It all started with some very posh and glittering tomato red and aubergine menu covers we made for the highly acclaimed New York restaurant SD26, and it ended up with the chef generously sharing a coveted and seasonally perfect SD26 recipe for caponata and a free, 5-course, Chef’s tasting dinner for two, maybe for you! For your chance to win*, please LIKE us on Facebook.
We love SD26 because they offer guests a complete luxury experience that is comfortable and easy yet both immersive and transportive. A menu cover may seem like a small detail, but this place is filled with small nuances that add up to perfection. Not just because we said so. SD26 just received 4 stars from Forbes Magazine in their latest All Star List of New York City of Restaurants. In fact, super-scion Steve Forbes himself called the place “magic” and said that SD26 “has brought an innovative and elegant level of exquisite Italian cuisine to the city.” To that we say Si.
Just as its predecessor, the original, storied and celebrity-filled San Domenico that graced Central Park South for decades, SD26 also faces one of New York’s beautiful landmark parks. Madison Square Park which has been an urban public space for more than 300 years, is the garden spot of one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. Majestic trees with supersaturated green leaves the size of dinner plates and historic clock-towered buildings are on view from the Wine Bar, where a shimmering cocktail on a mid-summer’s eve is about as ridiculously cool an oasis as you’ll find in our city.
Dinner in the main dining room is a civilized respite from whatever in urban life may ail you. The food is truly just like Italy (have the Burrata – just have it) and the wine list has earned Wine Spectator’s Outstanding Wine Programs award both this year and last. The restaurant was designed by the late, legendary Massimo Vignelli. The artwork featured throughout is custom wrought by artist Sheila Hicks whose textile art is on display at museums throughout the country as part of a 50-year retrospective of her graceful and dynamic work. The incomparable Ms. Hicks just installed a new piece herself in the SD26 dining room last month to prepare for the restaurant’s five year anniversary.
We also like SD26 because, like us, they mix old and new technologies to create a one-of-a-kind experience. They understand the grace and old-school touch of an elegant paper menu can complement a wine list offered on an iPad. When SD26 opened in 2009 they were one of the first restaurants in New York City to feature their vast collection of more than 1,100 bottles of wine on ipads throughout the restaurant to help guests learn more about the wines they love – even giving them the option to email themselves the wine label so they can find it again.
The menu covers were a labor of love. One of the final steps was to carefully gold foil stamp each one with the distinctive SD26 logo. Check out the Guru’s video:
Since our menu covers are the warm red of sun-ripened summer tomatoes and the deep aubergine of an eggplant, we asked the restaurant if you, our readers, might have a recipe using these two most yummy of nature’s nightshades. If you have a garden, these should just about be ready. The chef obliged with a rustic and luscious caponata recipe:
Eggplant Caponata Courtesy of Chef Matteo Bergamini, SD26
Serves 6 people
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 Celery stalks, peeled and cut into diamond shapes
2 Tbsp White wine vinegar
½ lb Canned (or fresh) tomatoes, peeled
3 oz Golden raisins, soaked
2 oz Green olives, halved
2 ea Large eggplants, skin on, cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt & pepper
Chopped mint and parsley for garnish
Method: In a pot add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Sweat down the onions and garlic until soft and add the celery and anchovies. De-glaze the pan with white wine vinegar. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the raisins and olives, season to taste, then cool down. In a separate pan, fry the eggplant then cool down. When everything is cooled, mix together gently trying not to break the eggplant and then serve. Garnish with chopped parsley and fresh mint leaves.
Enjoy this delicious and simple dish, and don’t forget to enter to win your chance to sample chef Bergamini’s extraordinary cuisine at SD26 by liking highresolution on Facebook.
Photos this post: Bill Waltzer, SD26, highresolution
*Contest rules: Prize includes Chef Matteo Bergamini’s 5-course tasting menu for 2, including appetizer, pasta, meat, fish and dessert courses in the main dining room. Prize is valued at $280. Please note prize does not include beverages, wine, taxes or gratuities. Anyone may enter except employees of highresolution. This dinner for two, courtesy of SD26, will be awarded to one winner. Must enter by midnight, August 1, 2014 and redeem by midnight December 29, 2014. The winning entry will be drawn on August 2, 2014 and notified (and envied) via Facebook.