buvette and chef jody williams profiled on dara artisans.

Below is recent profile of  Chef Jody Williams of Buvette and the soon to be open Via Carota.

I love this layout and interview pulled from Dara Artisans Journal using our photos from the Buvette book.

Thank you Dara

Tastemaker : Jody Williams

“I never wanted a restaurant,” declares Jody Williams, chef and owner of Buvette.

She’s turned her attention to our surroundings, to the dining experience she’s coined a gastrothèque. The charmingly snug space—wooden tables are squeezed convivially together, while aproned waiters breeze by with small plates—glows in the late afternoon sun. “With restaurants—particularly in New York–you have these formalities. I hate it—it’s not good for food, and it’s not good for creativity.”

Williams’s neologism feels justified. Both in New York City’s West Village and in Paris, where she opened her second Buvette one year ago, her gastrothèques remains distinctive. A place abundant in good food and creativity, Buvette is a “collage” of Williams’ experiences living abroad, which buck expectations of what a restaurant should be.

The desire to forge connections through hand-worked, artisanal touches is everywhere, like in Buvette’s drink menu, which is filled with charming illustrations and engaging descriptions, such as how to make the perfect martini. (Created with designer Max Poglia’s help, it’s inspired by Williams’ collection of vintage chapbooks and a desire to create a dialogue with her customer). That attitude persists at the bar, where a barman pours aperitifs just under our noses—Buvette’s bar is intentionally six inches narrower than most, quite literally breaking down the distance between wait staff and patron. It’s particularly palpable at brunch, where the tight seating and mutual delight in the food forges an unheard-of camaraderie among neighbors.

“Do you want a piece of our walnut-cranberry bread?” I ask. They beamed as I passed the basket.

It’s during experiences like this that I remember one of Williams’s comments: “I’m not sure I could point you to another place that feels just like this.”

Buvette is a deeply personal place—a uniquely Jody Williams creation. Physically, there are signs of her everywhere. To scan the room is to see her assemblages of curios and bric-a-brac artfully arranged throughout the room: The wall of presidential paraphernalia is a tribute to her sister, who was born on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Williams a self-admitted collector of antiques, counting Limoges porcelain plates, latte bowls, silver teapots, glass fruit presses, vintage toys, and old bee jars among her assemblies. “I’m a character that yearns for nostalgia all the time,” she says. “I think that’s why I try and create it in my places.”



The space also channels Williams’s experiences of eating and drinking throughout Europe. Whether squeezing in shoulder-to-shoulder for cicchetti (“small bites”) in Venice or wiling an afternoon away at a vineria in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori, these experiences shaped Buvette’s philosophy of providing an outstanding gastronomic experience within a casual setting. “At Buvette, I look to do high and low, all in a comfortable, non-judgmental environment,” Williams says. “I want you to be able to get a great bottle of Champagne on one night, and croque and a beer the next.”

Her welcoming attitude—which, in Williams’ words, “offers the guest a sense of freedom to come in”—permeates the space. There’s a tangible sense of being “at home” here, which, unsurprisingly, Williams has an expression for: “It’s what I call the ‘kitchen table effect,’” she says. “When you sit here, you’re almost at your kitchen table. You see the products around, and that’s the point. So if you didn’t have a menu, you’d know there’s coffee, wine, prosciutto. We orient our guests; you feel that invitation to grab a plate, pour your water, share in the mise en place. Part of the success of something is stepping back and letting it be.”

Williams’s appreciation for an experience that feels blissfully off-hand does not mean her approach to her work is similarly casual: Williams works with tremendous intention and a shrewd attention to detail. Everything at Buvette has a place and a way: During our conversation she shares the proper method to install a toilet paper roll, opines on how to arrange glassware behind the bar, and points out why her collection of straw baskets is hung right there. When we arrived, she was up on a ladder, fussing with a light bulb. “I love to get into the minutiae of everything, from the fabric of the aprons to the menu’s paper,” she says. “I know what I want, so I tend to be very involved.”

Williams has found a formula that not only works, but one she brought to France, a concept that’s confounded many fellow chefs. With the success of the New York Buvette, plus some formative experiences and friendships along the way, Williams decided to expand to Paris’s Pigalle neighborhood. Given Buvette is a French restaurant in New York, the decision seemed both logical and risky—would the discerning French appreciate the idea? Moreover, would hergastrothèque feel as a distinct in this setting—in some ways, its native one?


The response has been a resounding yes. In Paris, Buvette feels standalone, yet for different reasons. “What Parisians love is that we’ve dropped some of the formality,” Williams says. “Where restaurants there are like, you don’t eat after three o’clock, or ten o’clock, we say, come in to Buvette anytime you’d like and eat whatever you want.”

Williams now attempts to spend several weeks in Paris every couple of months. Below, she shares her favorite spots in the city, with a focus on her newest place to call home: Pigalle.

________

Jody William’s guide to Pigalle

Shop

Causses ( 55 rue Notre-Dame de Lorett) is just fantastic. They have everything: foie gras, cheese, smoked slat, green almonds and hazelnuts, fresh-squeezed orange juice, wonderful butters . . . I love it there.

I also love L’Objet Qui Parle (86 rue des Martyrs), which is nearby. It’s an old vintage flea market store. In Buvette Paris, we have a collection of vintage latte bowls in blue, all mixed and matched.

Le BHV Marais (52 rue de Rivoli) is a big department store in the Marais, and I enjoy visiting the basement there, which is a hardware store. There you will find all the materials to fix your own shoes—leather, soles, hammers—[plus] beautiful blue enamel, tons of gorgeous stuff.

Stay

I actually cannot tell you my very favorite hotel because then everyone will know about it and it’s my little secret! But the Hotel Armour (8 rue Navarini), I really enjoy, too—and it’s just around the block from us. It’s got great outdoor patio for aperitifs, and inside it’s very modern and cool.

Eat & Drink

Oh, so many. In the neighborhood, we love going to Le Pantruche (3 rue Victor Massé) or Rose Bakery (46 rue des Martyrs) for lunch. La Fontaine de Mars (29 rue Saint-Dominique) is another spot, near the Eiffel tower—the owners also visit us at Buvette. For something more “old school,” I like going to Chez Georges (11 rue des Canettes). Picture a big pot of terrine on the table with your pickle. I’ll eat some Dover sole there.

If it’s later at night, we’ll go up to Montmarte to La Mascotte ( 52 rue des Abbesses). They do these great fruits de mer, so we’ll get couple of bottles of Sancerre and some oysters and hang out. For drinks, we might head up the block toGlass (7 rue Frochot) or Dirty Dick (10 rue Frochot)—there are so many bars in Pigalle.


pesto

mixed herbs and garlic scapes

 

It is a little new for me to think of making a pesto with anything but the HEAPS of basil available at high Summer. I guess that is because that is the type of pesto I grew up eating. Basil pesto had a real moment of chicness in the 80's when it suddenly appeared on menus everywhere, and in every hippie household with a mortar and pestle. Now, a new breed of pesto has emerged. It has been on my mind often this Spring and Summer since Easter, when I made a ramp pesto inspired by something I had had at Marlow and Son's. Pesto, like so many things is having it's moment... A reinvention of sorts, where anything green goes! It has popped up all over the place and with the most unusual ingredients. I recently had a nettle pesto on a sandwich at Saltie, in Williamsburg and a dandelion pesto with pasta at Roman's. Last Summer, while in Italy, I had a most delicious sage pesto served with a ragged and shaggy  Maltagliati pasta. 
Maltagliati pasta is a pasta made from scraps and cuttings of left over pasta dough after other pastas have been made. Add kale, garlic scapes, mixed herbs and arugula to that list and you have a whole new way to eat your greens. With a well stocked pantry and some herbs or greens you can make any sort of pesto you can possibly dream up.

I make pesto both with a mortar and pestle and with my immersion blender or food processor, depending on the ingredients. Basil for instance is easier to make with a mortar and pestle, while garlic scapes or kale really need to be chopped up in the food processor. Crushing the garlic with the salt first with a mortar and pestle releases the oilsdissolves the salt and gives the texture necessary for a good paste. Then the torn basil leaves can be added and pounded before adding the whole thing to a food processor, this combines a little of the old and new world techniques. But do whatever works for you, there is really no right or wrong way.

Pesto, originally came from Liguria, a small region in the northwest of Italy.The mineral-rich seaside soil of Genoa and the Cinque Terra, combined with temperate climate of Liguria make a perfect environment for growing basil. It is not uncommon to see heaps of basil growing in pots on every stoop and every home and balcony in Liguria. The Ligurians created the classic Pesto alla Genovese using a combination of basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and parmigiano.

In Italian the verb pestare means to pound, or to crush, this is where pesto originally gets it's name.

 

BASIC BASIL PESTO/ FOOD PROCESSOR WAY

pine nuts

basil leaves

garlic

juice of half a lemon or a lime

olive oil

parmigiano 

sea salt 

fresh ground black pepper

In a cast iron skillet add 2tblsp. of olive oil. Heat and add 1/3 cup of pine nuts, brown until golden.

remove and set aside.

When the pine nuts are cool, add them to your food processor along with 20 or so fresh basil leaves and 1 large clove of garlic add 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Blend until smooth.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of parmigiano and a couple more tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon or lime.

Blend until creamy. 

Add more salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

MINT AND LEMON BALM PESTO

We always have an abundance of mint and lemonbalm throughout the Summer and into the Fall. We started making an herbed pasta a few years ago and it has now eveolved into a mint pesto. You may find you want to use a smaller garllic clove with this recipie or less of it so it does not overpower the mint. The mint is lovely with sharp contrast of the Pecorino Romano. This pesto has no nuts.

one bunch mint

one bunch lemon balm ( optional, you can make just using the mint)

juice of 1/2 lemon or lime

1 small garlic clove

olive oil

pecorino romano

sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

 

Add the torn mint and  along with a small clove of garlic and 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil to the food processor.

Blendend until smooth. 

Add the juice of 1/2 lemon or lime depending on your preference.

Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil,  sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 cup of pecorino romano.

Blend again until smooth.

 

Set aside 1/2 cup of HOT pasta water before draining the pasta. Quickly mix in with the pesto and add the finished pesto to the pasta

 

SAGE PESTO FROM A TINY RESTURANT IN CATIGNANO, ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF SIENA ITALY

 

One bunch of sage

One fistfull of parsley

Juice of one lemon or lime

Small handfull of raw almonds About 10

one large clove of garlic

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

pecorino romano (optional)

the key is the pasta water... save at least a 1/2 cup to mix in the pesto.

 

I made this one in the food processor because the leaves and the almonds were a little tough to pound and crush by hand.

Add the torn sage leaves, parsley and garlic to the food processor along with 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil and blend until smooth. 

Add the juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 more tablespoons of olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 cup of pecorino romano.

Blend again until smooth.

 

Set aside 1/2 cup of HOT pasta water before draining the pasta. Quickly mix in with the pesto and add the finished pesto to the pasta

 

OTHER PESTO IDEAS

follow the same simple recipie above substituting the basil for any of the following. You can either use nuts or omit, anything goes.

 

Nettle pesto

Dandelion green pesto

Mixed herb pesto ( mint, lemon balm, thyme parsley)

Parsley pesto

Ramp pesto

Arugula pesto

Kale pesto

 

 

ingredients to have on hand

arugula

sage

ramp (EARLY SPRING)

garlic scapes

mixed herbs/ lemon balm, thyme, mint, parsley, sage, chives, 

nettle

walnuts

almonds

olive oil

a nice grassy olive oil

parmigiano

pecorino romano

pine nuts

garlic

dried chile

parsley

lemons

kale

dandelion greens

for the love of Pho

Hungry Ghost Contributor Julian Richards writes in from Saigon. Read his tongue twisting tale of Pho.


First morning in Saigon, alone.  Asian jet-lag is akin to being forcep-birthed underwater: thoughts percolate but become slurry en route to the mouth.  Lips are earthworms, eyes jaundiced lychees webbed with capillaries, moist fish balls.  Gerbil tongue.  Moss teeth.  I slither down the staircase of my one-star on Búi Viện, thin haired, darkly bespectacled and retaining water, like a cheap, hungover Elton John.  Out onto the street into a seething pirhana-shoal of motor-scooters.  A suety white man perhaps five years my senior is instantly, mercilessly sideswiped a mere 10 feet from where I stand. He goes down hard, flopping like a carp.  I turn round and go back into my hotel.  The receptionist and her friend look at me gravely.  "Phở", they say.


LA SUPERIOR
295 BERRY STREET WILLIAMSBURG BROOKLYN

Osteria Morini

 It is no secret that the food of Emiglia Romagna is some of the best in the world. It is a secret however, that the best time to sample some is lunchtime in New York City at Osteria Morini. Morini is a relative newcomer to the Soho/Noho neighborhood, opening just seven months ago, but bound to be here for the long run and to become, like the food it represents, a classic.

I am freelance, and on the very, and I mean VERY, rare occaision that I finish early, I like to have lunch somewhere out. It feels very civilized and mildly European to sit and have a glass of wine in the middle of the day. It's kind of satsifying, like playing hookey.

Yesterday, as luck would have it, I finished early. So I snuck off to Osteria Morini with my friend Meredith for just one of these lunches. I have been to Morini at night and it is quite crowded and hard to get a table. We walked right in at 2pm and although there were many open tables we decided to sit at the bar and have an appetizer or two.

We sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine. We are both of similiar minds in our wine preference. We were looking for something a little earthy, smokey and dirty. We found our perfect wine in a Chianti Ruffina, a biodynamic wine with black forest fruits fine chalky tannins and a  little earth.

We shared some mortadella and proccuito polpettine, made with pork and veal and served in a little bowl of tomato sauce. They were so tasy! It brought me right back to my grandmothers house and that smell of sauce that I think has  permanently altered my DNA. That particular smell and taste is home to to me. It conjures up my Nonna in her house dress, her transluscent skinned hand waving that spoon full of sauce in front of me, as I am allowed one little taste, but what a perfect taste it always was. My grandmother was very funny because she could never just sample the pasta to see if it was done, she always had to take a little pasta put a pinch of sauce add one meatball and a little bit of pecorino and taste it all together... this is what Morini's polpettine reminded me of, home.

We then shared a porchetta sandwich of thinly sliced roasted pork with with balsamic pickled onions a salsa verde, arugula and a lardo pesto. It was the perfect amount of food for a midday lunch on rainy spring day.

 

 NOTE......

I have to add that after going the other day...I became obsessed with those meatballs. I had a lunch plan this week with a friend and her daughter. I suggested Morini. Initially she was worried that it might be too crowded or fancy for a toddler as her daughter is just two and a half, but I assured her that it would be fine. We discovered  not only is Morini a great secret spot for lunch, but that it is also really kid friendly! The staff was super nice, they had a booster seat and there were plenty of things for her to eat. She chose a proscuitto and cheese panini and some mozzarella with rosemary olive oil and grapes... we shared the homemade tagliatelle with ragu antica and then finished it off with a panna cotta (served in a little mason jar) with bitter orange marmalade and salty pistachios.