Heads & Tales: Fish Tails (and a Recipe)!

Today’s installment of my New York City recap involves making more new friends from the blogging community, celebrating seafood and living like a New Yorker.

Having been given the luxury of having one week to live in New York City gave me a new perspective on this great city.

New Yorkers are kind. Throughout the week I did get lost on the subway, disoriented on many occasions at an intersection and often “rescued” by an all too eager New Yorker willing to help me, one of thousands of tourists in the city that never sleeps.

Many New Yorkers use the transit system. Unlike other North American cities (like Toronto) where a transit system is in place, many New Yorkers actually prefer using the vast subway and train system. It’s extensive, runs 24/7 and it’s safe.

New York City has the best of everything, the worst of everything. New York has ten-times better everything but…ten-times “the worst” of everything – all is multiplied. It’s a big city, with flaws and like any other destination, you need to explore, do some homework (buy & read a travel book) and with some good travel instincts, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

As a fish and seafood lover, I knew that I’d be spoiled with some of the freshest seafood in the world. When Marc of No Recipes extended an invite to dine together at a sushi restaurant in New York, I couldn’t refuse.

His choice, Sushi Azabu…located in TriBeCa near the Hudson River. I got to the place a little early, ordered a Japanese beer and leafed through the new cook books which I had just bought from The Strand.

New Yorkers are very familiar with The Strand but for those of you contemplating a trip to NYC and looking for rare books for fabulous price, The Strand is a must. The place is teeming with book lovers, helpful staff and shelves upon shelves (18 miles) of mostly used (some new) books touching upon every genre possible.

I was kindly assisted to the cooking section, found some Greek cookbooks, snapped them up and toted them in my backpack for the day.

Marc and his ever-smiling wife Liz arrived punctually and ventured to the basement of the establishment (upstairs served steak and Italian), downstairs was sushi. I’m not a fan of basement haunts but the service staff here are warm, courteous and the decor sleek (Japanese designed – right down to the bathroom amenities).

Liz, Marc and I warmed up to each other quickly and being a Greek dude who enjoys sushi, I allowed Marc to take the lead on ordering.

First up was the beverage of a choice…a sesame Shochu which is a brew of premium wheat, rice and sesame. This drink was served on ice, reminded me of vodka with a definite sesame aroma and taste. We ordered one bottle and had no difficulty in finishing this fabulous Japanese drink.

Marc’s choices for the dinner were of the highest quality and every morsel went unwasted. From the Japanese seaweed salad to some seared, rare Wagyu beef and on to the red snapper carpaccio and the Chef’s Choice of the market-fresh sushi offering of the day…the meal was dreamy.

Liz, Marc and I got acquainted with each other’s lives, talked food (what else) and relished every single course of this masterpiece sushi dinner. A trip to Japan just got bumped up on my “to do” list.

Let’s rewind a bit. Not that far back – just a little earlier in the day. STAY right there…mid-afternoon and lunch.

What was to be the largest food-blogger gathering of the week for me would take place at Lupa, a Mario Battali and Joseph Bastianich osteria.

Coordinating the lunch was Stacey of Stacey Snacks and Giff of The Constables Larder. Stacey made the reservation (based on her contented patronage of Lupa) and Giff liaised with myself and the others to confirm all in attendance.

You’ve already met Stephane of Chefs Gone Wild and Mlle. Claire of Colloquial Cookin‘ but I’d like to also introduce a new acquaintance and friend, Rachel of the Essential Rhubarb Pie.

I was afraid that Rachel was going to arrive late (something about work) but it appears she and Stacey got real comfy with each other, at the bar and in the midst of an afternoon glass of wine…how civilized!

We met for a late lunch and although most were hungry, we kept on getting distracted by the usual “getting to know you chats” that ranged from life in New York, rude behaviour (or not) of Parisians, a little politics, more New York and a little about each of us.

With lunch hours dwindling…Stacey suggested we order some sampling platters: one seafood antipasti and other a veggie/salad antipasti.

Each of us ordered their own main and we washed our food down with a northern Italian white and a Sicilian red.

Being a Greek and enjoying the food concept of appetizers and mezedes, I would have been most comfortable just ordering and ordering starters, sampling, chatting, drinking and sampling again…THAT is a good dinner and company for me!

Lupa’s service is very good. The staff attentive, they know the menu and the wines and they were kind and patient with our tardy ordering from the menu.

The best approach to ordering from Lupa’s menu is order some antipasti, enjoy your wine – order your main and don’t forget it’s ala carte here…grab a side to complete your entree.

I didn’t order dessert but I had a sample of Claire’s hazelnut tartuffo (huge) and if any of the other desserts are like this one…Lupa delivers from start to finish.

I’d like to leave you all with a dish that reminded me of that day in New York City, filled with memories of some the freshest seafood I’ve ever had in North America, the new friendships made and the memories…forever!

Here’s a simple Italian seafood dish, works great with bream, sea bass or any other white-fleshed fish fillet. I found some wonderful Grouper fillets at my local market and in keeping with Lupa’s unpretentious Osteria cooking approach without sacrificing quality or breaking the bank, I present a Walnut Gremolata Grouper…enjoy!

Walnut Gremolata Grouper
(serves 4)

4 Grouper fillets
olive oil

sea salt
fresh ground pepper
sweet paprika

Gremolata
2 Tbsp. of lemon rind, thinly sliced 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 clove of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. coarse bread crumb

1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all the Gremolata ingredients in a bowl and cover – set aside.
  2. Rub both sides of the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sweet paprika.
  3. Add some olive oil into a non-stick pan over medium high heat and place the fillets (skin-side down first) for 3-4 minutes per side or until crisp and brown.
  4. Plate the fish immediately with a mound of Gremolata on top and serve with a garlic mash or in my case…orzo with mushrooms and zucchini.

© 2008 – 2009,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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66 Comments for “Heads & Tales: Fish Tails (and a Recipe)!”

Stacey Snacks

says:

You are one popular dude!
So nice that you got to meet all of us NYC bloggers.
That LUPA lunch was really fun, and I can’t wait for your next trip to the Big Apple.

That sushi place looks amazing, will have to try it!
Your grouper is beautiful too.
Stacey

Jo

says:

What a wonderful trip you had :) I am so happy for you! I’m so glad you got to meet so many wonderful bloggers too!

Bellini Valli

says:

Thanks for sharing your continued chronicles of NYC Peter and a glimpse of the foodie world and all the kind and caring members of our community.

Mary

says:

I haven’t been there in at least 4 years, but Lupa (Batalli, at that time was trying to overcome informality and place Italian cooking on a par with 3 star French restaurants) was fantastic. What I didn’t have back then are all the wonderful blogging foodies who made your New York trip such an adventure.

Judy@nofearentertaining

says:

You were such a busy guy!!! That Grouper dish looks great. I love reading these posts about your trip!

Anne

says:

Beautiful dish! I love gremolata and use it in many different dishes – it’s perfect for fish – I hadn’t thought of that yet!

I haven’t been to NYC for many years-even though I have family there. I’m enjoying my vicarious ride with you!

Foodycat

says:

That is it! I can’t deal with my seething jealousy any more. I am not going to read any more until you stop posting from New York!

Bren

says:

sushi place you went to looks great. i’ve had sushi twice in Manhattan–can’t remember the name. The atmosphere there was jumpin’! It was great. I’d love to meet some of ur fellow NY bloggers when I go up there next month…

Terri

says:

Peter – That looks really tasty and I love the flavor and texture of grouper. I also want to try your sardines with capers ~ that is, if I can ever find fresh sardines here. BTW, thanks for visiting my blog.

Maryann

says:

I’m enjoying your NY posts, Peter. Hopefully, you now get a better feeling for that particular NY sense of humor. It seems you made the best of your time here and seeing all the fellow food bloggers in your photos is really fun!
Oh yeah..and the fish looks delicious.
Where should I mail the doctor’s note? ;)

Peter G

says:

Peter, you should handle all worldwide food blogging PR! How great that you get to meet everyone! I enjoy sushi for it’s clean and aesthetic qualities and I’m really digging that walnut gremolata as well!

Jen of A2eatwrite

says:

Peter, you sure made the most of that week! Your dish is lovely, too. I’m glad you had such a great time, and it’s true – New Yorkers are really friendly.

kat

says:

I envy your trip, it looks like such fun. Though I have to say you live in a great city as well, Toronto has always been a favorite of mine

RecipeGirl

says:

How lucky you are to have arranged all of these fun food blogger social events while in NY! Looks like it was great fun. I think I’m due for a trip to NYC.

Lore

says:

It was nice reading about your get togethers and the dishes you sampled. Now I’ll have to put a trip to Japan on my to do list as well :D.
Your recipe sounds delish, love the use of lemon rinds!!!

Marjie

says:

Another great installment! New Yorkers are cool, despite the cold reputation. I remember being in Chinatown years ago with my little redheads, and so many people came to talk to the little guys. I guess they didn’t see a lot of little redhaired boys thereabouts.

And that grouper looks wonderful!

glamah16

says:

You just had the best timee. You met more bloggers in one week than some people do in a year and tried such diverse food choices.

Gloria

says:

Well, well always Peter in good company, you are a sweet boy I know,I love your chronicles from NY, xxxGloria

Astra Libris

says:

What an absolutely glorious day! Thank you so much for sharing the journey with us! Meeting so many food bloggers amidst delightful dishes sounds like heaven to me! :-)

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I had no idea you met so many food bloggers during your trip–day-to-day, it really looks like you made the most of it! Good food, good people, and good times all around. Also, I love the grouper recipe you included–I’ll have to try that once they start gracing the grocery store here again

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I had no idea you met so many food bloggers during your trip–day-to-day, it really looks like you made the most of it! Good food, good people, and good times all around. Also, I love the grouper recipe you included–I’ll have to try that once they start gracing the grocery store here again

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I had no idea you met so many food bloggers during your trip–day-to-day, it really looks like you made the most of it! Good food, good people, and good times all around. Also, I love the grouper recipe you included–I’ll have to try that once they start gracing the grocery store here again

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I had no idea you met so many food bloggers during your trip–day-to-day, it really looks like you made the most of it! Good food, good people, and good times all around. Also, I love the grouper recipe you included–I’ll have to try that once they start gracing the grocery store here again

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I had no idea you met so many food bloggers during your trip–day-to-day, it really looks like you made the most of it! Good food, good people, and good times all around. Also, I love the grouper recipe you included–I’ll have to try that once they start gracing the grocery store here again

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I had no idea you met so many food bloggers during your trip–day-to-day, it really looks like you made the most of it! Good food, good people, and good times all around. Also, I love the grouper recipe you included–I’ll have to try that once they start gracing the grocery store here again

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I had no idea you met so many food bloggers during your trip–day-to-day, it really looks like you made the most of it! Good food, good people, and good times all around. Also, I love the grouper recipe you included–I’ll have to try that once they start gracing the grocery store here again

Marc @ NoRecipes

says:

Peter, we had a great time as well. Your Grouper looks fantastic, clever use of walnuts in the gremolata. Give us a buzz anytime you’re in town.

ΕΛΕΝΑ

says:

Peter, thanks for sharing your wonderful trip with us:))
Gremolata and walnuts sounds perfect and very tasty!!

Happy cook

says:

Looks like you had super fun in NY.
And isn’t it onderful that you met up with so muck foodbloggers.
I have never had sushi, but the way you have descirbed the dinner you had made me want to try shushi.

Natashya

says:

You make NYC seem less scary for ‘fraidy cats like me, looks like you had an awesome time.
I am envious of your trip to LUPA, I want to try one of Mario’s places too..
Cheers!

Maria

says:

Whoa … you really got to meet every blogger here in NYC huh?!
I love Strand, used to work a couple blocks away, so I sepnt many a lunch hour browsing the aisles.

The Short (dis)Order Cook

says:

Those sushi dishes are gorgeous and I don’t even eat sushi.

I will reiterate what I great time I had at Lupa and how great it was to meet you. I think it was a lucky day for me as I really managed to get out of work quickly enough to get on the train I wanted to be on (I had to leave my office in CT, drive home, and then take the train into the city from there, then take thes subway to Lupa, which is why I was afraid I’d be late). My meeting ended on time – or maybe I should say *I ended* the meeting on time. ;-)

It was a great meal with great service (I loved that waiter) and great company. I hope you’ll be in NY again soon.

Emily

says:

Yum! This looks delicious!

I’m so jealous of all your NYC adventures. Maybe you should move there?

Sylvia

says:

Great meeting in NYC, I love this city , unfortunate I visit years ago…Your post makes me dream :)

Grace

says:

what a pretty dish! it seems to me like you accomplished a lot more fine dining on your trip to nyc than i did. therefore, i must return immediately and one-up you. :)

Colloquial Cook

says:

I only shared my tartuffo with you because you are a nice person. Not because it was too big. I could easily have gobbled the little bastard. Just thought I’d set the record straight :-)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

says:

Sounds like fun! I can’t believe you got to meet all these bloggers! How awesome! :)

I love The Strand! I could literally spend DAYS in there!

We Are Never Full

says:

another good write up! it’s cool to see a pic of marc from no recipes. and you’re right, new yorkers ARE NOT FRIGGIN RUDE! kidding… we’re just lovable and will only talk when necessary.

Helene

says:

You must had been busy in NY. I love the city. You met so many new people. I’m jalous. And all that great food.

Zen Chef

says:

Guys…guys.. the tartuffo was mine, but you and Claire ended up eating most of it. See, i’m the nice guy and i don’t get any credit for it.

By the way, what’s up with the Zen queen bed? hahaha

Sharon

says:

Wow, what a great trip! It’s fun to put a face with the name of many of those bloggers. Sounds like you had many yummy meals.

noobcook

says:

How wonderful that you met up with Marc… I am a fan of both your blogs, hehe … the sushi looks incredibly mouthwatering ;p

Jan

says:

You are so lucky to have got to meet so many food bloggers!!
Now, I am really loving the sound of walnut gremolata. Another ‘must make’ LOL
The fish looks lovely – did you save me some?

Mochachocolata Rita

says:

Another set jealousy provoking gatherings! Aihhhhh…you’re one loved gwei lo, Peter!

I love walnuts…I havent tried cooking with them tho…hope I can try soon

JUde

says:

Looks like a lovely dinner.
I can’t believe how – normal – bloggers looks. I was expecting geeks that walk around in aprons or something :)

Dawn

says:

I love love love sushi. And I have found that nyc has some of the best sushi around. And I’m from a coastal area with literally one ok sushi place–go figure. I hear that Miami has a few good sushi joints, but I haven’t been there in ages.
That sushi pic makes me cry Peter! I miss good sushi!!! wahhhh

Sandy Smith

says:

Love the Strand but haven’t been since college ~ this brought back a lot of memories! The fish dish looks terrific ~ mmm, which I had a plate in front of me right now. Your photos are a pleasure!!

Angela

says:

It sounds like you had a wonderful time in New York! How cool that you got to meet fellow food bloggers. This walnut gremolata grouper is brilliant.

Marianna

says:

wow, that is a fabulous fabulous recipe i definately have to note down and try out!! i often see fish & almond couplings, but using walnut instead is really nice & different. i'm catching up w your blog and NYC recollections!! :-)