Taking the dinner party offline on WORTH STREET

Kat at Worth KitchenTamy and friends of Worth KitchenPanna Cotta at Worth Kitchen

I GAVE UP KEEPING MY FACEBOOK PROFILE PRIVATE a few months back when the number of requests from people who I’d never met began to exceed the number of those I have. If Frank Bruni, former New York Times restaurant critic, will accept my cold friend request, then I will accept random invitations too. I do, however, draw the line at creepy profile photos, Jesus references, bad grammar, and guys who have mostly Asian female friends. But the web is the world in which I live and, for the most part, I embrace it.

Still, as enthusiastic about social media as I am, it takes an extra-large leap of faith to invite your online community into your home. This is where Tamy and Felipe of Thursday’s at Worth Street come in. As stated on their blog, the mission:

“Somewhere in the streets of NYC is a small apartment with a kitchen that serves two, four, and even seven. It happens every Thursday night and the combination of guests and recipes are endless.”

I’ve attended several “underground” supper clubs in the city and the food has generally hovered above homemade, but below restaurant calibre; guests are usually friends of friends; price of dinner is around $40. What sets Worth Kitchen apart from others, then, is that Felipe cooks with deft hands despite lacking formal training; the couple is committed to inclusivity – within reason, of course – while aiming to bring together weekly groups of diners with complimentary interests; and they want to keep Thursday’s at Worth Street free.

When Worth Kitchen announced on Twitter there were open seats at the table that Thursday, I leapt at the chance to meet Tamy and Felipe.

My Chinese upbringing taught me to never show up at someone’s door without food or other token of gratuity, so given Worth Kitchen‘s policy of not charging guests, I was left in limbo. I thought of bringing dessert, but before I could buy a pie, I learned that Worth Kitchen teams up with Tribeca-based Frankly Wines to offer guests the option of purchasing wine that’s specially selected to pair with that week’s menu. The affordable five (or so) bottle list is made available on Frankly Wine‘s website for perusal, purchase, and is delivered free of charge to the couple’s home right before dinner on Thursday night. Worth Kitchen brings together the convenience of restaurant dining with the inimitable intimacy of being home with friends. If only every dinner experience was so seamless and easy.

The night began with a toast before flounder ceviche with cut corn and Peruvian chili appeared around 8PM. The appetizer led to the next highlight – lamb chops with mint pesto sauce and a square of cheesy quinoa, which reminded me of a savory rice krispie treat. We talked about the food, the wine (La Butte Gamay 2009 was especially well-received), our work, ways that Tamy and Felipe can meet their neighbors in the building, how to make the apartment soundproof, and the colorful guests they’ve had previously. They also pointed out that my friend Kat and I were the first true strangers – plucked fresh off the internet – that they’d ever invited. I have a good feeling this is no longer the case. amy • oct 24, 2010

Follow Tamy and Felipe on their blog Thursday’s at Worth Street and twitter (@worthkitchen) for notes on the latest dinner and recipes. The dessert pictured on the bottom is mint and ginger-infused coconut panna cotta with mango.

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October 24, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . TriBeCa, twitter, Wine. 2 comments.

WINE COCKTAILS with Joe Campanale

I’VE KNOWN OF JOE CAMPANALE FOR A WHILE. After all, there are few restaurant owners under the age of thirty, like Joe, in New York City and who happens to own not one, but three solid establishments in the West Village – dell’anima, L’Artusi, and the newest, a wine bar called Anfora. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I met Joe at a “meeting of minds” hosted by a food corporation that wanted to pick our brains about snacks. (I’m a snack expert, didn’t you know?) I recognized Joe and after shaking his hand, told him I was a fan of his mom, Karen Campanale, who so diligently keeps her twitter friends in the know with food recommendations and motherly updates on her son. I figured that if I name-dropped his mom, he’d warm up to collaborating on a Stupidly Simple Snacks video. I am a genius.

All kidding aside, I really love how this episode turned out. The only constant is change and it was only a matter of time before we added alcohol to the snack series. Without further ado, I present three light, stupidly simple wine cocktails – the spritz from Austria, Tinto de Verano (aka “poor man’s sangria”) from Spain, and the Italian bicicletta. Watch Joe go! I’m sure his mom would be proud. amy • september 7, 2010

SPRITZ ice | sparkling water | Grüner Veltliner or Riesling
TINTO DE VERANO ice | lemon-lime soda, like Sprite | red wine, like Cabernet Franc or Tempranillo | orange wedge or lemon slice
BICICLETTA ice | Campari | aromatic white wine, like Scheurebe or Riesling | orange wedge

MUSIC Julian Bachlow • Stars In The Moonlight • buy the song on iTunes

September 7, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, West Village, Wine. 7 comments.

VILLAGE TART • Pastries Short Ribs FREE TIRAMISU

VILLAGE TART 86 Kenmare Street, New York City, 212 226 4980. Follow them on Twitter @villagetart

I TEND TO AVOID NEW YORK CITY RESTAURANTS WHEN THEY FIRST OPEN, unless I’m required to go for an assignment. Thus, I wasn’t in a rush to dig a fork in Nolita’s Village Tart til opening ceremonies were over and chatter had subsided. I always get there eventually so it doesn’t matter much to me whether I take the first or 55th bite. (more…)

February 20, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Dessert, Nolita, Wine. 2 comments.

I’M NOT A GLUTTON • I JUST BAKE A LOT

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IF I’VE LEARNED ANYTHING FROM BLOGGING IT’S YOU ARE WHAT YOU BLOG. So when I wax poetic on brownies, deep-fried turkeys and show more interest in food than people, it’s easy to assume I’m eating it all too.

I like the way my friend Melody of Gourmet Fury put it: “On the surface, I appear to…spend a third of my day eating, one third cooking, and another third drinking. While one third of that lies true, the rest is merely an illusion...” (Read Mel’s thoughtful post here.)

Those of us who maintain personal blogs are like ducks – calm on the surface, but paddling like mad underneath. If I told you it took me fifteen minutes to photograph Midtown Manhattan behind a bottle of 2006 Ingle Vineyard Cabernet Franc (pictured above left), you might think twice before trading your badge of normalcy for front row seats to the Foodie Freak Show. When I dine out, five-minute photo shoots with the entrees are routine before my date can dig in, as are Twenty Questions with the server.

One blogger, Kerry of NYCMenuGirl, recently asked me how she can turn food blogging into “something real” and “more than a hobby”. Eager to share my infinite wisdom and turn dreams to dust, I replied: Zach of Midtown Lunch is the only blogger I know who makes an income from maintaining his blog full-time.

I went on to extol the virtues of (multiple) day jobs, the possibility of gaining sponsorships, the chance to sharpen the writing blade, and the inimitable satisfaction of enjoying what you’re doing even when it doesn’t pay the bills. Besides, some bloggers get a buzz from seeing themselves listed first in a Google search.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Sometimes the brownies I bake are too sweet (this happens when I use semisweet chocolate in a recipe that wants baking chocolate); other times, the frozen maple mousse pie I make for Thanksgiving (pictured above right) just doesn’t taste that good. The truth is: my photography skills exceed my baking abilities and I should make smaller batches because I never eat it all. I’m not a glutton, I just bake a lot and it’s making my boyfriend fat. amy january 20, 2010

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January 20, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Blogs, brownies, Dessert, Wine. 9 comments.

A NEW YORK STATE OF WINE • offManhattan.com

offManhattan travelUncorked crowdANYONE WHO’S EVER WAITED 12 MONTHS FOR A PEPPERMINT MOCHA knows our yen for some beverages are not only season specific, they are time-sensitive too. We look forward to light cocktails in spring, citrus notes in summer, and the aromas of cider to ease into autumn. Recently, we discovered a new wintertime favorite, mulled wine. Determined to recreate the hot, spice-infused drink at home, we were pleased to find ourselves swimming in bottles of red, white, and pink at City Winery last week to celebrate Empire State grapes at this year’s local wine fest, Uncork New York! Sip, Savor and Shop.

Warmed by City Winery’s rustic space, which was transformed into one cavernous tasting room for the occasion, guests floated from station to station sipping in-state vinos made from grapes grown a mere train ride away. Over 35 wineries participated, including vendors from Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, and Long Island. Speaking of which, in the new year, the Long Island Culture & Wine Winterfest will present six weekends of free jazz concerts at Long Island wineries between February and March. (With end-of-year festivities underway, we’ll definitely need to replenish our supply by then—especially with all that mulled wine we’ll be making.)

Finger Lakes wineries highlighted their “signature wine” Riesling, while Long Island purveyors, like Bouké Wines left us charmed with cHeronreative blends and candy-striped labels. We also met NYC-based winery, Brooklyn Oenology (BOE), which calls the cusp of Greenpoint and Williamsburg home. We especially liked BOE’s artist-designed labels that peel away sticker-style so imbibers can enjoy the art beyond the last drop.

Guests welcomed themselves to alcohol-free fare too, like tart cherry juice from greenmarket stalwart Red Jacket Orchards and sweet-and-savory jams courtesy of Katchkie Farms. With patrons lined elbow-to-elbow for a taste of New York, we were not surprised to find Park Slope’s Palo Santo, a Latin restaurant-wine bar, clean of anticuchos de puerco (skewered pig liver and kidney marinated in chili paste) by the time we reached their booth.

The four-hour event left attendees in high spirits, and we suspect Silver Stream Winery‘s Furry Peach Apple Cider—a medley of hot apple cider, peach port, and cinnamon sticks—had something to do with it. It’s always bittersweet to leave a good party, but an invitation to the next one often alleviates the wait. See you in Long Island.

(Uncorking Winter first appeared on offManhattan.com 12/08/09.)

December 12, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , . event, Manhattan, offManhattan, TriBeCa, Wine. Leave a comment.

The Wrong Year at Corton

Corton

CORTON 239 West Broadway, New York, 212 219 2777

Mar 30 09 | TO COMPLEMENT OUR DINNER, Clare brought two bottles from the Tribeca Grill wine collection. To her disappointment, however, she had grabbed a white from ’97 when she meant to bring one from ’99. Across the table, Jason seemed to enjoy the supposedly subpar vintage and demonstrated the love by downing a glass. But for Clare even Cryovacked cod and mini macaroons, the latter which concluded our three hour meal, were too little too late.

I reminded Clare where we were and to consider the starving kids in Africa. Finally, she got a grip. But it was I who later lost mine when Momofuku Ko came up, which naturally led to discussion of the eatery’s extremely coveted reservations. That was when Jason mentioned he can score seats there. Anytime. (more…)

April 8, 2009. Manhattan, reservation required, TriBeCa, Wine. 1 comment.