Speak Up

Monday, March 31, 2008

DB Bistro

Best Birthday Yet
DB Burger...ahh

DB Bistro was great! Erik and I headed out Sunday night and after sitting in-not at but IN an intersection for 20 minutes we made it and got primo parking right out front. The interior was clearly respecting its namesake looking like a bistro. I don't know what bistros inspired Daniel Boulud because the food was definitely a step up from a typical bistro.

The menu design was interesting. The dualism between the color photo cover of Times Square and the crisp inside menu looked really caught my eye. The set up was by the type of food, not course. It made it a little harder to locate an appetizer, but in the end it was a wise choice because some items on the menu can be made as apps or entrees. And that was a good idea, too.

We had tuna tartare, orecchietti, and two medium cooked DB burgers. The $32 burger is a sirloin filled with braised short ribs, foie gras, and black truffle served on a Parmesean bun with some amazing french fries. An experience it was.

The staff was great, and sommelier Michael Medrigale shared a story of his bicylce trip in Europe...ahhh. Truly this the best place to eat for an after theatre dinner. Or before theatre for that matter.



Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Last year's dessert at Spice Market.

Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday-that was so very nice of you all. I'll be dining at A voce tomorrow night with my BFF chefwife, J. Then DB Bistro on Sunday with my chefhusband, Erik. I'll tell you all about the DB burger later!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This Isn't What I Ordered!

CIA Graduation 2004. Erik and his father, Greg.
Time Out New York just did a rather cute quiz in which the reader must match parental statements to their respective childchef. If you want to take the quiz, do it now and finish this post later because I will be giving away one of the answers. Johnny Iuzzini's father was quoted as saying, “If he was a plumber like his old man, he would have been the boss by now, sitting back, relaxing and collecting union benefits.”

So this leads me into a state of curiosity. What do Erik's parents think of his profession? I know what MY parents think. My mom sweats Jean-Georges and is grateful for the opportunities he's given us. She stole the New York magazine that featured a handsome Jean-Georges flaunting a giant red lobster on his shoulder from her dentist. My father...well he thinks cooking is fine but that it doesn't matter where you work. He's tried to convince Erik to open a restaurant in small-town-Ohio. Nothing is wrong with small town-but things like "duck" and "sushi" don't even fly there.

But as far as Erik's parent's go I don't REALLY know what they think. They support him and take an interest in his cooking. But would they rather see him making more money and coming home at 5 PM? Probably not.

Have your parents or you chef's parents accepted his profession? Did he "turn out" the way they wanted him to? Better?


Monday, March 24, 2008

Contest Winner!

Minna doing some private cheffing.

Congratulations to Minna Suh from Brooklyn, New York for winning the signed Gourmet Girl Mystery Series books by Jessica Conant Park! Minna moved to Brooklyn two and half years ago from Chicago. She works as an editorial assistant at a consumer health website. And no she's not married to a chef, but she is a part-time personal chef on top of her 9-5. Before that she had graduated from culinary school and done an internship with StarChefs.com.

Congrats, Minna! Enjoy the books!


Momokuku Ko-Brutal, ChefHusband- Understanding

As you know, my chef has been trying to get a ressy at Momofuku Ko since it opened. The problem with Ko, and yes it is a problem, is that there are only online reservations and and they fill up in seconds. Seconds! Despite my pleading message to Chang earlier this week I have not heard back from him. Maybe he doesn't read this blog? What a shame.

So last night Erik was trying to get a late night reservation at Ko hoping that someone had cancelled. Well, some ONE did. A single reservation opened. Just one. He took it. I guess on the website you are not able to keep inquiring about a table for 2 so I was going back between one and two and of course there was only ONE stool left at that damn noodle house. We played back and forth with the idea that he should go and shouldn't go all at the same time. ....but you'll be tired...I've been trying to get a ressy for so long....but you're leaving me on Easter....

We even tried calling in a favor. The verdict from Camp Chang. "It's a space issue". Space? But I take up so little space.

Eventually my chef being the man I married cancelled the reservation.

Who has reservations for one anyway?


Friday, March 21, 2008

From Ohio to LA, NY to Newport

With my 25th birthday aprroaching in seven days I'm getting a bit serious and opening up with a brief totally abridged story of my life. Enjoy.

July 4th 1982 my parents’ lives changed forever. They got pregnant with a tiny baby girl born on March 28th, later to be known as the “perfect sister”. Though they were committed to me, my parents don’t care much for each other. My father: a conservative electrician retiree of the coal mines of central Ohio. My mother: a domestic engineer, mother of four and the best nurturer.

I was born in Zanesville, Ohio and lived between my parents with most of my time spent with my mother. As any good Ohio family we were and remain very close. Grandparents lived close and cousins were always best friends. I started kindergarten in Los Angeles where my mother lived with her new husband. My step dad: a PhD toting musician and composer and all around nice-guy. We lived in California for seventeen years acquiring three more siblings as the years past. We gained a dog, a pool, life long family friends and neighbors and in 2004 said our most painful goodbyes to the Golden State.

I had a normal life, keeping in mind that no one really has a normal life. We sometimes ate dinner at Costco, went to church in Malibu, and played 40 -man games of hide and go seek with the neighborhood kids. Of course that was after we moved to the San Fernando Valley. My mother made home-made piƱatas for birthday parties and our patio furniture was refurbished with fish-patterned plastic tablecloths. My step dad warmed up on our piano before going to work while we built legos and watched The Simpsons.

My siblings are much younger than me, now 18, 16, and 13 so I played a mother role to them that I’m still trying to kick. I love my brother and sisters and every time I visit them I’m impressed more and more by their independence and creativity. I can’t wait to watch them grow more.

I went to middle school and met my chef. I went to high school and dated my chef. I went to college and watched my chef leave for culinary school in New York. I went to California State University to become a teacher. I lived on my own with a lovely roommate whom I’ve been lucky enough to reconnect with after four years. All the time we lived in California my parents wanted to go back to Ohio. In 2004 they sold their house and I’ll never forget dropping my siblings off at the airport. I had never cried so hard and had my heart hurt so badly.

With my family gone and Erik on the east coast I decided California had nothing left to offer me. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family, but I just couldn’t be there without mine. So I moved to New York. Erik came back to Los Angeles for a few months then we drove to New York together with all we had packed in a Corolla and a Scion. We lived in upstate while Erik was a line cook. I finished my teaching education while coaching gymnastics- a passion of mine since I was 14.

2005 was a frightening and enlightening year. Erik and I got married in October which fell between the deaths of my grandfather and grandmother respectively. Some of the most meaning memories I have of my family are in the funeral home pouring over the photos of our lives and exchanging looks of astonishment as the line for the viewing spread into the other rooms. They were both amazing people with strong ties to Jesus, their family and community. They’re still with me.

As Erik moved up through the Jean Georges Empire we decided it was time to move on....up. We fell in love with the neighborhood of Newport in the waterfront district of Jersey City. It was the first time we felt like we “made it”. The whole time I was packing up the old dingy dark apartment with squirrels in the roof I couldn’t help singing the theme to The Jeffersons.

I’m grateful for my life now. Something I’ve always said, but never believed. I have a loving, supporting husband, a comfortable home, and a dear friend I couldn’t imagine being without. I work at an amazing school in a city that I love contributing to. I go home back to Ohio when I need. I laugh out loud with Jay Leno, savor afternoon snacks and adore this blog. Thank you for allowing me to have this outlet.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chef's Influence

I'm eating bread.

I never heard of All-Clad, Jacques Pepin, or even fois gras before my husband became a chef. Hand in hand we've walked, no wait: trudged through the culinary swampland adding wrinkles to our brain with each step. Now I can't buy vegetables unless they're in season, I use non-salted butter, and have picked up quite a bit of French. (quite a bit meaning about 50 words-but still, those are 50 words I didn't know before)

I'm so grateful to be able to prance around the culinary world just barely getting my toes wet. My life now forever changed by my chef acting as a link between the world of food and me. While reading Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential in culinary school he would practically recite all the "secrets of the underbelly" to me over the phone. Erik forbid me to buy a synthetic cutting board. I cut on my Boos Block with a Japanese knife, though I'm only perforating holes in a TV dinner.

Do you feel as if you practice new cooking techniques thanks to your chef? Has his presence influenced your food purchasing habits? (other than to subdue his rumbing belly)


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dear David Chang

Photo courtesy of Off The Broiler

Good day Mr. Chang,

Though we've never met I did once sit two seats down from you at Degustation. I'm writing today to inquire about Ko. Who the heck isn't inquiring about that place? You see, I've got a major problem on my hands. My chef, Erik Battes, is more than dedicated to getting a ressy at Ko, but as you very well know-it is harder than impossible to accomplish. Twice he's been beat out for one of your spots in under a minute. All we want is to experience Ko as you would like us to. And I don't think you've intended on alienating the less-than-warp-speed-mouse-clickers. What can I do to get a pair of stools saved for my chef and I? (any late Saturday night, Sunday or Monday?) After all, I am asking very nicely.
Your friend in food,
Hilary Battes

Friday, March 14, 2008

Desperate Chef's ...Butcher?

I have no shame.

I was digesting the latest episode of LOST last night in bed when I came to a revelation: "If I had to work in a restaurant I think I'd like to be a butcher. I think I'd be good at analyzing a slab of meat and deconstructing it."

To which my lovely chefhusband replies: "You could never be a butcher, you'd have to sharpen your knife every night".

Oh wow, thanks for pointing that out, I was just about to quit my amazing teaching job to be a butcher! GEEZ, can't I just have a stupid, silly pipe dream? Seriously!

What would you want to do if you had to work in a restaurant? Would you be a pastry chef with a clean, precise job? Would you be a sommelier decanting and suggesting? Or would you be a chef, demanding, compulsive and powerful?


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Win 2 Books: Simmer Down and Turn Up the Heat!

The DCW is having its first annual contest in honor of my 100th post which although passed us by quite some time ago is none the less very important and worth celebration.

The prize: A signed copy of Jessica Conant-Park's Simmer Down (paperback) and Turn Up the Heat (hardback)!

To enter: It's simple. Just add a comment t0 THIS POST with your name and email that answers this question: Whose cooking do you like better: your mother's or your chef's? And if you don't "have" a chef..just leave a comment about ...anything! (This is for you, Passion.)

The drawing: On Sunday, March 16th I will have someone pick one of your names at random and email you right away, sending the books soon after.

I want to thank Jessica Conant Park for providing her wonderful Gourmet Girl Mystery Series as a fantastic prize!

Don't forget to tell your friends, and if you don't leave your email you won't be eligible to win!
Good Luck!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Public Displays of Affection?

I kissed this dude in public.

It seems as though many of you have met in.... a RESTAURANT! How perfect? Some of you shared about meeting in a bar, which is great. What wonderful success stories we have. BUT, I bet no one met in the way that I saw two people "meeting" at a restaurant's bar this weekend. I won't say where the place was, but it was busy and hip and this couple was seconds away from adding to the population. I don't mean pecks on the cheek, I mean MAKING OUT 8th grade style. But that wasn't even the best part. I could have sworn this woman was trying out for pornofaces.com (not a real website- please don't think I would know that-wait OMG I just checked it IS a real site-sorry! and ew) I even heard moaning coming from this young, blond, sweater dressed- girl with no pants...thick panty hose aren't really pants, right?

So the suit comes over and asks them to tone it down because now she's on his lap. They don't stop and he comes by later to ask them to keep it G rated. Again, no luck. Eventually they left, and I was able to escape their nasty trance.

But how much PDA is tolerable? And are there places that tolerate more? I don't think anything involving a tongue should be allowed in public, but maybe I'm too conservative?

Been caught like this couple, asked to turn it down to a rating of G?