What is it? A pie that's informed mainly by cherries (both sweet cherries and sour dried cherries) and chestnuts (in the form of a confection compounded of chestnut flour, butter, sugar and rum) and that can be purchased at any one of the several branches of the excellent Ecce Panis bakery: at 3rd and 66th; at Madison and 90th; at Columbus and 73rd; at 5 World Trade Center; and at Vintage Bread at 19th St. and 1st Ave. The pies are sized at 9 inches and cost $17 each.
Ecce Panis is also selling a saffron holiday bread, which is sweet and egg-based like a babka, but studded with saffron, candied orange rind, cherries and almonds. The one-pound round loaves can be gift-wrapped, and are priced at $14 each.
Now for the absolutely last-minute New Year's Eve and New Year's Day material, in case you're leaving your habitation on the 31st, the cheapest and most melancholy holiday of the year?a sap's night out for coke-snorting greasers tooled in from Morristown in Versace and rented stretch limousines. We're including only our favorite establishments in the text that follows, but we can't front?much as we'd enjoy patronizing these restaurants 364 days of the year, the thought of finding ourselves in any one of them on Dec. 31, 1999?indeed, the thought of being anywhere but in bed, medicated on more NyQuil than is strictly necessary, foam jammed into our ears to keep out the millennial racket as we drift peacefully, coddled by Morpheus, into the new age?strikes us as despicable.
Two seatings at Molyvos, near Carnegie Hall: a peaceful and quiet one, with reservations between 5 and 6 p.m.; $55 per person, and lots of Greek food. The later seating places you at a table between 8 and 9 to not only eat lots of Greek food, but also to pound you with an open bar, as well as with what we're being told are "exotic Greek wines." Party favors will be disseminated as well. At $500 per head, the second seating is $445 costlier than the first?which is presumably the price of Hellenic exoticism. Get a load of this for unexpurgated horror: "Throughout the evening, Gabriel and his band will perform old and new Greek music from the mainland and islands, including laika and rembatika songs. The party will begin with quiet listening and sing-alongs, and ring in the New Year with ecstatic Greek dancing which will make Molyvos' millennial New Year's party unforgettable." Call 582-7500 to attend this gruesome event.
Uguale, that eccentric but fundamentally lovable West Village restaurant with the stunning views of Hoboken's chemical sunsets, is selling off their own New Year's Eve spots for $160 a head. One seating only, with an open bar starting at 6 p.m. and stretching toward whatever godawful hour it is at which this miserable holiday terminates. Say you're there until 2 a.m., though?by our reckoning that's eight hours of drinking, which breaks down to 20 dollars per hour?which is okay! And there's food, as reliably strange as Uguale's has always been. Artichoke heart filled with crabmeat and aioli fresh spinach sauteed in a Courvoisier Dijon sauce, for instance. Also something called "strudel alla Maude." Call 229-0606.
Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill's serving a $195 prix fixe consisting of dishes of an intricacy that overtaxes the redactional powers of your woozy, sweating, flu-blasted correspondent here at Soup to Nuts: hawking bronchial cookies, dry-retching in office corners with great, vicious, heaving roars, expiring periodically on the couch near Jim Knipfel's desk in a sweating, quivering heap to taste on our palsied tongue the acrid tinge of this plague, this vile murrain... So forget Mesa Grill's menu. Call the restaurant at 807-7400 for that information and for reservations, and be aware that Flay's other excellent restaurant, the Flatiron's Bolo, will serve an a la carte menu on New Year's Eve.
How mind-boggling that it's the Nuevo Latino restaurant that screws up the English on its press release. "Come to Ideya The Morning After," we're invited by that document, and so far so good, until whap!?we get clocked across the face with a big fat stereotype, like your squash buddy smacking you in the face with a wet locker-room sock: "All Day is Considering The Morning After" the press release continues... And it's too much for us... An Hispanic koan... Like Wallace Stevens was Dominican... If this press release were a human being he'd doze under a sombrero with bare feet akimbo, or else you could purchase crack from him in Washington Heights.
Nonetheless, Ideya's offerings sound appealing. Between 2 and 10 on New Year's Day they're serving: steak and eggs; boniato pancakes with seared scallops; rum-marinated stuffed baby chicken. And the revivifying drinks: Bloody Marys, mimosas and "Puerto Rican Coquito," which is that wonderful eggnog laced with alcohol. Call 625-1441.
Meanwhile, Bubby's?the inexpensive and beloved Tribeca restaurant?will be serving a "New Year's Brunch" starting at midnight, zero hour, and continuing until 9 o'clock of New Year's Day morning. The usual Bubby's offerings: the sourdough pancakes, the malted waffles, the eggs Benedict, the dry-aged steaks, the omelets, all slid in front of you at 4 in the morning or at whatever hour you draggle into the place, your eyes goggling, your nostrils rimed with cheap blow, your left heel busted, and the food's almost certainly the only good you'll get out of this night of nights. Reservations are required, so call 219-0666.
A final New Year's outrage: this $500 nightmare at San Domenico, on Central Park South: Italian cuisine, plus the almost certainly unspeakable DJ Big John, not to mention "full party regalia, party hats, leas [and] steeamers." Which, we're informed, "will be provided." Call 265-5959. E-mail tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 244-9864.