Beautiful Buvette

On a rainy Monday night in midtown a few weeks ago, I found myself faced with classic New York dilemma. I was running late to meet Andy for his birthday dinner downtown and needed to make a decision: Should I try to catch a cab (always a risky proposition on a rainy night) or just get on the subway, which involved a transfer (always a time-eater)? At the same time, I was also asking myself Why didn’t we just stay home for his birthday? The girls could’ve been part of it and I certainly wouldn’t be standing on a corner soaking wet, nervous about being late. To add to my decidedly First World anxiety, we were going to Buvette, a jewel box of a restaurant on Grove Street in the West Village, run by Jody Williams, who has become something of a cult hero to food insiders and bon vivants everywhere. In other words, it’s popular. Every minute I was late felt like an hour I’d have to queue up for an open table.

I took the subway to Christopher Street, sprinting a block in the rain, by then coming down sideways. When I finally bulldozed into the gastrotheque, feeling very much like a wet dog, I made my way back to Andy seated at a small table tucked into a corner. “Happy Birthday, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Happy Birthday,” I said, but less sorry than relieved that we still had a table.

“What’s the stress?” he said, taking a sip of his Manhattan and leaning back. “You’re here. Look at this place.” He opened his arms wide, as if personally presenting Buvette to me.

He loved Buvette — which is why we picked it for his birthday. I looked around at the intimate, brick-exposed space, at the regulars reading books and drinking cocktails at the marble-topped bar, at the chandelier made from old cooking equipment hanging like a piece of modern art in the back room. For all the trendy chatter about this place, it felt neighborly and warm, as if it had been here forever. Within minutes, I was sipping my own Manhattan, overtaken by the warmth, the cold rainy streets fading away like a jet trail.

I’ve only been to Buvette for dinner, but I’ve heard it has this escapist effect on diners no matter what the meal, and no matter what state of harriedness the diner might arrive in. Like the corner we were tucked into, everything about the place is small: The table, the menu, the plates, the portions, the covered ramekins holding little cassoulets, confits, rabbit stews, and coq au vins. We started with two toasts: Fava and Ricotta and Anchovies with Butter, then moved on to beets with horseradish creme fraiche (coming soon to a dinner table near me) and rabbit moutarde before finishing with a chocolate mousse, so densely chocolate that the two forks planted like flagpoles in the dessert stood upright until we removed them and mauled what sat before us.

I’m not writing this to a) make you jealous or b) gloat (though I will say, I nailed the birthday dinner.) I’m writing because as of this week, even people who don’t live within a subway transfer of Buvette can still have the experience at home (minus the sprinting and the raining hopefully). Recipes for everything we ate that night are in Williams’ new book Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food: The toasts, the moutarde, the mousse, the creme fraiche — not to mention everything else we want to go back to eat including the Roast Chicken Salad (above, left) Braised Leeks with Shallot Vinaigrette (above, right), Oatmeal Brulee (below), Duck Confit, Warm Potato Salad with Anchovies, and an Apple and Cheese Fricos that my kids would go crazy for. And the book itself, with its cloth spine and poetic photography (by Gentl & Hyers) is one of the more stunning objects I’ve seen. I know what I’m giving hosts and Mother’s Day celebrants this year.

Soft-boiled egg with prosciutto-wrapped Parmesan-spiked soldiers.

Toasted Oatmeal Brûlée that can be made up to a week in advance — should you be doing some breakfast or brunch entertaining.

Apple and Cheese Fricos
Makes 4 fricos

Extra-virgin olive oil
1½ cups coarsely grated Montasio cheese (or other aged cow’s-milk cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1 Gala apple, stemmed, cored, and thinly sliced
4 fresh sage leaves

Set a heavy medium skillet over medium heat and pour in enough olive oil to thinly coat the entire surface of the pan. Sprinkle a quarter of the cheese evenly over the surface of the pan and scatter over a quarter of the apple slices and a sage leaf. Cook until the cheese has completely melted, is bubbling, and is golden brown on its underside. Using a spatula, carefully fold half the cheese over to form a half-moon shape (like an omelette) and transfer the frico to a square of parchment paper.

Continue to make fricos with the remaining cheese and apples, adding more oil to the pan as necessary. Serve warm.

Here’s some great news: Grand Central Publishing is offering a free copy of Buvette to a commenter chosen at random below. Contest ends 4/23 at 5 PM ET and winners must live in the US. Good luck!

 Best logo ever.

Update: The winner is Courtney (A Life From Scratch) #255. Thanks to everyone who participated! Also: apologies that the deadline originally said 4/24 instead of 4/23! I totally messed up the date — it was only supposed to be a two-day contest; please forgive the typo. 

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302 Comments

Laurie

Love, love, love your website. Our children have left the nest, but dinner still remains a challenge for my husband and me. Your website has given me motivation as well as inpiration!

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Adrianne

Everything looks lovely. My husband and I have started a cookbook challenge – to cook through (most) of a cookbook’s recipes in a year…this one is going to have to go in the queue.

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Sarah

I love Buvette but have only been for breakfast. I guess it’s time for another New York trip…

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Amy

Gorgeous photos to go with your beautifully descriptive comments! Sounds like a fabulous evening.

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Alyssa V.

Oooo, that logo really is the best. Glad that the birthday dinner was such a success!

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Louisa S.

I’m so curious about that toasted oatmeal brulée! What a gorgeous, mouthwatering book.

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Julie C

I need to find out whatever that is on the cover of the cookbook so I can immediately make it and start consuming it — looks delicious! Would love a copy of this book.

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Leann Coleman

Headed to NYC soon and am eager to go to Buvette! Thanks for the review.

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Renee

I’ve wanted to visit this place ever since reading about it in MSL. (And seeing those little Nutella spoons they serve!) I’d be so thrilled to have a copy of Buvette in my little Indiana kitchen.

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tricia

I LOVE your blog Jennie. But is sucks that all your contests are just for the U.S. I just had to say :)

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Mia

I would study this book cover to cover, splattering each page with the ingredients as I mulled over the steps- the way a well loved cookbook should look!

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Jennifer

There is nothing better than a warm, cozy, intimate restaurant , and especially for special celebrations. This place sounds lovely.

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Chantelle

Everything looks amazing! Especially the soft boiled egg with the parmesan wrapped prosciutto.

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Natalie

Oh my husband and I went on one fabulous date to Buvette when we were in the city last summer and we still talk about that place all the time! We loved the wine we had so much that we ordered a case of it (which we NEVER do) a few weeks later. I can’t wait to try some of these recipes at home!

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Alicia B

I have been on a quest for the perfect baked oatmeal for Christmas morning for years. But clearly I should be making toasted oatmeal brûlée instead! WOW.

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Sarah

The soft-boiled egg with prosciutto-wrapped Parmesan-spiked soldiers loves heavenly.

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Krista

Thanks, DALS–for your site, your books, your BA stuff, the inspiration, this giveaway!

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Kate

The cookbook looks amazing, but mostly your post was so evocative it took me away from my current situation: trapped at home with a child with stomach flu!

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Rose

I’ve only been to Buvette for breakfast, and I adore it!! Love your post. Maybe I’ll have to make it over there for dinner!

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Liesel

Beautifully written story- glad you were able to enjoy the Birthday meal together. Cook book looks intriguing!

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Merrill

It has long been a dream of mine to eat at Buvette–guess I’ll have to content myself with cooking from the cookbook! Le sigh.

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Tori

Oh, that food looks so gorgeous! The photography alone seems to inspire an escapist effect!

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Shirley

Your girls are not the only ones who will go crazy for apple and cheese fricos!

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Julia Hart

Wow! I love when I stumble on a restaurant that feels secluded and neighborly! And the food looks AH-mazing!

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Kathleen

Thank you for sharing this moment of foodie-ism and family. I see some of the same ahead for us!

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Emalie

Oatmeal Brûlée?!?! I think I will have to purchase this book for that recipe alone… I make baked oatmeal every week- and my little kitchen torch is perhaps the most underused and underrated kitchen tool I have.

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Angela

When I moved from Brooklyn to DC, I first missed my friends and that was closely followed by food at places like Buvette. Looks delicious.

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Megan

What a great choice for a birthday dinner! I have had Buvette on my list for a while, and hope to make it there over the spring. However, I would love a copy of the book to recreate their beautiful dishes at home!

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Jen

I got sidetracked by the food photos on the Buvette website and nearly missed the chance at the giveaway!

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Anna

I am having serious food envy right now! I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of that book!!

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Anna

Kudos for nailing the birthday dinner! The food looks delicious. I’d love to try the restaurant and cook from the book.

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Deena Trainor

Sounds magical! First thing I would try is the oatmeal. Anything I can make ahead for a brunch is grrrreat.

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Maria

I discovered Buvette by chance 2 years ago. I was just walking on the street looking for a place to eat and we walked in. Now everytime I go to New York it is a mandatory stop. I love that place!!

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Chrissy M.

I absolutely LOVE your story. Truly, there is nothing better in the world than French food on a stormy night. :)

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Chrissy M.

I absolutely LOVE your story. Truly, there is nothing better in the world than French food on a stormy night.

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Amanda K

The photos look beautiful! I’m would love to own the book – very inspiring!

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Andi

Looks delicious! I love finding restaurants that melt ones cares away with their food, drink, and ambiance.

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Terrill

I am not easily able to go there for dinner–though I’d love to–but I would sure like a copy of the book!

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Jenifer

I read about this restaurant a few months back in Bon Appetit. I have not been yet but the description reminds of the small bistros I went to in Brittany and Paris back when I was in college. I look froward to dining there in the future but first the book to cook from!

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Grace

I don’t know what I’m more excited about with this new cookbook — the delicious recipes or the amazing photography!

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Allyson

I only know of Gentl & Hyers thorugh Hungry Ghost but they shoot some of the most amazing pictures I’ve ever seen. That dinner sounds fantastic, and both the photographs and your description is making me hungry.

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Christine

Wow, what an amazing experience. So glad it worked out and you had a perfect dinner.

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Taylor

My husband and I live in Brooklyn and are always looking for new restaurants to try – I’m definitely inspired to go to Buvette now! Would also LOVE to have their cookbook to try some new recipes at home!

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Ting

Buvette is my favorite restaurant for any meal of the day. Despite how many new restaurants we haven’t tried, it’s always our first choice!

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Mahdis

This looks so beautiful! Would love to win this to add to my growing cookbook stash :)

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Sarah

I want to go to there. But first, I want to win the book.

Happy birthday to Andy!

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Esha

What a lovely place for a birthday dinner! Have to tell my husband about this. Sharing this post now!

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Jess.

Late-for-dinner anxiety is the worst! (Except, of course, late-for-birthday-dinner anxiety.) This book is beautiful, and those fricos! My kids will also be bonkers for those. xox

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Heather

Love the idea of a place like this – and of a dinner with my husband somewhere that doesn’t serve anything in nugget form.

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Alexandra

I live in the Seattle area and have recently been hearing the praising of Buvette! Those leeks, and toasts, make me want to hop on a plane now to visit. Fingers crossed for their beautiful cookbook. Thanks!

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Sarmistha

Want it for my friends/neighbor in TX who are in their late 80′s & hardly can go out & venture different restaurants in other states…..so if I am the lucky one, kindly ask for their email & address & you can ship directly to them.

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Susan

Living in the Midwest, we sometimes need to bring the world in! What a great way to do it by ordering “Buvette” ! I just did!

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Christina

Your story makes me wish I lived in NYC so I could go to a cute, cozy restaurant with amazing food. The next best thing would be to win the cookbook!

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Lori

Expecting loads of out of town guests for daughters 13th bday. Would love great recipes to serve to our visitors! Thanks for giveaway.

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Pat

Thanks for your inspiring blog. It’s also nice to think of you running through the rain and being greeted with a smooth, “You’re here.” Cheers for both of you!

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Amberly

Those fricos look delicious and Buvette sounds fantastic – I’ll have to go visit! Thanks for sharing one of your favorites :-)

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Pam B

Makes me hope tonight’ restaurant dinner in LA could be at Buvette – or at least include mustard rabbit, those soft boiled eggs and yummy soldiers – at least I know I can get a Manhattan

Happy Birthday (belated) to Andy

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Angela

After reading your post I was suddenly filled with the urge to find a sitter and get off the hamster wheel of the after school / work grind!

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Liz K

I would pay good money for rain to delay me, even from a nice birthday dinner. I have no desire to be in NY (sorry, I like the country) but Buvette almost tempts me and that book goes on my shopping list ASAP.

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agatha khishchenko

what a wonderful dining experience! i’ve lived in nyc for years and have always meant to try buvette but never made my way over there. will definitely have to head over soon…and try some new recipes from the new cookbook. thank you the lovely post.

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Alyssa

I have exactly one cookbook that I cook from – yours. Buvette looks amazing, I’d love to add the cookbook to my collection of one!

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Stacy

What a lovely testament to this place! It’s on my list to visit next I’m in your city, but until then, I’m so glad this book exists.

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elizabeth e

all of these pics make my dinner look really unimpressive in comparison — but i’d love to cook anything from buvette at home! and make a pilgrimage to the restaurant ASAP.

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Neile

The first time I heard the term “buvette” was in Provence, when my husband and I hiked from our hostel to a tiny village surrounded by lavender fields. We were told by some locals that there are no restaurants in the village, but a family opens their home as an ad hoc restaurant called a buvette and we could come back in the evening. We turned up again at dinnertime, had a wonderful meal, and felt so lucky to have stumbled upon such a cool place. I’d love to try Buvette in NYC sometime too. Happy birthday to Andy and thanks for your blog!

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Catherine Blaney

What a beautiful birthday dinner! I have never been to or heard of Buvette, but it sounds lovely. The recipe above looks divine. I would have never thought to use cheese to make a pocket of sorts instead of using the ubiquitous eggs! Bravo!

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Elsa

I see Buvette has brandade on both their lunch and dinner menus; I wonder if it’s in the cookbook. I’ve been thinking for some time that I should learn to make brandade for my mother, who has fond memories of it but would never bother to buy the salt cod to make it at home.

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Kyla

This recipe is ingenious. I am in Arizona so a visit to Buvette won’t happen anytime soon. But I will get my hands on that cookbook!

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Anna

Did you know I worked at a restaurant called La Buvette??
It’s delicious and I yearn for the bread EVERYDAY. It’s owned by a couple Francophiles that reside here in Omaha, Ne.
Now come to Nebraska!!!!

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Anna

What a beautiful post evoking images of an amazing place! I can’t wait to get my hands on that cookbook!
Blessings!

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Laura

What a fantastic story – makes me wish I lived closer to NYC! The buvette cookbook looks beautiful and the recipes look fantastic – can’t wait to try them.

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ali

omg… the egg and prosciutto dish looks amazing… sounds like an awesome birthday!

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Deborah

The book looks beautiful. While the last thing I need is another cook book, I just can’t resist.

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Jackie

This book looks like the perfect thing to curl up with (and then cook from) on a rainy Sunday afternoon!

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Kathy

Thank you for sharing this. I’m always looking for great places to eat in the city.

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Emily

Dear Jenny and Andy, Happy Birthday indeed! Glad you had a delicious meal to celebrate. Speaking of birthdays, thank you for recommending Otto in a previous post regarding an eight-year old’s party. EIGHT of us had lunch at Otto yesterday. We ranged in age from 12 to 70, and every palate feasted on the delicious range of pizzas and salads. To top off the great meal, we passed Mario Batali in the street afterwards and thanked him in person! Knowing we can trust your taste in restaurants, I cannot wait to experience Buvette, sigh. Cheers!

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sarapete

Those recipe’s look delightful. Would love to get that cook book for mothers day and stay in bed reading all afternoon.

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Bea

Thank you for your website. It has forever changed the way my family eats dinner – in a good way. My girls are 6 and 11 and I appreciate how you show that you can still eat together as a family every night no matter what you have going on in your world.

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Jennifer

I so enjoyed a visit to Buvette on a recent trip to New York. I’m psyched to bring a bit of their magic to my kitchen with their cookbook!

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Lesley

“winners must live in the US”
Just wondering…is “US” spelled “C-A-N-A-D-A”? ;)

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Trina

I am sitting here in LA wishing I could hop a flight to NYC for dinner. Looking forward to reading this cookbook!

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Lindsay

Ohhhh Buvette. It’s one of my very favorites in the whole wide world. The rabbit moutarde…can I take a bath in it?? For me though it’s the chicken liver paté. Every time. There are times when I wish we could be to another place but then I remember how lucky we are live so close to nyc and to our beloved Buvette.

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Monica

There are times when I really miss living in NYC and this is one of them! Place and book look awesome!

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Matilda

I just moved back to the States after 3 years in Paris, and this book sounds like exactly what I need

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Maryellen

Mother’s day present? Non, it’ll be a Father’s Day present chez nous. Thanks for helping me nail the perfect gift idea more than a month in advance!

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Natalie

pick me, pick me, pick me! I’m dying to make that roast chicken salad. Have to tell you that I had dinner tonight with some new friends & the host served us your pork ragu with pappardalle noodles (my go to dinner entrée for dinner guests in the winter) & I knew instantly that we were kindred spirits.

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Allison

Thanks for sharing! I will definitely check out this restaurant whenever we make it to NY. And I’ve already put the book on my amazon wish list, in case I don’t win the drawing ;)

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Elke

The photos look great and I’ve been enjoying your website since I found it – less than a year ago. I’ve made many a meal from your ideas already. Thanks

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Caitlin

I would LOVE to add this cookbook to my (newly) expanding collection. Thanks for having such a great giveaway!

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Victoria

Tiny Buvette is tucked into a neighborhood that also feels tiny compared to all the tall buildings of midtown and now uptown too where horrible glass monoliths are being built by the score. When you are at Buvette, you can close your eyes and imagine you are in Paris – but as much as I love Paris, I love NY more so I’m happy to open my eyes and find myself at home. The beets with horseradish crème fraîche is my favorite dish there. I would rather eat at home than eat out with two exceptions – Buvette and Pearl Oyster Bar.

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Grace

I would love to take a gander at this book and try some recipes in the near future! I’m on bed rest from ACL reconstruction surgery so I think this would be reading to get some inspiration for what I’m cooking in a week or 2.

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Freida

It looks wonderful, but I’m confused- how is there a winner already? Doesn’t the contest go through 5PM ET?

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domonique | a bowl full of simple

We stumbled upon Buvette shortly after it opened while on a trip to nyc. we felt exactly as you described – it’s a complete escape and true delight. they food is divine and the cocktails are perfection… we now go a few times a year whenever we are in nyc. we are likely jody’s biggest fans in California!

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Kate

I must try Buvette next time I’m in NYC – and would love to cook from the book!

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lettergirl

I was just lamenting that I won’t be able to make my annual trip to New York this spring (again, actually). Wouldn’t this book soothe my soul just a bit?

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Robyn

I was stopping by to enter but I see a winner’s been chosen already?!? It’s only 3:45 on 4/24….bummer :(

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Patricia

Someday, someday, someday, I’ll get to go to Buvette. Until then, this glorious cookbook would keep me satisfied. Those photos are exquisite. (Fingers crossed that I win!) (So sorry for the double posting—I put an incorrect email address in.)

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Patricia

So sorry for the double posting—I put an incorrect email address in my earlier comment.

Someday, someday, someday, I’ll get to go to Buvette. Until then, this glorious cookbook would keep me satisfied. Those photos are exquisite. (Fingers crossed that I win!)

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jenb

I love that place! I wandered in there one rainy day feeling a little heartsick, and the food and the service picked me right back up. I spent a lovely hour there.

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