Mamo

2017 is here and the craziness of the holidays have past.  I am looking forward to sharing more this year and am starting with the first restaurant I have visited this year, Mamo.  Mamo is in SoHo and is an off-shoot of the original in Antibes.  They bill them selves as  Italian hospitality and Provençal charm in NYC.  It is a perfect Italian spot for those looking for a respite from shopping or for someone looking to celebrate a special occasion (they serve lunch and dinner daily).  

Truffle Pizza

Truffle Pizza

As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted and led upstairs.  There is a beautiful bar (with beautiful staff to match) and a well laid out dining room.  Whitewashed exposed brick and ceiling beams add to the warmth and charm of the space.  The tables are a good size, not too close to each other and the chairs are super comfy; all following the white theme.

Rabbit stuffed with foie gras & spinach and gnocchi with a ragu

Rabbit stuffed with foie gras & spinach and gnocchi with a ragu

The menu is varied and something for all palates and restrictions.  The big draw and a transplant from the Antibes menu is the Focaccia al Tartufo (Truffle Pizza!)  Anyone that comes to Mamo has to get this.  It is a white pie with cheese and shavings of truffles, simple yet decadent.  

Their homemade gnocchi came with a meat ragu.  It is a stick to your ribs kind of dish and perfect for the cold night.  The gnnochi were like heavenly little pillows, so light ad they practically melted in my mouth.  The ragu was nicely balanced; meaty with a tiny bit of acidity.

To try something different I went with the leg of rabbit stuffed with bits of foie gras and spinach.  The leg was moist and the added flavor (fat) from the foie gras was nice.  This was a nicely executed dish but the least favorite of the ones I tried.

For dessert I went simple again with some warmed strawberries over vanilla ice cream.  Cream and berries; Perfect.  Finish with a cordial glass of Limoncello and your escape is complete.  

In summary, you have a warm space, congenial service and fantastic execution of simple dishes (which can be hard to do).  Keep Mamo in mind when you are in SoHo or looking for a great place to spend time with friends or family.

MAMO

 

2016 - Thoughts on a tough a tough year

As another year comes to a close and we review the past year I want to say something about how hard a year it was for me and I am sure many of you.  As a child of the eighties, 2016 was an unusually cruel year too many icons I grew up with.

There are so many that passed away this year.  They were the fabric of growing up pants, they created the soundtrack to the story of my life.  They were not just famous individuals, these were superstars to me, invincible like and bigger than life.  Prince, David Bowie, Glen Grey, Gene Wilder and Muhammed Ali just to name a few.  These last two especially hit home for me though...

While I was growing up this phenomenon known as Star Wars was released.  I was awed by Star Wars and its successors; The Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi.  These were by far the greatest movies ever made and I lived just to see them.  When The Empire Strikes Strikes back came out my father worked in the local movie theater and instead of hiring a babysitter he let me go watch the whatever movie was playing.  I saw Empire at least 13 times during that run, maybe more.  Carrie Fisher while also known for other acting roles and as an author and screenwriter was most famous for playing Princess Leia.  Leia was such an iconic role, even in a fantasy piece.  She was the damsel in distress that ended up saving everyone else, she could hang and fight with the boys, she became a General, she was a rock and a leader when everything was going south and she was in tune with the Force.  Fisher played her with the strength and grace of true royalty.  

George Michael was an incredible voice.  I grew up surrounded by and in love with music.  While I gravitated towards harder rock as a pre-teen I had an affinity for catchy pop songs from listening to 70's radio.  Wham! had incredibly catchy songs, and the voice was George Michael.  My first slow dance at a school dance was to Careless Whisper, I must have listened to that song over and over every night for a month after that.  I was convinced I would marry that girl.  When he went solo, George Michael had amazing success with Faith.  He proved not only to be an amazing performer but also a prolific songwriter.   His Listen Without Prejudice album I liked even more than the Faith album because it felt so personal, yet relatable.  It really is a beautiful piece of work and you should give it a listen. 

My heart aches at the passing of these artists, for they produced beautiful moments that they shared with the world and allowed strangers to connect over.  It also makes me want to create something, something that will bring people together to share like emotions and memories, just like they did.  Thank you to both of you for shaping my life and inspiring me to leave something wonderful like you both did on multiple occasions.

What happened to all the good original stories?

I just read an article for Boy Genius Reports (http://bgr.com/2016/08/23/ben-hur-movie-reviews-hollywood-ideas/ ) that talked about the amount of summer box office duds this year.  Included are the Independance Day sequel and the re-make of Ben Hur.  It's a good point that it seems like we are just being fed recycled storylines or "prequels" these days.  They feel so unispirational and just "crancked-out" by the Hollywood machine.  I think a major reason for this is fantastic programming from providers like Netflix, HBO, AMC, etc.  They are providing the public with imaginative and fresh ideas via their original programming.   

Hollywood needs to step up their game and don't be afraid to take chances.  Stop giving us the stuff we have already seen or keep watching your audience choose to Netlix and chill rather than go to the movies.

Vaucluse, upscale French in NYC

from www.petroneontherocks.com

from www.petroneontherocks.com

I remember when I first moved to NYC some years ago all the "upscale" restaurants were French.  In fact the first really nice restaurant I ever went to was Le Cirque when it was still in the New York Palace Hotel.  It was like a whole new world that I felt I was intruding upon.  The experience was enlightening, both food and service.  Since then I have slowly seen the decline of the "upscale" French restaurants with more and more "approachable" restaurants becoming the norm.  I think it's great that there are these restaurants but sometimes you want to go to a special, upscale restaurant.

The recently opened Vaucluse is a very nice mix of of both to me.  The service and the food were definitely of the "upscale" camp and yet everything felt approachable as soon as I walked in the door.  Located in the former Park Avenue Cafe space, Vaucluse is Chef Michael White's first French restaurant in NYC.  Chef White has made a name for himself at Italian mainstays like Marea, Ai Fiori, Ristorante Morini and the former Costata.  The space has two beautiful dining rooms and one bar area.  The bar area is great if you do not want to do a blow out meal, there is even a "White Label" burger on the menu.  The dining rooms have clean lines and are well lit, but really, let's get to the food.

Two large stalks of tender white asparagus came with bits of smoked salmon in an inspiring dish.  The ravioli with two pockets one for the rabbit and one for the reblochon cheese were like perfect pillows of ambrosial decadance.  But the Pièce De Résistance has to be the Canard á l'Orange, roasted duck for two.  They do a special aging on site and it is served with charred supremes of orange.  The meat is so tender and is covered with a  perfect layer of flavor (fat) and topped with a perfectly crisped skin.  This might be a perfect dish both flavor and texture-wise.  Enjoyed with a Pinot from Oregon I was in heaven.

VAUCLUSE