Sunday, September 14, 2008

Julia, the Secret Agent?!

At the height of a surfboard and with the voice of a falsetto, she trots about the kitchen, gloriously spilling potatoes, charismatically decapitating lobster, and brilliantly attacking poultry. You soon find yourself caring less about the Coq au Vin, and becoming more captivated by her, Julia. And what a journey she had! A child from Pasadena, Ca. became Director of the O.S.S (now known as the C.I.A), and ultimately let love lead her to a passion for food.

Born to be 6 feet 2 inches
In 1912 and born to be 6 feet 2 inches, Julia McWilliams was delivered to Carolyn and John McWilliams. Her prestigious family included a Scottish father, conservative and stern, Carolyn, her mother, charming and audacious, and two siblings. Julia grew to be a free Californian spirit. Her mother’s sense of humor and sociable nature would possess her, as her father’s discipline would send her across the country to Smith College in Northampton, Mass. where wealthy men went to study and Julia hoped to marry one.

From Massachusetts to Manhattan and Washington, DC
At Smith, she was a student council member, basketball player, and worked for the Dramatics Association. Julia graduated with no professional goals and listed her postgraduate objectives as “profession- undecided, marriage- preferable”. It was not until she moved to New York that Julia found a job. She had interest in writing and set her sights to write for the New Yorker. Unfortunately, they turned her down, and she eventually found a job as a copywriter for an upscale furnishing company. Her job as a copywriter taught her great typing and managing skills. Julia would later use this experience to defend her country. She was alerted to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and like many Americans, hurried to Washington, DC to help her nation. She eagerly applied to the Navy but was denied for being too tall. So, Julia did the next best thing, she used her typing skills to become a senior typist in the Office of War Information. She was soon promoted to junior research assistant for "Wild" Bill Donovan in the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S) now known as the C.I.A.

Julia the Spy, Meet Paul
The O.S.S was the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A). Julia worked her way from a junior assistant to a top-security director. When the opportunity arrived for staff to go abroad, Julia jumped at the chance. She moved to Asia, and worked in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). At the O.S.S, Julia worked on projects that included making shark repellent so they would not detonate underwater bombs. She would also have access to all classified dispatches that went through the South East Asia Command (S.E.A.C). While her location in Ceylon was fresh and exciting, Julia began to tire of office work monotony. But there was buzz in the O.S.S about a new member, which revived Julia’s interest. This new member of the State Department, whose good reputation preceded him, was Paul Child.
(To be continued in the next Issue of Eat Life, Julia part 2)

Written by Brandon Johnson
Read more!

Bacon Candy

As I wait in the Union Square Whole Foods line I am thinking 2 things. One is how is this place just as packed at 11AM as it is at 6PM. Two, there is no way I am buying these $10 chocolate/ health food bars that they strategically place right beside the waiting aisle to lure you in. I said that to myself until I saw “IT”. Though “IT” was weird at first sight, initially unappealing and ridiculous, I could not turn away. Though I was Intrigued; I left Whole Foods without it. Then the more I thought about the salty, delicious taste of apple wood smoked bacon and the sweet rich taste of cocoa, “IT” became a morsel of the 2 greatest weaknesses of any sweet and salt tooth. So I said, “naaaah, still not gonna buy it.”

Well, that changed. I went on my weekly Whole Foods run and temptation possessed me. I thought to myself,
Vosges Bacon Chocolate Bar, I have to know your flavor. I reluctantly exchanged $12 for the 6 inch pig candy. I took my first bite, and was in an eccentric wonderland where breakfast and dessert met. Nostalgic childhood images of dragging bacon through a puddle of sweet syrup danced through my head. It was euphoria, where edible pigs ate organic chocolate truffles, and the world was a savory and sweeter place. Feeling benevolent from the chocolate bacon high, I shared half of my treat to a man that lived in Union Square Park. Though he didn’t feel as happy about the flavor as I did, Vosges mission to bring people together through the power of unique chocolate fare was accomplished in my experience.

How in the world did they know bacon would taste so f
antastic in a chocolate bar?

Written by Brandon Johnson

Read more!

Chelsea: Where New Yorkers devour Elmo and drink $1 coffee next to the Food Network.

Upon first glance, Chelsea Market looks exactly like what it used to be… a warehouse. With closer examination you start to notice the chic industrial exterior purposely wrought with iron and steel with the words “Chelsea Market” hanging off the side in block letters. To those who have been living in a bubble, it would seem like an unlikely place to house such amazing food stops, but to those in the know, it is one of the city’s greatest treasures.

Step inside and the warehouse motif is not lost. With dark walls and brick floors, one has to watch their footing in the former National Biscuit Company complex. Now, more famously home to the Food Network
, Chelsea Market is still churning out plenty of culinary delights from the many vendors inside. This becomes apparent as you are lead past many glass walls with views into the bakeries themselves.
202, a casual restaurant surrounded by upscale clothes and goods by Nicole Farhi, and Chelsea Wine Vault, a lively liquor store with weekly tastings and specials, are the first two stops on the tour. At Eleni’s across the way, be ready for a sugar rush with every flavor cupcake imaginable (Oreo Madness and Peanut Butter Cup are a must), cookies that look like works of art for any occasion ("Candidate Cookies" are the latest), a wall of candy, and even old fashioned Coke products in glass bottles that take us back to the era of the old Nabisco factory. To continue the sugar rush, head to Fat Witch Bakery next door, which produces my favorite brownies of all time (not too cakey, not too fudgey, with a perfectly rich level of chocolate). Get them after 5pm and they're only $1.50.

The next stretch is comprised of Ruthie’s, home to a hodge podge of daily breakfast and lunch specials so popular, they have two shops: one for food and one for baked goods. Don’t miss the great bagels with an assortment of cream cheeses including maple walnut and bacon, if you dare.

The Green Table and adjoining Clever Co. catering offer delicious organic food choices to the passerby in a restaurant and storefront with approximately five tables (including a communal table in the Market hall). This "sustainable eatery and wine bar" provides respite from a day of shopping the Meatpacking District in an environment unlike any other in the city.

Two chains that round out Chelsea Market are Amy’s and Sarabeth’s, both familiar names to any New Yorker worth their salt. This particular Amy's boasts a large selection of fresh breads and baked goods with French flair, like the decadent Pan Au Chocolat, to be enjoyed in the ample sitting area. And don't forget to wash it all down with their homemade lemonade available in the warmer months. Sarabeth's, on the other hand, can be easily passed by with its small entrance hidden under the dark lighting of the Market. But step inside and enjoy a wide array of jams, granola, cookies and cakes. In the mood for breakfast? Order one of the perfectly prepared omelettes until 3pm.

Bowery Kitchen Supply hidden near the back is a haven to the culinary student or aficionado, with any kitchen gadget you will ever need. The store is complete with a stellar sandwich and hot food bar, and gelato station that are no longer the Market’s best-kept secrets.

Across from "Bowery" is T Salon. A newcomer to the block, this tea store has walls and walls of tea choices, a case of delectable desserts, a healthy new twist on lunch, and a quaint yet stylish sitting area to enjoy it all.

You can't miss the open bar in the middle of Chelsea Market, home to Ninth Street Espresso, a perfect way to start or finish your visit. Brewing Stumptown coffee as quickly as the ever-growing line appears, the friendly and familiar baristas customize each coffee drink as if they were handing you a work of art. Order a cappuccino and you will never be able to drink Starbucks again. Or order a cup of coffee for only $1!

So make a date with your favorite foodie friend and hit up Chelsea Market with an empty stomach and full wallet. You won't be able to pass up the many goods, edible or otherwise, that this historic building has to offer. And stay tuned to our blog for the next installment about the Market and its many larger-scale vendors like the Lobster Place and Manhattan Fruit Exchange (and visiting sample sales!).

For a full list of shops and events visit:

Also read more about the rich history of the building:

Written by Andrea Scalici

Read more!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Greedy Boss

Dear Foodie:

I work for a high energy, high stress art gallery in NY, whose name I will not mention. It’s so busy at times we barely have time for lunch but every time there is a business lunch, dinner, or food anywhere, I am excited and famished. I’ll order a juicy burger or steak salad (my favorite), just salivating when I see it.  But before I can sink my teeth into anything my boss will pick off of my plate before I have my first taste. Mind you, he has already eaten!! At first, it was ok but after a year of working and giving him bite after bite I think I’m going to lose it. How do I get him to stop without risking my job and my sanity?


Starving Artist

Dear S.A:

What first comes to mind is I hope his hands were clean. What you have is a true dilemma, but it’s solvable. Usually bosses love to instruct and advise so use it to your advantage. Use a friend or yourself as an example and simply ask your boss for guidance on the issue. For instance, you can ask him… “If someone was consistently eating off of your plate and you wanted them to stop, how would you approach them professionally and respectfully?” this way your boss will give you advice based on the way he would like to be approached and if he is smart, he will get the hint too.

If that doesn’t work there is always the good old sneeze & cough technique. You simply fake sneeze and cough (make it loud and juicy) over your food, and you won't have to worry about anyone touching your plate or you for that matter

Read more!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

From Victorian Literature, Crocheting, and Photography to Barefoot Contessa...

Before I went to the French Culinary, I was pursuing a degree in Victorian Literature and amassing a cache of diverse hobbies: crocheting, photography (of my candy-making efforts), painting (really bad) still life watercolors, and surfing. I felt like I was all over the place, and my professors were a bit stymied by the papers I turned in which tended to focus less on the classic themes of literature and more on what you can learn about characters based on what was served at their parties or what comfort foods they indulged in when sad.

One day after reading the Age of Innocence, I decided to try my hand at period-inspired Victorian feast, including Blanc Mange (seemed just like panna cotta
to me), Lobster Patties and Wine Punch. Keep in mind that I wanted to keep it completely authentic (although I did have to substitute gelatin for calf’s foot).

My friends were mystified and entertained. After imbibing the Wine Punch, they were utterly inebriated. I considered it a success, both personally and professionally. I knew I wanted to combine my love of food, my passion for books and the delicious challenge of writing about the two.

Fast forward a couple years, past a variety of food-related jobs from sales at Williams-Sonoma to Girl Friday at the Barefoot Contessa 
and I knew I was really serious.

This was before the Food Network and the millions of food magazines now available. The only publications I knew were Gourmet and Bon Appetit. Then I found my first copies of Food and Wine and Saveur Magazine and I fell in love with the articles that featured not just the food but also the culture, the anthropology, the geography of the food that I wanted to cook. I knew I needed to go to cooking school, and I wanted a school where there would be more than just technique, that would imbue cooking lessons with the same global perspective that I had found in the magazines. It would give me the history and the knowledge to understand why I was doing something, not just how to do it.

In short, I was looking for the perfect school for me, my equivalent of Harvard for cooking. Plus, I needed a night schedule. Did such a Holy Grail exist? Only in New York folks, only in New York… In Soho to be exact: The French Culinary Institute.

It took me another two years to figure out how to move to NYC from East Hampton; I never looked back, except when I really wanted a lobster roll.

Written by Megan Susannah Moore

Read more!

Salty. Sweet. Hot and Sour. Butternut Squash Curry.

(Serves 4)


3 butternut Squash

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

2 cups coconut milk

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 limes, zested and juiced

2 Tbsp dark soy

2 Tbsp chili paste

2 Tbsp fish sauce (substitute Tamari sauce for vegetarians)



2 inches Fresh Ginger

2 Thai Chiles

2 Stalks Lemongrass

3 Garlic cloves

6 Large Shallots

Cilantro roots from one bunch cilantro

1 tsp turmeric



Cilantro leaves

Lime wedges

Sliced Scallions

* Bake, on a half-sheet cookie tray drizzled with olive oil, 3 cleaned, peeled and cubed butternut squash at 350 degrees until fork-tender and golden brown (approximately 45 minutes).

*While the Butternut Squash is roasting, make the Fresh Curry Paste by grinding all ingredients in a food processor.

*In a medium sauce pan, bring all ingredients to the scald point, do not boil or coconut milk will separate. Turn off heat, cover and allow lime zest to infuse (approximately 20 minutes).

*Add Fresh Curry Paste to Coconut Milk mixture and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt & pepper, a squeeze of lime. Check for seasoning, it should be salty, sweet, sour and hot. Add roasted butternut squash to mixture. Serve hot with jasmine boiled rice. Garnish with cilantro leaves and sliced scallions.

Recipe by Megan Moore

Read more!

Refreshing and Perfect for the last days of summer: Concord Grape Sorbet and Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd


3 lemons, zested

3 large yolks

3 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

½ cup fresh lemon juice

3 oz butter

*Whisk together the eggs, yolks, zest and sugar.  Whisk in lemon juice.

* Using a double boiler, cook the mixture over constantly simmering water, until thickened.  To determine thickness, dip a wooden spoon into the mixture and run your finger across the back.  The mixture should be the consistency of vanilla pudding.

* Remove from heat and strain through a Chinois.  Whisk in the butter until the butter is absorbed into the curd. 

Bonus: This makes a delicious filling for tartlets, cake fillings, and just eating with a spoon.

Concord Grape Sorbet


1 vanilla bean

1 ¾ lbs Concord Grapes

2 cups sweet red wine, such as Beaujolais

½ cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar

*Place all ingredients in a large sauce pan.  Sprinkle with ¼ tsp ascorbic acid.  Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat.  Let stand for 30 minutes.

* Puree the mixture in a food processor.  Strain through a Chinois.  Chill over an ice bath.

* Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Alternately (if you don’t have an ice cream machine), it makes a delicious Granita.  For Granita, freeze in an 8-inch brownie pan, scraping down the ice crystals with a fork.  Makes an excellent snow cone.

Recipe by Megan Moore

Read more!