The Food Maven Diary
More lunching around, more reminders
Just a reminder: There are still some places left at the dinner I am hosting to benefit the Jewish Federation of Greater Monmouth County this Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. This is a very special community-wide event featuring a dinner of old-time New York dishes that I planned and will speak about. Jewish Federation provides food and sustenance for individuals and families locally, in Israel and worldwide. To attend, guests are asked to make a minimum family donation of $500, payable throughout 2005. Call (732) 866-4300. Copies of my new book will be available for purchase and signing.
Also: Tomorrow, Tuesday, I will be signing books at Book Ends in Ridgewood, New Jersey – from 7 p.m.
See my appearance page for my full schedule.
More Lunching Around
Mix in New York , 68 W. 58th St. (212-583-0300), is the work of Alain Ducasse, who is considered by some to be the world's greatest chef. Between his several if not many restaurants he does indeed have the most Michelin stars of any chef – I have lost count. Mix opened to anything but stellar reviews, however, and it was quickly re-conceived with the help of Christian Delouvier, the French chef who is in charge of Ducasse's other kitchen in New York, his namesake restaurant in the Essex House on Central Park South.
In the beginning, much of the food at Mix was served in covered glass dishes that resemble the Petri dishes used in laboratories to grow molds, fungi, bacteria and other micro-organisms – not very appealing. Now, the menu features the two French chefs' "favorite bistrot dishes" and the only one that comes in a lab dish is, somewhat appropriately, the delicious ouef cocotte with piperade and jambon – in other words, casseroled eggs with stewed peppers and ham.
The most notable item on the new menu, however, is the quenelle de brochet et homard, pike dumplings in a lobster sauce sporting good-sized hunks of sweet and tender lobster. Quenelles are hard to come by these days, now that La Caravelle has closed. It was famous for them. But these are just as light and even more flavorful. And I really appreciated those chunks of lobster.
Blanquette de veau, the classic white veal stew, here made particularly lush and delicious, is another reason to come back. I wish the endive baked with ham and cheese in white sauce -- au gratin were more forthrightly seasoned, but some salt and pepper went a long way to brighten them up. The cheese soufflé is divine, and where you can get one of those these days.
Ducasse is known for his phenomenally high prices, but the new Mix, although it can be pricey with appetizers all in the double digits and main courses, even at lunch, in the $20s (and up into the $30s for dinner), but there are, for lunch, three-course and two-course lunches set at $39 and $29 respectively.
The place is swankly contemporary, with booths and tables set before bare brick walls painted white and fronted with glass panels. And not all the food is strictly French, by the way. Thai Beef Salad, Caesar Salad, "Tuscany artisinal pasta" with shellfish and vegetables, and barbecue pork en cocotte are also on the menu.