Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
A grilled ramp and crab omelette was served next with a glass of ice cold Chardonnay. This dish was literally insane. The peekytoe crab meat produced the best crab (consistency and taste wise) that I've ever come across. There was a smokey buerre blanc that was folded into the salad and the grilled ramps just drove that flavor home. This is when the "Jesus" remarks started coming out around the room. People were slowly starting to freak out about how amazing this food was.
Anthony next prepared a pan roasted halibut with marinated red cabbage and yogurt hazelnut sauce. The marinated red cabbage was the absolute star of the plate: sweet, crunchy, a little bit spicy from what tasted like a kick of cinnamon. It sent my mom and I straight to our Swedish roots. This plate, like the two prior, was literally licked clean.
A duo of lamb shoulder and rack with fork crushed fingerling potatoes came next and we all know I'm a lamb girl so this went over pretty well. And lastly, which was most definitely the biggest shock of the night, was how BLOWN AWAY I was over dessert: rhubarb shortcake. For starters, I'm not big on dessert. Then let's follow that up with my indifference towards rhubarb. But when served with a homemade biscuit and lavender pastry cream, I was wiggling in my chair with excitement.
In fact, I think I missed his closing words.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Recipe courtesy of Kiira Leess
1 hot house or english cucumber peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 small lemon, juiced
1 large container of faye or greek yogurt
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. fresh dill, finely chopped
2 Tbs. fresh mint, finely chopped
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Taste for seasoning. Chill before serving.
Beet Salad with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Mint
Recipes courtesy of Kiira Leess
3 cans of whole beets, cut into 1/8ths
2 oranges (zest from one, then segment both and chop)
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 small log of goat cheese, crumbled
handful of fresh mint, finely diced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Taste for seasoning.
Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Salsa Verde and Golden Raisins
Recipes courtesy of Kiira Leess
3 zucchinis, cut into long ribbons using a peeler or mandolin
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 small bunch of mint, finely chopped
1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. anchovy paste
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. vinegar (red wine vinegar or white balsamic)
salt and pepper
To make the salsa verde, combine all of the herbs in a small bowl with the garlic, Dijon, anchovy paste, and vinegar. Slowly stir in the olive oil. Taste for seasoning.
Quickly cook the zucchini (one minute max) over high heat in a little bit of olive oil. Remove from pan and put into a large bowl. Add in the golden raisins and all of the salsa verde. Toss to combine and taste for seasoning.
And that, my friends, is really pretty cool.
I was lucky enough to attend a class last summer with a close family friend and Julian Medina of Toloache was the star of the night. It's a really intimate venue and the food and libations served (read: hibiscus-blueberry margarita) were fantastic.
There's also Q&A throughout the entire two and a half hour demo.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Gosh, I didn't even need to go to Cafe Cluny for that feeling to trigger.
Anyways, lunch was absolutely lovely. Fantastic company and straightforward French Bistro food done right.
In my attempt to keep on track with this weeks "smart" eating decisions plan, I decided to go with the salmon tartare. The sight of it on the menu almost caused my lip to tremble as I literally used to live off of it as well as warm goat cheese salads (chèvre chaud) everyday of the week while living abroad in Paris. Aaand there we have it. Starting to get emotional.
Let's just take a look at it.
Beautiful, right? Now the portion size, for $14, is extremely petite. So petite, in fact, that I'm sure that by 4:00 I'm going to be rummaging around for something to fill my stomach. However, it was perfectly done. Organic wild salmon, studded with chives, lemon juice, and olive oil, and garnished with a small dollop sheep's milk yogurt and a few microgreens and served with a few beet chips. I really can't think of any other word to describe it other than lovely. It was really, really, really lovely.
We decided to go on to split two desserts, and me not having much of a sweet tooth didn't think anything of it until macerated berries with a marscarpone cream was placed down in front of us. What better day to eat this than today. Sun bursting through the open windows, the scent of spring basically shoving itself in our faces, the berries were at their prime and the marscarpone cream was whipped until it was ready to float off the plate, flavored with a heavy hand of vanilla and a sprinkle of sugar. Divine, really. The second dessert was a chocolate torte, that, quite frankly, kicked my not-that-into-chocolate butt. Holy chocolate this thing was beyond rich. My lunch companions, however, thought it was quite the treat.
This is a restaurant I undoubtedly plan on coming back to. A perfect date spot. Sigh. It's intimate without being overwhelmingly romantic and the food is simple but absolutely speaks for itself. And I mean, really, what more could you ask for?
284 W12th St.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Check out the trailer on Grub Street because it's oddly interesting. Even with my aversion to all Easter candy and all.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Not only do you get the equivalent of about 4 bottles of wine per box, but most boxed brands are hitting at around the $23 mark and last for about a month.
Now of course this means I'll have to have a glass and try this stuff out. You know. For the sake of research. And report back soon.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Two cans of tuna packed in water got combined with two stalks of celery finely diced, 1/2 a small red onion finely diced, half a can of drained chick peas, the juice from half a lemon, a generous drizzle of olive oil, salt, and as much or as little red pepper flakes as you'd like.
You could stuff this inside a whole wheat pita or as I did with baby greens and some of my shallot vinaigrette.
Light, easy, and surprisingly filling.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Check out the Despana sandwich: Serrano ham, creamy goat cheese, garlic spread, served warm.
So much for my carb-intake reduction plan for this week. FML.
Anyhow, tomorrow, Tuesday, April 21st, is Iced Coffee Day at Dunkin Donuts (the home of one of my all time favorite iced coffees -- the part I didn't want to face judgment on) which means $0.50 will get you an iced coffee (I'm assuming a small) with 10% of all proceeds going to Homes for our Troops.
One small regular iced coffee with milk and three Splenda, please.
Ehh, make that two.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
With a gas grill, a hot plate, and an extra plug-in convection oven, we were set. And you know what? It came together rather smoothly and I'm pretty sure my mom and I had quite the time bopping around the spacious new "kitchen."
I'm just going to go ahead and let the pictures do most of the talking.
Sautéing the fennel and onions on the grill.
Potato-fennel gratin all ready to go into the oven.
Gratins bubbling away in oven.
Balsamic Reduction infused with rosemary and smashed garlic cloves.
Rub for the butterflied leg of lamb: garlic, rosemary, SALT, pepper, olive oil.
Lamb and asparagus grilling.
A glass or Rosé stirred with a sprig of rosemary.
My overfilled plate.
Russian Cream with Raspberry Sauce (the picture does not do this justice).
I don't know what else to say other than toot, toot. Everything came out better than it ever has in years past. And maybe it was because we knew that it had been a feat. But I don't even think that's why.
Just goes to show that where there's a will (determined food lovers) there is, and will always be, a spectacularly yummy way.
Pan con Tomate with Proscuitto
Pear and Arugula Salad
Wedge of Tallegio
Wedge of Saint Albray
Bottle of Malbec
Very happy people. Minus the extremely disturbing film I was put through. Blade Runner did not need to happen.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
33 W8th St. (at MacDougal)
Not that anyone was concerned about that.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
As I mentioned yesterday, I went in with a plan. A list of must try places that I wanted to be sure to hit up before I started to feel like I was going to pass out if I put another bite in my mouth. And I must say, we did pretty well. I apologize in advance for the picture quality but it is what it is. Let's break this down, shall we?
First stop? Porchetta, who was serving up their signature porchetta sandwich of slow roasted pork with woodsy herbs on ciabatta. First bite. Very fatty but an unctuous mouth feel. The ciabatta was just soft enough but still had a good chew. Because of the fat content, the meat just melted away in your mouth. The only thing I needed to chew through was the bread. I could have used a little bit of salt on my meat but besides that, it was a great representation of what they do best: pork. One of my favorite bites of the evening. Sandwiches proved to be the best bet of the night as they can be enjoyed at room temperature and can be made on the spot, ensuring freshness not sogginess.
Next came Motorino and as soon as I saw their table I let out a sigh. Donuts. Where's my pizza?! I was extremely disappointed. And as I walked away, donut in hand (which was fine, by the way -- jelly filled donut rolled in sugar. But really? A jelly filled donut?), I slowly started to understand. How could a pizza place known for their wood burning oven serve up pizza in a venue with no wood burning oven? I suppose it made sense but I was still overly dramatic and upset that I was not going to get the opportunity to try a slice of their margarita.
Another deep sigh. I moved on.
Next was Sheep Station. Not on my list but they were serving up a roasted leg of lamb sandwich with baby rocket, tomato, caramelized onions and garlic cream. Stop. Take. Try. Perfectly yummy little sandwich. The lamb was very lamb-y, A-Okay with me, but the roll was hot dog-esque. I would have liked to have seen it served on a ciabatta roll like Porchetta. But alas, a minor detail.
Cafe Glechik was next door, a Ukranian joint hailing from Brighton Beach, and although also not on my list, I read sausage with sour cherries on their menu board and I had to sneak a taste. Amazingly flavorful (garlic!) sausage sliced on the bias and served on toast points. A delightful little hors d'oeuvre for a dinner party that would please any crowd.
A quick stop at the beer table and I was served a Framboise (raspberry) beer called Lambic. Holy-berry-centric. It was sweet with an incredibly concentrated raspberry flavor that didn't taste at all artificial. Almost like a kir royale but with a heavy handed pour of framboise. I wouldn't think twice before serving this as a just-walked-in-the-door cocktail to friends with some of Cafe Glechik's sausage and a spicy dijon mustard. Salty, savory, and sweet hitting you all at once. Allagash White was another beer being served which was an even better version of a Blue Moon. The kind of beer that you like to slowly linger on on a sunny Sunday afternoon watching a football game with friends. I'm laughing at myself while I write this. We all know I wouldn't be watching any football. Just smiling and sipping away on my Allagash White.
Kebab Factory. See, I'm not big into cuminy curry dishes so while the chicken was incredibly juicy and tender, the sauces were a bit too much for me. My fellow eater, Anna, loved them however, naming it one of her favorites of the night.
I was beyond thrilled to see the longest line yet at Pam Real Thai. My old neighborhood favorite. And since I was always able to indulge whenever I wanted to, I thought I'd let others get in on the mind-blowing grub instead and decided to pass. But boy or boy were they piling their plates high. Go Pam!
Now came the most aggressive station of the night. Baoguette. With ravenous foodies elbow to elbow there was heavy pushing and evil eyes being shot back and fourth as we all tried to get closer and closer to the famed Banh Mi. While the line didn't seem to budge for what seemed like hours, I finally shoved my way to the top. Two options: A Sloppy Bao (shown left) and the classic Banh Mi (right). I obviously took one of each. First was the Sloppy Bao: a sweet curried pork mixture served on a mini baguette with a green mango slaw/salad on top. Very sweet but the crunch of the slaw on top was welcomed and it had a lovely balance of flavors with a little bit of a kick. Next came the Banh Mi. What I had been waiting all night to try. First bite. Meaty, creamy, crunchy, salty, Mmmhhhh. As I slowly chewed and shut my eyes to fully experience this epic sandwich, my eyes popped open. My head whipped around to my friends. My mouth was literally on fire. I chugged almost an entire bottle of water with no relief. I thought I was done for. My taste buds singed. It could not have just been the Sriracha, it had to have been something else; a raw chili perhaps. Whatever it was, it conquered me and I lost. How sad I was to watch that sandwich go. I couldn't take another bite in fear of what it would do to me.
Fatty Crab was another one of my must eats and they were serving coconut rice with curry chicken and a slow poached egg. Sounded absolutely agreeable to me. When I received my tiny plate, garnished with fresh cilantro leaves, I was despondent to see that there was no slow poached egg on my plate but I went in for the kill anyways. The rice was nice (hee hee), if not a tad mushy (which reminded me of rice pudding so I liked it nonetheless) but the chicken almost tasted slimy (I hate that word too) as if it had just been sitting in the hot tray for entirely too long. The thing is, I can see how this dish would be divine had it been enjoyed at Fatty Crab, fresh from the kitchen. But in a kitchen-less environment, it's incredibly difficult for any of these restaurants to turn out perfectly cooked plates all night long.But as Anna noted, "Top Chefs" are supposed to always put out a perfect dish no matter what the conditions. And Anna? I have to agree.
Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar? Gone. Nothing there but a table of business cards and the ghost of David Chang. I'm not even going to get started here. Ugh. Not okay. They should have been more prepared for the swarms of people who must have obviously bee-lined it straight to the famed dessert table before trying anything else.
Now the biggest surprise of the night was how much I enjoyed what I thought was my final dish: a mac 'n cheese with aged white and yellow cheddar, smoked ham hocks, pork belly, bacon, and fresh thyme from Mama's Food Shop. Creamy, perfectly seasoned comfort food goodness. Was it pushing any envelope? No. But I didn't care. I wanted a whole bowl full. Something tells me the guys from Mama's would have hooked it but I was seriously starting to hurt at this point. I had to hold on to a table as I slightly bent over taking a few much needed deep breaths.
And right when I thought I was done for the night, as I was in physical pain at this point, I saw a sign for bacalhau at Favela Grill: salt cured cod fish croquettes. Obviously had to try one with a complimentary caiprihinhia to boot. A soft, concentrated fish flavor whipped up with scallions and then balled up and tossed into a deep frier, chased with the seriously sweet, lime caiprihinhia. It was the bite and sip that broke the foodie's back.
And although we left slightly bent over and holding our stomachs; swearing off food for the rest of the week, the event was a huge, fabulous, and fulFILLING success...one which I look forward to attending next year as well. Just going to start preparing my stomach (and heart valves, apparently) well in advance. Actually, starting...now.