The Waldorf Salad: History, New Twists on a Classic + a Refresh Recipe Contest

The Waldorf salad has a history almost as storied as that of its namesake hotel, and it is an enduring item on the menus at Bull & Bear Steakhouse, Oscar’s, and Peacock Alley at the Waldorf Astoria in New YorkDive into the salad’s delicious past and learn about new dishes and drink inspired by this sublime salad. Then, get details on the “California Walnuts Waldorf Salad Refresh Recipe Contest” happening on Pinterest for a chance to win $5,000 and a trip to New York City — and to have your recipe featured on the legendary Waldorf Astoria menu!

When I was growing up, my maternal grandmother kept a framed illustration of a Waldorf salad recipe on the wall of her cozy Bronx kitchen. Even though her picture dated back to the seventies, my younger self was surprised to learn the dish predated it by many decades. My nana, as we called her, never made me the apple-celery-walnut-and-mayonnaise salad in the picture, but when I first sampled a forkful of its crisp, cool, and creamy goodness at a restaurant, I was hooked, just like other eaters have been for more than a century. It reminded me of a sweet-ish version of another culinary stalwart I adore: the savory Olivier salad with its diced potatoes, carrots, peas, and — yep! — mayonnaise. Olivier salad dates from the mid-nineteenth century, and it’s entirely plausible that it inspired the Waldorf salad thirty short years later.

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Just three years after the Waldorf Hotel opened its doors in 1893 in its original location, and a year prior to joining with the Astoria Hotel (connected then by Peacock Alley), maître d’hôtel Oscar Tschirsky (1866-1950), known as Oscar of the Waldorf, invented the namesake Waldorf salad for its first-ever banquet. The recipe was also included in his cookbook published in the same year. The original recipe, written in a very Escoffier-esque way (pictured above). called for diced apples and celery dressed with mayonnaise. It apparently proved popular with the famed French chef, as he created his own version that, according to current Waldorf Astoria executive chef David Garcelon, included walnuts.

Since the superfood that is walnuts first added their crunch to this beloved salad, the dish has undergone several iterations in the 100 years it has been continuously served on all of the hotel restaurant menus. Garcelon says, “I believe it was my predecessor, chef John Doherty, who added black truffle and used crème fraîche in the dressing, as well as the combination of red and green apples.” Garcelon revisited the recipe again in 2012 — with care and caution. “My foremost concern in refreshing the recipe is that it is, by far, our biggest selling dish in every outlet. So I wanted to update it but not make a drastic change. Also, I think it is important to keep the foundation of the dish rooted in the original version,” he says.

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July Restaurant Weeks: Summer Dining for Less

dineLA 2015 AOC dish blog copyAs we welcome the start of summer, we’re pleased to share the steals on meals you can take advantage of in cities across North America. Find out where July restaurant weeks are happening near you!

* Toronto Summerlicious has what you crave with $18, $23 + $28 lunches and $25, $35 + $45 dinners, July 3-26. Book a table.

Mpls St. Paul Magazine Restaurant Week invites you to make the most of Twin Cities dining with $10-$20 lunches and $15-$30 dinners, July 12-17. Book a table.

* Providence Restaurant Weeks serves up perfection in the way of $14.95 lunches and $29.95 or $34.95 dinners, July 12-25. Book a table.

* Chicago French Restaurant Week is your opportunity to eat, drink, and be French with magnifique meals priced at $17.89, $35.78, and/or $178.90, July 13-19. Réserver une table.

* NYC French Restaurant Week asks you to say oui to dining deals during Bastille Week with revolutionary prices of $17.89, $35.78, and/or $178.90, July 13-19.  Réserver une table.

* Clayton Restaurant Week in Missouri has three-course gourmet dinners for just $25, July 13-19. Book a table.

* dineLA has deals that will leave you starstruck with $15, $20 + $25 lunches and $30, $40 + $50 dinners at more than 250 restaurants, including AOC (which will be offering its torchio pasta with baby broccoli, roasted tomato, chili + breadcrumbs, pictured), July 13-26. Book a table.Continue Reading

Scenes from the OpenTable Aspen Food & Wine Classic Champagne + Sushi Party #FWClassic

The 2015 Aspen Food & Wine Classic was held this past weekend, and OpenTable was there to help celebrate the best in food and wine as curated by our friends at Food & Wine magazine. Since no celebration would be complete without bubbles, we were pleased to host our second annual Champagne-centric soiree at Matushisa Aspen with famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa. ICYMI, we present a few scenes from the OpenTable Aspen Food & Wine Classic Champagne + Sushi party.

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Chef Nobu was in the house, which makes sense because he owns it, as was OpenTable’s Leela Srinivasan.

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There was sushi, obviously.

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And chef Eric Ripert, too.

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There were a lot of other fun food + wine people there also, but the Champagne never ran dry despite our efforts.

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PSA: Don’t go chasin’ waterfalls — unless they’re Krug waterfalls. Then by all means…

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It’s not a Food & Wine party without the mag’s editor-in-chief Dana Cowin and Maria Sinskey of Sinskey Winery (Do you see what I did there?).Continue Reading

2015 Top 100 Outdoor Dining Restaurants in Canada + 10 Most Instagrammable Patios

Dust off your sandals and bust out the sunscreen, diners! Summer is here, and to kick things off we’re unveiling the 2015 Top 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in Canada. The awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 275,000 restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 1,600 restaurants in Canada.

Featuring restaurants that offer some of Canada’s most stunning views and dining experiences, the complete list includes winners from picturesque regions such as Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Stanley Park, British Columbia, and Banff, Alberta. Ontario leads all provinces with 41 winning restaurants, followed by British Columbia with 28, Alberta with 18, and Québec with 12. Restaurants associated with wineries, such as Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery in Oliver, British Columbia, and Vineland Estates Winery Restaurant in Vineland, Ontario, are well represented among the winning restaurants.

Forget phone etiquette for a moment when you visit any of these honorees, and open your Instagram app to share snaps of these fabulous outdoor seating areas.  Need inspiration? Check out 10 of the most Instagrammable restaurant patios from this year’s Top 100 below.

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