Monday, November 9, 2015


Pasta’s popularity keeps on growing!  “In a study published by the restaurant survey site Zagat it was found that around 44% of the 1,468 people surveyed said they would eat pasta two times a week, 23% said they enjoyed it 3-4 times a week, while 21% eat it at least a few times every month.”

This delicious and satisfying dish is popular for good reasons. As a quick, weeknight meal, being able to be put a pasta dish on the table in under a half hour is both convenient and fits into our lifestyles. This quintessential American meal is easy to prepare at any level of sophistication; from oil and Parmesan cheese for the kids-like-it-plainer set to a dish replicating restaurant fare of fusilli dressed with a cream sauce and wild mushrooms. And chefs all over America understand this dish's popularity and have innovative and sophisticated pasta dishes on menus. I happily enjoyed some elegant culinary pasta creations at a Villeroy & Boch luncheon recently.

The Villeroy & Boch team hosted a luncheon for food bloggers and design editors in their showroom to introduce the “Pasta Passion Plates” shown at the New York October Tabletop Market, for those who simply adore pasta. These generously sized, porcelain plates are both exquisite and very clever in their design, making different varieties of pasta easier to enjoy. Each plate design is fashioned so that certain styles of pasta, long spaghetti-style noodles, as well as short varieties like penne and fusilli, can all be graciously enjoyed in a style similar to an experience found in a high-end restaurant.  

The short pasta’s dish has a lip edge where one can push pasta up onto, and get it into a spoon or onto a fork easier. For anyone who’s spent time chasing a piece of pasta around a bowl with a spoon, while someone's watching, it’s a silly experience that’s about to change.

Next up, the Spaghetti plate boasts two innovative designs integrated into its sleek form. It features a spoon/fork rest so your utensil won’t slide into the plate. No more dealing with a “saucy” handle. And near the utensil holder, is an integrated, indented area that is the perfect sized for twirling strands of pasta onto a fork.

And finally, the noodle plate “M” was designed for smaller portions of pasta. Think lunch or appetizer size. This plate also has the lip edge and the utensil rest. An ideal design for holiday gathering events. An elegant deep serving bowl rounds out this delightful new pattern introduction.

Enjoying pasta at home doesn’t mean forgoing a fabulous stylish experience. These beautiful, sculptural plates help to recreate a gracious restaurant-style dining experience, all in the comfort of your own beautiful dining room.
Buon Appetito!
Nesting spoon finds its spot
Give it a twirl in a perfect indented spot
A tidy twirl!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

5 Boro PicNYC 2012 grilled cheese sandwich and other winning dishes

Wow! What an amazing day on Governor's Island yesterday, May 26th, for the opening day events for the 2012 season. The BIG (over 1500 attendees) foodie event was the 5 Boro PicNYC organized by chef/restauranteur Extraordinaire, Jimmy Carbone of the east village gastropub Jimmy's No. 43.
I was asked to be one of five food judges of the event, including Amy Cortese, Kathy Blake, Matt Timms, Janet Zappala...) which put me in the enviable position of needing to taste as much as possible from all the different participating restaurants and organizations. I skipped dinner the night before and breakfast in preparation for this marathon.

The winner of the grilled cheese sandwich competition, sponsored by Jarlsberg, was Chrissy's Cooking Club creating the OMG Grilled Cheese put together by the students of the Bushwick Campus Farm. The Latino recipe was inspired by a "secret" family recipe of one of the Bushwick Farm group. The secret's out. As creative as this sandwich was, with layers of amazing flavors, using exceptional ingredients, many sourced from the local nyc farm, the story of the farm itself was wonderful to hear about.

For those lucky enough to have bought tickets ahead of time (the 2nd day of the event today Sunday is sold out, as was Saturday's) don't be daunted by the long lineup for OMG cheese's well worth the wait!

Ladies of the Bushwick Farms
The best sausage went to Van Daag's Boudin Blanc, second place to Peet's Kielbasa and third place to Van Daag's Blood Sausage. Congrats winners!

The best taco was chosen by three judges from Slow Food organization headed up by Anthony Fassio, who chose The Left Bank, which was prepared by renowned chef, Lawrence Edelman. "The sweetness of the braised pulled rooster lend itself to the spiciness of the filling. Topped with a fresh "salsa" of tomatoes, white onions and green peppers--which was just enough acidity to round out the flavors. Pulled together by Tortilleria Nixtamal's freshly made corn tortilla, was an incredible eating experience. Perfect for the warm Governor's Island Day," commented Mr. Fassio.

The judges agreed on two honorable/outstanding mentions. First to Jimmy's No. 43 for his offering a grilled, sliced flank steak on a slice of bread with generous dollop of Chimichurri sauce. The second honorable mention goes to Canadian chef Ian Kapitan of Alobar in LIC, who not only produced wonderful food, but their booth was still cooking and going strong, long after several others had finished.

The Chrissy's Cooking Club crew, who won first prize in the Jarlsberg Grilled Cheese Cook-Off for their OMG Cheeses takes home a Lodge seasoned/cast iron skillet set + cookbook, a 22lb wheel of Jarlsberg and Sur La Table gift card (total value: $500.)  
I smell more grilled cheese sandwiches on the horizon for the winners!
The lineups at No. 43 Jimmy's were constant, but Jimmy wisely set up three separate tented tables,
so the grilled flank was continually being served up. 

Jimmy Carbone checking in at the grilled cheese offerings at the Jarlesberg tent.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My New York Times story on Halifax Farmer's Market August 14th, 2011

A photo I took on a busy Saturday in mid-June at the Seaport Halifax Farmer's Market.
I wrote a story for the New York Times on the new Seaport Halifax Farmer's Market.
Here's the link:

--Monica Forrestall

Monday, May 16, 2011

I've got a little whale caught in my teeth: From Tundra to Table

Never thought I'd hear myself saying that---until the Arctic Foraging dinner I went to at the James Beard Foundation last Saturday night. And during the appetizer reception hour I was offered Duet of Whale an egg dish dish with a side of whale Bacon bits and fried whale blubber. In twenty years of some pretty esoteric dining where I sometimes feel I've tasted everything (twice), whale was a first.

Before anyone dashes off comments about endangered mammals, let me explain the complicated journey this proffered whale meat had taken to get here. Once every two years a lottery is held for Inuit hunters, who had a historical tradition of whale hunting, and one chosen hunter is allowed to hunt and kill a whale. The conditions are rules are lengthy, one of which is that the whale meat MUST be shared with the entire village that the hunter belongs to.
A small portion of this meat was gifted to a man who is a self-described forager, Steven Cooper, who has lived in the far north since he was eight years old. He was invited to the Beard Foundation to help prepare Saturday's meal, and generously chose to share his gift of whale meat with the guests of the foundation. Considering the rarity of this ingredient, this generous gesture wasn't lost on me.
Duet of Whale, served on porcelain hors d'oeuvres spoons.
The dish above, The Duet of  Whale, Beluga and Bowhead whale with Davis Straight shrimp caviar, had an unusual texture, the whale was chewy  and the caviar was semi-hard texture. 
The other novelty ingredient for me, was Musk Ox, and having it served thinly sliced, 
frozen and lollipop-style. It is the traditional way to eat it, and the Ninuyet find it peculiar 
to eat it any other way.

Berber dusted musk ox cube with cilantro yoghurt and papaya paste.
Up in the dining room, my eyebrows went up a few more times, when we were served smoked musk ox tongues, then pickerel topped with whitefish caviar with Haida Gwaii herring roe 
and finally dandelion te'j ice cream. 
Everyone at the table couldn't get enough of the salty Baffin Island bread, a First Nations flatbread. The texture was a little like pound cake, moist and dense. 

I was really touched to have seen some of the thirty high school students who came down from Ontario, where they are studying in a culinary mentoring program with Canada Food Network's chef Finkelstein. They were working so hard, side by side, in the tiny kitchen of the Beard Foundation.

A recent graduate (right) and a current culinary student  from Ontario work side by side on a tray of Sunny side up quail egg, fried crouton, smoked whale bits with cherry tomato.
Chef Finklestein and some of the students from his culinary mentoring program. 
It's a wonderful thing when you can come away from a local event having genuinely learnt something about a different culture that you may never have the opportunity to experience. This introduction to some First Nations culinary traditions was done in a most honoring way, motivated by a desire
 to share information their fascinating culture.  
---Monica Forrestall

Friday, April 29, 2011

To Market, To Market in Annapolis Royal for Over Thirty Years: Feature story in April/May 2011 issue of Coastal Life Magazine

While I was in Nova Scotia last summer, I scouted out a lot of stories for the future. I did a roundup story on three new businesses in Bear River, but took a lot of photos of the Annapolis Royal Farmer's Market (where I am every Saturday). I got to write a feature on this remarkably successful market for the current April/May issue of Coastal Life magazine. (If you double click on each page, it magnifies the copy for easier reading.) Enjoy!

--Monica Forrestall

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A cupcake inspires trips to two amazing NYC shops this week: New York Cakes and Baking Supply and Economy Candy

A Panda cupcake. That's where it started. Inspired by my sons desire for cupcakes shaped and decorated to look like Panda bears, I made my list and headed out to two old-timey NYC shops that have the absolute best selection of baking and candy in the city.

First stop, New York Cakes & Baking Supply on 22nd Street at 6th Avenue. I've been coming here for years, it's my go to place for cake decorating supplies, ingredients, tools and obscure stuff you just can't find anywhere else, like "sugar eyes." The big, wooden carved double doors are the first hint that you're entering a real NY classic store, with merchandise everywhere you look. In the aisles, climbing the walls. Handwritten signs calling out lollipop sticks, cupcake liners, liquid frosting, etc...

I overhear the man behind the counter ringing up a customer saying, "Ever since those cake shows started on TV,  it's been crazy here." I find the dark chocolate disks, the sugar eyes and the brown cupcake tin lines I came for, but they don't have the nonpareils! "We're out," I'm told.  Never mind, I know where to go next for those. In the meantime I wander the narrow aisles getting an eyeful of all the fascinating tins, rolling pins, cake toppers and more.

To source the nonpareils and some chocolate covered peanuts, I had the perfect excuse to plan a visit to my favorite candy store in the city, Economy Candy on Rivington at Ludlow Street.
Economy Candy storefront.
Economy Candy is located in the newly hip gallery district of the lower east side of Manhattan, 
a couple of blocks below Houston Street.

All photographs: Copyright of Monica Forrestall. 
May not be used without Monica Forrestall's written permission.