I don’t think I really understood the difference between concord grapes and any other grape until I tried one last year. Yes, it was only one year ago that I discovered that concord grape wasn’t just what they called fancy grape jelly. These are the best grapes that you’ll ever eat. It’s weird to think so highly of a piece of fruit, but you really have to splurge on some of these babies. They’ll probably be a little pricier than your average black seedless variety, but believe me, it’s sooooo worth it. Concord grapes are incredibly sweet, but at the same time, they seem to have a complexity of flavor that is almost unbelievable. They literally taste like candy. I kept these in my fridge for a little while, trying to decide what would showcase their amazingness the best…but I got busy and therefore sort of lazy when it came time to incorporate my beloved concord grapes into something tasty. So I chose muffins, because everyone loves muffins and honestly, I hadn’t made muffins in a while. These were the real deal. Kramer suggested that I overfill the muffin cups, which I did (nervously), and all worked out well. The muffins were huge, the tops were perfectly crunchy, and each bite was bursting with juicy, delicious concord grapes. I think it ended up being the best way to showcase them after all. Kramer and I split one, or two, who’s counting? Then I gave them away to some friends and Kramer’s co-workers, otherwise I would have certainly devoured them all myself.
Me, the man himself and my friend Tony.
This past Tuesday night, I was invited to attend the 2015 New York Michelin Star Gala. Does that sound exciting or what? I was thrilled. Kramer had class that night, so I took my friend Tony, who is also into nerding out about celebrity chefs and food. We saw the handsome Eric Ripert in the flesh and listened to him speak French as he stood in front of us, I got to actually talk to Carlo Mirarchi, of Blanca fame, and we drank Macallan 18 like real classy broads. It was amazing. I felt so sheepish ordering a glass of 18 year, but the bar was pouring so I was there. We ate, too – sea urchin with seaweed puree and crispy quinoa from Jungsik, buttery potatoes with caviar from Jean Georges, chicken and shrimp dumplings in an insane broth with black truffle from Atera, hamachi with marinated kombu, beets and wasabi from NoMad, smoked eel and foie gras terrine with brown bread and apricot mostarda from Lincoln, BBQ pork belly with creamed corn from Telepan, roasted sunchoke tortellini with oxtail and truffle from River Cafe, and shelling beans with mushrooms and smoked ham hock on miche bread from The Spotted Pig and The Breslin, which I will be able to speak more on later when I have photos to share. It goes without saying that we were spoiled beyond belief, and I relished every single second of it. I’m already going through the 2015 Michelin guide to decide what spots Kramer and I have to hit up this year, especially the bib gourmand restaurants, where you can get an excellent meal for under $40 – quite the steal in NYC!
So aside from stuffing myself silly, which I am really good at, by the way, Kramer and I have friends in town this week and I’m really looking forward to doing fun touristy stuff with them. Obviously most of the “stuff” includes eating good food and having some cocktails – my specialty. Last night, we all went to Roberta’s for a ~welcome to Brooklyn~ meal and of course, enjoyed ourselves quite a bit. Kramer and I had the best eggplant that I’ve ever tasted in my entire life (par for the course), deliciously charred cauliflower and my favorite, their famous sticky, smoked ribs. We also stole a slice of pizza and pieces of crusty bread with salted butter. A few glasses of wine later, we watched South Park and went to bed. I am proud of myself for showing some restraint last night and actually getting a solid 6+ hours of sleep, so let’s see if I can do the same tonight despite whatever late night alcohol and food temptations may await.
Getting in the way of the talented chefs from The Spotted Pig & The Breslin on the line, standing behind Eric Ripert, gazing at some beautiful looking uni and drinking some scotch.
‘Tis the season.
Pitting these is only kind of a pain in the ass, but it’s worth it.
Get your batter together.
Fold your grapes in, divide the batter among your muffin cups and sprinkle generously with raw sugar.
Bake until golden.
These muffins were seriously good.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1½ cups concord grapes, halved and seeded
- 1 cup raw or granulated sugar, for topping
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the sugar and cubed butter, until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in your eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed, then add in the vanilla extract.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, beat to combine, then add half of your milk, beat to combine, and scrape down the bowl. Add another ⅓ of the flour, mix again, then add the rest of the milk, followed by the rest of the flour. Beat until just moistened and scrape down the bowl as needed. Fold in your halved and seeded concord grapes (I found the easiest way to seed them was to simply slice them in half along the slight split at the top, then use a small, sharp knife to scrape out the seeds. It takes less time than you'd think).
- Generously butter or grease 15 muffin cups (that's 1 full sized muffin pan plus a little extra). You can also use muffins cup liners, if you have them. Fill each muffin cup generously with your batter (I filled mine almost to the top). Sprinkle the tops liberally with raw or granulated sugar, then bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are a nice golden brown and the muffins are set. Allow to cool before removing from the pan. If any of the grapes oozed out and stuck the muffin to the pan, simple run a butter knife around the edges to remove the muffins. Serve warm with some salted butter or store in an airtight container, once cooled, at room temperature for up to 3 days.