Thursday, September 20, 2012

There's nothing quite like the moment when you feel like you're home, even when you're not. After 5 trips to New York in one short year, a few places have become old haunts, real quick.

The most-notable is Tipsy Parson, an American soul food charmer in Chelsea.

It provides what a good restaurant should: great food, a terrific space, and a little bit of magic. I like my meals (especially those that require leaving the house in a clean shirt) to have something special, to leave me wanting more and be ever-so-slightly indescribable. Like having dinner at a friend's house, a level of comfort and service that is familiar and welcoming. Maybe something like Cheers.

Now, I should say: There's no way of knowing (as my server) that I want you  to crack crude jokes or rest a hand on my shoulder as you describe the entrées. And while I think my friends and I are a pretty open book, demonstrating immediately that we're not fussy or demanding, I wouldn't expect you to lean in and tell me honestly how you feel about tonight's fish special. So, when it happens, I know I've found a place I'll return time and time again. (Here's looking at you, Jimmy!)

Tipsy offers a seasonal menu of familiar southern food, but (as is the trend) updated and tweaked here and there, making it uniquely theirs. We tend to start with a few snacks, from devilled eggs (perfection) to a heap of hushpuppies served with warm pimento cheese. Then, whether it's the flank steak, the skillet chicken or short ribs with a side of mac and cheese (with bacon) it hardly matters because every plate becomes shared, if you're there with me. But first things first, you order a cocktail from their clever menu and get sweet-talked into the full-size, made-to-order pie/crumble/crisp on offer. To be ready for dessert, you've gotta order it upfront. Done.

Pause, boo. Let's go back a little.

Maybe you're not familiar with hush puppies and pimento cheese. They're a sort of cornmeal dumpling, deep-fried and golden served alongside sharp cheddar blended with cream cheese, pickling liquid and other stuff. To this northerner, it sounds kind of awful, but it's magic.

I'm thrilled to say that Tipsy owner, Julie Taras Wallach, has graciously shared the recipe. They're sure to be a hit at your next cocktail party. Go ahead, get Southern.

Hush Puppies

2 cups cornmeal
2 T AP flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1½ t salt
½ cup grated onion
½ cup thinly sliced green onion
1 egg yolk
1½ -2 cups buttermilk
3 egg whites
1t Aleppo pepper

Whisk to blend cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, Aleppo pepper and salt. Add grated and sliced onions, egg yolk and 1½ cups of the buttermilk. Stir vigorously until batter is well blended and the consistency of loose mashed potatoes.

Whip egg whites until they begin to mound (not stiff peaks). Quickly fold whites into batter. Batter should be thick enough to mound on spoon. If too stiff, add more buttermilk.

Drop by rounded teaspoons into 340°F oil. Fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove from oil, drain on a paper towel-lined cooling rack. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

with Pimento Cheese

8oz extra sharp cheddar cheese (grated, at room temperature)
5oz cream cheese (at room temp)
1T pimentos (to blend with cheese)
1t fresh lemon juice
1t dry mustard
¼ t cayenne pepper
½ t Worcestershire sauce
1T pepper pickling liquid (substitute pickle juice)
3 oz. artichoke hearts, small dice 5 oz. pimentos (small dice)
2T parsley
2T chives lemon
salt and white pepper (to taste)

Thoroughly blend together cheddar cheese and cream cheese until smooth in your Cuisinart. Gradually add 1T pimentos, lemon juice, dry mustard, cayenne peppers, worchestershire, and pickling liquid. Pulse in artichoke hearts – they should stay slightly chunky. Transfer cheese mixture to medium bowl. Fold in pimentos and herbs. Adjust seasoning. Julie's Tip: You can use this as a spread, a dip for crudite, or as a sandwich or hamburger topping.

Thanks to the fine folks at Tipsy for making this out-of-towner feel like a New Yorker, every single time.

Artwork by the brilliant illustrator and designer Paul Dotey


  1. I'm so making pimento cheese cheeseburgers.

  2. RIP Tipsy-as-we-knew it. It was great while it lasted!

  3. RIP Tipsy-as-we-knew it. It was great while it lasted!

  4. RIP Tipsy-as-we-knew it. It was great while it lasted!