Boulud Sud: a review

You might know that I have a long-standing, mostly-love affair with New York City. My parents regularly took my sister and me there during our childhoods (lucky us), I lived on the Upper East Side for three years in the early aughts, and I have hauled ass back there as often as I could since.

The unfortunate fact is that I wasn't what you'd call a big eater when I lived there, so other than a few spectacular meals at gems like Chanterelle (now closed; sob), I missed out on a lot in NY's culinary world. A different story for a different time.

Since leaving in '03, I have most definitely made up for lost time, eating my way around the city as often as I can. From the Greenmarket to any Danny Meyer treasure, I make sure not to waste any of the three squares + snacks I get each day. 

One of my favorite truths about New York is that if you just start walking, you will come across something spectacular. Could be a performance, a beautiful sight, a proposal...anything really. Last Friday, after a full day immersed in the BlogHer conference (and a late night on Thursday), I was totally beat. I got a ludicrously overpriced glass of wine from the hotel bar, brought it to my room and put on my pajamas. 

"But, wait, dummy. Remember where you are!" I murmured. Chastened, I threw on some clothes, took the elevator down and walked out into the bustling night. 

New York in July can be as muggy as Louisiana, and that's not a compliment. But last Friday was one of those perfect evenings in which humidity and sweat are nothing more than ideas, and I walked and walked with a gentle breeze on my arm. 

As I approached Columbus Circle, I veered left to head north on Broadway. Past 61st St, the Empire Hotel sign loomed large just ahead, and I was jolted back to the first time I stayed there: on a recruiting trip for the University of Chicago. I can't remember why I chose the Empire, but it likely had something to do with Priceline or Hotwire, but I remember checking in and feeling awfully grown up and professional. Was I 23? 24? A lifetime ago.

If you know that part of New York, you know that the Empire looks out over Lincoln Center, a triangle park apparently named Dante (who ever knew? not me) and a strip of restaurants -Cafe Fiorello, The Smith, and Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud.

I wasn't terribly hungry, but hello. Daniel Boulud people. So I stopped. And irritated the shit out of the hostess when I switched my decision to sit outside versus in -"I've already set you a place at the bar."- and smiled winningly and ignored her peevishness and sat down so happily at a table directly abutting the rail dividing sidewalk and dining area. Perfect.


Perhaps because she was irritated, or perhaps because Boulud Sud was busy, or perhaps anything, but while someone quickly left menus on my table, it took nearly twenty minutes for anyone to return. I didn't much care because New York is the best people-watching outside of New Orleans, but I finally made myself known and ordered a beautiful glass of Benoni Pinot Noir. Of the gods!

Then, before Mr. Wine could leave, I ordered the Crispy Artichokes alla Romana with Nipatella (an Italian herb) Aioli and the Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Burrata, Stone Fruit and Pesto.

If anyone is going to do fried artichokes right in America, I surmised, Daniel Boulud is a good bet. I was not mistaken.


These babies tasted as if they'd been plucked from Italian soil that morning which, as I find American 'chokes horribly depressing, left me speechlessly thrilled. The batter was light, the fry was perfect with nary a spot of grease in sight, and the aioli was bright and tangy just as it should be.

I was happy that my salad came concurrently because it was lovely to go between bites of each. The burrata was an enormous blob with a wonderfully firm exterior and lusciously jiggly interior. Some burrata just oozes like melting ice cream; it might taste good but you need a spoon and it's awfully unattractive. This one held together just enough; I needed my knife but only slightly.

Though I have paired both tomatoes and peaches with burrata, I've never combined all three. Why not? What have I been waiting for? I am now all the wiser. The peaches and cherries were at the peak of ripeness, and the tomatoes are what you hope for when you pay up for heirlooms (but all too rarely get).

The only erroneous element was the sliced caper berries whose briny tang was too dissonant for my taste. Fortunately there weren't too many, but when I replicate this salad at home, I won't add them at all. 

The pesto was gorgeous and added depth, the pine nuts a tremendous textural treat and the bread cubes were neither overbearing nor cut too large. I appreciated the latter especially because it gets my goad when I cut the top of my mouth on crusty edges.

I wished I'd had room to order much more for the menu was a huge bowl of candy available for the taking, but next time. Next time.

#BlogHer15 recap

Three years ago, on a whim two weeks before the opening keynote, I registered for the BlogHer '13 conference and bought a ticket to Chicago. I'd never heard of BlogHer before but needed to learn more about blogging and take a step toward something bigger. So I went west and my world grew bigger.

This weekend was my third BlogHer conference, and on the train home today, I thought a lot about all I've learned from and the evolution of how I experience each.

Random introductions have turned into friendships, and meeting in real life women I've gotten to know online never gets old. We recognize each other from profile pics and Facebook feeds and hug immediately as if the geographic distance that's prevented us from actually meeting never much mattered in the first place. Community has taken on an entirely new, infinitely more expansive meaning.

In this huge, diverse, pulsating scene, domain names and handles become pals. People I've respected from afar come to life. Learning is still critically important but this year took a bit of a backseat to spending time with people I really like and want to know better.

The kick-ass Amy Byrnes, of A My Name is Amy, and I sat next to each other in a session at BlogHer Chicago two years ago, and though I hadn't seen her since, when we laid eyes on each other last Thursday, it was seamless.

Through her, I reconnected with the wonderful Brooke Lefferts of Carpool Candy, who I'd also met in Chicago but lost touch with. On Friday, they introduced me to the very fabulous Jesse Torrey of Smiles and Duct Tape and the lovely, we've-lived-in-so-many-of-the-same-places Christine Carlisle of Chew, Nibble, Nosh. The five of us laughed uproariously at a memorable dinner last night where Christine and I nearly cried over this perfect burrata. In all sincerity, I couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather be.  

Christine, Amy, Jesse, me

Christine, Amy, Jesse, me

Likewise, the no-adjective-is-quite-enough Jenny Kanevsky and I met in person as above -recognize, hug, gut-buster laugh- and later sat next to and took much comfort in each other during a powerful, important session on Storytelling and Mental Health.

I was able to tell Susan Maccarelli, of Beyond Your Blog, in person that I simply don't know how she manages two blogs, two kids and being a font of submission-oriented information every single day. And Kristi Rieger Campbell, of Finding Ninee, and I got to meet and take a selfie even though we live not 20 miles from each other but have never crossed paths here. I got to tell A'driane Nieves how much I admire her.

It's funny how many hours over just a couple days can forge lasting connection. How truly fond of someone you can become after jumping in, shaking hands, sharing a meal and conversation and laughter. I mean, two days ago, Jesse and I were total strangers and last night I introduced her to facial-oil blotting papers as we shared a cab to dinner. It's really something to go from a basic handshake to comparing the aftermath of a long day as shown on a Clean & Clear blotting sheet in just 24 hours.

One thing I think the BlogHer conferences do so well is offer bloggers an empowering environment in which we can push ourselves out of comfort zones, shove fears aside and be ballsy without apology.

As you might remember, I was hellbent on meeting the tremendous Elan Morgan of Schumtzie last year and so swallowed my nerves and walked right up to her. Then I asked if she'd do my website redesign, and this year I hoped to get to know her better, did so and and am deeply happy about it. 

It's all too easy when you really admire, are intimidated by or in awe of someone, to shy away. To think, "She wouldn't want to talk to me. He is so successful." The cool kid thing. And you know what, not everyone does want to talk, some do think they're better. But more often than not, others are also nervous, and a friendly face or a word of gratitude or even a bit of fan-love breaks the ice like nobody's business.

BlogHer reminds attendees of that constantly: to stretch, ask, reach, grab. To make opportunity happen when the door opens, even if it's scary. 


Animals and, in unrelated fashion, food

People, Tom's fish hospice seems to have worked wonders: Lighting Strike is swimming happily around the tank! He's bumping into the cave less frequently, and Creamsicle (the guppy) seems ever so thrilled to have his friend back. I told T that I was shocked by his bedside treatment of LS but positively thrilled by it and grateful too. So, if your fish gets very fat very quickly, drops to the bottom of the tank, and starts to swim sadly, with only a fin or two, treat him for Dropsy and see what transpires. The boys were beyond thrilled today to receive a personal thank you note, pens and stickers from the Animal Legal Defense Fund. I was very touched too and I am certain this lovely response made the boys' donation even more meaningful to them. Later, Oliver said, "I love helping the animals. I LOVE animals!" and tonight I found him asleep atop 90% of his stuffed animal collection. Thank you, ALDF!

As promised, in unrelated news, I tonight fixed a vegetarian feast. Tom was not excited but didn't take me up on my offer to nuke a hotdog for him, so...

Burrata with caramelized onions; roasted cauliflower with Meyer lemon and olives; spiral-cut zucchini (T's aunt gave us a spiral slicer for Christmas, so I took it for a spin) sauteed with blood oranges; and some burned eggplant with vin cotto. I was totally satisfied!

Delish! Hope you're eating well so far in this new year!