Tag Archives: Nirit Yadin

Lunch @ Le Cheri (w/recipe); Girl Scouts’ Herb Giveaway; Avanti in Pennington Changes Hands

Lunch @ Le Cheri: How Sweet It Is

I don’t get into Philadelphia nearly as often as the exciting dining scene there warrants, but I made sure to find time to dine at Le Cheri, the second restaurant from Pierre and Charlotte Calmels. Five years ago I fell in love with Bibou, their tiny byob French bistro on South Eighth. (Bibou’s Sunday pre fixe dinner, 4 courses for $45 , is the best deal around.)

Philadelphia Art Alliance, Wikipedia

Philadelphia Art Alliance, Wikipedia

So when the Calmelses opened Le Cheri on Rittenhouse Square in the Philadelphia Art Alliance building – the neat Italianate period piece above – I had to give it a go. Lucky for me, what had been forecast to be a rainy afternoon turned out gloriously sunny, so my little group opted to dine out in the garden in back. Charming, no?

Le Cheri patio garden

Le Cheri patio garden

The weather, season, and setting seemed to cry out for glasses of rose, and the Jean Paul Brun Rose d’Folie ($11) turned out to be as delicious as it is beautiful:

wine glassesThe ambiance also dictated my choice of starter: creamy (but not overly rich) watercress soup with a centerpiece of a few small, tender mussels mixed with julienne duck breast and dots of cayenne oil around the edges.

watercress soupBut I would have been just as satisfied with my friends’ choices: pretty scalloped ravioli filled with mushrooms and napped with rich sauce ivoire…

ravioli…and chilled poached rabbit terrine with Cumberland sauce. (Cumberland sauce is a chunky concoction customarily served with game, similar in style to cranberry sauce. Red currant jelly, orange and lemon rind, and Port are some of its components.) Like the sauce ivoire and much that would follow, this dish is straight out of Escoffier, only made with Pierre Calmels’ light touch and modern sensibility.

rabbit terrineMain dishes are equally beguiling, with each component of every preparation interesting, carefully selected, cooked to perfection, and presented beautifully. To wit:

Seared scallops, lavender oatmeal panisse, sugar snap peas, honeydew melon & mustard seed vinaigrette

Seared scallops, lavender oatmeal panisse, sugar snap peas, honeydew melon & mustard seed vinaigrette

Veal medallions, fingerlings, asparagus, lemon veal jus

Veal medallions, fingerlings, asparagus, lemon veal jus

Chef Georges Perrier crab cake, endive & haricots verts salad, whole grain mustard sauce

Chef Georges Perrier crab cake, endive & haricots verts salad, whole grain mustard sauce

If there’s a weak spot here, it’s dessert. I found the chocolate terrine too rich (tart raspberry sorbet that accompanied it notwithstanding), and the white peach Melba (below), while pretty, was the only classic among an entire meal of classics that seems dated.

??????????My friend who opted for one of the cheeses instead of a sweet came away a winner with this ramekin of runny, creamy, wonderfully pungent epoisses at the perfect stage of ripeness and served with slices of excellent baguette:

epoisses and cappuccinoFrench press coffee, espresso, and cappuccino are impeccable at Le Cheri. For lunch, menu prices range from $8 to 13 for starters, $21 to $27 for mains, and $7 to $9 for desserts and cheese.

"Galette 1523" @ Le Cheri

“Galette 1523” @ Le Cheri

Now for the promised recipe. The crab cake is listed on the menu as “Galette 1523.” That number refers to the street address of the old Le Bec Fin, and is a faithful replication of the one made famous by Calmels’ mentor, Georges Perrier. Ethereal custard-like texture sets it apart – a cross between quiche and souffle – and plays up the crab’s delicate flavor.Here’s a link to the original recipe.

Girl Scouts Giving Away Fresh Herbs (and Growing Tips)

Apparently it’s not just a one-night stand between chef/owner Jim Weaver of Tre Piani and local Girl Scouts.
Wait – that doesn’t sound right. Let me start again.

scouts at tre piani 013Last year I reported here on a sweet event in which Weaver, the founder of Slow Food Central NJ, invited a Girl Scout troop from Flemington into his kitchen to cook up a farmers-market-to-table meal as part of their badge-earning journey. Now, on Friday, June 27 between 11 am and 2 pm – during the Princeton Forrestal Village farmers market held on the plaza outside Tre Piani – another Girl Scout troop, this one from Plainsboro, will share their knowledge of fresh herbs, as well as herbs themselves, with the public. Here’s the deal, straight from farmers market manager Nirit Yadin:

garden 2009 007

My own herb garden

“Come learn to grow herbs in your own kitchen and reap the benefits of herbs in fresh food. Then get a free pot of herbs to take home. The program is presented by Girl Scout Troop 70694. The girls are working on a Sow What Journey which is all about connecting people to their food. Come, educate yourself and support the troop!’

 

 

 

Breaking News: Changing of the Guard at Pennington’s Avanti

Michael Moriello

Michael Moriello

Michael Moriello, chef and owner of La Mezzaluna, the popular Italian byob on Witherspoon Street in Princeton, has acquired Avanti, the equally popular Italian byob in downtown Pennington. Moriello, who came to the US 9 years ago from Naples, has bought out Vincenzo Severino, a Sicilian native who established Avanti almost 20 years ago on W. Delaware Avenue.

Avanti in Pennington

Avanti in Pennington

Moriello isn’t planning major changes to the menu at Avanti, which offers classic fare like linguine with red or white clam sauce and pasta Bolognese inside a charming carriage house. One change: the restaurant is now serving lunch on Sundays (in addition to dinner).

La Mezzaluna, Princeton

La Mezzaluna, Princeton

At La Mezzaluna, Moriello offers refined Italian dishes like seafood risotto and hazelnut-crusted rack of lamb. He just completed a major renovation of that restaurant’s modern minimalist decor.

Too Much Restaurant News! Ryland, Nicholas, Brian’s, Rat’s, Eno Terra

Here are pics from a sneak-peak party held on Monday night at the Ryland Inn, which should be open for business in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

This quintessential horse country scene greeted guests

A highlight of the cocktails-and-canapes offerings was a porchetta slider

Brian’s in Lambertville

The first special dinner held last week at this red-hot restaurant (read my 3-star review here) sold out within hours. Here are pics from Brian Held’s 20-course (!) Tour de France. Next up is a more reasonable 10-course tour of Sardinia. I expect it will sell out just as fast, so act fast if you’re interested (details follow below).

The Menu. Courtesy of Fred Ehmann

Boudin. Courtesy of Fred Ehmann

Beef Cheeks. Courtesy of Fred Ehmann

Courtesy of Fred Ehmann

Here’s the scoop on the Sardinian dinner straight from the restaurant: “Monday ~ September 24 ~ 6:30 pm. Think spit-roasted meats like suckling pig, homemade breads and cheeses, briny gifts of the sea like fish, spiny lobsters, or sea urchin, and much more. One seating—10 courses—$70/person. Call now and reserve a spot; the available tables vanished in no time for the last tour. And please—arrive hungry. 609.460.4148″

Restaurant Nicholas: NJ’s top-ranked chef/restaurateur Nicholas Harary was so impressed with the dozen eggs he was given while touring the farm at Impact OASIS in Middletown that is hosting a walk-around wine tasting/buying benefit there on September 9, from 4 to 6 pm.  A former employee of Restaurant Nicholas is involved with the non-profit Impact OASIS (Ongoing Autistic Success in Society), which led to the visit by Harary and now to this benefit, which includes a copy of Restaurant Nicholas: The Cookbook. For event details, click here.

Rat’s: New Restaurants for 12th Annual Epicurean Palette at Grounds for Sculpture

The nature and architecture of the park

The nature and architecture of the park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On September 30th, regulars among the 1,000 folks who attend this prestigious food and wine benefit will notice some new faces and foods, among them Kevin Sbraga, who was chef at the host restaurant, Rat’s, until his Top Chef win and the opening of his eponymous restaurant in Philly. Other first-timers include The Orange Squirrel (Bloomfield), Daryl Wine Bar (New Brunswick), Kuzina by Sofia (Cherry Hill), and The Peacock Inn (Princeton). For the full line-up and event details click here.

Eno Terra’s Canal Farm in Kingston has a bumper crop…

…and you can buy the surplus. Here’s the info from the folks there: “We offer you box shares. This is a limited offer which will last while our farm’s supplies last. Each week we will choose the best, ripest produce, add our chefs’ recipes and pack them for you. Selection will vary upon what’s ripe and bountiful but you’ll most likely enjoy heirloom tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and greens. The boxes will be available for pickup at Eno Terra on Tuesdays between 4:30 – 6:30 pm. Upon pickup you may also enjoy complementary stuzzichinni (snacks) in the Enoteca. Price: $25 per box; including vegetables and chefs’ recipes. This price will cover our farm costs. We are also looking for volunteers to harvest produce which we will donate to the Crisis Ministry.” You must reserve boxes in advance each week. To register, phone Nirit Yadin at Eno Terra at 609.497.1777.