Sunday, April 26, 2015
Mi Casa, Su Casa (Lever, that is)
A couple of weeks ago, Valerie was at Green Flea, the best indoor/outdoor flea market in Manhattan, (100 West 77th St at Columbus Ave) and ran into artist Sue Kreitzman, who is in town from London. Born in Brooklyn, Sue and her husband have lived on the other side of the pond for many years, but visit New York several times a year. Avid readers may remember Sue as one of the eponymous Fabulous Fashionistas in Sue Bourne's wonderful documentary.
Fans of PBS' show "Mr. Selfridge", starring Jeremy Piven, will be thrilled to learn that Sue was recently selected to curate her own window at Selfridges & Co in London. Click on the link for eye candy galore.
Anxious to reconnect, chew the fat and shoot the breeze (hmmm... what other colorful expressions suit the occasion?), we invited Sue to dinner at one of our favorite haunts, Casa Lever, which till now we have favored primarily for its wonderful cocktails.
Since Sue was also a food writer and author of 27 cookbooks and a broadcaster, the pressure was on to make sure the meal was up to par. We needn't have worried. Casa Lever came through with flying colors. In addition to its regular menu, Valerie discovered (only six months after the fact) that the restaurant also offers an incredibly delicious three course prix fixe weekend menu on Friday and Saturday evenings.
We usually photograph our drinks for you, but we were thrown off our usual routine by having a visitor to divert our attention. So we'll just report that Sue had a Negroni, Jean had a pineapple margarita and Valerie had the Frida - with tequila, red pepper and ginger.
Okay, here we go, dipping our toes into food reporting.
While we were waiting for our drinks, the very attentive, friendly and knowledgeable wait staff brought us these gloriously colored little amuse bouches, which (if we remember correctly) featured caviar and mascarpone.
Deep in conversation, we didn't photograph the appetizers either, but we have to tell you something about them. Sue had something entitled "crispy organic egg", but the subtitle was much more interesting - "five mushrooms, five ways". Jean had the salmon carpaccio and Valerie had the suprisingly large house salad.
For the main course, Sue loves beets, and ordered the riotously colored red beet tortelli,
Jean had the daily risotto, which had shrimp that day,
and Valerie had the seared Scottish salmon with leek sauce, lentils and salmon roe.
In between bites of delectible, generous portions, we heard about Sue's latest and greatest Big Apple escapades. Although she and Jean both loved Hal Prince's incredibly entertaining 1978 version of "On the 20th Century"with John Cullum, the inimitable Madeline Kahn, the peerless Imogene Coca, and the riveting Kevin Klein, Sue gave a very high rating to the current version running on the Great White Way with Kristen Chenowith and Peter Gallagher. Click here to view and hear a montage of songs from the show.
In turn, we recommended she see Fashioning the Body - An Intimate History of the Silhouette at Bard Graduate Center Galleries through July 26, 2015 and Faking It: Originals, Copies and Counterfeits at the Museum at FIT which (sorry, readers) just closed yesterday (but you can read our summary of it here).
On to the amazing desserts!
We fell in love with Casa Lever because they have a wonderful cocktails, and their desserts were no less fun to savor. The names alone filled us with anticipation.
Sue had the Affogato (that's drowned in Italian). The menu simply says "vanilla gelato with espresso", but that's a perforated disc of dark chocolate that you see Sue about to pour her espresso through. Isn't a picture worth a thousand words?
Jean had a big imposing Tiramisu (Italian for pick me up) unlike any we've seen before,
and Valerie tried warm cheesecake with barbecued strawberries, strega liquer and rosemary milk chocolate sauce. (Funny how we all chose something with chocolate in it. You know chocolate has serotonin in it, right? Wikipedia says serotonin "is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness." Spot on!)
It is true that time sure flies when you're having fun. All too soon, the evening was over. After promising to meet again to go to the Frida Kahlo show at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when she returns this summer, we bid Sue adieu and went out into the one and only balmy evening of that chilly late April week to head home.
What we're wearing:
Valerie is wearing: vintage blue straw hat labeled David M purchased on Etsy; abalone and silver earrings (probably 25 years old now); suit in Marimekko fabric by Skullz London from Ebay; hand spun wool scarf; shoes with a cool but unfortunately illegible logo.
Jean is wearing: a black straw Ignatius boater (from the Philadelphia Museum Craft Show; Tahari jacket; Calvin Klein slacks; lots of vintage bakelite bangles; Gudrun Sjoden cross-body bag; and Trippen boots from A-Uno.
Sue is wearing shoes by Fit Flops, which she raves about, not only because they're comfortable but because they are a fabulous polished red.