Restaurant Week is always popular in my household. I remember going to Café Boulud in Palm Beach for a delicious lunch a few summers ago. NYC Restaurant Week is back this year and will run for a 5 week period from July 19 – Aug 22. 530 restaurants from 75 neighborhoods will take part offering a choice of 50 cuisines. Prix fixe lunches are $21 and dinners $39 – so get out there and try something different or visit a high end restaurant you have always wanted to try but were saving for a special event – Cipriani, Nobu, the Russian Tea Room. Show your support – restaurants need it. It is a sobering thought to know that 1,000 NYC restaurants closed their doors for good due to the impact of covid. Other locations join in too – The Palm Beaches Restaurant Week runs from August 16 – 31, Miami Spice Restaurant Month August 16 – September 30, Dine Out Boston August 8 – 21, Washington DC Metropolitan area September 9 – 15.

The Market Line, a gourmet subterranean food market, has opened at Essex Crossing, Delancey Street, NYC and is well worth a visit either to purchase special foods or to eat in. Here are just a few of the temptations – Nom Wah sells Dim Sum, Ends Meat makes its own dry cured salumi, defined as prosciutto, speck, bresaola, guanciale, pancetta, Gouie is a sake bar serving small Japanese plates, Que Chevere specializes in Puerto Rican food, Rebecca’s Cake Pops are absolutely stunning creations and Veselka concentrates on Ukrainian specialties.

By the time you read this Oeno House will have opened its flagship wine shop and bar in The Royal Exchange building in the heart of the City of London. It is a wine lover’s dream come true – there you can sample and/or buy some of the world’s most exclusive and iconic wines accompanied by a well-curated cheese or charcuterie board. Keep an eye out for their special pop-up events. www.oenogroup.com

When I visit a new city I like to take a bus tour where I can hop off and on again so I get a good idea of the city’s layout and I like to take a food tour. I will be heading to Boston shortly where Bites of Boston offers four different walking tours combining history, culture and food tasting. Choose from the South End tour known for its Victorian architecture and many parks; the Downtown tour featuring the classic foods Boston is known for – lobster, baked beans and Boston Cream Pie and discover the history of these foods; the Allston tour combines food sampling and the area’s public art; or the Chinatown tour. www.bitesofbostonfoodtours.com

A Sunday Roast is an English tradition personified by Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. It is something every visitor to the UK should experience. The Sunday lunch at Hawksmoor near London’s Covent Garden comes highly recommended. The roast beef is accompanied by potatoes roasted in beef dripping, Yorkshire pudding, carrots and greens, roasted shallots and garlic and a lovely bone marrow and onion gravy. If you aren’t near London you could order from them a Roast Box for Two which includes a 35 Day dry-aged Roast Rump, roast potatoes, Chantenay carrots (small and chunky), buttered greens, cauliflower cheese,, Yorkshire puddings, gravy, followed by Sticky Toffee Puddiing. Thoughtfully, the meal kit comes with Dry Martini for two and a bottle of Petite Syrah.

Have you ever eaten Kobe Beef? Indeed, what is it that makes Kobe beef so very special and why is it so expensive – a 4 oz steak will cost you $240!? This type of beef is the most marbled beef in the world and in order to qualify as Kobe beef the animal has to meet several stringent criteria. Firstly, the meat must come from an animal that is 100% Tajima Black Strain Wagyu breed and its bloodline, rather like a race horse, must be impeccable. The virgin cow or steer has to be born, raised, slaughtered and processed in Hyogo Prefecture where the volcanic soil is rich in vitamins. Once the cow is slaughtered the meat is graded according to very strict standards – only 50% of the cattle make the grade. There was quite a scandal a few years ago when restaurants, including big names like Le Bernardin, listed Kobe beef on their menus though in fact it was not the real thing despite being priced as such. If you want to make sure you are being served the genuine Kobe beef check out this website – www.kobe-niku.jp which lists restaurants serving the bona fide article. In the US there are a couple of NYC restaurants – Mastro’s Steakhouse or 212 Steakhouse – but the majority are California based. In the UK it is only to be found in London and then only in a handful of restaurants – The Connaught, being one of them.

Infused waters are popular nowadays and you see them often in the lobbies of hotels – something to sip as you check in or are coming back after a day’s sightseeing. This can be recreated at home very easily and is so refreshing. I was recently served cucumber-infused water alongside my wine by a friend – such a lovely touch. You can make it either in a jug or a water dispenser with a spigot. All it takes is water and ice and the fruit/veg – cucumber and lemon or orange, lemon and lime slices or peaches and basil, for example. It takes time for the water to be infused so put it in the fridge for about six hours before serving.

COOKING TIP – a bowl of iced water. Recently I needed some ‘al dente’ green beans for a Salad Nicoise so I cooked them for just a few minutes, drained them and tipped them into a bowl of iced water. This prevented them cooking further and kept them ‘al dente’. It also preserved their bright green color.

Visiting LITTLE ISLAND, now open on the West Side of NYC, is on my bucket list. It is proving a very popular outdoor experience (may be wait a while to visit because of the crowds). From what I have read though there is not a lot of choice of things to eat and what there is isn’t particularly inspiring so plan to eat before or after (tell me if I am wrong) www.littleisland.org

You know when you get swirls of basil oil or cream or balsamic vinegar on your plate or on top of your soup and you wonder how the restaurant gets it so precise because you can’t get it to look like that at home – the answer is a Chef’s Squeeze Bottle (available from Amazon, brand name OXO). My food is going to look a little more sophisticated when needed from now on!

MOVIE OF THE MONTH – Cooking with Paris
OMG, Paris Hilton is not a cook is all I can say – it’s kind of funny, cringe worthy and over the top (feeding dogs caviar, supermarket shopping in a ball gown). Not sure there will be a Season 2. On Netflix.

BOOK OF THE MONTH – A Square Meal – A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe
This book is about how the USA – land of plenty – coped with putting food on the table during the Depression. It was a very real problem for women to feed their families during this time leading to creative ideas on how to stretch the budget. Some fairly unappetizing recipes were suggested in cook books of the time – Boiled Onion Stuffed with Peanuts, for example! Some of these recipes are included in the book. President Roosevelt, urged by his wife, Eleanor, rather unhappily led from the top and followed a Depression diet to set an example.

Particularly good with salmon and other firm white fish and I think it would go well with pork too. Takes no time at all to prepare.
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Colman’s English Mustard
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tbsp. olive oil
Mix the two mustard’s together then whisk in the other ingredients one at a time. You will end up with a lovely thick sauce.

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