My NYC foodie fantasy came true: I spent a fall afternoon at the Union Square Green Market with author, culinary historian, chocolate tasting-tour expert, Les Dames Escoffier member and of course NYC mom, Alexandra Leaf. She answers my “NYC Food Tips From A New Yorker Who Really Cooks” questions at the end of this post. Check out Alexandra’s Chocolate Fest: A Walk-Around Tasting event on March 14th, at the 92nd St. Y (I’ll be there with a spicy chocolate fountain!).
Hanging out with Alexandra is like walking around with a live New York City culinary Who’s Who. She knows everybody! Plus, she is an absolute doll and wealth of information. We can talk for hours (and did) about food and more glorious food!
We chatted with:
Luisa Somers, owner of Dancing Ewe Farm— Alexandra is a champion of their fantastic sheep and cow raw milk cheeses and we got their sheep Pecorino. Luisa and her hubby closed the cheese production for the winter and headed to Italy to make olive oil [Insert jealousy here]. I loved the care with which she wrapped the cheese in paper and tied it with yarn.
Richard Ruben, chef and ICE cooking instructor, who was shopping at the market with his “Cooking in New York: A Five-Day Global Culinary Adventure”students (Alexandra teaches the French Day part of this week long course.).
The folks at the Queens Farm stand, the last working farm in New York City, circa 1697. It’s located on 47 acres of farmland, in Floral Park, Queens. Their produce was stunning!!
Chef Peter Hoffman from Savoy Restaurant. A chef that used to work for him, lives behind me in Brooklyn. She is a singing chef too!
Restaurateurs Palma D’Orazio and her husband Pierre Brée who own Palma on Cornelia Street. They were shopping for their restaurant and had just bought all the gorgeous lettuce that we were going to buy — RATS!! They’re a lovely couple, must get to their place soon.
James Oseland, the Editor-in-Chief of Saveur magazine
I could have pulled up a chair and hung out all day, but the market makes you HUNGRY so we went back to her place and she whipped up a delicious lunch:
Omelette with pecorino cheese and fines herbes that are grown in a communal herb garden on her building’s roof — I want to live there!!!
Tomato salad made from an assortment of the last tomatoes from my garden. It’s funny, I always eat one type of tomato at a time. She mixed them together and the result was gorgeous and delicious.
Roasted potatoes which she made in this unusual stove top, clay potato roaster that she got as a wedding present. It came from a remote village in France. It’s only for roasting potatoes and chestnuts! It made divine roasted potatoes in 30 minutes. She roasted them dry and the drizzled them with olive oil and dusted them with this homemade garlic salt.
Chocolate Cake: A little something she happened to have in the fridge YUM!— She made it with a blend of chocolates including Pralus “Venezuela”, some Guittard and some Valrhona and Kate’s sweet butter from Maine. I love how food people just happen to have the most delectable things on hand. Right now I have ‘Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte” and “Harvest Pie” in my freezer, plus the last of the Xmas cookies for anyone who pops in— Come over!)
NYC Food Tips From Alexandra Leaf: A New Yorker Who Really Cooks
WHEN I’M COOKING
- Three Favorite NY Stores/Shopping for Ingredients: Lifethyme (health food store), Sunrise Market (Japanese Market), Murray’s Cheese
- Where I Shop For Cooking Equipment: Bridge Kitchenware or JB Prince
- What I Cook When I’m Short On Time: An omelet usually with cheese and herbs if I have them on hand
- Favorite Cooking Holiday: New Year’s Eve
- The Dish I’m Known For: An almost flourless chocolate cake
WHEN I’M NOT COOKING
- Three NY Upmarket Restaurants I Love: Gotham Bar and Grill, Orsay Restaurant, San Domenico
- Three NY Casual Food Places I Love: The Hummus Place, North Square, Bella Vitae
- Favorite NY Noshing Neighborhood: The East Village
- NYC Insider Food Tip: The pizza “Bianca” from Grand Daisy Bakery. Best bargain in town.
- Need Dessert In A Hurry: Get chocolates from Bespoke Chocolates or Cheese from Murray’s or gelato from GROM