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

Nine Showstopping Popcorn Dishes to Celebrate Blockbuster Season

Independence Day is almost here, and ahead of this epic movie-going weekend, we’re wondering which will be the big winner at the box office on July 4th (not to mention the summer). Jurassic World might claw its way to the top of the heap. Maybe Minions will take over the world. Or perhaps Terminator: Genisys will be the supersized success of the season. When the movie studios start binging on blockbusters, we get hungry for popcorn – and not just at the theater. Lucky for us, sweet and savory preparations featuring the puffy kernels have been popping up all over the country. In honor of the instances in which this concession-stand classic steals the show, we present nine show-stopping popcorn dishes to celebrate blockbuster season.

Almanac, New York, New York
Remember those nut-crusted cheese balls your grandmother always made at the holidays? Chef Galen Zamarra created an upscale riff: caramel popcorn-crusted goat cheese. The globe of goodness arrives with semolina crisps and golden raisin-fennel compote.

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Americano Restaurant & Bar, San Francisco, California
There’s an old saying that bacon makes everything better. That certainly holds true with executive chef Josua Perez’s ballpark-inspired bacon-pecan caramel popcorn. The sweet, salty, briny, and buttery snack mix is a certifiable home run.

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The Back Room at One57, New York, New York
There are éclairs and then there is pastry chef Scott Cio’s Cracker Jack éclair. The tubular treat is topped off with slightly salted caramel popcorn. Dig in and don’t worry; there’s not a prize hiding inside.

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Barton G. The Restaurant, Los Angeles, California
You’ll feel like you’re making a trip to the concession stand when you order this fun-loving appetizer. A mix of fried shrimp and Old Bay-spiced popcorn arrive in a chipper red and white retro popcorn maker. The jumble of crispity, crunchity bites is accompanied with Sriracha aioli and sweet chili sesame sauce.

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Dig This: The Best Varieties of Clams + the Delicious Ways Restaurants Are Serving Them This Summer

In the broadest of terms, a clam is a bivalve mollusk with two hard shells that protect the edible, sweet yet briny, exquisite yet simple, meat within. Found in most coastal areas throughout the world, clams are both a reliable dietary staple and a treasured delicacy. Served raw, baked, fried, poached, roasted, steamed, or in chowders, sauces, or stews, the versatility and relative plenitude of clams render them an indispensable seafood pick with chefs from coast to coast. Our seafood markets are brimming with a number of varieties of clams, some wild, some farmed, and all infinitely tasty. Here are the best varieties of clams and the delicious ways restaurants are serving them this summer!

Atlantic Hard Shell Clams at The Clam, New York, New York
Atlantic hard shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria), also known as quahogs (pronounced coe-hog), are the quintessential east coast clam. Quahogs are graded by size, with littlenecks being the smallest (approximately 10-12 clams per pound), followed by top necks (6-10 per pound), cherrystones (3-4 per pound) and chowders (1-2 per pound). The Clam serves up its favorite and eponymous ingredient in a number of expected, and unexpected, dishes: littlenecks on the half shell, clam dip with zesty potato chips, clam and lobster sliders, and grilled white clam pizza, to name just a few.

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Soft Shell Clams at Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston, Massachusetts
Soft shell clams (Mya arenaria) are also popularly called steamers, piss clams, longnecks, or Ipswich clams and are native to our northeast coast. The soft shell name is a bit of a misnomer as the shells are more brittle than soft. Soft shell clams are more oblong in shape than hard shell clams and are distinguished by a long protruding siphon, which the clam uses to both feed and filter the water. A bowl of steamers dipped in melted butter is one of the purest joys of a New England summer, and Island Creek Oyster Bar does not disappoint with its Ipswich steamers served with crusty bread for sopping up the every last drop of clammy goodness. [Photo by Michael Harlan Turkell]

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Razor Clams at Saxon + Parole, New York, New York
Razor clams, shaped like old-fashioned straight razors, are found both on the east and west coasts. East coast razors (Ensis directus) are known as Atlantic jackknife clams. West coast razors (Siliqua patua) are known as Pacific razor clams and are slightly more oval-shaped than their east coast cousin. Prized in Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Korean cuisines, razor clams are now finding their way onto non-Asian menus on both coasts. At Saxon + Parole, chef Brad Farmerie creates razor clam magic by combining steamed razors and egg salad, served with caviar and grilled bread. Brunch will never be the same.

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