Patented coolers for the flesh, near-surgical trimming skills in the possession of the counter staff and stuff like: chateaubriand and porterhouse, rib roasts, osso buco, rack of veal, leg of lamb, smoked turkey, rock Cornish game hens, squab broilers, pork loin, fresh ham and sausage, venison, wild turkey, partridge?not to mention specialty meats like pickled tongue, sweetbreads and calves' feet.
Lobel's is located at 1096 Madison Ave. (betw. 82nd & 83rd Sts.). Their phone number is 737-1372; or dial 800-5-LOBELS if you're out of state. Overnight shipping is available.
We're usually nothing but irritated by the exuberantly trivial micro-announcements that our fax machine belches out as unwitting testaments to the culinary world's tenacious insignificance?LE POULET EN MERDE ANNOUNCES THAT IT OFFERS BREAD TO DINERS! FOR DETAILS CALL PRESS CONTACT MYRNA SHEISSKOPF AT 244-XXXX! But we're big enough admirers of the great chef Waldy Malouf?and habitually frustrated enough by the difficulty of finding good restaurants at which to eat on sleepy Sunday evenings?that we'll pass along the following news: Beacon, Malouf's newish midtown restaurant, is now open on Sunday evenings between 4 and 9 p.m.?which means that, while lesser restaurants are sleeping, you can be comfortably ensconced on W. 56th St. eating Malouf's special Sunday three-course prix fixe: grilled red onion and watercress salad with mustard vinaigrette and goat cheese; wood-roasted and cider-glazed ham with grilled apples and mustard; and wood-roasted prime rib of beef with whole-garlic confit and a horseradish/salt crust. (Darn?and we've just installed in our home a special basement prayer chamber, in which to wile away our Sunday evenings in more efficient communion with Our Lord.) Reservations at 332-0517.
Beacon's also open Christmas Eve, and it would probably be a nice place to spend the holiday. It's at 25 W. 56th St. (betw. 5th & 6th Aves.). Phone: 332-0500.
Also for Christmas: Chelsea Bistro & Bar, that wonderfully snug and wine-lighted and fireplace-warmed and semi-subterranean restaurant on 23rd St., will be open both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and serving the excellent "Christmas in Alsace" menu that it's presented before. Fifty-five dollars ($24.95 for kids under 10) buys you a prix fixe menu from which you get to choose one of the following dishes: a terrine of foie gras or a butternut squash soup or escargots as an appetizer; then a choucroute or the roast duck or the filet mignon as main course; finally a warm apple tart, flourless Valrhona chocolate cake or a creme brulee. The restaurant's at 358 W. 23rd St. (betw. 8th & 9th Aves.). Phone: 727-2026.
Chef Alfred Portale's offering a Christmas Eve prix fixe at his Gotham Bar & Grill, too. It will be served between 5:30 and 11 p.m. The cost is $85, and $35 for children. We've received no menu information yet, but of course there's no reason to think that Portale should present you anything that's less than good.
Gotham Bar & Grill, 12 E. 12th St. (betw. 5th Ave. & University Pl.). Phone: Call 620-4020 for more information and reservations.
The Upper East Side bistro Trois Jean in November commenced an event called "A Gastronomic Tour de France," which means that?in celebration, and effeminate imitation, of Lance Armstrong's victorious progress through the Tour de France this year?the restaurant's cooking its way through "eight of France's most distinctive gastronomic regions."
Which means? Thus: November, and Trois Jean dedicated itself to cooking Lyonnais, whipping up pike quenelles and other specialties beloved by the robust burghers of what's sometimes called France's greatest culinary city. Now we're looking at December, and the region in question is Champagne, so we're talking...pheasant, that area's salient game bird, braised with cabbage, as it seems always to be. Also poached Dover sole, chicken with a champagne sauce (and spangled with black truffle if you'd like, and if you're willing to pony up), and cheeses like Chaource, Langres and Carre de L'Est?along with, as you can imagine, a bunch of sparkling wines. Call 988-4858 for reservations. Trois Jean's at 154 E. 79th St. (betw. Lexington & 3rd Aves.).
Since the late unpleasantness with the turkey is now behind us, and since time's rainbow arcs a straight and unencumbered curve toward Christmas, how about that most hoary and lovable of seasonable devices?a Christmas tale?
It begins one frosty Christmas Day afternoon when our grandmother proudly yanked from the oven what we came to refer to as the Turkey Weeble. An odd thing: an aerodynamic and egg-shaped lump of reconstituted flesh, absent skin, absent extremities. Taut and rubbery?ever pet a dolphin??and if we'd accidentally dropped the thing on the kitchen's terra-cotta floor it probably would have bounced and zinged around like an outsized Superball. Stifling chortles we carved the beast, then desecrated the spongy bologna-like slabs that saddled our plates to a violent enough extent to make it seem credible that we'd each consumed at least a bit.
The Turkey Weeble! Apparently the good woman was under the impression that the monstrosity would appeal to the vegans and vegetarians that, she'd learned, had begun to infiltrate the younger generation of her widening brood.
Grandma! You'd have done better with a straight-up tofu turkey! Like one of the models stocked in preparation for Christmas at Commodities Natural Market and Integral Yoga Natural Foods, for example. Commodities sells a marinated and baked tofu mass sculpted into a miniature replica of the real bird. Manufactured by the Fresh Tofu Co., it weighs about 2 pounds and goes for 15 bucks. Integral, meanwhile, is peddling a large frozen version by Now & Zen ($37), and both establishments carry the Tofurky ($18 at Commodities, $20 at Integral), which is a sort of vegan holiday?and God knows no one knows how to throw a holiday like a vegan?in a box. Like the Weeble, the Tofurky's kind of ball-shaped. Unlike the Weeble, though, it's molded out of soy protein and tempeh, and jammed full of a wild rice and cranberry stuffing. Tofurky "giblet" gravy and four tempeh drumsticks come alongside; a Tofurky jerky Wishstix, over which your cousins can rumble after the feast, is included, not without a certain pathos.
How do these pure-protein critters taste? Like shit, basically. And we wouldn't recommend them at all if you've got carte blanche with the fourth food group. On the other hand, though, vegetarians seem to like making sacrifices, so they shouldn't mind a bit. Suckers.
Commodities Natural Market is at 165 1st Ave. (betw. 10th & 11th Sts.). Their phone number is 260-2600. Integral Yoga Natural Foods is at 229 W. 13th St. (betw. 7th & 8th Aves.), 243-2642.
Contributors: Beth Broome, Andrey Slivka. E-mail tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 244-9864.