Don't worry, the pig is still here. I've been traveling most of the last two weeks and have a backlog of reviews to publish.
[Pink Pig Time Machine: October 20, 2016]
Ah, mid-October, grey and melancholy. But brightened up ten years ago by some casual eats and a couple of good stage shows.
Literature was in the air too, as I began attending a Robert Musil reading group led by Burton Pike at the Mercantile Library (now the Center for Fiction).
[Free Stuff by Wilfrid: October 3, 2016]
Back in January, I trudged through the cold to sample superior bar food at the Greenwich Village branch of The Malt House. It had been open since 2012, but the owners were excited about their newer, grand, finer dining version on Maiden Lane in the FiDi.
The ground floor Arch Bar from above: courtesy The Malt House
Nine months later, I was pleased to accept an invitation to sample my way through a good section of the menu at the second Malt House (and there are rumors of a third).
[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: October 3, 2016]
Yes, this pig was more orange than pink. A nice, fatty pork shoulder, well rubbed with annatto, garlic and sazón, and cooked long and slow. I ate cochinita pibil several days at the end of September ten years ago. Including in tacos, in quesadillas, and with Native American "fry bread."
I did eat out too.
[Pigging by Wilfrid: October 3, 2016]
I just keep going back to Whole Foods to buy the Windham, made by Grafton Village Cheese and aged by Crown Finish Caves in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. This may not be a special occasion cheese like a Rogue River Premium Reserve or a seasonal Vacherin, but as an every day cheese you can't do much better.
Somewhere between a Cheddar and a firm Tomme, this has a creamy, nutty, almost sweet paste, balanced by the sour flintiness you look for in the crust.
[Pigging by Wilfrid: September 26, 2016]
Yes, end of summer, start of fall, and you're still in the streets as much as possible, walking across Central Park, watching soccer games, going to food festivals, finding yourself in shirt-sleeves at midnight on a cool night.
Well that's me anyway, so here's a dump from the in-tray to the out-tray featuring a random range of refuellings.
[New York Peasant by Wilfrid: September 26, 2016]
Shows at the Grey Art Gallery in Washington Square drawing on documentation of the modern avant-garde, both from NYU's Fales Library and other sources, have been unfailingly informative. The current (through December 10) two floor exhibit devoted to Charlotte Moorman and work she inspired is just outstanding.
Known always as the topless cellist, for some of her controversial early perfomances, and as the subject of a remarkable video sculpture by Nam June Paik (detail above), Moorman spent years instigating happenings, including founding the Avant-Garde Festival of Art.
[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: September 26, 2016]
The route home from Paris meant a final night in London, again at Hazlitt's Hotel, and I had time for lunch at Jimmy's before heading to the airport.
Sadly now closed, Jimmy's was legendary. Opened in 1948, it was a basement Greek restaurant next door to the even more legendary Bar Italia espresso bar on Frith Street. Down the stairs, you found a dark dining room staffed by Greek waiters who seemed to have been there since the first night.
[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: September 22, 2016]
Diverting my attention briefly from my stomach, I did some exhibition-going the next day, and stumbled serendipitously across a survey of the Dreyfus affair at the Musee d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaisme in the Marais, replete with contemporary photographs. Then Cubism and Surrealism at the Pomidou.
Lunch was in an old dining room known as Machon d'Henri, packed with regulars; dinner at the rather more ambitious Chez Michel, just a short walk from Le Gard du Nord. It had an acclaimed young chef, who turned out--very audibly--to be a screamer in the kitchen. Here's what I wrote:
[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: September 21, 2016]
This was a good market day. I set out early and took in the food stands at Place Maubert and Aligre, stopping in the lovely Baron Rouge wine bar for some andouille de pays (that's the sliced, cold andouille, not the hot andouillette). Later on I made it to Raspail.
I managed to squeeze in two meals. Dinner was at the sedate, conservative Chez Maître Paul, a left bank outpost of the Franche-Comté. That followed lunch at Au Moulin-au-Vent, better known as Chez Henri. Here's that I said back then:
[Pink Pig Time Machine: September 20, 2016]
Dinner that first night? One of the veteran regional restaurants which allow Parisians to take a virtual journey to one of the country's many bread baskets: L'Ambassade d'Auvergne. Forty years old then, fifty this year, and still going strong.
There is no serious alternative to ordering the classic dishes on the menu. Here's my take on it from 2006:
[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: September 19, 2016]
Mid-September 2006 I embarked on a food trip, pure and simple. I rarely travel just for food, not matter how important eating turns out to be on the journey. But this was explicitly a pilgrimage to the classic bistros of Paris. No trendy restaurants bistronomiques, no Michelin four star indulgences. The solid mainstream: because you don't know what you've got till its gone.
It will take all week to tell you about it, but we'll start off by touching down in London, booking into Hazlitt's Hotel on Frith Street, and taking a pint at the Coach & Horses before a late supper.
[Pink Pig Time Machine: September 15, 2016]
Does everyone remember Gotham Book Mart. I used to hang out in its penultimate location (amidst the Diamond stores) all the time. Anyway, I was there ten years ago, my diary says. I also discovered John Allan's salon inside Saks Fifth Avenue, which became my regular grooming spot while working around Rock Plaza.
But you don't care about any of that; you care what I ate.
[Pigging by Wilfrid: September 12, 2016]
I went through the MePa to a joint with no name. Or something like that. You know, I thought Untitled was a dumb name for a restaurant, even given the arts reference, when it first opened at the old Whitney up on Madison.
But after five years, and in its new home in the sparkling new Whitney, it's well enough established that the name doesn't matter any more. I kept looking through the big windows while waiting to get into the Stuart Davis show this summer, and decided I should check it out.
[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: 9/12/2016]
A good ten days of R&R in the DR in August 2006, not least hanging out on the balcony of a recently acquired apartment, reading Deleuze & Guattari's Mille Plateaux and wishing we didn't have to rent the place out.
There was also a close encounter with pigs/pork.
[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: August 17, 2016]
With chef Daniel Humm firmly in place, it was back to EMP in August 2006 (has he really been there over ten years?) to see what he was up to.
In non-food news, I was at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue for the spectacular French Art Books exhibit which had opened in the spring. Glad I didn't miss that, including a first chance to see Sonia Delaunay's illustrated strip setting for that seminal modernist poem, Blaise Cendrars' "La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France."
[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: August 11, 2016]
Playing catch-up with the ten years ago diary, I find myself surprised at how disappointing Tom Colicchio's west side venture Craftsteak was. As a total convert to Craft, I welcomed an option I expected to be easier to book (Craft was still a tough table in 2006), even if half the menu was given over to long-aged steaks.
In fact, Craftsteak offered a bewildering variety of steaks, in terms of origin, cut, and how long they'd spent in dry storage.
[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: August 9, 2016]
Looks like I did a lot of eating at the height of summer ten years ago, despite the city temperature hitting the big three.
On the art side, I was looking at Rudy Burckhardt's paintings at Tibor Nagy, described as "celebrating the democratic possibilities of shared urban space. " I also saw the remarkable documentary program ranging from the South Bronx to Detroit, Urbanspaces, at Two Boots Pioneer. Oh, and there were a bunch of snakes, lizards, and skinks even, at the American Museum of Natural History. Which brings me to food.
[Pigging by Wilfrid: August 1, 2016]
Lazy days. Hot, rainy days. Here are a couple of sandwiches I ate recently, one to get out of the heat, one to get out of a thunderstorm, one historic and one new.
Well, P.J. Clarke's is kind of historic. I haven't researched the details, but it's been altered and reformulated over the years, so you're not eating something from the 1940s.
[Pink Pig Time Machine: August 1, 2016]
Ten years ago, chef Paul Liebrandt had his first great New York setting at Gilt, the room which had previously framed Le Cirque 2000, at the New York Palace Hotel.
He'd impressed at Atlas, on Central Park South, but at Gilt--for the brief time he was there--he had the chance to unleash what he'd learned from Richard Neat and Marco Pierre White in London and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, channeled through his own demanding vision.