This talented singer and actress also has a big heart. Her charity, The New York
Restoration Project, has been revitalizing parks and public spaces since 1995. The group most recently renovated New Leaf Cafe in Fort Tryon Park.
Do you like to cook?
Yes. Braising and stews are my specialties. I do the things you have to cook for
days; Martin (von Haselberg, her husband) does more rarefied things like duck and risotto. He hasn’t really thrown me out of the kitchen, but he hasn’t encouraged me into it, either. I am taking cooking classes again, though. Martin and our daughter, Sophie, really like my osso buco, short ribs, ice creams, and even my shabby lemon meringue pies.
What about your Jewish heritage? Does that influence your cooking style?
My parents kept semi-kosher. My mother’s chicken soup was fantastic. I used to watch her peel the chicken feet. These days, Martin, Sophie, and I make matzo balls. Sophie makes the biggest matzo ball in the whole world-it fills up the whole bowl. We howl with laughter. We try to have fun with the traditions.
Is there one food you’d never give up?
Red beans and rice. I absolutely love them. I should probably move to New Orleans, be a jazz person. Just stay there and eat my red beans and rice.
What three items can always be found in your refrigerator?
Turkish yogurt, some sort of great mustard, and Bubbies pickles (kosher dills from San Francisco)-we buy them by the case and give them away as gifts.
You live in Manhattan now, but you were born in Hawaii and have lived in L.A. Any favourite neighbourhood restaurants in all those places?
Hawaii is a riot because it’s a crossroads-I think it has the highest consumption of Spam in the United States, but there’s also a lot of sushi, and the best Korean
barbecue. In Los Angeles, my husband swears that Ike Sushi at Hollywood and Gower has the best sushi master in town. In New York, we love Prune on East First Street, and we worship Sirio (Maccioni, owner of Le Cirque).
And how do you ring in the New Year?
We don’t actually go out on New Year’s. All three of us stay home and cook.