Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I'm celebrating as usual by eating copious amounts of candy throughout the day, drinking pumpkin beers all evening while carving my pumpkin, then capping off the night with some festive cupcakes from Baked By Melissa while watching the Halloween Parade.


This year she created a Green Monster with vanilla icing, chocolate fudge stuffing and rainbow bark on top along with a Candy Corn made of orange vanilla cake, vanilla frosting and marshmallow stuffing.  I prefer the Green Monster to the Candy Corn but both taste like Halloween season to me- Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marc Forgione

The last two months have been a bit of a blur.  There have been so many incredible food events I totally forgot to talk about my fabulous birthday dinner at Marc Forgione!  Forgive me if I don't remember everything from the tasting menu in detail but I'll do my best as some of these dishes were simply spectacular.  The meal began as it always does at Marc Forgione with some buttery rolls piping hot from the oven alongside a creamy whipped butter before the amuse bouche.



This tray was an excellent start...puffy Gruyere Cheese Puffs, crispy Chicharones with Doritos Spice, Smoked Blue Fish and a Mackerel with lime juice that was absolutely fantastic.


The Kampachi Tartare with avocado, Sechuan buttons, toasted sesame and Saratoga chips was just as exciting and wonderful as always.  


This was one of my favorite dishes in 2011 and it hasn't changed a bit.



The BBQ Baked Old Salt Oysters with curry and pancetta powder was tasty.  I liked the southern style of the dish and the Cricket Hill beer pairing was a fun little accompaniment.  I was really starting to enjoy the meal when the next dish arrived and blew my socks off...Foie Gras & Bread Service.


Words can't even describe how incredible this was...decadent yes, luxurious sure, but what about salty and smooth, fatty yet silky...it was definitely one of those quiet head nodding moments between me and Mr. T where words couldn't form what our taste buds were experiencing.  I would gladly settle into this dish on my own with a nice glass of Sauternes.


The Chili Lobster came next, soft and tender with a satisfying spicy kick.  I enjoyed the dish but was honestly expecting a bit more based on reviews.


An awesome Eggplant Parm Raviolo arrived which had the perfect balance of sweet tomato and fresh basil.


I'll be honest by the time the Black Bass arrived I was feeling a little bit more than pleasantly full and didn't really have too much.


Instead I saved room for the Colorado Lamb with Rye Bread Gnocchi, Pastrami Spices and Coriander Slaw.  It was a hearty, homey dish that just about put me over the edge.


But as usual I bounced right back at dessert time with these two treats...


...I'm not really sure how I fit that entire Smore's in my stomach but I did...and enjoyed every second of it too.

So that was the big birthday dinner!  The food was amazing and it certainly took my mind off of turning another year older.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Doughnut at Bouchon Bakery

Saturday mornings are good for many things...quiet walks in the park before the Shake Shake line forms, a delicious cappuccino at Caffe Lavazza inside Eataly and if your very lucky some fresh doughnuts from Bouchon Bakery.



I've heard about these for years but never arrived early enough to snag one for myself.  Maybe they made extra this past Saturday or maybe everyone was downtown in the Cronut line.  Who knows- who cares!  I finally got to enjoy one!



This brioche doughnut was incredibly fluffy and light, studded with black and white sugar cookies balls up top and filled with a luscious vanilla creme inside...not nearly as dense as a custard, the creme was smooth and flecked with real vanilla beans.  The woman behind the counter called this their Boston Creme but that name just doesn't do justice to how exquisite this pastry truly is.  It's a complete work of art and an incredible way to start a Saturday.

Bouchon Bakery

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kotobuki

I heard about Kotobuki years ago from friends out on Long Island.  They raved about their crazy rolls and inventive sushi so when they finally opened a Manhattan location it immediately went on my "To Do" list.  Unfortunately it must have been on everyones "To Do" list, because it wasn't until last Friday that Mr. T and I actually saw an open table without a line out the door.    I was so happy to finally get a spot we went a little overboard with ordering off the huge menu.  To begin the K-Mac sliders.



Spicy tuna, avocado and rice sandwiched between two crispy chips.  It was an interesting play on your average sushi bar appetizer and honestly quite delicious.  I liked the satisfying crunch with each bite. The next appetizer was the Spicy Tuna Pizza.



I think this may have been a bit too crazy for us. The bottom was a crispy scallion pancake topped with rice, spicy tuna and cheese.  It was certainly tasty but in a weird way. It reminded me of the perfect drunk food...sloppy and spicy but not exactly something you want to have again the next day.


The regular Spicy Tuna Roll was good albeit a bit larger than I like my rolls and certainly not packed very well. Mr. T.'s Scallop Roll was also tasty but followed the same suite as the rest...a little bit too much going on in one roll for our taste buds.


Although it may not seem like I liked Kotobuki I actually did.  The atmosphere was fun, the sushi was incredibly fresh and the prices were very reasonable.  I just think we've been out of touch with the nontraditional Japanese places for such a long time now.  With my recent experience at Sushiyama and now Kotobuki I'm not sure if I'm trying to step back in or step back out.  I'd like to return again and have a traditional dinner of sushi and sashimi to see how this place holds up against the rest.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Brew Friday- A Trio of Jai Alai

Did I just talk about Cigar City last Friday? Yeah....well...they make some great stuff and Mr. T and I just can't seem to get enough.  We love their IPA's and decided to do a taste comparison and see which was our favorite.  Here we have the regular Jai Alai, White Oak Jai Alai (oak aged) and the Humidor Series IPA (which has it's base as Jai Alai with cedar added during secondary fermentation).  So let's compare...



The regular Jai Alai has a strong tropical fruit aroma with big flavors of bubble gum and apples.  The White Oak Jai Alai smells incredibly flowery, almost perfume-like; still slightly tasting of bubble gum but now with a funky, sour taste on the end.  The Humidor smells and tastes totally different than the first two with a ton of pine on the front and a malty biscuit finish.  It's awesome to see how the same beer can change in so many different ways.

Cigar City isn't in NY very often so pick some up while you can.  Good Beer and Top Hops both got some in right now- Cheers to the weekend!

Cigar City Brewing

Good Beer

Top Hops

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Happy Hour at Lela Bar

I know I talk about beer a lot but I still have a big place in my heart for a lovely glass of wine and some stinky cheese. Which is one of the reasons I love Lela Bar so much.



This wine bar down on Hudson Street is perfect for everything from after work drinks to a romantic night out with your significant other.  The tiny space has an oval bar as the focal point so your almost always in the perfect spot for chatting. Their Happy Hour runs from 5-7 with $1 oysters on Wednesday and Saturday and special deals on cheese and meat.



My last visit started with a bowl of mixed olives before moving onto a plate of Gypsy Salami and a creamy Bucheron from France that had a surprisingly dry finish, perfect for a glass of crisp white wine.



Lela also has a few seats right up front by the window ideal for a little people watching and the ultimate spot for a little solo relaxation.  

Lelabar

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Last Bites of Madison Square Eats

Madison Square Eats ends on Friday which means only three more days to grab some delicious treats all in one spot.  If you see a sign for the special Spulace pie at Roberta's I highly suggest trying it out.


It's got crazy dollops of cheddar cheese curds melted throughout the basil and tomato top with that thin charred and chewy crust.


Delaney BBQ is still there doling out their rich, fatty brisket tacos along with a veggie option the Brussels Sprout taco with black bean puree and red onions.


Or you could just return to one of your favorites as I did.  One last spicy, sweet Bee Sting pie for the season ender!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Distilled

As I was continuing to celebrate my birthday last month Mr. T and I met up for dinner one night in Tribeca at the new hot spot Distilled. We grabbed a table outside on the deck and snacked on a bowl of cumin popcorn as we perused the menu.  



The wings here have been getting a ton of press so we began with a small order to share.



They're big and crunchy with a lot less fat than a regular Korean BBQ wing but with a thicker sauce.  These were quite tasty but we both found the sauce a bit too sweet.  I probably wouldn't be able to eat more than two or three so a small order to share was perfect.


The Franklin Burger was fantastic... thick and juicy with melted cheddar cheese and a buttery toasted bun. The tater tots were a bit strange.  They reminded me more of French Toast Sicks; sweet and cake like instead of salty and crisp but Mr.T seemed to like them.  


I would probably pass on the BLT next time.  I love tomatoes but these overtook the entire dish and the fatty, bacon flavor was lost in the mix.

I have to mention that the service at Distilled was stellar.  It was a busy Friday night and I never felt rushed or ignored and everyone I met with seemed incredibly friendly.  Mr. T and I planned to have dessert  but we were too full at the end of the meal.  Instead we walked across the street to Brandy Library for a quick cocktail and then retired for the night. A successful evening in Tribeca.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Brand New Roni-Sue!

One of my favorite little stalls in Essex Street Market just got her own shop over on Forsyth Street.  


Roni- Sue's Shoppe has everything going on in the Lower East Side.  A nice airy open space chock full of brownies and croissants, a full coffee operation and of course all of her delicious chocolates.


Roni was sampling her new fall line of truffles so I just had to try a bite of her Pumpkin Cream and it was delicious as always.


I picked up a spicy ginger Dark & Stormy and a salty Beer & Pretzel chocolate before heading on my way. It's a great little spot to check out and a wonderful new option in the neighborhood to get your caffeine and sugar fix- congrats to Roni-Sue!

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Brew Friday- Cigar City Dry Hopped on the High Sea

It's back to one of my favorite breweries today for an incredibly delicious Caribbean IPA the Dry Hopped on the High Seas.



This beer is all about Simcoe and that just happens to be a hop I love.  It pours a gorgeous orange with aromas of coconut, mango and pine with just a small foamy head and very little lacing. The flavor is all citrus and pine with a long lingering bitter finish on the back of the tongue that I just love.  It's everything I want from Cigar City in this style of beer- Cheers!

Cigar City Brewing

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kee's Chocolate- Midtown West

I was scouting around work the other day, trying to find something decent for lunch in the dead zone near Herald Square when I spotted a tiny window with some gorgeous illuminated truffles. 


I took a step inside and smelled the unforgettable aroma of rich dark chocolate and herb that I fondly recall from my afternoons at Kee's  in SOHO.  I was so excited for a location near work!  I couldn't decide what I wanted first...the nutty Black Sesame, the creamy Green Tea...no today it would be one of the absolute best, the Creme Brulee Truffle.


The woman behind the counter will warn you to eat this all in one bite.  It's a warning you should heed because the thin, dark chocolate shell may crack into pieces and you could lose all the custard inside.


I've eaten enough of these to know just the right amount of pressure to put on the shell in order to prevent cracking. I'm always shocked how thick and eggy the custard is.  It's light and sweet, truly one of best things created at Kee's...and one I will now enjoy on a much regular basis:)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sushiya

After an afternoon filled with errands I found myself in Midtown with a serious craving for sushi. I did a quick check on Yelp and saw great reviews for Sushiya just a block away. I entered the narrow restaurant and got a single spot at the sushi bar in back.



The place was absolutely packed with a mix of businessmen and tourists.  I was happy to see so many people enjoying their food since the cartoon menu didn't exactly fill me with confidence...


...but after looking at all of the pictures I found them so quirky and cute I decided to order one of the crazy rolls just because of them.  They started me off with a simple salad of iceberg lettuce and carrot dressing.


Then it was onto the main event a Sunny Side roll made of Spicy Tuna & Yellowtail with asparagus and tobiko.  There were so many shades of pink on my plate a more apt name would have been "Pretty in Pink".


The roll was split right down the middle...one side tuna one side yellowtail...both with fresh asparagus in the middle and a spicy creamy mayo on top.


This roll wasn't anything mind blowing (this is not Yasuda after all)  but I really enjoyed the different textures at play and the crunchy asparagus made it a bit more satisfying than just a regular roll.  Plus I was in and out in under 20 minutes and for less than $20.  In Midtown that's a score for a sit down meal.  I'll be back again to check out the rest of the menu that's for sure.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Talde

I went out to Park Slope last week and met up with my sister-in-law for dinner.  Talde has been on my "to do" list ever since I had a quick bite at the bar about a year ago.  This time we sat in the main dining room and got to experience the full menu. I was so enamored with the wings at Pork Slope I had to check out the Talde's Kung Pao wings.



Wow- these did not disappoint.  They were spicy in a good way, the heat just burning my tongue a bit with some crunchy peanuts and a sweet chili sauce. These were totally different than Pork Slope, much more of an Asian style wing but just as delicious.


The two of us demolished these before moving on to the main event Crispy Oyster and Bacon Pad Thai.


Neither of us love fried oysters and here was no different.  The breading was just a bit to mushy...but the noodles were amazing! They had so much flavor from the chunks of bacon and a slight briny twist that I didn't miss the fried oyster at all.  I would order these again in a heart beat and push the oysters to the side.  Another solid meal from Chef Dale Talde.

Talde

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Star Chef's International Congress- The Sweet

I focused on the savory last time so today the sweet!  I have to begin by introducing one of the coolest artists in food I've ever met Janice Wong.   Janice worked as a pastry chef for multiple big names places like Per Se and Alinea before opening her own place 2am:dessertbar which is focused on dessert as a cerebral experience.  



To get a better understanding of the concept Janice created some free standing art installations that were completely edible.  



This painting was based on the structure of the room at the ICC and made with Tutti Frutti marshmallow and chocolate.


This Zen Garden was created with chocolate pebbles, stones and two types of cookie crumble sand a yellow mustard and yuzu.


Here's Jancie taking a chunk out of her painting.  I'll admit it was a little strange at first but once I dug into the first painting I had no problem enjoying the rest...especially that incredible Zen Garden:)


Janice took the main stage for a pastry demonstration where she created a dessert made of miso and mustard.  Talk about pushing the boundaries of ordinary dessert...it was pretty awe inspiring.


After the great demo I decided it was time for a drink.  Since the theme was sweet I passed on the Ommegang beers from yesterday and went right to the dessert bar for a Green Apple Whiskey Sour.


I'll be honest I usually hate sweet drinks but this was absolutely amazing.  The whipped marshmallow top was smoky from the blow torch and really tasted like a roasted green apple.  I took one sip and thought "Hello there friend I've missed you all my life!"

At this point I walked over to the pastry pop up I had reserved and was told that there was a mistake and it was overbooked for the day.  I was a little let down but there was so much great stuff in the trade area I just decided to go all out on sweets outside and make the best of things.


So I got a little cup a rich, decadent chocolate gelato and a rounded it out with creamy affogato (because I needed some caffeine with all my sugar).


Then walked over to check out the Pastry competition for a while.  I was feeling pretty wacked out on sugar at this point and about to leave for the day when an event staff came over and said a special pastry pop up was being created on the fly just for the people who were overbooked.  Johnny Iuzzini, Patrick Fahy and Sam Mason created three impromptu desserts using everything they found from around the conference.  How in the world could I pass this up!


The first was a peanut butter and jelly crumble with a dusting of yuzu (from Janice's art work I assume).


Followed by a Five spice Panna Cotta with a marshmallow fried doughnut...


...and a Tasting of Chocolates with edible flowers on top that was absolutely incredible.  Each dish was presented by the chef who made it and I honestly felt a little bit like a judge on Top Chef watching these amazing chefs create while I ate.  It was such an amazing experience and a huge highlight of the ICC.

So there you have it...the savory and sweet...the guts and the glory.  It was an incredible showcase of talent and true delight to be a part of such an amazing event.  Cheers to the ICC for an incredible 2013!