Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Getting WastED One Last Time

Today is the final day of the amazing pop up inside Blue Hill- WastED.   Which means only one more night to taste the phenomenal Dumpster Dive Salad.   I truly didn't believe leftover fruits and veggies could be this good but there's something incredible about the combination of apple, carrot, pistachio and creamy whipped chickpea water .

I'm just sad I missed this salad on my first visit.  Luckily Mr. T was by my side this time around so we were able to try out more of the menu.

My only repeat dish was the Pasta Trimmings.  I really wanted Mr. T to try that briny, rich smoked fish head sauce.  He was on the fence when we ordered but after just one bite he was hooked.  Apparently we both love monkfish tripe and fish head- who knew? 

Philippe Bertineau and Alain Ducasse were the Guest Chefs that night.  They put together an insane platter of Head Cheese, Pig Trotters, Tongue and Offal Stew.  

Then we finished with Dog Food, a dish inspired by neighborhood butcher Dickson's Farmstead Meats.  They combined dairy cow meat from the Blue Hill Farm with the leftover offal cuts, usually used for dog food, to create a rich, tender meatloaf paired with unfit potatoes and gravy.

I absolutely loved this pop up.  Not only was the food spectacular but each visit was a lesson in food waste and reuse.  Cheers to Dan Barber and crew for putting together something so delicious and exciting.

75 Washington Place
New York, NY 10011

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chicken Parmigiana Dumplings at Mimi Cheng's

There's only two more days left in March which means only two more chances to try out the special Chicken Parmigiana dumplings at Mimi Cheng's.

Mimi's dumplings are big...much bigger than normal dumplings from Chinatown and filled with crazy ingredients that are all organic and super fresh.  

The special Chicken Parmigiana dumplings come stuffed with mozzarella cheese, basil and a big bowl of tomato sauce just perfect for dipping.  Although the Mimi special sauce was so delicious I ended up using a little bit of both.

The steamed dumplings are good but the pan fried are even better with that crispy bottom shell and absolutely no grease at all!  These are some seriously incredible dumplings.

179 2nd Avenue between 11th & 12th
New York, NY 10003

Friday, March 27, 2015

Philadelphia- Brunch at Russet

Our final meal of the Philadelphia weekend was brunch at Russet, a gorgeous Rittenhouse Square restaurant helmed by Chef-Owners Kristin and Adam Wood.  Located inside an 1877 year old townhouse, Russet has a simple, elegant atmosphere that feels almost like being at an upscale dinner party.

The small, well curated menu changes daily but I highly suggest the Woodlawn Jewel Mushroom Omelet if it's available. 

The mushrooms are roasted just enough to bring out that deep earthy flavor then scattered atop a creamy ricotta cheese omelet drizzled with garlic confit.

The omelet would have been more than sufficient on it's own but I never say no to Double Smoked Bacon. Not to mention Russet was another BYOB place and we had brought along another Funky Buddha Beer; the delicious Maple Bacon Coffee Porter.  It only seemed right to have some bacon with said "bacon beer".

It's also worth noting Russet has some incredible fresh squeezed orange juice.  Even in the dead of winter this was like biting into a big juicy orange straight from the source.  

We concluded our meal with an Apricot Panna Cotta with Black Sesame...simple and delicious. 

Russet was just a delightful meal from beginning to end and the location couldn't have worked out any better.  When we walked out the door we entered right into a blizzard.  There would be no sightseeing to be done before our train ride home in this weather.  Instead we walked about 30 feet away to Monk's Cafe and finished the trip in the back bar, drinking Pliny and enjoying the last few hours with friends.  It was really a perfect Sunday.

1521 Spruce Street
Philidelphia, PA 19102

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Philadelphia- Matyson

My absolute favorite place in Philadelphia is Matyson, a cute little restaurant right in Center City that consistently churns out some of the most creative and delicious food I've ever tasted.  The menu changes all the time but it's always focused on what's fresh and in season. Plus it's BYOB which means Mr. T and I can get creative with the food and drink pairings.  Since our dining companions had just gotten engaged the night before a bottle of Veuve seemed like the appropriate way to kick things off and actually paired wonderfully with my Goat Cheese Gnocchi.

Soft little pillows of cloud like cheese studded with crunchy pine nuts and brussels sprout in a duck ragu.  I've had a LOT of gnocchi in my day (thank you my Italian college roommate) but this was one of the most satisfying versions I've ever tasted.  There was just something incredible about that rich duck ragu with those earthy vegetables.  I basically had to fend off my dining companions from finishing the dish without me.

Not to say the other appetizers weren't amazing.  Mr. T's Duck Two Ways included a nice big hunk of Foie Gras and a smooth Duck Rillette complemented by black cherry compote and port wine sauce.

The Brown Butter Skate Wing was tasty entree, served with a medley of peppers and onions in a lemon caper vinaigrette...

...but even better was the luscious Duck Breast served with grilled chicory, sunchoke and prune drizzled in a sweet huckleberry sauce.

For dessert two scoops of creamy home made ice cream in Maple Walnut and Rocky Road.  They were both delicious and would have been the perfect end to the meal but I just had to order one more thing...their amazing, heart stopping, "it just doesn't get any better than this dessert ever" the Matyson Coconut Cream Pie.

Seriously this is the BEST Coconut Cream Pie ever.  The only thing that made it even better was our final beer pairing of Funky Buddha's Last Snow.  The combination of coffee,white chocolate and coconut in the beer with the pie was a match made in heaven.  Plus they wrote a little congratulations on the plate for my newly engaged friends...just a perfect example of the wonderful service at Matyson.  I just love this place.

37 South 19th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Philadelphia- Brunch at Khyber Pass Pub

I love a quick weekend trip to Philadelphia.  We usually shoot down on the train Saturday morning, eat drink and explore as much as humanly possible for the next 36 hours and then return home by Sunday night.  It's such a quick and easy escape. Unfortunately we completely timed this one wrong...tickets for the last Grateful Dead show in Chicago went on sale just as we were exiting our cab.  We stood on a corner in the freezing cold for about 20 minutes before finally shuffling into Khyber Pass to continue the frustrating cycle of refresh and deny.

Khyber is billed as a gastropub but if visions of the Spotted Pig come to mind erase them.  This is gastro grunge rock style with a super dark bar up front and wooden rickety tables in the back.  It's everything I love about a dive bar but with an incredible beer list and fantastic food. The brunch menu had all the usual suspects plus a few New Orleans treats like big, fluffy beignets and Shrimp 'n Grits.  I finally decided on Breakfast #5 which had a little bit of everything- two eggs, toast, creamy grits and a side of praline bacon.  

Wait...praline bacon you say?  Yes thick, crispy bacon drizzled with maple syrup and tossed in a crunchy coating of chopped nuts.  A crazy delicious combination that actually worked. 

Mr. T's BBQ Brisket and Sweet Potato Hash was also incredible.  The meat was so tender and rich it's already on the agenda for dinner our next trip.  

We never got any Grateful Dead tickets.  We actually gave up after brunch and walked up to Shane's Candies; a cool vintage candy shop that dates back to the 1800's.   Then it was onto City Tavern for a Colonial flight of beer in a historical old space. It was a classic Philadelphia afternoon...beer, brunch and history.

Khyber Pass Pub
56 South Second Street at Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Shane Candies
110 Market Street at Letitia Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

City Tavern
138 South Second Street at Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106