Friday, April 23, 2010

Miki Wows Us Once Again

Following the dining path we love so much, Miki-san always serves a full Tasting Menu of many courses; among the first was a perfect medley of Manila clams steamed with shoyu, scallions and wine.

A Caprese Salad soon followed.

Miki does best surrounded by at least three different forms of alcohol. And all guests benefit from it!

An ultra-savvy main course included pork and squash kabobs served over pepper-studded couscous adorned with spiced and pickled Seckel pears from The D P Chutney Collective.

Ms. Shimada surveys another dinner masterpiece.

Our dining companion Tom Hagen, groggy but charming after 36 hours without sleep via multiple layovers and flights home from Japan, gifted us with ultra-rare, homemade sausage and sea urchin miso. Wow!!

Coffee ice cream was but one of Miki's dessert courses.

Vodka-spiked chocolate and coffee martinis made a most excellent digestif course.

Our favorite spooky black cat, Berry Shimada, always brings an early Halloween to any dinner party.

Typically lush table setting at Cafe Miki.

Diamond symbolism features heavily in many tablescapes of Miki S. Cafe Drake gags (glamorously) dreaming of the opening credits of Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk and Lana Turner's finest hour). See post above.

With a Little Help From Our Friends

Preparing a vegetable tagine with layers of sweet potatoes, onions, olives, tomatoes, all to be stewed in a thick sauce seasoned with cumin, coriander and saffron.

Thanking Octavio again with a "dinner box" to keep him going through the label design process: pounded basmati rice pilaf, tomato curry, yogurt, pickled lemons and chili peppers, onion relish.

A heaping platter of whole wheat couscous and broccoli with bay scallops was but a tiny token of our appreciation for all of Octavio's help with chutney labels!

The label designer rests after a long day in front of the computer.

Cafe Drake friend and upstairs neighbor Octavio luckily happens to also be a swell graphic designer, as you can see from the labels created for The D P Chutney Collective. Thanks, Octavio!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Birthday Dinner pour deux for Jen Ruske

On a rainy Spring evening an empty Cafe Drake awaits the arrival of the Birthday Girl.

A table setting of Silver and Gold seems fitting for our Special Guest.

Jen loves her pasta starter and rose wine.

Contemplating the passing of years?

Happy that Ruske is happy with her meal.

Broiled turbot fillet with butter and capers, ham and parsley-stuffed baked tomato. Perfect with a mineraly bottle of Sancerre generously donated by Jen.

Roquefort cheese, bread, truffled honey and walnuts.

Roasted soybeans, chickpeas and mung beans tossed with Cafe Drake's house blend of sweet and hot spices provided a sharp, small bite alongside pear and rose sangria.

A Springtime pasta appetizer of thick spaghetti with zucchini cream sauce, baby peas, watercress, grated Parmesan cheese and boiled egg.

Behind the Scenes: the messy affair of prepping tomatoes for stuffing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Unseasonable Weather

Being Summer Grinches, Cafe Drake is not adoring the preternaturally warm weather of mid-April here in NYC, and has been retaliating against Mother Nature by immersing ourselves in snowbound Norwegian horror movies like Cold Prey and Dead Snow. In the spirit of our new seasonal perversion we present a favorite recipe hailing from Norway.


Cafe Drake has whipped this entree up several times, and it's doable even in the dead of Summer as the oven is only only for a few minutes. best of all, the fish can be marinated ahead of time and the whole thing assembles in minutes. We generally serve the skewers over golden saffron rice on large plates scattered with avocado slices and halved cherry tomatoes, the delectable sherry sauce drizzled over all. Buttered black bread and fried apples make good sides if you're planning on a more elaborate meal.
  • Take a 1 1/2 lb. fillet of salmon and cut into bite-size (but big bite size) chunks to fit on your skewers. Marinate salmon in a large bowl with the following mixed ingredients: the juice of 1 lemon, 3 T. of water, some olive oil, salt, black pepper and a bit of grated horseradish. Marinate in the fridge for about 2 hours (not less, not much more).
  • Towards the end of marination, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and begin making the sherry sauce.
  • The sauce is easy: combine in a pan: 3/4 cup dry sherry, 2-3 T. chicken or veggie stock, 1 cup heavy cream and roughly a T. of fresh lemon juice. Cook over a medium flame until it thickens nicely.
  • Now place your fish on skewers and then on an oiled baking sheet. Cook in the oven for 7 minutes or so. Season again with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Serve as suggested above, drizzled with sauce and alongside rice and tomatoes and avocado slices.

Always a Blast at Cafe Drake

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Sweltering Night's Dinner

Yogurt and sour cream are blended into a puree of cukes, parsley, scallions, garlic and sherry vinegar to create the Spanish soup variant of ice cold White Gazpacho.

T & J await the main course.

Posing after dinner and many drinks.

Organic whole chicken legs braise with tomatoes, parsley and onions.

Sourdough cayenne croutons fresh from the oven.

Spring inevitably rekindles Cafe Drake's love affair with green.

On a record-breaking April night, the hottest in recorded history for NYC, Cafe Drake's cousin Terry and partner Jason braved the 88 degree temps to sup with us for a relaxed and fun-filled dinner. Starting with bone-dry Prosecco and olives and cave-aged Provolone, the three of us caught up in the living room before moving to the steamy kitchen for a first course of White Gazpacho with Cayenne Whole Wheat Croutons. Soon to follow was an entree of braised chicken legs with tomatoes and onions (cribbed from Alice Waters latest Chez Panisse cookbook) and buttered egg noodles dressed with fresh tarragon and crushed chilies. Body temps were lowered with iced coffees to follow and almond cookies and the season's first strawberries.

Wines consumed included (yes, 4 bottles for 3 diners = the perfect ratio for a school night):

Mumm Napa Sparkling Brut Rose
DR Loomen Bros Riesling
Tutela Prosecco
TGT 2006 Rosata

Monday, April 05, 2010

Jen Ruske Salutes Spring with an Annual Easter Brunch

Sloane cradles an Easter egg and a blue, baby dinosaur pinata with her likeness pasted on the face.

Susan, Henry and Sloane

Next up to bat at the Pinata Game, a beloved tradition at Ruske/Castro outdoor events.

Jenna and Maddy

Jorge checks his photos while sporting a bunny decal.

Being spun around prior to swinging at the pinata.

Relaxing on the patio. Note the atypical sunny Spring day.

Jen and Connie taking a well-earned break after their delicious kitchen endeavors.

Dan awaits the next pinata game.

Colorful drinks table.

Fresh ham warm from a 6-hour stint in the oven.


Brunch in full swing.

Anthony and his candy necklace.

The Backyardigans.

Lysergic-inspired Easter cake.

Bunny ears.

Chris with the newest addition to his and Michael's family, Baby Rose.