• Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC
  • Fainting Club NYC

Fainting Club NYC

When I went to artist Zoe Crosher’s Los Angeles home to shoot a salad, she told me about an informal dinner series she created called The Fainting Club. The idea was simple – women who are generous and spirit and supportive of their peers would be invited to dine together. Zoe had an upcoming trip to New York planned, so we made a plan to hold a Fainting Club event at my home. I would invite some of my friends and future friends, and Zoe would invite some of hers.  Guests would hail from the art world and the food world and the evening would make for a great opportunity to meet new people. Writer Charlotte Druckman, an invitee, suggested she pitch the story to T Magazine, and the rest is history Charlotte’s piece about the evening is copied below (alongside 2 of my recipes from the evening). An abbreviated version of the piece was printed in the Style Section of the New York Times as well.

The week before last, the Los Angeles-based artist Zoe Crosher emailed a number of her female friends in the art and food worlds: “Please join us for the inaugural New York City meeting of The Fainting Club.” She started the club — so named, she explains, after an encounter she’d had “where a group of incredibly fabulous women all came together to help one of the ladies, who fainted” — in March. The incident made her appreciate “how powerful we were as a group” and prompted her to begin throwing luncheons in her city. This latest dinner party, which took place last Thursday, was her first step to expand the organization outside of California.

As for the membership dues: “All ladies who join must have a generous spirit and want to help other ladies,” she stated. And her admissions policy and operations strategy are free and easy. “I am open to all and any suggestions for dinners, events, locales, members, although I do ask that any lady who you invite you try to do so in person, or by direct word of mouth. There is no formal form for this — we meet when inspiration strikes.”

Crosher teamed up with her pal Julia Sherman, a Brooklyn-based artist who started the special-interest culinary blog Salad for President and is known for her Salad Garden on the roof of the MoMA PS1 museum, to host the East Coast event. At Sherman’s Clinton Hill apartment, though, she alone welcomed their guests — a group of 16 women, many of whom didn’t know each other (let alone the hosts) — with a round of cranberry shiso-jalapeño cocktails. Due to an injury, Crosher was unable to fly out for the event, which went off without a hitch anyway.

Dinner began with soup before easing into three courses of salads. A carrot-coconut-almond torte from Alice Medrich’s new “Flavor Flours” (above right) was a dessert favorite, and parsley-flecked garlicky naan rounds (bottom right) were the Bon Appétit senior food editor Alison Roman’s contribution to the meal.

The meal ensued, set against the backdrop of inspired conversation. Old friends like the Guggenheim Museum curator Lauren Hinkson and Gillian Young, a doctoral candidate studying art history at Columbia University and writing her dissertation on the video and performance artist Joan Jonas, caught up. Lauren Levinger, who runs the recently relaunched blog The Food Life, spoke of her appreciation for the new avant-garde food and fashion magazine Brutal only to learn that its co-founder, Gheanna Emelia, was in the same room.

Meanwhile, in the open kitchen where the group gathered, Sherman’s good pal Alison Roman, Bon Appétit’s senior food editor, brushed butter onto the rounds of parsley-flecked garlicky naan dough she was rolling out. “My number-one party faux pas I tell people never to commit is bringing something you have to assemble. I just betrayed myself,” she acknowledged, laughing.

“I was admiring her painting that bread because it’s the extent to which I can cook,”Natalie Frank said watching Roman. A friend of Crosher’s, Frank identified herself as “a painter, not a cook,” and noted that she’s just finishing a three-year project (and museum debut) illustrating the original 1812 edition of the Brothers Grimm’s “Children’s and Household Tales.” Comprising 36 tales and 75 drawings, her collection will open at the Drawing Center in SoHo this spring.

Sherman adapted the first dish, a bouillabaisse, from “Chez Panisse Cooking.” “I didn’t follow the recipe because I can’t follow recipes at all,” she explained. And the second course was a trio of salads: a cauliflower, Romanesco and potato salad tossed with a warm anchovy dressing; a fresh shaved fennel heap dotted with salty cured olives and brightened with citrus; and a mix of bitter winter greens flavored with a sweet-acidic maple-sherry vinaigrette and tangy-sharp creamy goat cheese.

The ever-gracious host dedicated a portion of the evening to calling Crosher on FaceTime, passing the phone around so everyone could say hello to the injured founder at home in Los Angeles. And then, it was time for dessert: dates stuffed with almond paste, updated from David Tanis’s “One Good Dish,” and a carrot-coconut-almond torte from Alice Medrich’s new “Flavor Flours.” No one fainted from hunger, though there may have been a few near-swoons over the tart.

Back in Los Angeles, Crosher is plotting future expansion. She has found women to run Mexico City, London and Hong Kong chapters. Here, to help inspire similar dinner parties elsewhere, Sherman shares a couple recipes from the first New York meeting, which will not be the last.

From left: Julia Sherman shaking up drinks to greet her guests; her Cranberry Shiso-Jalapeño Cocktail.
From left: Julia Sherman shaking up drinks to greet her guests; her Cranberry Shiso-Jalapeño Cocktail.Credit Paul Quitoriano

Cranberry Shiso-Jalapeño Cocktail

Yield: 1 cocktail

For the infused vodka:
1 375 milliliter bottle Industry City Distillery Technical Reserve
1 cup fresh cranberries

For the cocktail:
1 cup ice
3 ounces cranberry infused vodka
1 ounce Lillet
½-¾ ounce Salad For President + Morris Kitchen Shiso Jalapeño Cocktail Syrup
1 lemon
1 jalapeño, sliced into thin rounds (for garnish)

1. For the cranberry-infused vodka: Add the cranberries to a cocktail shaker. Add a splash of Technical Reserve and muddle until all the cranberries are smashed. Add the remaining vodka and allow the infusion to sit for at least an hour. Strain the vodka through a fine mesh sieve. Add 1.5 times water to dilute. The infusion yields enough for 10 cocktails and will keep. (If you don’t want to make a cranberry-infused vodka, you can use 3 ounces of your preferred vodka with a tiny splash of unsweetened cranberry juice, per cocktail.)

2. For the cocktail: Fill a cocktail shaker with the ice. Add all the ingredients, except the lemon and jalapeño, and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Using a micrograter, grate lemon zest over the top of the cocktail. Garnish with a slice of jalapeño pepper and serve.


Peanut Potato, Romanesco and Cauliflower Salad with Warm Anchovy Vinaigrette

Peanut Potato, Romanesco and Cauliflower Salad with Warm Anchovy Vinaigrette

Yield: 8 servings

1 head cauliflower (orange or green preferred)
1 head Romanesco
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 pounds peanut potatoes (or the smallest potatoes you can find)
3 stalks organic celery (the thinner the stalks, the better)
3 tablespoons chives
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons homemade breadcrumbs

For the dressing:
8 oil-packed anchovies
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brined nonpareil capers, rinsed
1 lemon
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Remove the heart and all the outer leaves of the cauliflower and Romanesco and discard. Separate the florets into 1 ½ inch-wide pieces, with as little stalk attached as possible. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and loosely cover the vegetables with tinfoil.

3. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables can easily be poked with a fork. Remove from the oven, uncover and allow to cool.

4. While the florets are roasting, cook the potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes or until they are soft. Remove and rinse in cold water. Slice potatoes in half and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Combine with the cauliflower and Romanesco in a large bowl.

5. Slice the celery in half lengthwise at its thickest point, leaving the top intact. Chop thinly, including a few of the celery leaves, and add to the bowl with the cooked vegetables.

6. Mince the chives, and tear the parsley into small pieces. Reserve.

7. For the dressing: Using a mortar and pestle, smash the anchovies with the garlic to make a paste. Add the capers and smash just until they are flattened. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon, red-wine vinegar and olive oil, and whisk to emulsify. Put the dressing into a small saucepan and warm on low heat for 3 minutes. Whisk quickly then toss with your vegetables.

8. Toss in the breadcrumbs and gently combine. Scatter the reserved chives and parsley on top of the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.