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by Marisa Olsen


As always, my sojourn to the promise lands, aka NJ, proved to be a gastronomic indulgence. I’ll happily stream past Friday since my 11PM “dinner” included Quaker Oats mini ranch rice cakes and chugging the nearest bottle of red wine that I found. Saturday was much more elegant. My esteemed colleague and I met my grand parentals at their go-to UES seafood eatery, Atlantic Grill. Bear in mind, this was my third visit in the past 5 months to this delightful resort, furthermore, please note, I am not complaining.

I immediately was set on starting our luncheon with oysters. Together my colleague and I decided on Pine Island, Fisher Islands and PEIs; all delicious, minus the Fisher Islands that my Grandfather heartily helped himself too. But after all, he was paying the bill. After having oysters in three different restaurants in the past week, I am pleased to say that I am impressed with the different pairing options they all offer. No more traditional cocktail sauce. Lately I’ve seen a diced shallot accoutrement or red wine vinegar, surprisingly refreshing and a lovely complement to the old basic red clumped sauce. We also sampled the shrimp dumplings that were served alongside a soy dipping sauce and spicy wasabi mustard.

For the entrée, I stuck with my gut and chose the NORI WRAPPED BIG EYE TUNA Stir-fry Bok Choy, Sticky Rice, Wasabi Soy Vinaigrette (my apologies for the cut and paste), a dish I had ordered in the past and liked, but didn’t love. But this time, I was in luck, the tuna came to me blue and black and literally melted in my mouth. The wasabi mustard added a nice tang to the simple seared fish, which was served over a mountain of sticky sweet rice and stir fry vegetables. Please order, and ask for the tuna RARE and order the recommended Chardonnay. Other table orders was a golden grilled snapper, seared scallops and grilled shrimp. My newest thing has been ordering capuccinos in lieu of a dessert. But naturally when the chocolate fondue arrived I found myself helping myself, just as my Grandfather did with the Fisher Islands. Three hours later, we rolled out a little fuller and drunker than expected.

Dinner commenced back in the Armpit. We began our appetizer binge with Pernod Ricards and sweet sherry next to the roaring Duraflame fire (so Olsen of us). We snacked on a French hard bodied goat (the name escapes me), capanata and olives. Our first course was fresh proscuitto wrapped around succlulent mango. The flavors were fresh and married perfectly. Our entrée was spaghetti with fresh crab, clams and seared scallops, sprinkled with parsley. I made my French salad, courtesy of my cooking class; radicchio, arugula and frisee dotted with toasted pine nuts, fresh shavings of parmesan and lightly tossed with shallot and mustard based dressing. Oh and four bottles of wine, one being Alamos, an Argentinean Malbec that my parents had in South America. Smooth and full of flavor, my new favorite. *Oh and in case anyone was wondering, I am going to start including radicchio in more of my salads).

On Sunday, my parents hosted a cocktail party so much of the day was spent in preparation. My colleague and I volunteered to make the mushroom and Roquefort galette that we so liked in the cooking class and a leek and potato gratin. Although the galette had a time challenge component (ie. make pastry dough), I was determined and not let down. The appetizers consisted of our perfectly jeweled galettes, flakey and scrumptious and even better than the instructors, duck liver pate, goat cheese, capanata and old bay seasoned shrimp. Richard prepared one of my favorites, steak au poivre with steamed asparagus accompanied with the creamy, gratin that was gluttonously gruyere infused.

I’m so full thinking about my consumption this past weekend, I can’t even begin to touch upon the Nolita panini bar Bread, except to say that it’s tasty, inexpensive and in a really fun neighborhood; a great lunch place.

My Fancy