In the year and a half I had been working on my cookbook, I ate out much less than usual. Recipe-testing during the day meant that I always had leftovers for dinner, which piled up in the fridge, and I didn't like food going to waste. When I did eat out, it was usually for big events like friends' birthdays or just grabbing a bite in the neighborhood. This meant that for quite a while, I contributed much less to conversations about new restaurants, chefs, and talked-about dishes than a person in the food biz ought to.
As much as I love cooking at home, dining out has a big appeal. Being inspired by new dishes and new flavors is the biggest reason. I've had fabulous meals recently at Talde in Park Slope and Lotus Blue in Tribeca (opened by my friend Kian of Red Cook); the restaurants both had creative modern takes on Asian cooking and proved you don't have to rely on traditional recipes to serve up great Filipino, Chinese, and other Asian food.
The second biggest draw of dining out for me is nostalgia, for foods I've eaten while traveling abroad. Last night I went to the opening of Pok Pok NY, the New York branch of the popular Portland restaurant, and upon sitting down was immediately reminded of being in a night market in Thailand. Likewise, I was happy to eat lunch at Thanh Da in Sunset Park last weekend because it had been a while since I had a really good Vietnamese meal. (For some reason, good Vietnamese and Mexican food is very had to find in NY.)Read More