Monday, June 29, 2009

Father's Day at Craigie on Main

Father's Day dinner at Craigie on Main reaffirmed why "Craigie" is always my initial response when friends ask for restaurant recommendations for special nights. To eat at Craigie is to have a multi-sensory experience, especially if you eat "kitchenside." (You can read about our first visit to these seats here).The air is full of butter from the freshly baked madelines. Each dish is visually stunning, especially now that edible flowers are in bloom. And what is most amazing is that such complex dishes taste so delicious.

As Chef Maws became a first time father last year, this year he offered his first Father's Day special. Consisting of 4 courses for $75.00, the menu (like the a la carte menu) was composed that morning from the best ingredients that had been delivered that day from local farmers. Chef Maws was generous enough to treat me and my husband to this meal, to showcase his Father's Day offerings. It was as good as ever other meal we have had here.

I began with the "House-Cured Pork Belly." Like the lightest prosciutto, the pork belly was wrapped gracefully around thin slices of sweet Asian pear. The meat was seated on a brilliant green vinaigrette, helping to lighten what is normally such a rich starter.FoodieDaddy ordered a la carte. However, Chef Maws treated him to an amuse bouche off of the Father's Day menu: Escabeche of Maine Mackerel. One taste and we both grinned-matzo meal coated the fish, making it an updated version of pickled herring. The mackerel retained a meatiness while still being delicious. My first course, "Ragout of Forest Mushrooms, Sugar Snap Peas and Fava Beans" was simply stunning (photo at the top of the post). The centerpiece: a barely poached egg that when touched with a spoon coated the vegetables like a golden sauce. The peas were still crisp, while the radishes were sauteed until just tender and they were draped over the earthy mushrooms.

My husband's dish was a model of perfection. The tempura on the cod cheeks crackled as I bite in, while the tenderness of the cod melted in the mouth. Yet what truly set the dish apart was the duo of sauces that sandwiched the fish. On the bottom, a golden raisin-verjus sauce. And on top, a "salsa verde" that was so good that I wanted to take it home. But it was combination of the sweet, citrusy sauce on the cod that made the dish explode with flavors.

This layering of ingredients also made FoodieDaddy's main dish, a classic at Craigie, such a stand out. A simple skirt steak was made outrageously good by lying it on a mixture of smoked beef tongue, shitake mushrooms, a walnut-foie gras puree and red rice. The steak was delicious. However, eating a biteful with with the sauce made it smokey, earthy and just heavenly.I jumped at the chance to order the halibut as it was served with a "Vadouvan-Sesame broth." I had just read about vadouvan in September's Gourmet Magazine and wanted to try the mixture of caramelized onions with a hint of curry. In a typical play on ingredients, the halibut was coated with the most pedestrian of toppings-Cream of Wheat. Yet the grain gave it tender crumb that crumbled into the broth. This time, the star was lemon peel that was charred. Each bite filled the mouth with citrus and sweetness that enveloped the halibut.

Somehow a single dessert order morphed into more as we were treated with a duo of two panna cottas. The first small cup was elevated by flowery jasmine with toasted rice syrup. The other, infused with rooibos tea, was floral and sweet.

My husband's dessert reflected the playfulness of Chef Maws, as it was really an updated and upscale version of the Hob Nob cookies sold each year by the Girl Scouts. The delicate, sandy cookies sandwiched a rich peanut butter ice cream. On top, a grape infused foam was gelatinous and creamy. Below, a muscat grape coulis. It was the best peanut butter and jelly I have ever had.As I am an huge fan of Taza chocolate, I couldn't pass up the "Olive Oil and Taza Chocolate Mousse with Walnut Coulis." The dish retained the complexity of Taza's chocolate that makes it so special, while the walnut coulis added a subtle bitterness.

Finally, as we got ready to leave, we were treated to one last taste: a rhubarb hibiscus mousse topped with yogurt foam. It was sour, tart and the perfect end to an phenomenal meal.

While I am not much of a drinker, I have read so much about Beverage Manager Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli’s interpretations of traditional cocktails, that I had to try one out. Our waitress recommended the Northern Lights. It was the perfect compliment to the meal.

Chef Maws is a perfectionist and a craftsman and at Craigie on Main there is a sublime attention to detail and precision in each course. Chef Maws also prides himself on creating the menu from the best ingredients (mostly organic and local) that are delivered that day. This means that not only can you visit regularly and never eat the same meal twice, but you are supporting a community of farmers and fisherman.

Craigie on Main is not inexpensive, as the main dishes average about $32.00. And even if the food is almost a value for the quality of ingredients and careful preparation, it is a meal that many people will have to save for a special occasion. However, there are less expensive ways to eat at Craigie. The bar offers small dishes that cost about $15.00. In addition, each night there is a 3 course, "Prix Fixe" at $38.00. Finally although we have never been, the brunch menu is definitely more affordable.

For another glimpse at Craigie on Main, stay tuned for an interview with Chef Maws.

Craigie on Main 853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 | tel: 617 497-5511

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

Last year, food writer David Leite went on a quest to find and create the perfect chocolate chip cookie. In this mouth-watering article, he described how he investigated the best cookies in New York City with the precision of a fine detective. The result: a cookie recipe that strays far from the familiar recipe on the back of a chocolate chip cookie bag. And the resulting cookie, both cakey and crisp with a remarkable balance of salt and sweet, is fantastic. It is one of those never-fail recipes that impresses anyone who is lucky enough to eat a cookie before said cook devours the batch. It stores perfectly for picnics and stays for a few days (again if you don't eat them in one night.)But what Mr. Leite didn’t point out was that with just a few tweaks, this is just the perfect recipe for harried parents. Because this delicious cookie not only can be made in advance, but the dough actually improves with flavor if it rests for 24 to 48 hours. In fact, unlike typical cookies that need to be eaten while the chocolate is still oozing, my husband insists that the cookies are at their best when they have cooled down.

Don’t be intimidated by the ingredients. I have yet to send the money for the “feves”. Instead I have had success with all of the following: chocolate chips, chocolate chunks and even chopped up chocolate bars from Trader Joes. As for the bread and cake flour, they are easily available at supermarkets. And once you have both flours in the house, you will find yourself turning to them again and again, whether for bagels, or cupcakes.

Lastly, if you haven’t yet at a chance, discover David Leite. He is an outstanding food writer, and creator of the foodie website, Leite's Culinaria. He is also the author of a Portuguese cook book, The New Portuguese Table, that will be out on August 18th. Finally, I can attest from personal experience that he is a gifted teacher. While he isn’t currently teaching any courses, I was lucky enough to take a “virtual” course with him last year. Just check out his website for more information.

As for the recipe, after Leite's article, my favorite blogs interpreted his recipe. Molly of Orangette cooked them here, while Deb of Smitten Kitchen created her adaptation here. I have tried all versions and they are all so very good. However, here is the original.

Friday, June 26, 2009

One Great Meal and No Dishes: Fabulous Family Meals

It was just one of those days. The three year old had bounced up at 6:00 a.m. insisting that I make "cimanon raisin toast with cweem cheese" and read 3 books before the coffee was ready. I had over 100 projects to grade and 4 classes to teach. And at the end of it, loomed a dinner to cobble together from the few ingredients left in our house and dishes to clean. Luckily, thanks to the generosity of Fabulous Family Meals, for once our family was able to devour a healthy and delicious meal...that I didn't have to cook. Fabulous Family Dinners is the brainchild of Jodi and Kim, two moms who wanted an alternative to picking up pricey dinners at the grocery store. Twice a month, customers can choose from a variety of choices, order as many prepared meals as they want and then Jodi and Kim deliver it twice a month on Monday nights directly to the door. They use almost exclusively all natural and whole grain ingredients. The dishes are ready to be cooked or they can be frozen to eat at the end of another long day.
We were very impressed with both dishes that we tried. The taco pie consisted of corn enchiladas and a delicious mixture of lean ground turkey, tomatoes, peppers and low-fat cheeses served with a package of multi-color taco chips on the side. The dish was comfort food at its best. FoodieDaddy loved that it wasn't spicy yet it was still flavorful. We also enjoyed an enormous portion of tasty chicken parmesan served on a bed of multi-grain noodles. The portion was so enormous that it provided almost 2 dinners and lunch for our family of 2 adults and 2 little boys. I was most impressed that they keep the servings under 500 calories.

Lastly, Fabulous Family Meals tries to accommodate people with food allergies. They list all the ingredients for each dish (so we knew, for example, that the pasta was made with egg whites). They also ask customers to inform them about any allergies so that they can be as safe as possible. In fact, both Jodi and Kim are "serve-safe certified."

While Fabulous Family Meals is not a bargain, it is still a good value as organic and natural ingredients (particularly meats) can be so expensive. The chicken parmesan (made with organic chicken) feeds 4 to 6 hungry people and costs $42.95, while the taco pie rings it at $36.95. So, for about $6.00 to $9.00 a person you get all natural, delicious meals that are delivered to your door. So is this something we can afford to do on a regular basis? No. But for those difficult weeks that we would be spending a fortune on take-out anyway, this is a much healthier (and delicious) choice.

Fabulous Family Meals

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Lounge at Blue Ginger, Wellesley

The "Crispy Sake-Braised Pork Bao with S & S Tomato Chutney" (pictured above) offered the best of both worlds. It had the yeastiness and subtle sweetness of the softest steam bun combined with the seared crispness of a pot sticker. The sake-braised pork was so tender that it almost melted in the mouth. Just one bao seemed to be a tease. If I hadn't been with a group of friends on a tight schedule I may have ordered a second.

The disappointment of not being able to eat another bao was tempered by the fact that so many other of the small plates at the Lounge at Blue Ginger were also so good. Our waitress, Lauren, steered us towards the "Hawaiian Tuna Poke with Crispy Sushi Rice Cake, Kohlrabi Microgreens and Tosaka Salad." It was a perfect choice. Not only was it visually stunning, but absolutely delicious as the microgreens and watercress emulsion added a brightness to the richness of the raw tuna. The rice cake had just a trace of vinegar and provided a toothsome bed for the fresh fish.

Two other dishes were just as addictive. The first, "Edamame in Sweet Soy-Yuzu Glaze" hit every high note-salty, sweet, nutty, and delicious. Our group of seven quickly devoured two bowlfuls. Another dish of taro and sweet potato fries were perfectly fried and crisp without a hint of oiliness. The starchiness of the taro was the perfect foil for liberally slathering on the fabulous "Chili Aioli." Unlike aiolis that are dominated by garlic, this was creamy with just a bit of heat.

In another fabulous twist on food, the "Crab Rangoon" consisted of wonton skins stuffed with the freshest crab, a touch of cream cheese and a hint of tart cranberry chutney that was also served on the side. It seemed revelatory to eat these and actually taste the sweet crab rather than just cheese.Typical of Chef Tsai's attempts to both honor Chinese cooking while putting his own spin on food, are the "Ming's Bings". For $12.00, you get any 3 of 4 different stuffings placed inside the an incredibly thin, homemade, tender dough. One of my friends loved the "Blue Cheeseburger." (Yes, it was a cheeseburger inside of a wonton-style skin!) The roast duck was so good that even diners who weren't fans of duck enjoyed the sweet, smoky flavor of the dish. The pork was light, flavorful and moist.Two other dishes were simply less outstanding. The vegetarian bing, consisting of tofu, bean threads and Chinese garlic chives were very light and garlicky but they simply weren't memorable. The same held true of the spring rolls that were well made and full of vegetables but just weren't stand outs. A few of the drinks, particularly the homemade ginger ale, though, provided a sharp and sweet compliment to the meal.Blue Ginger is an outstanding restaurant that is out of the price range of many parents. The Lounge offers a nice alternative. In fact, many items cost about $12.00 (though that would be a light meal for most people), or you can order a "large plate" that average around $17.00.
However, what will bring me back to the Lounge wasn't just the creative and delicious food or even our knowledgeable waitress. What will bring me back is that the Lounge has a 100% dedicated peanut-free kitchen. To many readers this may seem insignificant at best. To other readers this is the natural evolution of Chef Tsai's work. After all Ming Tsai has been so forward thinking in his approach towards allergies that he was central in the fact that Massachusetts has just passed the nation's first food allergy law, Bill 2701. (Check out the How2Heroes site for a fantastic video of Ming Tsai explaining how restaurants can comply with the new law.) For 11 years, Blue Ginger and Ming Tsai have been at the forefront of demonstrating that an outstanding restaurant doesn't have to sacrifice quality for the safety of all diners. The staff is well informed on food allergies and on cross-contamination issues (e.g. if a knife is used to chop peanuts and then used to cut fish, a peanut-allergic person could go into anaphylactic shock). The staff is also well-acquainted with the 3 inch binder that Ming Tsai created which details every ingredient in every dish at the restaurant. Our waitress, Lauren, impressed all of us with her ability to comfortably and confidently answer our questions about preparation and ingredients of the dishes, as well as the training of the staff.

My oldest son is allergic to peanuts, which has made it almost prohibitive for us to take him to Vietnamese, Thai or Chinese restaurants-three cuisines that we savour. Yet the Lounge at Blue Ginger is now a place that we will go.

Blue Ginger and the Lounge at Blue Ginger 583 Washington St., Wellesley, 781-283-5790

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Week at the Natick Farmer's Market

The highlights: shell peas, young garlic, garlic scapes for garlic scape pesto, strawberries and tart Queen Anne cherries that are heaven when pitted and simmered with sugar and water until they collapse.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Farm Speciality: Garlic Scape Pesto

I am not sure what it was about the garlic scapes that I found so compelling, but I was mesmerized by their stark elegance. (Yes, I know I am talking about a vegetable here!) I also had absolutely no idea what to do with them. Yet they arrived as part of my delivery of beautiful produce and local products from the Farmer's Cart. The owner of the company, Maureen, had included an index card with a photo and an easy recipe for pesto, but when I discovered this version from excellent chef, Dorie Greenspan, I couldn't resist trying out a version with almonds. Dorie includes a clear explanation about the greens, which are simply the overgrown shoots of garlic. She notes that they are mild, but once I created this pesto, I was struck by a subtle scent, but sharp bite. So I turned back to Maureen's recipe and realized the missing link-fresh lemon juice. While the final product was still a bit too intense to eat in large portions, it mellowed as it sat in the refrigerator and was, in many ways, quite good. It was also easy enough to make in minutes as the 15 month old stirred imaginary pot of noodles.

Garlic Scape Pesto, adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 1 cup

6 garlic scapes, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

1/3 cup almonds

1/2 cup olive oil

juice from 1/2 to whole lemon (to taste)

salt (to taste)

Blend all the ingredients, adding more oil if you want it thinner. Season with salt.

Put it on top of hot pasta or spread on bread for a twist on grilled cheese sandwiches. You can store this, with plastic wrap pressed on top, in the refrigerator or in the freezer.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Farm at Your Door: The Farmer's Cart, Natick

By Thursday afternoons, providing vegetables for my family often means scrounging around in the back of the freezer for some organic peas. Or, if I am lucky, I am sometimes able to find leftovers from our Saturday trip to the farmer’s market. However, this Thursday, I came home to this: If you look closely, you can see that the bounty included: 2 huge cartons of strawberries, red leaf and boston lettuce, bok choy, garlic scapes, Japanese turnips, radishes, French Vinaigrette Mix, mixed herbs, scallions, flaxseed and brioche from B and R Artisan Breads in Framingham, coffee from Karma Coffee in Sudbury, Local Honey, organic syrup from the Natick Organic Farm.So, where did this gold mine of delicious food come from? From a local woman named Maureen and her company, The Farmer's Cart. For Maureen, the idea for the Farmer's Cart originated after listening to the frustration of friends. Like our family, they loved the idea of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in which you advance money to a farmer in exchange for weekly pick-ups of fresh produce. However, the pick up times were not always conducive for busy parents. After a trip to California, Maureen saw a model that was appealing: someone else did the pick ups. I know that our experience in the Dover CSA was one of the best we've had. It was a joy and challenge to not know which produce we would pick up, or how the weather would affect that weeks selection. However, they closed for this summer season. So, without any CSAs that were easy enough to reach during the weekday, I planned to spend the summer visiting the farmer's market even more often. Yet I already missed the thrill of figuring out what to do with piles of swiss chard, or having a close sense as to what was growing in the local fields. (You can read more about our experience with the Dover Farm CSA here and here.)

And then I discovered the Farmer's Cart which is the best of all worlds. Each week, Maureen picks up a range of fruit and vegetables from local farmers. She packages it with options such as bread from or coffee and then, to top it off, drops it off at your doorstep. Maureen offers two sizes of deliveries: the "Family Package" for $48.50 or the "Personal Package" for $35.00.Maureen kindly offered to drop of a bag so my family and I could get a taste of her deliveries.  I am excited about this for so many reasons. The convenience can't be beat as the mid-week drop off meant wonderful fruit and produce for my family. My sons loved having the fresh strawberries, and I loved a simple dinner of a light salad with radishes, lettuce and vinaigrette with a dessert of bread and honey. The 3 year old even devoured the flax seed bread slathered with cream cheese for breakfast. I also appreciated the little touches. Maureen included a recipe for garlic scape pesto, demystifying this beautiful vegetable. The scapes themselves were part of what made this such a pleasure-I can't imagine I would have typically bought them on my own. Finally, it just felt good to know that the farmers, rather than the chain grocers, were the beneficiaries of this.

The produce and fruits will vary each week. For example, by next week there may be arugula and peas. Maureen also plans to continue to seek out local producers of other goods.

There are those of us that are lucky to be in her drop off area. I hope, though, that this becomes a model for others.

The Farmer's Cart 508-333-6233

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Taste of Their Home: Il Casale, Belmont

I am not sure how many times it is possible to say, "This the best ________ I have ever had" in one night, but FoodieDaddy and I lost count in our recent meal at Il Casale in Belmont. I had high expectations for this place. We have eaten twice at Chef (and owner) Dante de Magistris' first restaurant Dante in Cambridge and loved it. (You can read about it here and here.) So when we heard that the De Magistris brothers had opened Il Casale, (Dante owns the restaurant with brothers Damien and Filippo), and we were then invited by the De Magistris brothers to try their new restaurant, we couldn't pencil in the babysitter quickly enough.

The De Magistris brothers are originally from Belmont, though their family is from Il Candida in the Apulia region of Italy. So opening Il Casale in a former fire station (built in 1899), offered them the chance to create their own restaurant from scratch and to do it in their hometown. Most of the dishes are from their grandmother's recipes and her image watches over the kitchen. Reclaimed wood tables lean against the original brick walls of the fire station, while Venetian-style glass lanterns hang from the high ceilings It is clear that this restaurant is both a labor of love and an homage to their family.

We started the evening by swooning over the burrata-a heavenly creamy cheese flown in from Apulia (pictured at the top of this post). Topped with crunchy pistachios, it literally melted in the mouth. The "carne", meatballs made using a technique passed on by Dante's grandmother were so tender and delicate that they dissolved as soon as I ate them. The "fegatini" or chicken liver bruschetta would convince even the most jaded person to love liver. My husband insists that the de Magistris brothers should bottle their "pepperonata" or the sweet and sour peppers. And we both questioned the inappropriateness of asking for an entire moist loaf of the potato bread, made especially for Il Casale by the amazing B and R Bakery with, yet again, their grandmother's recipe.The pasta courses were just as good. I have eaten many gnocchi and most are heavy, floury pieces of dough that could be used as hockey pucks. These were the lightest I have ever eaten. Yet the squash-filled ravioli stole the thunder from the delicious gnocchi. I admit that I was skeptical as this dish is featured on so many menus. But somehow, this preparation made the others seem like poor imitations. My husband called these "Italian French Toast" as he mopped up every bit of the caramelized brown butter sauce that coated the crushed almonds and the silky and ethereal pasta. I enjoyed Chef Dante's spin on pasta carbonara here as much as at Restaurant Dante. The homemade pasta is created with guitar strings (!) and then coated with Parmesan, organic egg and a fine dice of crispy and decadently fatty guanciale.

We didn't think the main dishes could stand up to the earlier courses. But they did. The trout was one of the best fish dishes I have eaten-and I don't even typically enjoy trout. It was the sheer simplicity that made it stand out. (For the record, this picture does not do it justice!) The fresh trout was split and stuffed with thin slices of orange and lemon. It was then grilled on the wood burning oven. The resulting trout was remarkably moist, tasting of the ocean, the smokey mesquite and the citrus. Combined with bitefuls of the fennel salad and the "salsa Genovese" (a pesto with capers, olives and citrus), I couldn't stop eating it despite being so full. My husband enjoyed his wood grilled Waygu steak (flown in from Australia), that was served with a balsamic reduction.

I had high hopes for the minestra, a traditional dish of broth created by stewing pigs' feet and tails and then topped with slowly braised escarole and dandelion greens. Sitting inside the bowl was a slice of cornmeal, slowly cooked in a skillet. The cornmeal pizza was outstanding, combining the nutty roasted taste of popcorn with the creaminess of polenta. However, I was disappointed by the broth which was so salty that I struggled to eat it. I am tempted to order it again next time, as I suspect the saltiness was a fluke and becomes the polenta was so darn good! Our meal was accompanied by spinach sauteed with marscapone, a homey eggplant "parmigianetta" and mixed mushrooms that were tender and woodsy.

As full as we were we couldn't resist the chance to try one of my favorite dishes of all time- Dante's frittelle. Served with a dark chocolate sauce that is so good you could eat it straight, the eggy fritters were...good. I am not sure if I was simply too full to enjoy them, was mourning the ginger creme anglaise that accompanies them at Dante (the restaurant) or they weren't quite as well done as at the original Dante. However, the panna cotta liberally sprinkled with vanilla beans was a perfect foil for sopping up sweetened strawberries and the decadent tiramisu was delicious...for breakfast the next day!Although the Dante brothers invited us in this time, we will be back many times more-I already promised my mother I would take her! Il Casale combines the fantastic food of Dante with a more casual and rustic atmosphere that makes it easy to return to, even for a quick bite. The varied menu also makes it accessible to people in a range of price points, from the $5.00 sfizi (or Italian tapas), to the $10.00 homemade pastas, to the most expensive item: a $24.00 wood grilled steak. They also offer a children's menu that has a range of dishes from pastas for $10.00 to a homemade chicken cutlet for $14.00. And in fact, there were a number of kids there on the night we dined, happily digging into big plates of pasta. If your goal is to sample as much of this fabulous food as possible, there are two tasting options (called "La Famiglia.) You can share 4 course meal for $35.00 a person, or a more elaborate one for $60.00.

Il Casale just opened and like any new restaurant the de Magistris brothers are still tightening it up. They will be adding more soundproofing to lessen the din from the brick walls and high ceilings. They are also planning to add lunch later this summer.

Long story short-go and try. The food is honest, good and just has soul. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Il Casale, 50 Leonard St., Belmont 617-209-4942
Restaurant Dante, 40 Edwin Land Blvd, Cambridge, 617-497-4200

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The First Father's Day for Chef Ken Oringer

Some of the most memorable dishes I have eaten have been at Chef Ken Oringer's restaurants. The deconstructed carrot cake that was served at Clio was unforgettable. I still dream of the pork belly at Toro, and my husband often raves about the tender steak at La Verdad. As a sushi fanatic, Uni has been on my "must try" list since it opened in 2002, while I added KO Prime (a modern steakhouse) to the list when it opened last year. And now, I am excited as the next foodie to hear that Ken Oringer will be opening a new restaurant, Coppa with the talented Chef Jamie Bisonette by this fall. Chef Oringer became a dad when his daughter Verveine was born in January. I wondered how being a father would transform his cooking and life. Chef Oringer very kindly agreed to answer some questions about this over e-mail.

FoodieMommy: Congratulations on your new daughter. Are you already a different chef and restaurant owner now that you are a parent?

Ken Oringer: Definitely. Having a child really changes your whole perspective. Despite getting a lot less sleep over the past four months, I still feel that I have a clearer head about what my priorities are.

FoodieMommy: How has having an infant influenced when and where you go out to eat?

Ken Oringer: Oh, we are Early Bird Special folks now! We like to have Verveine in bed by 8:00, so we eat at about 5:30 or 6:00. She loves being held in her Baby Bjorn, so we go to places where we can stand at the restaurant's bar and eat. Loud sounds and voices don't seem to bother her, so it's OK. Also, once she's down for the night, it's pretty easy to entertain at home if we want to.

FoodieMommy: What places would you recommend/prefer for inexpensive meals out?

Ken Oringer: Cheap places I like that are baby-friendly include Dumpling House and Shabu Zen in Chinatown, and any of the Korean fried chicken joints in Brighton.

FoodieMommy: Although most of our visions of parenting end up being different from reality, in the long term, what kinds of food do you plan to give Verveine? For example, will you try to feed her solely organic foods or will you try to have her eat as many different types of food as possible?

Ken Oringer: Verveine already eats all organic, hormone-free foods, but I hope she grows up with an open mind towards food, and does not become a McNugget and grilled cheese sandwich baby. We want to expose her to a variety of foods, from Indian lentil dishes to sea urchin. Her role model will be my nephew, whom I brought out to eat with me beginning when he was about four, and now at age 14, he's a real gourmand who eats Dungeness crab with garlic and black bean sauce, and whom others in the family go to for advice on dining and food.

FoodieMommy: What do you predict will be the biggest challenge to being a chef and parent as she becomes a toddler?

Ken Oringer: Well, we just want to keep her safe in a city apartment with hard surfaces, stairs and other obstacles.

FoodieMommy: I assume she isn’t yet eating table food. Do you have one dish you are looking forward to feeding her in a year or so?

Ken Oringer: I can't wait to make her homemade vegetable soup ... with a touch of spice, of course.

FoodieMommy: So, it is your first Father's Day! Any great plans?

Ken Oringer: My wife Celine's parents have a beach house and pool. I'll be cooking us all a BBQ on the beach, then, weather permitting, I'll be taking Verveine into the pool for her first time.

FoodieMommy: Thank you so much for taking the time to let me interview you. Best of luck with Coppa and finally getting more sleep!