Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is garlic out?

Here's a video about a chef in Italy who is anti-garlic. I personally love garlic and almost lean towards the Italian American stance of the more garlic the better.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Food Evolution Series : Toro

It was about time I did another Food Evolution Series post.
And what better than Toro. The super fatty portion of a Tuna.
And the best being Blue Fin Tuna.
These giant beasts can grow to be 8 feet long
(but normally 6 feet) and over 250 kg (that's more than 500 pounds)

Spain Jumbo Tunas are just in season. So go to your best Sushi restaurant and order away.
You deserve it!!!

Last Week's Poll

If you had one last meal, what would it be?
5 answered Steak
3 answered Lobster
3 answered Burger
0 answered Pizza

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pho Joints

I met up my boy chewbacca the other day and we were discussing our love of pho - you know, the Vietnamese noodle soup. He passed along these Pho restaurants he's seen on the West Coast. Quoted directly from the chewbacca - enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Chow at Fogo de Chão - review

Fogo de Chão
1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Metro stop - Federal Triangle (blue & orange lines)
That’s the law. You have to chow when you’re there. I originally went here back in February. I did a write-up on a different blog, and this is that post:

Parade of Meat

Ya gotta love that. Let's say that again: parade of meat. It's how the website describes the experience.

We went to Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian churrascaria (steakhouse) in downtown DC. X got there before me and was very surprised to find a dozen white roses waiting for her in a pretty vase. Since we were too busy to do this on Wednesday, this was our Valentine's Day. It’s how I roll, baby.

Deco - Nicely done. Very good taste. Not the typical "trying-too-hard" I see in DC.

Staff - Extremely friendly, helpful, and attentive. You felt like everyone was each others' cousin, brother, etc. The manager really helped me by arranging the flowers and checking on us. All very short notice of the reservation I made, too. Impeccable service.

Food - Wow. No really... wow. It's essentially a parade of meat and a large buffet that's very well done. Think of high end presentations with the carving station, but the carving station comes to you. Over & over & over. The Gaúchos come to your table, and serve these slices of heaven until you tell them to stop. With all types of meat. Lots of food? Yes. But wait, there's more. There are a few sides they bring, too: mashed potatoes, fried bananas, and the best cornbread I ever had. Another nice touch is that the Gaúchos cook their meats that they are carving for you and are not "just" waiters. Drinks. She had a red wine that went well with everything, but I don't remember which one. I had their version of a mojito that was too strong. And for dessert? There was one particular meat, ancho (ribeye?), that was good enough for me to be dessert. I wish I "discovered" this in the beginning rather than the end. The Gaúcho told me all he added was seasalt. But we still had dessert. Hot chocolate cake and vanilla bean ice cream with hot melted chocolate drizzled over everything accompanied by strawberries.

Would I go again - Most certainly. I highly recommend this place. Vegans, beware. Although there is enough for you weirdoes, too. Valet parking available for $5 or $6. Downtown DC across the street from the Old Post Office, a block away from ESPN Zone, and couple blocks from Metro Center. Bring a fat wallet, too. ;-)

Pics to come. Bad quality, since they were taken from my phone.

Finally, here are some pictures from the feast. Warning - they are grainy, like images from a 1970s porn, since they are from my phone. And it was dark.


And that was my post. Here it is, almost a half a year later. I’ve wanted to go back, but at the same time, I was apprehensive. What if it doesn’t live up to my expectations from last time? What if I was just in so much awe of that much good meat around me? Maybe the service won’t be as good? I can answer these questions now by stating that it still lived up to the same experience as last time, but even better. This time, I was seasoned, and I knew what to select. I didn’t try everything like last time but was more picky and focusing more on the delicious rib eye and foregoing the sausage links and lamb chops. These are all very delightful, but when being picky, the top sirloin, bottom sirloin, ribs, and other cuts just outweighed the others. The service was still impeccable. They extremely quick; they are practically running. I’m very surprised we didn’t see any accidents. It was like a symphony as they were choreographed to the point that it looked like they pre-planned a taller person would carry a tray of items while a shorter person would walk (quickly) perfectly underneath as she picks up the dishes from the tables. And the service was actually better this time, since they would replenish the extra sides over and over. If the cornbread was a little low, there was another fresh plate of warm, crispy bread. If one took a few bites of the fried banana, another serving was added. And it was like that all evening. Mind you, it wasn’t that an extra scoop of mashed potatoes was added on top, but a new silver platter was delivered to the table as if it was the first. Classy. The only negatives I could offer this time was that it took a long time to receive the bill (why do people call it a check?) and they served – and charged – me for bottled water, both due to miscommunication. At least it wasn’t the typical Evian-type plastic bottled water, but a large glass bottle similar to a Perrier.

Sorry Mom

I'm pretty sure mom isn't reading this...
But if you are... Sorry for being a totally gross little boy.

There's plenty to be said about etiquette and manors. One can stroll down to your local Barnes and Noble and pick up 10 books on being a well polished, polite social being.
Well, I want to talk about being the direct opposite right now.

What is it about Burping (or even better, Beltching) that's so satisfying?
Just think about it for a moment. And if you are having a hard time understanding what I mean, go chug a can of diet coke, then flex your abs to induce a beltch.

I just chugged the remaining half of my HeySong Sarsparilla soda and I gotta say, I may have enjoyed my beltch more than the drink itself.
I could use adjectives such as, fun, refreshing, enlightening, happy, relieving, to describe how I feel right now.
It was nothing short of AWESOME!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sushi Seki

For nouvelle japonais (sushi), Sushi Seki is a must try.
Seki-san's gentle hands craft unbelievably delicous nigirizushi.
I have always thought of myself as a purist and traditional Edo-mae Sushi was the only way.
...Seki changed my ways.
Apparently he worked for a while at Sushi of Gari so many of the nigiris are replicas of the master's. But who am I to judge who invented what and when?

Enough said, it's delicious. I had a blast, and so will you.
So go and treat yourself... You deserve it.
(wink) You can thank me later!

Sushi Seki ($$$$)
Japanese, Sushi
1143 1st Ave, New York 10021
Btwn 62nd & 63rd St
Phone: 212-371-0238

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Jing Fong - Review

Jing Fong - Not Recommended
435 Hudson St, New York 10014
Btwn Canal & Bayard St
Phone: 212-964-5256

Not sure what happened, but there has been a recent trend in the NYC Chinatown dim sum scene to act like a mega mart - huge sprawling places that packs 1000's of people in. Back in the day, the dim sum joints were much tinier places which actually works better - more cart pushers for fewer customers. On this Sunday afternoon, there seemed to be only 6 cart pushers for about 500 people. This means it was impossible to get any food. And the food in general was pretty average to subpar (one of the fried shrimp balls was cold). Also, we never saw the staples like har gow (shrimp dumpling) and siu mai (pork dumpling) and we were there for 1 1/2 hours. Overall, I give the restaurant an 63/100.

Overall Restaurant Experience (63/100)

  • Food 6.7/10 - Average to below average dim sum.
  • Service 6.0/10 - Not that many push carters for the # of people. The managers that stand around were not very accommodating. Also, other customers walk around ordering directly from the cart instead of letting the cart come to them. Makes it very difficult to get food.
  • Atmosphere 6/10 - Something very impersonal about a huge sprawling restaurant. It was like we were at a very bad wedding. Crowd is a mix of families, couples, and singles. Asian and non-asian.
  • Price 7/10 - It's dim sum, so it's relatively cheap. Not happy about the price for the food and service.

Closing Comments
Definitely not recommended. In Chinatown, I found Oriental Garden to be a better dim sum experience. In the tri-state area, my favorite dim sum joint is 1-9 Seafood Restaurant in Avenel, NJ.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Chefs and Champagne, via Hamptons

It'll be my first time going to the Hamptons this Saturday.
This is an event honoring revered chef Charlie Trotter of Chicago, tomorrow.
Hosted at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, NY, it should be a good time.
The weather report says sunny skies and my tummy says all systems go.
30+ chefs from around the country will be showcasing their signature dishes.
Much like the James Beard Awards earlier this year, I am expecting stations laid across a flat area of land and people in cocktail dresses & tuxedos grazing the tables.

Event Location: Wölffer Estate Vineyard 139 Sagg Road Sagaponack, NY
Date and Time: Saturday, July 21, 20075:00–8:00 pm
Reservations: Members $200, General Public $275
VIP* Experience $500 ($300 is a tax-deductible charitable donation)
Tickets will be available online until Saturday, July 21, at 1:00 pm.
After that time, tickets will be available at the door.
*** Update***
So I got back from Hamptons late Saturday night. The food was alright but the eye candy was intense. A lot of mid 40's & 50's guys with 20 something model-like girlfriends. (you gotta laugh) It was everything I expected from a Hamptons soiree.
The event itself was kinda cool but only lasted a few hours.
So let me just run through the highlights for you.
- I got to see Martha Stewart up close in person. She looked really good. I'll leave it at that.
- Charlie Trotter was shorter than I expected. And his head seemed too big for his body. But I'm sure he's a great guy. (err, sometimes)
- Maybach was part sponsor of the event, so they parked a Maybach 57 for display in the middle of the tent where people could go in and sit in the car.
I gotta tell ya, it is one comfy ride. If I had that much dispossable income, I wouldn't mind having one of those badboys to be driven to everywhere.
- And as we were leaving the venue, we were stopped and asked if we wanted to attend a private after party at someone's castle. Yes, "Castle".
I guess if you really have that much money, why not build something grossly impractical and tack along a gazillion dollars for maintanance.
We chose not to go and headed straight back to the city where we felt a little more at home.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Meat the Press

I took part in a Product Tasting session with a famous Newspaper Food Columnist Wednesday.
Well, more like I stood next to the wall and watched her taste dish after dish. It was kinda sad in a way. There were no "mmmms" or "wow, this is delicious" at all.
She is known to many to be a tough, and emotionless lady. (and from what I saw, that's right on)
As we went down the list of items, her facial expressions remained stoic. It was a little uncomfortable to say the least, but guess business is business. I remained quiet and just observed the interactions between our chef and food writer.

As I watched, hoping to learn something from the experience, I came to realize an important life lesson.
Perhaps when something becomes a "Job", you lose enthusiasm and passion.
I'd like to think I would be different and never lose interest if given the opportunity to eat and write about my culinary escapades.
But I'm sure that's what all food columnists say before they eat and write about their 5th trip to Provence and 50th juicy cheeseburger in the summer.
Perhaps guys like me just don't know any better...because I still want that dream job of sharing my thoughts on food.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rhode Island Weekend

Checked out Providence and Newport, RI over the weekend with the girlfriend. Beautiful state and a very relaxing weekend. However, the front desk at the hotel tried to warn us on what to expect.

Front Desk: Is this your first time in Newport?
Me: Ya, very excited to check out what Newport has to offer
Front Desk: Do you have any specific plans?
Me: No, not really. What do people usually do here.
Front Desk: Spend lots and lots of money. (thunder and lightning in the background and lights dim...well not really, but it would have been funnier if it did)

In Newport, we checked out a bunch of restaurants and even a small pub had entrees for above $25. Food was very satisfying, but way overpriced. Average meal for 2 (including lunch) was around $80. Also, although the food was good, I was sick of the style of food after 3 meals. I can only eat so much broiled fish with some type of butter sauce (beurre blanc or drawn better) or fried concoction with tartar sauce. With that being said, I loved Newport and Providence and definitely am going back.

Here are the restaurants we checked out.
1) Monahan's Restaurant - Recommended
190 Ocean Road, Narragansett, RI 02882, Phone: (401) 783-5557
Scallop roll was very tasty - first time. Clam cakes I would shy away from. Basically fried dough with one tiny clam inside.

2) Providence Oyster Bar - Recommended.
283 Atwells Ave, Providence, RI 02903, Phone: (401) 272-8866
King Crab and Lobster were so sweet and tender. Same with the calamari.

3) Black Pearl - Recommended
W Pelham, Newport, RI 02840, Phone: (401) 846-5264
The best chowda I've ever had. Delicate flavor and the perfect amount of potatoes, clams, and cream. Lobster roll was average to below average.

4) Salavation Cafe - Highly Not Recommended
140 Broadway Newport, RI 02840, Phone: 401-847-2620
We were sick of fried fish or boiled fish, so we checked out this place. It was pretty terrible for the price. Pad Thai was below average and this place was way over priced. Reason number 533 why not to listen to Rachel Ray. She was orgasmic over this place and their pad thai.

5) Flo's clams - Highly Recommended
4 Wave Avenue, Middletown, RI, Phone: 401-847-8141
Best of the trip. Fried clams were to die for. Intense clam flavor that was very fresh and perfectly tender. Quahog was ok, but stick with the fried clams. The locals there told us clam strips are not the way to go. Gotta stick with the clam belly...

(some pictures are hella dark, since the flash made the picture come out too bright...need to figure out how to take pictures with flash of white plates without making the pictures coming out too bright)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Yakitoro Totto - Yeaaaaah!!!

In celebration of my wife passing her first 2 exams, I decided to take her to Yakitori Totto for some traditional Japanese food.
Yakitori (translated : Skewered Chicken) is their specialty.
Located in the heart of midtown(55th between 8th and Broadway), they're always packed!

So good-luck getting a table if you don't have a reservation.
Fortunately, we got lucky Thursday night, and were seated quickly.

We ordered a slew of goodies and were quite satisfied.
My wife is pretty picky when it comes to Japanese food and she gave Totto an 8 out of 10.
I've attached a little slideshow of dishes we feasted on.
Hope you enjoy.

previous Yakitori Totto review by aramis - 5-9-07
(click here)


FYI - courtesy post for the "Man" in you.

Wendy's currently has this burger called the "Baconator".
It's pretty much self explanatory.
A double beef patty (netting 1/2 pounds) with cheese slices slapped on each patty. Then "6"strips of bacon laid on top and nestled in between some soft and moist Wendy's buns. There's also a little mayo squeezed in there for good measure.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

cheap eats

I'm still going on the bad food tip from earlier posts. Here's another one that just frightens me. I really enjoy eating adventurously, but I have a feeling it will bite back one day. Read this story:

A Taste of Salmonella

At a recent Taste of Chicago event, 17 people were ill (5 of the illnesses were attributed to salmonella poisoning) after eating at the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth. Street fairs are wonderful for trying a diversity of food and just enjoying the day outside. But, this is a potential price you can pay...

Grom Gelato - Review

Grom - Highly Recommended
2165 Broadway, New York 10024
Btwn 76th & 77th St
Phone: 646-290-7233

The key to gelato is texture and intensity of the flavors. Either component is usually lacking when tasting gelato in NYC. We Americans also have a sweeter tooth, which is evident in the much sweeter gelati. To my surprise, a popular gelato maker from Turin, Italy has opened up shop on the Upper West Side. Does it live up to expectations? Yes, Grom is by far the best gelato in NYC. Better than the top rated Il Laboratorio Del Gelato, which is not that great in my opinion. All the gelati at Grom have the right dense, yet soft texture and definitely sources superior ingredients - lemons from Amalfi, hazelnuts from Piedmont, chocolate from Venezuela, etc. Definitely highly recommended.

My Menu
1) Hazelnut Gelato - Highly Recommended
2) Pistachio Gelato - Recommended
3) Cappuccino Gelato - Highly Recommended
4) Stracciatella
- Recommended

Dish Comments
1) Powerful hazelnut flavor that definitely brought me back to a night in Amalfi eating nocciola gelato. My favorite of the four.
2) Nice pistachio flavor, but it was a little drowned out by the intense hazelnut gelato. The pistachio gelati we had in Rome had a real intense pistachio flavor which was lacking here. Still better than all other pistachio gelati I had in NYC.
3) My second favorite of the day. It had an intense cappuccino flavor without being ridiculously sweet.
4) Stracciatella is basically vanilla ice cream with chocolate pieces - I had probably a pound of this in Italy. This was good (especially the Venezuelan dark chocolate), but it was again - drowned out by the other three gelati.

Overall Restaurant Experience

  • Food 9.0/10 - Best gelato in NYC
  • Service N/A - Younger people serving the gelato but was accommodating and quick enough
  • Atmosphere N/A - There was a long line on this Sunday afternoon and the gelato was almost out. On the day Grom opened, we tried to get some gelato, but they sold out by 8pm.
  • Price 8/10 - Very expensive gelato (small is $4.75) but worth the price.

Closing Comments
Grom overtook Bruno Bakery in the West Village as my favorite gelato joint. Something was still missing from the gelato experience though. The gelato was still much better in Italy - maybe it was just the euphoria of being in Italy or maybe the milk they use is higher quality (all dairy products in Europe are much better). Grom's gelato comes very close though and I'm still happy they've arrived in NYC.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

3rd world credibility


It's truly mind boggling how select oversighting and breeches in protocal can be overlooked due to GREED.

Fancy Food Show 2007

It's finally over!!!
The Fancy Food Show that is...
3 days of non-stop enthusiasm, talking about your products and company.
Hoping to gain more exposure into new markets and potential clientele.

It's held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center every year around this time.
It's a madhouse made up of Purchasers, Chefs, Distributors, Importers, Consultants, Retailers and Press.
Everyone has an agenda and it's a free for all going from booth to booth searching for that connection between one man to another.

I'm glad it's over now, but the real work starts now with a never ending list of "hey, remember me?" emails and courtesy follow ups.

This makes me want to read Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman", all over again.
factoid-did you know Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe? it's true...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sezz Medi - Lunch Review

Sezz Medi - Recommended
1260 Amsterdam Ave, New York 10027
At W 122nd St
Phone: 212-932-2901

My girlfriend and I were missing Italy recently, so we decided to do an Italian food inspired day in NYC. First stop, Sezz Medi in the Upper East Side. I've been here before and I remembered the pastas were phenomenal. We stopped here for lunch, but unfortunately no pastas today. It didn't matter, since what we had was great. Overall, I give the restaurant an 85/100.

My Menu
1) Pizza Pastore - Highly Recommended
2) Endive tossed with walnuts, sliced pears, tuscan pecorino and chives- Recommended
3) Pineapple and champagne - Highly Recommneded

Dish Comments
1) Pizza consisting of mozzarella, goat cheese, gorgonzola, and ricotta cheese (no tomato sauce). The stringiness of the mozzarella, the soft texture of the ricotta, and the bite of the gorgonzola made for a wonder taste and texture combination. The dough was really flavorful and had a great chewy texture. Definitely brought me back to the pizzas in Rome and Capri...although the dough there was much thinner, but still very chewy. This was more of a thicker NY style dough, which still rocked.
2) Perfect compliment to the pizza and very Southern Italian. Southern Italians seem to enjoy the bitter components of a dish a lot (e.g. Arugula and Endives). The bitterness of the endive was offset by the sweetness of the pear and the saltiness of the pecorino. Nice light salad.
3) The pineapple and champagne drink had the perfect match of fresh fruit juice and the bubbles.

Overall Restaurant Experience (85/100)

  • Food 8.6/10 - Brought me back to Italy for a brief moment.
  • Service 8.5/10 - Very friendly waiter that was knowledgeable about the food. Food came out very quick.
  • Atmosphere 8.0/10 - Rustic look and feel similar to a trattoria in Italy. Sunday brunch in the Summer, so there were not that many people there.
  • Price 8.8/10 - The price was reasonable for the quality of food that we received.

Closing Comments
I know I really like a restaurant when it inspires me to do my own little twist on what I ate. I am definitely going to take all three menu items and serve them at my next dinner party. Next time I will come back to Sezz Medi for the pastas and add another review.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Zen Zen - Review

Zen Zen - Highly Recommended
356 Bergen Blvd, Fairview, New Jersey 07022
Phone: 201-840-1820

In the middle of no where N.W. Jers stands this masterpiece of Korean bbq. My Korean buddy always told me NY's Korea town had average Korean food and was always raving about Zen Zen. Now, I completely understand what he's been talking about. Zen Zen is by far the best Korean bbq I've ever had. Overall, I give the restaurant an 85/100.

My Menu
1) Ban Chan (free)
2) Kalbi - Highly Recommended
3) Duck Bulgolgi - Recommended
4) Bim Bim Bop - Recommended
5) Cinnamon Soup (free)

Dish Comments
1) Ban chan are the free side dishes that are served before a Korean meal. Here the ban chan are solid. Also, there are a wide variety of dishes - more than most Korean bbq joints.
2) Kalbi are beef short ribs that are marinated and grilled in front of you. The Kalbi here are spectacular. The servers cooked them in front of us, which were done perfectly. Great beef flavor, crispy edges, and insanely tender. Wrapping them up in a lettuce leaf with some garlic, a little sauce, and some scallions creates the perfect little package.
3) Nice fatty pieces of duck with scallions and onions. This was pretty good, but after eating the kalbi - anything would be a let down. However, combining the duck and the kalbi created a wonderful marriage of flavor and texture.
4) Bim bim bop is a rice dish with veggies, pork, and a fried egg. I'm used to the bim bim bop cooked in a cast iron bowl, which creates the nice crispy pieces of rice - kinda like paella. Here, they don't do that, but I was still happy to eat the dish.
5) Very interesting way to finish off the meal. Cinnamon soup that definitely cleanses the palate and is very light. Basically, cinnamon, sugar, and water.

Overall Restaurant Experience (85/100)

  • Food 8.6/10 - The best kalbi I've ever had.
  • Service 8.0/10 - Waitresses are very friendly and extremely helpful there. However, some did not speak English to well and I'm not Korean, so there were some language issues.
  • Atmosphere 8.8/10 - One of the nicer looking Korean restaurants that I've been to. The crowd is basically all Korean. Majority of the people there are families with kids, but there are a bunch of younger couples as well.
  • Price 8/10 - Very happy with the price, since the food was so good - $88 for 2 including 2 drinks and tips.

Closing Comments
Can't wait to come back here with a lot more people and try out more of the dishes. Still very happy even the next day.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Cook with Love

Posted by Special Correspondent : Madame de Coquenard

The Japanese culture is full of greetings.
To name a few;
tadaima - ただいま: when you come home
okaeri - お帰り: to welcome someone home
itterasshai - 行ってらっしゃい: to send off someone from your home
irasshaimase - いらっしゃいませ: store clerk to a client enetering a store
itadakimasu - 頂きます: "thank you for the meal/ i thank you for preparing the meal"; before commencing a meal
gochisousama deshita - ご馳走様でした: "thank you for the meal"; after completing a meal
otsukare sama - お疲れ様: "you must be tired"; to someone who's completed hard work; you say this to coworkers at work when you see them in the hallway, bathroom, etc.
osakini shitsurei itashimasu - お先に失礼致します: "please excuse me before you"; you say this to coworkers when you leave the office before them

Naturally, the greeting culture migrates to the dinner table. I had a difficult time with R in the beginning of our relationship. A meal for me should not be devoured before an "itadakimasu", and does not feel complete without a "gochisousama". When we first started dating, I went with the American culture and ate without saying anything. Actually, I would say it to myself before and after a meal. I mean, it's not like a proper grace or anything. In my mind, it's one simple word to show appreciation for the preparer. (To me, the one that brings food to the table is not God, but rather the farmers, nature, mother, wife, husband, sister, whomever.)

But later when I started cooking more, it didn't feel right that someone was eating my meals without an "itadakimasu". I guess the feeling comes with the effort of cooking for someone. So I started saying it out loud, and R naturally followed. Nowadays, he doesn't eat without putting his hands together and saying the magic word. Maybe because I stare at him in silence if he tries.Another difference in food culture I've observed involves the attitude towards meals at the table. I wonder if France, the gastronomical mecca, is more similar to Japan. At home in Tokyo, with the first bite of our mother's food we tell her, "oishii! (this is delicious!) hontou ni oishii (really delicious!). what's in it? how is it prepared?" Even my father, who's been married to my mother for 30+ years, always says, "a~ shiawase da. hontou ni oishii" (I am so happy. You really cook so well.") I think it's wonderful that after so many years and so many meals, my father still lets my mother know how lucky he feels to be eating her food.Doesn't seem like people in the US are too interested in the food and its process of preparation. I know my comments are a gross generalization, but gastronomy is indeed deeply rooted in culture. There's been a growing interest in the culinary field in the US in recent years, but there's definitely less remarks about the meal compared to a typical household in Japan.

It took me a while to understand that when R is eating in silence, he really likes the meal. He is so into it that he forgets to say anything. But until I understood this, it used to worry me so much that he doesn't like the food I made. And then I would get angry because he'd finish the meal and take the dishes to the kitchen without a word. Oh, maybe a "thank you, that was good". So once, when he cooked for me, I decided to test him. I ate in absolute silence, watching TV. I noticed him looking at me, wondering if I'd comment. But I continued to eat wordlessly and said thanks and took the dishes to the kitchen. (Yes, I'm mean) I came back to the table and laughed and told him, "If something is good, I'd like to hear it. And yes, your meal was super-oishii."

When preparing something for your loved ones, there's nothing more elating than hearing that one simple word. おいしい。(oishii)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Dartagnan's 4th of July BBQ

Our buddy Dartagnan prepared a spectacular 4th of July BBQ.
Porthos provided the Japanese beers and the amazing Japanese charcoal "Binchotan". I made quesadillas - recipes to be provided later. Good food, good friends, and good times.

-Duck breast magret
-Quail stuffed with nectarines and basil
-Potato salad with lardons
-Green bean salad
-Quesadilla traditional - pepper jack cheese and roasted poblano sauce
-Quesadilla non-traditional - gruyere cheese and caramelized onions
-Arrangement of Artisanal cheeses

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

This just in - new hot dog eating champ at Nathan's

From the International Federation of Competitve Eating's website:

Joey Chestnut has beaten Kobayashi, both breaking their own records. Chestnut's 66 vs. Kobayashi's 63. Quote from Chestnut: "If I needed to eat another one right now, I could."

Sorry, Kobayashi...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Deep dish in DC

No really, there is. And I don’t mean Uno’s. As stated in my last post regarding pizza, deep dish pizza is hard to find. The other 2 Dudes were coming down to DC for a Dudes on Foods weekend, so the Dudes were hungry for deep dish pizza. REAL deep dish pizza. They were going to order one from Chicago (Gino’s East, based on my suggestion), and have it delivered to my place, and then feast when they arrived from NYC several hours later. Unfortunately, the soonest it can arrive is Tuesday, which is 4 days too late. I mentioned in my Citron review that I play the host role pretty damn well, so now it’s up to me to see if I can supplement everyone’s craving. Here’s how I did it:

  • Google for deep dish pizza in DC.
  • Find different websites including other blogs like chowhound.
  • Call every damn place that is touted as “the best Chicago deep dish pizza.”
  • Conduct deep dish interviews.

The interview questions were basically the same when I called each place. (I am a pizza snob and self-proclaimed pizza connoisseur.) I was getting disappointed in every damn call, even putting me in a bad mood. Someone was even describing a deep dish all wrong (that thick crust thing again!), and we even got into an argument! I finished it off by asking him if he’s ever been to Chicago to which he confirmed that he didn’t. It was not looking good. Until, I called Alberto’s (http://www.albertospizzeria.com/). The conversation went something like this –

I asked them if it's thick crust. The guy tells me "no, it's Chicago style." I ask what he means, and he kinda gets a little testy (which I liked! It shows his pizza passion) and answers "well, there's thin crust, and there's thick crust - this is in a pan. In Chicago, it takes 45 minutes to make a pizza. Like ours." I tell him to go on. He tells me it's stuffed (ding, ding, ding!!!) and tells me it's like a pie (another great sign!!!). All this time, he tells it to me in a kinda "Duh, what's the matter with you???" attitude. Loved it. I told him I wanted to cry cuz I'm from Chi, and he answered everything correctly but hasn't passed the test until I tried it. He started laughing and told me the owner is from Chicago and to come on down. Very cool dude.

So the Dudes arrive, and I tell them about the call. We’re all very excited. I did have to remind them that we shouldn’t hold our expectations too high, but it was just too hard. We head over to DuPont Circle, and we search for the address. Found it! Small, inconspicuous place that’s leads underneath a building. We see only thin crust pizzas on displayed. Okay, don’t worry; just ask the nice person behind the counter. “Do you have deep dish?” “No, we have stuffed pizza.” Another wonderful answer! So I order a large pepperoni, mushroom, onion, and sausage (I believe) pie. “It should be ready in about 40 minutes.” “40? It’s 11PM now.” “That’s okay; we’re open until 5AM.” Could I be sleeping? Dreaming? You mean, if I have another one of my ravenous cravings at pretty much any time of day, I can make a quick drive down here for some delectable deep dish? Wait a minute. Let’s wait for a while, walk around DuPont Circle’s nightlife, come back, and sample it. It’s just too good to be true. So we step outside, and we enjoy the scenery. The weather is perfect, clear sky, people out on the town, and I get my photography on. 11:45 rolls around, and we head back. We still need to wait another 7 minutes, and now the moment of truth. We see them remove this heavy morsel from the oven, I think I saw the cook use two hands, he slices it up, boxes it, and we’re given the warm and heavy bow. We’re also issued paper plates, and we stand in the corner. Yes folks, stand; there are no seats here. It adds to the feel. We open it up, we enjoy the vision as we’re taken aback to those images previously scene only on websites, and now, here it is, right in front of us, in all its glory. We dig in. Was it truly Chicago style deep dish? Was it authentic? Did I feel like Da Cubs were playing down the street? Was an issue of The Trib laying on the counter near me? Well, they were playing some good Chicago House Music. And I don’t believe it was to give a Chicago feel; they just liked the music.

But the taste? Well, my fellow readers, I can truly say yes, this is real Chicago style deep dish pizza. It looked, felt, and tasted just like something I would have at Gino’s East, Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s, the neighborhood place I used to order from, or any other deep dish joint I’d go to. All of them had their own touch as did this one. I think they went a little heavy on sprinkling parmesan cheese on top, but damnit, this is still wonderful pizza. My hats off to you, Alberto. I will be back. Everyone else reading this, all other places in DC are thick crust, NOT deep dish. Huge difference. Uno’s does dish up Chi style, but it’s just too much of a chain for me. I am Alberto’s friend.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Maremma - Review

Maremma - Highly Recommended
228 W 10th St, New York 10014
Btwn Bleecker & Hudson St

Maremma is a region in Italy, consisting of parts of Tuscany and Lazio, where cattle and Italian cowboys roam. The chef, Cesare Casella, plays with the cowboy theme at this great Italian restaurant - country music plays in the background, moonshine pasta is served. This was my second time at Maremma and I was very happy after leaving the restaurant both times. Definitely one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. Overall, I give the restaurant an 86/100.

My Menu
1) Salsiccia - Highly Recommended
Pork Flats (daily special) - Highly Recommended
Sloppy Giuseppe - Highly Recommended
4) Tuscan Fries - Highly Recommended
5) Norcino - Recommended

Dish Comments
1) Cesare is known for breeding his own pig, so any pork dish is always a good idea. The pork sausage is made by Cesare in house. Big pork flavors with an interesting touch of spices (I think cumin, cinnamon, and clove). Crispy on the outside and perfectly juicy on the inside. So happy after eating the dish.
2) Special for the day. Basically a meatball cut in small circles served with an amatriciana sauce - consisting of tomatoes and guanciale aka pork jowl. Extremely tender and flavorful meatballs served with raw diced white onions which I thought was an interesting touch. I usually associate diced white onions with Mexican food, but this worked out perfectly to cut the richness of the meat.
3) A play on the Sloppy Joe - braised oxtail bruschetta. My favorite of the night. Insanely tender oxtail served with some great rustic bread. It was so good, that I'm going to do my take on this recipe soon.
4) A signature of Cesare's which he served at Beppe. Potatoes deep fried in olive oil, rosemary, thyme, sage, and roasted garlic. The herbs get crispy from frying in the oil and imparts big flavors to the fries. So addicting and very satisfying.
5) Another dish served at Beppe. Pork bolognese over some tagliatelle. First bite was good, but not as good as the previous dishes. I lean towards pasta with a little more chew (maybe that's a Roman thing). However, after the second or third bite I was pretty happy with the dish. I think the bolognese sauce had the same cinnamon spice combo that was in the sausage.

Overall Restaurant Experience (86/100)

  • Food 8.6/10 - Authentic Italian Flavors. Surprisingly, the pasta was my least favorite dish and it was still pretty good.
  • Service 9.5/10 - Very friendly (and beautiful) waitress. Super attentive and very knowledgeable about the wines and food. The wine she recommended was great. Food came out pretty quick too.
  • Atmosphere 8.5/10 - Bright colors surround the walls and country music plays in the background. Cesare is usually there (he was the first time, but not during this review) and is a really nice approachable guy. Got there at 8:30pm on a Saturday and no problem getting in. Equal mix of an older and younger crowd. Definitely a more laid back atmosphere unlike the Babbo's or Del Posto's of the world.
  • Price 9/10 - Very happy to pay the price for the quality of the food. Paid about $80 per person which included 3 glasses of wine. They also have a 4 course tasting menu for $49 which I got the first time.

Closing Comments
Definitely one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. After going to Rome and Amalfi, I'm pretty critical of Italian restaurants in general, but I'm glad that Maremma is around to satisfy my Italian food cravings.