Little name, big flavor Andrew Carmellini's newest spot, Little Park, wows

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Is there anything chef Andrew Carmellini doesn’t do well?

We happily hop around the city eating at his spots: Lafayette, Bar Primi, Locanda Verde and The Dutch. But now with the recent opening of Little Park, which is tucked into a corner of Tribeca’s Smyth Hotel, we’ve found a place we never want to leave.

While Carmellini has always been concerned with sourcing and seasonal cooking, Little Park is his first restaurant to focus exclusively on highlighting organic, sustainable ingredients and featuring products from local farmers, anglers, vintners and foragers.

Carmellini has made more than a few longtime partnerships with excellent producers, and it’s here that he really gives them a twirl. He says, “Over the past 20 years I’ve spent cooking in New York, I’ve forged strong relationships with local farmers and purveyors … Little Park is a tribute to that.”

Beets to the power of two: Yellow beets super brighten the beetroot risotto speckled with poppy seeds.

 

We were overjoyed to see that vegetable and grain dishes get just as much love on the menu as their more meaty counterparts here. Vegetable options even outweigh the fire-roasted meats, like a grass-fed hanger steak with charred broccoli ($20), at a 2:1 ratio.

Servers are knowledgeable about the components of each dish—yes, you’ll be told, that’s a hint of yuzu in the buttery Peconic Bay Scallops ($15) joined by a Gold Rush variety apple and those tiny dots are poppy seeds sprinkled over the beetroot risotto ($15).

Look to that hearty vegetable section to be introduced to uncommon picks, like the heirloom castelfranco radicchio ($13) salad with bits of fennel and an orange-anchovy dressing.

We’re not the only ones loving Little Park right now; the place is a bona fide hot spot. So either camp out on the phone to make a reservation, commit to arriving early for a walk-in spot or enjoy full-service dining at the bar.

Little Park
85 W. Broadway
212-220-4110
littlepark.com

Clean Habits: Takashi Inoue How a beef-obsessed chef keeps it clean

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When it comes to beef, eating sustainable means more than just eating local, grass-fed steaks—it means we have to consider all the many other parts of the cow, too. One of the best places to do this in New York is at the West Village joint Takashi, where owner and executive chef Takashi Inoue serves an almost all-beef menu, everything from beef-heart bolognese to shredded beef tendon and ultra-fresh raw beef liver with sesame oil.

All of the restaurant’s meat is raised without antibiotics or hormones and sourced from the city’s best meat suppliers, including local meat from Dickson’s Farmstand, Black Angus beef from Kansas’s Creekstone Farm and Washugyu meat from Japanese Premium Beef.

We checked in with Takashi to see what he does to keep healthy. Turns out, he’s just as much of a fiend for lots of greens and raw broccoli as he is for making sure no part of an animal goes to waste.

What’s a typical day of eating like for you?

I usually eat before I go to work (usually a bagel, a banana and a yogurt), which is usually around 8 a.m., then I do prep work at the restaurant and before dinner service I go to the gym. After the gym I drink an organic raw protein shake, followed by as many greens as possible, including lots of raw broccoli. After 6 p.m. I don’t eat carbs, just protein and vegetables. I have to be careful because I love going out for dinner, which isn’t always a healthy option.

“After 6 p.m. I don’t eat carbs, just protein and vegetables.”

 

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry?

It’s difficult to maintain a balance. I have to try hard. I’ve been going to the gym for 15 years. I do three days on, then one day rest: the first day is focused on a chest workout, the second day on arms and shoulders, the third day on lower body strength. There’s always a bike or running warm-up and cool-down.

Any suggestions for someone eating at Takashi who wants to keep their meal light and local?

Protein is healthy, and at Takashi, where we specialize in all parts of the cow, the only carbs we have on the menu are the rice bombs. Most of the vegetables are from the Greenmarket, where I go every week.

How do you incorporate sustainability at the restaurant?

We use all the parts of the cow at the restaurant, which I think is the most sustainable way of being a carnivore.

Cook it now: Kabocha Make this tasty squash part of your fall

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If your squash vocabulary starts and ends with butternut, you are missing out big time.

There’s a wide world of gnarly-shaped, diversely-colored and wonderfully-named squashes out there to be had, but our new favorite is a Japanese variety called kabocha .

Ben Towill and Phil Winser of The Fat Radish on the Lower East Side are out with a cookbook just in time to capture fall’s incoming squash storm. The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries ($40) takes the restaurant’s menu of unfussy, vegetable-focused food, all with a charming British accent, and lets you take it home.

Though the restaurant is usually swarmed with the fashion set, thankfully these guys don’t take themselves too seriously. They say, “For us, there is nothing more exciting than the anticipation of the seasons and cooking within them. (What a pretentious thing to say, but we promise it’s true.)” The book is broken down simply into the four seasons and filled with enough handsome photos of vegetables to make you blush.

Phil Winser and Ben Towill of The Fat Radish

 

That lilting English-ness of the recipes means ideas like a spring sweet pea pot pie that is laden with a trio of snow, snap and English peas and plenty of fresh mint. We’ve already bookmarked their savory beet and Swiss chard crumble for this Thanksgiving.

But for right now we recommend heading out to hunt down the closest deep green-skinned kabocha you can get your hands on (easily found at any Greenmarket). Kabocha is blessed with a dense, sweet flesh that is reminiscent in flavor of chestnuts and it is even sweeter than butternut—with half of the carbs. Then turn your market prize into this creamy, rich soup that is completely vegan and brimming with beta-carotene, iron and vitamins C and A.

 Serves 6

One 3-pound kabocha squash

Coarse salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

3 cups vegetable stock

1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Small handful chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 425 degree F.

1.  Cut the kabocha in half and scoop out and discard the seeds and the stringy flesh inside. Wrap the cleaned squash in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast until softened, about an hour. Set the squash aside.

2. Meanwhile, place the olive oil in a large, heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, turmeric, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring now and then, until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer while you prepare the squash.

3. Peel off and discard the skin from half of the roasted squash and add the flesh to the soup. Use an immersion blender to puree. Season to taste with salt.

4. Cut the remaining half of roasted squash into wedges and place them in the soup. Serve the soup hot, garnishing each serving with toasted pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of chives.

Buy the book

Sea the difference Urban Sproule makes salt in the city

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Take a peek at our salt collection and you’ll find a sodium rainbow of the good stuff: pristine white Fleur de Sel finishing flakes, rough red Himalayan crystals mixed with iron-rich clay and distinctively black Hawaiian granules made with detoxifying activated charcoal.

We reach for these salts (in moderation) over processed salts because they contain naturally occurring trace minerals and elements, including calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.

But until Sarah Sproule and her business, Urban Sproule, came along, we never thought we’d have the opportunity to stock our pantry with sea salt from our very own city.

While NYC goes about its business, Sproule’s sea salt is dried on a rooftop on West 30th Street. Sproule pumps water from an aquifer on the South Shore of Long Island, where 250 feet below the surface the salt water is slowly filtered through layers of sand, silt and clay.

Sarah Sproule, the one woman (powerhouse) behind Urban Sproule.

This journey to hyper-local salt greatness was a trial-and-error process. Sproule tried waters gathered from Long Island to the Bronx and experimented with different methods of production until she settled on solar evaporation. She told us, “I fell in love with this production method because of the story each salt crystal tells. When you cook your salt you strip it of trace minerals—the very things that sets natural sea salts apart from processed table salt. When producing solar salt you are allowing Mother Nature to control the shape, size, color and even the flavor of your salt.”

Sproule now offers a virgin raw salt along with a variety of flavored versions infused with ingredients such as zippy celery leaves and Montauk squid ink (all salts are $8 for 1.5 ounces).

Sproule’s salt revolution is just getting started: In October, look for a revamp of packaging and surprising new flavors including Cave-Aged Cheddar Salt.

 

 
Where to find Urban Sproule in stores

Like Mad ACME now offers an all-vegetarian tasting menu

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ACME knows how to party. This Noho restaurant spent the first 25 years of its life as Acme Bar & Grill, a solid staple of New Orleans-style cooking.

In January 2012, a makeover, new management and a shooting star of a chef transformed the spot into the glitteringly hip ACME.

This summer, there’s even more to get excited about at this downtown spot: Chef Mads Refslund, who comes to Manhattan by way of Copenhagen’s Noma (frequently called the best restaurant in the world), has just launched an all-vegetarian tasting menu ($65), backed by his creative Nordic approach.

Chef Mads Refslund from Copenhagen’s Noma brings a nordic spin to Acme’s menu

Refslund’s thoughtful nine-course menu (see it here) is rife with unusual bits like foraged and pickled ingredients, and his way with vegetables is unlike any you are likely to see anywhere else around town. Take his summer cabbage, for instance: “It is one of the things on the vegetarian menu I like most,” he says. “We grill it for hours with hickory bark, thyme, lots of herbs, which gives it a smoky flavor, and then we serve the cabbage heart with fermented pear juice and coriander.”

Refslund is also a strong proponent of seasonality and local sourcing. “It’s very, very important to make people think about eating more vegetables and care for Mother Earth; it’s ultimately going to make the world a better place for people to eat more vegetables—and not just any vegetables, good vegetables, that are well raised, without pesticides, by small farmers.”

We think that sentiment is the hippest of all.

What is Nordic cuisine?

Clean Habits: Nick Anderer How Maialino's chef keeps it clean

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It’s hard out there for a chef. (To stay fit and healthy, that is).As the executive chef of MaialinoNick Anderer is surrounded by swaths of food every day—everything from the restaurant’s morning oatmeal to dinner’s braised local suckling pig. However, Anderer is also one of the fittest guys we know.

With that in mind, we asked him to spill his tried-and-true secrets to staying healthy with us. His Clean Habits will come in handy come August, when Anderer will add more to his already-full plate when he opens Marta, a thin-crust pizzeria that emphases local ingredients.

What’s a typical day of eating like for you?
I eat a lot of small meals and bites throughout the day, either via recipe testing, quality control or just straight snacking. Rarely do I sit down to a full plate of food on a workday. I don’t follow any strict diet, but as a meat-lover, I try to balance my meat consumption with a healthy dose of raw fruits and veggies. And I also try not to eat anything after 10 pm and to limit my carb intake during the second half of the day.

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He even cycles for charity! (photo Credit: Jordan A. Mermell)

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry? 
You need a lot of restraint from the temptations of constant pecking. And you need to find time to stay active outside of work. With a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, I’ve been focusing more and more on keeping my core as strong as possible so that my lower back is supported—in the chef world, that’s usually the first part of your body that gives out. 

Has your healthy lifestyle rubbed off on the menu at Maialino or the upcoming Marta?
Definitely. We are always talking about more healthy ways to serve Italian food. We stopped toasting our almonds in butter or oil, and are instead leaving them raw and unseasoned. With really good Sicilian almonds, not only are they healthier raw, but they actually taste better. We’ve added extra fish options to the menu and are sure to keep them predominantly carb-free, utilizing as much raw vegetables as possible and dressing with light vinaigrettes as opposed to heavier sauces or purees. At breakfast, we’ve focused on serving more healthy grains, even adding a house-made, whole-grain cereal to the menu.

How do you stay fit?
I try to do something active with my body at least five times a week, going heavy on cardio and peppering in light doses of strength training and stretching/ lengthening. I probably SoulCycle at least twice a week, and when it’s nice out, I opt for long runs along the East River. And every so often I do one-on-one Pilates sessions, which focus much more on balance and muscle lengthening than on traditional ab work.

 

Move! With free outdoor fitness classes

A non-dairy yogurt that doesn’t suck! We're going loco for Anita's coconut yogurt

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Two long years.

That’s how long it took Anita Shepherd to perfect Anita’s Creamline Coconut Yogurt ($10 for 16 ounces).

It involved two years of testing various cultures, trying out different kinds of coconut milk and tweaking the recipe. And reach pure coconut-y goodness she did—all without the thickeners, sweeteners and preservatives that make other non-dairy yogurts inferior.

Shepherd, a self-taught vegan chef and baker, hits a tasty trifecta with her product: It tastes good, it has a thick consistency and the tangy anita-personalacidity of a true yogurt. That’s because Anita’s is pure organic coconut milk and organic coconut water, along with a healthy dose of the probiotic bacterias, L. acidophilus and S. thermophiles.

“Vegans are only a small percentage of those who love [my yogurt],” says Shepherd. There are people with food allergies, followers of the Paleo diet, people who are adventurous cooks and people who are fans of fermented foods…”

Personally, we like to eat it plain out of the pretty brown-and-blue container, stirred into pasta sauces for richness and as a topping for nachos or baked potatoes. We’ve already earmarked our next container to use in mac ‘n’ cheese, like Shepherd does.

Over the next couple months, Shepherd will launch individual-sized containers of yogurt spiked with raw fruits. We’re predicting they will be this year’s hottest (and most delicious) summer accessory.

Food Talk: Jil Larsen of Magic Mix Juicery

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Physicians told melasma sufferer Jil Larsen (pictured) that she would forever live with dark skin marks, and could never step outside without harsh chemical sun protection. Today, you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. She left her job at a law firm, started studying nutrition, and has now founded Magic Mix Juicery in NYC. We asked her how diet transformed her.

Q. When you first introduced healthier foods into your diet, did you notice the difference right away?
A. It was a battle, because I had to wean myself off the standard American diet: dairy, meat, sugar (huge sugar addiction). I eliminated one thing at a time, seeing what worked and what didn’t work. Once I started incorporating living foods and all the plants (green juices, organic foods), that’s when I really started seeing that my body was starting to change, starting to replenish. I think I was overfed and undernourished, and this made up for years of an imbalance you don’t notice until either your skin or your energy levels change.

Q. Did you have to try a few different “diets” before finding the right one?
A. Absolutely. In the beginning, there was a lot of craving. I think it was more about being addicted to certain things (like the sugar), and I started to see what could I substitute it with. When I wasn’t eating wheat, I would eat all the [conventional] gluten-free products, but that really wasn’t helping me either. . .It took a little while until I figured out, okay, it’s the nutrients that I’m missing.

Q. You don’t insist that everyone follow the same diet that worked for you. Why?
A. I think everybody has a different makeup. I’m not here to deprive people of what they feel they need in their lives. For some people, meat works; for some people, dairy products work. It’s all about finding out what works for you. I think, most importantly, it’s about eating good quality food. So if you feel like having a steak, hey, absolutely have a steak, but look at where it comes from: how was it raised? What was it fed?

Q. Do you now have a morning routine?
A. I drink a large glass of water with some lemon juice and cayenne pepper, so it gets my metabolism going. Then I come to work (which to me, isn’t work anymore), and I’ll make myself a superfood smoothie, which consists of coconut milk (which we make here in-house with young Thai coconuts), a tablespoon of vitamin green powder, some spirulina, some cayenne pepper (I love my cayenne pepper!), and a banana. That gives me the boost to get to lunch, have a clear mind and get the day going.

Q. What advice do you have for someone battling a chronic condition?
A. I think what’s important is to breathe, not stress out too much. Take time to yourself to find out what it is that you might really be missing in your life, whether it’s a nutritional deficiency, or in your career, relationships or physical activity. Look at all those aspects and see where you might be able to improve. And be kind to yourself. Don’t fret over little things, because gradually, the more you work on making yourself happy, the other things fall into place.

Magic Mix Juicery
102 Fulton St. (@ William St.)

New York, NY 10038
646 454-0680

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Images by Laura Mordas-Schenkein

Going (Modern) Paleo with Hu Kitchen’s Jordan Brown

Hu Kitchen

Whether you call it “Stone Age,” “Primal,” or “Paleo,” there’s a dietary plan that says everything JORDANyou need is what was readily available in nature—before the discovery of grains, dairy, and legumes. At Manhattan’s Paleo-inspired Hu Kitchen, owner Jordan Brown calls it “getting back to human.” We talked to him about his old, old school diet…with a twist.

Q. Isn’t the Paleo diet very meat-heavy?

A. A common misconception is that anybody who decides to go grain-, dairy-, legume- free spends their days eating raw organ meat and foraging wild mushrooms. I am all for that lifestyle—it is perfectly healthy given the removal of all toxins, et cetera. Nonetheless, there is no one “human diet.” Depending on geographic location, prehistoric humans were eating an array of things.

Q. Not everything on Hu’s menu was in the Stone Age person’s diet. What are some of the tweaks you’ve made, and why?

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A. At Hu, we cater to all ways of eating that get us back to human—a more natural way of eating. We’re big proponents of Michael Pollan’s maxim, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” We do serve very limited grains, such as brown rice and amaranth, but you will never find gluten in any of our food. Our goal is to change the way modern humans eat; maximizing high-quality vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, animal protein and fat from animals fed their natural diet.

Q. We’re guessing that real-life hunting and gathering isn’t part of your repertoire. Where do you “forage”?

A. Our chefs take trips to local markets and are always on the lookout for new sources of the highest possible quality. Our ingredients change daily, because high-quality food isn’t reliably available in the same kind of way that mass produced food is. That said, we also source from some big suppliers because they have fantastic products that are consistent with our ideals.

Q. A lot of health “fad” diets are anti-fat. How do Paleolithic cooking techniques differ?

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A. We totally reject the focus on avoiding fats. In our opinion, it is the onslaught of whole and refined grains, sugars, poor quality dairy and animal protein, and laboratory fats that are the true problem. At Hu, we love good fats. We cook with olive oil, organic coconut oil, and also use grass-fed butter in a few baked goods. The key is to make sure that the animals we eat also ate [as nature intended].

Q. When did you go Paleo?

A. I randomly stumbled upon The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. I did three weeks of dietary self-experimentation based on its principles, and that was that. My skin started glowing, my energy levels reached new heights, I exercised less with better results, and my mood was great.

Q. For someone who’s brand new to Paleo, which dishes would you recommend?

A. Cauliflower purée, our take on mashed potatoes. “Mashbar,” our take on a

sundae/yogurt bar. The only dairy is a bit of grass-fed butter in the cookies. We mix fruits, nuts, seeds, non-dairy puddings and creams, and no refined sugars. Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders, our take on the classic, fried delicacies. These are roasted. No grains or gluten, of course. And muffins, made with coconut flour. Compare that to a grain-based muffin that will have you craving another one an hour later.

Q. Why do you believe omnivores need this diet, especially in this day and age?

A. At Hu, our main goal is to take the anxiety out of eating well. Now that we have unlocked the ability to manufacture foods rich in sugar and refined-grains, we have essentially become children who have found the bottomless cookie jar. The results are becoming quite obvious: premature aging, obesity, diabetes, and myriad other lifestyle diseases. “Get back to human” is really about getting back to a pre-neurotic relationship with our food. We think we are on our way to achieving that.

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Hu Kitchen
78 5th Ave. ( bet. 13th & 14th St.)

Mon-Fri: 7am-10pm  Sat: 8am-10pm  Sun: 9am-10pm
212 510-8919

Coffee Talk

Photo by Scott Feldstein

Gingersnap’s Organic owner Jamie Graber

There’s something brewing in the East Village. It can wake you in the morning, get you through a late night…and it goes with raw pizza. It’s vegan coffee, and it’s new to raw gourmet café Gingersnap’s OrganicWe caught up with Gingersnap’s owner Jamie Graber to get the buzz:

Q: Isn’t all coffee vegan?

A: Yes, and we only use direct trade and organic coffee from Crop to Cup. The difference is we also use fresh-made raw organic almond milk.

Q: OK, some of us are kind of used to milk with coffee.  Does almond milk taste as rich?

A: It tastes even better! It’s not the boxed stuff you find in stores. We make it daily from unpasteurized Sicilian almonds.

 

 

 

Q: We love cappuccino. Which milk alternatives make good foam?

A: We were concerned about that too, but our raw almond milk foams well!

Q: Do you use non-traditional sweeteners? Which do you prefer for vegan coffee?

A: We make our own simple syrup out of coconut palm sugar.

Q: If we’re not in the mood for coffee, what else can you offer?

A: We have an assortment of herbal teas with healing properties to rejuvenate, uplift, unwind, purify and be well, as well as chai, maté, oolong and hot cocoa.

Q: We sometimes like a treat with our java. Which Gingersnap’s dessert would you recommend?

A: My favorites at the moment are the donut holes and ganache. Both raw, naturally sweetened, and delicious!

Thirsty yet? Try Gingersnap’s Organic with this week’s special Perks offer delivered fresh to your inbox!

Gingersnap’s Organic
130 E. 7th St. (between 1st Ave. & Avenue A)
(212) 533-9939

Photos courtesy of Gingersnap’s Organic, Chandrika Nair, and HealthAliciousNess.