Modern Art, Modern Food

After the viewing the de Kooning exhibit, I met Preston for lunch at The Modern. This is Danny Meyer’s restaurant inside MoMA and it is wonderful.

Here’s what we ate, and every single bite was sublime:


Main Course, Preston: CHORIZO-CRUSTED COD with White Coco Bean Puree and Harissa Oil

Main Course, Tami: CREEKSTONE FARM BEEF TENDERLOIN “MIGNONETTE” with Butternut Squash, Chestnut and Juniper Berry Jus

Dessert, Preston: MILK CHOCOLATE AND HAZELNUT DACQUOISE with Raspberry Sorbet

Dessert, Tami: MANJARI CHOCOLATE PALET with Tahitian Vanilla Cremeux and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

(Sorry for the caps — I copied from the official menu. I have no ability to remember dishes once I’ve left the restaurant.)

6 Lessons Learned from Willem de Kooning

I went to MoMA today to see the de Kooning retrospective. I’m not going to try and review the show, I’m sure you can find a way more literate view if you want one. But I did learn six life lessons from a remarkable, prolific career:

1. Erasing and reworking is part of the process: de Kooning often erased and reworked parts of the drawings that eventually became paintings. The evidence of this editing is visible in some works.

2. Recycling elements from one work to another is perfectly acceptable: de Kooning would take parts of one painting and then use them again in a completely new painting. Why re-create from scratch every time?

3. Being “influenced” by others is fine as long as you make it your own: Even a complete art novice like me could see where de Kooning was influenced by masters like Picasso. But it was equally clear to me that his style was completely his own, not a mere copy of earlier works.

4. Test: de Kooning often pinned vellum drawings to paintings to see how certain elements would work before committing to the canvas.

5. Sometimes you need to take a break: In the late 60s de Kooning took a break from painting to explore sculpture. When he returned to painting in the mid-70s he had a renewed focus and vigor.

6. Don’t be afraid to change how you work to accommodate changes in your life: Late in his life de Kooning didn’t have the physical ability to work in the same ways he had previously. His paintings changed dramatically and he did less reworking than he had previously. The late paintings are sparer, with big, sweeping strokes instead of the detailed brushwork of his earlier work. They are no less wonderful, but they are different.

per se

When Sam Sifton announced that he was stepping down as the restaurant critic at the New York Times he said that his last review would be his choice as best restaurant in all of New York City.

I was dying to know what he’d choose. I practically ran to the door that Wednesday morning, ripped open the paper and turned to Dining. Sifton had spoken: per se. As if it could be anything else. Preston and I had been thinking about going. A partner of his, a trained chef, had been wanting to go. Reservations were made and soon the big night was upon us.

{The bad news was that I am fighting off a cold, which is not how I’d choose to experience per se. Also we had to leave by 8:45 pm — we had a 6pm reservation — to close on a refi. Yes, really.}

It was outrageous in every possible way. Outrageously good, outrageously expensive, outrageously New York. So far over the top it can’t even see the top.

But man is the food good. So good. Made-by-God-good.

Highlights included the amuse bouche of cheese gougeres (“cheesy poufs!”) and then another of salmon tartare. The Oysters and Pearls — a signature dish — was as good as the hype. I also loved the salad which had an eggplant crisp that was so thin it was translucent. The butter poached lobster may have ruined me for any other lobster dish.

I could go on. The dinner did. Nine courses. Each is quite small, but nevertheless by the end you think you may never eat again. I’m embarrassed to admit that some macarons that came at the end went nearly untouched. (I did manage to stuff down a half of one flavored like a red hot. Sublime.) The flavors were just amazing from beginning to end. Go and read Sifton’s review — he’s much better at food journalism than I will ever be.

It was in every way an amazing experience.

per se
10 Columbus Circle @ the Time Warner Center
NYC 10019
(212) 823-9335

Maddie on Interfaith Harmony

Maddie: My baby is Jewish so she can come to Hanukkah.

Preston: Oh that’s nice. What about Tubby {stuffed hippo} and Catnap {stuffed lion}?

Maddie: Well, Tubby is Jewish so she can come. But Catnap celebrates Christmas.

Preston: You know people who don’t celebrate Hanukkah can still come to a Hanukkah party.

Maddie: Well, Catnap doesn’t like the lights, so he doesn’t want to come.