Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
Copyright all rights reserved
All food photos are of real food with no photoshop
The inimitable and irrepressible Travelling Gourmet goes to the “Big Apple” and listens to…
MUSIC Maestro Cole Porter’s melodies played on his very own priceless Steinway piano in Peacock Alley…The piano was crafted in 1907 by the Queen’s piano maker. Ahhh…mon Dieu et OMG! I adore Cole Porter and his amazingly good music and lyrics which he wrote. Very few composers and performers can write the music as well as the lyrics that go with the song. Cole Porter was one of them…The icing on the cake is that the Sunday Brunch in the Peacock Alley is one of the most scrumptious and absolutely spiffing Sunday Brunches I have ever had the pleasure of savouring! The choice, the spread, the food quality, the presentation, and original signatures dishes created in the Waldorf Astoria itself like the Waldorf Salad and the Red Velvet cake are out of this world!
Cole “Begin the Beguine” Porter actually lived in an apartment on the 33rd floor of the Tower of the Waldorf Astoria from 1934 to 1964. If you are well heeled, you can rent Cole Porter’s old pad for just US$140,000 a month…Marketed by real estate company Brown Harris Stevens, the six bedroom apartment is fully furnished and comes equipped with a marble entryway, Sub-Zero appliances, eagle’s eye views of Park Avenue and historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In pride of place is a plaque celebrating its most celebrated resident. In his apartment, Cole Porter composed his immortal HIT songs like “Don’t Fence Me In” and “You’re the Top,” which includes the famous lyric…”You’re the top, you’re a Waldorf salad.”
The beautiful summer morning began when my alarm rang on my trusty Titanium Breitling watch. I love titanium. It is 600 times stronger than steel. The dial read 07:00. A work out at the high tech Gym and then it was off to a light breakfast before…BRUNCH! Brunch at the opulent Peacock Alley in the legendary Waldorf Astoria…
Food, Glorious FOOD!
I tucked into crisp and mouth-watering Waldorf Salad with Granny Smith apples…it was so very delicious & went so well with the champagne and Cole Porter’s music. By an amazing coincidence, my friend, Wendy the pianist, was playing “You’re the Top” at the same time! Oh Madonna! The Waldorf Salad was created here too.
There are many lovely desserts to try including Baked Alaska flambéed by the Chef a al minute with a Blowtorch. The classic signature Red Velvet Cake was invented here in the 1930s. The classic and ORIGINAL version is made with real Beetroot juice unlike imitations. Tastewise…heavenly and simply sublime! A moist texture and not too sweet but exploding with Vanilla and Beetroot flavors. I love a place where it almost seems as if you are transported back to the era of Cole Porter and Café Society
The then-newly opened Waldorf Hotel in New York (pre-cursor to the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel that was established in 1897)..Waldorf Salad created here by Oscar Tschirky, the hotel’s legendary maître d’, known as “Oscar of the Waldorf”.has become an iconic ubiquitous dish. Young and old, rich and not so rich, all over the globe food lovers still crave for this essentially healthy salad served in restaurants…almost 120 years later. A signature classic, it is forever on the menu at the Waldorf Astoria New York.
Keep It Simple Sweetheart
“The original Waldorf Salad recipe was very simple indeed” commented David Garcelon, Executive Chef at the Waldorf Astoria New York explained, “It was just celery, apple and mayonnaise, mixed together and served on a bed of lettuce.”
Of Oscar, Garcelon revealed, “He was a man about town and a popular public figure, the equivalent of a celebrity chef nowadays. The recipe was included in his cookbook, also published in 1896, which helped popularize the dish far beyond the hotel and its guests.”
“We’ve tweaked it over the years: today, we use celery root instead of celery, a truffle vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise, and we garnish it with grapes, baby arugula and candied walnuts,” says Garcelon. “But it’s the same basic dish, and we still serve more than 20,000 of those salads each year!”
Yet another iconic dish conceived here is the …Eggs Benedict in the late 1800s.
Legend has it that a certain Mr Lemuel Benedict requested toast, bacon, poached eggs, and a small pitcher of Hollandaise Sauce to help treat a hangover one morning in 1894 at the Waldorf-Astoria. It would seem that Mr Benedict was the first to recognize the therapeutic effects of Eggs Benedict after over indulging in I & I (GI slang in Vietnam for Intoxication and …). I adore the Eggs Benedict here with sexy, savoury, creamy Hollandaise Sauce that caresses the Egg plus crispy edged Bacon…REAL pork Bacon and no imposters like turkey bacon. C’mon, bacon is pork and turkey is poultry so there is actually NO such thing as turkey “bacon”! Awhile ago, some imposter tried to used my Moniker “The Travelling Gourmet TM” My dear lawyer friend was all set to sue him to bankruptcy. Being the kind soul that I am, I instructed my lawyer to tell the asinine imposter to “Cease and Desist” immediately. The creep did so. It was an offer he could not possibly refuse. Perhaps that is why I am also known as “Il Padrino della gastronomia” (The Godfather of Gastronomy”
.How about “1000 Island Salad Dressing”? D’accord, dear food lover, it too was conceptualized here at the turn of the 20th century.
Waldorf Astoria New York
301, Park Avenue
New York 10022-6897
Tel: (212) 355 3000
One of Cole Porter’s greatest hits…”Begin the Beguine”
[To be continued…
More to follow…]