The Unprecedented Eric Ripert
Plus: winter's best dessert, the "same old s**t" at Chez Panisse, that 'Jew-ish' guy George Santos
Hello, Wednesday friends. It’s a Food with Mark Bittman day, and we’re revisiting our episode from June 2021, which featured Eric Ripert, with good reason: Ripert’s acclaimed NYC restaurant, Le Bernardin, just earned an unprecedented sixth four-star review from The New York Times, making history as the only restaurant to do so since the Times was first published in 1851.
Ripert, like many of us, had thought that the world — and for him, Le Bernardin — would “close” for two weeks when Covid started. Those two weeks, for Le Bernardin, turned into March through October, but during our chat, Ripert told me that he saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
So: It’s a good time to celebrate Eric. We also have a couple recipes from him; you can find those here. (And if you haven’t listened to last week’s episode with Toya Boudy yet, I hope you will — it’s really fun.) Weekly Markisms, below.
“I created a mantra at Le Bernardin that says, the fish is the star of the plate. Which means: We don't cook with fish, we cook for the fish. And whatever is on that plate has a purpose, has a reason to be.” — Eric Ripert
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WINTER’S BEST (OR AT LEAST EASIEST) DESSERT
If the easiest and among the best of all desserts is a perfect peach or pear, maybe with a squeeze of lemon or lime or a tiny pinch of good chile – or maybe not – what is its winter equivalent? It’s still fruit, though not peaches from Chile, as my local supermarket would have you believe.
Here are four dried fruits – apricots, dates, raisins, cherries – simmered for about a half hour in water to barely cover, of which they absorb most (it’s nice to have a little liquid remaining, and of course you don’t want it to be completely dry) and served an hour later at room temperature with a spoon of sour cream. There may be some shopping involved, but the effort level, on a scale of one to ten, ranges from two for the fruit to one for the sour cream. And it’s “ooh-and-aah” delicious. Plus it doubles as a better breakfast than most.
AIR FRYER FANS OUT THERE?
Kerri and I are wondering if any of you have experience with this decade’s most talked about appliance, the air fryer. We can’t imagine that it’s a thing that we need, but some people seem to feel otherwise, and we’d like to hear (and so, we believe, would fellow subscribers) whether any of you feel strongly about it.
MORE L.A. COMING. ALSO, CHEZ PANISSE.
I know I promised to write more about my California trip, but it’s all slipping away from me. I want to interview Daniel Patterson about Alta Adams, which was not only good but interesting (and there’s a recipe from there I’d like to get), but haven’t done that; efforts being redoubled.
I will say that a number of people (in L.A., especially) bad-mouthed Chez Panisse to me (as in, “You know, they’re doing that same old kind of shit that Chez Panisse does”), but I still find Alice Waters’ now- 52-year-old restaurant a treasure. (Alice is a friend, so no doubt I’m prejudiced, but not so prejudiced that I have lost my judgment.)