Sometimes, you just need a change of venue. You need to leave home, go somewhere else, and give your brain and heart a break. I just did that; having returned from a weekend with my daughter, #ExhibitB™ in Los Angeles. We were basically velcroed together (minus a few hours) the entire time I was there. It wasn’t a time to socialize (although we did go to her friend Sarah’s 25th birthday party at a Tiki Bar in Hollywood), or do business of any sort. My agenda was to be with my kid. And we had a blast. Michael said when I returned home I had a giant smile on my face. That’s the point. Or as Exhibit B and I say, “the pernt.”
My guest this week, Andrew Friedman, is one of the country’s preeminent food writers. With his podcast Andrew Talks To Chefs, his blog, Toqueland, and his collaborations with many influential chefs on their cookbooks, he’s a real go-to when you need a recommendation or help securing an impossible reservation. (I’m talking about for myself; not for you.) I can’t wait to hear what his 5 Things are. So stay tuned.
In honor of Andrew, I’m going to do a special list reflecting my favorite dishes (taste tested multiple times by yours truly).
1). Bega Bakery Egg & Cheese: When I think of my life’s favorite foods, my list changes from day to day. Now that I’m ‘quote unquote allergic’ to some foods, I have to make new favorites that are tolerable. But I can never forget the sublime egg and cheese (and spinach and tomato) sandwich that was served at Bega’s Bakery in West Tisbury, (Martha’s Vineyard) Massachusetts. When my exhibits™ were little, we would spend August on the island, renting the same house on Indian Hill Road for nine years. And a five or seven minute walk away was the tiny weathered bakery, prized for this sandwich, pizzas, and I think cookies. I never tried anything but the good coffee and the sandwich. We loved that sandwich! I think it was the intensely flavorful roll, sour and chewy that made all the other ingredients taste so good. In any case, R.I.P. Bega. No photo on the web. No indication online it ever existed except in our memory.
2). Fried chicken at Root & Bone, in the East Village of New York. Allegedly brined in sweet tea with cayenne and paprika and dusted in lemon powder, this chicken is the treat of all treats for me. You know that I’ve admitted that fried chicken is my kryptonite. I’ve never made it myself. I cannot resist it on any menu, even though not all fried chickens are created equal. I still have more kryptonite to try in New York and Brooklyn, and everywhere else.
3). The burgers at J.G. Melon’s. A classic fixture of the Upper East Side, Melon’s has served their excellent hamburgers since 1972 to preppies, grandmas, neighborhood families, and tourists. They serve chili, steak, salads, and club sandwiches too, but most people come for the great burger and distinctive round fries. (Actually, I just read online that they make a fried chicken sandwich. Will have to research.) (What I don’t do for my readers.)
4). This is the kale salad at Il Buco, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Noho, Manhattan. I don’t want to give the (correct) impression that I pursue an unhealthy, ungreen diet. I will have consumed one of these babies before this week is done. I cannot tell you why it’s so good. For. a long time I tried to love kale salad and failed. My friend Jamie told me about this one, and she was right. It’s almost a meal by itself, except then you would deprive yourself of Il Buco’s pastas and entrées.
5). The nachos at Tallula’s in Santa Monica. As required by #ExhibitB. The place, the relaxed vibe — it’s just a block or so from the beach — the kind women who work there… all good. It’s just a cool and inventive Mexican restaurant. Add the nachos and a margarita and you can almost bliss out. Just don’t drink and drive.
5 1/2. The spaghetti bolognese at Jon & Vinny in West Hollywood.
And now Andrew Friedman’s Top 5! His are surprisingly utterly not food related, but they are great, and he explains how he came up with them on our podcast.
1). Elvis Costello.
2). Meditation — his own kind, which works.
3) Walking, especially the streets of New York.
4). Tennis (playing and watching, but mostly playing) and going to the movies. With families with lots of moving parts, and kids that need to be. chauffeured everywhere, you still have to make time for the things you love.
5). Openness to Change. Please listen to Andrew on the podcast. He makes some important observations.
Stay cool and act natural!