July 5, 2010

The Big Apple

“A knife, a fork

A bottle, a cork

That’s the way

We spell New York”


If you haven’t guessed it yet (by the obvious post title and less-than-subtle poetics), I spent the last week in the Empire State. And although there was some work accomplished (hello, Fancy Food Show), most of the trip was pure pleasure and play.

When I was younger, New York meant two things: musicals and retail therapy. And really horrible blisters – I never quite got the hang of breaking in my shoes before I hit the big city streets. But as both my taste buds and personality matured, so too have my trips. And now New York doesn’t just mean jazz hands and bags from boutiques, but it also means shelling out some hard-earned dough to eat delicious food, made by delicious chefs.

Picking a restaurant in New York, however, is almost as difficult as getting through the streets in Times Square. And since there are so many restaurants to choose from, Boy and I had to narrow down the field with some sort of common denominator. As usual, the most important attribute we looked for was a menu with fresh and seasonal ingredients. This is usually a great indicator that the kitchen will have unsalted, non-marinated produce and proteins with which to cook, which means a successful low sodium meal. But even with this detail, there were still too many places from which to pick.

So we did what any normal, food-obsessed couple would do: we decided to make our trip to NYC an homage to some of our favorite Top Chef chefs. And after a quick Google search, we decided on three Bravo! stars with whom we wanted to dine: 1) the judge, Tom Colicchio; 2) the winner, Howard Dieterle; and 3) the Top Chef Master, Wylie Dufresne.

Our adventure began at Colicchio’s Craft restaurant. The menu couldn’t be more perfect for someone with strict dietary restrictions and it is based on “single” ingredients, which are then cooked individually to order. This means everything can be prepared according to your needs.

Even though I had full confidence in this restaurant from just looking at the menu, I did decide to call ahead to warn the kitchen of my arrival – a much appreciated gesture. After I explained my needs, the hostess couldn’t have been sweeter and assured me that someone, with similar restrictions, had come in the week before. Service was off to a great start. But just wait, because it gets better.

In both the decor and service, Craft hosts a warm atmosphere. Our waiter went to extremes to make sure that I was happy and full, and he told me that the kitchen was prepared to cook anything I wanted from the menu. It is a rare occasion to be able to order not just one, but many dishes, and I knew I was in for a treat. So I didn’t hold back.

Although plates are usually shared family-style, they made individual portions for both my man friend and me. Since I am like an animal that must eat whenever it can find fuel, I didn’t hold back and I ordered a smorgasbord of the following delights:

Roasted fingerling potatoes

Sauteed chard with shallots, garlic, lemon and unsalted butter

Pan-roasted halibut with perfectly crisp skin and a twig of fried rosemary

And the famous Hen of the Woods, sauteed and roasted to silky, earthy perfection

As an added bonus, when our waiter realized that I couldn’t eat the pre-meal basket o’ bread, he brought out a plate of fresh berries for me to nibble on.

In all my seven years of low sodium dining, I have never had something to eat while waiting for my main meal. So this immediately put the dinner on my top ten meal list.

As you can see from the following sexy (not dark, but sexy) pictures of my meal, everything was simple but succulent. Combinations of browned, unsalted butter, citrus, fresh herbs (fried rosemary!), and, of course, fresh produce made each bite better than the next.

Between the bounty of low sodium options, the incredible atmosphere, and the successful meal, I would return to Craft anytime, and I will hope and pray that Colicchio opens one in San Francisco soon. In the meantime though, I guess I’ll have to go to LA for a West Coast fix.

So until we can take a group trip back to the Big Apple, feast your eyes and mind on Colicchio’s craftiness. And as always, don’t hold back from eating often, eating out, and eating well.

Chow on.

Margaret Sobus July 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Thanks for letting us enjoy your trip to New York. I really mean it. The pictures were great. I feel I know you and I know I like you. Will check back often. Marge

Laura July 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Wonderful my Sodium Girl! Happy to hear that you had a wonderful meal here in the Big Apple…will have to check out Craft. Thank you my dear J.
Warmest to you…LLL

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