Arrows Restaurant, Oqunquit, ME

Arrows Restaurant 41 Berwick Road, Oqunquit, Maine 02907, 207-361-1100

A few weeks ago my husband and I spent a summer weekend in Maine where I was teaching at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. On one of our free nights I booked a table at Arrows in Ogunquit, an original restaurant set in an old, unpretentious farmhouse surrounded by gorgeous grounds. Approaching the house, you are struck by the finely manicured flower and vegetable gardens and an orchard of apple trees. The talented team of Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier (tapped James Beard Best Chefs of the Northeast in 2010) prepare creative menus that include the fresh produce from these fields. They also cure their own hams and smoke the fish offered at Arrows. Continue reading

Jean Georges‘ Nougatine, New York, NY

Jean Georges‘ Nougatine 1 Central Park West (between 60th and 61st), New York, New York

Molten Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream at Nougatine

In the same building on Central Park West adjacent to the famous Restaurant Jean Georges, you’ll find another eatery called Jean Georges’ Nougatine, its less expensive sibling. The talented chef oversees both kitchens, and the menu at Nougatine, when I stopped there for lunch recently, was tantalizing and a veritable bargain at $32 prix fixe. In the Big Apple to attend an international food meeting, I and another food writer went for a midday meal at Nougatine where we savored a parade of creative and beautifully presented dishes. Continue reading

Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit 14, Antibes, France

Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit 14, rue Saint-Esprit, or 7 promenade Amiral de Grasse (two entrances), Antibes 06600, France, 33-4-93-34-50-12

An extraordinary dessert at Le Figuier

While my family was in Provence this summer, Kathie Alex, our friend and a fellow cooking teacher, suggested that we book lunch at Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit, a fairly new restaurant in the picturesque coastal town of Antibes. The chef, Christian Morisset, she explained, was exceptionally talented, and was a genius at using the freshest ingredients in the market. We called for a reservation on the spot. The “figuier” refers to a large fig tree that stands tall in the center of the restaurant’s enclosed terrace, while “Saint-Esprit” Continue reading

Hungry Mother, Cambridge, MA

Hungry Mother 233 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 617-499-0090

Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Pea Shoots at Hungry Mother

Hungry Mother in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a restaurant I could return to week after week, for I know that I would never tire of the food. How to describe the cuisine and the rich menu? It has strong Southern country roots with sophisticated and original touches. Full disclosure: I was born and bred in Memphis, so soul food is in my DNA! Hungry Mother (the name of a state park in southern Virginia, the home state of talented chef, Barry Maiden) offers some of the most creative, enticing fare on either side of the Mason Dixon line. Continue reading

Le Casse Noix 56, Paris, France

Le Casse Noix 56, rue de la Fédération, Paris 15, Paris 01-45-66-09-01

Le Casse Noix, a new bistro located in Paris 15th arrondissement not far from the Eiffel Tower, was a great discovery on my most recent trip to the City of Light. Chef Pierre-Olivier Lenormand, who has cooked at the celebrated La Régalade in the 14th and also at such temples of gastronomy as Jamin and the Crillon Hotel, turns out excellent seasonal creations, all at a very reasonable prix fixe. Continue reading

ABC Kitchen

ABC Kitchen 35 East 18th Street (between Broadway and Park Ave.) New York, New York 100003 212-475-5829

I have long been a fan of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants, and his newest venture, ABC Kitchen, in the Flat Iron area of Manhattan, did not disappoint. Located in the well-known ABC Carpet and Home store, the restaurant is led by Chef Dan Kluger. The emphasis is on locally sourced and organic ingredients with items like delectable Kabocha squash (a sweet, orange-fleshed autumn variety) fresh ricotta and buffalo mozzarella cheeses, and finely cured meats as star attractions. Continue reading