These past few weeks, Leonard Lopate has been putting the "loco" in "locavore." He's been talking about eating, drinking and the politics of food during his show on the Food Fridays series by day, hosting "Lopate and Locavores" events in the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at night and is launching another "3-ingredient challenge" with chef Rozanne Gold.
Good. Leonard's hectic schedule would have him in a scatterbrained fog, I thought, a perfect time to spring a Stir-Fry challenge on him.
I was richly rewarded. The radio host known for grilling the likes of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the Nixon Administration's bombing of Cambodia was sporting some grill marks himself by the time I was through!
That "pretty good" restaurant in his old neighborhood of Chinatown that he couldn't remember? He recalled it later, when he was no longer in the hot seat. The "place on Elizabeth Street, the one with the live fish in the front," is Oriental Garden, 14 Elizabeth Street.
But Lopate clearly thinks Chinese food has seen better days in Manhattan's Chinatown. Foodies, you'd be wise to check out Sunset Park, Brooklyn or Flushing, Queens, instead.
Pantry necessities? Leonard recommended a "wide range" of spices, but then acknowledged that too many will end up unused and stale.
He was displaying his talk show host chops: the ability to see an issue from many sides, to see the unintended consequences in every decision or action.
Even his food travel fantasy had a bittersweet edge to it, a missed opportunity to dine at Ferran Adria's now-closed epic eatery in Spain, elBulli.
Slightly singed from the Stir-Fry, Lopate was in no mood to pretend he doesn't eat junk food or have a secret food shame, like some Stir-Fry guests. No cajoling necessary. He spilled the beans... or the potato chips, in this instance... readily. My day is complete. I got to interview Leonard Lopate and make him sweat. Sweet.