Alla Carta asks for recommendations

Food Spots by Cristina Grajales

By Alla Carta Magazine

Cristina Grajales was the director of 1950 Gallery from 1990 to 2000 and, under her tenure, it became one of the premiere resources for European midcentury furniture, design objects, and lighting. At the same time, she worked as consultant for collectors, helping them to build important and valuable collections. In 2001, she established Cristina Grajales Gallery to better address her clients' needs and to investigate the design fields that interest her most. Today, she is considered one of the most influential tastemakers in the world of collectible design.

Alla Carta, Cristina Grajales, Michela Buttignol

AC: What do you like about food?

CG: What I like about food is that food is a venue for people to socialize and to share. It’s about intimacy and conversation; it’s a way to feed our souls.

AC: Which are your favorites places in New York City?

CG: My favorite restaurants near the gallery are Omen, Lucky Strike, Felix, Novecentoand Balthazar.

We love Sunrise Market and Gourmet Garage for food shopping or a quick soup or sushi at lunchtime.

Marie-Belle is the best chocolate store in Soho, and I love to buy croissants and brioche at Mille-Feuille on the way to work.

Pino's Prime Meats Market has the most amazing red meat.

Alla Carta, Cristina Grajales, Michela Buttignol

AC: Can you suggest your secret recipe?

CG: Being that we are close to Christmas, I've tried to follow the traditions of my Colombia for Christmas Eve. In my house we usually have traditional Colombian Pernil, which is roasted pork. My favorite thing to eat with Pernil is potato salad.

This is the best traditional recipe for Pernil:

- 1 bone-in pork leg

- 8 scallions (chopped)

- 1 red bell pepper (diced)

- 1 large white onion (diced)

- 10 garlic cloves (crushed)

- 3 tablespoons of ground cumin

- 2 tablespoon of white vinegar

- 6 cups of dark beer

- 1 tablespoons of ground achiot

- Salt and pepper

Place pork in a large non-reactive roasting pan that fits in both the fridge and your oven.

To make the marinade: Place the scallions, red bell pepper, onion, crushed garlic, ground cumin, vinegar, and salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Process until well combined.

Make deep incisions on both sides of pork leg and rub the marinade all over the pork. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let marinate for 24 hours in the fridge.

Pour the beer and ground achiote over the pork leg and let it marinate for another 24 hours, turning the leg every 8 hours. When ready to cook, remove from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 325F. Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil and place in oven on the lowest rack to bake for about 5 to 7 hours or until tender. To keep the pork leg from drying out you will need to bathe the pork leg with the pan sauces, using a soup ladle, about every 20 minutes.

When the pork is tender remove foil from pan and let broil about 5 to 7 minutes, or until skin is crisp.

My variation:

In my home we don't use any white vinegar or cumin. Instead we use salt, pepper, thyme, laurel and oregano. The pork is seasoned and injected with the spices for three days before cooking.

The potato salad is just a traditional potato salad recipe, but I also add peas, carrots, green apples and heavy cream.

Alla Carta, Cristina Grajales, Michela Buttignol


Interview by Valentina Barzaghi

Illustrations by Michela Buttignol

  • Produced by

    • Alla Carta Magazine

      Alla Carta Magazine

      Alla Carta approaches food as an incentive to take a bite of diverse cultural phenomena. We are intrigued by the meal's convivial capacity, and have found food to be an essential element for sharing thoughts, opinions and creative ideas.