Though the process of traveling is not what it used to be, the art of eating well at your final destination is far better than perhaps it ever has been with the explosion of chef-driven, seasonal menu restaurants–many of which are in a casual setting as opposed to fine dining. Whether you are a carnivore or vegan or prefer a Paleo or pescatarian diet, the culinary scenes are beckoning the conscious food movement.
While in New York City recently for a week on business (and pleasure, of course), we ate like royalty. We visited a favorite dark and cozy haunt P. J. Clarke’s and then made time to slide into Taim in the Village where they serve up the city’s finest falafel. We also stopped into our favorite “Cheers-esque” bar at Wollensky’s Grill (the sister bar and grill to the meat lover’s favorite Smith & Wollensky around the corner), Sweetgreen, a fast casual salad shop, fed us while we were on the run one afternoon and one morning we had a lovely breakfast at The Smith. As a food lover, we strolled through Mario Batali’s Eataly when we were in the Flatiron district and wow. Just wow.
After years of wanting to visit, we finally made it to Sara Jenkins’ famous Porchetta spot in the Village where we dined on–you guessed it–porchetta, beans and assorted sauteed greens with garlic. A private tour with a new friend treated us to another place on my hit list, Big Gay Ice Cream, which started as a food truck and now has several locations where they serve up fun, frivolity and fabulousness in the form of delicious soft serve ice cream. The food was always elevated, well-sourced, mostly nutritious and spot-on in flavor.
We also visited the grandmother of all farmers markets, the Union Square Greenmarket. As a bona fide lover of farmers markets, I melted when I saw the diversity of produce, the bustling shoppers hungry for quality ingredients to cook with and the genuine adoration the farmers and shoppers had for this event that is held four times a week. FOUR times a week. From 8 am until 6 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
David was born and raised in New York and was elated to find real door corn at the market. This is his New York tradition–to put door corn on the front door for Halloween and Thanksgiving, but sadly the door corn in South Texas is pretty lame. (Though we wanted to buy some to bring home, we were schlepping a lot that day and opted out. But we took plenty of pictures to prove just how gorgeous everything is at this farmers market.) Honestly, friends, I did not want to leave.
No matter where we landed in the city, the food was brimming with enthusiasm, life and gusto. Many of the places even cooked up healthy fare and I was smitten. Healthy food is so on trend with many chefs and restaurants debunking the myth that healthy food must taste like sandpaper.
Having the luxury of walking everywhere in New York, we were able to graze our way through the city having a little of this here and a little of that there. In between meetings, we shared a lot of plates, celebrated the incredible food scene with new and old friends and didn’t gain a single pound. In fact, I may have even lost a pound or two.
One of the best things about coming home, though, is that I can cook again. Depending on restaurants for every meal does get old, but also puts things in perspective on why cooking is so important. It is therapeutic and calming.
Now that I am back in the kitchen, the simplicity of roasting the season’s very first butternut squash with brown butter and sage is a genuinely comforting and welcome taste of fall on our plates.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Brown Butter and Sage
- 1 medium-size butternut squash washed, peeled and sliced intro strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper to season before baking
- 2 tablespoons butter or vegan butter small cubes
- 1/4 cup sage thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
On a large and heavy baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the butternut squash and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat and arrange each slice of squash flat on the baking sheet so it gets well caramelized. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place in the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and dot the butternut squash with the butter cubes.
Then scatter the sage over the squash and place the baking sheet back in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is equally tender and golden.
When the squash is done, season again with a little more salt and pepper and serve immediately.