Cook Me Somethin’, Mister

Renowned chefs school Shindigger on springtime culinary must-haves

Cindi Leive Toasts  Glamour’s New  Fashion Director, Jillian Davison. (Photo by Patrick McMullan)

Cindi Leive toasts Glamour’s new fashion director, Jillian Davison. (Photo by Patrick McMullan)

Last week, Shindigger was on the hunt for something epic to serve at our first spring dinner party. Soon, New Yorkers of a certain ilk will opt halfheartedly for the steamed quinoa, the kale juice and the black sea bass as they condition their torsos and brachia for summer pleasure. For now, we can still enjoy calorie-sodden meals polished off with premier single malts and little trays of toffee.  

As we prepared for the grand feast, we asked a number of experts which ingredients they like to serve at this time of year. 

First was Braden Reardon, head chef at the Wayfarer, a recently launched seafood eatery on Central Park South.

“I love the representation of spring on the menu,” said Mr. Reardon. “It means the doldrums are over and no more root vegetables.” He forecast heaps of legumes and ramps soon thrilling diners across the city.

“We already have fava beans in our new arugula salad,” he added, admitting he tended “to get excited about ingredients that are tough to get on the East Coast.”

“My favorite is broccoli di cicco from Mariquita Farm in California.” But don’t expect him to cook it for you. “When I get my hands on it, I’ll be eating it all myself!”

IRC New Roots spokesperson David Burke was more willing to share his coveted ingredients. 

“Radishes are great because of their versatility,” he proclaimed. “During the warmer seasons, I throw them on the grill with a couple of scallions, then top it all with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. It’s the perfect light lunch, or paired with a grilled chicken breast and a glass of white wine, the quintessential summer dinner.” 

“My secret ingredient in spring is nigella,” offered chef Michael Citarella, who helms Lisle Richards and Eric Marx’s swanky new establishment, the Monarch Room.

“Nigella?”

“It’s a spice not often used in American cooking,” Mr. Citarella elaborated, calling it similar to black cumin rather than a certain leggy TV personality. “I’ve been using it for years to make a sauce combined with spring garlic, almonds and chicken stock”—whereas the other would undoubtedly be combined with cocaine.

“I’ve used it with soft-shell crabs, shrimp and langoustines,” the chef continued. “It also pairs really well with spring vegetables—asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, peas.”

We now had a solid grasp on what to serve and had only one mystery left: Which ingredients should we plop into our spring cocktails?

We turned to Zach Tirone, boozemaster of the LCL: Bar & Kitchen, for his springtime libation du jour.

“Our favorite secret cocktail ingredient for spring is our house-made Thai chile Aperol,” Mr. Tirone divulged. “Aperol is like spring’s version of Campari, and giving it a kick with chilies makes us ready for warmer weather.” He recommended combining the infused Aperol with Casamigos Tequila and fresh grapefruit juice, a drink they call the Spicy Paloma at the LCL. “It’s one of our favorites,” he said.

We told him tequila was consistently one of ours.