Feeling nostalgic about the end of an era at WD-50

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The countdown is really on, and it is true: WD-50 will close its doors for the final time on 30 November. And it makes me sad that I won’t get to eat there again, but thankful that I did at least get to experience it once in my life.

I was reminiscing with Twiglet that it was definitely up there in my top 3 meals ever. In fact, I agreed with her, the lunch we’d had a couple of days early at Freemans is up there too. But WD-50 is probably at the top of the tree. I was lucky to share the meal with three fabulous women, and it really was a moment in time, a New York moment in time.

 

How it looks now, but not for much longer

 

There wasn’t a moment of the experience that wasn’t memorable, from the drinks, to the first read of the menu, the first time we got to our table. I’d forgotten how lovely the pH cocktails were, and think I really must have a go at recreating them.

Each course took us by surprise, but it wasn’t poncey, it was fun. Or if it was poncey then we were having too much fun to notice. I remember us thinking that it was clever, but not too clever. I mean the Eggs Benedict and Florentine were just breathtaking (cubed eggs anyone?) but were darned tasty too.

 

Square eggs anyone?

 

The desserts were just beautiful, even if we thought we weren’t going to be able to manage them. But we did. It was a magical evening, and there was no better company than Twiglet, the Nose and Boss Lady No 1, and we’ve all talked about it on several occasions since. Hard to believe it was three years ago this summer.

Hard to believe it will soon be gone.

But I guess that makes it just like great food, here and then gone. Wylie Dufresne has opened another restaurant, Alder, so will just have to go try that one. Or maybe not, maybe it won’t ever live up to the original. But I hope so, and I wish them well, and thank them for giving the four of us an incredible meal and some incredible memories. If you’ve managed to get tickets for any of these last few services then I feel quite envious and hope you too have an incredible evening.

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The Friday Five – In a New York state of mind, again!

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I’m on a countdown to a trip to the US next week. I will be within striking distance of New York City, which I’ve regularly said is my favourite city in the world. I’m hoping to grab at least a few hours there, even just to take a stroll down the High Line, but I’m primarily there for a wedding.

Maybe if I don’t get into the city then I could indulge in a bit of cookbook shopping and then some cooking, as some sort of compensation. These are on my list today:

 

New York Cult Recipes - so many things I'd like to cook, so may New York restaurants to visit

 

New York Cult Recipes – I saw this in Waterstones a few weeks ago and thought it really had my name on it. This is really the comfort food of the city, so things like cheesecake, cheeseburgers, pork buns, byalis…all things I love when I’m there. I’ve done really high end eating and I’ve done comfort eating like this and love them all. I think this one might be a keeper.

 

How To Eataly - truly an amazing place to visit

 

How to Eataly – what can you say? Eataly is like the Disneyland of Italian food. It’s massive, it’s noisy, it’s a total assault on your senses, and makes Dean & DeLuca look like a corner shop. I like that this is not just about cooking but about the shopping stage too, not to mention the all important eating stage. Not that I think I need any instruction on how to do that bit!

 

Clinton St. Baking Company

 

Clinton St Baking Company – this is still one of my favourite places for breakfast, and their recipe for raspberry jam is my go to recipe. It’s the best tasting ever, as were their pancakes…

 

Clinton St Pancakes

 

the potato cakes, the apple butter…

 

Clinton St Potato Pancakes

 

I could go on. I’ve cooked lots from this, and like to imagine myself back there. It was so good we went twice within the five day trip. This time I might have to settle for cooking from it when I get home.

 

The Better from Scratch Cookbook from Williams-Sonoma

 

Better from Scratch – ok, this one is for later in the year, as it’s a new book from Williams-Sonoma. I love Williams-Sonoma, it’s an expensive habit. Their books are always good, and the next batch look great. I like this one, and the slow cooker one that’s coming. I have an earlier version of this which I’ve already cooked from quite a bit. Failing that, I just hope to pick up some Star Wars pancake moulds in the sale to go with my cookie cutters.

 

I love New York - ingredients & recipes from my favourite city

 

I ? New York – on a thousand tshirts, and now this is the book of the tshirt sentiment. Almost. Because this is about the local food movement really, and the many ingredients that are grown around the city, and therefore can make great seasonal food. It tells the story of the producers, as well as great recipes. I think this one will go in my wishlist, it’s definitely a different view on New York eating.

It’s a trip I’m really looking forward to, as there will be lots of joy and happiness for all the days I’m there. I’m just hoping for a sneaky NYC fix as well, just to really top things off. Besides which my regular housesitters will be back in residence and I’ve promised him those pancake moulds!

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Please help! Where to eat in NYC?

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Where to eat in NYC when there's 100s of choices

 

You may know that I live in the middle of the countryside, love village life, not really big on cities.

Except I love New York City. Absolutely, and passionately. And next month sees me make probably my eigth or ninth trip. But in many ways it’s my first trip. First as a family. First as a tourist. First that I’m not there for work.

Which means catering for a different set of tastes, even though MGG is still very adventurous. It also probably means no meals like last year’s at WD-50. Although we could run to Freemans. If they are happy to have cool kids dine with them. So, you see, my repertoire of places is looking a little thin on the ground, so who can suggest somewhere that we really need to try out?

We’re staying in the Lower East Side, but will be ranging from as far uptown as the Guggenheim, and downtown out to Ellis Island. We’re taking a taxi to Brooklyn and walking back across the bridge. We’re doing the High Line from the furthest point uptown to finish in Chelsea. Surely great eating is never far away?

Kitchenette was one of my faves from last year, and I’m always sorry I’m not able to find who tweeted me that suggestion, as it was brilliant. It’s definitely worth another visit, and I’d probably take them to the Carnegie Deli just to experience it. Grandma J has requested tea at The Russian Tea Room, and we’re booked to do that. Other than that, where should we go that’s memorable for all the right reasons? I’d like it to be about the food, but accept that sometimes, just sometimes, it’s also all about the experience.

Yes, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, I’m probably looking at you.

Tell me, in the nicest possible way, where should we go?

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WD-50 no slippery customer on the eating front!

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I’ve been in my favourite city in the world recently, and although there with the day job, managed to work in some great food adventures. The highlight was most definitely dinner at WD-50, which I have to thank The Nose for, as all four of us agreed that the meal was truly deserving of the term awesome.

Now I won brownie points over The Nose’s other half, who is definitely the man about town, regularly taking his clients out to eat in NYC. And he swore that there was no such place as WD-50, that it couldn’t be any good as he’d never heard of it. Well, of course, those of us back here in Blighty have heard of it as it’s where Tim Anderson cooked during the Masterchef final week. Put it this way, there are a number of his clients who will now be heading in that direction!

 

WD-50 Subtle branding for the greatness beyond the door

There were four of us for dinner, not quite the Brits version of SATC but myself, The Nose, Twiglet and Boss Lady 1. Which meant we were going to get a good selection across the menu, even allowing for The Nose being vegetarian. We were all happy right from the off, with the cocktail menu, enjoying a catch up over a couple of pHs (vodka, raspberry, lychee and rose) and one involving bourbon and Pimms.

This place is cool, but not in an up itself, no fun, intimidating kind of way, you just know that this place has got it going on. And all the people working there that we came into contact with were superb, and very charming. In fact I think Twiglet said “hot” on several occasions. She was the one on the bourbon, mind. Our waiter was hugely knowledgeable, and patient, as we asked questions about the menu, later progressing to questions about the techniques, when dish after amazing dish arrived and just didn’t look like what we were expecting. I mean, this is not your average Eggs Florentine:

 

Eggs Florentine at WD-50. Never seen it done like this before, or since

 

But this is no case of style over substance. The Eggs Benedict version came with super thin crispy ham, the peekytoe crab roll was crisp, delicious and stunning to look at. Then there was the corned duck, something Fray Bentos most definitely don’t make. If I hadn’t got a main course coming, I could have eaten this all over again!

Mains were one of those for me where the choice was impossible, and where great waiting staff really come into play. I asked our waiter for some help to choose between the duck or the lamb. He made the duck sound great, but he made the lamb sound unmissable, and his whole expression was so animated about this dish. I mean, who wouldn’t be intrigued by lamb skirt steak cooked very slowly at low temperature, especially when it comes with pistachio polenta and endive marmalade?

 

Slow cooked lamb skirt steak at WD-50

 

The Nose didn’t have a huge number of vegetarian options, but when you get a parsnip tart this good you don’t need them. This is definitely not going to pass the WI standard for a savoury tart, being very deconstructed, but maybe construction is over-rated, as I am assured it tasted amazing.

 

Parsnip tart at WD-50

 

Should you like things a bit on the spicy side, then Boss Lady 1 had duck. Not spicy in its own right, but kimchi cous cous certainly had a slow burn build up of heat.

 

Duck with kimchi cous cous at WD-50

 

Sadly I have no idea what Twiglet had, nor photographic evidence. I think by this stage we all just wanted to get stuck in. All I do remember is she returned a clean plate to the waiter and declared it truly the best meal in her life. Ever. Even better than when she’d said that at lunchtime the day before, but that’s a different story for another day!

Of course we had to do dessert, although we were struggling a little by this stage, so time to share. What I loved about this food was of course it had molecular magic to it, of course it was incredibly clever and technically brilliant, but it was also just beautifully presented, with amazing taste combinations and textures and just made us “ooo” with delight as each dish arrived. Although sometimes the menu is not the biggest clue on what to expect!

This is Tri-Star strawberries, brown butter, kaffir, pinenut, elderflower:

 

Tri-star strawberries at WD-50

 

Beautiful, light, summery with added crunch of what I think are dehydrated strawberries, with the most intense flavour.

And there had to be chocolate, for Boss Lady 1 and me:

 

Amazing chocolate dessert at WD-50

 

This was like an expensive Italian fashion house of desserts, all shades of taupe, toffee and caramel. The menu says milk chocolate, black bean, plantain, soy, peanut. We said “amazing”. We were running short of superlatives.

If I never eat here again, I will consider myself incredibly lucky to have experienced this once, especially with such fab company. But I’d save up and go again on another trip to NYC like a shot!

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