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June, 2006 | Manolo's Food Blog
Archive - June, 2006

Ryo Takes the Cake

At his opening party, Ryo Toyonaga posed with a cake perfectly crafted in imitation of his sculpture on display at Charles Cowles Gallery.

The photo is by the celebrated downtown chronicler Roxanne Lowit. The cake is by the Leonardo of desserts Sylvia Weinstock.

As a rule, Mr. Henry does not approve of foods that cause confusion. The very mention of fusion cuisine makes him reach for his pastry gun. This cake, however, was a masterpiece of tromp l’oeil.

Mr. Henry Dines with Celebrities


Mr. Henry is not easily wowed. However, at Matsuri Restaurant (11th Ave. and 16th Street — at 11:00 p.m. ground zero for the young and attractive) when he took his seat at a tiny table with Jeanne-Claude and Christo, he smiled and began an exceptional evening of food and company, a dinner in celebration of the artist Ryo Toyonaga‘s opening at Charles Cowles Gallery.


The Christos’ charm was contagious, their energy preternatural, and their enthusiasm for good sushi apparent (and it was very, very good, as was the black cod in miso and the sirloin steak). Having visited Japan 71 times, they knew very well what they were eating.

Mid-meal, when Jeanne-Claude drew a long cigarette from out of her pack, our host, Dr. Alvin, came rushing over to inform her most graciously that here in New York smoking is not permitted indoors. Feigning shock (she has lived here for 40 years) and heaving a very Gallic sigh, she unseated herself and headed upstairs out the door.

Indeed, they are a unit. Even though he does not smoke, Christo dutifully, loyally, adoringly followed behind. Holding her bag while she efficiently disposed of not one but three quick cigarettes, he wryly admitted that although her smoking was not something he enjoyed, after 45 years together he was not about to try to change her.

How do they get that sprite-like energy, anyway? All night they bounced around like sylvan creatures who, were the sushi to run out, might survive equally well on mushrooms or nettles.

The next day they sent Mr. Henry a book which documents every moment of The Gates from its inception 26 years ago to its installation last year, a tome solid enough to have served as a column base for a Gate. Mr. Henry has not tired of turning the pages and reliving this divine folly, an event that rendered all of New York participants in a “happening.” Taxi drivers opined about aesthetics. Street vendors held forth on subjects of art criticism not normally included in their customer palaver. The whole city was chewing, digesting, and expelling their “take” on The Gates.

It was like a huge dinner party on the lawn organized by a couple of eccentric, expatriot New Yorkers, the kind who make this city great. Merci.

The Gates Central Park New York 1979 2005 Christo Jeanne-Claude Wolfgang Volz.jpg

Breakthroughs in Medicine for Mr. Henry’s Liver

Today the New York Times “Science Times” section (p. F6) reports that in a 14-year study the risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver cause by alcohol abuse was lowered by drinking coffee. The more coffee the participants drank, the better their livers fared.

Mr. Henry would like to extend a personal thanks to the principal author, Dr. Arthur L. Klatsky of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, California. Although the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine did not include Mr. Henry’s case history, he would like to contribute a post-publication testimonial whole-heartedly supporting the paper’s conclusions. Mr. Henry has conducted extensive field research in this domain. Two strong cups of good coffee in the morning go a long way toward quieting his jumpy liver. In light of the paper’s conclusions, from now on, when necessary, he will drink three or four.

Mr. Henry has every confidence that through internet publicity this study will reach its intended audience in time for them to adjust their coffee consumption to maximize health benefits. The need is critical. Please help.

Mr. Henry Changes His Mind

Unlike Mr. D’Arcy whose good opinion once lost is forever lost, Mr. Henry retains the privilege of changing his mind. Although a man of his word, he never stands by his mistakes.

A Mr. Henry Dictum: What may be true in the aggregate may be false in the particular.

[Such is the starch a money manager might employ to explain why although the market as a whole is up, your investments are down.]

With regard to champagne, our present topic, the dictum against drinking rosé hinges largely on price. Mr. Henry does not want his friends to become dependent on budget-busting effervescences.

Rosé champagne can be quite wonderful, and indeed, as Courtney says, to call it “pink” is rather disparaging. Yes, the best ones are prepared by leaving the pinot noir skins in contact with the juice – the saignée (bleeding) method – although others are made by simply blending a bit of red wine with white before bottling. (In each case, the subsequent addition of a spoonful of yeasty sugar syrup enables a second fermentation in the bottle.)

Mr. Henry’s experience with rosé champagne harks back to an embarrassing dinner ten years ago. My Phuong, a graduate of the Ecole du Cordon Bleu, had spent all day preparing an exquisite bouillabaisse in New York, a difficult accomplishment because the requisite Mediterranean little salty fishes are tricky to substitute, and Mr. Henry at the insistence of a stripling youth behind the counter of Nancy’s Wines for Food had been persuaded to buy a rosé champagne. It was a disastrous match. We seemed to be drinking our dessert as an accompaniment to our soup.

Since that fateful evening, he has not gone near the stuff.

Recently, however, small champagne houses such as Billecart-Salmon and Gosset have been making excellent dry rosé champagnes offered at high prices. Mr. Henry is not a skinflint but he balks at paying giant sums for curiosities. He is more than willing, however, to accept the generosity of his many friends who take a more carefree approach to disposable income.

nota bene: Since Mrs. Henry does not drink, which is her principal failing in marital relations, an invitation to us both won’t cost very much.