Wednesday, April 29, 2009

julie and julia trailer

Oh God. Can't wait for this movie to come out.

keep it or toss it?

If any of you are like me (which I'd like to think you are if you're reading), you'll appreciate the website StillTasty which does exactly what it says. It lets you know if your food is still good to eat or if you should toss it in the old garbage can. I was actually shocked to discover the short shelf life on some of my regular fridge items. Ground turkey, for example, only lasts 1-2 days in the fridge before it's no good to eat whereas fresh eggs last 3-5 weeks! Enter in a few of your staple items, I think you'll be surprised.

cheap cuts

While cruising down the meat case at your grocery store, do you ever find yourself with a puzzled look across your face due to the bizarre names of the different cuts? I often find myself picking up these mystery meats and wondering what in the world people do with them.

Well wonder no more because the New York Times Dining & Wine Section has come to the rescue.
Helpful piece on how to turn those cheaper cuts of meat into culinary masterpieces.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

last night: michael anthony

Michael Anthony's cooking demonstration last night was nothing short of a fantastic treat. What an incredibly charming, passionate, and well-spoken man. My mom and I sat there smiling as we sipped and nibbled on some freaking incredible food while Anthony recounted his years in Tokyo and France, Blue Hill Stone Barns, Daniel, and Gramercy Tavern. I mean, his track record is insanely admirable and his personality just goes leaps and bounds beyond that. He went on to emphasize that the most satisfying part of his job is the contact he has with his guests. There's nothing more important than seeing and meeting who you're cooking for. Getting involved in their experience. Because one of the last things I was left with was when he explained that to be in this business, you have to have a tremendous amount of heart.

What a stark contrast to the sentiments of a certain Mr. David Chang.

But that's a different story.

While we started with a champagne toast and an amuse bouche of a homemade oyster cracker with ricotta and shaved asparagus (which literally collapsed into thin air once you closed your mouth) he stressed the importance of at home cook's "staying away from cookbooks" as a way to liberate yourself. Let the seasonal ingredients lead you as they do for him at Gramercy Tavern.
I liked him already.

Next came the first course which was a sunchoke and lonza salad. Lonza was something I had surprisingly never heard of, but it's directly translated as the loin from a pig which is salted, spiced, and hung to cure. Comparable to a spicier, saltier, and richer proscuitto. The salad was incredibly fresh and had the packed room (full house mind you) "mmm"-ing.

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.

I did, however, catch the founder of De Gustibus's closing statement which was, "Michael, I simply think you're a beautiful teacher and a great chef, don't you all?"

The crowd erupted in applause (as we had after each plate we were so lucky to taste). Truer words could not have been spoken at that moment.

Monday, April 27, 2009

kiss the cook 3

video

Tzatziki Sauce
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.

asparagus in the microwave


Andrew Carmellini is great for a million reasons. But this asparagus cooked in the microwave with an orange vinaigrette is beautiful and easy, easy, easy. You can do this. Try it! Dinner in 5 minutes on high.

shrimp in coconut milk

If I wasn't going to be nibbling on Gramercy Tavern bites tonight or on a spending freeze, I'd be down at The Lobster Place picking up my head-on shrimp and cooking them in a spicy and uber flavorful coconut broth, as seen here. Talk about a party in your mouth.

kiss the cook coming soon

KTC take 3 was filmed yesterday afternoon and will be posted soon! Stay tuned!

And just to warm you up, here you go.

fish taco update part 3

Pinche Taqueria's apparently got incredible fish tacos (here). I'll just have to be the judge of that, thank you.

chef michael anthony at de gustibus cooking school

Tonight, Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern is hosting a cooking demonstration at the De Gustibus Cooking School. Not only will I most certainly be in attendance but my mom is my plus one! Tickets are $90 and still available here. And while I know it sounds steep, I promise you a night that will be nothing short of fabulous as you will be well fed and drinks are even served. Essentially, it's a night at Gramercy Tavern, out of Gramercy Tavern, prepared especially for you by the man behind one of New York City's finest restaurants.

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.

Come!

Friday, April 24, 2009

spaghetti with anchovies and zucchini

This recipe, courtesy of Gourmet, is a quintessential spring pasta dish. Perfect served hot or room temperature, it can easily be whipped up in minutes which means you won't be slaving away in a hot-but-too-early-for-AC-kitchen this weekend. Don't let the anchovies scare you away. I promise you they'll melt away to a salty, briney goodness that without them, the dish would simply fall flat. Anchovies = infinite depths of flavor.

cafe cluny

So for lunch today, two co-workers and I decided to skip on out of Chelsea Market and down the street to the West Village's Cafe Cluny. An adorable little French spot that's been on my radar for quite some time now with the decor that'll have you stripping all of the wood finishes in your home to look distressed and right on to the next nonstop plane to Paris to start rummaging through the flea markets.

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?

Cafe Cluny
284 W12th St.

ruth reichl's new york diet

One of the many, many things I love about Grub Street, are their weekly New York Diets. They follow one person (typically a New Yorker) for a week straight and have them document everything they ate during that week. And who's up this week? None other than my girl Ruth Reichl. I cannot believe they haven't followed her before as it's one of the best most food-packed weeks I've ever come across. This woman can eat. And boy do I worship her for it. Read through it. From sucking lobsters dry to the best fried chicken she's ever had in her entire life to whipping up spaghetti carbonara for one after a long flight home, I think you'll find it entertaining and salivating to say the least.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

marinated shrimp with feta and mint

This dish, courtesy of Saveur, is going to have to become a reality at some point this weekend. 80 degrees and cloudless skies, rooftop, a plate of this marinated shrimp with feta and mint salad, and an ice cold glass of Chardonnay and I dare someone to make me a happier girl.

Seriously though.

nyc food and film festival

I mentioned last month that I had been to the NYC Food and Film Festival the year before and had an amazing time. The Water Taxi Beach venue, the people, the food, the weather, barefoot in the sand, all added up to a near perfect night. Well, it turns out that the Food and Film Festival is back starting June 13th with a documentary on none other than Peeps (yes, Peeps) and a mushroom field guide soundtracked by the Flaming Lips. Quite the combination.

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

elettaria's prix fixe in pictures

Here's a look at Grub Street's coverage of Elettaria's $33 Recession Special.

And as expected, it looks pretty freaking beautiful, interesting, and complex.

just put your wine in a box


Not even in college did I regularly sip on Franzia. It was more like 30-packs of Busch Light. Ad nauseum. But I will admit that I had a streak during the spring of my senior year where I was buying boxed sangria...often. Pour some into a glass with ice, plop me in a sun chair, and I drifted off to my happy place. Wipe that look of repugnance off your face, it was actually quite good! And you know what? It looks like it was actually O.K. to like it. Turns out, fine boxed wine is on the rise as wine makers look for eco-friendly and cost-effective alternatives. And who did they turn to for inspiration? Well, the French, bien sur, who've been boxing their wine for years. Even in juice box form.

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

ben and jerry's free cone day


Today, Tuesday, April 21st is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's.

Mint Chocolate Cookie? Coffee Heath Bar Crunch?

Someone hook it.

gary vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk is the founder of www.tv.winelibrary.com and I gotta say, I'm really into this guy. I'm no wine connoisseur but I do know what I like: typically a spicy, fruity, rich red wine -- Malbecs and Shiraz. But what I like about Vaynerchuk is his ability to explain the crazy flavors and smells he's picking up by not using the "typical" words and adjectives that all the other wine critics out there use. And you know what? You get exactly what he's saying. I find his videos extremely entertaining and I find myself jotting down wines to try based on his findings often. Check him out.

in my brown bag

After having a panic attack from reading the calorie count on a Subway foot long tuna fish sandwich this weekend (1,050. NOT. OKAY.) I started brainstorming some guilt-free lunch options. Inspired from one of my favorite food places back home, Abbondanza located in Westport, I made a mayo-less tuna salad that I scooped on top of some baby greens.

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.

go food network!

Perhaps I'm bias, but this is great news! While the rest of the magazine industry has most unfortunately been hit hard by these economic times, Food Network Magazine plans on doubling its circulation by next summer. The Hearst Publication, which comes out 10 times a year, boasts a whopping 133+ NEW recipes per issue that are budget-conscious and amateur-cook-friendly with no repeats. Impressive, really.

And while I'm still a devoted Gourmet Magazine girl through and through, it is often worth it to flip through both the Food Network Magazine as well as Everyday with Rachael Ray. They're always filled with cheap (check out Rachy Ray's $10 Spot column), easy meals that I promise will pleasantly surprise both you and your guests. Take the roasted garlic with spinach white pizza for example. Serve that up with a big salad of baby greens with a yummy vinaigrette and crumbled goat cheese, a bottle of Malbec and you've got yourself a totally easy little feast to enjoy with some pals any night of the week.

Oh God. I think I just sounded like her. Did I sound like her?! I think I sounded like her.

Here's to hoping I didn't just destroy my street cred.

Monday, April 20, 2009

despana to go!

So Despana Market, has just revealed their delivery menu! And even though there's a $20 minimum, I have a feeling I won't have a problem convincing any of my friends to go in on an order with me.

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.

closing sale at balducci's

It's funny. My roommate and I were discussing how the concept of a "food sale" is actually pretty unappetizing. I'm not really into my fresh (I hope) food getting deeply discounted in order to push it out of the store.

Or am I?

Well, as the closing of Balducci's New York City locations looms, they've also begun to slash their prices. 40% off all their specialty cheeses and 15-20% all other regular grocery items.

With the Chelsea location only one avenue block away, I will most literally be eating my words.

dunkin donuts iced coffee day


Now before you judge, let me just say that I'm an avid iced coffee drinker. To further support this claim, let it be known that I drink iced coffee year-round. No matter what the outside temperature. It is what gets me up and at 'em every single day since without it, I'm unable to converse with human beings nor remember how to use my words.

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

cooking by numbers

A friend of mine just sent this website over to me and the concept is brilliant. Cook with what you have on hand? Well now. Isn't that smart. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

spice: new location opening

And to go along with the BYOB theme, Spice, the affordable Thai eatery, is opening up a new location in the Astor Center and wouldn't you know...it's BYOB (liquor license pending)! They'll be open Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. till 10:45 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. till 11:30 p.m. Here's a look at the preliminary menu. I stole a bite of a friends Drunk Man Noodle cold leftovers and it sold me as is.

BYOB

I can't believe I'm just now discovering this website but it is fantastically brilliant in every way possible. Dramatic? Yes. But it is also how I will be spending the remainder of my afternoon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

easter: what kitchen?

So for Easter this year, we faced a challenge. A rather large challenge, really. Dinner for four of grilled leg of lamb with a rosemary-garlic balsamic reduction, potato fennel gratin, grilled asparagus with truffle oil, a large salad of baby greens dressed with a dijon-shallot vinaigrette, and Russian Cream with raspberries for dessert. Oh, and we were kitchen-less. Yup. Kitchen, dining room, gutted. My mom's house is currently under serious construction that's design has been "in the works" for oh, 15 years or so. No big deal. Was that going to stop me from making this feast a reality? Psh. Not a chance.

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.
The workable kitchen space in its current state.

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.

The table.

A glass or Rosé stirred with a sprig of rosemary.


The spread.

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.

ing's very special day

I'll keep this short because the Easter post will be lengthy. But for my mom's birthday this year, she surprisingly (and not so surprisingly) wanted to stay in and have a light dinner in preparation for the next day's feast. So what did I whip up?

Pan con Tomate with Proscuitto
Pear and Arugula Salad
Sliced Sopressatta
Wedge of Tallegio
Wedge of Saint Albray
Crusty Bread
Bottle of Malbec

Very happy people. Minus the extremely disturbing film I was put through. Blade Runner did not need to happen.

Whatsoever.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

little tokyo

Let me preface this by saying, I love sushi. Like really, really, really love sushi. As in I wake up craving sushi and could eat it every day for lunch and/or dinner for a week straight and not bat an eye. As in Jeremy Piven and I may soon share more in common than I'd like to think. That said, Little Tokyo in Norwalk, CT, is, in every way, my heaven.

Henry, the Manager and THE MAN, the myth, the legend, stops at nothing to ensure everyone who walks into his quaint Japanese haven, has the most memorable of meals and is treated with service you'd expect at the finest of restaurants. And he smiles, smiles, smiles, all the way through. Henry, I believe, has found the key to happiness.

And that key, is the freshest most sublime fish I've ever encountered.

Now every Friday night, my mom and her closest friends can be found at Little Tokyo. And as a commuter, before I made the move into the city, you could find me there too. It literally pains me to be so far away from it now, but it is understood that whenever Kiira is home, at least (at LEAST) one night is spent at Little Tokyo so that I can have my temporary fix. I believe they call this addiction.

After we're seated, we don't even have to order anymore. Henry knows exactly what each of us likes and then throws in a few surprises that based upon our likes, he knows we will love.

Plate after plate of delectable raw treats are ushered to our table. This Friday it started with a spicy seafood salad: shredded crab tossed with matchsticks of cucumber and dressed with a spicy mayo dressing and garnished with tobiko. Thin slices of fluke danced along the edge of the plate, dressed with a sweet but light soy-based sauce and shaved pieces of scallion. Perfectly balanced, beautifully presented, it was gone before I could snap a picture. Next came fresh tuna, covered in a spicy (TOO SPICY) rub and quickly seared on all sides before sliced, drizzled with a spicy mayo, and set down at our table. While the initial bite was soft and melt-in-your-mouth, it quickly became an emergency heat situation. My mother and my wimpy palettes couldn't really stand the heat. But delicious, nonetheless. The showstopping platter of sushi came next.
Oh. My. God.

Salmon, tuna, and white tuna nigiri sushi, two raw oysters topped with a spicy soy sauce, scallions, and tobiko. The most unbelievably tender pieces of Alaskan King Crab that I have ever encountered in all my 23 (almost 24) years. You didn't even need to chew. It just melted away into a briny, oceanic flavor that was superior to any lobster I've ever had. And of course, a Love Roll. Which my dear Henry knows (without me even having to say) that I cannot leave without having. Spicy white tuna with avocado inside, with a spicy crab salad with crunchies on top.

I couldn't stop.

And then there was more.

Henry's prized specialty: Lobster Cantonese Style. A whole lobster, chopped into pieces, shell on, is quickly cooked in a ridiculously hot wok with slivers of ginger, and a whole bunch of scallions, some sort of sweet sauce that I can't quite decipher but I don't even care. This thing is border line obscene. And I worry even mentioning this in a public arena as he only makes a couple a night and God forbid the next time I go in and he's sold out of them.



There will be trouble.

The point is, this place puts out incredible food and I have yet to find a place in the city that can live up to it. Honestly. And yes, it's Henry, it's Nancy (our adorable waitress), it's the sushi guys, it's friends, it's family but really? It's the food.

It's the freaking food.

Little Tokyo
120 New Canaan Ave.
Norwalk, CT, 06850
203-849-8686

Friday, April 10, 2009

fish tacos update

So remember my rant about fish tacos? About how I can't find good ones in the city? And how they're hardly on any menus? And how this really doesn't make me happy? At all? Well, it looks like someone might be able to shut me up. And that someone is Laurent Tourondel. No big deal.

At Tourondel's BLT Fish Shack, Red Snapper fish tacos with avocado and queso fresco are one of three bar offerings that are available daily for $9 between 5:30 and 11:00 PM. Other items include olive oil tuna tartine with tapenade and quail eggs or pork and shrimp sliders with spicy mayo. So you do know what this means, don't you?

Meet two friends after work, order one of each, nibble, nibble, nibble.

BLT Fish Shack
21 W17th St. (between 5th and 6th Avenues)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

delicious deal: elettaria

Akhtar Nawab's lovely little restaurant, Elettaria, is now offering a Recession Special in celebration of their one year birthday. Sunday through Wednesday, $33 will get you a special 3-course tasting menu and for another $8 you get two pours of their red or white sangria or rum punch. I not only love this restaurant and its awfully handsome chef, but they're also known for their incredibly potent potables. Is it 5:00 yet?

Elettaria
33 W8th St. (at MacDougal)
(212) 677-3833
http://elettarianyc.com/index_content.html

must read

My friend Nadina tipped me off on the book I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti and long story short, I must have it. The author, Giulia Melucci describes it as Sex and the City with recipes. And frankly, that's all I need to know to be sold.

boqueria to go

Well lookie here, Boqueria Soho is now offering lunch to go! Which means you can enjoy Serrano on Catalan Tomato or Duck Confit with Fig and Tetilla Cheese as a quick grab and go lunch any day of the week. The sandwiches will change monthly, ensuring no lunchtime banalities here.

Not that anyone was concerned about that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

banh mi-zilla

With its roots based in the classic Parisian street sandwiches (saucisson et beurre, sausage and butter), it's no wonder why myself et al. are crazy for the Banh Mi. It is seriously owning the food gossip scene and has for quite some time now. Heck, the New York Times and New York Magazine in one week? Before we know it, the Banh Mi will be the new slice 'o 'zza.

Lemme get in on that. Or, lemme just eatz you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

in a perfect world...

...I could make this and enjoy it whever I wanted to.

Needless to say, this world is far from perfect.
Therefore, next special occasion (Holler, Sunday Night Diners)? You're looking at my main.


alidoro

As I gleefully settle into my new apartment in Soho, I was shockingly up and at 'em early this past Saturday morning. As I strolled down Spring Street towards Broadway, I popped my head into Dean and Deluca for a much needed large iced coffee. Perusing through the stores, icy caffeinated beverage in hand, I couldn't help but feel transported. I felt like I was living abroad again, unknown and free in a city with infinite possibilities. Oh, and H&M, Zara, and Mango.

Anyhow, after my morning of indulgent retail therapy, I had rightfully so built up quite an appetite. And before I allowed myself to order the mixed baby greens with avocado from Cubana Cafe for the fourth time in one week, I decided to walk one block over to Sullivan St. for a taste of something I'd been waiting for. An Alidoro sandwich.
Alidoro is a tiny, little famed Italian sandwich shop with a big, huge following. As I naively entered on Saturday afternoon, I was somewhat prepared for the "Sandwich Nazi." I had been forewarned that there was no funny business to be had here. Read the menu, know your order, no questions, no add-on's, no substitutions. Signs everywhere to remind you of what you can and cannot do (which teeters towards obnoxious if you ask me). Additionally, this one man show means you will wait and you will not complain about said wait. With about three or four people ahead of me in line, I patiently waited (meaning played Brickbreaker by my lonesome) for a good 20 minutes before facing the scary man (I kid. Sort of). The two older men in front of me, clearly Italian, got the sandwich man jovially speaking Italian, cracking jokes, laughing, smiling.
"Hey," I thought, "he might not be so bad."
Kiira's up.
His face turns stone cold. Eyes look at me with an impatient, "Yes?" No more Mr. Nice Italian Guy.
I immediately spit out my order making sure to pronounce everyword impeccably, even adding in the type of bread I wanted without him having to ask.
The Alidoro. The sandwich shop's namesake.
"Ha. There." I thought.
As soon as I got over copping a 'tude just to prove no point whatsoever, I watched the master at work. Paper-thin slices of smoked chicken breast were meticulously sliced and gingerly laid on the long, crusty Italian baguette. Next came thick, hand cut pieces of Buffalo Mozzerella and a generous pile of fresh baby arugula. Spoonfulls of his spectacular and famous dressing were drizzled over the bread and the arugula, then topped, wrapped up in aluminum foil and tossed into a paperbag, waiting on the sidelines, ready, attentive.
One diet coke and I was on my way, back to my new home to dig in to this massive sandwich. And after the four flights of stairs, I had earned it. Simple but fantastic. Clean flavors that matched up perfectly together: the smoky chicken with the creamy mozzerella, punched up with the peppery arugula and the bright vinaigrette. One half for lunch and the other for dinner. It was a whole day's worth of delicious food that I could not conjure up one bad thing to say about. Except of course for the attitude-inducing mastermind.
But I can get over that. Because I'm pretty sure, in some ways, we were one and the same.
Alidoro
105 Sullivan St. (nr. Spring St.)

easter for grown-ups (does that include me?)


Now way back when, many Easters past, I was a sick little girl. All day long I was stuck in bed with a nasty stomach bug (which also was and still remains one of my greatest fears) while my younger sister got to enjoy the spring holiday with my family. Now of course the Easter Bunny still visited a young under-the-weather me with a basket filled with a chocolate covered Easter Bunny, jelly beans, malt balls, and more. And what happened? I now have some sort of Pavlovian response to these foods. The sight alone of them kind of makes me ill as I recount that one awful Easter that I couldn't hold food down.

Fast forward, oh, 15+ years or so and I still steer clear but I do love being on the receiving end of the gift giving. Yeah, I'll admit it. So an Artisanal Easter Basket would do just the trick! Ahh, j'aime la fromage!

And should that not be by my bedside table on Sunday morning, ehh, well, fine. Because our Easter spread is one of my favorite holiday meals of the year. Grilled rack of lamb with a rosemary-garlic balsamic reduction drizzle, potato fennel gratin, grilled asparagus, and a large salad of baby greens and fresh herbs with a dijon shallot vinaigrette. And my mom's Russian cream (think panna cotta with sour cream) with fresh raspberry sauce on top is the cool, creamy, and bright finish that you would expect on a Sunday late afternoon with the trees bursting with the first signs of Spring and Lily of the Valleys pushing their way up and out of the ground, surrounded by those you love.

As long as the Peeps are kept far, far away.

Friday, April 3, 2009

red hook ball field vendors

...are set to return May 2, 2009! For whatever reason, I have yet to been able to drag ANY of my friends out to Brooklyn for this Mexican food adventure. Which is incredibly surprising given the plethora of Mexi-heads I surround myself with. Anyways, soon enough we'll be able to devour some huaraches and Mexican street corn while enjoying a sunny Saturday in Brooklyn. I had my first and only huarache (a corn tortilla, quesadilla-like thing that's stuffed with your heart's content of meat, chorizo, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, cotilla cheese, cilantro, hot sauce, etc., etc., etc.) experience at the Brooklyn Flea last spring and although messy (bright red chorizo grease running down our forearms) it was nothing short of delicious and spicy indulgence. I may have left empty handed that day but I was happily full for the next day and a half.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

village voice choice eats 2009

Four Tums have been consumed thus far this morning and you know what? I am not complaining. Even if my heart feels like it's trying to pry its way out of my chest. Last night, a feast of little and big nibbles and drinks was consumed as we ate our way through the 2009 Village Voice Choice Eats held at the State Armory.

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.

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