Friday, August 29, 2008

Blind Tiger

Blind Tiger - Highly Recommended
281 Bleecker (corner of Jones and Bleecker)
New York, NY

Here's a little advise... When Devin talks about beer, YOU Listen!
After racking our second homebrew, "Golden Ra", we headed into the city for some eats.
We came across Blind Tiger. One of Devin's favorite beer bars in the city, and went in for a nice cold one.

Talk about a great American Pub. Blind Tiger has some killer American beers on tap and in addition, serves very good food as well. Unlike Jimmy's, the food here is a bit toned down. A lot more foods you eat with your hands. But never the less, extremely tasty.
The menu had stuff ranging from fancy olives, to chorizo tacos, to watermelon gazpacho.
And being so close to Murray's Cheese, they have a cheese flight available everyday.

Here's what we had :
Lamb Sausage Wrap **
Bahn Mi (Pork)
Chili Dogs *** The best chili dog I've ever had
Bear Republic Racer 5 - on tap ***
Dogfish Head 90 - on tap ***

I am definitely going back for more. I need to try more of their menu items and hopefully next time, they will have Greenflash West Coast IPA back on tap.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Midas Touch

Midas Touch *
by Dogfish Head

9% ABV
20 IBU (speculation)

Absolutely no bitters.
This Honey fortified Muscat based malty beer is a treat.
Tons of unique flavors tackle your palate and it's a lot of fun to drink.
Not like your regular beers for sure.

Nose - Sweet and vibrant.
Taste - You can taste the Muscat and Honey.
Finish - There aren't any noticeable hops so you are mostly enjoying the lingering sugars.
Recommended Pairing - I see possibilities in pairing with desserts.

Star Ratings
*** Out of this world
** Very very good. Order it when available
* Solid / Great beer

Italian Anchovies and Chinese Shrimp Sauce?

Every once in a while, improvisation is needed when making a meal. Sometimes it works successfully, sometimes it turns out disastrous. In this case, improvisation worked out quite well for me.

A basic pasta I like to make is simply extra virgin olive oil, garlic, anchovies, pine nuts, and red pepper flakes. Usually, I always have anchovies on hand, but not tonight. Fortunately quick thinking made me realize Chinese Shrimp Sauce has a similar taste profile to anchovies - robust and briney. I figured why the f not. It actually worked out better than normal anchovies, since the shrimp sauce has a much more intense flavor. You just gotta be careful, since this thing is hella strong so 2 teaspoons is max. You should get the sweetness from the caramelized broccoli, which is enhanced by the shrimp sauce (almost like a full flavored shrimp stock), the nuttiness of the pine nuts, and some heat from the red pepper flake. Fun eats...

Ingredients (all are guesses, since I never measure)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tsp chinese shrimp sauce
2 large crowns of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
pinch red pepper flake
1 cup grated parmiggiano reggiano
5 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1/2 box Rigatoni
1/4 cup pasta water
Salt and pepper

1) Set large pot of water to high heat. When water comes to a boil, salt the water and drop the pasta in.
2) Set large saute pan to high heat. Add 3/4 cup olive oil and add the broccoli stems first to get it nicely browned. Once browned, add the broccoli florets and pine nuts. Add 1 1/ tsp shrimp sauce, garlic, 1 tbsp water and cover until the broccoli is slightly tender, with still some crunchiness.
3) When pasta is 1 minute from being finished, put pasta in the saute pan and add the rest of the shrimp paste. Cook over high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute and stir well. Need to cook out the shrimp paste, since it's hella salty.
4) Cut the heat, add the rest of the oil, add parmiggiano, and red pepper flake. Buono Appetito!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

En Brasserie - Again

Out of so many Japanese eateries in the city, it's hard to deny En Brasserie as being one of the most consistent restaurants around.
When one dines at En, you can count on solid Japanese flavors deeply rooted in tradition.

Here are some dishes we had Saturday.
The food was fantastic and very reasonably priced.
(4 people, $220 total)

Chutoro with Avocados **
Natto Lettuce Wrap **
Mochi Croquette **
Freshly Made Tofu **
Tai Meshi (Earthened-ware Rice with Red Snapper) ***
Tatsuta Age **
Maccha ***

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday Breakfast

It's been a goal of mine to have a nice Sunday breakfast these past few weeks.
So yesterday, I decided to make an egg sandwich with sides of sliced kielbasa and potato wedges.
Very simple and satisfying. It's been also a craving of mine to have english muffins crisped up with olive oil in a pan. Can't put my finger on it yet, but a toasty english muffin with the perfume of good olive oil just hits the spot I think.

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled Eggs... the great equalizer.
Many chefs use this as a benchmark to grade cooks, and to see if they deserve a place in their kitchen.
Fundamentally simple. Practically difficult.

This past weekend, I put myself to the test.
And it reconfirmed in my mind, to do it well, scrambled eggs are the hardest thing to cook.
The level of awareness needed, and temperature control leaves for slightest margin of error.

Here's my finished dish. I give it a 70%. Much room for improvement.
Scrambled Eggs with Chives

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Five Guys Burgers

I was hanging with Devin friday night in the west village and we happened to walk by 5 Guys Burgers.
I've noticed a few articles on the internet talking about this burger joint. Surprisingly, everybody had something positive to say about the place.
So I had to go in to try for myself what all the fuss was about.

I ordered the small cheese burger with a side of cajun fries.
Inside the joint, they made it abundantly clear the meat is never frozen, and that the fries are fried in peanut oil.
2 very good signs.

Now the moment of truth. I bit into my burger and proceded to chew and savor the juice and flavor.
Quite average. A decent burger but nothing like JG Melon or Shake Shack. Devin made a very good point saying the burgers reminded him of a Wendy's burger.
The fries were well seasoned with a house blend of dry spices. (Quite heavy on the garlic powder) But I didn't get the nice crispiness of something fried in peanut oil.

If I happen to walk past a 5 Guy's burger joint next time, I will do just that... Walk past it.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Can't escape the Brisket

I had a craving for Hill Country's Moist Beef Brisket Tuesday.
So after meetings all morning up until 3pm, I couldn't wait for that first bite into some juicy smokey beef brisket.

Hill Country never disappoints. It's always right on with flavor and juiciness.
Damn is that some good BBQ.
Perfect pink smoke rings, super juicy and tender meats.
Guilty Pleasure.... I went again Thursday for lunch.
Yes, it's that good!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chef Marco Pierre White

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Chef George Mendes the other day and we were just talking about chef stories. How over the top some of these chefs were in order to be the very best.
And through out the night, there was one chef's name that kept on coming back over and over again.
Little is known about this man here in the States... But he's somewhat of a legend across the Atlantic.
Chef Marco Pierre White. Mendes told me that during Chef White's peak, one of his signature dishes was a chicken dish. And no sauce would do but just pure chicken "jus". So, Chef Marco Pierre White would basically find the nicest organic chicken, season them and roast them on a rotisserie and then press them just for their juices. Thats it. The collected "jus" would be kept and and the rest of the pressed meat and carcass would be thrown out. (basically destroyed under the press)
The jus would then be served with his chicken dish of the night and people would marvel at the amazing yet deceptively simple dish.

In homage of this great chef, here's a few clips of Marco Pierre White.
Please take a look.

Anthony Bourdain with Marco

Gordon Ramsey with Marco

Mario Botali on Marco

Marco on Jamie Oliver

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Craftsteak - Review

Craftsteak - Highly Unrecommended
85 10th Ave, New York 10011
At 15th St
Phone: 212-400-6699

Like Ko and Aquavit, I had no desire to ever go to any of Colicchio's Craft restaurants for the same reason as my player-hating on David Chang before - media darling, way too many restaurants, etc. Whereas I was 100% wrong with Ko, it is the exact opposite at Craftsteak - this place is garbage. Service is terrible, food is way over seasoned, and the steak temperature was off. At Ko, I was watching the chef taste everything multiple times. The chefs at Craftsteak need to learn from the guys at Ko, since some of the food was way off (funny considering Chang worked at Craft before). Overall, I give the restaurant a 40/100.

My Menu (listing prices, since it's obscenely overpriced)
1) Benton's Ham, Pickled Peach and Summer Beans ($19) *
2) Salt Roasted Bone Marrow and Sauce Verge ($16) ---
3) Pork Belly, Smoke Coleslaw and Tomato Marmalade ($18) **
4) T-Bone 20 oz, Niman Ranch ($64) *
5) Spinach and Bacon ($12) ---
6) Rosti ($10) **
7) Onion Rings ($10) *

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) A thinly sliced smoked ham (similar to serrano ham, but no where near as good) that's pretty tasty, but just a tad too salty - foreshadowing of bad things to come.
2) I absolutely love bone marrow, but this was pretty bad. First, the thing comes on a bed of salt, so sometime you get a mouthful of salt with your marrow. Then, on top of that, they serve it with capers which is completely unnecessary since it's salty enough as is. Garbage.
3) Redemption here, since the pork belly was flavorful, crispy, and slightly tender (could be more so). The winner was the combination with the tomato marmalade - great idea and great flavor.
4) Flavorful meaty steak that was cooked correctly (more on that later). A tad salty though and wish the temperature was warmer.
5) This was freaking terrible. Inedibly salty and when we sent it back there was absolutely no salt the second time around.
6) Rosti is a shredded potato and onion concoction cooked into a thick disc shape. I'm a big sucker for this dish and it was done perfectly. Crispy on the outside, moist on the insde. Great dish and the best of the night.
7) Giant sized onion rings that was pretty good. A tad greasy for me, but the batter and the onion were nice.

Overall Restaurant Experience (40/100)

  • Food 6.0/10 – Steakhouse food should not be tough to do. Cook the steaks well and do decent sides. At Craftsteak, they f'ed up a lot of the sides, which is kinda ridiculous since the menu isn't that large. Others in our group had issues with their steaks as well - someone ordered medium rare and got it completely bloody rare. Someone else at our table (who is a chef) complained about the temperature of the steak as well.
  • Service 2.0/10 – From the time that we were seated, the waiter didn't address us for 15-20 minutes. Then, I noticed that the knife that I hadn't used yet had caked on f'n pieces of steak! No apologies - the waiter just took it away and got me a new one. Food took a long time to come out and the waiter was an ass.
  • Atmosphere 2.0/10 – Trendy looking place that had one table filled with a-holes. This particular table had 5 guys with their shirts basically completely unbottoned and they just looked like a bunch of pricks. The decor is ok with high ceilings and everything basically black and white. Got there at 8pm on a Monday and was seated immediately.
  • Price 2.0/10 – $115 a person with basically no drinks and no desserts - we couldn't give any more money to this s-hole. Even with the crappy food, the quantity per dollar was ridiculously minuscule. If this was half the price, then it would maybe get a 50/100 but the price is completely ridiculous for the overall experience.
Closing Comments
There's a reason why I tend to avoid steakhouses - they're usually overpriced and it's a crapshoot for the quality. I'd rather go to a bistro any day. This place is ass and I've learned my lesson from giving Bobby Flay and Mario Batali second and third chances checking out their restaurants after poor initial experiences...I am 100% done with Colicchio's restaurants. If you need to go to a steakhouse though, I suggest Peter Luger's over any other. For a steakhouse that is in the similar vein as Crafsteak (nicer decor, higher quality sides, decent steak), go to Porterhouse.
I agree with Aramis, Craftsteak is terrible.
Besides the apps and sides, I ordered a 56 day dry-aged Sirloin.
That was some funky meat!
Great if you like funk and appreciate the flavors of a dry aged steak... but that wasn't the problem.
The problem was, it was just not cooked very well.
At Craftsteak, you have incredibly great meats, but terrible cooks in the back.
At Peter Luger's, you have low quality meats cooked by average cooks who have been doing it for years. In many ways, I'd rather give my hundred bucks to the guys in Brooklyn than dine at a high profile restaurant that utterly under performs.

Either Tom (Mr. Hollywood) needs to get back into his kitchens, or they gotta drastically drop the prices on his menus. Expectations fall very short at Craftsteak.
Many make the same argument with Bouley. When he was running his kitchen in the 90's, the place was a wrecking ball. Only A+/A dishes were sent out. The kitchen brigade was alert and always on their toes when Chef Bouley was around. Now, it's probably the most inconsistent fine dining restaurant in NYC because he's never in the back keeping an eye on things.
Reality sucks.
You want to see a talented chef succeed financially and give his or her family what other successful professional can offer theirs. But if it means opening multiple restaurants and serving mediocre food at the patron's expense, that's just not an answer.
If people are expected to drop 2 C-notes on dinner, they better get it all. Food, Drinks, Atmosphere and Service.
I got non of that at Craftsteak.
Needless to say, if it's out of my own pocket, I will never go to a Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak restaurant again.

Le Chic, Le Burger

The Parisians take on our (American) Burgers... with open arms/mouths...

“It has the taste of the forbidden, the illicit — the subversive, even,” said Hélène Samuel, a restaurant consultant here. “Eating with your hands, it’s pure regression. Naturally, everyone wants it.”

The NY Times reports on the growing popularity of the 'ol mighty Burger in Paris.
A significant jump in the number of restaurants serving our favorite American comfort food.
And it's not just sidewalk cafes or bistros picking up on this American import...
A few 3 star michelin chefs also have incorporated "The Burger", onto their menu.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

David Chang - Redemption in My Eyes

Like Aquavit, I had no desire to ever go to Ko or any of the Momofuku restaurants. I didn't want to be a hater, but I 100% was. Maybe, it was due to my visit to Momofuku noodle bar when it first opened up which was pretty unimpressive. It was probably also due to the fact that the media hypes up David Chang to disgusting proportions. I mean when the NY Times was reviewing Scarpetta (an Italian restaurant), they mentioned Chang in the friggin review. I equate him to Tom Brady, where the man can do no wrong in the media's eyes. Quite final point of contention was his empire building. Like Bobby Flay and Mario, he opened up 3 places in maybe 2-3 years - generally a bad sign since quality control gets difficult. Many of Bobby and Mario's joints that I've visited were pretty terrible once they started opening up way too many restaurants

But, then you taste the food that Chang's restaurant Ko is serving and you're like wow this food is really exciting. The combination of flavors and surprisingly textures are really eye opening. Although reservations are impossible to get at this place, based on our experience at the friends and family lunch it was 100% worth it - this place kicks massive ars. It's also quite fun to eat this very high level of food at such a relaxed environment (they rocked GNR and Bone Thugz). Since Porthos did a great job describing the food, I'll add my 2 cents to my favorite dishes at Ko.

Amuse ** Creme Fraiche & Caviar in a Wonton Crisp, Pork Rillette w/Strawberry Jam on a Corn Crisp
Comments - Reminded of the salmon tartare cornets from French Laundry, but actually more fun to eat since I like the crème fraiche caviar combo more than the crème fraiche salmon tartare combo.

Lobster Salad *** Poached Lobster w/Cantaloupe Gelee, Tomato Water, Green Oil, Little Purple Flowers and Melon Balls
Comments - One of the best lobster dishes I've ever had. Great combos of flavors and textures. I seriously want to start playing gelee's now, since the cantaloupe gelee was sick! Also,
reminded me of how bad the lobster dish I had at Bouley was.

Foie Gras ***
Frozen Foie Gras Torchon w/Riesling Gelee, Lychees and Candied Pine Nuts
Comments - Made me rethink how foie gras can be served and enjoyed. This was insanely good and maybe one of my favorite foie gras dishes of all time.

Meat *** Elysian Farms Rack of Lamb Sous Vide. Goat Cheese Puree, White Watermelon Cubes and Dehydrated Black Olives
Comments - Another memory from French Laundry serving the Elysian Farms lamb, except this time it was way more wild to me. Having a bite of this was like "sex on a plate." Very sensual and animalistic. I think I may like this more than the French Laundry due to the cut having more fat and sinew. I understand the watermelon cubes was supposed to play off the richness of the meat and puree, but I actually didn't like the combo so much. I wanted pure lamb and puree flavor. I liked eating the watermelon at the end though, since it was like a palate cleanser...

I could go on and on about the other dishes, but you get the point. This place uses playful ideas on their dishes with the flavors still kicking massive ars. Eating at the counter, you can see them cook and learn techniques, as they were open to questions. The thing I noticed the most was the head guy was tasting everything multiple times - he must have went through 100 spoons. This quality control obviously came through since almost every dish was phenomenal. My mind is totally changed and I am definitely curious to check out his other joints...

Stuzzichini / Tapas

This (Tuesday night) was my second time visiting Bar Stuzzichini.
I made the recommendation for this place because we had guests from Japan requesting Tapas.
With Tia Pol no longer being the Tia Pol it once was, and Boqueria not being all that it's cracked up to be. This left us with slim pickins.
As I recall from last time, Bar Stuzz served a pretty mean "Italian" tapas menu. Unfortunately, I can't say that about their pastas or entrees. These were a bit weak.

Here's a list of dishes we ordered.
6 guests, $650 (tax and tip included)

Carciofi (Artichoke) *
Polpetti (Meat Balls) **
Arancini (Risotto Balls) ***
Baccala Fritto (Fried Cod) *
Polpo (Grilled Octopus) **
Capocollo (Pork Shoulder) **
Soppresatta **
Castelvetrano (Green Olives) ***
Crostini w/White Anchovie **

Orecchiete con Cavofiore
Little Ears with Cauliflower and Breadcrumbs
Tagliolini con Pistacchio e Limone * (great sauce, terrible pasta)
Pasta with Pistachio Lemon Sauce
Spigola alla Cartoccio
Striped Bass Papiotte
Polpette di Vitello *
Veal Meatballs

"Turiga" Argiolas 2002 ***
Taurasi "Radici" Riserva, Mastroberardino 2000 ***

The Wines were magnificent.
Perhaps that elevated the whole dining experience. And rightfully it should.
It is often said, great wines are not to be drunk alone. Unless paired with food, the full power of wine is not brought out.
Certainly the case here. Wow!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Momofuku Ko (part II)

I was very fortunate to be invited back to Momofuku Ko as part of their "friends and family" and asked to critique their food. Unfortunately J wasn't in town this time, so I asked Aramis if he wanted to tag along.
Needless to say, I didn't have to ask twice.

I was told the guys in the kitchen were redoing their menus a bit, and going for more. The next step in their quest to be the very best.
I was served 11 courses on my first visit. This time, I was forewarned it would be 17 courses.
A monster meal perfectly orchestrated by my man Sam.

The counter sits only 12 customers.
Each segment of 4 seats is seated with 20 minute intervals, and there's only 2 turns per night.
The dining experience is run on the basis of precision. The chefs have basically timed each dish on preparation and consumption so there's very good flow through out the meal.

Here are the itemized dishes we had. (sorry, no photos allowed)

As you sit down, you are greeted with a glass of bubbly.

Amuse **
Creme Fraiche & Caviar in a Wonton Crisp
Pork Rillette w/Strawberry Jam on a Corn Crisp

Oyster **
Duxbury Oyster with Caviar and Daikon Pickle

Kampachi ***
Kampachi w/Lemon Jam and White Soy Sauce

Fluke *
Long Island Fluke w/Tobanjyan, Myoga and Mizuna

Scallop **
Diver Scallop Ceviche with Soy Salt and Kaffir Lime Zest

-Argentine Viognier

Lobster Salad ***
Poached Lobster w/Cantaloupe Gelee, Tomato Water, Green Oil, Little Purple Flowers and Melon Balls

-Spanish Manzanilla Sherry

Carpaccio **
Sirloin Carpaccio w/Grated Horse Radish, Browned Baby Leeks and Horse Radish Crisps
Bread Bomb

-Sauvignon Blanc

Yuba Skin with Cherry Tomatoes, Sesame Powder and Crisped Rice

-Junmai Gingo Sake

Soup **
Pork Dashi, Fava Beens, Chanterelles and Poached Giant Prawns

2006 Verduna

Egg **
Deep Fried Whole Egg w/Cherry Sauce and Mustard Greens

-2006 Tove Tokaji

Fish **
Steamed Sea Bass w/Egg Drop Xiao Long Bao Ravioli and Baby Bokchoy

-2006 Nicolas Potel Volnay

Pasta *
Soba Ravioli stuffed w/Eggplants, Chinese Sausage Brittles and Orange Marmalade

-Kome Kome Sake

Foie Gras ***
Frozen Foie Gras Torchon w/Riesling Gelee, Lychees and Candied Pine Nuts

-2002 Brunello di Montalcino

Meat ***
Elysian Farms Rack of Lamb Sous Vide.
Goat Cheese Puree, White Watermelon Cubes and Dehydrated Black Olives

-Churchill Porto

Cheese *
Semi Hard Goat w/Pickled Onions
Lardo Brioche
Semi Soft Goat w/Smoked Cantaloupe Puree

-Reymos Sparkling Muscatel

Dessert 1 *
Peach Sorbet a la PacoJet
Milk Crumbs
Strussel Ganache

-Greek Muscato

Dessert 2
Corn Parfait
Sour Cream Sorbet a la PacoJet
Dehydrated Corn and Chocolate Sauce

So after 13 glasses of booze, 17 course of food and 3 hours later, Aramis and I thanked our hosts and waddled out of the place with gleaming eyes and a smile wrapped around our faces.
We were Pretty Pretty Happy.
Not a bad way to kill a Saturday afternoon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Aquavit Cafe - Review

Aquavit Cafe - Highly Recommended
65 E 55th St, New York 10022
Btwn Park & Madison Ave
Phone: 212-307-7311

In the past 8 years, I've been to a lot of restaurants in NYC, but for some reason I've never been to Aquavit and really had no desire to go. Maybe, it's the fact that Scandinavian food doesn't have that same appeal to me as Italian, French, Japanese, Thai, etc. But, it was a bad mistake on my part, since Aquavit Cafe was such a solid meal with great flavors. Overall, I give the restaurant an 86/100.

My Menu
1) Salmon Terrine ***
2) Salmon Gravlax ***
3) Octopus Appetizer *
4) Swedish Meatballs **
5) Pull and Peel Crawfish
6) Foie Gras Ganache **
7) Arctic Circle *
8) Aquavit (Mango, Lime, Chili ** | Pear * | Fig * | Horseradish ***)

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) The salmon terrine arrived in a ramekin topped with a butter cap. Didn't look like much, but when you pop off the cap you see this glorious mixture of rich buttery cooked salmon. This was a total what the f moment. I could have swore that this was 50% butter and 50% salmon mixture, but Porthos believed there was no butter in there. Smeared on some warm bread and I was in Valhalla!
2) Another what the f moment here (back to back!). When I think of salmon gravlax, I think of lots of red onions and obviously the salmon. Fun, but a lot of the time you lose the salmon flavor buried in onions. This was basically all salmon, a hint of dill, and barely any red onions. It was absolutely spectacular. This salmon was rich and fatty cut into big strips. The texture was off the chain too teetering between raw and barely cooked.
3) The most tender Octopus I may have ever had. Served with some chili type oil and an uber intense avocado cream. Unfortunately, the Octopus flavor got lost a little to me, but the combo was still quite nice.
4) OK, so the only Swedish meatballs I can remember are from Ikea. Sad, I know but those lil guys are hella tasty. These at Aquavit are obviously much tastier. Great with the potato puree, gravy, and the lingonberries. Wish the meatballs were softer, but that's probably my tendencies toward the Italian style.
5) Like Porthos mentioned before, it was crawfish week at Aquavit and I was craving some. These were nicely flavored (heavy on the dill), and perfectly cooked - nice and tender. Unfortunately, it is such a pain in the ars to extract the tiny bits of meat. I'm a little lazy, so the only shellfish I will ever work on are lobster, shrimp, and dungeness crab.
6) A soft almost crepe like shell filled with liquid, creamy foie gras. Such an unctuous flavorful dish. Accompanied by arugula sorbet (refreshing and very tasy), and a duck confit cube with some kind of crispy coating - almost like rice crispies. Great stuff.
7) Basically, goat cheese parfait filled with a fruit cream inside and a fruit sorbet. Tasty dessert, but didn't dig the texture that much. The parfait had a nice rich and sweet goat cheese flavor, but it was incredibly icey at first. To me, not a pleasant texture. Eventually, it changes into something more pleasant, but that's only after waiting a while. All other guests we were with loved this dish though.
8) Aquavit is a Scandinavian alcohol much like vodka, usually distilled from potato or grain. The ones that I had were insanely flavorful, but a little harsh. I loved it though and the horseradish was the best - nice and refreshing. Warning though - the group I was with didn't dig any of the aquavit since it was a tad harsh.

Overall Restaurant Experience (86/100)

  • Food 8.6/10 – Incredibly solid cooking. I would have given this a higher rating, but my main entree wasn't that great - not due to the cooking, but because the amount of work to satisfaction ratio wasn't high.
  • Service 8.2/10 – Friendly waiter and very knowledgeable about the food and beverages. Food came out a tad slow, but didn't mind since the conversation was fun.
  • Atmosphere 9.0/10 – Looking like a Japanese sushi house with the minimal design and the blond wood. Rare that you get this quality of food in such a relaxed atmosphere. Definitely digged the feel of the place. Got there at 8:15 on a Thursday and was seated immediately - we had a reservation. Crowd was a hodge podge of groups of 4-6, older couples and younger couples.
  • Price 8.8/10 – $100 a person for the whole meal, which was a great value consider the quality of the food and the number of drinks we had.
Closing Comments
Definitely would go back again to try out the other entrees - either to the cafe again or to the main dining room. Love how fresh everything tasted and I may need to start playing with dill now...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Raisin D'Etre

Raisin D'Etre
by Dogfish Head

8% ABV
36 IBU

Not my favorite by Dogfish but still a very good beer.
Very small white head.
I didn’t get the raisins till after half way through my glass. I suspect the temp plays a huge role in this. Next time, I will definitely wait 5 minutes after removing from the fridge before I take my first sip.

Nose - Slight hoppy perfume. Mostly sweetness.
Taste - Full potential shows itself when a bit warmer.
Finish - Sweet then ending with a bit of raisin.
Recommended Pairing - Probably a pan seared foie gras dish, because of the sweet sauce that accompanies pan seared foie gras.

Chicken or the Egg

For those of you who are curious, here's a bit the Discovery Channel put together about how commercial eggs are made available for our Sunday omelettes.

warning... this may be a little much for some. please use common sense when showing others.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aquavit - Crayfish Bonanza

be sure to call and make a reservation...!
i already made mine.

"Crayfish Week at Aquavit" - The Strong Buzz

Good news to report for all you crayfish lovers—next week is crayfish week at
Aquavit (65 East 55th street between Park and Madison Avenues, 212-307-7311).
In addition to their famous Crayfish Peel and Eat (a pound of crayfish with garlic bread, boiled potatoes and Jarlesberg Cheese ($25, see below for a tip sheet on how to eat a crayfish), Executive Chef Johan Svensson is offering a $48 price-fix menu with the options like Crayfish Bisque, Crayfish Toast, Grilled Tenderloin of Beef, Seafood Stew, and Berry Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream or Princess Cake with Raspberries. Crayfish Week is one week only, from August 11th- August 17th. Make your reservations now!

Julia "Spy" Child

There will be a book released later today (thursday, Aug. 14) identifying nearly 24,000 spies during WWII.
And our beloved and famed French Cuisine pioneer Julia Child is listed among other notable public figures.

Deep Dish Pizza Cravings...

After watching the Travel Channel's Pizza Paradise, I had a craving for some deep dish pizza. Unfortunately, I haven't found any place in the NY / NJ area that serves this glorious pie. Still, I had the craving (kinda like Harold and Kumar), so I decided to give Uno's a try.

What a revelation - the Numero Uno (the works) and the Farmer's Market (veggie) were pretty tasty. The crust was crispy and slightly tender and the combo of sausage, tomato, onions, shrooms, and pepperoni were killer. Usually, I'm of the opinion the less ingredients on a dish, the bettter - but this really works. I'm pretty sure this is nothing like the stuff you get in Chicago, but to me it was definitely satisfying. A definitely inspiring moment and I'll give some deep dish pizza making a try soon...

Hump Day - Dinner

I had a few co-workers come over tonight and prepared a parade of meats.
Lamb Chops, Pork Belly, and Ribeye Steak.
Dr. Atkins would have be proud!

Lamb Chops :
Frenched and Denuded individual chops.
Rubbed with Course Ground Mustard and Egg Yolk, then covered in Panko bread crumbs.
Pan seared at Med High heat on both sides till medium rare.
Searved hot and enjoy with your hands.

Steamed Pork Belly with Garlic & Herbs :
Halve Garlic heads and place in roasting pot.
Lay thyme over the garlic and place seasoned Pork Belly on top.
6 oz of Sake in the bottom of the pan and cover.
Throw in a 375 degree F oven and let it do it's thing for 2 hours.
The garlic and thyme really work themselves into the meat.
It's tender, meaty, and full of flavor.
An instant hit with the guests.

Ribeye Steak with Onion Sauce :
Tie the deckle and eye down with butcher's twine and season heavily.
Oil and Butter the pan before you pan-sear the steaks.
Throw in a few rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves into the pan to transfer flavor. With a spoon, laddle the oil and butter over the meat for 2 minutes each side.
Remove from heat and let sit.
For the onion sauce, dice up a yellow onion and sautee in the same pan to pick up the fond from the beef. Deglaze with sake (or white wine) and let the liquid reduce down to desired consistency.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kyo Ya

Kyo Ya - Highly Recommended
94 E 7th St
New York, NY 10079
Phone: (212) 982-4140

I had a fantastic time the other night at KyoYa.
I and two guests ordered a slew of dishes and each one was absolutely fantastic.
Some highlights were the Magret, Baby Abalone, Uni/Salmon/Salmon Roe Bukkake, Octopus Sashimi.
If you want the full experience, ask to be seated at Chef Sono's counter.

Sashimi (Octopus, Shima Aji, Kanpachi, Tasmanian Trout) **
Uni and Yuba *
Sashimi Bukkake (Salmom, Salmon Roe, Crab, Onsen Tamago) **
Duck Breast with Tamari Demi-Glace ***
Black Cod Miso *
Inaniwa Udon *
24 Hour Steamed Baby Abalone ***

Hojicha Ice Cream

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


by Anheiser Busch

I'm not even going to bother with the ABV and IBUs, because with Bud, it just doesn't matter.

I tried this the other day for the first time since my college days. A friend ordered it at dinner and the rest of us paused and looked at her funny. She said she wanted something "light" so we shrugged our shoulders and went along with it.
When the beers were served, I quickly reached over to steal a sip.
Man, was this light. Not much flavor and not much impression.
Think of it as cabonated bitter water.
How on earth did they sell so much beer?
There aren't any noticeable hops at all in the nose, and barely any malt flavor.

I check out pretty often for reference on good beers and plugged in Budweiser on the site.
Interestingly enough... there are other beers out in the world worse than this.
Check out one man's positive review on Bud. (make sure you're sitting down)

westknife (17), USA
2 Aroma Appearance Flavor Palate Overall
Aug 2, 2008
Can’t believe this has a 1 on this site. The lowest possible rating (except, I suppose, a goose egg). Having lived in China for almost a month now, I can say honestly that there are plenty of beers far worse than this. Budweiser has a few things going for it - it’s drinkable, for one. It’s mildly pleasant tasting. Trust me, these are not universal qualities of beer. When I go out to eat here, and I see Budweiser on the beer list, I rejoice and fork over a little extra dough for the "imported" bottle. Lesson: don’t take anything for granted.

Flushing Mall Food Court

Flushing Mall Food Court
13331 39th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354

After the good meal at Main St Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet, the wife and I were looking for some desserts and shaved ice was on the mind. As usual the food court delivers. Actually, after walking around a little bit, we were thinking we should have just eaten here. I'll do a proper food write up on this place eventually...

My Menu
1) Shaved Ice (bow bing) **
2) Garlic Chive Bun (jiao chai huh tze) ***

Dish Comments
1) It is what it sounds like. Just think of an italian ice, but with Asian ingredients. Basically shaved ice with sweetened red beans, condensed milk, jello, and red bean ice cream. Very refreshing and a nice balance of sweet, but not too sweet. Surprisingly the red bean ice cream was off the chain good.
2) Even though we had a full meal, we couldn't pass up the garlic chive buns which are spectacular at the mall. Chewy but delicate crust filled with the most flavorful combination of garlic chives, cellophane noodles, and egg. Total what the f quality here.

Organic E Coli...

1.2 million pounds of beef were recalled by Whole Foods. Looks like you can't escape food contamination even when shopping at the pricey organic supermarket...

Food Art

I guess this email is making its rounds, since I received it with the same attachments several times in the past few days from totally different people, but just in case you haven't received it, enjoy these pieces of art created from food.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Horizon Chocolate Milk

I love it! Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk.
After discovering this at the local super market, I have a hard time buying any other chocolate milks.
(Welsh Farms Chocolate Milk may be the only other CM I'll flirt with)
Horizon... you had me at hello.... you had me at hello.

Couple of things going for it.
1. It's Organic - That means it's not only Hormone and Antibiotic free... the farmers also raise the milking cows organic feed. Therefore you can rest assured you're not getting any unwanted "stuff" in your milk.
2. It tastes a lot better than other choc-milks out there.
3. Great source of Calcium
4. You'll never hear a doctor telling you to cut down on Milk

Main St Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet - Review

Main St Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet (Bay Gong) - Recommended

59-14A Main Street

Flushing, NY 11355

Went to Flushing with the wife for some Taiwan Eats. Some very tasty stuff there and definitely worth taking the trip out to Flushing if you want to get away from Manhattan and get some good eats. Main St Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet has some authentic Taiwanese food that's a bit off the main area in Flushing. The place was tasty, but based on the dishes we had; not necessarily worth shlepping out to Flushing for. Still I think I may go back to try some other dishes. Overall, I give the restaurant an 81/100.

My Menu

1) Stinky Tofu (Chou Dofu) *
2) Garlic Chives, Chili and Pork (Joe chai hwa tsow chang eeng toe) ***
3) Three Cup Chicken (San bay jee) *
4) Clams with Basil (Joe tzen tah hai gwa tze) *

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good
** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) Friends of ours raved about the stinky tofu here being the closest to Taiwan they've had in the States. I haven't frequented many stinky tofu joints in the States, but this specific one is close but no cigar. Texture is definitely on, nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. However, the lure of this dish is the stinkiness which is definitely lacking that ridiculous punch - more a mini punch. Nonetheless, still a fun dish to eat.
2) This was definitely a what the f dish for me. I never realized Taiwanese food could be spicy, but this dish and other dishes at this restaurant showed me otherwise. Garlic chives are one of my favorite Chinese ingredients and this is one of the best applications of this ingredient I've ever tasted. Perfect harmony of flavors and textures - fatty with the bits of ground pork, spicy with the thinly sliced peppers, salty with the preserved black beans, and crunchy with the garlic chives.
3) A classic Taiwanese dish. Nicely cooked chicken with tasty bits of fatty skin. Wish the earthy soy based marinated penetrated the meat more though.
4) Very fresh clams cooked in a thick soy based sauce mixed with thinly sliced peppers and basil. Kinda reminded more of a Thai or Vietnamese dish than a Taiwanese dish.

Overall Restaurant Experience (81/100)

  • Food 8.0/10 – 1 great dish and all the others were solid. I think they're probably some hidden gems on the menu which may be worth coming back for
  • Service 7.9/10 – Food came out relatively quick and the waitress was nice. Caveat though that the wife speaks Mandarin, so not sure how they would react to non Mandarin speaking customers.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – Uber tiny restaurant maybe seating 20 people tops. Standard chinese looking joint, but it appeared clean and didn't seem as cluster phobic. Got there at 5:30pm and was seated immediately. However, around 6:30 there was a line to be seated. Crowd was 100% Asian with half the customers consisting of families and the other half consisting of groups of friends.
  • Price 8.3/10 – $40 for the total meal. I think well worth it as we still have loads of leftovers.
Closing Comments
Good food with potentially hidden gems on the menu. I tried taking pictures, but they told me I couldn't - quite odd I thought as this wasn't a famous place and they weren't doing mind blowing things...