Thursday, December 27, 2007

Another Great One from Roni Sue

I went back to Roni Sue to pick up some more choclates for some work people and was shocked to learn they were completely out of the peanut butter squares!!

I didn't know what to do! This was my last present and I was banking on those squares. I started looking at the various truffles when I saw these squares on the bottom shelf.

They looked exciting so I asked about the flavor and found out they were Hazelnut. Then I tried a sample and almost fell over! I think they may be better than the peanut butter. So rich and smooth. I knew I had a winner.



As I was waiting for my chocolates to be packaged up I started talking with Roni-Sue and found out that she's coming out with a new line of cocktail chocolates this weekend! She reached behind the counter and handed me a sample of the Manhattan chocolate.

Wow- really good. The dark chocolate was strong and bitter at first and then the flavor of boubon slowly seeped in. It was nice because it blended well together- neither one overpowering the other. I can't wait to see what other kinds they make! She mentioned something about a margarita chocolate! Hmmm....

Places I Hope to Eat at in 2008

I literally have a list of over 300 bars & restaurants I want to try out in the city. About 1/4 will probably close before I get a chance to go, but those will be replaced by newer and even more exciting places!

These are the places that are at the top. And luckily we got gift certificates for Christmas to 3 of them!!!

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (completed 9/19/08)
Allen & Delancy (completed 3/6/08)
CraftSteak (completed 12/08)
Mercadito(completed 2/1/08)
Peter Luger (completed 12/6/08)
Bar Masa (completed 6/4/08)
Blue Hill at Stone Barns (completed 1/17/09)
Perilla
Fatty Crab
Arturo's Pizza (completed 5/08)
Inoteca (completed 8/08)
Dressler
Joes Shanghi (completed 11/2/09)
Union Square Cafe
Sushi Yasuda (completed 7/31/08)
Prune (completed 12/2/08)

These are in no particular order...just hoping to get to them all sometime in 2008. As you can see they are kind of all over the place; upscale, downscale, organic, MSG filled, etc. Hopefully at this time next year I will be looking back on this list and it will have been completed!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My 2007 Year in Review- AKA Better than Bruni

Okay so maybe I don't get paid by the New York Times to go out to restaurants and maybe millions of people don't read my reviews BUT I think that if Frank Bruni comes out with a year in review than gosh darn it- I can too!!!

So here is my 2007 list. Just to note- Not all of these places opened in 2007. Some opened before but I had never been to them before. So this is actually MY year in review- not restaurant openings. Just wanted to make that clear so here goes:


Best Dishes I Had in 2007:

Vermont Farm Suckling Pig from Eleven Madison Park. This rectangle of pork was crispy and delicious it is almost unbelievable so much flavor can come out of a dish this small.

Pork Ssam and Skirt Steak Ssam at Momofuku. Okay so this is top of Bruni's list for best new restaurant and I totally agree. I don't know what they put in the meat there but I wake up in the morning and crave this sandwich- seriously.

Bluefin Tuna Sashimi at Aburiya Kinnosuke. Best piece of sashimi I have ever had. It literally melted as I tried to pick it up. I can't believe I haven't been back yet.

Beef Jerky at Malayasia Beef Jerky. Not really a dish but awesome beef jerky that I am in love with.

Beef Ribs at Hill Country I felt like I was in a Flinstones show eating these mammoth ribs! Luckily they were tasty as hell to boot!

Black Sesame and Green Tea Macaron at Morimoto- this was the best palate cleanser ever!

Worst Dish:
Beef Cheek Sandwich at Resto- This was a special one night we stopped by and it was so bad we couldn't even get through one of the four mini sandwiches. It was basically a piece of fat covered in some kind of spicy peppers and other things that were so hot you couldn't even bite into it.


Best Desserts I Had This Year:
Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Caramel Parfait from Irving Mill. OMG this might be the Best dessert I have ever had! Filled with Crunchy Meringue and Peanut Brittle; it really doesn't get much better than this if your a chocolate fan!

Black Sesame Creme Brulee with green tea ice cream at Cha'An Tea House. Okay so this place has been around a while but I didn't know it existed until this year. Such a great display of tastes and textures that complement the end of your meal rather than kill it.

Best New Restaurant:
Degustation. I loved this place. The space was gorgeous and cozy at the same time. The food was wonderful and it didn't break the bank. I didn't write a review only because I kind of wanted to keep it all for myself- it's that good!


Biggest Disappointment:
Borough Food and Drink. We went to the opening party and enjoyed the look of the place and their food and drinks. Subsequent visits however proved to be different. Bad, slow service, inconsistent food (the burger used to be so good) to just really bad bad food (undercooked chicken, etc). We had high hopes for this to be a great neighborhood spot but if things stay on track this space will soon ne empty once again. Maybe it really is just a cursed spot?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

En Japanee Brasserie

Between the holiday season and everything else going on I am a little behind on posting. Some reviews may never make it, we'll see what happens but I'll try and give it a go!

So last weekend my friends from home came to visit to see NYC at holiday time. We did all the touristy stuff like Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Time Warner Center, etc. We even stopped for a drink at Hawaiian Tropic Zone since we figured we were already acting like tourists we might as well do it up!

By the end of the day we were starving and wanted to get out of all of the crowds. I figured Tribeca would be pretty devoid of people so we hopped in a cab and headed to EN Japanese Brasserie for dinner.

We got there about 6:15 and were seated right away even though our reservation was for 6:45.

We ordered some beers and shochu while we looked at the menu.



EN is basically an izakaya where you order small plates of food to share while drinking. We decided to go slow and order only a few dishes at a time and then stop when we got full.



The first dish we started out with were the Ebi Shinjo.



These are basically balls of ground up shrimp that's covered in sea salt and fried. I don't need to tell you that anything fried has a good chance of being tasty and this was no exception.



The outside had a nice light crust and the inside was filled with hot chunks of shrimp. A perfect dish for drinking with beer!

Next up was one of my all time favorite dishes Miso Black Cod. I've talked about having this before at Nobu, where it was first made. I was impressed with EN's version. The fish was cooked perfect and although the sauce seemed a little bit thicker than Nobu's the flavor wasn't as sweet. Very good!




Our next dish was probably my least favorite of the night the Crispy Fried Chicken.



The chicken came out a little too greasy (I hate when you can see the grease spots- gross!) The poultry itself was moist but it lacked flavor.



Our next dish was the Stone Grilled Wagyu. This is kobe-style beef that was so tender and moist it was falling apart a little bit. It came with a ponzu citrus sauce that gave a nice acidic taste to the meat.




Our last dishes were some pieces of cho toro (which I can't find the picture of) and a spicy chu toro roll. Both were fantastic but a little on the small side for the price I thought.

We still had some room left at the end so we ordered some desserts to share. First up was the trio of ice creams.



That's black sesame, pumpkin and vanilla. I was really excited about trying out the pumpkin but it ended up being only so so. The black sesame and vanilla both were great but no where near as good as at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.

Next was the Flourless Chocolate Cake with Green Tea Ice Cream.




Kind of a classic dessert dish you always see on the menu in Japanese restaurants nowdays. This one didn't disappoint with the bittersweet chocolate of the cake balancing perfectly with the green tea ice cream.

We went all out for our last dessert and decided to try something new. This is the Oshiruko.



It's described as a Sweet Red Bean Soup with Mochi Rice cakes. I thought it was pretty disgusting. I have never been a big red bean fan and that's all this was. My friends liked to dip some of the ice creams into the soup as a topping but no one enjoyed the rice cakes.

Towards the end of the meal my friend and I were getting sick of all of the beers and decided to try out their cocktails. The waiter recommeneded this one to my friend and it was awesome!!!




It's called the Seppun. It's shochu mixed with yuzu citrus, grapefriut juice and shiso. Really tasty. Much better than my White Peach drink that had a little too much peach pulp.

Our waiter was attentive the entire dinner and it was nice to have a quiet place to relax after the hustle and bustle of the day. I think EN is a great place but maybe a little too pricey. Those little dishes really add up in the end so you have to be careful of how much you order.

EN Japanese Brasserie

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ronnie Sue Chocolates

Just a quick note about some AMAZING chocolate Ive been eating lately. There is a fairly new Chocolate shop in the Essex Street Market called Ronnie Sue's. It's a tiny closet sized space but what it lacks in size it makes up for in taste!!!




I went in to pick up some last minute Christmas presents. My favorite candy they have is their Peanut Squares. I got these about a month ago and knew immediately that I needed to pick some up for My chocolate peanut butter obsessed friends and family.




WOW!! How good do these look!!!! You know why they're so good? Its a blend of milk and dark chocolate so you have a little bitter with sweet, then they add natural peanut butter (which I love) and then add a last swirl of white chocolate and peanut butter on the top. Holy cow- so creamy delicious and rich. One square is absolutely decadent.

The best part is that Ronnie Sue herself is pretty cool!! She always has something for you to taste and she's just quite a spunky lady. I really like her.

So what are you waiting for!!! Get over there and try out some delicious chocolates and tell Ronnie Sue she's the best!!

www.roni-sue.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mmmmm amai

So I have long been a fan of a blog called Lovescool. I frequently used to check it out because it was all about my favorite things- desserts!

So when I saw that the writers of the blog were finally going to make their dream of opening a bakery come true I knew I had to go.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that it was opening only a couple blocks away from my house!!! So I hit it up the very first day it opened and grabbed some tea and a green tea cupcake. It was awesome!!!!

I went back yesterday and had to pick some up to bring home. I was planning to just get the Greeen Tea Cupcake but once I saw they had Pumpkin as well I had to get one of each.








The Green Tea cupcake is really good- I've had it before. Unfortunatly this one must have been made the day before because it was a little stale and hard.



The Pumpkin on the other hand was perfect!!!



The cake was moist and light. A very good dessert if you're not looking for something overly sweet. Amai is defiently a nice addition to the neighborhood.


amai tea house

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Nice Dinner at Punch

So after a completely emotionally draining week at home I was spent. All I wanted when I woke up Saturday was to have a relaxing trip home where I didn't have to deal with anything. Of course this didn't happen. Saturday ended up being awful and when we finally got home about 5 hours late I told Mr Trekker I was getting into bed and I wasn't sure if I would ever get out again.

Luckily, he intervened and said the six little words that I can't resist "I'm taking you out to dinner." So I dragged my depressed self out into the night air. Buffalo had been so cold I was always darting inside to the heat. NYC on the other hand was perfect. There was a chill in the air but it felt crisp and fresh against my skin. I was finally starting to feel a little better so we headed to Gramercy Tavern to see if we could get a seat at the bar.

Of course we walked up and saw that the bar was about 3 people deep and there were also people waiting outside. I was a little disappointed but I had been expecting that we wouldn't be able to get in. So we went over to our backup Bar Stuzzichini.

As I walked into the door I could already see the people- everywhere!!! The bar was jam packed and people were waiting all over the place! I couldn't believe it! This ended up being the case everywhere we tried! Lunetta packed. Craftbar ridiculously packed, Pipa completely utterly ridiculously packed. I was beginning to fall back into my depressed state more and more with each place. I forget the crowds of people that come into the city in droves during the holidays.

We were just about to give up hope when we walked by Punch. We looked in we could see a couple empty spots at the bar. Hallelujah!!!

We ran in, grabbed our stools and gave a huge sigh of relief. It had been almost an hour since we left our apartment and we were starving! I tried to look around at the scene of the place to calm the rumbling of my tummy.

We have been here many times for brunch but the space looked very different at night. The front bar area was dark with candles at each table and on the bar. It gave a nice secluded feel to a usually bright white and sterile room.

The bartender came over and handed us the menus.

First of all I was shocked at the incredibly reasonable prices on the bottles of wine. There were easily over 30 bottles that were under $30. I finally chose a nice Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and we set to ordering our food.

Mr T. ordered an appetizer of Steamed Clams & Tiger Shrimp which came in a Lemongrass Broth with Grilled Toast. I tried a bite of his shrimp and declared it bland.

Mr. T looked at me like I was crazy and pushed a piece of the soaked toast into my mouth. Um...okay I was wrong. The bread had soaked up all the spice that the shrimp obviously could not. It ended up being a pretty decent dish but we agreed we wouldn't order again because it still needed something to bring out the seafood flavor a little more.

For our entrees we both ordered the Filet Mignon. I honestly wasn't expecting much as this was our what, fifth, sixth choice of restaurant maybe?! But I was pleasantly surprised.




The filet itself was extremely tender and huge! So huge I ended up taking half of it home with me! It came atop some buttery mashed potatoes and a side of braised leeks.

The Leeks were the only thing I didn't really care for since they seemed too limp and watery, but see that chunk of something on the side there?

Oh yeah!! That's a big piece of Double Smoked Bacon!! It really doesn't get any better than this! The smokiness of the Bacon was intense and would have overpowered the meat if you weren't careful. Luckily I just had a little nibble with each bite and it was perfect.

So even though I took half of my filet home I caved in for dessert. (Honestly what girl doesn't!) We decided to split their Vanilla Creme Brulee and got some Butterscotch Ice Cream on the side.

The Creme Brulee was great...I've honestly never met a Creme Brulee I could hate. But the ice cream stole the show!

It was so rich, creamy and decadent I don't think I would be able to eat a whole scoop on it's own. I really needed the vanilla from the brulee to take a little of the rich flavor away but it was good!!! Mr T. is no where near the ice cream fanatic that I am and he declare it one of the best he's ever had.

So we had a very nice experience at Punch overall. You really can't beat it as far as value goes. The Filets were only $24 each and our fantastic bottle of white was $26!! The appetizer was the only pricey thing and we didn't even enjoy that much.

Punch is not a destination place but a solid place for the neighborhood that we will be returning to soon.

Punch Restaurant

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Why Doesn't NYC make Chicken Fingers Subs!!!

So we had to travel up to Western New York unexpectedly this week because of a death in the family. Death is never an easy thing and this was especially hard. So when Mr Trekker and I found ourselves with some down time I knew I was in need of getting some comfort food.  We headed out to Pasquale's which is a casual Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. They have an awesome Baked Ziti here but I was feeling something extra unhealthy!!  Before I even opened up the menu I knew exactly what kind of fried, greasy goodness I needed. A chicken finger sub!


This is truly something that I believe is made only in Western New York. It's breaded chicken fingers dipped in Buffalo Wing Sauce on a hero with lettuce, tomatoes and blue cheese.


As you can see it also is topped off with some provolone cheese that gets nice and melty once its squished inside next to the hot chicken fingers.



I was going to wash this all down with a Loganberry soda, another WNY staple, but I didn't think my body could handle all the sugar. This is such an awesome sandwich and so easy to make I can't believe it's no where in NYC? I almost want to open up a shop and start selling these babies myself.

Hmmm...maybe I'll get a truck...and call it the Chicken Fingers Sub truck and sell these out of there!!! Everyone loves truck food right :)

Pasquales