Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quails & Succotash

This one was at the end of August, on a balmy Wednesday night. Midweek dinners seem like a forbidden pleasure; a beautiful respite between one day's work and the next.

The previous week, the day the invite was sent out, I opened Wednesday's New York Times Dining Out section and was greeted with a huge story on The Waverly Inn, Graydon Carter's oh-so-exclusive restaurant in the West Village. It just so happens that, in a previous life, I lived in an apartment at 227 Waverly Place (W.S. Merwin lived there before I did) just down the street from the old Waverly Inn, and I had many a cozy lunch in the old, ramshackle, down-on-its-heels joint. In its newest incarnation, I would never be able to eat there, not being beautiful, rich, or "important" enough to be found worthy by the Maitre D'. That's fine, since I tend to try to eat in places where the food takes precedence over the clientele...

But the thing that really galled me (all before my first cup of coffee, for fuck's sake) was the picture. The picture of the chef sitting at a table with a glass of wine, surrounded by his front of the house staff. The MALE staff. A Boy's Club.

It made me think about all the restaurants in the city who STILL believe that an all-male waitstaff is the proper and preferable way to go, these chefs who think that having a woman working the restaurant floor "cheapens" the service... A woman can be a waitress, but a man is a

If you are reading this and thinking it ain't so, go out and do your own field work. The next time you are in a high-end/trendy NYC restaurant, take a little visual survey: How many women are on the floor?

Why does it matter? Because there is a lot of money on the floor, that's why. Knowledge, connections, power, respect... It's all there for the taking, and the fact that women don't have equal access is obscene.

There it is: My diatribe on sexism in the restaurant business. That's enough for today, but don't worry, I am sure there will be another occasion to bitch about it.

And the good news is... The ire the article raised inspired a lovely backyard dinner with a late summer menu...

The invite:

If you can't get into The Waverly Inn.... Dine in my backyard!

Hello again Hungry Kiddies!

Last Wednesday's dinner was such a resounding success, I thought we would do another. I don't know about you, but watching all of those toned, scrub-faced, bright and shiny Olympic hopefuls at the height of their athletic ability makes me want to grill some quail and drink some wine. It makes me think about lima bean succotash and wonder how much butter is too much? It makes me want to saute ripe tomatoes with garlic and basil and toss it with some pasta! It makes me want to test my Butter lettuce with yogurt-mint dressing recipe! It makes me think about plum tarts! Yes indeed.... that pretty Michael Phelps is inspiration indeed. And I am wondering if the Chinese government might take a look at my passport? I think by birthyear could be adjusted slightly..... If you are hungry, and want to come to dinner, we would love to have you. This is a smaller one-- limited to 12. Think of it as The Waverly Inn-- outdoor borough edition. The one that you CAN get into. The one without celebrities. The one without an all male waitstaff.

Mmm. Succotash before the corn and tomatoes are added. I blanched purple and yellow wax beans, zucchini and fresh limas, sauteed some butter and shallots, and then added the corn (cut right off the cobs!). I sauteed it all together with some more butter and cream, (I won't dare tell you how much), dropped in some cherry tomato halves and called it good. Summer on a plate!

Butter lettuce salad was just butter lettuce, thinly sliced persian cukes and radishes with a yogurt/buttermilk/mint dressing. Simple and refreshing.

There was fresh linguini tossed with sauteed tomatoes, butter, garlic and capers...

...and quails marinated in olive oil, pomegranate molasses, herbs and garlic, spatchcocked and grilled so the skin was crispy. I served them over a bed of arugula that wilted under the heat of the quail and their juices. Fuck, is that great!!

Served over grilled figs...

And Katie's homemade Blueberry Pie carried from Greenpoint in its very special travelling box!

A fitting and delicious end to a very fun night. Thanks, KT!!!


juneheller said...

I loved your rant on FOH sexism, it's the same thing in Washington DC. Check out all the lobbyist hangouts, it's guys waiting on the tables, ladies at the hostess stand...

Soulful Community said...

Love this blog, Tamara -- I'll second your dad -- do write more! I like that there's good descriptions of how to make (almost) everything -- and pictures, too! Maybe it will inspire me to get outside my kitchen comfort zone -- like that awesome Robert Rodriguez video Zora mentioned on her blog. I liked his presentation and no-nonsense commentary (i.e., "not knowing how to cook is like not knowing how to fuck." Indeed.)
Anyway, hope you're great! Congrats on the Flavorpill mention...pretty sweet!