Food Porn for a Cause

April 28, 2010

by Rachel Nash Perlow

A little while ago, one of OTB’s friends in BBQ, Rob Wheaton, asked us to come and check out a catering gig he was doing. It was a fundraiser for his church’s mission for Habitat for Humanity.  A group from the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township (NJ) is heading to South Dakota this summer to help make improvements at the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation. The theme for the dinner was Native American foods, and it featured buffalo and salmon, as well as “fry bread.”

The Green Village Fire Department generously donated their building to host the event. What a bucolic setting. This is the view out the kitchen door.

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Blogroll: OZERSKY.TV

April 23, 2010

Josh Ozersky’s new video blog, Ozersky.TV

There are few food bloggers in this world who I would refer to as “Titans”. James Beard Award-Winning food writer Josh Ozersky is one of them — if not the one that most of us feeble mortals aspire to be.

I’ve been following Josh’s career for some time now, since his launch of his original Mister Cutlets web site and his first book foray into cholesterol and meat-induced bacchanalia, “Meat Me In Manhattan”.  Since then, he’s run NY Magazine’s Grub Street food blog and had a foray with Citysearch with “The Feedbag”, a short lived but beloved food blog for culinary obsessives of all ages.

In 2008, Ozersky has came out swinging with a book on the history of the hamburger, and in 2009 and 2010 he made various appearances on Tony Bourdain’s No Reservations program, including the one in which I also recently appeared, Obsessed.

In early 2010, the wandering Ozersky founded his own video blog, along with friend and Eater co-founder Ben Leventhal, which is complete with NYC-centered video restaurant reviews and food segments — Ozersky.TV.

I welcome Josh to the world of independent food blogging and I hope all of you enjoy his shpilkes and food-induced mishegas. But for God sakes Josh, try to stay in one place this time, ok?


They Call Her “The Empanada Lady”

April 22, 2010

by Rachel Nash Perlow

As you may be able to surmise, she makes empanadas. Lots of them. All kinds of flavors. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sandi Levitsky-Connor started out as a friend of a friend. She and her husband came to one of our dinners at Chengdu 1. Then we saw her at another dinner party, and another. More than once, she brought along some empanadas for everyone to taste. These little Latin fried pies are her specialty. I thought she made them just for fun and the love of cooking.

Apparently, she’s got quite a business going. In addition to the empanadas, she does private catering, but she’s really known for her empanadas. I had only tasted her two mainstays of beef with and without spicy jalapenos, but her more creative flavors, like Hummus and an Asian Chicken are as popular with customers, and her kids.

Jason invited Sandi over recently to document the empanada making process. You can make them yourself… It’s not that hard. But if you live in driving range of The Empanada Lady, you may soon find yourself ordering a couple dozen.

Sandi Levitsky-Connor, aka The Empanada Lady, demonstrated empanada making in the OTB kitchen.

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Ariane Daguin’s Volcanic Adventure

April 20, 2010

OTB friend Ariane Daguin, proprietor of D’Artagnan, best known as the premium duck,  foie gras and high-end luxury produce supplier to the top restaurants in New York City and all over the country, recently experienced an adventure as a result of the Icelandic volcano eruption, being stranded in France and having to go through a 27-hour ordeal to get home. Here is her story.


27 Hours Later: My Trip from Paris to New York

Having just spent two weeks in France on publicity tour to support my new book “D’Artagnan à New York”, I was anxious to get home and back to business. But the volcano in Iceland had other plans for me. My Sunday afternoon flight from Paris to Newark was not to be.

Outside my hotel in Paris I saw a familiar figure looking up at the hotel. Maybe Frederic Fekkai was thinking that he would have to check in and wait for days until the next flight home. We laughed about running into each other under these odd circumstances and then we joined forces. Sharing a large taxi to hold our huge amount of luggage, we headed hopefully to Orly airport. We were greeted by an eerily empty terminal and screens filled with the word “canceled.” No flights to the United States.

Tugging all our luggage, we were happy to find that Open Skies (the airline I was flying with) had chartered three buses to ferry about 150 of us stranded travelers to Toulouse Airport! We were caught up in the spirit of adventure, and helped ourselves to the rudimentary sandwiches that Open Skies was kind enough to provide.

The overnight seven hour drive from Paris to Toulouse had the air of a refugee boat, and we were not certain that we would even get flights out of Toulouse. But it was worth the chance. So there I am with Frederic, and look up to see Yannick Noah, a famous pop star and ex tennis world champion, on the other side of me! To say I was in good company would be an understatement.

As our bus pulled into Toulouse airport at 7:00 a.m. we saw TV crews all over the place, waiting to film the only people flying out of France that day. We were making the news!

The Toulouse airport had just opened a new international terminal, and I think we were the first to use it. After waiting six anxious hours in the terminal, wondering if we would be cleared for takeoff, we finally boarded a plane. Then we waited another hour on the plane while the aviation authorities signed off on the flight.

When our plane finally departed, we flew far south to avoid any chance of volcanic ash choking our engines. So I did not see the plume of smoke that is causing all the trouble. I bet that would have been a magnificent sight.

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Picnic a Les Marmitons

April 19, 2010

by Rachel Nash Perlow

Chef Christine Nunn of Picnic, The Restaurant (opening June 2010), was the special guest chef at the New Jersey chapter of Les Marmitons Spring event.

We feel a bit of a Yenta’s pride in this as another OTB friend Eric Eisenbud, and former President of the chapter, was the event organizer, responsible for procuring the guest chef and provisions. For those who don’t know, Les Marmitons is a gastronomic and social club of gentlemen who share a common interest in fine food, wine and the culinary arts.


Chef Christine Nunn discusses the menu with current NJ chapter President, Efrain Raices (right), and John Howlet (left), a past president of the NJ chapter and the current Vice President of Les Marmitons International.

Click here for a slide show of all of Jason’s photos of the event.

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Grillin’ on the Bay 2010

April 3, 2010

There are many things to like culinary-speaking about Brooklyn. It’s a huge melting pot for different cultures and many of New York’s food traditions, and most of the country’s best and most iconic ethnic dishes originate from there.

It has some of the best Pizza imaginable in the entire country and is the cradle of Jewish cuisine as we know it in the United States. Arguably the best hot dog on the planet originated in Brooklyn. And so on, and so on. Brooklyn is America’s premium brand name for ethnic culture.

However, I don’t normally consider Brooklyn to be a huge barbecue town. But last Saturday, my views on this were seriously challenged.

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