This is a boldly flavored cocktail created by my chef, Michael Pardus, who teaches the cuisines of Asia at the Culinary Institute of America. Flavors galore—Meyer lemon, vanilla, ginger, American whiskey. I especially admire the clever use of ginger from a chef who uses it all day long in class (he taught me to peel ginger with a spoon—works great; he sometimes adds fine julienne to the glass to chew on as he sips). All the elements swirl beautifully together (regular lemon juice will work too if you can’t find Meyers). For a light summer cocktail, he tops it off with a couple ounces of seltzer (and maybe an extra splash of whiskey if you’re Chef Pardus). The vanilla, delivered via a simple syrup, and ginger mix beautifully with the whiskey. I chose Dickel Tennessee Read On »

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  My Dinner with Pardus Originally posted July 31, 2008 Do you have any veal hearts?” Pardus asked. The vendor, with happiness and surprise, said, “I do!” He pulled it out of the cooler and said, “How about five bucks?” “Sold!” What happens when a chef visits for the weekend? My old instructor and now close friend Mike Pardus (pronounced PAR-dus—some people think because he’s a chef, it’s pronounced par-DOO) visited recently. The main fact about Michael is that he is a cook in every fiber of his body, meaning, in part, that when he’s away from his work as a chef instructor at the CIA, when he can do anything he wants because he’s on holiday, he chooses to cook all day. Which is what we did. An impromptu meal, Cleveland style. The occasion Read On »

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Heart is an excellent muscle to eat: it’s lean and flavorful (meaty but not organy—it’s a hard working muscle, not squishy spleen), it’s got a good bite, and it’s inexpensive (I bought the three-pound grass-fed beef heart for six bucks last Saturday). And one more thing: it puts to use a cut that is often thrown away; it’s important that we do our best to make use of all parts of the animals we kill for our food. I use a beef heart here, but you can use a veal heart which is a little more tender and mild.  I first had beef heart a couple summers ago when Pardus visited. He stuck it on skewers, a good strategy because you invariably end up with different sized chunks after trimming.  Last year, during Pardus’s visit, Read On »

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One of my favorite things on earth to eat is a well made foie gras torchon. It’s a special preparation of foie gras, fat duck liver, that I first experienced at The French Laundry (the recipe is in The French Laundry Cookbook if you have it).  It’s a three day procedure and brings out the very best in the foie gras when done right.  The duck liver is deveined, typically soaked in milk and salt to remove residual blood, then seasoned and, traditionally, rolled up in a kitchen towel (a torchon, in French), poached, rerolled to compact it and chilled. It’s then eaten cold, a big fat slice of it, with some form of bread and a sweet-sour accompaniment.  The biggest producer of foie gras in the country, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, was making and Read On »

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Donna talked me into a little pre-holiday NYC splurge with Claudia and Michael (Chef Pardus if you’ve read Making of a Chef) this past weekend and we truly indulged, did nothing but eat and drink and nap for 24 hours, and oh man did I learn something from three of the city’s best restaurateurs. Our room was not ready when we got in, so Donna and I strolled over to Beacon where wood roasted oysters were the perfect accompaniment to a Hendricks martini.  The city air was cold and fresh, and the holiday lights made the dark afternoon feel festive and hopeful. Our first dinner was at Minetta Tavern, a place I’ve wanted to go to for months, being a huge huge fan of Keith McNally restaurants, Balthazar and Pastis especially.  Being in a McNally Read On »

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