Wednesday night we walked past Cafe Esperanto, past churches and gardens on East Seventh to the corner of Avenue D, to the corner that serves as the kitchen and the presentation space for The Works, the non-profit catering and events-planning arm of Housing Works. We were greeted by their personable staff and lovely people of Mediabistro to celebrate the publication of Dianne Jacob's book, Will Write For Food. Jacob's book is a guide unlike anything we've seen before, encompassing memoir, reveiwing, articles and fiction. Because Housing Works is writing the book on what an urban not-for-profit can do in the city, it was a perfect fit. And the amazing food by chef Betty Deepe came with a great story.
Betty Deepe was a former ad exec in San Francisco with a passion for food (somehow we can relate) and every year she left for vacation -and the food of-Jamaica. Feeling more alive there than anywhere else, she moved to New York and, in 1988, was the first white woman to own and operate a restaurant, Third World Cafe, in Harlem. After three years of serving creole, carribean and soul food and winning the neighborhood over (she attracted a loyal following of musicans and Ossie Davis's son married his wife in her restaurant), she went to a downtown restaurant called Gage & Tonner, a landmark space on Fulton Street, now unfortunately a T.G. I. Friday's. Working at that restaurant, under the guidance of the cookbook authour Anna Davis, she learned about catering because of their contract with the Public Theatre's Shakespeare In The Park and when the restaurant closed, she took the contract over as soon as she secured a kitchen and a name, Deepe Dish Catering. She catered Shakespeare In The Park for during the mid-90's, til, in an utterly New York way, she was told by her the owner of Gage & Tonner's wife, who is on the board of Housing Works, to interview and create The Works. And everything tasted so good- our favorite was a unique savory Stilton cheescake, but all the passed hors d'oerves were worth mentioning. The Works and Dianne Jacob know that secret is what it took to get to the table.
Now, the highlights of the evening were certainly the food and the book - however the wine held it's own ground. The two wines that were served were a Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Agentina. The crisp acidity and citrus notes of the Sauvignon Blac were the perfect complement to the skewered guava-lime glazed shrimp (and yes, we can eat three in the time that it takes to say it - and we did) and the Cabernet Sauvignon was a great pairing to the chicken and apple sausage in puff pastry with reduced balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. The soft vanilla and oak flavors in the Cabernet brought out the smokiness of sausage and the sweentess of the reduced balsamic vinegar. We had to cut ourselves off - well after this last one.
The Works Catering
Will Write For Food
available from Amazon and other booksellers
Written with Tamara Lover