Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Holy Beans!!!!

I had to throw in this picture from Halloween night of one of my favorite candies in Large size!!!

We were in the Duane Reade and ran across a bag of Boston Baked beans that were absolutely huge!!! Look at this bag!!

I've never seen these in anything but a small box! I even put some other candy bars near it so you can really tell the size.

I mean come on! This is a party sized bag! I really wanted to buy it but then I would have just gorged myself silly on the sugary peanuts. I did happen to buy the smaller candy bar in the back called Carlos V. It had a picture of a king on the front that I assume is Carlos V himself. He reminded me a little of the Burger King guy. Unfortunately the chocolate was disgusting.

Next time I'll go for the big bag of beans!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Brunch at Jane

So we had been planning to get tickets for the Bills Jets game on Sunday for a couple of weeks now. We both took Monday off so we could go early and tailgate without any worries for the next day of work. Unfortunately fate intervened and took all of our money basically.

In the last week BOTH of our televisions, the living room one and bedroom one broke, and our Laptop stopped working. We basically had a technological meltdown in our apartment. Luckily our laptop is still covered under warranty, so we just mailed that out in the hopes that we will see it again soon fixed (knock on wood), but our TVs were another story.

I hate to say it but we have both become slaves to technology and couldn't last a day without the stupid thing. So we spent many late hours going to Circuit City, Best Buy, J & R, basically anyplace in the city that sells Television's- we went to.

In the end we came home with two fantastic new television's that should hopefully last us for a while. They should at least for the amount of money we spent on them! But the week really left us quite penniless so we decided to have an easy stay at home weekend and not buy the football tickets.

As Sunday rolled around though I was getting antsy and really needed to leave the apartment. Mr T was happy just gazing at the big new TV all day but I needed to go out and do something! So since it was a nice day and the football game wouldn't be on until 4:00 I thought we go out for brunch.

I jumped on Opentable Sunday morning and was surprised to see a reservation still available for Jane at 12:15. I have heard tons of positive reviews of Jane for brunch all over the Internet. A lot of people say it's the best brunch in the city, up there in the ranks with Balthazar & Five Points. So seeing a reservation still available I grabbed it.

Once I got Mr. T up and ready (he doesn't really function until about 1:00 on the weekend) we were off!

We got to Jane right on time and there were already about 15 people in line waiting for one of the walk-in tables. We went to the hostess station and immediately were seated in one of the two people tables against the wall.

I had heard the seating at Jane could be cramped and uncomfortable because the tables are so close together and was expecting the worst. I was pleasanly surprised to see the tables, although close together, were quite sizable giving you enough room to comfortably enjoy your meal. Compared to our table at the Spotted Pig, where the plate of food barely fit, this was roomy!

Once we sat down we were handed our menus and a basket of bread was promptly dropped off by another server a few seconds later. We decided on what to order and then tried out the bread.

The bread basket was pretty to look at but nothing special. The flatbread crackers were surprising spicy, which I actually didn't enjoy but the other pieces of bread had a nice flavor.

I thought it was a little strange that they gave us our bread so quickly, but as I would soon find out these other servers were a blessing in disguise as out waiter was not the fastest man in the room.

It was about 15 minutes after we got our basket that he finally arrived to take our order. I went for the Country breakfast and raspberry mimosa. Mr. T went for the Vanilla french toast and the bellini.

We handed our menus and started to get into a discussion about the upcoming week.

Literally about 3 minutes later a server was at our table, plates of food in hand.

Now I don't want to complain, but this was a little too fast for me. When I go out to eat I want to enjoy the experience, not have my food and run. We hadn't even been given our drinks yet! We didn't end up getting those drinks either for another 10 minutes or so. Our waiter seemed to have disappeared somewhere during this time.

Anyway onto the food! This is my Country Breakfast.

As you can see there's quite a lot of different things on this plate but it still looks boring, no? Anyway the grits were cooked perfectly as were the eggs and the bacon was some of the best I'd ever had. I wish they had given me more than one slice!

The biscuit and gravy were pretty forgettable but the sausage had a nice taste without being overly spicy.

Here's Mr. T's Vanilla Bean French Toast.

I have to say this was pretty good. The slices were nice and thick but had a milky texture almost when you cut into them. They were very sweet though. So sweet I could almost feel the toast giving me a cavity as I chewed it.

After we were both finished it took us about 20 minutes to finally flag down our waiter and grab the bill from him. You would think with all of the people waiting the waiter would want to turn over his tables more quickly.

Once we paid and got outside the line of people waiting had doubled in size, which leads me to this question. Our brunch was very good indeed but nothing special. I actually thought the country breakfast dish I had at Acme for brunch was better than this. The french toast was great but only slightly better than we've had at other places as well. Why does this place get all the hype? I certainly wouldn't wait outside for an hour to eat there again. Maybe I missed something?!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Yum Yum Dim Sum!!

We met up with some friends and hopped in a cab down to 88 Palace which is located in the mall directly under the Manhattan bridge. This is my favorite part of Chinatown. When you're more west, you see a lot of tourists and get some spillover from Little Italy. Down here there's none of that. This is the heart of Chinatown.

In order to get to 88 Palace you take a huge escalator up to the top where the restaurant takes over the entire floor.

In case you didn't know, for dim sum the food is wheeled around on a trolley by servers. As the servers pass they tell you what they have and then stamp your card once you take something. You're never quite sure what's coming next which makes it kind of an exciting way to eat!

We walked in, got our card and were ready to go! As we sat down, our friend said "Okay, we gotta remember to pace ourselves".

About three minutes later there were already five different plates in front of us. Pacing is not an option here!

The first cart came around and we grabbed some steamed Bok Choy. I love Bok Choy and this was perfect. Nice and crispy with a very light sauce.

In the background you can see the next two things we grabbed the beef noodle and shrimp noodle. I was NOT a fan of these at all. I have a thing with different textures. Some things just kind of creep me out and the texture of these noodles did just that. Ewww....they were slimy and gross.

Next up was some kind of beef dish. I have no idea what this actually was since the woman didn't speak any English but it was good. It had the same kind of sauce you'd usually find on a beef and broccoli dish but better.

When this next dish first came around I thought it was a turnip cake but it turned out to be shrimp toast. This also had a weird texture but it was good. It reminded me of some sort of shrimp frittata.

The next dumplings were my favorite dish of the brunch. Again I have no idea what they were but they had different kinds of vegetables inside and something else we couldn't quite decipher but they were amazing!!

After these dumplings we had a bunch of other stuff. Some fantastic shumai with whole shrimp inside, not that minced up stuff you get from delivery guys; some roasted pork buns and beef and pork dumplings.
We were getting pretty full at this point and decided we would get 2 more dishes and some dessert. There were egg custards on some of the carts that I had been eyeing all morning and I couldn't wait to get some.
As soon as we heard the woman describe the next dish we jumped on it immediately.

This is a bacon wrapped shrimp dumpling.
Wow it's basically a large shrimp wrapped in bacon, covered in dough and deep fried! Okay, not exactly healthy- but awesome. It was really rich so one was more than enough for each of us.

We had one more dish to get and decided to go out and try something a little different. We had passed up on a bunch of the more exotic things as they had been going around like the tripe, etc. But hey- we're in Chinatown so we decided to go a little out of our comfort zone order this:

Yes- that is a chicken's foot. I have to tell you that just looking at them I felt a little queasy. Once I bit into it I was surprised that it was basically all bone! Just skin and bone and that's it! I was NOT a fan of these at all. No one really was. Oh well at least we had tried them out.
Unfortunately the egg custards never came back around so we decided to just settle up and grab some outside. The total bill for all of this food? Roughly $10 a person. What a fantastic deal!
Almost everything we ordered came with 4 pieces so everyone had a bite and we had tons of food left over that we couldn't even finish. I will definitely be heading back here for brunch again soon. When we left it was about 12:30 and there wasn't an empty table in the house. I have to say this is one of the best deals in the city by far.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Zum Schneider

I know I've talked about going to Zum Schneider a lot in previous posts but I've never actually taken any pictures of the food! Well finally I have!

With Oktoberfest being over Mr Trekker & I decided that we would have no trouble getting a table at Zum Schneider last Saturday night so we took our time. We walked around the East Village a little, did some shopping and even stopped into Nolita House for a quick drink.

Finally around 7:00 we decided to head over. Walking up to the place we could already see a crowd of people standing outside. We could not believe how packed it was! Luckily most of the people waiting were larger parties and we were able to snag the last table for two outside. I prefer the inside and the ruckus and commotion that comes with it much better, but we were starving so we took what we could get.

Zum Schneider is your typical beer garden with a ton of great German beers that come in 3 sizes small, regular and large. Of course being that we love beer we always go for the large! I ordered one of my favorite beers of all time the Hacker Pschorr Dunkel.

It was a cool fall night and this beer was perfect. Dark and creamy with a nice frothy head. Mr. T decided to go for the Spatan Optimator which is the same dark color as my beer but a little sweeter and stronger. A big one of those and I would be "feeling no pain", as my mother would say!

The waitress came over and told us the specials. We always order the same thing every time we come here but tonight the waitress really talked up a pork special they were having. Mr T decided to forgo the usual sausage platter and try it out.

I on the other hand ordered the same thing I always do. The house salad and a brat.

Zum Schneider has my favorite salad in the city. It is always super fresh and comes with a lemon, honey dressing that is delicious!!

My brat was pretty good as well but I honestly didn't even have more than 2 bites of it.

Why you may ask? Because of this:

The pork special!!! Holy Cow this was so freakin good!!!! First of all, the piece of meat was bigger than my head! The outside skin was cooked perfectly crispy and the meat inside was so moist it just fell apart as you cut into the shank.

It was so big I just had to help Mr. T eat it! Yum!!! If you ever see this listed as a special-go for it! I wish they would make it a regular item.

Unfortunately, as the weather gets colder the outdoor seats will be gone and it will be even tougher to snag a table here. So if you're gonna go- be prepared to wait amid the ruckus!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tasty Tapas at Casa Mono

We returned from our trip to Florida on Wednesday and were beyond tired out. Mr. Trekker did the correct thing and took the rest of the week off from work. I went in on Thursday & Friday and of course had two of the most stressful and hectic days ever. Luckily I get out of work early on Friday's and was home by 3:30. Since Mr. T was home as well and neither of us had had lunch yet (since he was just waking up), we decided to grab a late lunch at Casa Mono.

Casa Mono has been in our neighborhood for years now and always gets rave reviews. Unfortunately the place is super small and seating is a little cramped. It is also filled to the brim for dinner at night with at least an hour waiting list. The nice thing about the place though is that they serve their menu all day! So we figured it being an off hour we might be able to have the place to ourselves.

It was a really rainy and gross day so we hurried into the place and found it almost empty. There were 2 couples dining at the bar and one table was occupied. We decided to grab a seat on the far side of the bar near the windows to enjoy the dreariness of the day.

We order a fantastic bottle of white wine,which the sommelier helped us choose and of course I don't remember the name, and got to work on ordering.

We figured we would order 3 plates here and then head over to Pipa, another place we'd been meaning to try out, and order a couple more. For some reason we both thought the tapas would be tiny and the plates expensive; seeing that it was a Mario Batali place.

Our first dish was the Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Croquetas.

The plate was pretty big! As you can see there's a good 6-8 croquetas there!

Inside the croqueta.

Yum!!! These were heavenly. It's a little hard to tell from the picture but the goat cheese to pumpkin ratio was about 50:50. Usually the cheese kind of overpowers any other taste but the pumpkin really came through. Absolutely delightful!

Next we got the Fideos with chorizo and clams.

I honestly ordered this because it was the dish that Iilan Hall made on Top Chef that won him the round. Since I am not a pasta fan; find chorizo too spicy and dislike clams, I figured I would at least try it and Mr. T could enjoy the rest.

Know what? I think I may have eaten more than him! The flavors were fantastic together! The chorizo was minced into little cubes so the spice didn't over power it and the sauce that was on top cooled it down as well. This is a perfect example of why I love eating out! On paper, this sounds like a dish I would loath. But somehow, this chef got everything together just right to make it spectacular!

Our final dish was the lamb chops with chickpeas. I couldn't get a picture because the sky had turned black as night because of the storm and the sun had been the only light. It was very good though- perfectly cooked with a nice char on the outside.

After the 3 dishes we were stuffed. When we got our bill we realized our moderately priced bottle of wine ended up being more than all 3 dishes put together. Really quite a deal!

So was Casa Mono perfect? Well unfortunately our service was horrendous. As I said earlier the whole time we were there only about 6 people at most were there with us. You would think that with a wait staff of about 6 people we would have no problems.

Unfortunately our waiter sucked. He took forever to take our food order, he never filled our water or our wine glasses (we had to flag him down each time) and he literally would stand in front of the bar and gaze right through us looking stoned.

So that was a little upsetting. Especially because one of the waiters seemed to notice our displeasure and did nothing.

Oh well. The food was good enough that we will be going back and maybe I'll even give Batali's other place, Otto, another shot.

We were too full to get any more food so we just went to Pipa for a quick drink. I stuck with a Negro Modelo but Mr. T tried out their Coconut Lime Mojito and it was fantastic! Really tasty and quite a fun place. Next time we won't eat so much before planning to eat there!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bar Bites at Bocca

We stopped by the new Italian place in our neighborhood, Bocca on Friday night for an after work drink. I got there a little before 7:00 and there were plenty of seats still available at the bar.

I ordered a glass of Tocai Fruili and waited a couple minutes before Mr Trekker showed up. The space is pretty nice. The walls are painted red with gold accents and the bartender was engaging and entergetic. Many of the tables were filled with people dining and it was very lively.

After Mr. T showed up the bartender brought over some complimentary bar snacks for us! Not your ordinary peanuts either.

This whole spread was just for us!

Fried olives, bruchetta, ham and cheese croquettes, fried mussels and some weird cubes of bread with garlic, olive oil and orange maybe?

To be honest nothing was amazing but the croquettes were decent and it was free! That's hard to come by in the city! We didn't stay for dinner since we wanted to rest up for our flight to Florida the next day but we'll probably stop back again since the service was so friendly.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Crafty Day

I love Top Chef. Let me say that again I Looove Top Chef!!! It is one of my favorite shows in the whole world. Which makes it odd that we have never gone to any of the Craft restaurants even though most of them are in my neighborhood and Tom Colicchio started all of them.

So the other day I was heading home and walked past 'Wichcraft. I decided today was the day to try out some Tom cooking.

I grabbed the menu and immediately decided on a fantastic sounding roast beef sandwich. As I approached the counter and ordered I was informed that the sandwich was actually no longer on the menu. Needles to say I was a little sad but I quickly changed my order to the slow roasted pork sandwich with coppa, pickled pepper relish & fontina on grilled country bread.

The sandwich itself was pretty good. Everything was obviously very fresh and the melted cheese and pork went really well together. Unfortunately the pickled relish was way too spicy for me. It was covered in red pepper flakes and consumed the whole sandwich.

The bread was great so next time I would order it sans the relish and see if that made it better.

Unfortunately I have to say the waitstaff at 'Wichcraft left much to be desired. They were quite slow and unfriendly. Not the type of service I would have expected.

Anyway, later that night after some shopping Mr. Trekker and I decided to stop for a glass of wine on the way home. Since we were right near Craftbar we decided to go there. Two Crafts in one day would be a feat!!

The space itself is sleek and stylish. We saddled up to the bar and ordered some wine. I went for a glass of the Roger Champault Sancerre Blanc Perris 2006.

It was so dark in the place it was hard to get a good picture but WOW. This wine was awesome. One of the best wines I have had in a while. It was light and crisp with a hint of peach on the end. I was so impressed with this wine that I looked it up and ordered a bottle when I got home.

In the back of the picture you can see the huge breadsticks they gave us. I am not a big bread fan but these were good. A nice thing to crunch on that didn't interfere with the taste of the wine.

The service was great and we both decided we would have to go back another time try the food. I'm glad we checked it out, next on my list Craftsteak!!! I have to save up some money for that though!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Miso Muffin- Huh??

Stopped into City bakery the other morning on my way back from shopping. This place is really close to my apartment but I never seem to swing by and pick up their delicious pastries.

As I was browsing the baked good I ran across a Miso Garden muffin. This sounded interesting so i decided to pick one up. I also grabbed an Ice Coffee and headed home with my goods. Here's a close up of the muffin:

The top of this muffin was excellent- nice and crusty on the edges but also chewy. Perfect texture.

The inside of the muffin had nice texture as well. Unfortunately I did not like the taste. The miso flavor was very light and the rest almost tasted a little bit like carrot but it just didn't go together for me.

Luckily Mr. T seemed to like it so- to each their own I guess.

The one thing I do have to say is their Iced Coffee was fantastic. Not too bitter, nice and smooth. I will definitely be going back for another one of these. Next time I think I'll try their Blueberry Corn muffin- that looked goood!

My Mini Oktoberfest

As you already well know, I love good beers. Especially of the German variety. So it goes without saying that I love Oktoberfest. Every year I try to go to some sort of celebration. Growing up we would go to Oktoberfest in Ellicotville and peruse back and forth between all of the tents trying different beers from the microbreweries up there.

This year I was excited to go to Zum Schneider for their celebration to have some big beers and listen to some music from the Oompah band.

Unfortunately when we showed up last Saturday the place was already filled WAY beyond capacity and the waiting list was a mile long. I was pretty disappointed. We were going to try to go back this past weekend but it just didn't work out.

So yesterday we decided to try out a local German place the Silver Swan and have one Oktoberfest beer.

Walking into the Silver Swan I immediately noticed that everything about the place seemed old. The wrought iron bar stools, the dining room which was furnished like my grandmothers living room to the people who were eating. It wasn't a bad thing- just something you notice right away.

We grabbed a seat at the bar and perused their beer list which was quite fantastic. They had tons of German beers and also some good Belgian and English brews at well. Being that I was celebrating Oktoberfest I went for the Spatan Oktoberfest.

I've had this beer many times before and I have to say it's hand down my favorite Oktoberfest beer. It's very light and smooth for an Oktoberfest beer with a slightly sweet, nutty aftertaste.

The free Bavarian pretzels at the bar were a perfect complement as always. The bar was pretty much empty since it was an early Sunday evening, a far cry from the usual boisterous party of my past Oktoberfest celebrations. It was nice though. A relaxing hour sipping a good beer before I had to start worrying about the Yankees again.....

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Wandering around Chinatown

It was an unusually warm and sunny October day on Saturday. A little too warm for the season if you ask me, but Mr. Trekker and I decided to go out and enjoy it anyway. We were craving some good beef jerky and had heard there was a place in Chinatown that we had never tried before which was supposed to be better than our usual place New Beef King, so we headed down.

We had to stop at J & R to pick up some cables for our new receiver so we jumped on the 6 train. When we arrived at the Brooklyn bridge station we were feeling a little adventurous so we decided to stay on the train and do the loop to see the old station that used to be used.

I have to tell you it was a little scary. We were the only ones on the train since it had been the last stop and there's something a little eerie about being completely alone in the dark depths of the subway tunnel. Halfway through, the train came to a complete halt for about 3-4 minutes. I had a mini panic attack of being trapped there forever. Visions of a power outage and a huge rainstorm suddenly flooding the subway station all came to mind. I started to have trouble breathing and my heart was racing when suddenly...the train started to move again. Phew!!! That is the last time we ever do that. Although it was kind of neat to see.

Anyway after I calmed down and had a successful stop at J & R, we headed into Chinatown.

Just the other week I had been talking to Mr. T about my lack of having good ice cream in the city. See I am an ice cream addict. At least once a week I have a huge craving for the stuff and I usually just run out to the store and pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry's. I have never been to any of the top places like Cones, Il Laboratorio del gelato , etc. So when I ran across the Chinatown Ice Cream factory I knew I had to stop in.

The amount of crazy flavors were overwhelming. I wanted to try everything!!! But since I didn't want to completely ruin my appetite for the day I limited myself to 2 scoops. I decided to go for the Black Sesame and the Egg Custard ice cream.

OMG- this was so good!!!!! Black sesame ice cream has always been one of my favorites since I had it at Sakagura and Cha'an and this was just as good, if not better than the stuff I had there.

The egg custard though really blew me away. Whereas the black sesame was kind of thick and dense, the custard was really light and smooth. It started melting almost instantly. It reminded me of when I was little and I would make stirred custard on the stove to put over fresh strawberries. It was awesome!

So after I gorged myself on ice cream, we continued walking up Elizabeth Street to Malayasia Beef Jerky. As you enter the store, the strong aroma of smoked meat reminded me of being at the Big apple BBQ. The place is only about as big as our tiny living room so it can be quite overpowering, We were excited to try everything and got a 1/4 pound of the regular beef jerky, the sliced beef and the spicy pork.

Wow! This beef jerky is about 10 times better than what we had been getting at New Beef King. It was so fresh and soft with an incredible smokey flavor. It literally tasted exactly like it smelled.

Close up of the Jerky

Mr. T and I devoured about 3 pieces each and were covered in spices but didn't care. It was so damn good.

We decided to continue walking around a little more just to see what else was in the area. We were heading down Mott Street when I saw the sign for Saigon Bakery. I have always wanted to try a Banh Mi so even though I was literally bursting at the seams we headed in to get a sandwich.

Mr. T was completely taken aback when we walked inside and he saw all the jewelry. You see, the Saigon Bakery is actually 2 things in one. Up front there is a jewelry store with earrings, necklaces, etc. When you walk to the back there is a small counter where you can order six different kinds of Banh Mi. Kind of carzy, huh!

Since I had never had one before I decided to go the traditional route and order the Bahn Mi Saigon- which is pork.

The picture came out really bad unfortunately but basically it's a big crusty roll stuffed with pork, pickled carrots, Sliced cucumber, radish, mayo, sriracha sauce and something else I couldn't decipher. It is also topped with a large amount of cilantro which we immediately had to take off due to Mr. T's allergy to the stuff.

This sandwich was awesome. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. For about $4 this thing will easily fill 2 people up for the day. The toasted bread was nice and fresh and all the ingredients just rocked together.

After that Mr. T and I decided we couldn't fathom eating any more food and headed towards home. All in all a fantastic, and cheap, day of eating