Grazie Barbetta!

This week we continue our tour of the New York restaurants that generously donated prizes for our “Dine Like a Mad Man” Sweepstakes, which you can enter from our Facebook page by clicking “Dine Like a Mad Man!”

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The main dining room at Barbetta

When Don Draper begins dating the lovely Bethany Van Nuys in Season 4, we first see them at a Benihana Steakhouse, one of many restaurant chains that surfed the wave of American interest in Polynesian and Japanese foods that accompanied Hawaii statehood in 1959. They’re seated around a teppanyaki table with other guests, hardly the intimate dinner Bethany had in mind. Perhaps to atone, Don and Bethany’s next date is at the very elegant Barbetta on West 46th Street, founded in 1906 and operated to this day by the founder’s daughter Laura Maioglio. Specializing in northern Italian cuisine from the Piemonte region, Barbetta is the oldest Italian restaurant in New York still run by the founding family.

Like Executive Chef Bill Rodgers of Keens Steakhouse, Maiolglio had no advance notice Barbetta would be depicted in Mad Men. She learned about it when diners who had seen the episode mentioned it to her. “I have looked at the show often since its inception because of the excitement and buzz that it immediately caused and because it deals with the very years in which I recreated and relaunched Barbetta,” Laura wrote us.

Since viewers never see or hear what Don and Bethany order at Barbetta, when writing The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook we asked Maioglio to imagine what they might have ordered in 1964. As luck would have it, in the 1990s she began putting the date each dish first appeared on the menu on the menu and she suggested the roasted fresh peppers alla bagna cauda, which first appeared in 1962, and for dessert pears baked in red wine alla piemontese, which also debuted that year at Barbetta. Many other dishes served at Barbetta today first appeared on the menu in the early 1960s including fonduta with fresh white truffles.

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The Clinton’s with Laura Maioglio and her husband, Nobel Prize winner in medicine Gunter Blobel

When Don and Bethany dine at Barbetta they cross paths with Betty and her new husband Henry Francis, an aide to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. It’s an awkward moment. But Henry wasn’t the only politically connected New Yorker or politician to savor Barbetta’s charms in the early 1960s and ever since. Guests have included Governor and Mrs. Rockefeller themselves, many members of the Kennedy family and, recently, former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Barbetta was also popular among giants of the fashion industry such as Oleg Cassini, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren, Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Woody Allen and Dudley Moore and musical leading lights such as Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein, James Levine and Yehudi Menuhin.

If you’d like to experience the very finest in Italian dining in New York, enter the sweepstakes. You could win a dinner valued at $500 at Barbetta and Maioglio will help you pick just the right wine.

Here’s Looking at You: Lunch at Keens

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The Lincoln Banquet Room at Keens

We last wrote about Keens Steakhouse on West 36th Street in September in our very first blog entry. We’re going back to Keens today as we begin a series of features about the restaurants that have generously donated prizes for our “Dine Like a Mad Man” Sweepstakes. (Entry info below. For more on the prizes, click here.) It was called Keens Chophouse in Don Draper’s day, but much about Keens remains the same today. And that’s a good thing because you won’t find a better steak or Caesar salad in New York than Keens’. We’ve often commented, as have others, on Mad Men’s fastidious attention to period detail, including the food and drink. But when we visited Keens last year we noticed that it didn’t resemble the Keens depicted in Mad Men (Season 3, Episode 4, “The Arrangements”) where Don, Pete Campbell and Pete’s friend Horace (“Hoho”) Cook retire to discuss Hoho’s half-baked plans to make jai alai a major national sport. Perhaps its expecting too much for a show filmed in L.A. to recreate the interiors of every New York restaurant depicted, but Keens’ warm, Victorian interior is very distinctive (that’s Keens in the banner of our blog): the ceiling is lined with tens of thousands of clay churchwarden pipes that belonged to members of the city’s Pipe Club which originated at Keens in the early 1900s. We were surprised when Keens Executive Chef Bill Rodgers told us that until we contacted him while writing The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook he had no idea there was a Mad Men scene in a recreated Keens.

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Keens Famous Mutton Chop

If you had been the fourth at lunch with Don, Pete and Hoho at Keens in 1962, the cover of the lunch menu delivered by your waiter would have read, “Here’s Looking at You” and the mutton chop, priced at $6.95, was highly touted: “With special pride we recommend Keens’ Famous English Mutton Chop (There is nothing else like it).” Today, be prepared to pay $45 for what a reviewer for New York Magazine called, “a colossal roasted hunk of flavorfulAbout Mutton Ad1 Heres Looking at You: Lunch at Keens mature lamb.” Keens mutton chop has been fawned over by critics from James Beard to Frank Bruni. The restaurant opened in 1885 and when it served its one-millionth mutton chop it was news worthy of The New York Times…in 1935! (For more on the history of Keens, visit their web site.) We feature Keens excellent Caesar Salad in our book, a recipe that remains unchanged since the Mad Men era. But many other Keens staples remain as popular today as they were half a century ago. According to Bill Rodgers the English Mutton Chop, Filet Mignon, and Prime Rib are still favorites as are the Crabmeat Cocktail, Cape Cod Oysters, Oysters Rockefeller and sliced tomato salad with onion and Stilton cheese. Food fads come and go but Keens remains true to its chophouse origins.

If you want to try Keens for yourself, you’ll have chance if you enter our Dine Like a Mad Men Sweepstakes. Visit our Facebook page and click “Dine Like a Mad Man.” You could win dinner for two courtesy of Keens!

A Perfect Manhattan

The return of Mad Men is three months away, but faithful fans like us are already in countdown mode. Just what is it about Mad Men, set in 1960s New York, that so captivates millions of loyal viewers? What’s the secret in the sauce?

Good writing, strong acting, high production values and glamorous actors are surely part of the recipe. But it’s more than that. For baby boomers Mad Men is like time travel to the days of our childhoods.

As children of the 1960s who grew up in the New York suburbs, Mad Men is an A Perfect Manhattan extended look into our parents’ lives when they were our age. When they threw cocktail and dinner parties we’d quietly sneak half way down the stairs and steal a peak of their grown-up world of well-dressed men and women, cocktail glasses in one hand and cigarettes in the other. Mad Men, as one friend described it, allows us to see the world as our parents experienced it. We hope their lives weren’t as dark as Don and Betty Draper’s, but they surely weren’t as relentlessly sunny and innocent as June and Ward Cleaver’s either.

Mad Men also captures the emotional power of unforgettable historical moments that defined the 1960s, from the existential fear induced by the Cuban Missile Crisis to the sorrow of the Kennedy assassination and the hope or, in the case of some of the characters on Mad Men, the angst stirred by Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. That too, resonates with viewers old enough to have lived through those times.

But as we discovered while writing The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, the show is also a huge hit with college students and twenty-somethings. What is it about Mad Men that speaks to them?

Like other viewers they’re drawn to the smart writing, the aesthetic and the story. But when we probed a little deeper we discovered a fascination with a world that, at least on the surface, seems much different than the one they are living in.

 A Perfect ManhattanOne Wellesley College student, a young African-American woman told us, “I can’t believe my parents grew up in such a different world than me.” She was referring to the overt sexism and racism that passed for acceptable workplace behavior. Mad Men lets her see a world she said she cannot imagine.

A Tulane University sophomore echoed that sentiment and added that she found Mad Men empowering. At a time when most college woman are thinking about careers, she finds it fascinating to watch the female characters either acquiesce to or struggle against the limitations they faced in the 1960s.

“Watching the contrast in life style choices between Peggy, Joan and Betty it is so A Perfect Manhattan unbelievable that all of this was very real and normal,” she said. “My grandmother had aspirations of overcoming the stereotypical roles women were expected to fill which makes me think of the ever so determined Peggy! Although she attended college and was an intellectual, once she married my grandfather she never worked another day in her life. Watching the show I can imagine the struggle she faced being such an intellect and having to settle as a housewife.”

We sensed that despite the lingering racism and sexism in this country, these young women were grateful to be living in a more enlightened time when an African-American could be president of the United States and a woman could aspire to be the CEO of a major company, not just a secretary who’d be lucky to work her way up to a junior staff position.

For Mike, a recent graduate of Amherst College, Mad Men lets him see a pre-politically correct world in which people didn’t hide their prejudices.

 A Perfect Manhattan“The initial draw was how it recreated this era that seems, on the surface, so different from our own, “ he said, “women smoking while pregnant, people drinking at all hours of the day, blatant sexual discrimination in the office, etc. But the same problems presented in the show still exist today, yet they seem so much more appalling in a 60s drama than in real life. In today’s politically correct world inequality, racism, and sexism are more beneath the surface. Homophobia is masked as ‘protecting the sanctity of marriage,’ for example. But in Mad Men we see people without that veneer of political correctness. For someone of my generation it’s simultaneously shocking and refreshing.”

We don’t know if Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner could have foreseen the show’s appeal to a young generation of viewers born long after the 1960s, but in creating his perfect Manhattan he’s managed to create a program that is catnip to aging boomers and their children alike.

Aloha and Hau’oli Lanui!

If you were a kid in the late 1950s or early 1960s, as we were, chances are you owned a Hula Hoop.hula Aloha and Hauoli Lanui! And chances are your parents, or someone they knew, owned a Don Ho album or had a muumuu dress in her closet. At some point your family probably tried Japanese food at a Benihana Steak House or faux-Polynesian cuisine at a Trader Vic’s where the cocktails were adorned with orange slices, cherries, pineapple slices and a little umbrella or swizzle stick vaguely shaped like some Pacific island totem. After dinner, maybe you went to the drive-in to see Elvis in Blue Hawaii or Girls! Girls! Girls! also set in Hawaii.

Hawaii gained statehood in 1959, and as statehood approached and for years thereafter, Americans were simply gaga for anything that smacked of these exotic Pacific islands half way between Japan and the mainland. “Backyard luaus, the traditional native feast, are likely to become as popular as the hula hoop last summer,” declared New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne in 1959. That same year the Associated Press reported that tourism to Hawaii was expected to increase from 100,000 to one million visitor a year.

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Victor Bergeron, a/k/a Trader Vic, at work in Oakland, California

Mad Men, with its meticulous attention to detail, captures this slice of American life, especially when it comes to food and drink. Remember Don Draper’s first date with Bethany Van Nuys in Season 4, Episode 5 (“The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”)? They’re seated at a teppanyaki table at a Benihana, which lacks the intimacy Bethany is seeking. But the Mai Tai she’s drinking looks delicious. The Mai Tai makes several appearances in Mad Men, a cocktail widely attributed to Victor Bergeron, the California-born restaurateur who founded the Trader Vic’s chain.

On New Year’s Eve 1964, Joan Holloway welcomes fiance Dr.Greg Miller home after a hard day at the hospital, places a lei around his neck, and leads him to a Hawaiian-style dinner she’s prepared (Season 4, Episode 3, “The Good News”). There’s a glazed ham decorated with pineapple and a mysterious blue liquid in a glass which we took to be a Blue Hawaii cocktail.

There’s also a nod to the 50th state in Season 2, Episode 11 (“The Jet Set” ) when Don Aloha and Hauoli Lanui! and Pete Campbell travel to Los Angeles for a meeting and Pete is seen poolside at The Beverly Hills Hotel sipping an orange-yellow cocktail. For The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook we asked the hotel to help us identify the concoction. They dug into the archives and determined it was a Royal Hawaiian, a cocktail popularized at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.

If you want to host a Hawaiian-style luau to welcome back Mad Men this March, or a Hawaii-themed holiday party this winter, there are a host of recipes in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook to choose from: Mai Tais, Blue Hawaiis, Royal Hawaiians, Rumaki, egg rolls Sterling Cooper-style, pineapple-glazed ham, and, to top if off, pineapple upside down cake. Even in New York in winter there are ways to bring the Hawaiian islands home. Hau’oli Lanui! (Happy Holidays!)

A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

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For your holiday party with a Mad Men-twist this year we’ve compiled a can’t-miss cocktail menu with several of our favorite Mad Men libations. You can find the recipes in our new book, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, along with tips for throwing a successful Mad Men–style cocktail party.

In almost any episode of Mad Men you’ll see enough alcohol to sink a ship, not to mention a struggling mid-size Madison Avenue advertising firm. So, let’s travel back to the early 1960s when Elvis was King, John F. Kennedy was President and Don Draper was Mayor of Madison Avenue.

Unless you want to spend the evening bartending, we advise you to select just a few types of cocktail. Pick and choose from the selections below based on your guests’ cocktail preferences.

Old Fashioned. It’s the very first food or drink seen in Mad Men, at the opening of the first episode. Don Draper and an Old Fashioned go together like pastrami and rye. Bourbon or rye (the liquid kind) is the central ingredient in this classic and to make it Don’s way you’ll have to muddle the cherry.

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Old Fashioned

Martini. For every Old Fashioned Don drinks, Roger Sterling has at least one Martini, maybe more. It’s hard to imagine a simpler cocktail, vermouth and gin are the only ingredients in a classic martini unless you count the olive or cocktail onion, but proportion and quality ingredients are key. This iconic cocktail of the Mad Men era is sure to be a hit.

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Martini

Mai Tai. This fruity concoction is lavishly decorated with slices of fruit, miniature paper umbrella and swizzle sticks of vaguely Polynesian appearance. “That’s quite a drink,” says Don when department store Rachel Menken orders one at El Morocco. Since this is a season when decorations are everywhere, why not in your drink?

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Mai Tai

Brandy Alexander. Another drink ”for the ladies,” as Roger might refer to it, the BrandyAlexander is practically a confection made with crème de cacao, brandy and cream. Peggy Olson likes hers very sweet: to each, her own.

 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

Brandy Alexander

Jade. Christmas conjures images of red and green so the Jade, which derives its color from green Crème de Menthe, is a perfect complement to your holiday gathering (or when your drowning your sorrows after Nixon’s loss to Kennedy in the 1960 election and there’s only Crème de Menthe left in the Sterling Cooper liquor closet).

 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

Jade

Canadian Clubhouse Punch. For the host or hostess who would rather join in the fun than serve drinks all night this popular punch featured in Canadian Club’s 1961 holiday advertising is the perfect choice for December festivities. Made with Don Draper’s preferred brand, your guests can serve themselves. But since punch should be pre-mixed, your guests won’t know what in it or in what quantities so be careful: punch can really pack a punch.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch

Stork Club Cocktail Punch. Another cocktail that can be simplified by serving it in a punch bowl is the Stork Club Cocktail, a creation of the gone but not forgotten hub of New York café society for four decades. The Stork Club was, according to famed gossip columnist Walter Winchell, “New York’s New Yorkiest place,” frequented by the likes of Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and, of course, the glamorous Don and Betty Draper. Triple Sec, gin and Angostura bitters are the foundation of what one might call New York’s New Yorkiest cocktail.

 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

Stork Club Cocktail

Eggnog. Finally, what holiday party would be complete without this classic of the season. You can use cognac, brandy or rum as your base ingredient. The other ingredients read like a list of items for a fabulous dessert. It’s a hit at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Christmas Party in 1964, and is certain to add cheer to your holiday celebration this year.

 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

Eggnog

Can You Take a Punch?

What is it about punch? Is it the fruity, easy on the palate taste? The impunity with which you can consume a self-serve alcoholic beverage with no one knowing you’re back for fourths? The festive atmosphere it imparts to a social gathering? Or is it that the punch bowl is a party’s equivalent of the office water cooler: a place to gather, chat and refill? Punch was a fixture at many a party and social gathering in the 1960s, but today you’d be hard pressed to find a household in which the punch bowl hasn’t been mothballed along with the 9-inch black and white TV.

Unlike most alcoholic drinks, when you dip into a punch bowl you often have no idea what’s in it, or how potent it might be. And since many punches have a sweet, fruity taste, it’s easy to forget that a punch can pack a punch. Punch can be made with brandy, gin, sherry, whisky or rum. Indeed, it’s widely thought that the term “punch” is a shortened version “puncheon,” a cask used to transport rum. Others suggest it derives from the Hindu word for “five” (panch) referring to five ingredients in a concoction the British found in 16th century India and which has evolved into modern punch. References to punch in North America date as far back as the late 17th century and it was a staple of many a fancy social gathering. A fine punch bowl was a fixture in the best homes.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch

Punch was especially popular as a holiday treat, and is a prominent feature of the buffet table at Sterling Cooper’s 1964 Christmas party. (Season 4, Episode 2, “Christmas Comes But Once a Year.”) The firm was struggling and office manager/party planner extraordinaire Joan Harris was under instructions to keep costs down. But when Roger Sterling learns that Lee Garner, Jr., the arrogant, party-boy son of Lucky Strike owner Lee Garner, Sr., is going to be in town, they have to pull out all the stops and put on a show. Lucky Strike is the firm’s biggest account, Lee loves Christmas, and Roger will do whatever it takes to keep his most important happy.

We don’t know what went into the Sterling Cooper holiday punch, so we set out to come up with a punch for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook that would have been fitting for the firm’s holiday party. Many were too sweet, others too potent. Then we came upon a 1961 advertisement for Canadian Club whisky that included “a recipe for an extra note of cheer,” called Canadian Clubhouse Punch. Since Canadian Club is Don Draper’s preferred brand of whisky we thought it was a natural for the Sterling Cooper holiday party, and we loved it too: a delicious blend of fruit juice, Canadian Club and brandy.

Another favorite punch in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook is The Stork Club Cocktail, a combination of fruit juices, triple sec and gin which works well as a single cocktail or a punch. At testing parties we hosted while preparing the book, The Stork Club Cocktail disappeared fast.

The famed gossip columnist Walter Winchell once called The Stork Club on 53rd Street near Fifth Avenue, “New York’s New Yorkiest place.” Opened in 1929, the Stork Club Can You Take a Punch? became the hub of New York society and attracted movie stars, aristocrats, showgirls, and business moguls. Money, power, and glamour mixed at the Stork Club as in no other place in New York, and its air of exclusivity made it all the more appealing. Among the legions of the rich and famous to frequent the Stork Club were Grace Kelly, Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, the Kennedys…and Sterling Cooper’s own Don Draper and his wife, Betty. When comedian Jimmy Barrett seals a deal for his new television show with ABC, the Stork Club hosts the celebration. (Season 2, Episode 7, “The Gold Violin.”) The Stork Club closed in 1965, but the legend lives on.

Today, punch is just as likely to be mixed in a trash bag-lined garbage can at a fraternity party as appear at a country-club wedding. But it was once a sign of sophistication and mixing one just right a form of alchemy.

Cooking Up The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

Judy has written two cookbooks pairing food with literature, so it wasn’t a huge stretch to see why she was so curious about the food and drink seen in Mad Men. Just as authors use food and drink to establish time, place and mood, so do directors. Mad Men is justly renowned for its exquisite attention to period detail. If you grew up near New York in the 1960s, as we did, you know Mad Men, though filmed largely in Los Angeles, evokes 1960s Manhattan with arresting accuracy. Everything feels right about it: from the furniture and the narrow neckties to the restaurants and the food. It speaks volumes about Judy that while most female viewers were enjoying the cut of Don Draper’s jib, she was trying to figure out, “what did Betty use to glaze that ham in her fridge?”

 Cooking Up The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

The Drapers and the Cleavers shared an era but not a lifestyle.

Judy was addicted to Mad Men for four seasons before she finally persuaded husband Peter to watch. And then he was hooked. Peter agreed: it was like peeking into our parents’ world with the benefit of adult perspective. The people in Mad Men may dress like the Cleavers and the Andersons, live in neat suburban homes like them and eat similar foods, too, but Mad Men serves up a much different, more complicated and cynical world than the one we thought we grew up in. Ward and June Cleaver never touched alcohol and there was never a hint they were unfaithful to each other, either.

Our goal was to create a cookbook with recipes for food and drink that appear in Mad Men and which were authentic to the times. And we wanted every recipe in our book had to tie in to a specific scene in Mad Men. Historical context was critical so viewers might better understand why the creators might have chosen these foods and these bars and restaurants to feature in the show. For example, why all the Mai Tais? The quick answer is that with the new addition of Hawaii to the Union, Americans were fascinated with Polynesian culture. Why the many French restaurants? Julia Child had just burst on the scene and was popularizing the French cusine detailed in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And America’s royalty, President and Mrs. Kennedy were so fond of French food, they hired a French chef as their White House chef. For Mad Men fans who are also foodies, we thought this kind of gastronomic history would enhance their appreciation of Mad Men and the pinpoint accuracy of its re-creation of 1960s New York.

Our first step in creating The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook was to note every item of foodTheUnofficialMadMenCookbook FrontCover 233x300 Cooking Up The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook and every restaurant seen or mentioned in the first four seasons of Mad Men, from Spam to ham, from caviar to Chicken Kiev; from absinthe and crème de menthe to Canadian Club whisky and Smirnoff’s vodka; from Keens Chophouse (now Keens Steakhouse) and the Forum of the Twelve Caesars (now defunct) to Barbetta and the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

Our next step was to obtain as many recipes as possible from restaurants, bars and hotels featured in the show that are still operating today. If the recipe had changed over the years, as it had, for example, for the Grand Central Oyster Bar’s Oysters Rockefeller, we wanted the recipe for the version served in 1962. Sometimes a concoction we were looking for had long since been extinct. The Beverly Hills Hotel hasn’t served a Royal Hawaiian cocktail in decades, but since Pete Campbell sips one poolside on a visit to L.A. we wanted the privilege of tasting one, too, and the Beverly Hills Hotel was able to oblige, though they had to dig deep to find the recipe.

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The authors taking a break from a marathon Mad Men cooking session.

Next we pored over countless period cookbooks, magazines and advertisements (after all, Mad Men is about the advertising industry), not only for recipes, but to learn about the dining and culinary trends of the era. We also looked for cookbooks the characters might have used, or those we saw on their kitchen counters. When Joan Harris (formerly Holloway) made that crown roast in her tiny kitchen to serve at a dinner party, we turned to The Small Kitchen Cookbook by Nina Mortellito (Walker and Company, 1964) for a recipe. When Pete Campbell asks his new wife to make rib eye in the pan, we thought a logical cookbook selection for Trudy cooking for her “ad man” would have been The Madison Avenue Cookbook by Alan Koehler (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962). Then we tested and retested recipes to make sure they worked and that the result was, if not delicious, as least close.

As Mad Men’s season five approaches, we look forward to renewing our pursuit inside the kitchens, restaurants and bars of Mad Men.

Is it Lindy’s?

In the late 1950s Craig Claiborne, The New York Times restaurant critic and food writer, approached Leo Lindemann, the owner of the famed Lindy’s restaurant and deli in New York, and pleaded for his cheesecake recipe to no avail. In 1977, Claiborne claimed he had since come into possession of this treasure via

 Is it Lindys?

Craig Claiborne

Guy Pascal, a distinguished pastry chef who purportedly reverse engineered the recipe by watching a former Lindy’s baker who came to work for him in Las Vegas. Pascal said he did various calculations based on the amount of cream cheese he was purchasing and the number of cakes being produced, and by glancing inconspicuously as the furtive baker went about his business. In six months, claimed Pascal, he had deciphered the secret.
After Claiborne’s article appeared, a flood of letters to the Times disputed Pascal’s claim. Some said the original recipe had been published years before in The New York Herald Tribune. Others wrote the real recipe had been published in Woman’s Day or Family Circle or McCall’s or even the Times itself. One astute writer pointed out that the original recipe had been published in Clementine Paddleford’s seminal book, How America Eats (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1960).

 Is it Lindys?

In her book, Paddleford, a food editor for This Week Magazine and a food writer for The New York Tribune, wrote, “the late Mr. Lindy…was a lovable, laughable, unpredictable little man. If he liked you he would give you anything except the way of the cheesecake.” Lindy must have really liked Paddleford if her account is to be believed. As Paddleford finished a piece of the famous cheesecake, she asked Lindy, “how about serving up the recipe?” Lindy summoned his pastry chef, Paul Landry. “He couldn’t believe his ears,” wrote Paddleford. “The cheesecake recipe was being handed over by the big boss. I give it to you as Paul Landry gave it to me.”

Paddleford was America’s best known and most influential food writer for over four decades, read by 12 million people a week. So, why would Craig Claiborne, and a famous pastry chef like Guy Pascal, claim to have unlocked the mystery seventeen years later? And why would Lindy, after decades of holding the recipe so close, share it with Paddleford?

 Is it Lindys?

 Claiborne was probably well aware of Paddleford’s claim and chose to ignore it, for it made his own story all the more sensational. Claiborne began at the Times in 1957, towards the end of Paddleford’s career. But, according to Paddleford’s biographers, Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris writing in Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate (Gotham Books, 2008), there was little love lost between them. Claiborne, they wrote, had a way of covering ground Paddleford had already trod “as if he were the first to discover it.” The competition between them was further fueled by the competition between their two newspapers, with the upstart Times on the rise and the Trib on the decline (it closed in 1966). In his own memoir, A Feast Made for Laughter: A Memoir with Recipes (Henry Holt & Co., 1983), published fifteen years after Paddleford’s death, Claiborne was dismissive of the woman widely considered “the grand dame of food writing.” Paddleford, he wrote “would not have been able to distinguish skillfully scrambled eggs from a third-rate omelet.” Ouch!

The answer to the second question, why Lindy might have obliged Paddleford, is simple. Paddleford was so influential that her mention of a restaurant could, according to Alexander and Harris, “easily double its business.”

 Is it Lindys?

Paddleford’s claim to have been given the original by Lindy himself is bolstered by a memo she wrote to Louella Shouer at Ladies’ Home Journal in which she recounts making and remaking the recipe and finally asking “the reluctant chef to come to our kitchen” where he “made the delicacy while our testers looked on at the step by step procedure.”

Lindy’s cheesecake recipe is included in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, adapted from Paddleford’s book. Whether it’s truly Lindy’s original is anybody’s guess, but it’s a winner.

Shoot!

A good cookbook should not only please your sense of taste (both literal and aesthetic), but should be a feast for your eyes, too. After all, how food looks has a lot to do with its appeal.  Last week we wrote about some of the misconceptions about the culinary landscape of the 1960s: it wasn’t just a world of frozen vegetables, canned fruit and Jell-O molds. Then, as always, there was fine cuisine to be had that was pleasing to the palate and the eyes. To help make the case, we engaged Nina Gallant, an accomplished food photographer, and Catrine Kelty, an equally accomplished food stylist, to shoot a series of color photographs for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch as shot by an amateur.

The smell of pineapple upside down cake was wafting down the driveway as Judy pulled up to Catrine’s house for photo shoot about 9 o’clock one late spring morning. It wasn’t the first cake our intrepid stylist had whipped up that morning; she’d been at it since 5:00 am. Catrine is nothing if not efficient. There isn’t a wasted movement, or a wasted minute, in her carefully choreographed kitchen routines.

As the stylist it was her job to prepare the food for the shoot and to select period-appropriate linens, place settings, and other props so we wouldn’t have, say, ultramodern Swedish utensils in a book trying to evoke the 1960s. Catrine usually has on hand every prop you could imagine for a food shoot, but this was a special collection assembled for our book and she obviously had fun coming up with the pairings for our recipes.

We knew, of course, that we’d have to be selective: in a book with over 70 recipes, you can’t have a full color photo of everyone without breaking the budget. So, Nina, Catrine and Judy went back and forth before the shoot trying to discern which finished dishes would photograph well and whet the appetites of readers. Salads, with their multiple and often colorful ingredients would appeal, but the more complex hearts of palm salad seemed a better choice than, say, the simple (but delicious) wedge salad. And a photo of the avocado and crabmeat mimosa, which isn’t familiar to most people, would be more informative than a classic shrimp cocktail. After debating the virtues and vices of many of the recipes in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook about a dozen dishes were selected for the shoot, with each major food group represented. No, we don’t mean the food groups you learned as a kid in school; we mean the food groups in our book: cocktails, appetizers, salads, main course and desserts.

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Nina and Catrine setting up a shot.

For those of us to whom photography is a point and shoot enterprise, it’s astonishing to watch the preparation that goes into each shot when you are working with a pro like Nina. She tried to take maximize the use of the natural light in Catrine’s home, but each shot still required framing the shot, trying different linens (there’s always an offending wrinkle in the linen!) and drink ware, finding new colors, and tinkering to eliminate shadows. When to Judy’s eye, everything was perfect, well, Nina and Catrine tried something else. The background martini glass is too large. We need another fork. Let’s move the olive tray. The pears need to re-glazed. There’s always another idea to try and Judy soon began to wonder if it might take a full week to do it right.

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Lunch!

By noon, many of the dishes were still to be styled and shot, but lunchtime is lunchtime and since Catrine had prepared Gambas au beurre d’Escargot (Shrimp in Snail Butter), blini with caviar, hearts of palm salad, gazpacho, and canapés for the morning shoot, a delicious lunch was ready and waiting (being a cookbook author can be very tough work). To wash it down there was no choice but the Canadian Clubhouse Punch.

For Nina and Catrine it’s all about controlling the color, the light, the texture. But the most admirable control of the day was the self-control of Catrine’s dog, Caper. He’s like a part of the crew, his tail or nose just barely off-camera. But how he restrains himself in the face of a rib-eye in the pan is truly remarkable.

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Caper doesn’t seem the least bit interested in the rib-eye on the table.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch as shot by a couple of pros.

Even Don Draper and Roger Sterling had to go back to the office, no matter how many oysters, Martinis and Old Fashioneds they’d had at lunch, and so it was for the photographer and stylist. But with seven photos to shoot after lunch could all thirteen be done by 6 p.m? When that hour rolls around it’s down to the final two: the crabmeat mimosa and Oysters Rockefeller, but the oysters still need to be shucked, a job no one is looking forward to…and Catrine’s book club is arriving in a half hour for a non-Mad Men-style dinner! The last two shots will have to wait until morning.

 

The photo shoot was more work for this dynamic duo than we ever imagined, but the results…well, they speak for themselves and prove that when it comes to taste, a picture can be worth a thousand words.

What About the Jello Mold?

Tell someone you’re writing a cookbook designed to take readers back to the 1960s and you’ll get questions such as these:

“Will you include a recipe for jello mold?”

“Do you have Grasshopper pie?”

“How about a tuna noodle casserole made with canned soup?”

“How many recipes involve Spam?”

But when you read The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook you’ll find that the answers to these questions are, “no, no, no and none.” True, there are no recipes in the book that call for goat cheese, wasabi or balsamic reductions, either. And, certainly there was some pretty tacky food that was popular in the 1960s. But there was a lot of fine food, too, even if some of it isn’t as ubiquitous today as it once was.

We didn’t set out to simply compile recipes from the 1960s in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook; the foods had to be featured in Mad Men, served in the restaurants and bars featured in the show, or have some other close connection to the storylines. We also wanted to ensure 1960s authenticity which is why we never settled only for updated recipes for, say, Waldorf Salad or Oysters Rockefeller, though we sometimes included both the old and the new. We worked with chefs, bartenders and restaurant owners to dish up the recipes used in their establishments in the early 1960s, when Don Draper and Roger Sterling might have walked through the door.

il fullxfull.88513562 300x221 What About the Jello Mold?Our quest for authenticity took us deep into the shelves of special cookbook collections and to the pages of magazines and newspapers of the time. Sometimes it was obvious which cookbooks to turn to: on her kitchen counter Betty Draper kept copies of The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, the so-called “Red Plaid,” and Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook. But we Scan 11 300x171 What About the Jello Mold?dug deeper, in some cases into Julia Child’s personal cookbook collection now held at Radcliffe College’s Schlesinger Library. Holding a cookbook in which Julia Child had inscribed her name is simply a thrilling experience. Sometimes you never know what might fall out of an old cookbook: a handwritten family recipe for scalloped potatoes, or an old Frito’s “Party Games of the Stars” pamphlet featuring Art Linkletter.

We consulted cookbooks by the pre-eminent food writers and chefs of the time: Child along with James Beard, Clementine Paddleford, and Craig Claiborne. Old copies of

 What About the Jello Mold?

James Beard

Life magazine, Gourmet and Woman’s Day, to name a few, also delivered insight into food trends and recipes for canapés, eggnog, and a Bacardi Rum Frappè. Then there were the truly quirky cookbooks we gleefully stumbled upon which were reflective of the times, books such as Poppy Cannon’s New Can Opener Cookbook, a cookbook built around a new utensil of convenience (others were specific to the electric skillet or the blender), and Nina Mortellito’s Small Kitchen Cookbook which showed urban dwellers, such as Joan Holloway, how to make big meals in their tiny apartment kitchens. (In Season 3, Episode 3, “My Old Kentucky Home,” Joan prepares a crown roast in her tiny kitchen.) Betty Draper was insecure about her culinary skills so Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Bookwas a logical place to hunt for recipes and it was there that we found a Turkey Tetrazzini recipe we adapted for our book. Why Turkey Tetrazzini? In Season 1, Episode 9 (“Shoot”), Betty reveals her doubts about her cooking

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Sardi’s Hearts of Palm Salad from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

skills as she serves Don Turkey Tetrazzini for dinner one night. At times we felt like culinary anthropologists, or at least sleuths, as we tried to track down recipes that were both authentic to the time period and connected to Mad Men.

So, no to jello mold — yes to Hearts of Palm Salad, Devlled Eggs and Beef WellingtonAnd is this retro-food tasty? It all disappeared quickly at cocktail and dinner parties where our friends tasted many of the recipes in our book. But there was one part of the1960s social scene we avoided like the plague: there was no smoking.