Delicious Detox—Nourish Kitchen + Table

Photos by Lauren DeFilippo

The most fit and happy cooks will tell you their secret is simply to make healthy meals taste as good—or better—than their favorite indulgences. But for those of us who are intimidated by cooking at home, getting off to the right start can be a struggle. Cue Nourish Kitchen + Table in New York City’s West Village.

Weekender Entree Salad

Weekender Entree Salad

The shop grew out of nutritionist Marissa Lippert’s work with her clients; she saw the need for a healthy takeaway shop that provides the “comfort of a kitchen away from home.” Nourish has expanded that mission to include a few eat-in tables with views into an open kitchen, offering the friendly calm one hopes for (but too seldom finds) in the city’s many coffee shops.

On the subject of caffeine, Nourish offers top-notch Counter Culture coffee and Harney & Sons teas, but serious detoxers will appreciate Lippert’s custom line of juices and smoothies. Among them, a green juice for the vegetable juice-averse, spruced up with a bright splash of grapefruit, pineapple and the mild heat of jalapeno.

Detox Salad and Frittata

Detox Salad and Frittata

But the drinks are only a drop in Nourish’s nutritional bucket. From the savory side of the menu, we sampled a raw kale “detox salad”. With exotic flavors and diverse texture (sesame oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, almonds, pear and watermelon radish), this is far from your average health food. A second “weekender entree” salad—chock-full with crispy duck confit, dried cherries, sunflower seeds, sliced radish, tarragon, parsley, scallion and candied orange peel—offered similar complexity, growing more exciting with each bite.

Black Quinoa Salad, Roasted Chicken and Sunchokes

Black Quinoa Salad, Roasted Chicken and Sunchokes

In short, the deprivation most people associate with “detoxing” is the antithesis of Nourish Kitchen’s mission. The menu tends toward Middle Eastern flavors, similar to the style of celebrated Israel-born chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. Though the dishes change with the quality and seasonality of local produce (as well as Marissa’s creativity), each plate consistently includes bright and bold flavors. For example, the shop always offers a roasted chicken recipe (when we visited, lacquered with date syrup and spices). Its sticky, caramelized glaze paired perfectly with roasted sunchokes and a black quinoa salad with walnuts, sundried tomatoes, parsley and edamame. It was a sweet, earthy feast that both top chefs and personal trainers would enjoy.

The menu doesn’t stop at satisfying dinners. For brunch, a rotating cast of veggies fill a fluffy frittata—the ideal way to refuel after an intense morning workout (or a long night out). And for those with a sweet tooth, you can’t miss “Bebe’s coconut macaroons”, snowballs of shaved coconut with a crispy crust and moist, sticky interior (naked or dipped in dark chocolate).

Bebe’s Macaroons and Sweet Potato Bundt Cake

Bebe’s Macaroons and Sweet Potato Bundt Cake

Among the other sweets we sampled: “Persian” wedding cookies and a sweet potato bundt cake. Light and crumbly, the former are inspired by traditional mexican wedding cookies, with the middle eastern twist of pistachio and rosewater. The bundt was dense, moist, laced with chocolate shavings and topped with a subtle orange glaze. It was the kind of cake that literally melts in your mouth, but had a grounded sweetness that wouldn’t prompt a sugar spike.

If dessert doesn’t get your heart racing, the small, expertly curated shelves of aspirational kitchenware will easily seduce you. Stocked with exceptional everyday objects—from cookbooks, to design-driven dishware and even Lior Lev Sercarz’s celebrated spice blends—it’s the ideal place to pick up a special gift for friends.

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In short, there’s a lot going on in Nourish’s small space, and the brand’s ambitions continue to grow. Lippert has already launched a catering division and has future plans for an online boutique. Yet no matter the number of moving parts, her end result is wholly coherent: diverse dishes that play extraordinarily well together and an eccentric, but clean design aesthetic.

Of all the shop’s assets, none surpass the rare experience of raving about plates that are as energizing as they are exceptional—digging in, not with guilt, but with good intentions. In that sense, Nourish Kitchen + Table couldn’t be more aptly named. For your eyes, mouth, mind, body—and soul—it is a deeply satisfying experience. So don’t just come for the takeout. Stay a while, and indulge in the rewards of your resolutions.

eater's digest: take root

 Photos by Lauren DeFilippo

There are many labels you could apply to the tasting menu at Brooklyn's Take Root: farm-to-table, sustainable, seasonal. But these increasingly popular, conscious-consumer terms still miss the mark. For while this intimate—verging on tiny—restaurant is all of those things, it is, most importantly, attentive. Attentive in the sense that Chef Elise Kornack has an uncanny awareness of her ingredients and, in turn, encourages diners to take note of her unusual culinary perspective.

Amuse bouche

If it sounds like I'm gearing up to make a bold claim, I am. My meal at Take Root was the most texturally perfect series of plates that I've ever tasted.

Starting with the amuse bouche. A play on carrots and circles, combining caviar-like spheres with crunchy disks and a delicate puree. It was a leitmotif of flavor in a tiny bowl, a question of what is a carrot, and yet, easy to enjoy without considering any of this. The lingering flavor of incredibly fresh mint made this dish doubly worth the while.

Egg

Then came a soft boiled egg with paprika mayonnaise, pickled onions and mustard seeds, rustic bread and home-whipped butter. I've never been a big fan of deviled eggs, but I appreciated the contrasting textures of this more challenging deconstruction, particularly the mustard seed. As for the aerated butter, that deserves its own rave review.

Squid

Next was an appetizer of tender rings of calamari, delicate peppery arugula and crisp lady apples with creamy cranberry beans. It was mild, but still dynamic—the type of dish that is best appreciated on a fresh palate.

French onion soup

Then came a surprise course, an evolved French onion soup. The deeply flavorful, strained broth and wafter-thin pain de mie toasts with a smear of midnight moon gouda was a revelation. Food this thought-out is typically outside of the realm of craving. But if you asked me what I'd like to eat every day for the next month, I'd choose this soup.

A pause to recognize one of the other truly impressive parts of dining at Take Root—their playlist. Curated by Elise's partner, Anna, the mix of Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux and Alexi Murdoch (to name a few) perfectly fit the mellow space and pace of the meal. In a city where so many restaurants prefer rock and hip-hop, it highlighted Take Root as the exception, a more subtle escape from New York's hectic pace.

Egg noodles

Back to the menu, hand-rolled egg noodles arrived in a delicate sauce of sweet corn milk. Dotted among the coils were briny salmon roe, adding a savory counter flavor to the sweetness of the dish. The following course was a striped bass with shatteringly crunchy skin, tender baby eggplants and meyer lemon hollandaise. Despite its mix of unexpected ingredients, the dish was perfectly balanced. Neither the aerated hollandaise or creamy eggplant overpowered the flavor of the wild bass.

Striped bass

As the evening slowly unfolded, we reached the chicken course, which featured multiple cuts from the same animal. Feather-light croquettes deflated beneath their remarkably crispy crust, while the surprisingly gamey breast proved surprisingly moist. The liver mousse was my favorite of all, creating a funky contrast with the essence-of-grape intensity of the halved concords scattered around the plate.

Fleisher's chicken

For dessert, Elise presented an almond semifreddo—a reminder of what almond should taste like, with a light, silky texture to boot. And I couldn't get over the beautiful hue of the elephant heart plums, dragging the ragged, ripped sponge cake through the intensely colored, sweet-tart plum coulis.

Almond semifreddo

Though some dishes were more experimental than others, the multi-course tasting fit together like a patchwork quilt. With no national or cultural cuisine to stitch them together, Elise's unique perspective on cooking tied together the disparate dishes. The experience is unusually personal, clearly revealing the chef's hyper-focused palate and culinary intentions.

In a day and age when "foodies" troll reality TV and read Food Network Magazine for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their favorite chef, it's refreshing to remember that much of what we want to know can be communicated on the plate. Like any great novelist or painter, true chefs need only provide the bearings inherent to their work. And while Elise and her partner Anna are happy to tell you more, the best part of the meal might be that they don't have to.

Take Root
187 Sackett St, Brooklyn
Thurs-Sat, 8pm seating

behind the knives: anthony ricco of spice market

Photos by Lauren DeFilippo

It’s said that those who can’t, teach. But when it comes to cooking, Spice Market’s Executive Chef Anthony Ricco is a master at both.

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Before enrolling in a Culinary Arts program at the Institute of Culinary Education, Ricco was working as a prep cook at the China Grill. He says, “My brother forced me to go to ICE because I was holding on to the brochure for almost a year, and he knew I had talent in the kitchen, but I was wasting it. ICE helped me find my culinary voice by giving me access to quality product and excellent teachers who are very talented chefs.”

After graduation, Ricco worked at a restaurant in Long Island City, then found a position at Jean Georges, where he spent three years working every station in the kitchen. Then, he received an offer to work at one of Jean-George Vongerichten’s other New York restaurants, Spice Market.

Chili tapioca

Chili tapioca

When considering whether or not to take the position, Ricco recalls being motivated by one detail—or rather, one dish: tuna ribbons with chili tapioca, asian pear and lime in a chilled lime-coconut broth. Last month, fifteen lucky students had the chance to relive Ricco’s sense of culinary discovery, in a “Light Asian Flavors” class at his alma mater.

Plating tuna ribbons with chili tapioca and asian pear

Plating tuna ribbons with chili tapioca and asian pear

It wasn’t Chef Anthony’s first time teaching at ICE. This past winter, I was one of a handful of students who he taught to prepare the “Signature Dishes of Spice Market.” Despite the complexity of the restaurant’s recipes, it was clear that there were intensely flavorful components that I could recreate at home. From the restaurant’s signature chili oil to a spicy, tangy ginger vinaigrette or a crunchy garnish of garlic chips, each element was a clear and accessible entry into the processes by which professionals layer flavor to create a winning dish.

Seasoning chicken with an Indonesian spice rub

Seasoning chicken with an Indonesian spice rub

Needless to say, when I showed up for my second class with Chef Anthony, it was no surprise to see that I wasn’t his only repeat student. This time, I was charged with making white pepper ice cream and a spiced passion fruit simple syrup. Being more of a savory cook, it was a challenge outside my comfort zone, but involved techniques that I was eager to learn.

In fact, that’s where Chef Anthony’s strength lies. He understands that the flavors and culinary style he works with every day are foreign to most American home cooks, and makes sure that every student, no matter what recipe they are personally assigned, has the chance to learn the techniques behind the various elements of each dish. That’s how I ended up not only making ice cream and simple syrup, but also breaking down a chicken and a red snapper (both for the first time).

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And of course, given that he manages a staff of more than sixty at Spice Market, it was no surprise that Chef Anthony was able to supervise and motivate our motley crew of amateur cooks to churn out such advanced dishes. After four hours of cooking, that was the ultimate reward: to be transported by pungent, spicy, sweet flavors to the far reaches of Asia—or at least, Spice Market, which is a destination in itself.

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Tuna and Chili Tapioca with Asian Pear
*Adapted for home cooks by Chef Ricco

Tapioca (about 20 servings)

  • 7 oz. large pearl tapioca
  • 5 shallots peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 ancho chilies toasted and chopped
  • 9 chipotle peppers toasted & chopped
  • 6 dried thai chilies
  • 4 tbs. Annatto seeds
  • ¼ c. Grape seed oil
  • 1 tsp. Cloves toasted
  • 4 cinnamon sticks toasted and smashed
  • 1 tbs. Sichuan peppercorns crushed
  • 4 tbs. Salt
  • 3 tbs. Sugar
  • 7 c. Water
  • Chili oil
  • 1 tsp. Salt to finish

Sweat all but tapioca, sugar, salt and water in oil until golden. Add water, salt and sugar and bring to boil, simmer for 30 minutes then strain thru a chinois. Bring back to a boil then add tapioca and cook, stirring until clear. Drain under cold running water until cool. Put in a container and just cover with chili oil, then season with salt and reserve.

Lime-Coconut Broth

  • 5 stalks lemongrass
  • 40 kaffir leaves washed & chopped
  • 1 green finger chili washed & chopped
  • 3 c. coconut juice
  • ¾ c. coconut milk
  • ¾ c. lime juice + 3 oz to finish
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 1½ tsp. Salt

Clean, crush and finely chop lemongrass. Combine coconut juice, milk, chili, lime juice, sugar and salt and bring to boil. Add lemongrass and kaffir, mix well and let cool, uncovered. Strain through chinois and finish with lime juice.

To Serve

  • Tuna
  • Tapioca
  • Asian pear, peeled, cut into ¼” diamonds
  • Jicama, peeled and cut into ¼” diamonds
  • Red bell pepper char grilled, peel, cut in ¼” diamonds
  • Scallion greens cut on bias
  • Lime coconut broth

Slice tuna into 1” long, ½” wide and ⅛” thick pieces. Serve 10 pieces per plate. Arrange in a chilled shallow medium size bowl and fold each piece in half. Season tuna with salt then scatter with chili tapioca, then with jicama and pear. Sprinkle with scallions and then scatter with red pepper. Cover halfway with coconut-lime infusion and serve.