Culinary Highlights from Terry Zarikian
Week of October 17th
Terry’s column this week provides a glimpse of some of his favorite New York restaurants, including Olmsted, ZZ’s Clam Bar and Red Farm. His trip to New York was to attend Lee Shrager’s 2017 Food Network and Cooking Chanel NYCWFF (New York City Wine & Food Festival) so enjoy Terry’s “Snap Bites” from the Festival too!
With its own urban farm, Olmsted and its beautiful backyard garden where people gather before or after dinner for well crafted cocktails, highly curated wines, has lots of room to forget you are in the middle of Brooklyn. Modest, but super-star-chef Greg Baxtrom serves highly thought-out dishes worthy of Michelin attention, at moderate prices and superlative quality.
A “snack” of Riceless Nigiri of Fluke with Calabrian chiles sits on top of juicy cold watermelon. Beer-Battered Delicata Squash Rings appear to be like donut rings with a kale glaze and festive sprinkles of puffed wild rice, sun flower seeds and toasted nori. There is no ham in the Green Eggs & Ham where bits of smoked swordfish, tasting like ham, and tiny mushrooms are topped by the creamy foamy kale-colored egg scramble. Then we have the Olmsted’s Carrot Crepe, a stunning, all-orange composition of carrot French style crepe, serving as a blanket atop perfectly steamed little neck clams, sitting in a pool of carrot juice and intense clam juice sauce, brightly decorated with sunflowers petals and carrot ribbons on a bight orange rimmed plate. Magnificent! Heirloom Tomato Schnitzel, served with small sides of ricotta, bagna cauda and piperade, and Grilled Pork Belly with cranberry beans and dandelion greens are two examples of Greg Baxtrom’s passion for inventive, delicious and down-to-earth dishes.
659 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238
When Jeffrey Chodorow suggested we meet at ZZ’s Clam Bar, I was a bit apprehensive, expecting it would be a rustic, no-frills, raw clam bar. But a visit to their website changed my mind. Still, I wasn’t expecting a bouncer at the door, who, unless you have reservation, won’t allow you in! Once inside, I realized ZZ’s is tiny and only seats 12 people. This is a place to feel special and cozy, as the service and the food are even more than special. A welcome amuse bouche of briny chopped clams on toast was the perfect first bite to go along with our cocktails, The Pineapple, made with American-distilled Gin, house limoncello and chamomile, and the other Gin-based drink, a favorite of mine, The Pistachio with a distinctive taste of marzipan, bright green juice and warm spices. Ceviche of Lobster with coconut milk and chile was perfectly prepared, as were the two pieces of rich and extremely fresh Uni Toast. A fine Crudo of Cured Salmon was tossed like a salad with trout roe and a haystack of fried leeks. We went for the top guns: Shimaaji Tartare with ricotta and a nice layer of fine Caviar and the amazing super rich (for rich stomachs and pockets) Tuna Carpaccio with shaved foie gras and bone marrow.
ZZ’s Clam Bar
169 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012
The love child of Brooklyn’s Ed Schoenfeld, known as the food guru of Chinese food, and chef Joe Ng, along with young restaurateur Zach Chodorow, is Red Farm, to me the most exciting green-market-driven, modern Chinese restaurant in NYC. With lots of new, flashy and exciting-sounding copycats prancing around seeking their success, no one can deliver Red Farm’s consistent creativity based on top quality and finesse. Their dumplings are legendary. Light, fun and distinctive is the plate of “Pac Man” Seafood Dumplings (one of the most photographed dishes on the web!). The Diced Tuna Salad, with crispy noddles, edamame and a a generous serving of salmon roe, has to be tossed to be properly enjoyed, but still, the most unique Schoenfeld invention is Katz’s Pastrami Egg Rolls, served with an addictive sweet mustard sauce. As much as people try to copy this “original,” its simply impossible to even come close. As much as I love many of the long list of entrees, I come back time after time to have another favorite, the Shrimp Stuffed Crispy Chicken.
2170 Broadway, New York, NY 10024
Terry’s adds “Snap Bites” from the 2017 Food Network and Cooking Channel’s New York City Wine & Food Festival:
Alain Ducasse’s protégé and executive chef at his NYC outpost of Benoit, Laëtitia Rouabah, served a stellar classic Volaille Farçie with Foie Gras, along with a melange of textured parsnip & mini batons of fragrant Urbani black truffles.
First night at CORE:club, Francis Mallmann’s (Los Fuegos at FAENA) smoked up the place with everything cooked on the grill, but his Napoleon of Dulce de Leche was more than just a millefeuille of fine puff pastry (stretched with charcoal-burned rolling pins, before baking to the ultimate crispness), layered with the Latin American dulce de leche, condensed milk caramel, but also with a marvelous chocolate ganache and crème patissiere.
The following night, also at CORE:club a dinner that I would rename, the Beauty and the Beast (Rodolfo Guzman and Greg Baxtrom, respectively), had nothing to do with personal appearances. Guzman’s A La Van Gogh Trout with Sea Carrots was a a visual masterpiece but so delicately flavored, that by contrast, Baxtrom’s Grilled Pork Collard topped with Reading cheese raclette and highly roasted brocoli rabe, was a beast that knocked tastes buds around the room.