Picholine is the fancier version of Artisanal - a restaurant in Murray Hill (2 Park Avenue at 32nd Street (212)-725-8585) that focuses almost exclusively on cheeses that are raw, organic and from grass fed cows, goats and sheep. On the note of restaurants, I was in union square today shopping at the Greenmarket and I discovered a completely organic Argentinian restaurant called Gusto Grilled Organics, Inc. They are located at 516 Sixth Avenue and their telephone number is 212-242-5800. I look forward to trying them out. Prices looked mixed depending on vegetarian or animal options. I also walked by Tocqueville, a lovely boutique restaurant at 1 East 15th Street - just next to the Au Bon Pain in between 5th avenue and Union Square East. Although I have not cooked in this kitchen, I did cook at Tocqueville's former location at 15 East 15th Street which is now a sister restaurant owned by the same husband and wife owner team. The menu looks just as lovely as ever with a focus on seasonal local fare. However, I have to admit from eating in New York restaurants over the years some of the dishes seem inspired by other dishes (almost to the exact dish) that I have had at Daniel (filet mignon - which Tocqueville serves with a rib eye and braised short rib - this was by far my most favorite meal ever made at Daniel or anywhere else. The strange thing was I went to Daniel twice: on my birthday and on Christmas day. The second time I went I had the same dish and the filet actually tasted burnt, so I sent it back. The second filet was decent, adequate, but no where near the taste of the first one) and Gramercy Tavern (saddle of lamb and lamb chop). However, there were some extremely original dishes that I do not remember from when I worked there such as a pomegranate duck and a lemon verbena tofu - which priced at $28 I can't say I am dying to try, but it certainly looks interesting. The diver scallops and foie gras, probably one of my most favorite dishes (the veal was my favorite) is still on the menu. I was never so happy when someone decided after the orders were put in that they didn't want it and I got to eat one. That only happened once, but was worth peeling hundreds of carrots for. I'm glad to see white asparagus still on the menu. When I worked there it was in a asparagus salad with truffles and now its changed forms to be served in a Greek style with a coddled duck egg. I can't wait to try the new Tocqueville, perhaps in August for my birthday. Its approaching and time to start picking out restaurants ;)
Now that the asparagus have been mentioned, as promised, the recipe from Picholine...
Asparagus Gribiche Serves 4
16 large asparagus spears
2 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon tarragon
Black pepper in a mill
¼ cup sherry wine vinegar
Pour 2 quarts of water into a 3 quart stockpot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water.
Place the tarragon leaves in a colander and set in the boiling water, cooking for 10 seconds. Drain and transfer the tarragon to the ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the color, reserving the water. Once chilled, drain again. Pat the tarragon dry and roughly chop it.
Separate the yolk from the egg and roughly chop both parts. In a mixing bowl add the eggs, capers, parsley, Dijon mustard, olive oil, sherry wine vinegar, shallot, tarragon, 2 grinds of black pepper and salt to taste. Mix well.
Trim the asparagus to approximately 6 inches long. Peel the asparagus 2 inches from the tip. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until al dente, approximately 3 minutes. Drain and transfer the asparagus to the ice water. Once chilled, drain again.
To serve, place 4 asparagus spears on each 10 inch plate and spoon 1 tablespoon of the gribiche on top of the asparagus, or more if desired.