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