Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!! So I'm in Florida this year for the holiday which is kind of strange. It doesn't really feel like Thanksgiving because of the palm trees and sun. So I decided my Thanksgiving post wouldn't be a regular turkey and potatoes post either. Instead I'm going to show you one of the best fish tacos I have ever had right here in St. Augustine. These are the baja fish tacos from Nalu's.



Nalu's is actually just a small stand, kind of like a street meat cart in the city. You roll up, place your order and then sit at a little picnic table and wait for your food. About 10 minutes later you have a Styrofoam container filled to the brim with tacos, rice and beans and chips.  The fish is only called the fish of the day and I think ours was a Mahi Mahi. It came with cabbage, cheese, and a baja sauce that was delicious!!! For around $7.00 I was stuffed to the gills and happy as a clam.



The best part about Nalu's? It's open today until 3:00! So if your in Florida and your bird didn't quite turn out as you had planned, you still have time to run down and get yourself some good eats for the holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Post Road Pumpkin Ale

I absolutely love all of the autumn beers that come out around October.

This past year I was so busy traveling here and there I feel like I never got a chance to really have any special harvest ales.

I saw Post Road Pumpkin in the store the other day and I grabbed what looked to be the last six pack.

Post Road is actually made by Brooklyn Brewery. I can't believe I have never tried this one considering it's brewed so close to where we live.



The beer poured with a nice orangy amber color and a small head.

It had a faint smell of pumpkin and nutmeg on top but not overpowering like some pumpkin beers.

The taste wasn't overpowering either. The pumpkin flavor was very prevalent but subtle and there were notes of caramel that rounded out the smooth flavor of the beer.

This is one of the best pumpkin beers I have ever had. I could easily have a couple in a row without feeling too full or sick from the flavor. Very drinkable.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Leisurely Lunch at Otto

Okay, I have to start this post just by showing these pictures. OMG how good does this food look!!



These are the Brussels sprouts con vin cotto and the Octopus, celery and lovage.

I honestly had to look up what lovage was(thank goodness for wikipedia) and it's basically a plant that resembles celery.

It doesn't really matter because in the end the taste of these two dishes were ridiculously good and I am honestly salivating a little just staring at them right now.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Mr. T and I headed out on Saturday ready to do some shopping and hit up Bottlerocket's Thanksgiving wine and food tasting.

We got to Bottlerocket about 2:30 and the line was already huge!!

Mr. T is not one to wait in line for anything, so after some discussion we decided to leave the line, do some shopping and go enjoy a nice lunch at Otto instead.

For those of you that don't know, Otto is one of Mario Batali's restaurants that is known mostly for it's pizzas and wine.

We had been here a couple times at dinner and it was always hectic and rushed. I never really had a good time.

But after enjoying such a fantastic meal at Babbo last year I said I needed to give Otto another try when it wasn't so crowded. So this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

As we walked to Otto the beautiful sunny day we were having gave way to dark storm clouds and as we we entered the restaurant we realized we would probably have to wait out a storm for a while.

So rather than just ordering a glass of wine or two we decided to go for a whole bottle!

What else can you do on a rainy Saturday afternoon?

After trying out a couple different wines we ended up with a very nice bottle of red from the wonderful bartender.



After selecting our wine we decided to start out with some appetizers.

Our first order was some prosciutto.



I have to say, this is some of the best prosciutto I have ever had in NYC. It was perfectly sliced and had a soft, creamy texture that was simply delicious.

We also ordered the Sformato di Parmigiano salad.



This was basically a cheesy egg custard of sorts with a radicchio salad covered in balsamic vinegar.

This was also excellent. The sformato had an interesting texture and taste that went perfectly with the strong balsamic and salad.

We gobbled both of these up in a matter of minutes.

Our first dishes were all so good we decided to order some more and went for our wonderful sprouts and octopus you saw above, as well as an order of the Rigatoni con Sausage & Swiss Chard.



The pasta was of course cooked perfectly and the swiss chard and sausage were mixed with a little garlic butter sauce that made this dish outstanding,

The nice thing about the dish was that it wasn't too heavy. Sometimes after a bowl of pasta I feel like just going to take a nap. After this one I felt surprisingly light and ready to eat some more even.

Which is good because if I had been too full I may have missed out on one of the most fantastic desserts ever!!

This is called the Black & White.



The bottom is milk chocolate chip gelato, covered with a creme fraiche gelato with hazelnut brittle pieces mixed inside, chocolate sauce and topped off with a caramel crema.

Separately, these ingredients wouldn't work, the bitter caramel, sour creme fraiche and sweet chocolate all have their cons but together they combined to make one of the greatest tasting desserts ever.

Words cannot describe how wonderfully delicious this was. I could have eaten about ten. Sundaes have always been my favorite dessert treat and this is definitely one of the best.

We finished our meal off with a couple of macchiatos and happy filled bellies.

One of the best parts of the meal was the price. For all of this food and a fantastic bottle of wine the total was a just under $100. That is quite a good deal in my book.

The best way to enjoy Otto is definitely like this. Go at an off hour, sit at the bar and just while away a lazy afternoon with the one you love. What a perfect way to spend a Saturday.

Otto Pizzeria

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Free Wine Tasting Today!

Just so you guys know there is a free food and wine tasting today at one of my favorite wine stores Bottlerocket on 19th street.

I went last year and they had a bunch of different wines to try along with some Thanksgiving foods provided by City Bakery (yum!) to get you ready for the holiday season. It's today from 2:00-5:00. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ippudo

It's starting to get chilly once again on Tuesday so we decided to go out and get a big bowl of some RAMEN!!!

Ippudo is a new place that opened this summer near St. Marks place. It's always very crowded whenever I walk by so I was a little nervous we would have a long wait.

We decided to go early and at about 5:30 we walked inside and got a seat right away.

Ippudo has a nice airy but sleek interior. It was a lot more spacious from the inside than I had imagined.

We looked at the menu and realized we both wanted to order the same exact things we had at Momofuku the week before!

We like what we like!

Because of that, we ended up comparing each thing with Momofuku. It's kind of impossible not to when something is so fresh in your mind.

Anyway, we decided to start with some steamed pork buns.



The two buns came out looking a little bigger than Momofuku's but quite similar in style.

The pork inside was thinly sliced and came topped with lettuce and mayonnaise.

I thought the mayonnaise took away from the taste of the pork a little and the bun to pork ratio was a little off. This bun was a little too big for the amount of pork inside.

This one goes to Momofuku BUT I do think these come in a close second. I think Momofuku has the best pork buns ever but I could also chow down on Ippudos all day long if I had to. The flavor of the pork was nice and it was a little less fatty than Momofuku's.

Next up were the chicken wings.



The wings were a decent size and had a great snappy exterior. They were covered in a black pepper sauce that really had some bite to it.

Man that stuff can sneak up on you!

After my second one I was chugging water like a mad man!

The wings were very good but I am still in love with Momofuku's. While I enjoy a black pepper sauce I like my wings to have more of a tangy flavor to them.

Bonus points though to Ippudo for the little side of pickled veggies that were fantastic!

Okay, now for the main event...The reason for coming to Ippudo in the first place. The Ramen!



Okay, although this picture isn't the prettiest one in the world, you have to believe me that this ramen was amazing!!

This is the Pork Ramen Classic - Shiomaru Moto Sji. Which is basically ramen noodles, pork, berkshire pork chashu, cabbage and scallions all in a big bowl of soup.

I don't know how to describe how good this was. The broth was thicker than Momofuku's and somehow the pork flavor seemed to have been completely infused throughout the soup making each bite just heavenly.

The noodles and pork slices were both thinner than Momofuku's but the flavor was still spot on.

There's something about a digging into a big steaming bowl of ramen on a cold night.

It was almost like getting a hug from my Mom- warm and comforting.

I thought Momofuku's ramen was good but this one was fantastic!

So overall our meal was very good and I forsee many cold winter nights spent slurping up some soup in this dining room.

The only small problem I had with Ippudo was the service. Although it was attentive, I felt very rushed the entire time.

When we were walking out I saw that there was a line of about 15 people waiting so I guess they really want you to get in and get out fast.

So if you want to go out for a leisurely meal, this isn't the place for you.

But for some delicious ramen that will leave you feeling like all is right and good with the world, step right up!

Ippudo

Bouchon Bakery

My Iphone had been giving me tons of trouble ever since I bought it. I took it to the Meatpacking Apple store and the "Genius" at the "Genius Bar" didn't help me at all.

It wasn't that he didn't help me, he just didn't listen to me! He gave me the same talk he would have given anyone regardless of their problem. I came home, did what he said to do and nothing changed.

I decided to try my luck at the 5th Avenue store and was met with the most wonderful man ever! Within 10 minutes I was out the door with the problem solved and feeling like I mattered.

Now was that so hard?

I decided to walk over to the Time Warner Center and pick up some tasty treats to celebrate my success!



Mr. T has been working hard all week again so I got us a couple things and brought them home.

I went directly to Bouchon Bakery which is Thomas Keller's bakery on the 3rd floor.

The place had a line about ten people long with the usual tourists.

I felt kind of bad because they all looked so baffled by the choices! I mean, I come here all the time and still have trouble deciding. I can't imagine being here for the first time and trying to decide on just one thing!!

So of course I chose two.

First was the Nutter Butter Cookie.



Remember these cookies from when you were little? This has the same kind of taste except about 4 times the size and much better!

The outer cookie was excellent with just enough crunch around the edges and a soft chewy center.

The filling was okay but there was a little bit too much of it.

A little filling goes a long way and this was just a tad too sweet to have so much.

Mr. T decided to just squeeze some out so it had a tastier cookie to filling ratio.

Then he ate it right up.

The other treat in our box was my favorite. The seasonal Pumpkin Macaron.



Here they are side by side.

I have always loved Bouchon Macarons but this one may be the top one of all time.

The outside was a light pillow filled with a dough that was so moist it was almost like biting into pudding.

There was just the right amount of inner sweet buttercream with just a hint of nutmeg.

This picture didn't come out so well but you can see the contrast of the insides.



This had such a smooth pumpkin flavor it was simply fantastic.

Both of these exquisite treats were also only $2.75 each, which is pretty good for any bakery!

Thomas Keller's bakery is always coming out with new stuff so it's just fun to go and check out what he's got.

It's hard to resist once you do though so be forewarned!

Bouchon Bakery

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Halloween Treat

This Halloween my was my friend's 30th birthday so we traveled to garrison NY to spend it with her and the best people in the universe my friends!!!!

I stopped at the Jas mart on my way to pick up some funky candy and of the bunch I picked this was the winner.



It's a mini cheeseburger candy!!

This little concotion was yummy!! The outside bun was sesame seed cracker with an inner burger of chocolate covered in what tasted to be an almost peanut butter cheese top.

It was surprisingly good (and look at Mr T's fingers....he could be a hand model no?)



They came about 25 mini guys per box and had all the crunchy, salty sweet goodness I enjoy in a Take 5 candy bar but in better wrapping.

Not only that it looked like my favorite food in a candy treat!!!

Happy Late Halloween!!! And Yay Obama!!!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brooklyn Diner

I had a day off of work on Monday and spent it, unfortunately, doing work stuff :(

I had a LOT of things to buy to get ready for a conference I'm going to present at this week.

I found myself in Times Square, which is not exactly a great place for food.

Once I got what I needed from the Hershey store and a few other places I started to look around for some lunch options.

I was actually planning to grab a cab down to Prune to FINALLY try out their burger but then I stumbled across Brooklyn Diner.

It looked pretty empty and I was starving, so I decided this would be a good lunch place.

I went inside and grabbed a seat at the bar.

The whole place was bright and shiny and quite a bit bigger than expected.

I looked at the menu and was a little shocked at the prices. Even for Times Square they were pretty high!

Oh well. I ordered a beer and the Brooklyn Diner specialty cheeseburger.

The beers on tap were pretty impressive.

They had everything from an Ommegang Abbey Ale to an Abita Light.

I ordered a nice Oktoberfest and my burger came out in about 5 minutes.



Wow this thing was massive!!!

It was a big juicy burger topped with cheddar cheese, thin crispy onions and bacon.

The bacon was amazing. It was perfectly crisped and really helped amp up the flavor of the burger.

I wasn't a huge fan of the onions. I ended up taking most of them off and next time I would probably just ask for it without.

The burger itself was very tasty. I usually enjoy a thinner patty but this was pretty good.

The fries were also excellent with just enough salt and a perfect inner potato to crispy outside.

It came with a pickle that was the size of my head!



Okay maybe not my head but pretty huge.

Apparently this place is big on it’s desserts.



The whole time I was sitting at the bar I was staring at the pies and cakes in the back. Next time I definitely need to check one of those out.

Today was not the day however, as I barely finished half of my meal. There was just too much food.

Overall I still think the Bacon Cheeseburger at P.J. Clark's is the best.

So the lunch was pretty good and the beer hit the spot..but you know what really will make me go back? The staff.

I have never been in a restaurant where everyone was so friendly.

Not with just me but with each other.

The waitresses were all joking with the manager. The bartenders were talking with the busboys. The hostess even helped bring some of the dishes out to customers!

It was just a really nice atmosphere.

I found everyone happy and genuine.

This is hard to come by when you work in the touristy section that is Times square.

So in the end I paid more for a burger than I ever have ($16.75!!!)

But I came home with a huge amount of leftovers and a good feeling in my heart.

That's not always easy to come by and it made for a good day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More Cupcakes From Amai

I talked about Amai bakery WAY back when they first opened on 3rd avenue. I’ve been there multiple times since and have come to love the little tea and cookie shop.

The other day I swung by and decided to forgo my usual green tea cupcake and instead got a caramel chocolate and a pumpkin.

They all have the same style, a small cupcake with a heavy, somewhat lopsided swirl on top.

The chocolate cake was light and fluffy with a nice coca flavor. The cake could have been a little bit moister but it was still quite fabulous.



The one thing I love about Amai cupcakes are that they aren’t very sweet.

You know how you can almost feel the sugar eating away at your teeth from some of the other bakeries in the city (And I DO love Magnolia, I just have to be in the mood for a super sugary treat when I go)

There is none of that here. The frosting was light with just a subtle taste of caramel.

It actually reminded me of the flavor of a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks but not as sweet.

The pumpkin was fantastic as well.



It had the same fluffy cake and a slightly sweet vanilla frosting.

The cake had a wonderful taste of pumpkin and spices which combined with the frosting, just really made it stand a step above the Chocolate Caramel.

One of the best parts about this place is that they give you little plastic containers for each cupcake so they don’t get mangled if you take them to go.

Check out their wares if you’re nearby. They are always experimenting with different flavors and come up with some pretty neat and tasty stuff.

Amai Tea House