Eat It: Fred’s, at Barney’s

Eat It: My weekdays are usually divided into quadrants of teaching, writing, eating and reading, but I’m off this week, so doing a lot more eating and reading. Today, I met my best friend from college in the city for lunch. We usually meet on the West Side, where she lives and I teach, but today we ate at Fred’s at Barney’s. I used to write about department stores when I worked for Business Week and still associate big stores with work, not play, so avoid them. But I love Fred’s. I go there every July, after my mammogram. Find me a woman who doesn’t need a strong drink or a flight from reality after her mammogram. I have no idea what else is on the menu because I always order the same thing: Mark’s Madison Avenue Salad. It’s $28 and worth every penny. You get a beautiful assortment of beets, canned tuna, fava beans, roasted red peppers, capers, lettuce, onions, all of it chopped up and delicious. It’s so big that once I asked the waiter to wrap half of it up so I could bring it home to New Jersey. While you’re there, say hello to all the beautiful people who have gathered for lunch, everyone bounding around in teeny-tiny high heels, their jackets nipped at their waists, the kind of people for whom it seems that nothing has ever gone wrong. You might end up feeling like the ugliest girl in the room. Oh well. Count your blessings, and go back to eating your salad.

Fred’s at Barneys, 9th Floor

660 Madison Avenue, at 61st

New York, NY 10065




Eat It: Coda with Carrie

Eat It: I had a delightful lunch yesterday with my friend Carrie, at Coda Kitchen & Bar, down the street from the lovely-but-now-closed Laurel, and up the street from Lorena. Why is most of the great food in Essex County in Maplewood? Coda has a wide range of salads, plus Buffalo wings, sashimi, cauliflower with blue cheese and scallions and roasted cauliflower heart with sautéed escarole, Moroccan spiced meatballs, beet salad, tuna tartare, truffle fries, Korean short rib tacos, and blackened cod…. If you live in NY, food like this is a given, but out here in NJ, food like this is a miracle. Despite the range of  options, we both ordered the Kitchen Cobb salad: Moist, grilled chicken, chunks of blue-cheese,  sliced hard-boiled eggs, thick slices of avocado and field greens in white balsamic dressing. Carrie ordered her salad without bacon, I ordered mine with it. We were both happy as clams. Since it was Passover, we skipped the bread, and she placed a box of matzoh on the table. The other great thing about Coda is it is just a few doors away from Words Bookstore, where Carrie works, and where I wish I worked. Coda: In my fantasies, Carrie and I have lunch every week and someone prepares us a salad like this every day.

Coda Kitchen & Bar

177 Maplewood Avenue

Maplewood, NJ

(973) 327-2247



Read It: “Apollo” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Oh, happy day. The New Yorker just published “Apollo,” a new short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in their 4/13/15 issue. It’s a beautifully written story about aging parents, household help, young love, class differences, and the consequences of good and bad behavior, told mainly in flashback.  Our book group tried reading Adichie’s novel, Americanah, a couple of years ago when it first came out. I gave up after the first chapter. It was too much about Princeton and blogging and felt too self-conscious and precious. But I was an idiot. Both my best friend from college and my sister-in-law read it and loved it and one of the women in our book group went ahead without us and finished it. She loved it, so now we are trying it again. I really love it this time.

Here is the link to The New Yorker’s brief Q&A between the author and Willing Davidson.


Eat It: Sushi Ran in Sausalito

Eat It: One more post on Sausalito, then I’ll accept the fact that we live in New Jersey. Last weekend, when I was in Northern California, my friend Julie and I drove to Piedmont to discuss my book with my sister-in-law’s good friend Donna and her book group. There is no place on earth like Piedmont and there is no place on earth like Donna’s house. There are redwoods in her back yard. The house faces a park. As the light poured in through the windows, we drank wine, traded recipes for meatloaf and talked about cooking and coping. Afterwards, we drove to Sushi Ran in Sausalito, where we dug in to miso glazed black cod, spicy roasted cauliflower and kimchee Brussels sprouts. The few pieces of sushi we ate were magnificent. If there is anyone out there who knows how to make kimchee Brussels sprouts, please let me know. We need to bring this to New Jersey.

Sushi Ran

107 Caledonia Street

Sausalito, CA



Eat It: Millionaire’s Bacon at Fred’s in Sausalito

Eat It: While I was out in Northern California last weekend, doing a reading at Book Passage and talking to book groups, my great friend Julie took me to Sausalito. We went to Fred’s Coffee Shop for breakfast, where we tucked into poached eggs and Millionaire’s Bacon. If you’ve never had Millionaire’s Bacon, you are in for a treat. See recipe below. It is a delicious combination of bacon, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and black pepper. To be honest, I didn’t really tuck into the poached eggs. I picked at them before I did a nose-dive into the bacon. Fred’s is on the water, but you won’t notice it as you eat your bacon.

I realize that writing about eating bacon in the middle of Passover is a bit of a shanda. It’s not kosher for Passover, not kosher at all, of course, but it is allowed on the Whole Life Challenge and some days, the WLC is my true religion. Forgive me. We actually are keeping Passover in the house, mostly because we are already gluten-free. Regarding religion: I think praying for peace and treating people kindly are the most important parts. Not the food we eat. I’ll get off my soap box now.

Fred’s Coffee Shop (Fred’s does not have a website)

Casual daytime joint with sidewalk seating serves up American diner classics, especially breakfast.
Address: 1917 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965
Phone:(415) 332-4575
Hours: Open today · 7:00 am – 2:30 pm


Millionaire’s Bacon

1 pound of thick-cut bacon
5 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp. Black Pepper

Set your oven to 350 degrees

Line a baking pan with foil. Combine all of your spices and sugar together into a bowl and mix thoroughly. If you want your bacon more coated in sweet and spicy flavor, add more ingredients to your liking. Apply liberally to each strip of bacon by taking each strip and hand rubbing them. Bake until crisp for 20- 30 minutes (depending upon your crispy liking).

Please let your bacon cool a little after you’ve made this recipe. We don’t want any casualties or mouth burns! You have to keep those taste buds intact in order for you to enjoy the deliciousness of bacon. Now, print this recipe and get off the internet! Make it!

Eat It: Stewed Radishes. Venetian Cauliflower, Coconut Carrots, Courtesy of the NY Times

Eat It: I am happy to report that I just made all the vegetables in David Tanis’s NYT story, “Winter Vegetables for Spring Holidays,” to take to our neighbor’s Seder tonight—the butter-stewed radishes, the Venetian cauliflower and the roasted coconut carrots. The recipes are all compliant (sugar, gluten, soy and corn-free) if you’re doing the Whole Life Challenge and the results were delicious. My husband had an allergic reaction to pine nuts (he started eating them after I had toasted them and before I added them to the cauliflower) so I did NOT add them to the cauliflower and the dish was still excellent. I was absolutely shocked by how good the stewed radishes taste. I had never cooked radishes before. No wonder they were good: This much butter makes everything good. I skipped the mint because we didn’t have any and the carrots were still delicious. Happy Passover/Easter/Spring!

Read it: Lydia Davis, Long Story Short

Read it: I discovered Lydia Davis in March 2014, when The New Yorker did a big story on her called Long Story Short. Where had this fascinating woman been my whole life? I quickly ordered her book, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, and started gobbling them up. Davis is part poet, part essayist, part short-story writer, and always interesting and arresting in her observations about human behavior. And she writes short. No piece is more than a few pages. She’s divorced and remarried, has two sons and is brutally honest about the demands and pleasures of motherhood and marriage. She won the Man Booker International Prize in 2013 and she translates Proust. Need I say more? She did a candid Q&A with the Paris Review in the current spring edition. You won’t forget her. You may want to write like her. And you’ll definitely want to keep reading her.


Read It: A Death, by Stephen King

Read it: I love The New Yorker. I don’t read every word of every issue, but I do read every word of the movie reviews and most of the words of the shorter short stories. I particularly love that the powers that be at the magazine make so many of the short stories free on line. In the March 8 issue, they ran a great short story by Stephen King entitled “A Death.” I love Stephen King. The other day, my friend Julia asked us which living authors we’d like to have lunch with. I said Alice Munro, Mary Karr and Stephen King. He’s a genius and he writes with love about his wife—unusual for a successful male, middle-aged writer. I  shared the story with both my writing workshops this week and we could not reach a unanimous verdict:  Was Trusdale guilty? Or innocent? And if he was innocent, who committed the crime? What do you think? I thought guilty, because Trusdale was thinking too much about his digestive tract. But who knows? Hats off to Stephen King for making us wonder and argue passionately about the possibilities, long after the story is over. This story is from his new book, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories, out November 2015. What is really exciting about this collection is that he includes notes about what prompted him to write each story.

Favorite Stephen King books: Lisey’s Story, 11/22/63 and the incomparable and magnificent, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. If you are a writer and haven’t read On Writing, download it right now.


Read it: The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro

Read it: The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro.

My friend Julie had been urging me forever to download Audibles and listen to books “on iPhone” while I drive. I finally took her advice and started listening to Alice Munro’s The View From Castle Rock in the car. Funny, sad and wondrous things happen in these stories. Of course, you can also read the book, which makes the whole experience even better.

The View from Castle Rock
Check out this great listen on In stories that are more personal than any that she has written before, Alice Munro pieces her family history into gloriously imagined fiction. A young boy is taken to Edinburgh Castle Rock, where his father assures him that on a clear day he can see America, and he catches a glimpse of his father’s dream. In stories that follow, as the dream becomes a reality, two sisters-in-law experience very different kinds of passion on the long voyage to the New World. Other stories take place in more familiar Munro territory, the towns and countryside around Lake Huron, where the past shows through the present like the traces of a glacier on the landscape, and strong emotions stir just beneath the surface of ordinary comings and goings.


Read It: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs

Read it:The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s beautifully written, and traces the sad trajectory of this brilliant man’s life. If you are from New Jersey and/or went to school in the Northeast, you will be glued to it. It is being made into a movie, produced by the author’s wife.