New Year’s Revolutions: EDP’s Hopes and Dreams for the New Year, Hudson Valley Bounty, the Stone Barns Beer and Sausage Dinner, Yonkers Restaurant Week, and More!
Let’s Occupy Westchester with some damned ramen this year! (See number 5, below)
New Year's Revolutions
Oh, Westchester restaurants have been killing it in the past year. Let’s see: we’ve been on a burger binge, we’ve got macarons, pig up the gazookas, and beer by the gallon. No lesser eminence than Jean-Georges Vongerichten is taking over a storied county restaurant. It’s fab, but let’s not rest on our ever-spreading laurels. (I mean, not me—I’m juicing!) From where I sit, there are five more areas that Westchester restaurants could be exploring...
1. Rye Playland: The New Rockaway Beach! This one is personal. I worked at Playland amusement park as a teenager, and, when not dodging vomit, I used to love the weird and innovative food served there. One guy used a Makita drill to shave wide, nearly see-through ribbons off potatoes right before your eyes. He dropped the potato shaving into the fryer, then—presto!—he handed you the tall spiral of a single, salty, perfectly crisp potato chip. Then there was the fried dough guy who topped his discs with a choice of savory and sweet toppings. Turns out, his tomato zeppole foreshadowed the trend in deep-fried pizza found at Forcella and PizzArte. But what happened? What you’ll find at Playland now is Carvel, Burger King and a slew of chain fast food restaurants. This is a total buzzkill for park customers (who see those brands every day), but, far worse, it’s a wasted opportunity for Westchester County to support local business and keep its food dollars within its borders. I’m looking at you, County Executive Rob Astorino. God knows that we have talented restaurateurs. With a little leadership, Playland could offer a hip, on-trend street-food scene that rivals that of Rockaway Beach Boardwalk.
2. A Biergarten. One of Westchester’s best assets is its great, outdoor dining spaces, yet no one has yet attempted a giant summer biergarten like Loreley or Bohemian Hall (though, admittedly, Birdsall’s smallish one in Peekskill is great). This might be an excellent venture for the wide and totally unused Sound-facing portions of Playland amusement park—though, why not put a biergarten alongside the river in Yonkers? Sleepy Hollow? Or, better still, in Captain Lawrence Brewing Company’s new soon-to-open Elmsford tasting room (and site of its future bocce court)?
3. Chinese Food. You know it’s true: Westchester loves Chinese food, yet it is filled with nondescript Chinese restaurants. Where’s the love?
4. Blue Hill at Stone Barns/Comb Vodka collaboration. Blue Hill at Stone Barns has already done collaborations with Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Kelso of Brooklyn, and Defiant Brewing Co. Why not use all that Pocantico Hills honey (plus, whatever else they want) to distill a 100-percent local Blue Hill at Stone Barns/Comb spirit? To Whom It May Concern: the only payment I require for this idea is an invitation to the dinner (and lots of hooch, obviously).
5. Ramen. How cruel was that first issue of Lucky Peach that had me stealing away from my work and family to swing into Midtown for a forbidden bowl of ramen? And ramen is such a basic soul food—it’s cheap and cheerful. We have 10places where you can snag a good gyro, but you can just whistle for great Westchester ramen.
I’m just saying: you’d better be dialing right now. These great January food and wine events are booking up fast.
Hudson Valley Bounty
January 26, 6 pm
$500 for two; $5000 for a table
This party to benefit the Hudson River Museum will be uniting Westchester’s food world glitterati for one fabulous meal. Chefs will design dishes for the evening and select special wine pairings, with highlights to include Chef Peter Kelly’s breast of capon, which he will smoke and roast over hay. Kelly’s course will be partnered with Tollot Beaut Chorey Cote de Beaune 2009, and, fittingly, the evening starts with bubbly and a slew of Susan Lawrence hors d’oeuvres. Restaurant North’s Eric Gabrynowicz, Harvest on Hudson’s Chef Vincent Barcelona, Moderne Barn’s Ethan Kostbar, and La Tulipe’s Maarten Steenman will each be slinging a course with wine pairings, making this night a bit like the All-Star Game of food. See site for the complete menu or contact Christine DeFonce for tickets and information: (914) 963-4550 x213; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seventh Annual Blue Hill at Stone Barns Sausage and Beer Dinner
January 29, 5:30 pm-10 pm
$195, exclusive of tax and tip
This is one of my own, can’t-miss winter parties. It’s a wildly fun evening that offers a chance to mingle with New York’s brewing luminaries (while tucking into some stunning, unapologetically animal products). Check out the site. Smart money hires a car service or cab, though—this cool winter night gets pretty hot.
Yonkers Restaurant Week
January 21- 29
20% off lunch prices; 25% off dinner prices
From the release, “Food lovers will have the opportunity to dine at some of Westchester’s best restaurants at an incredible discount for lunch and dinner during the Yonkers Downtown BID’s first International Restaurant Week, from Saturday, January 21 through Sunday, January 29. From Italian and Japanese to Cuban and Asian, there will be something for everyone to enjoy as some of the most celebrated chefs in the region serve up international cuisines. Among the restaurants participating will be Peter Kelly’s X2O, Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge, Dolphin, La Bella Havana, Khangri Asian and Japanese, Giovanni’s IV, Pizza Place, and others to be announced. All restaurants will offer 20 percent off lunch and 25 percent off dinner with options for at least five items at each meal. Prices do not include alcoholic beverages, gratuity, and taxes.” Visit the site for more details.
Chicken Vindaloo at Chutney Masala Indian Bistro
Is it just me, or does the unchallenged tyranny of roasts and root veg rankle after the holidays? Look: it’s January, I’m all nogged up, and I’ve already eaten my body weight in turnips, beets, and potatoes. At this point in the year, I’m hoping for brighter flavors to wake up my dozy palate. Chef Navjot Arora is just the man to do the job. Imagine a deep bowl of rich curry that hits with a one-two punch of sour and hot, slapping your taste buds with chilis and the mouth-puckering bite of acid. Your face will flush, you might even sweat—but 10 bucks says that you’ll be back.