Amuse Bouche

Mint juleps for Derby Day, ahead-of-the-curve food trends, preparing ramps, and more.



 

Food Trends// Raw-Milk Cheese

 

 

Rogue Creamery’s Gorgonzola—called Oregonzola—tastes sharp, tangy and fruity

 

Right now, on farms across the land, billions of Lactobacillus acidophilus are swarming into the food chain. And aren’t we lucky! They’re the healthful, flavor-enhancing microbes found in raw milk that have produced European cheeses for centuries, and finally are having their American artisanal-cheese moment. 

 

Raw-milk cheeses have always been legal, but, in 1949, federal law restricted the import and production of such cheeses to those aged at least 60 days. (Those spectacularly rich Bries and Camemberts you’ve swooned over in France, and probably hid in your suitcase on the return trip, are aged only about 20 days—hence their heightened flavor.)

 

Industrially pasteurized milk products were, and are, the norm. Pasteurization, by the way, kills much of the “good” along with the “bad,” but studies show that if properly produced by artisanal methods, raw-milk cheeses are just as safe as pasteurized versions. And they’re so much healthier. Raw milk is known to aid our immune and digestive systems and to protect against allergies, even cancer. And then there’s raw-milk cheese’s taste. Rob Kaufelt, cheese authority at Manhattan’s Murray’s Cheese, says that raw-milk cheeses in general “have a greater complexity of flavor.” So how propitious that artisanal farmers across the country and their pasture-grazed sheep, cows, and goats are producing myriad varieties of raw-milk cheeses, most of them based on traditional European favorites. Even better, many experts say they taste just as sublime.

 

Wild for Gorgonzola? Try Rogue Creamery’s Oregonzola. Love a sweet, nutty Gruyère? Meadow Creek Dairy’s Mountaineer has your name on it. Crazy for aged cheddar? Tumbleweed’s your ticket, and it’s made by 5 Spoke Creamery, based in Port Chester (5spokecreamery.com).

 

There are about 10 raw-milk cheesemakers in New York, and their products are widely available at boutique cheese shops and upscale markets throughout the county. And they also can be ordered online through websites like slowfoodusa.org and rawmilkcheese.org.

//  Diane Weintraub Pohl

 

 

Mother’s Day Brunch

Where to take Mom on her special day

 

1. Brunch ($30) at Bungalow Restaurant-Lounge (Croton Falls 845-669-8533; bungalow166.com) offers such choices as scones with clotted cream or chilled pea soup with mint, followed by Queen for a Day eggs with citrus hollandaise, or a crab, artichoke, and Brie omelet. And then yummy endings, such as vanilla-scented pear cobbler or a fresh berry pavlova.

 

2. At the Castle on the Hudson (Tarrytown 914-631-3646; castleonthehudson.com), the Mother’s Day brunch buffet costs $79 per person, with starters such as smoked fish or artisanal cheeses, carved-to-
order leg of lamb, and a dessert assortment.  

 

3. At Doral Arrowwood (Rye Brook 914-935-6600; doralarrowwood.com), Vienna-trained chef Michael Schmutzer is adding some incredible desserts to Atrium’s popular brunch buffet ($45.95 per person, $22.50 for kids 4 to 10), just in time to spoil Mom. If the raw bar doesn’t wow her, maybe the poached salmon and frisée salad will.

 

4. The mimosa or Bellini is on Chef Sterling Smith at The Sterling Inn (New Rochelle, 914-636-2400; thesterlinginnny.com) on Mother’s Day (three-course prix-fixe for $46; 11 am-3 pm). Dish choices include duck spring rolls or sweet-pea crab soup, lobster pot pie, or fisherman’s stew.

 

5. At Stoneleigh Creek (Armonk 914- 276-0000; stoneleighcreek.com), enjoy a three-course brunch for $42. Try a prosciutto and melon or goat-cheese salad with raspberry vinaigrette (or three more choices), followed by dishes such as pink snapper with wild rice pilaf or buttery French toast served with crisp bacon, strawberries, and maple syrup.

 

6. Tarrytown House Estate (Tarrytown 914-591-3143;tarrytownhouseestate.com), situated on the scenic bluffs above the Hudson River, will offer two seatings, 11:30 am and 2 pm, in the elegant
Winter Palace dining room. On tap: chive scrambled eggs, Belgian waffles, crisp apple-wood smoked bacon, maple pork sausage, and omelets made-to-order. In addition, hot and cold stations will include fresh seafood, salads, pastas and carving stations. Prices not available at press time.

//  Judith Hausman

 

 

 

Gamblers’ Guzzle

 

 

That’s right—there was a use for all those muddle sticks before we started guzzling Mojitos. It’s called a mint julep, and it’s about as American as Coca-Cola. Made with the country’s only native spirit—distilled corn Bourbon—and copious amounts of spring mint, this refreshing cocktail has been a Churchill Downs tradition since 1938, when it was served in giveaway souvenir glasses for only 75 cents a pop. While the price for one may have gone up, the cocktail essentially is unchanged: look for a sugary, icy quaff disguising a serious whiskey punch. Ladylike appearance aside, this stiff belt is just what gamblers need after a little flutter at the racetrack.

 

Pälomino (1392 E Putnam Ave, Old Greenwich, CT 203-698-9033; palominorestaurants.com) offers mint juleps overseen by a man who knows his way around a faithfully composed cocktail, Raphael Palomino, owner and executive chef of Sonora and Pacifico.

 

 

 

Look for homegrown mint and a stunning presentation at farm-to-table icon Blue Hill at Stone Barns (630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills 914-366-9600; bluehillfarm.com), and locavorian snobs will know to request Tuthilltown Baby Bourbon in their juleps. This award-winning spirit is locally made with 100-percent New York State corn in Gardiner, New York.

//  Julia Sexton

 

 

What’s In Season// Ramp It Up

 

 

 

Springtime’s optimism may be universal, but its harbingers are personal. Sports fans have opening day. Birders have their white-throated sparrows. And foodies? We have our ramps.

 

Come April and May, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes, salads, and sautés up and down the East Coast await the arrival of this regional celebrity, the humbly born wild leek. First come the ecstatic sightings: the tall, flat, green leaves tapering down to white. Then the star turn: the boldface moment on
seasonal-minded menus throughout the
region. Part onion, part garlic in flavor, the ramp’s scallion-like bulb and broad leaves have been revered for centuries, chopped, sautéed, and parboiled into springtime culinary lore. 

 

Chef Jeff Raider is a fervent fan. On his former menu at The Valley at the Garrison, and now at One (1 Bridge St, Irvington 914-591-2233;
restaurantoneny.com), ramps are featured in all their versatile glory. “They’ve got a sweet onion taste that’s never overpowering,” he says. “They’re great pickled, or gently glazed and finished with a squeeze of lemon to wake them up. And they go with anything.”

 

Right now at One, they’re going with soft-shell crabs, a felicitous seasonal pairing. Raider first glazes his ramps in butter, chicken stock, lemon, and herbs, then serves them with the crabs over a fava bean-and-tomato-confit risotto. He loves them pickled, too, as an ideal complement to rich foods like pork or salmon. “Basically,” he says, “you can cook them any way you’d cook an onion.” Whichever way that is, he advises, keep it simple. “You want to showcase the ramp.”

 

   Raider is enamored with upstate ramps for their mild flavor and plumpness. His are supplied by Cold Spring’s Glenwood Farm, but greenmarkets everywhere are flaunting the long, thin beauties. Catch the action while you can. 

 

 

Glazed Spring Ramps

Courtesy of Chef Jeff  Raider

One Restaurant

(Serves 4)

 

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced thin

1 red jalapeño, seeded and julienned

1/4 lb spring ramps, cleaned, dark green stalks trimmed

2 cups chicken stock

2 Tbsp butter

1 lemon, juiced

1 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped

1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

salt (preferably kosher) and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Lower heat, add sliced garlic and jalapeño, and cook until softened; do not brown. Add ramps. Add stock and bring to a boil. Fold in butter. Simmer until liquid is mostly reduced and ramps are glazed. Add lemon juice, tarragon, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve while hot.

 

 

Kitchen Nightmare

 

 

Restaurateurs, beware of this man.

 

When actor Dean Marrazzo showed up for a film audition, little did he know his other calling, as a restaurateur, would get him on TV. His agent called to tell him he had not gotten the part…but Gordon Ramsay and the crew from Kitchen Nightmares was showing up at his restaurant, the Olde Stone Mill, to begin filming—the next day.

 

The Olde Stone Mill in Tuckahoe was in for an ambush, complete with hidden cameras and mics. And Marrazzo was thrilled; he knew he would get tremendous national publicity, a makeover for his restaurant, and a platform for his acting career to boot (he will play a casino manager in the Chazz Palminteri film Yonkers Joe). “Ramsay poked at us all day,” Marrazzo says.

 

But Marrazzo took the quick-tempered British chef’s advice—and turned his humdrum traditional American eatery into a steakhouse and changed his staff with one exception: Chef Michael Gallo.

 

And the payoff?

“Business is up thirty percent,” he
reports.

 

The five-year-oldrestaurant is housed in a restored stone mill, the second oldest mill in the country, built circa 1803. The dining room is country-elegant with warm lighting and a fireplace, there’s a small private-function room behind the roomy bar, and there are 90 more seats on the outdoor patio on the edge of the Bronx River. On the menu, prime rib ($25) and a 32-ounce porterhouse for two ($72) keep company with sandwiches and salads.

 

A national radio promotion of the show by Marrazzo, a guest appearance on Ellen, and a minute-long clip shown of a Ramsay-Marrazzo argument on The Tonight Show has also helped business. Marrazzo received hundreds of email congratulations a day (as of presstime, it was down to about 30 a day), requests for autographs, and even a New York State Beef Council Silver Plate award.

 

Look for Marrazzo on the first episode of Kitchen Nightmares Season 2 (this September), in which producers will do a follow-up to see how the restaurants from season one are doing.

 

Throughout the whole experience, there’s one thing Marrazzo is most proud of. “Ramsay told me my restaurant is the greatest restaurant location of any he’s seen.” 

//  JH