Exclusive: Star Chef Scott Conant Pasta + Risotto Recipes From His New Fusco Restaurant

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Autumn is nigh upon us – and with it comes the changing of our eating habits from avocado salads to heartier, more, shall we say, rustic fare. Frankly, it cannot come quickly enough for us.

One place you’ll be likely to find us regularly pulling up a chair is  Scott Conant’s classy new Flatiron Italian Fusco. The marquee New York chef, as you may well know, made a splash in 2002 with his NY Times 3-star-awarded L’Impero. He then became a bonafide hit with the Chelsea hotspot Scarpetta (for the record, he’s no longer involved). But 2017 is surely his year, as he also opened The Ponte in Los Angeles and Mora Italian in Phoenix.

But while Fusco, with its leather banquettes, glittering chandeliers and orchid-adorned bar, is a decidedly elegant affair, it’s vibe is palpably more laidback (to be sure, Conant’s Italian grandmother was the inspiration). It’s reflected in the menu, which is strong on both traditional (al pomodoro) and more surprising, creative pasta dishes – but all unpretentious and approachable.

Before scarf weather hits, we asked Chef Conant to give us a peek into what exactly goes into all that deliciousness of two of his most inventive dishes.


Tajarin Aglio e Olio, Clams & Bonito Flakes



Serves 4-6
1 pound fresh tajarin (or substitute dried tagliolini pasta)
Cooked clams (recipe below)
2 cups clam cooking liquid (recipe below)
Garlic & chili oil (recipe below)
Chopped parsley, as needed
Bonito flakes, as needed
  • Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions.
  • While pasta is cooking, heat garlic & chili oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add clam cooking liquid to the sauté pan and deglaze.
  • When the pasta is just al dente, strain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and add both the pasta and the water to the sauté pan. Stir constantly to emulsify the oil and starch, about 3-4 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt.
  • Once emulsified, add the clams, stir to warm through–being careful not to overcook–toss in parsley, top with bonito flakes and serve immediately.
Garlic Chili Oil Base
10 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Slice garlic paper thin on Japanese mandolin.
  • Place garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes in 1-quart sauce pot.
  • Place sauce pot on low heat and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until garlic is sweet and tender and not bitter. Reserve.
Manila clams
5 lbs. clams (or cockles), washed
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 shallots, sliced thin
1 cup dry white wine
1 sprig thyme
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Place olive oil in a large rondeau or oven and set over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and shallots. Sweat for 8 minutes, stirring and not allowing the garlic or shallots to burn or take on too much color.
  • Add thyme, crushed red pepper and clams.
  • Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then deglaze with white wine.
  • Cover and steam until the clams open, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Strain and reserve liquid. You should have about 2 cups.
  • Remove the clams with their shells and reserve in olive oil until ready to use.


Black Truffle Risotto With Egg & Parmigiano


Serves 4 to 6
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (enough to coat the pan)
3 tbsp. shallots, small dice
1 ½ tsp. garlic, small dice
Crushed red pepper flakes, as needed
Kosher salt, as needed
2 ½ tbsp. butter, unsalted
1 ½ cups vialone nana rice
½ cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 ½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
½ cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Preserved black truffles (from Jaloon Specialty Foods), as needed
Fresh truffles for shaving, as needed
  • In a 4-quart saucepan, heat about 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-heat. Add the shallot, garlic, crushed red pepper and a pinch kosher salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute (Take the pan off the heat if the garlic starts to brown). Add 1 tablespoon of the butter, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is very tender, 5 minutes.
  • Add the rice, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to toast it lightly. Increase the heat to medium, add the wine, and cook until most of the wine is gone. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed and evaporated. Add another 1 cup of stock and increase the heat so that there are a fair amount of bubbles on the surface (this agitation helps release the starch as the rice cooks).
  • Add another 1 cup or so of stock and continue to cook, stirring, adding more stock as needed and stirring. To see if it’s time to add more liquid, drag the spoon through the rice; if the liquid doesn’t immediately fill in the space, it’s time to add more. With the third addition of broth, add the thyme. Continue cooking, adding broth as necessary, until the risotto looks creamy but the rice is still al dente, about 18 minutes.
  • Take the risotto off the heat. Add the remaining 1½  tablespoons butter, the cheese and the truffles and stir well. Stir in the egg yolks until well combined.
  • Divide risotto among plates, top with freshly shaved truffles, serve.  




BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Cobra Starship’s Vicky T’s Synth-Poppy New Single ‘Touch’

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Image by Tom Bender


Hard to believe that the beloved Cobra Starship have been gone going on two years this autumn. But for those still in withdrawal, singer and (yes) keytarist Vicky T has some solo love for you.

Curiously, the opening line of her groovy new single “Touch” (which BlackBook premieres here), goes “I don’t want to go back / ‘Cause it makes me look insane.” Of course, she’s actually referring to a questionable relationship that would be best not revisited. But she resigns herself to “commit just one more crime.”

Musically, “Touch” is a sleek electro-pop gem, as atmospherically visceral as it is slinky and sexy -.with lush synths, chunky bass, retro synthetic drums and impossibly irresistible hooks. Think: Madonna 1988.

“This tune is all about going back to the person you know isn’t good for you,” she explains, “but because they’re a forbidden fruit, they’re that much more enticing. All you want is their touch even if you’ll regret seeing them after.”

No definite word on whether a full album will follow soon. But as Vicky intones, “What’s the point of waiting?” We’re pretty sure “Touch” will keep us going for awhile.


‘I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation’: The Oscar Wilde Bar Opens in NYC

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For Americans living with an intellectually stunted President, never has there been a greater exigency for wit, wisdom and, well…booze.

The late, and very great Oscar Wilde, 117 years after his extravagant death (“I am dying beyond my means,” he infamously quipped from L’Hotel in Paris), perhaps offers the ultimate antihero image for our times. And the dashing, rhetorically biting libertine now has a namesake drinking establishment, which opened this week in New York’s Gramercy/NoMad…from where we might drink away the strain of our troubling daily reality.

One imagines the poet himself would take delight in the Oscar Wilde being located in the former headquarters of NYC’s Bureau of Prohibition. It’s also cousin to the Flatiron’s Lillie’s, which is an homage to his dear friend, the late British actress Lily Langtry. But it’s the bar’s authentic Victoriana that most enchants: antique fireplaces, painted Milanese glass, an 1880s English standing clock, an 1890s Belgian piano.



Nodding to Oscar’s eternal witticism, “Moderation is a fatal thing, nothing succeeds like excess,” it features Gotham’s longest bar, at 118.5 feet. And the selection of more than 300 whiskies on offer is complemented by drinks wizard Johnny Swet‘s Wildean-clever cocktail creations, like the 50 Shades of Dorian Gray, with Plymouth gin, cherry liqueur, Chinese 5 spice, and citrus, and the Oscar Wilde’s Potent Elixir, which features cognac, gin, Guinness, cassis, lavender, Champagne and orange zest.

Of course, in a city which worships long hours and breeds perpetual stress, the Oscar Wilde bar will surely become the perfect excuse to put into practice the Irish Bard’s wisest words of all: “Too much work, and no vacation, deserves at least a small libation. So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses, Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”

Bottoms up.


Four Fabulous Cocktails For National Rum Day

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Chinatown Daiquiri at Slowly Shirley, Photo by Nick


It says something that the preferred spirit of both Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson was, in fact, rum. But one need not reach such epic levels of wantonness, surely, to enjoy the oft misunderstand spirit.

As happens with everything (yes, there’s a National Hug Your Cat Day – and sorry, but you missed it), tomorrow, August 16, is National Rum Day – though, to be honest, rum likely deserves at least a week. Still and all, to help the celebration along, we tapped a few of our favorite and fashionable drinking establishments to let us in on their special rum creations for the big day.


Slowly Shirley, New York

“Rum is probably my favorite base spirit with which to work,” says Jim Kearns, Beverage Director and Managing Partner of suave  subterranean West Village cocktail spot Slowly Shirley. “Because rum is the most unregulated spirit in the world, it is a huge umbrella category that encompasses a wide array of sugarcane / molasses-based spirits that all share a welcoming roundness, while simultaneously possessing their own very unique attributes.  Whether it’s the grassiness of an Agricole, the earthy funk of a Jamaican, or the silky caramel of a Spanish-style rum, there is something within the category for just about any application.”
They’ll be offering a special Daiquiri menu this week, including this tasty pair.

Chinatown Daiquiri (pictured above)

2oz Appleton Reserve Rum
.75oz lime juice
.75oz fresh strawberry / Sriracha puree
.5oz honey syrup
.5oz ginger syrup
Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Fortune cookie on the rim
Method: Shake & double strain


FAF Daiquiri

.25oz Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum
.5oz Pusser’s 15 Year Old Rum
.5oz Ibis Rum
.5oz Plantation Barbados Rum
.25oz L’Esprit de June Liqueur
.75oz lime juice
.5oz cane syrup
Glass: Coupe
Method: Shake with lime disc. Strain


Photo by Nick


Bar Fiori at the Langham Place, New York

Bar Fiori, at the swank Langham Place NY, is one of the city’s classiest cocktail establishments, with its elegant bar, plush banquettes and dark corners for more private assignations. Head bartender Pete Stanton, an avowed rum advocate, has charmingly named this papaya-forward drink for the pretty Southeast Asian bird. He explains that the cachaça adds “hints of funk” and he uses Barrell Rum for its fruitiness and spiciness. The Flor de Cana keeps it light and refreshing, making it, as he describes, as “easy sipper.”

The Mynah

Glass: Coupe 
Garnish: dried papaya slice 
3/4 oz  Flor de Cana
3/4 oz papaya infused Avua Prata Cachaca 
1/8 oz Rare wine co. Boston Bual Madera   
1/2 oz  lime juice
1/2 oz simple
2 dashes Barrell Jamaican rum
Method: Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into glass and garnish.


Bar Fiori


Sugarcane raw bar grill, Miami + Las Vegas + DUMBO

Its small-plates-sharing, inventive cocktails and exotic interiors have made the Miami and Vegas locations of Sugarcane unequivocal hotspots. A Brooklyn location will open soon in DUMBO’s Empire Stores. But for Rum Day, the original outposts will serve up a decidedly on-trend Beet Mojito. It’s the perfect way to both tipple and care for your health at once: beets improve blood pressure, detoxify the liver and, perhaps now most important of all, improve brain function. And, well, it’s a really delish drink.

The Beet Mojito

Infused Bacardi Superior light rum,
Muddled limes
Mint leaves
Club soda



BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Bootblacks’ Powerful New Single ‘Hold & Dissolve’

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Amidst the seemingly-endless over-proliferation of twee Brooklyn indie-folk bands, we thankfully once in a while get the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers or Bootblacks. Borrowing that name from William Burroughs, the latter draw on the darkest strains of British post-punk and electro-industrial to vigorous effect.

To wit, their awesomely chilling new single “Hold & Dissolve,” which BlackBook premieres here. It nods profoundly to the ominous atmospherics of Bauhaus, Xymox and Joy Division and adds a ferocious, unstoppable groove. In fact, it could sit proudly amongst the trenchant, doomy psychedelia of Echo & The Bunnymen’s potent classic Heaven Up Here.

“It’s about loss,” explains frontman Panther MacDonald, “knowing you have to leave people behind, and how hard that is. And even though letting go is difficult, you can both find the time to remember someone while remembering that it’s not over yet.”

Their 2016 album Veins showed a band genuinely coming into its own marked aesthetic; so expectations are high for the September 14 release of follow up Fragments, on Manic Depression Records. “Hold & Dissolve” bodes decidedly well.



​Watch this Mind-Blowing Future Prediction of Donald Trump by Hillary Clinton

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In the wake of the still shocking events of Charlottesville, and the utterly egregious response of President 45, many who had continued to back him (including Republican Party heavy-hitters) were left reeling, and grasping for…”excuses.”

But no surprise to those who had steadfastly supported her candidacy (including this publication), a Hillary Clinton speech from August 25, 2016 has resurfaced, which incisively and startlingly accurately foretold of the Trumpian future that lay ahead – one that culminated in a fatal neo-Nazi march on a small, peaceful Virginia college town this past weekend. A nation was forced into one of its most painful moral self-examinations, when he who the country had voted into the White House last November made it clear that he was, in fact, aligned with the white-supremacist message of hatred, exclusion and, yes, violence.

Yet Hillary’s warning could not have been more prescient, nor more unambiguous:

“From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He is taking hate groups mainstream, and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party. It’s a disturbing preview of what kind of President he’d be.”

Watch the full speech here…and expect to feel a chill.






BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Artful New ‘Waiting’ Video From Copenhagen’s M.I.L.K.

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We’ll stop short of an actual explanation; but it’s safe to say we’ve generally not looked to Scandinavia for the next great “soul” music hope. But the smooth strains of M.I.L.K.‘s 2015 single “If We Want To” caused something of a sensation – and, indeed, it was the work of Copenhagen’s Emil Wilk.

His new single “Waiting,” taken from the Proustian-titled debut EP A Memory of a Memory of a Postcard, is actually something of a paradigm of nu-soul, with its Marvin-smooth vocals, lyrical longings,  (“I’ll be sitting right here ’til the end of days”), and visceral atmospherics that recall Curtis Mayfield – yet all presented with a sleek, contemporary electronic sheen.

In the artfully conceived video, which BlackBook premieres here, six screens are shown blinking to life in a desolate room. As a series of seemingly unrelated images flash across said screens, one might get the impression that it’s all a metaphor for the  proverbial window into the soul…or a glimpse of a night of particularly vivid dream sequences.

“I really felt a need to create something physical for the EP,” he explains. “It’s so unsatisfying when everything ends up as streams and links and statistics and internet, internet, internet. So I decided to create this video installation to give the EP a visual manifestation in a physical form.”

And the images?

“The footage is a mixx of analogue 8mm shots,” he says, “from travels with friends during the last six months…and then more abstract studio shots. It’s kind of a diary collage built around the themes and memories that inspired the songs on the EP.”

For what it’s worth, we’re pretty sure he just coined the term “diary collage.”




Jim Jefferies on Charlottesville: ‘Nazis are the Bad Guys – It’s Been Proven in Many Films’

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Image courtesy of Comedy Central


John Oliver yells a lot, but isn’t actually all that funny. Jimmy Fallon gets emotional. And Bill Maher has arguably not been as tough as he could be when it comes to Prez45.

But, just ten episodes into his eponymous new Comedy Central show, Jim Jefferies has decisively risen up to meet Samantha Bee as easily the most incisive (not to mention bitingly hilarious) late night voices charged with comically interpreting America’s mind-boggling current sociopolitical reality. And last night, as ever, he cut right to the heart of the Charlottesville tragedy.

“Nazis are the bad guys,” he snarked. “It’s been proven in many films!”

He even managed to chastise his own audience. Indeed, after making it “very clear” that he condemns white supremacists (in a direct mock on Trump’s unwillingness to do so), he then screwed up his face and sneered, “Are you seriously applauding me for that?”

But most trenchantly, he addressed publicly-outed marcher Peter Cvjetanovic: “You know what I think Peter? You’re a pathetic, scared little asshole, who got online and found a community of pathetic, scared little assholes just like you.”

Watch the whole thing here.


Exclusive: Making the Perfect Sunday Roast with London’s New Game Bird Restaurant

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The last decade or so of British chefs looking back to the great English traditions meant that the menus of high-profile chefs were now featuring haute versions of, well, steak & kidney pie. Even better, that greatest of all English traditions, the Sunday roast, has made its mark on the culinary trendometer. (Amusingly, the Guardian declared its revival in 2009, the Telegraph called it a “thing of the past” in 2012 – and then the Guardian last year hailed it as “a tradition worth preserving.”)

Whatever your view, Chef James Durrant is certainly the man you want at the job. He’s got Michelin-starred cred to spare, having done time in two of Gordon Ramsay’s top restaurants, as well as holding the Exec Chef title at Jason Atherton’s Maze. Now he’s at the helm of one of London’s most high-profile openings, the fittingly named The Game Bird at the plush, celeb-fave (David Beckham loves it) Stafford Hotel in posh St James. And they’re doing a quite a wonderful Sunday roast, we’re happy to report.

“It came to prominence back in 1485 during the reign of King Henry VII,” Durrant tells us, “when The King and his Guard – the Yeoman Wardens – dined on a feast of roast beef following church on a Sunday. This tradition has led to the Yeoman Wardens affectionately being termed ‘Beefeaters.’ To this day, beef is the ‘King’ of the Sunday roast, and we have decided to keep the tradition running at The Game Bird. Our mouth-watering roast rib of beef is carved table-side from a handmade trolley and served with all the trimmings.”


What else can one expect at The Game Bird? Four- and eight-course tasting menus might include Rhug Estate fallow deer tartare, Orkney sea scallops with roasted cauliflower, smoked roe and seaweed butter, and pigeon with parsnips, cavolo nero and “bullshot” – all very English, to be sure. And interiors to match. It’s actually named for WWII resistance fighter and spy Nancy Wake; and with its etched ceiling, charmingly patterned chairs, Chesterfield style banquettes, and Deco lighting fixtures, it certainly is a throwback to more, shall we say, mannered times.

Trad-loving Anglophiles that we are, we asked Durrant to give us a peek behind the magic of his perfect Sunday roast. And he was gracious enough to let us in on some of his most treasured recipes. (See below.)

“There’s no general rule to creating a fantastic roast dinner,” he insists, “apart from choosing good meat and taking the time to create a great gravy. When it comes to vegetables, add your favorites that are in season, this way they will be more flavorsome. Spring greens with a pinch of nutmeg work great with roast chicken, or a lovely peppery swede and carrot mash work great with beef.”



Roast Rib of Beef, Yorkshire Pudding

Cauliflower Cheese, Honey Roast Carrots and Roast Potatoes

Beef and gravy
1 x 2.50 kg fore rib of beef (with 2 bones)
1 bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
A few sprigs of Thyme
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
A knob of butter
2 x onion sliced
150g plain flour
500ml red wine
1.5ltr hot beef stock
  1. Preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F. Take the beef out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and allow it to come to room temperature. Place a large sturdy roasting tray in the oven to heat up. In a pestle and mortar smash 3 garlic cloves and most of the thyme with a pinch of sea salt and generous amount of olive oil, then massage all over the beef.
  2. Quickly smash the remaining unpeeled garlic cloves and add to the hot roasting tray with the beef. Pop straight in the oven and roast for around 50 minutes, basting occasionally with the juices from the tray.
  3. After 50 minutes, reduce the temperature to 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for around 10 minutes, or until the beef is beautifully golden brown on the outside and pink in the middle – leave in for longer if you prefer your beef well done. Carefully transfer it to a platter, dot the knob of butter on top. Cover with a double layer of tin foil and a tea towel and leave to rest. reserve the beef resting juices for the gravy
  4. Meanwhile, to make the gravy, place the roasting tray on the hob over a low heat, add the sliced onion to the juices in the tray and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until the onions are soft and caramelised. Stir in the flour, then whisk in the red wine, making sure there are no lumps. Bring to the boil, whisking constantly, then bubble until reduced by half. Stir in the stock, and then cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick.
Yorkshire Pudding
100g plain flour
Pinch salt
3 large free-range eggs
225ml milk
Sunflower oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.
  2. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs and a little of the milk. Whisk until smooth then gradually add the remaining milk. This can be done with a wooden spoon, but is easier with an electric hand-held whisk. Pour the mixture into a jug.
  3. Measure a dessert spoon of oil into each hole of a 12 hole muffin tray. Transfer to the preheated oven for five minutes, or until the oil is piping hot.
  4. Carefully remove from the oven and pour the batter equally between the holes or the tin. Return the batter quickly to the oven and cook for 20–25 minutes, or until golden-brown and well-risen.
  5. Serve immediately.
Roast Potatoes
8 potatoes (such as Maris Piper), peeled and cut into large chunks
  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook until soft on the outside. Drain and let them steam dry on a wire rack placed over a roasting tin.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  3. Add a little oil to a roasting tin and place in the oven to heat. When the oil is hot, add the dry potatoes and stir gently to coat in oil. Roast for 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown.
Cauliflower Cheese
2 cloves of garlic
50 g unsalted butter
50 g plain flour
600 ml milk
500 g fresh broccoli
75 g mature cheddar cheese
50 g parmesan
1 kg fresh cauliflower
2 slices of stale bread
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
25 g flaked almonds
Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Peel and finely slice the garlic and put it into a medium pan on medium heat with the butter.
  3. When the butter has melted, stir in the flour for a minute to make a paste, then gradually add the milk, whisking as you go, until smooth.
  4. Add the broccoli and simmer for around 20 minutes, or until cooked through and starts to break down, then mash or blitz with a stick blender (adding an extra splash of milk to loosen, if using fresh broccoli). Grate in half the Cheddar and season to perfection.
  5. Arrange the cauliflower in an appropriately sized baking dish, pour over the broccoli white sauce and grate over the remaining Cheddar and parmesan.
  6. Blitz the bread into breadcrumbs in a food processor, then pulse in the thyme leaves and almonds. Toss with a lug of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, then scatter evenly over the cauliflower cheese.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden and cooked through
Honey Roast Carrots
1kg Chantenay or other small carrots peeled
Thyme sprigs
100 g butter
3 tbsp veg oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp clear honey
  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the carrots into a roasting tin and toss with the oil and some salt and pepper sprigs of thyme. Roast for 30 mins.
  2. Add a knob of butter then Drizzle the vinegar and honey over the carrots, toss well and return to the oven for a further 20 mins.