And at Mignon?the terrific new French bistro on Carroll Garden's Court St. restaurant row in Brooklyn?we can do just that. There's a good little wine shop just a few blocks down the road called Scotto's Wine Cellar. Well, good enough for us, anyhow, when we wanted a pinot noir to companion lamb chops. The '97 Acacia we purchased, at $21, would have probably have set us back at least $40 in a restaurant. It's not likely to show up on Mignon's list, but who knows? The spicy pinot style they've more or less perfected in California's Carneros appellation is a consistently satisfying match for the well-seasoned meat and game dishes cropping up on fall menus.
Mignon's signature filet could do with a solid, though not too massive, Napa cabernet, say Sterling Vineyards' fine '96. But we know this is all idle dreamweaving, because Mignon is jammed these days, and it can't be more than a month before they get that license and hop on the money train (not to mention the credit card wagon). We don't begrudge them. They've earned their success. But if they think we're not going to simply hammer them with business, our rucksacks jangling with wine every time, for what's left of this stupendously culinary autumn, they've underestimated our ferocious resolve to eat their food, but drink exactly what we want. Because if nothing else, we're plenty happy to play our own sommelier.
Mignon is at 394 Court St. (betw. Carroll St. & 1st Pl.) in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Phone: 718-222-8383.
Early November, and the mid-autumnal nip that plays around our snouts tells us we'd better start posing to ourselves that crucial Thanksgiving question: ham or turkey?
Yes, ham for Thanksgiving. We do that sometimes. This time, however, we're considering a Cajun and less traditional centerpiece for our Thanksgiving meal: a turducken, which is a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken. (We've heard that the Australians, by the way, go one step farther on feast days with what they call an osturducken. Take that turducken and mash it right down into the gaping claviculate hole of a butchered ostrich and you've got yourself an osturducken.)
But the thought of all that foul preparatory deboning and ramming of smaller birds into larger repels us. And so we've made it our business to discover the existence of two fellows named Carl and Cory Broussard, who run an outfit called Cajun Specialty Meats out of Florida, and who are willing to accomplish all the slicing and stuffing for you. It's like a gristly Russian doll: First the Brothers Broussard plump up a boneless chicken with cornbread dressing. Then they stuff the son of a bitch down into a boneless duck. Next?and follow carefully here?they mash that chicken-stuffed duck down into the void represented by the interior of a semi-boneless turkey, which itself gets packed in solid, as a coup de grace, with Cajun sausage. The beast ends up weighing about 15 pounds, feeds roughly 20 to 25 people and costs $65, plus shipping.
And if you decide to throw the whole Pilgrim softshoe out the window this year and go full-on Cajun, the Broussards also peddle the rest of the stuff you'll need: shrimp etouffee, crawfish boudin, andouille, seafood gumbo, stuffed rib eyes, cornbread dressing, crawfish pies and more.
Cajun Specialty Meats ships anywhere and sends the turduckens frozen via next-day or second-day air. You can order by phone: 850-479-8383 or 850-934-8383, or directly through their website: www.cajunspecialtymeats.com.
Game season's kicking off now?and Bondi, the Sicilian restaurant in the Flatiron, will be serving a Wild Game Dinner from Nov. 8 until Nov. 30. (People who want to eat boars and pheasants and stuff, by the way, are reminded, while we're at it, of the excellent Les Halles' game presentations, which will be offered only through this Sunday.) Bondi: Carpaccio of smoked venison loin; roast marinated pheasant with black truffles; boar chops; also several less gamy dishes, including a dessert?and everything's matched with an appropriate wine. At $60 per person, and at a restaurant as good as Bondi, the dinner's a steal. Bondi's at 7 W. 20th St., just west of 5th Ave., and the phone number's 691-8136.
Visions of Thanksgiving dinners that are most emphatically not a process of driving to rural Pennsylvania and dicking around all day with the lowlifes and perverts to whom some of us here, at least, are related, play through our heads. An American Place, unsurprisingly, used to provide the definitive Thanksgiving Day spread as far as we're concerned, but not long ago the restaurant moved north, and who knows at this point?
So here's the best deal we've come across yet: Thanksgiving Day at Windows on the World. A tourist place, sure. But a tourist place is often concomitantly a special event place, and Thanksgiving's special enough. Stuff yourself with, in addition to the bird, food like duck confit with smoked chili orange sauce, roasted salmon filet, venison chops with bourbon yams and pecans and whiskey sauce, apple tart with vanilla ice cream and Bourbon spice pumpkin pie. In other words, a representation of the excellent American cuisine for which Windows on the World is famous. Enjoy the restaurant's clean, elegant decor and bug out to the mindblowing World Trade Center views. For reservations, call 524-7011. The restaurant's located on the 107th floor of One World Trade Center.
Lately we've been eating at Nyonya, a Malaysian restaurant with an unpronounceable name and with branches in the Chinatowns of both Manhattan and Brooklyn. (The Manhattan establishment's located at 194 Grand St., betw. Mulberry & Mott Sts. Phone: 334-3669. The Brooklyn one's located at 5323 54th St. at 8th Ave. Phone: 718-633-0808.) Malaysian cuisine, which represents a blend of Chinese, Indian and Malay ingredients, is sort of the original Asian fusion cuisine. And while we've shunned such Malaysian exotica as chicken feet with Chinese mushrooms or sauteed frog with ginger and scallion, we've enjoyed only slightly less...weird dishes. Like nasi lemak, a signature Malaysian dish that consists of coconut-flavored rice served with curry chicken, chili anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, marinated vegetable salad and crisp wedges of ripe cucumber. Sounds like a culinary freakout?an overload of flavors?but it works, with the chicken falling off the bone and the whole affair costing a mere $3.95.
Good appetizers: roti with curry chicken dipping sauce, and a spicy spring roll stuffed with jicama and lightly fried tofu. We're also fans of the curry mee with young tau foo (rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?), which is a mild lemongrass curry noodle soup with tofu and eggplant, mung beans and a bunch of other vegetables stuffed with fish paste. A mere $4.95, and almost enough food for two small adults. And you should order the excellent Malaysian iced tea?like Thai iced tea, only stronger?every time you walk through Nyonya's door.
Contributors: Beth Broome, Matthew DeBord, Eva Neuberg, Andrey Slivka.
E-mail tips and comments to email@example.com or fax to 244-9864.