June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
After a break from blogging, I feel like there is much to catch up on, but I’ll start with a few local finds that have wowed me recently. Then it’s on to Montreal eats (of which there were A LOT) and a trip to Miami, which seemed to be a teeming with New York transplants. As long as that involves Shake Shack, however, I’m not one to complain.
In New York, my new favorite is definitely Epicerie Boulud, Chef Daniel’s new-ish market of fresh baked items, sandwiches, salads, coffees, gourmet products, and really everything else on could wish for. During a busy day of move-realted errands, we quickly dropped by the dangerously close shop on Broadway and 64th for lunch. I lured Rupert with the promise of gourmet hot dogs, which lived up to his high standards. I opted for the Rocket Salad which was a well-balanced blend of arugula, jamon serrano, machego, marcona almonds, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes, raisins, olives and sherry vinagrette. I’m an admittedly picky salad person, and this one was right up my alley. They also have some powerful iced coffee, perfect for getting a jump start on Saturday morning.
When exploring the website while writing this post, I just discovered the breakfast menu as well as an oyster and wine bar menu, which may actually allow me to sandwich my day sometime soon around two visits. I’ve also yet to dive into the baked items and gelato, but I can assure you it’s only a matter of days. The words chocolate ginger pound cake alone cause me to ponder when I can next get there.
The store is replete with great options for eating there (inside standing at bar tables or outside at a few tables adjacent to Bar Boulud) or taking to Central Park. They also have an incredible selection of cheese as well as uncooked sausages, terrines, etc that one could easily take home for a meal.
What is more, the hot dog and salad respectively were around $6.50 and $8.50, which in my book is quite a bargain in NYC, home of the $10-12 make-your-own salad. Based on my salad savings, I hope to make it around the corner sometime down the road to try Boulud Sud, the newest fine-dining restaurant from Chef Daniel.
Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar
I’ve known about Aroma’s wonderful Aperitivo deals for several years, but only last weekend did I discover their incredible cellar-level private rooms. We celebrated a friend’s birthday with a fabulous dinner where the beet appetizer (warm beets, gorgonzola, fig jam, walnuts, warm beet dressing) and buccatini (“cacio, pepe e uovo”, “aroma” pancetta) really stole the show. For the value, I would say Aroma is high on my list of fantastic group dining options. The wine list as well is well-curated and offers something for every price level. If for nothing else, it is well worth it to see what may be New York’s smallest restaurant restroom tucked away through the downstairs kitchen.
When ordering lunch for delivery in Midtown, I’ve narrowed my favorites down to a select bunch. ‘wichcraft remains one of my standbys, especially for the tomato soup and grilled cheese in colder months. For several years, I found myself wishing they would introduce a few new sandwiches, just to mix things up a bit, and it seems that lately they have done just that. On the most recent round of new summer sandwich offerings, I have fallen for the asparagus and pea frittata sandwich. Served all day, this would be a perfect indulgent breakfast, but I prefer it as a hearty lunch sandwich. The frittata was perfectly cooked and still very soft even upon delivery and the cheddar and rustic ciabatta are the perfect envelope for it. Now I just have to wait for their incredible gazpacho to make its summer debut and of course make it to Bryant Park every now and then for an ice cream’wich!
February 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
From time to time, I think of the dishes or meals in New York that I will miss most one day when I no longer live here. While there are certainly some outstanding dishes from gourmet meals that I will never forget (and probably merit their own post), I often find myself craving the simple comfort foods even more as many evoke memories of the friends with whom I discovered them. We revisit them frequently (sometimes too frequently I admit) as they all reside only a short walk from my apartment. These will certainly be the things that I prioritize and weave into my return visits. For those in the city or those who venture here for a visit here are some of simple edible pleasures of my life in New York that I would not want anyone to miss:
Sugarless Berry Scone
Joe The Art of Coffee
This scone is a perfect mid morning breakfast when paired with one of Joe’s perfect lattes. The berries themselves provide just enough sweetness and the flakey, crumbly scone has the perfect ratio of soft interior to crunch, browned exterior. The sugarless connotates health, but I think the jury is still out on that one…
Banana Buckwheat Pancakes
While Veselka holds a place in many people’s hearts for pierogies and blintzes, I can’t resist their buckwheat pancakes. The buckwheat is much heartier than the typical buttermilk variety and when bananas are added an almost banana bread like texture and flavor occurs.
The gnocco found in this quaint East Village Italian spot are puffed, deep fried pillows of savory dough served with cured meats such as prosciutto and salami. I’ve found ordering entrees to be futile here as I much prefer to indulge in these paired with a nice salad and red wine and spare no room for a second course.
Momofuku Ssam Bar, Noodle Bar and/or Milk Bar
These 3-bite steamed buns are the perfect combination of succulent pork belly, thinly sliced cucumbers, a sweet hoisin sauce and soft, pillowly bun. A few drops of sriracha is all that is needed to add the perfect bit of kick to each bite.
Spicy Garden Pizza
While the spicy garden is no longer an official menu item, one can achieve the same results by ordering a pie topped with broccoli, jalapeno and mushrooms. Posto has mastered the thin crust pizza in my opinion, and the veggie toppings add just enough volume to make this quite filling and even more spicy (thanks to the jalapenos). Like me, you may find you don’t miss the meaty toppings at all.
The hummus, labne (which I substitute for babaganoush), tabouli and salad are something I crave on a regular basis, especially when spread onto Cafe Mogador’s freshly baked pita. Be sure to request their homemade hot which is a must for those who enjoy spice.
January 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
Ever since I learned that Sara Jenkins of Porchetta was opening a pasta restaurant in the East Village, I was looking forward to the opportunity to see how the very talented Jenkins would translate her pork prowess to pasta and other mediums. So when looking for a nearby dinner spot with two friends on Saturday, I quickly suggested Porsena and they gladly agreed to give it a go. We walked into the restaurant right around 8pm expecting a wait as we did not have reservations. As a nota bene, we learned that Porsena does accept reservations, so I’d definitely recommend going that route if possible.
Luckily, the friendly hostess told us we could probably snag three seats at the bar as a group there was being seated shortly. It took about half an hour for their party to arrive and to migrate from the bar to their table, so we had plenty of time to peruse the menu and short but well-assembled wine list. We settled on a nice Cannonau which the bartended presented to my friend Craig, who is certainly a wine guy. When Craig suggested upon smell that the wine as corked, the friendly bartender who served us promptly smelled and tasted it, agreeing with him and quickly replacing our bottle.
As for the menu, I would say the pastas are definitely the strongest category so we focused our efforts there and threw in a few starters for good measure. We started with a wilted escarole salad, which packed a nice burst of acidity and salt thanks to a garlic anchovy dressing, and a salt cod and potato dish (almost like a spread) served with toast points. Along with several dishes, we found the salt cod to be a bit under seasoned but salt and pepper quickly solved that problem bringing out the inherent flavors nicely.
Upon consulting the bartender, she quickly recommended the Annellini with Spicy Lamb Sausage and Mustard Greens, we rounded that out with the Lasagna al Forno which we’d heard good things about and the Penette with roasted cauliflower, olives, capers, garlic, toasted breadcumbs. All three were declicious but the annellini definitely stole the show. It was hard to pinpoint the exact source of the heat – it almost had an asian undernote to it like Sriracha, but it worked beautifully in the slightly creamy sauce that coated the wide rings of perfectly cooked pasta. The lasagna, which did away with tomato sauce in favor of just bechamel with meat ragu, was nicely puffed from baking when it arrived at the bar, had a wonderful crust of cheese and bread crumbs that remained crisp even as it slowly deflated.
All in all, it was a wonderful meal and came at a very reasonable price (about $40 per person before tip for 2 apps, 3 pastas and a bottle of wine). I actually believe dining at the bar may have improved our experience as things in the dining room seemed a bit more frenetic and less efficient, which I attribute to still being relatively new. I especially liked seeing Chef Jenkins in the pass expediting food in the open kitchen and a large wooden table just a few feet away that would be a cool spot for a larger group of 6-8 people.
One interesting topic of conversation over dinner, was the font of the restaurant’s logo which can be found on the menu link above. My friend Emily and I determined it was reminiscent of both a Western and a Swiss Chalet both circa 1950 in the best of ways. Still trying to figure out how those two came to mind or if in fact there is some common stylistic theme there…
October 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
On Friday night, we took several out of town visitors to Kin Shop, Harold Dieterle’s recently opened restaurant in Greenwich Village. Having been the one to select the restaurant for the one big dinner we had with visitors who had ventured all the way from Europe, I realized choosing such a new spot was always a risk but in this case my confidence in Perilla and Chef Dieterle. Rupert jokingly reminded me I was on the line if things went south, and I gladly accepted the challenge!
For a restaurant that had literally been open for five days, Kin Shop was impressively smooth with respect to all aspects of service. The quality of food was right on par with what I’ve come to expect at Perilla making it clear that Dieterle and his partner Alicia Nosenzo’s talent translates well into modern Thai cuisine. The restaurant, located just across the street for BLT Burger on 6th Avenue is long, narrow and about size as Perilla. The chef’s counter in the back would be a fantastic place to sit when walking in with a similar, close-up spectator view to the open kitchen that Casa Mono offers. Chef Dieterle was there right in the mix of things, which is always nice to see.
One thing that I believe will bode well for Kin Shop is it’s fantastic selection of wine. Usually when craving thai, I go straight into beer mode and quite happily order a Singha, but the spice of thai always makes my mind wander to think of the fun pairing ideas that exist. To ensure it was a crowd pleaser, this evening I went with the 2008 Julien Meyer Pinot Gris from Alsace. The wine was teh perfect smooth, crisp complement to the food that followed. If it’s beer or cocktails you seek, however, Kin Shop has no lack of exciting options in those categories as well. On my next visit, I definitel intend to have the Sohm & Khing, which features house-infused ginger mekhong, domaine de canton, aperol, grapefruit bitters and lemon soda. While the classic Sigha makes the cut as well, a more interesting venture would be the Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale from Japan.
Being a large group, we had planned to order family style and our friendly, well-informed server told us that was the recommended way to go. For our first course, we started with the Spicy Duck Laarb Salad, Warm Sliced Snap Peas with Bay Scallops and Hand Cut Beef Tartar. The duck, served in romaine lettuce leaves was one of the spiciest dishes I’ve had (our served was candid about this!) and I loved every almost painful bite. Those with less affinity for spice should definitely order a side of milk, as water and wine do little to cut it! Whatever you do, don’t forego ordering it! The coconut flavor of the curry like sauce under the perfectly cooked scallops was sublime and cooling in contrast to the duck. Finally the beef tartar was simple yet fresh and almost melted in one’s mouth. I especially liked the rice crackers that accompanied it.
Moving on to entrees (and a second bottle of Pinot Gris) we sampled the Stir Fried Wonton Noodes with chicken sausage, thai broccoli rabe & oyster sauce, the Pan Fried Crab Noodles and the Roasted Duck Breast with Red Curry. I especially enjoyed the wonton noodles but the duck was the leader of the pack. Each thick, medium-rare slice was meant to be paired with and wrapped with green mango and curry in crispy roti. I could eat the roti alone or days! When dining on my own I will definitely be sampling the rabbit and goat curries (which came highly recommended) as well, but was not sure how those would fly with our guests so did not want to rock the boat when ordering for the table.
I will definitely be paying another visit to Kin Shop soon, and I can see it as a great weekend brunch spot once the open for those hours.
October 4, 2010 § Leave a comment
Only a few days after my mom and sister’s departure from New York, Rupert’s parents arrived on Thursday to spend the weekend with us from England. We had a wonderful weekend of catching up (we hadn’t seen them since last Christmas!) and, of course, eating. Here are the highlights (aka why I will be going to the gym this week!):
Dinner at Maialino was the meal I was most looking forward to this weekend and it did not fail to exceed my high expectations! Of the myriad dishes we tried, my favorite of the starters was a refreshingly crisp escarole salad. In the pasta department, the Bombolotti alla Norcia, a short, fat tubular pasta with sausage, chard and a light cream sauce, was spectacular. On an autumnal, slightly sweeter note, the Butternut Squash Agnolotti was decadent with the toasted pumpkin seed garnish adding a perfect salty, crunchy contrast. Of course, desserts made an appearance and I went straight to my favorite olive oil cake and was impressed by what I believe was a flourless choclate torte as well. Along with dinner we began some refreshing Prosecco, moved on to a wonderful Fontodi Chianti Classico (as Rupert’s parents had just visited Tuscany) and a taste of Barolo from Maialino’s incredibly unique Nebbiolo Bar.
I’ve done my share of singing the praises of City Bakery in the past, but this weekend marked my first encounter with their whole wheat croissant. A bit of a croissant purist, I have to admit I was skeptical about any healthy sounded ingredients being incorporated into something that is inherently indulgent. Rupert and his parents when to City Bakery while I was at work on Friday, so I discovered this souvenir in our apartment on Saturday morning when looking for breakfast. Even a day old, this croissant was soft and would have been wonderful as it was, but I took it a step further by slicing it in half and running it beneath the broiler for a few minutes. The whole wheat flour actually adds a bit of a sourdough-like tang and heartiness making this the best croissant I’ve had thus far in New York. I highly recommend trying it…asap! And, with the weather turning cooler, I would not hesitate to pair it with a mini-shot of their hot chocolate.
On Saturday night we ventured to Tribeca to the new Tamarind. I love the original location and had heard wonderful things about the new outpost. The space itself is breathtaking with a very modern, austere design. We were seating along the glass wall upstairs, an ideal perch for viewing the goings-on in the kitchen and at tables below. The food was every bit as delicious as that of the original, and the service is impeccable without being obtrusive. Tamarind’s chicken tikka masala is creamery and a bit sweeter than what I normally encounter and I enjoyed the selection of flavored rices in addition to basmati. The tomato coconut variety was especially unique without being overpowering. Broccoli and cheese naan, albeit a bit untraditional, was a fun twist on the staple. I would highly recommend Tamarind to people who are unfamiliar with Indian cuisine and it sets diners up for a delicious and unintimidating introduction. More than once managers (and perhaps even an owner) visited our table to ask how everything was and it was clear their aim was for people to have the perfect experience
For a late (post Arsenal v. Chelsea match) brunch, we walked a few blocks to ABC Kitchen. Having been once before, I knew this would be a crowd pleaser with a few healthy selections after a long weekend of eating out. Rivaling the impeccable seasonal, local food at ABC Kitchen is the gorgeously designed dining room and unique glassware and serving pieces sourced from ABC Home next door. We had some wonderful juice elixers to start while taking in the atmosphere and perusing the menu. Finally we narrowed our selections and came out with the signature peekytoe crab toast, morel, parmesan, oregano & farm egg whole wheat pizza and avocado & roasted carrot salad. All were spectacular with the pizza vying for first place with Pulino’s. We also tried a cauliflower soup which was rich and creamy featuring Rupert cheese. Apparently Rupert is a lot like Gruyere – not a bad cheese to be compared to if your name happens to be Rupert! On my next visit, I must save room for dessert as I’m sure they do a fantastic job with those as well. Easier said than done! I’d also like to visit for dinner soon as I’ve only been for brunch.
Tonight’s dinner, after a long run along the West Side Highway, featured Special K with Strawberries, which was exactly what we wanted after such a delicious but filling weekend!
September 27, 2010 § Leave a comment
This weekend, my mom and sister were in town to celebrate both of their birthdays – slightly belatedly – and enjoy our “fall” weather. We had a great weekend complete with fantastic food, a co-ed soccer game (my soccer debut), a Brooklyn housewarming party featuring an Indian feast, Wicked, and of course some requisite shopping. Here are a few highlights from the weekend eats:
After our first visit a few months ago, I was eager to bring my family back to experience one of my new Italian favorites. The folks at L’Artusi went over the top to make it a fabulous dinner and we had the opportunity to sample many things we had not ordered on our previous visit. Of the vast array of dishes we all shared, the highlights this time around were the fresh ricotta cheese with buttermilk crackers, the hanger steak with crispy potatoes with salsa bianca, and the brussel sprouts, which were roasted to crispy, nearly burnt perfection. This time, dessert was a must, and the olive oil cake with raisin marmelatta, vin santo and creme fraiche mousse was incredibly airy and moist, and the coconut semifreddo with figs was simply out of this world.
For breakfast on Saturday morning, we opted to pick up some pastries to enjoy on Rupert’s roof deck and serve as fuel for our soccer exploits later in the day. While the signature pretzel croissant is always a winner, the standout this time around was a pear and candied ginger corn muffin, the perfect balance of savory, sweet and spice. We also tried the maple bacon scone which was also unique savory/sweet combo. In my opinion, City Bakery offers some of the best iced coffee in the city, so that was also enjoyed. Had it been winter, the hot chocolate would have been requisite as well.
Sunday brunch was a special request of our guests, who had been to Pulino’s on their last visit just after it opened. The order never changes now that Rupert and I have zoomed in on our two favorites: the ottima and hte patate. The ottima features the crackly Roman crust with blobs of ricotta, blueberry jam and peices of crisp bacon. Some may question if this combo “works” but I am here to tell you it goes way beyond working, taking breakfast pizza to a new level. Run, don’t walk. The patate, on the savory side, features potato, sausage, mozzarella, fontina and green onions with two baked eggs on top. For the ingredient lineup it is surprising light. About one slice in to our brunch, I managed to dump half a latte all over our table, pizza, my lap, etc, and I have to thank our fantastic server for replacing the pizza and latte without charging us. Those who know me know that I have a proclivity for spilling, but this was definitely one of my more disastrous incidents.
Momofuku Milk Bar
Of course, no trip to New York would be complete for my sister without a stop at Momofuku Milk Bar. She stocked up on compost cookies for her friends back home and we sampled the Ants on a Log soft serve. One of the crazier combos they’ve made, but I have to admit they nailed the celery and PB flavor…it was authentic if not a bit bizarre. Apparently pumpkin cheesecake is up next on their flavor rotation. I’ll definitely be stopping by that one!
September 23, 2010 § Leave a comment
Hi Everyone! I promise to be back in blogging action soon. Just a hectic week around here. Next week: a weekend recap of my mom and sister’s visit to NYC and the next installment of West Coast Adventures! We have a lot of eating adventures in store so stay tuned…