Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Fire Island Fast

The Glitter Gourmet loves food almost as much as he loves a happy trail, but with summer and Speedos fast approaching, even GG himself needs to skip a meal or two. Although I’m happy to skip meals left and right, I do like to have as many reasons to fast as possible – in order to ward off any accusations that I’m going down the same path as Ms. Olsen or Ms. Richie. While I spend most of my philanthropic money on queeny things like AIDS research and marriage equality, I found a new charity event appealing to my vanity and my waistline that I just couldn’t pass up.

City Harvest’s Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign is the best way to warm your heart and shrink your stomach. City Harvest is the New York City-based food-rescue organization that assists 350,000 local children and their families, who otherwise don't get enough to eat. The idea behind this campaign is to gather a team, skip lunch for one day, and donate the money from one lunch to City Harvest (of course, the bears can donate and still eat lunch). The event will be held this year on Wednesday, May 6 and you can register your team at

Once you’ve registered, City Harvest will send you a kit of goodies containing paper lunch bags to distribute on May 6 for money collection. For any loners out there that don’t have what it takes to rally the troops, you can fly solo and donate individually here.

Now if Yom Kippur was in June, I’d have all the excuses I’d need to get my summer six pack.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Confessions of a Dineaholic: David Burke at Bloomingdale's

With a new apartment full of furniture and a credit card full of charges, the Glitter Gourmet has had to start cutting some corners. While he may slip to one pedicure a month or begin perusing the sale rack and Barneys, that doesn’t mean his meals need to suffer. While many restaurants in the city have jumped on the bandwagon of the “recession special,” there is one great find that has been serving great food at an even better price from day one. David Burke at Bloomingdale's, the wallet-conscious café from NYC superstar chef, David Burke, is the easiest way to stay fabulous on a budget.

Speaking not only as a publicist, but also as a self-proclaimed trend-setter, I know all too well that fabulousity is a matter of spin. Picture this – you roll into Bloomingdale’s around three or four with giant sunglasses and your man-bag hanging from your elbow, hoping a bit of retail therapy will cure your hangover. You bounce around the store with your friends for an hour or two, trying on everything from D&G suits to M.A.C. Lip Glass. You finally grow weary, muttering something about how disappointing the new DSquared line is and flop down for an early dinner at the cute celeb café on the first floor. (Little does anyone know, so far you’ve spent $0).

Unlike other “budget bistros” from New York culinary titans like Tom Colicchio’s Craftbar or Daniel Boulud’s Bar Boulud, David Burke at Bloomingdale's isn’t “less expensive” than the famed Davidburke & Donatella, it’s downright cheap. Every night of the week, David Burke at Bloomingdale's offers a three course prix fixe dinner for $20.09 that allows guests to choose anything from each section of the menu. (There is a $5 supplement for lobster or steak, but who can blame them?) And, as long as the food lives up to the name, then this deal can’t be beat.

It does. Every table starts with a round of cheddar popovers. This savory, buttery morsel puffs with steam as your break open the shell. It’s one of those warm delights you wake up a week later dreaming of. My first course was an east-meets-west duo of dumplings. The left side of my plate paid homage to down-home all-American grub with chicken and jack cheese dumplings and a swirl of barbecue sauce, the right side brought the delicate, refined flavors of the orients with shrimp dumplings and a tahini-like sauce. While this dish may sound like a faceoff between a backwoods Barbie and a gaysha, it actually came together as an elegant and interesting pairing.

My entrée wasn’t quite haute cuisine – a grilled chicken sandwich with provolone, bacon, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and whole-grain mustard with a side of house-made potato chips - but I find while good chefs can create dishes of a complexity most home cooks can’t fathom, a great chef is one who can elevate a staple to something more delicious than it’s namesake. This sandwich had crisp bacon that wasn’t overdone, moist chicken, fresh vegetables and soft sweet pretzel bread that would make any filling taste like heaven. Also, I typically roll my eyes when a sandwich comes with potato chips, but these were irresistible. If they made a version with Olean, I’d buy them by the pound. While I did love my meal, I do want to mention there were several other, more upscale options like short rib ravioli, salmon with shrimp and asparagus risotto, and of course, the aforementioned lobster and steak dishes.

Dessert was an Oatmeal cookie parfait, layering the cookies with apple caramel, vanilla gelato and cranberry sauce. The cookie bits tasted a bit more like breakfast granola, but the gelato was decadent, so an overall nice ending (for a $10 supplement, you can have a happy ending instead…). My whole meal was paired with the Malbec on special that evening ($8). Of course, it didn’t pair well, but the name of the game in a place like this is to enjoy your meal without pretense, so I picked my favorite wine and drank up.

It’s important to remember in times of trouble that you don’t have to give up the important things like keeping up appearances and maintaining a glamorous lifestyle. With a bit of savvy and a lot of bronzer, you can fly through this recession and land on the other end with more glitter than you started with.

David Burke at Bloomingdale's
1000 Third Avenue (Entrance on 59th Street)
New York, NY 10022
(212) 705-3800

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mediocre Mile: Intermezzo

If there’s one thing that gets the Glitter Gourmet in the door of any restaurant, it’s a sidewalk sandwich board with two words: open bar. Last Sunday I was taking my usual strut up 8th Avenue with Prada sunglasses, glossed/pursed lips, and hangover in tow, all the while scanning for somewhere moderately acceptable to brunch on the mediocre mile. When my friend and I passed Intermezzo’s ad touting a two-hour open bar for $15, I thought it may be just the thing to ease the pain of Manhattan’s culinary arm pit, so we went in.

Intermezzo is by all accounts the definition of Chelsea’s mediocre mile – a hopeless attempt at chic with nothing going on in the back, which happens to double as the definition for Chelsea men. The décor is contemporary America high-gloss bitch and the Italian menu draws its influence from the same small Italian village that gave us pasta roni. Before I continue, I must admit that I’ve been to Intermezzo several times before and it does have a place in my Sunday brunch routine. Whenever I get sick of my egg-white omelette and instead have a craving to judge people based on how the look, Intermezzo it is.

When the door opens at Intermezzo, you find yourself at the foot of a long catwalk flanked by the bar to your left and a single column of tables to your right and you’re left wondering why you wasted your tightest jeans on Mr. Black last night when you should be wearing them now. Nonetheless, I hitched up my pants, looked down my nose, put the bass in my walk and went straight back to our table. My runway performance was aided by the DJ spinning from on high, peering down at diners from a window on the second floor.

When we finally sat, I knew I’d be fine, because my bar was about to open, whew. The open bar includes Bloody Marys (which are actually pretty good), Mimosas, Champagne, Screw Drivers, and Raspberry, Mango and Peach Bellinis. Choosing a drink is difficult because the Mimosas come quickly, but watered down and flat from a pitcher, and the Bloody Marys come tangy and spicy, that is if they come at all. As a man who always chooses quality over quantity, I chose the Bloody Mary.

As I threw back my Marys [insert tasteless gay joke here], I decided to go for the unch side of brunch and got a sandwich. I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with arugula, tomatoes and Dijon mustard. The peasant French roll my sandwich came on was good, and that’s where my compliments end. The chicken was bland and the whole thing was completely over-Dijoned. With a thick layer on both the top and the bottom, the horseradishy mustard had me feeling like every bite was either a glob of wasabi or red–stained gefilte fish. I, of course, should have sent it back, but the last thing that place needed was an ounce more drama, so I ate half and pretended like I was on some new diet about limiting my intake of yellow-colored food.

I must admit that I did have a visit to Intermezzo in the not-so-distant past when I had a great time. I remember looking down at my fourth empty Bloody Mary and saying something to the effect of “I love Intermezzo, it’s like clubbing and eating at the same time!” That it is. If you’re looking for a good meal or a friendly staff, then keep walking, but for those times when you’ve just got to glitter, slam open that door, bounce down that runway, and let your whole body talk.

202 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I ♥ My Two Daddies

For every gay, no matter how great their real parents are – I have a killer set myself, no complaints here – it just isn’t the same as some sage wisdom from the gays of yore (“yore,” of course, being anything before 1980). I’m lucky enough to have found myself a pair of such fabulous fruits to guide me through the trials and tribulations of husband hunting. These gentlemen started with the cornerstone of gay culture, the dinner party, teaching me how to perfect the gay equivalent to tailgating. After countless courses at countless meals, we’ve finally graduated to fine dining. Last night, the couple, two other friends, and I ventured a few blocks from the mediocre mile to 10th Avenue to dine at Cookshop.

Cookshop is one of an emerging new breed of restaurant that is not only green, but dedicated to local food as well. My mentors being fervent localvores, it’s no surprise Cookshop tops their list as one of the best meals in the city. I won’t go into the array of things that make Cookshop the Mother Teresa of 10th Ave, but suffice it to say that everything you touch was made out of recycled tires and grown on the roof. When I arrived, I was whisked off to the table to join the duo, who, it became quite clear, have been to Cookshop more times than they can count. Now, I have to stop here and note that my review can’t really be unbiased, because we all know that any VIPs don’t get normal service at a restaurant. However, since I plan on becoming a VIP myself as soon as the Glitter Gourmet goes national and I host my own show on Logo, I was more than happy to get used to the royal treatment.

Once we all got settled, we started our meal the way every good meal should start (especially breakfast at the office), with champagne. A common misconception among uncultured gays and straight people is that champagne is a dessert drink. With rare exception, it is the antithesis. Dry, light and effervescent, it is almost always a smart choice to begin a meal. (If you’re dead set on having some pop and fizz with your dessert, grab some Asti and pop away.) Anyway, back on track… so, I began my meal with a rabbit rillette (fighting the urge to go on second tangent in the same paragraph, I will simply say that I believe ugly animals suffer just as much as cute ones when you kill them, so I eat everything) okay, back to the rillette – similar to a pate, this dish has a similar texture to a whitefish spread and was served with the traditional pate accoutrement – toast points, whole-grain mustard and cornichon. Light, delightful, and perfect with the champagne, it was a great way to start a meal. I wouldn’t say a showstopper, but it put a smile on my face.

After a surprise perfectly-pan-seared sea scallop and a taste of some new white, we moved on to our entrees. Being the pious Jew that I am, I had pig. To be more specific, it was Vermont suckling pig “Porchetta” with refried black beans, sautéed spinach and grapefruit mojo (“mojo” is apparently the culinary term for slices). This dish was the showstopper for which I had braced myself. Deep fried for just a few minutes, the meat was tender and succulent and the skin was crispy, crackly, and crunchy – in a word, heaven. The beans and spinach were nice, and the grapefruit mojo actually did give a really great flavor to the meat. Through careful observation and a few swift moves from my fork, I can tell you that everyone else’s meals where great as well. Oh, also to note, we had a medium-bodied red from Alto-Adige, which went well with the pork.

The desserts at Cookshop were, like any good finale, whimsical. Most of the sweets are an haute interpretation on something traditional – donuts, a creamsicle sundae, candy bars, and chocolate pudding to name a few. I had the candy bars, which were devil’s food cake, gianduja (a type of chocolate containing hazelnut paste) crunch, praline ganache, frozen peanut nougat, and a chocolate shell. They were not only tasty, but also adorable. The bars came as a trio, each about two inches long on a little wooden stick. In another growing dessert trend, they were topped with a sprinkling of salt, which really enhanced the dish much more than I would have thought. With the exception of a somewhat lackluster chocolate pudding, all of the treats were a hit as we passed them around the table.

Just like a good dinner party, the food may have been outstanding, but the company made the meal. It may have been the VIP service, or the rounds of champagne, or the warmest Sunday since last summer, but Cookshop has me hooked. The next time you need a break of the high octane, low caliber cuisine of 8th Ave, make sure to head west for some of the best conscious-friendly fare in New York.

156 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011