Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

In 1984, as a young man, I came to New York for what I called my experimental summer.

I had a few friends here who were willing to put me up and I wanted to see what it was like to do more than just be a tourist. To dip my toe in the water and see if I had what it took to fulfill my dream of living in NYC. I figured four months should give me a pretty good idea.

It was an exciting and scary summer and as you can see I came back again and stayed.

The first job I got was painting fluorescent lines on greeting cards for 2 cents a line. Besides the terrible pay I found it really hard to stay awake, I had a radio in my little room in a loft in the meat packing district on Gansvoort street listening to Tina Turner wondering: what love had to do with it?

I was in love, had been since I was 6 years old, this summer was my very long first date.
I don't remember a time when I didn't want to move to New York City.

My second job was much more interesting.

At first I was applying for a job at a gay bar in the West Village called Uncle Charlies, but they saw I had experience as a waiter in a fancy restaurant so sent me over to a new restaurant that the owner of the bar had just opened called La Grand Corniche which was located at Christoper and the West Side Highway (it has since become Bailey House a hospice for people with HIV/AIDS).

I'll never forget the job interview, first a classically handsome man with a dark brown beard asked me a few questions, he was so relaxed and friendly, after he was finished he said:
I want you to meet our chef she has to OK every new waiter.

After a few minutes a short, feisty, young woman came to the table, sat down and asked me what a hollandaise sauce was made. I not only answered her question, but went on, in brown noise fashion, to tell her of two other sauces that can be made using a hollandaise base (mouselline and béarnaise if memory serves me). I got the job.

The chef was Anne Rosenzweig who went on to open her upper east side classic new American restaurant Arcadia. This was her Summer job after leaving Vanessa, which had already propelled her to culinary stardom.

It was a heady summer for me, I got to wait on such diverse personalities as James Beard, Sandy Duncan and a bunch of people from Vogue magazine. It was the year I learned a new appreciation for food and was introduced to corn cakes with crème fraiche and caviar as it was made by Anne.

I've made this recipe every since. It is the perfect special occasion recipe, easy, delicious and sophisticated here is my version (I've posted it before as a variation) of the Anne Rosenzweig classic:

Corn Cakes with Caviar

In a bowl mix: 3/4 cup organic corn meal, 1 cup flour , 1/3 cup organic cane sugar, 3 teaspoons organic baking powder, 1/3 cup finely chopped scallions or chives, 1 teaspoon salt, freshly grated black pepper combine.

To the dry ingredients add: 1 - 1 1/2 cups fresh corn, 1 cup whole milk, 1 egg well beaten and 2 T melted, unsalted butter.

Coat a large skillet with canola oil and bring to medium high, just before smoking add a tablespoon of the corn mixture. Work quickly as you want these to be nicely brown but not dark.

You can make several batches and keep them warm in the oven, patting the excess oil off with a towel.

It's best if you can make one batch at a time and serve them fresh out of the skillet, I like put out a spread of crème fraiche/sour cream and caviar (you can also do cream cheese and smoked salmon) and if you're feeling fancy a bowl of finely chopped chive or scallion.

1 comment:

Kurt Brown said...

I think it was the back story that made me want to actually try this recipe!

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