Roof top garden tomato



Best of New-York


Best of New York

International| Online 10th October 2012

The Soho Grand has taken the concept of eating locally to a whole new level — literally.

Because transporting delicate greens and vine-ripened tomatoes from a farm in Upstate New York is for less ambitious chefs. The Soho Grand’s Chef Richard Farnabe would rather grow his own — right on the rooftop of this luxury hotel in New York City.

And all of the vegetables and fresh herbs grown high above the fashionable

neighborhood of Soho on the 17th floor of the Soho Grand are organic too, from 16 cultivars of heirloom tomatoes to avocado, carrots, and French beans. So when you order Cucumber Gazpacho in the Club Room or an Arugula Strawberry Salad from The Salon, you can be sure the ingredients are as fresh as possible — handpicked daily by Farnabe and his staff.

Farnabe has said he started the rooftop garden because the Soho Grand’s restaurants had been cooking with a lot of micro-greens. Growing their own would cut costs and ensure the freshest possible ingredients. The garden is so large it covers the entire rooftop of the hotel, and includes a greenhouse. So throughout the growing season, guests at the Soho Grand may enjoy anything from home-grown jalapenos and habaneros, to bok choy, broccoli, and asparagus, as well as butternut squash, pumpkin, red beets, eggplant, mesclun, arugula, romaine, zucchini flower and peppers. Farnabe also grows a variety of herbs such as mint, basil, sage, chive, cilantro and parsley on the rooftop of the Soho Grand hotel. (If they don’t grow it on the roof of the Soho Grand, it’s probably not worth eating!)

A renowned chef with extensive experience in New York City’s favorite five-star restaurants, Farnabe has even worked as Tommy Hilfiger’s personal chef. His creations at the Soho Grand include appetizers like Salmon Tartare with Avocado and Lemon, and enticing entrees such as Baked Wild Mediterranean Branzino with garden vegetable straight from the rooftop.


Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call  



$295 per person: even in New York City, land of the overpriced restaurant, you would hope that price tag would buy you  a meal prepared in a sanitary kitchen.
It may; it may not.
The New York Post recently revealed that Thomas Keller’s formidable palace of three-star Michelin gastronomy, Per Se, actually had to pull strings to get a health inspector’s “B” raised to an “A.”
The story raises a few question about Per Se’s kitchen, and a lot of questions about the ethics of the New York City Health Department.
On Jan. 31, 2012, Inspector Shauna Thompson found violations adding up to 22 points and gave the Time Warner Center restaurant a sanitary grade of “B.” But a manager at the restaurant, which is reportedly co-owned by Stephen Ross, a friend of Mayor Bloomberg, made a call to the Bureau of Food Safety. The next thing you know, the grade was upped to “A”–before the appeal case had even gone to trial, and before the restaurant would have been required to place the B grade sign in its window.
It is widely known that the health department has so much grade inflation that anything other than an “A” is unacceptable. And “Grade Pending” might as well be a picture of a rat (and not the rat chef from “Ratatouille”).
But before everyone gets up in arms about more favoritism for the one percent, take a look at some of the violations said to be involved. One of Per Se’s violations involved “storage of their ice tray.”  If that’s indicative of the violations, then maybe a non-perfect grade is not so bad.
Another violation involved a kitchen worker who failed to wash her hands after she ate a fried donut, then returned to food prep.  (In Bloomberg’s New York, the main violation here is probably eating a fried donut.) Per Se was able to successfully argue that the inspector had simply missed the hand washing.
Is one person allegedly not washing her hands an indication that nobody is doing it? Or is it a one-time thing that might not have even happened?
Even if Per Se did deserve a “B,” it probably would have had no effect on their business. How many people who may have waited months to get a reservation and are going to a meal on what is likely to be a special occasion will get to the restaurant, see a “B,” and leave? On the other hand, it is clear that the restaurant did everything in their power to avoid becoming the butt of jokes and the inevitable food industry gossip that would lead to negative publicity.
Offenses like ice cube tray storage and questionable hand-washing lead one to wonder whether or not Health Inspector Thompson was trying to impress Per Se, an NYC Legend, with her dubious power. If that were the case, though, all she managed to do was display to all the Department of Health’s weakness and the injustice of their grading system.



El Bulli serves it's last meal



El Bulli, 'world's best restaurant' serves its final 49-course supper
They feasted on a 49-course menu containing dishes with baffling names such as 'mimetic peanuts and 'clam-merengue' – the fifty diners lucky enough to secure a place at what has become arguably the world's most revered restaurant when it opened its doors to paying customers for the very last time.
The remote eatery of el Bulli overlooking a serene bay on the Costa Brava two hours north of Barcelona, is to close permanently today to the disappointment of millions of foodies who never had the chance to secure a table.
Ferran Adria, dubbed the godfather of molecular gastronomy – a moniker he detests – shocked the culinary world with the announcement in January 2010 that he was to close el Bulli, a restaurant awarded with a coveted three Michelin stars and acclaimed as best in the world five times.
But he is adamant this isn't retirement and will insists he will have not a moment of regret when he tonight hosts a farewell party for "friends and family" – previous employees among them – to celebrate the end of an era.
"el Bulli is not closing, it is transforming itself, because its soul is going to remain," the 49-year-old said. He insists that change is essential to keep the momentum of creativity.
Instead of the gruelling hours spent by Mr Adria and his team of 70 chefs in creating exotic morsels composed of spheres, gels, emulsifiers and foams, to be served up to a paying public, the culinary alchemist wants to concentrate on other things.
He plans to convert the picturesque site of his restaurant in Cala Montjoi, into the elBulli Foundation, a "gastronomic think tank" and creativity centre dedicated to pioneering his avant garde cuisine to even greater heights. People will still be invited to "try out" his creations but it won't be a restaurant as such.
He has also signed a deal with a Hollywood producer to make a film about his kitchens with a reported budget of $40 million (£24m) and has a new recipe book out in October – Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria – that promises to feature dishes that even the most unadventurous of amateur cooks can produce in their own home.
Despite the fact that a meal – a set degustation menu of up to 50 separate dishes – costs each diner 275 euros (not including taxes or wine), the restaurant has never been profitable. Open only for one sitting a day and only six months of the year, Mr Adria insists he was losing half a million euros a year.
The chef that transformed modern cuisine has made up the shortfall by lending his name to a series of brands, from kitchenware to olive oil, and by taking on roles such as "ambassador" for the Spanish communications giant Telefonica and appearing in a video advertising Estrella Damm lager.
Last spring saw the opening of new venture from the team behind el Bulli. Mr Adria, his brother Albert, and their business partner Juli Soler opened a tapas bar in the centre of Barcelona that takes no reservations and regularly has diners queuing round the block.
For the past few years, more than a million people entered the annual lottery for a place at a table in el Bulli itself, but only around 8,000 were fortunate to eat there each season.
This year, applicants tripled as gourmands the world tried to score last ditch reservations at the Mecca of molecular gastronomy and ensure they had something to boast about forever.
On Friday the final selected few no doubt shared smug smiles as they took their place at the historic "last supper" at el Bulli.
It began with a dish called "dry martini" – a spherical globule of reconstituted olive juice placed on the tongue and then sprayed with atomised gin and vermouth – and 48 dishes later ended with an offering simply called "Box" – a collection of in the unenlightening words of one employee "cubed deconstructed chocolate delights".
In between, and sometimes served along with complex instructions on how to savour the innovative creations, came dishes such as "smoked mousse" – a tobacco flavoured foam – "flowers paper" – essentially a sheet of candyfloss impregnated with roses, geraniums and pansies, and "hare loin in its own blood", in truth a sauce of tangy raspberry juice.
The names of those fortunate final diners was a closely guarded secret but the experience is one that they will undoubtedly be dining out on for years to come.