Villanelle 

There are a handful of restaurants in New York City that I refer to as hidden gems. These hidden gems you all learn about through various ways. What you are unaware of are the city’s precious gems. Some restaurants I enjoy so much, I tend to keep them as little secrets for myself to enjoy. Such is the case with Villanelle

Yes, the name sounds exotic, but this restaurant is much more than a clever name. Chef Nick Licata creates his own Villanelle at the namesake Greenwich Village restaurant and truly represents the meaning of word. Like the 19 lined poem depicting pastoral scenes of Italy, Chef Licata has a 19 item menu that highlights the freshest ingredients from the neighboring Union Square Farmers Market. 
My first visit to Villanelle was during the opening week in early March. Of course I was warmly welcomed by eager staff with gleaming smiles. I made myself comfortable at the bar, and the bartenders made sure I was comfortable too. Hospitable and absolutely delicious, my immediate impression was ‘I must return’! 

A few weeks later, I did return and sat at a table. Once again warmly welcomed. The difference this visit, though, was my sense of familiarity. I couldn’t help having repeat dishes from my first visit like Chef Licata’s crispy octopus. Known as his signature dish, the octopus is steamed for two hours before gently fried; served with a mouth watering pomme purée and coveted spring favorite, nettles. The house made cavatelli with black pepper is served with fresh market asparagus and a hen egg. Similar to a carbonara, the cavatelli has a subtilty that contributes to its appeal. The silky slow poached Arctic Char with sorrel, dill oil and plenty of roe is a dish I hope will be on the menu for some time. 

On my most recent visit, I once again opted for the bar. Just missing their newly launched oyster happy hour which is from 5:30pm to 7pm, I instead enjoyed the Cured Thai Snapper. This tartare style dish is accompanied by radishes from the farmers market, though that may change based on availability. The snapper is cured in a curry pulp, which is made from banana, kaffir lime leaves, kombu, thai chilies, and offers a refreshing kick! 

Desserts at Villanelle are some of the most delicious I’ve had. Chef Licata and Chef de Partie Christian Grindrod have collaboratively exposed a broad range of flavors from ingredients found at the farmers market. They bake parsnip root then butter-braise it, and serve it with white chocolate. It’s skin, thinly shaved, turns into a delicious crisp that encases the vegetable. It makes for a creamy, buttery dessert that is rich, uniquely flavored and utterly satisfying. A watermelon sorbet is served under a baked meringue crisp with fresh shelled peas which is served with a soft meringue, mint oil and fresh mint. Think pavlova, but with components more interesting than fruit. 

One of my new favorites, Villanelle is a restaurant I look forward to visiting again and again! 
Villanelle is located at 15 E. 12th Street between University Place and 5th Avenue, 212-989-2474, http://www.villanellenyc.com @villanellenyc. The restaurants serves dinner Monday – Thursday 5:30pm – 10:30pm; Friday & Saturday 5:30pm – 11:30pm; Lunch Monday – Friday 12:00pm – 2:30pm Closed Sunday. Happy Hour Monday – Friday 5:30pm – 7pm offers six East Coast oysters and a glass of wine, beer, sherry or cider for $15. 
Original publish date, May, 2017 

At Home Soigné Sample Menu 

At Home Soigné is accommodating to all allergies and dietary restrictions. The menu below is an example. We are willing and able to customize a menu to fit your appetite, your budget, and your at home occasion. 

Warm & Cold appetizers 

Vegetable Frito Misto with a Sweet Pea Ricotta ~ crispy cauliflower, broccoli rabe, artichoke and asparagus tossed with an herb salt, and dill. 

Or

Warm Ceci Bean Salad with Castelvetrano Olives ~ roasted ceci beans with shallots, pea tendrils, and castelvetrano olives.

Warm & Cold salads 

Beet salad ~ roasted and pickled beets, cara cara oranges, almonds, duck prosciutto. 
Or

Fiseé and Mache salad ~ pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, warm oyster mushrooms with a red wine vinaigrette. 

Entrees 

Salmon or Arctic Char ~ spring onion soubise. Soubise is a spring onion purée that consists of green olive oil.

Or 
Lamb Trio ~ marguez sausage, confit lamb ribs, roasted lamb loin with baby carrots, fava bean and parsley jus.

Or 

Herb Roasted Chicken ~ olive oil crushed potatoes, mushrooms and jus.

Desserts

Olive Oil Cake ~ candied hazelnuts, passion fruit coulis. 

Or

Chocolate panna cotta ~ candied hazelnuts, passion fruit coulis. 

Eggs En Cocotte 

Yes, it’s March and in New York we had a little taste of Spring. But, the blizzard storm Stella gave me the perfect excuse to coupe up, and turn my oven on. 

What is known as a popular hangover dish is actually one of my favorite breakfast pleasures – without the hangover. I needed to use my tomatoes and I had arugula that was on the brink. My fridge is always full of at least four kinds of cheese, (I am a proud cheese head) so, I decided to make myself one of my favorite treats for my adult snow day! 

#athomesoigné 

Frenching. 

Frenching, such a wonderful techinque!  It certainly is a talent we all should learn if we want to impress the ones we love. It takes finesse, patience, a bit of natural talent, but definitely a great deal of skill. It also requires a very sharp knife. 

I am speaking about frenching bones, of course. Removing the meat from the tips of its bones adds a great deal of elegance and looks absolutely beautiful. Think of it as the bowtie of your meat! It adds flair, and is oh, so sexy! 

After a few tips, this daunting task will seem simple. You can apply it to just about any meat; lamb, pork, poultry, beef, even venison if you’re so inclined. The important things to remember are to buy what you can afford, (because meats are expensive), and to be careful when using a very sharp knife. 

The first cut will always be the easiest. Follow the natural slant of the meat, and use smooth strokes rather than sawing the meat. Cut down and out at an angle, but remember to keep your knife steady and straight. Cutting through the membrane and scraping the bones of your meat is the most tedious and requires patience. Using the blunt side of your knife, or your fingers can be helpful, but the sharp blade of a knife will save time! 


                                                                      #athomesoigné