January 25, 2014 at 1:00 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food (& maybe win a cookbook): 'The Union Square Cafe Cookbook' and what are your travel restaurant memories?

When I ran into Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes the other day, we traded tales on what we’re cooking.

Daniel is a great foodie; you may remember he offered me some terrific tips for cooking meat in a previous Let’s Talk Food. So it didn’t surprise me a’tall to learn Daniel was up to something far more interesting than I am in the kitchen: osso buco (for the uninitiated, it’s a hearty Italian veal dish).

We only had time to chat for a second, but Daniel didn’t have to say much — his pleased expression when I asked him how it turned out conveyed how satisfying his dish was.

I’ve never actually had osso buco, but I remember thinking it sounded like a great dish for these cold-to-the-bone winter days when Kate wrote about it recently (check out Kate’s story here and see if you don’t get sucked in yourself).

SO — osso buco has been stuck in my brain. I have a pile of cookbooks on my desk to give away, and I decided the first one to have an osso buco recipe in it would be up for grabs this weekend.

That led me to “The Union Square Café Cookbook” by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano. It features “160 favorite recipes from New York’s Acclaimed Restaurant.” When another newsroom friend, Dawn — whose coattails I’ve been riding on heavily in Let’s Talk Food lately, with her tips on frugal legumes and leftover mash-ups — found out I was giving the book away, she gave it an instant endorsement:

DANG, I want the Union Square cookbook!!! I had the most delightful meal there once. I had a hard time deciding between two desserts; I chose one and then the server BROUGHT BOTH, one of them on the house! She said she didn’t want me to have any regrets about my choice. (Yes, my husband and I ate both. And she was right, the one I didn’t choose was better, maybe because it was such a delightful surprise.)

It was such a nice gesture.
And she knew we were tourists from out of town, so not likely to pay off in return trips. The service overall was really gracious, and that just put them over the top.

I asked Dawn to look through the cookbook to see if Those Recipes are in there; one, she said, was a pumpkin dish she didn’t see, but the other she thought she recognized in there: Mocha Semifreddo Layered with Toasted Hazelnut Dacquoise. The description says: “Semifreddo, the Italian ‘half-frozen’ dessert, stays light and fluffy thanks to folded-in egg whites and whipped cream. Here’s an eye-opening rendition, flavored with a punch of espresso and layered with crispy hazelnut dacquoise.”

Meanwhile, Dawn’s walk down memory lane brought to mind travel restaurant memories of my own, like the experience my husband and I had three years ago at Red Ginger in Traverse City. The delicious meal (including sushi and Thai curry) plus the incredible service (when I asked about flour and sugar in what I ordered, the so-polite server made sure I got a gluten-free soy sauce and other considerations without me asking). It followed a long day of snowmobiling and a beautiful walk through light snow in the pretty downtown area, back when Valentine’s plans included such adventure and romance (today, Big Plans are trying to take a half-day off from work while the baby is in day care to see a movie and eat somewhere that’s more fast and nearby than super-special).

In turn, I thought I’d ask if you have any warm travel restaurant memories to tell us about. You can share them in the comments below to boost your chances at winning the cookbook.

If you’re interested in “The Union Square Cafe Cookbook,” send an email to Eats&Drinks@detroitnews.com with “Cookbook/Union Square” in the subject line. Include your name and mailing address in the body. Enter only once by midnight Feb. 2. A winner will be chosen from among entries, with preference given to those who comment below. (If it’s Feb. 3, 2014, or later when you read this, the cookbook will have been given away — but feel free to add your comments.)

Good luck!

We’d love to hear about your travel restaurant memories in the comments below. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re easy to sign up for, and free. Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale will respond to comments or questions in the next few days. You also can follow her on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!