The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 89 of 126

july 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  87 C ontrary to hope, taking my Young Scholar on a tour of potential colleges is not one of life's most memorable experiences. I quickly realized that every tour is pretty much the same. An hour spent in an auditorium listening to details about cost, study abroad, cost, housing and, yes, cost, followed by an hour following a tour guide who walks backwards, pointing out the student union, the engineering building, the stadium—and, of course, the cost. It doesn't take long for it all to blend into one . . . long . . . tour—an Educational Slog. To survive the tedium, I turned my thoughts to where to eat when it was all over. In each city, around every campus, restaurants abound. Many are chains. But with a frisson of creativity, good eats can be found. Indeed, very good eats were found. I may not remember the business school. But I do remember the beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables— and always that much-needed glass of wine. And so, on a journey to see the schools of New Orleans, it was joyous going, first of all, to the restaurants of chef/ restaurateur Donald Link. I got to two of his three restaurants—Herbsaint will have to wait for my next visit. But much happiness was to be found going to Cochon and Pêche—both in the Warehouse District not far from the French Quarter, and both a denial of the sense that the cooking of N'Awlins is all about butter, cream and the deep fryer. Cochon is the realm of smoked pork ribs with watermelon pickle, fried boudin with pickled peppers and onion braised pork cheeks with grits—not one of which was priced above $15. Pêche, not surprisingly, is about seafood—catfish with pickled greens, crawfish and jalapeño cappellini, spicy ground shrimp with noodles. And both were a warmup for my best meal in New Orleans—the Modern Israeli restaurant called Shaya (named Best New Restaurant at the Beard Awards), where the hummus is worthy of an Old Testament prophet, topped variously with curried fried cauliflower, lamb ragu, butternut squash and more. And the sabich sandwich is the best this side of Tel Aviv. And then, it was up to New York, where the choice of restaurants around NYU is ency- clopedic—there are wonders to be found at Mighty Quinn's BBQ, where the burnt ends could inspire a seminar, and at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, with its amazing rotisserie duck and seven-spice brisket buns. The options aren't nearly as fine uptown at Columbia. But just a short Uber ride south of the campus, there's Fishtag, a restaurant by Chef Michael Psilakis, which sits slightly underground in an Upper West Side brownstone, and where Psilakis ventures away from his usual Greek cooking and into the realm of smoked fish and charcuterie, smoked octopus with hearts of palm and grilled branzino stuffed with (of all things) head cheese. It's an education in thinking outside the culinary box. And we hadn't even gotten to Boston yet—where the dining, like the college scene, offers experi- ence that could merit a post-graduate degree. Bacala and skordalia brandade melt from Fishtag in NYC. PHOTO: KAT BRYANT PHOTO: GRAHAM BLACKAL Shakshuka from the Modern Israeli res- taurant called Shaya in New Orleans.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - July 2016