Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lantern Thai

I have been on a HUGE Drunken Noodle kick lately. I mean Huge! I literally think about it all the time, when I get up in the morning, sitting at my desk at work, walking home, etc. It’s all thoughts of drunken noodle. I’m trying to limit my consumption since I’m pretty sure it’s chock full of salt but last week I had to cave in. The desire was too great!

I decided to try out a different place in my neighborhood Lantern Thai. I’ve had lunch from the original location in Brooklyn Heights before and thought it was pretty good.

This location has a much hipper vibe about it. Long lights hang from the ceiling and fake trees fill in the corners. The front opens up when the weather is nice with ample outdoor seating.

We got a seat right by the open windows and placed our order. I started out with a Mai Thai.

Pretty good looking Mai Thai right? Pretty STRONG good looking Mai Thai! Holy Cats! I like to think that I have a pretty high tolerance when it comes to alcohol but this drink knocked me out. I seriously felt like I was drunk after just one of these things.

Anyway- before my cocktail completely trashed me I got my dish- the Drunken Noodles.

I’ve had this dish countless places and their version was pretty good. They gave me more chicken and huge chuncks of tomato than some other places and the sauce had the perfect amount of spice.

Mr. T ordered the Garlic and Vegetables with Chicken.

This dish was pretty good as well. The sauce could have had a little more flavor in my opinion but he seemed to like it enough.

Overall it was a good meal. Service was friendly, the food came super fast and it was nice to people watch on the streets outside. Lantern definitely fits the bill for a good neighborhood Thai joint.

Lantern Thai

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Bites

Just some updates from the past weekend. Friday night we went out in the East Village a bit and ended up grabbing some food from Mamouns to take home. I had always heard these were good but I was surprised to find out just how good they were!

We both got the lamb shawarma sandwich and they rocked. For $5 it was a ton of food stuffed inside the warm pita. I definitely see more of these in my future.

Saturday we finally made it to Governor’s Island. This place is amazing. The architecture, the open space and the views of the city make this truly a special place. I am so upset I didn’t make it sooner. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check it out yet- go!

Saturday night we attended the Edible Manhattan Magazine Harvest party at the Seaport. This event was meant to showcase local food and drink and we took full advantage. Some of the highlights were cheese from DiPalo’s, nuts from Nuts to Nuts, Stumptown Coffee and all of the local beer and wine from Kelso to Fire Island brewery.

I have to say I thought there would be more food than there was. Doughnut Plant was supposed to have a stand but they never showed and most of the really good stuff ran out early in the evening. However we made up for the lack of food in the amount of wine and beer we drank and it was a fun time.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Beer and Smoked Meats at the ICE

For a Christmas present two years ago Mr. T and I got tickets to see Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery, teach a class on beer at the ICE. We had a great time and learned a lot of good info about the beer making process and the different styles around the country. So when I saw he was doing a class again, this time with cured meats and beer, I knew we had to go.

We got there about 10 minutes early and got a seat at one of the front tables. The session was set up just like the last one with nine wine glasses in front of each person for tasting.

There was also a sheet on the table listing all of the beers and meats we were going to try throughout the evening. Mr. T and I have gotten a lot more into beer since the last class and unfortunately there was only one beer on the list, the Smuttynose Baltic Porter, we had never tried before. I guess we know too much about beer now!

However we were excited because one of our favorite new beers was on the list- the Brooklyn Local 2. This is a Belgian strong dark ale that truly tastes like it’s from Belgium. It has a deep caramel and fig flavor that is incredibly smooth. This beer is so tasty and easy to drink you would never imagine it carries a whopping 9% abv.

The Spatan Optimator and Saison Dupont are also two of our favorite beers. So although we were upset we couldn’t try new stuff, we were quite pleased with his selections.

For the tasting we started out with a fantastic piece of Applewood Bacon from Niman Ranch. Niman Ranch bacon ranks up there as one of my favorites so I was pretty happy.  Then they brought out the platter of meats that would accompany the rest of our drinks.

Bresaola, Ham, Sopressata, Speck...it was a cured meat fest! My favorite pairings were the Nadine Country Ham with Sammy’s Smiths Nut Brown Ale and the D’Artagnan Smoked Duck with Schlenkerla Rauchbier. Smoked Duck with a Smoky Bacon beer it amazing!

Once again Garrett was funny, informative and entertaining.  The ICE is a great place to have a fun night out and learn something new. Check out their site and you’ll see some interesting classes. These make a great gift as well for the food and drink lover in your life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quick Bites at Live Bait

We swung by Live Bait the other night for some quick bites before an event at the ICE. My parents were still in town so we were basically just meeting up with them for a little bit before heading to our class.

We started with a huge platter of peel and eat shrimp.

The shrimp were perfect in texture and the meat was slightly sweet. These shrimp were surprisingly awesome. I wasn't expecting much from this divey bar but these really delivered.  We also got an order of the Honey BBQ wings.

These were surprisingly tasty as well! The wings were a good size and the sauce had a nice sweet and salty flavor. The sauce was a tad on the thick side but overall these were some really good wings.  I always seem to overlook Live Bait but it's a pretty good neighborhood spot for some fun drinks and appetizers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Taste of the West Village

It was absolutely gorgeous yesterday and Mr. T and I got to spend it doing exactly what I like most. Eating and drinking of course!

I bought tickets earlier in the week to Taste of the West Village- a food and drink event to raise money for some of the city schools. For $25 each we got 10 tickets to spend as we like on food and drink.

We got there right at 12:00 and we were literally the first ones there. The event was held in a small parking lot on Greenwich Street with tables set up for food and extra space so people could mingle around and enjoy themselves. They had a live band playing and even a place to play Corn Hole!

Okay I will tell you about the food a little bit but this is actually the reason the event was such a good deal. Bartenders from Employees Only were on hand serving up two of their cocktails The Diablo and La Paloma.

Each drink cost one ticket. Since each ticket came out to about $2.50 this was a phenomenal deal! Mr. T and I took full advantage and had more tequila cocktails than I have ever had in one sitting (I just never drink tequila).

They were both quite tasty but we definitely preferred The Diablo. It had a nice mix of tequila and ginger beer that just tasted refreshing.

Some of the food highlights were an interesting Lamb Ragut slider from Dell’anima and an amazing Olive Oil Cake with crème Fraiche that had the most perfect sweet and savory balance ever from L’Artusi. I had to go back for seconds of those.

Leah Cohen from Top Chef was there doling out some tasty corn chowder filled with lobster and bacon. I had just heard she was leaving Centro Vinoteca for another job so it was nice she still came to the event. We also enjoyed a pretty tasty short rib from the new place Charles, although the potatoes had a bit too much parsnip for my taste buds.

Overall it was a great event. By the time we left around 2:30 the place was packed and I even ran into Kelly Choi from Top Chef Masters and Eat Out NY on my way out the door!

It was the perfect way to spend the last Sunday of summer.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Bad Luck Birthday

Saturday I awoke to my birthday and I was actually feeling pretty good. I haven’t had many good birthdays the past few years but I was really feeling positive and free today. My parents were visiting, I had just gotten engaged, it was a good start to a new year.

I have been dying to go eat at Locanda Verde for weeks now. Pictures of the food are pretty much all over the Internet and every single dish makes me want to lick my computer screen!

I was lucky enough to score a brunch reservation on my birthday so my parents picked me up and off we headed down to Tribeca.

Okay I’m not going to get into the all of the details of what happened next because it would take about an hour. Here’s a short outline: my father jumped out of the car to look for a bathroom because we were stuck on the West Side Highway, I took over driving for 2 blocks and got hit by a huge moving truck, the police were called and Mr. T searched the city for my father who had left without the cell phone, I missed my birthday brunch because I spent about an hour discussing the accident with the police (which by the way was not my fault at all).

It was crazy. By the time the whole thing was over my Dad was found, the car was drivable but I was kind of an emotional mess.I just wanted to get away from Tribeca as soon as possible so we decided to head east in search of food and hopefully a cocktail to calm the nerves.

This ended up being the worst idea I may have ever had since we ended up getting stuck in traffic for another 2 hours trying to maneuver around all of the street fairs going on.  At this point I didn’t want to celebrate anymore. I just wanted some good food, a big drink and a place where no one would bother me. So we ended up at Zum Schneider. Can you believe it! Exactly where I celebrated my birthday the year before.  Oh well. This is a food blog right? Enough about me and back to the food.

It was nearing the end of brunch so they were serving both the brunch and dinner menus. I decided to try something new and got the Strammer Max.

Yum!! Just looking at this makes me crave another one. Perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs sat on top of some rich melted cheese and thick slabs of grilled and buttered toast. I needed some comfort and this fit the bill.

My Mom ordered the Grune Eier.

Two eggs served with wonderful creamed spinach and a side of roasted potatoes.

Mr. T was the only one who decided to go towards the dinner menu and ordered the Schweinebraten.

A nice big piece of pork that had been roasted in dark brown beer gravy and served with potato dumplings and a Bavarian salad.

The only picture I didn’t get was my father’s vegetarian dish which consisted of different kinds of German salads.

Everyone loved their food and about halfway through my liter of beer I was feeling much better.

My parents ended up heading towards home after brunch. Mr. T and I decided it would be a good idea to go home where nothing bad could happen to us.

Of course our bad luck followed us home as well. We decided to have one last drink on the rooftop and Mr. T ended up falling down the slippery stairs hurting his back. He has been laid out all week at home ever since.

So needless to say it wasn’t a very happy birthday at all. Oh well. You know what, the beer was tasty the food was filling, and I got to spend some time with my family. If that’s what birthday’s are about I guess I can take all of that other crap. I just wish I didn’t have to.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

La Fonda del Sol

My parents were in the city for a few days last week for a visit to check out the engagement ring and eat some good food. I had just gotten my birthday Patina gift certificate and decided this was a perfect opportunity to try out one of their new restaurants.

For those of you that don’t know, as a member of Patina’s restaurant club they send out a gift certificate every year for your birthday. If you spend $50 at one of their restaurants, they’ll pick up the next $50. It’s a pretty good deal.

You can check it out on their website here

So I made a reservation at La Fonda del Sol for Wednesday night.

Wednesday ended up being absolutely gorgeous in the city so when we arrived at the restaurant we asked to be seated outside. Luckily there was one table left and we got to enjoy the hustle and bustle of midtown.  My Mom and I got some wine and my Dad tried out thier Mojito.

Since La Fonda del Sol is a tapas joint we decided to just order a bunch of dishes and share everything.

We started with an order of the manchego croquetas and some meatball skewers.

The croquetas were awesome. I’ve always loved manchego cheese and it doesn’t get much better than being deep fried for a while. These were no joke- golden nuggets of goodness.

The meatball skewers were pretty good as well. For some reason I thought they would be a little more exciting but they simply tasted like a good old fashioned Italian meatball.

Next up we enjoyed the Lobster rolls and the Octopus salad.

I was really surprised how good the lobster rolls were. I am a die hard fan of Pearl and these had almost the same texture and meat to mayo ratio as they do there.

The Octopus on the other hand fell a little short. The pickled guindilla served alongside the dish was way to strong for the delicate Octopus and Spanish beans. All I tasted was the pickled flavor. It needed something to balance the acidity out a bit.

I could never eat a peck of pickled peppers like Peter Piper!

Next the Tuna Tacos and the Shrimp.

The tacos were really tasty I thought. They came stuffed with avocado and a little bit a pickled jalapeño. The flavors melded really well together without becoming too spicy.

The Garlic Shrimp we ordered was really tasty as well but it had its dangerous moments. Every once in a while I would get a bite that had some of the chili pods inside and my mouth would be on fire. Luckily the garlic chips and olive oil it came with helped to quell the burn.

Our last two dishes of the night were the Sea Scallops and the Spicy Potato “Bravas”

I decided to go all out with the potatoes and ordered the fried duck egg to come with it as well. Pairing the two with the spicy sauce was like a match made in heaven. I could have that for breakfast every day.

The scallop dish was the only true complete failure in my opinion. The Scallops were a little on the small side and the lime and salsas they used completely overpowered the taste. Kind of like the Octopus there was just way too much acidity.

So for all of this food, a bottle of Chardonnay and a Mojito the bill with the gift certificate came to about $70.00. That’s pretty good for a midtown Manhattan restaurant.

Would I come here to eat a full meal without the gift card? Probably not. I enjoyed the meal but at full price I don’t think it would have been worth it.

We finished up our meal, paid and then headed to my favorite place in the world for dessert, Gramercy Tavern.

La Fonda del Sol

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Little Disppoinment with Co.

Mr. T and I stopped into Co. Pizza the other night to grab a quick bite and relax with a drink. I’m going to preface this whole review by stating that we have been having a little trouble making ends meet money wise the past few weeks, so we were hoping a pizza dinner would be an inexpensive night out (all those visitors we had this summer really tapped us dry).

So of course once we sat down at Co. and saw the prices we realized that we were in a little too deep but we decided one drink each and one pie would have to be our limit.

We decided to order the Flambe Pie which came with béchamel, parmesan, buffalo mozzarella, caramelized onions and lardoons.

Here is our flambé.

When this pizza came out I was super excited because the presentation was absolutely lovely. Big chunks of crispy onions, puffy charred pockets of crust and an incredible smell of garlic made this one multi-sensory experience to savor.

However the taste didn’t quite live up to the vision. Besides the amazing crust, the pizza surprising lacked in flavor. I was expecting a nice salty zing from the béchamel, a sweetness from the caramelized onions , maybe a fatty crunch from the lardoons! Nope! All I really tasted was dough and cheese.

It was disappointing and pretty overpriced. This 10-inch pie that Mr. T could have easily eaten 2 of alone cost $18. That’s a lot of moolah for pizza in this town. I’m not very big and I could have easily polished off this pie by myself. In fact we were still pretty hungry once we finished.

At that price I probably won’t be running back again anytime soon.
I’m glad I tried Co. My curiosity is satisfied but for now I’ll probably stick with my regular pizza joints.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy Saturday Cocktail at Otto's

After the disappointing stop at the Cowgirl Sea Horse I felt completely unsatisfied. I had been craving some kind of fruity drink to celebrate the end of summer and my Pina Colada did not fit the bill.

We decided to head out of the Seaport area and back towards home so we walked through Chinatown and the Lower East side until eventually ending up right outside Union Square. This is when I knew where I could get my fruity drink.

Otto’s Shrunken Head!!! I had never been to this place before but I’ve always wanted to go. I knew it wasn’t going to be awesome or anything but who doesn’t love a tikki bar once in a while?

It was still early when we got to Otto’s around 6:00 pm and the place was pretty empty. The only people at the bar were people who...well…looked like they probably never left the bar! Regulars I’d guess you’d call them.

We took a seat and I ordered up my fruity cocktail the Pangs Punch. Look at the radioactive drink!

Electric green liquid filled with multiple kinds of rum, a big chunk of pineapple, cherry and a plastic monkey- this was the drink I was looking to end my summer on!

In actuality the glow stick and plastic monkey probably made it taste better than it was, but still I was happy. I had left my plastic Sea Horse stick at the bar and now I had a new and improved replacement

Mr. T and I only ended up staying one drink but I had a fun time there. It was definitely a fun dive bar to have a drink.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cowgirl Sea Horse Café

All week we had been planning to spend our Sunday walking around Governor’s Island. We got up early Sunday and did some errands before heading down to the ferry.

Apparently everyone else that decided to stay in the city for Labor Day weekend had the same idea. We got to the ferry building and it was packed!! Lines out the door zigzagging this way and that way. It was ridiculous! We quickly realized that if we wanted to get on that island we would have to be prepared to wait a while.

Well that just wasn’t in the cards. Neither of us wanted to spend our day waiting in a line so we left. Instead we walked over to Stone Street and toured around downtown Manhattan a little until eventually ending up right around the Seaport.

I was craving a fruity cocktail but didn’t want to get into the touristy crowd on the pier so we walked over on Font Street until we ended up at the Sea Horse Café.

We got the last two seats at the bar and ordered up some drinks and an appetizer. We have been to the other Cowgirl in the West Village before and this one has the same fun, kitschy décor.

I remember liking that locations Margarita before so I decided to try out this locations Pina Colada.

They serve all of their drinks in Mason Jars with Sea Horse swizzle stick’s inside. I was quite a fan of the swizzle stick but the rest of the drink left a lot to be desired.

The Pina Colada was so thick I could barely get any from my straw. The toasted coconut shavings on top were tasty but once those 5 pieces or so were gone, the drink had no flavor. It was just like drinking some frothy ice.

If the drink was bad our appetizer was even worse. These are the Clam Fritters.

Wow- incredibly over battered and covered in a strange mixture of spices there were absolutely horrific. It was almost as if they ran out of clams and decided that if they put enough different spices together and deep fried it no one would notice. I mean there was literally no clam inside at all or if there was it couldn’t be deciphered from all of the cilantro and red pepper in the mix.

The only good thing I can really say about the meal at all was the dipping sauces. For some reason the cocktail sauce and taster sauce were unbelievable. They both just had a great flavor. I wish the same could have been said the clams.

Mr. T and I barely ate our fritters and I left most of my Pina Colada (and my swizzle stick!) sitting on the bar. It was not a good stop in our day. Luckily the next place kind of made up for it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lunch at The Frying Pan

It was a wonderful sunny afternoon Saturday so we decided to enjoy some rays and have some beers out on the Frying Pan.

For those of you that don’t know- the Frying Pan is actually an old lightship that was built back in 1929. It apparently had some good years of sailing before sinking to the bottom of Chesapeake Bay for 3 years. After it was salvaged the new owners brought it to NYC and made it into a bar.

Now the boat sits on top of an old railroad barge on the West Side Highway. It has multiple decks filled with tables and chairs for sipping on some beers and enjoying the sun.

We got a great table right in the corner and ordered some buckets of Corona and food.

After about a 20 minute wait our number was called and we picked up our trays of food.

I was feeling something green so I went for a small Chicken Cesar Salad.

Now this salad didn’t look like much at first but man was it tasty! I love having food fresh off the grill and this The Chicken had a wonderful char on the outside. The salad was packed with Romaine lettuce, little kernels of corn and topped off with some of the tastiest Cesar dressing I’ve ever had. I was really quite impressed!

Everyone else at the table ordered the Burger.

The burgers were quite a bit bigger than I expected and tasty as well. Nothing fancy, just some ground chuck and cheese made a good solid burger.

Everyone else also ordered the Garlic Fries. Huge pieces of fried Garlic Cloves intermingled with the potatoes and all sprinkled with an ample amount of Old Bay Seasoning. The Old Bay flavor always gets to me a little bit but those fried cloves of garlic were pure delights!

Overall I was pretty happy with our lunch. I wasn’t expecting much from the food on this divey boat but everything turned out to be pretty great. It was a nice way to wrap up the end of summer.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Westy 12

Anyone who knows and loves good beer has probably heard of the Westvleteren Trappist 12 before. It's almost always rated as the top beer in the world by beeradvocate, Ratebeer, etc. I've never had the good fortune of having this beer until last week.

It's incredibly hard to come by since the Trappist monks only sell the beer at its Monastery gate and the inn next door. In 2009, sale of this beer was limited to one case per person. The monks brew just enough to sustain their small monastery so the beer is incredibly hard to come by.

It is the only Trappist brewery left where the monks do all of the brewing.

The bottles come plain like this with no labels at all.

The only information about the beer comes on the cap.

The number 12 doesn't refer to the ABV but to the number of weeks of maturation. That being said this is still a hefty beer ranging between 10.5 and 11.5% abv.

We weren't sure what kind of glass to use but we figured a Chimay glass would give it some good breathing room.

It poured a dark amber with very little bubbles on the head that clung to the glass and hung around on the side. I took a whiff and smelled a little bit of caramel, yeast and a slight smell of cognac.

This beer is pretty thick. I did a few swirls of my glass and the wonderful foamy twists stayed right where they were.

Then I took a sip...Wow.

At first it tasted slightly like a Rochfort 10 with that fruity woody tone but the finish was much different. Incredibly smooth and almost a little sweet on the end. It was absolutely lovely.

This beer is incredibly creamy, almost velvet in texture and honestly quite unbelievable in taste. Each sip seemed to elicit something new. A little bit a banana, a hint of raisins, each sip more tasty than the last. Those monks really know what they're doing.

With the abv so high I had quite a nice buzz at the end of this beer. Was it the best beer I've ever had? I'm not sure but it is definitely high up there. If this wasn't so hard to get (or so expensive) I would be enjoying a lot more of these. If you ever have the chance to try this beer, don't pass up the opportunity. Enjoy every minute of it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Quick Bite in Coney Island- Nathan's

I found myself in Coney Island the other day for work right during one of the nicest summer days we’ve had this year. It was 80 degrees, lots of sun and I could smell the ocean air in the breeze. I decided to take a quick walk down the Boardwalk for lunch, to one of the most famous spots on the island- Nathan’s.

Nathan’s has been around since 1916 and it was started by a Polish immigrant. He used the little amount of savings he had to open up a small stand selling hot dogs. The hot dogs became such a hit people came from far and wide just to try them out. The rest is history. Now this is one of the most popular hot dog spots in the country.

Look at the size of this place! Not just a little stand anymore.

Now Nathan’s is home to the infamous hot dog eating contest every 4th of July and there are locations all over the USA. Quite a story.

I had only been to this original location once before, years ago when Mr. T and I came to Coney Island for the first time. It was early November and the weather was brisk and chilly. I remember being bundled up in a huge winter coat and thinking to myself that this was NOT the best time of year to visit!

This day however was perfect, so I quickly glanced over the menu and noticed they had a lobster roll.

I thought about it for a minute but then common sense took control. Who goes to Nathan’s to get a lobster roll??

Instead I went for the classic dog. Here it is slathered in some spicy brown mustard.

The dog was okay but I’ll have to say it was a little disappointing. It was around 11:45, so definitely early for lunch, but it just tasted so old. The casing didn’t have the same snap I’m used to and the ends of the dog were downright rubbery.

I’ve had fresher, better tasting Nathan’s dogs from Yankee stadium. The cashier was a little bit odd as well. I paid with a $20 bill and he gave me back my $15.65 change all in singles and nickels.

Maybe he was mad I used a $20? I had apologized saying I just went to the bank but I guess that didn’t matter.

Oh well- even though the service was strange and the dog kind of funky, I still enjoyed myself completely and here’s why.

Something about Coney Island made me feel like a kid again. I thought about all the times I walked on the boardwalk of the Jersey shore with my parents. I thought about the countless hot dogs I’ve had at different BBQ’s in Buffalo with my brothers. I thought about that cold and miserable first day when Mr. T and I were too broke to afford the Cyclone.

So many memories! It was really great.

I wish more people would come out to visit Coney Island. It’s not very pretty, it’s kind of dirty in a way even, but it’s not about that exterior stuff. It’s about returning to your youth, those simpler times in life and the way it makes you feel inside. Sometimes I can get so wrapped up in the NYC hustle and bustle I forget what it feels like to be relaxed for a moment. To forget about all of the stress and aggravations of being an adult and for just one moment, be a kid again. It’s a nice feeling.

Nathan's Hot Dogs