Good morning. I had a lovely meal the other night at Balthazar, in the SoHo district of Manhattan, folded into a booth with an excellent view of scenesters and tourists, arts-adjacent money people, date-night couples and Gucci-clad birthday groups. Central to my enjoyment of the evening was a salad I think you might try to make at home, using Julia Moskin’s ace recipe for mustard-shallot vinaigrette.
Balthazar uses a similar emulsion on Bibb lettuce, separating each leaf from the head and, after anointing it with dressing, neatly flattening the leaf onto a plate in what becomes a stack of rough circles, each one smaller than the last. It’s like a stack of lettuce pancakes, austere and beautiful, that allows the dressing to shine.
Give it a try sometime, perhaps alongside these steak mock frites (above), either with the maître d’hotel butter I call for in the recipe, or with a bowl of Béarnaise sauce. Then toast one another with whatever red wine you generally enjoy, though I’m going to ask you to serve it a little bit colder than you usually do. (You’ll see.)
We spend a lot of time just getting a good meal on the table. For this one, take the extra step to attend to the fancy plating, and enjoy the feeling that brings: stylish and cosmopolitan for no other reason than it looks good. And it’ll taste fantastic.
Other ideas for cooking this week include this wowzer new recipe for chicken birria, brothy enough to eat as a stew, but delicious for tacos as well, especially if you assemble them as we do these quesabirria tacos from a while back. Also this roasted salmon with toasted sesame slaw, these creamy pan-roasted scallops with fresh tomatoes and this giant couscous cake with roasted pepper sauce.
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Now, it’s nothing to do with chevre, dukkah or the price of vanilla, but do take some time to read this excerpt from my colleague Pamela Paul’s latest book, “100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet,” in The Atlantic. It’s an ode to the analog photographs we used to take before we could do that on our phones, in all their messy, out-of-focus, red-eyed glory. Photographs are too flattering now, she argues. “Is it possible that bad photos showed us something we wanted or needed to see?”
I follow New York Metro Weather on Twitter. Here’s to more empathy among weather forecasters.
More bad art friends, this time in the family. Here’s Molly Fisk on her uncle John Updike, in Harper’s Bazaar.
Finally, here’s Tinariwen to play us off, “Kel Tinawen” (featuring Cass McCombs). Enjoy that, and I’ll be back on Wednesday.