invented Caesar salad in 1924. Julia Child ate the salad there, and they still serve up a delicious Caesar.

AQ Kafé: Columbus Circle gets a spot selling Scandinavian-style breads and treats.

Blood Orange Liqueur: Solerno is not gimmicky, it's good: more complex than Cointreau and fresher tasting than Grand Marnier.

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