The Joy List
Updated: Mar 21, 2021
It's time for your weekly dose of joy!
Good news: The Senate Passes The American Rescue Plan
This is great news for our industry (and for working class Americans everywhere). The American Rescue Plan passed includes $28.6 billion for dedicated restaurant relief to help save countless small businesses and employees.
The Aguachile at Claro in Gowanus
Eat Here: Claro
If you haven't yet made it to Claro, the Oaxacan-inspired restaurant, mezcal, nixtamal and masa shop in Gowanus, you need to put it on your list. Their dining room is open with a few tables but their large (somewhat heated) outdoor patio is festive and seats many with views of a wood-burning oven and comal where tortillas are made from house-ground Oaxacan criollo heirloom corn.
Chef TJ Steele (Union Square Cafe, Tia Pol) lived in Oaxaca for many years, falling in love with the region and became determined to bring the high quality mezcal he tasted to the United States. He founded El Buho Mezcal, working with a local Oaxacan family to get their artisanal, affordable mezcal distributed broadly. After five years of studying, traveling, and eating his way through Oaxaca, Steele opened Claro in Gowanus a couple of years ago, where he makes his own masa, and all cheeses and sausages in-house.
For now, the menu is four course prix fixe ($72 per person) which means you can try many of the restaurants spectacular signature masa-based dishes—a crisp tostada topped with octopus, Benton’s Bacon, and squid ink that's sweet and hot sort of like a gochuchong octopus; a garnacha (a flat disc of masa with curved edges like a little pie crust) topped with venison, salsa tomate, age sheep’s milk cheese; and a memilla (open faced masa cake) filled with wild mushrooms, goat cheese crema, and pasilla chiles.
There are also three kinds of gorgeous mole (verde with trout, roja with pork, and negra with quail). One of my favorites non-masa dishes is the Aguachile— a luxurious ceviche with scallops, pomelo and satsuma mandarin, bathing in a fiery habanero quemada.
The service is safe, friendly and super accommodating and the cocktails and flights of mezcal will warm you even when the patio heaters can't quite banish the cold. It's a gem.
Maybe at some point in your life you've wondered how all those little decisions you've made have managed to land you where you are. Sometimes, in dark moments, when you maybe feel the doubt creeping in like a dense fog rather than a passing cloud, you wonder what if? Then The Midnight Library is the book for you.
We follow the journey of Nora Seed, a young woman filled with doubt and sadness. Facing down all the days of her life, she finds the Midnight Library, a place where the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life she could have lived. To see how things would be if she had made other choices. What would you do if given the chance of a do-over? What does one do with regret? Nora is faced with the possibility of trading her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist. I could not put this book down — it makes you reflect on your own place in the world and consider truly what is most important and what makes it worth living in the first place.
Emperor Peter (Nicholas Hoult) and his new wife, Catherine (Elle Fanning). Huzzah! (Photo: Courtesy of Hulu)
Watch: The Great
I know, I know, everyone is all about Bridgerton, but I just could not get down with that show. Trust me. This one is so much better. For me it's a mash-up of Schitt's Creek, The Favourite, and The Crown, but set inside the Royal Court of Emperor Peter (Nicholas Hoult) and Catherine (Elle Fanning) as she becomes The Great, an outsider who becomes the longest-reigning female ruler in Russia's history. It's occasionally factual, but consistently hilarious, whip smart, insightful, and brilliant.
How has your week been? What's made you feel hopeful, grateful or happy? Drop me a line and share!