Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Little Afternoon Pick Me Up

Sometimes I need a little something strong and sweet to make it through the day and luckily The Breslin can help with both.

A nice frothy Stumptown coffee macchiato and a single carrot cake truffle shipped over from Momofuku and I feel like a new woman.  Bring on the rest of the day!
Stumptown Coffee

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bar Bites at Marc Forgione

Have you ever had a dish that just completely and totally satisfied and astounded a craving you’ve been having- that happened to me last week at Marc Forgione.

No it wasn’t the warm, buttery potato rolls with garlic herb butter they started me off with that did it. Those were delicious but it was the Hiramasa Tartare that blew me out of the water.

Described as Hiramasa Tartare, avocado, secheun buttons, toasted pinenuts, Saratoga chips- this was a feast for all of the senses. Let me begin with the seed I had to ingest first. Yes I was told to crush this seed on my tongue in order to waken up my palette. Well I crushed it alright and my tongue and mouth became so tingly at first I thought I was having an allergic reaction. After my fears subsided I had a bite and every flavor and texture was brilliant. It was cool, spicy, nutty, creamy and rich. Every layer seemed to meld together into one of the best, if not the best tartare I’ve ever had.

Mr. T was visiting his folks that night so after my wonderful bar snack it was Friday night at home with lots of wine and Woody Allen movies. A relaxing and refreshing start to the weekend.

Marc Forgione

Monday, February 27, 2012

Time for Another Pizza Face Off at Eataly

It’s Monday again!  Yes that’s excitement because for 5 more weeks at least I can look forward to Eataly’s A Quattro Mani!  Mr. T and I went last week and ordered one signature pie from Eataly and one from guest pizzeria Motorino.

We tried to stick to similar pies so we could judge more fairly the pros and cons of each.  For Eataly it was the Bottarga & Porri with cherry tomato sauce, sautéed leeks, mozzarella di bufala and bottarga.

Wow- look at the combination of sauce, crust and cheese on this pizza.  I absolutely loved the cheese and found the sautéed leeks and cherry tomatoes interesting since it gave the pizza a sweeter flavor than usual.  The crust had a nice car and chew to it as well which was really surprising.  Onto Motorino we had to order our favorite Brussels Sprout & Pancetta with Fior di latte, garlic pecorino and smoked pancetta.

Okay look at the char on this crust- I mean it’s really hard to beat something like this.  The brussels sprout and pancetta were a perfect match although I do wish there was a little bit more cheese on top.

In the end I think Motorino won but only by a slight margin because Eataly’s was a little bit too sweet in the end.  However I would happily eat both of them again no problem.  This Monday Eataly is up against Luzzo’s and I may just have to go back for another pizza war.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Brunch at Locanda Verde

Can I tell you about the best brunch I’ve possibly ever had?  Seriously look at these Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I have been absolutely dying to go to Andrew Carmellini’s Locanda Verde since it opened its doors about two years.  The menu looked absolutely amazing and I even stopped by opening day to check out the beautiful space.  So why did it take so long to get there? 

Well I tried- my first reservation was cancelled because Mr. T got sick.  My second reservation was on my birthday when a delivery truck plowed into my car as I was driving just blocks away.  I watched my reservation time pass while I was dealing with some absolutely horrible delivery men (who were bullying my Mom and I saying it was our fault until the police showed up and they shut the f* up)  And honestly I don’t remember what happened with the last reservation time.  I just know it was cancelled and I felt a hex had been placed on my ever eating at this place. 

Luckily I don’t believe in hex’s (I’m a Bill’s fan after all) and I made one more reservation for brunch.

Mr. T and I were having a celebration of sorts so I started out with a crisp glass of Prosecco and he had a frothy milk stout from Left Hand Brewery.  All of the pastries sounded wonderful but the waiter recommended the Apple Cider doughnut and I’m so glad he did.

Look at the smooth glaze seeping into each little nook...

…and the rim of moist cider on the edge of the cake.  This reminded me of the Tres Leches cake from Doughnut Plant except in Apple Cider form.  It was so awesome I almost ordered another one but then our appetizer came out- Sheep’s Milk Ricotta with truffle honey and burnt orange toast.

The Ricotta was incredibly creamy and I loved the sweet honey and earthy truffle mixed inside.  It was way too large a portion for two people so we only finished about half of it but I would order again with a group for sure. 

My entrée the Soft Scrambled Farm Egg Crostino with leeks, mushrooms and speck was quite possibly the most perfect brunch dish I’ve ever had.  The eggs were so soft and fluffy and the salty speck was the perfect complement.  This isn’t one of those mind blowing dished mind you- just an example of a dish firing at 100% perfection.  You saw Mr. T’s pancakes above.  The cakes were incredibly light and came with some tangy meyer lemon curd and fresh blueberries.  This was one brunch dish even Mr. T couldn’t complain about.

It was such a fabulous brunch we continued our celebration nearby with our annual split of Moet at Edwards and then up to midtown to see Avenue Q.  It was quite possibly the best afternoon I’ve had all year.

Locanda Verde is awesome.  It lived up to the hype and exceeded my expectations.  These expectations aren’t cheap however- brunch wound up being about $100 with tip but I think it was worth every single penny.  And see- there’s no such thing as hexes!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Georgetown Cupcakes

I had high hopes for Georgetown Cupcakes.  This cupcake shop is highly celebrated in DC so when they opened up in SOHO I knew I had to check it out.

 There were so many choices…

 I finally decided to order two- The Vanilla2 and the Strawberry.

The women behind the counter absolutely raved about the Strawberry and I have to say she was right to a point.  The frosting was super creamy and everything tasted really fresh and natural.

Look how moist this cake was as well.  They churn up real strawberries and you can really taste each one.  I thought this was a great cupcake however it just didn’t satisfy me as well as the ones I’ve had at Robecelli’s or Cupcakes in Heels.  The Vanialla2 was made with Cream Cheese frosting instead of Buttercream (hence the number 2 distinction) and I thought it was just okay.  The Strawberry was certainly a better choice.  So overall Georgetown was good but I'm sticking to outer borough travel for my cupcakes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Just my Favorite

That’s all it is- my favorite thing to order, to eat and to stare at in all honestly.  It’s the Grande Piatto Misto Di Salumi & Fromaggi from La Piazza Di Eataly.

I’m not going to regale my love for Eataly – you know already- but their meat and cheese platter truly is awesome.  It changes daily but you can almost always depend on Prosciutto, Mortadella, Speck, Ricotta and Pecorino being a part of the display.  The honey and fig goes wonderful with the cheese and if you want to make it a more well rounded meal add on the Insalata Tricolore.

Fresh greens come topped with a zesty balsamic, shaved parmigiano and a glass of Asti Spumante on the side.  That’s right- you get a side of vino with your salad…Yep-It’s my favorite.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

North End Grill

This past weekend Mr. T, his folks and I ventured to the end of the island to try out Danny Meyer’s newest restaurant North End Grill. Walking inside I was pleasantly surprised by the sleek, clean aesthetic. It reminded me a bit of The Modern but with a nice open kitchen for viewing.

We began our meal with a delicious and crisp bottle of Pinot Gris and a towering plate of complimentary bread.

There were so many things on the menu that looked delicious I had a little trouble ordering. I knew I would want to try a little of everyone’s dish so I ordered two appetizers for my meal so I would have room for sampling. My first appetizer was the Raw Fluke with bacon, apples and lime.

This was a zesty dish with the bright acidity of lime playing off the salty bacon bits on top. It was a somewhat safe choice whereas Mr. T went with something completely new to him Cod Throats Meuniere.

 The fish definitely had a southern flare to it even with the brown butter sauce on the bottom. I liked the flavor of the fish but I didn’t enjoy the texture. The crispy outside and warm somewhat stringy inside just turned me off. What can I say- I know I have texture issues. For my other appetizer I ordered off the Egg portion of the menu and got the Tuna Tartare with Fried Quail Egg and Crispy Shallots.

What’s not to love about this dish- tuna and quail egg together are a match made in heaven. Here I absolutely loved the texture of everything and thought the crispy shallots really brought a normal tartare to a new level.

Mr. T ordered the Norwegian Steelhead Salmon with Maple Roasted Kabocha. I couldn’t try the salmon because of my allergy to the fish but I loved the roasted Kabocha. I might even try making this at home. The parents both ordered the Nova Scotia Halibut with Pine Nuts, Green Raisins and Clams. The fish was cooked perfectly but I was very surprised to taste all the spices in the broth. This was definitely Cardoza bringing his Indian flare over from Tabla to here.

That is certainly the case with the Thrice- Fried Spiced Fries. They had a ton of flavor but unfortunately they were no where near as crispy as I would have expected from Thrice- Fried. Check out the Breslin fries- those are thrice fried perfection.

Onto my favorite portion of the night a little macchiato and then desserts! Mr. T ordered the Butterscotch Pot de Crème with chocolate streusel and single “Maltmellows”.

I absolutely loved the presentation of the dessert it was so playful. The “maltmellows” were perfect for dipping into the crème and dusting with some delicious chocolaty streusel. It was an awesome dessert but I have to say mine was even better.

Have I ever told you how much I love a good Sticky Toffee Pudding? This one was out of this world with an insanely moist cake, perfect sauce and ultra creamy ice cream. This is the kind of dessert you dream of for days to come after. I LOVE STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING!!!

I really enjoyed my meal at North End and Mr. T and the parents were quite pleased as well. The food was great, the service was wonderful and it was nice to see Floyd Cardoz cooking in the kitchen. We said goodbye to the parents and then stopped off for one last cocktail at Weather Up.

A Barbados Swizzle later and it was time to retire for the evening. Quite a nice little Saturday night in the city.

North End Grill

Weather Up

Monday, February 20, 2012

Neighborhood News!

It’s Presidents Day and everyone has off of work except me it seems. At least there’s some excitement going on today in and around my ‘hood.

Opening- Wahoo’s Tacos on Park Avenue South between 24th and 25th street. A fish taco chain from California just steps from my home… I foresee many cook free nights ahead.

Morphing- Angelo & Maxie’s has been completely gutted and work is starting to change the semi- casual steakhouse into another semi-casual steakhouse Vic and Anthony’s. What is it about this space needing two names and carnivores?
Vic and Anthonys

Battling- Eataly begins its Monday night pizza wars by sharing their oven with Motorino for the first installment. Okay maybe it’s more about sharing than battling but I assume there has to be a little bit of competition here. I plan to order one signature pie from each and chow down.
Pizza A Quattro Mani

Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Quiet Moment at Cha-An

Cha-An might just be one of my favorite places in the city.  The tiny little tea house tucked away on the second floor is a quiet oasis in the East Village.  I stopped by the other day for a pot of green tea and a Chai for Mr. T.

  Of course I can’t remember the name but it was super nutty and had a nice woody smell to it.  Tea is the main draw here of course but I really come more for the desserts.

The Black Sesame Crème Brulee is one of my favorites of all time.  It was interesting to see they changed up the presentation a bit but the flavors were all still spot on.  It’s creamy and warm on the bottom and crisp and cool up top without being overly sweet.  I tried to share with Mr. T but suddenly it was all gone and he was just staring at me.  Oops!  I had one of those tune out moments again which is really why I shouldn’t eat out with other people.  Oh well- more for me!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Brunch at Hecho en Dumbo

I actually got Mr. T out for brunch the other day and I was determined to find a place he would enjoy to curb his distaste for the meal.  Unfortunately Hecho en Dumbo was not that place.  We arrived right around 1:00 pm and got one of the last tables in the back.  I’m not sure if everyone had just arrived at the same time but flagging down a waitress took a little time.

My brunch cocktail arrived which was a blend of sparkling wine, tequila and hibiscus flower tea.  It was quite a beautiful presentation but the overall flavor was a little too flowery for my tastes.  Onto our entrees my Huevus Divorciados-  two eggs one with a Chili Serrano Salsa Verde and one with a red Salsa Ranchera.

This entrée was quite disappointing.  There was certainly some heat from chili salsa verde but besides that everything was quite bland.  Mr. T’s Huevus Estrellados “Lucio” fared somewhat better.

 Fried eggs mixed with French fries were delicious however the menu said it came with a crumbled chorizo.   This so called chorizo had absolutely no spice and if you ask me it tasted more like ground beef.  Although it was still tasty the tiny portion size and lack of spice really made it an unsatisfying experience.

We grabbed our check quickly since the loud room was starting to aggravate Mr. T and I couldn’t help but notice on our way out that only one other table had received their food.  All of the tables had arrived before us so I felt quite bad for the other patrons who were still waiting for their food.  So unfortunately the meal was a bust and Mr. T now has more excuses not to go out for brunch.  Looks like I’ll be making pancakes at home for a while.

Hecho en Dumbo

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day at White Castle

Yes that’s right- we decided to do White Castle this year for the Hallmark holiday and I have to say it was quite the experience.

The tables were adorned with roses and candles (both fake of course). Our drinks came in champagne flutes which really kicked it up a notch.

A special Valentines day menu was provided and our waiter took our order while we sat.

Then came the food! We stuck to the classics Chicken Rings and Cheeseburgers.

And they even gave us a special treat at the end for free.

Alright the cheesecake tasted like chemicals and don’t even get me started on the strange texture and flavor of the chicken rings (its chicken in the shape of a ring for goodness sake- doesn’t anyone else find that disturbing!) But it was something different and certainly quite funny in the end. Mr. T is a big White Castle fan and in every relationship there’s compromise soo…

It’s was a Love Castle kind of Valentines Day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Little Lunch at Blue Smoke

Sometimes you just need some meaty goodness at Blue Smoke.  Mr. T and I started out with an order of deviled eggs.

These are some of the best in the city with an ultra-creamy center and a spicy kick on the end.   Next up the Creekstone Farms Texas Beef Brisket.

I was a little worried ordering the lean rather than marbled but this was done just right. It was still juicy with a ton of flavor without the sopping pieces of fat. The mashed potatoes are and crispy onions just sealed the deal for Mr. T.

The Pulled Pork Sandwich was good with lots of pork and a squishy bun.   However I have to say I’ve enjoyed the last few I’ve had at RUB and Wildwood better.  Both have a bit more sauce and coleslaw that blow this out of the water.  We added on a side of beans and came home with a ton of leftovers.  Between the two of us we didn’t come anywhere near to finishing which was just fine. What’s more perfect for a little late night snack than some leftover cue on the weekend!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Yes it's a Hallmark made holiday but it's also my excuse to enjoy wine and chocolates without a care (Not like I ever really care but you get the drift).

These heart shaped chocolates are simply perfect for the holiday and so incredibly delicious they are quickly becoming my go to chocolate place. 

My current favorite is the purple heart filled with roasted pistachios and enrobed in a super creamy white chocolate.  You really can't go wrong with any of the chocolates and they are quite friendly with the free samples as well.  Oh and apparently they made Oprah's O List.  I have no idea what that means exactly but I'm pretty sure a backing by Oprah is a good thing for business.  Do yourself a favor up pick some up to celebrate today!

Chocolat Moderne

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Uncle Mario's Brick Oven Pizza

Looking for some pizza in Hell's Kitchen?  Then look no further than Uncle Mario's for a quick slice or two.

 The grandma slice has a fantastic buttery crust, rich tomato sauce and some fresh grated cheese and basil on top.

The regular slice was pretty great as well.  The crust was nice and floppy with a good amount of cheese on top.  This isn't destination pizza but it's pretty damn good.  They serve beer and wine as well so you can really make a night of it.

Uncle Mario's Brick Oven Pizza

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Union Square Burger

I was craving a burger the other day and didn’t just want any old thing.  I was feeling a more gourmet style burger- hefty with a great cheese on top and a nice atmosphere to eat it in.   Obviously Gramercy Tavern came to mind first but since I’ve eaten there so much lately I decided to try out USC’s.

I guess I shouldn’t have assumed the two would be similar just because they’re owned by the same group.  USC’s was immediately different just by looking at the big thick strips of bacon on top and oozing orange cheddar.  This burger was certainly hefty but I wouldn’t call it gourmet.

While it tasted good- the meat had more grease than I was expecting.  The smokiness of the bacon overpowered the sandwich as well and I ended up taking most of it off so I could taste more of the burger.  This was by no means a bad burger just totally different than I was expecting.

The pile of fries that came alongside were tasty but could have been a bit more consistent.  Some were crispy bites of perfection while others were oily and limp.   In the end I was most definitely looking for a Tavern burger and came out a bit disappointed.  Luckily the atmosphere happened to be exactly what I was looking for so at least it satisfied that for me.

Union Square Cafe