Friday, November 28, 2008

Panda Express

Can someone tell me what makes Panda Express so popular?
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dudes Night Out - The Japanese Connection

Another week, another dudes night eating way too much food. This time the targets were Mr. Jones (a new yakitori joint) and Kyo Ya (amazing Japanese food). Yes, as usual we were eating like Hobbits with two relatively large dinners. We were pushing for a third dinner with Sushi Seki, but it was closing time and no one else was interested besides Porthos and I. Great times as usual and the word of the night was "nectar." Full reviews coming out soon...

A sampling of the meal we had - don't remember much since Porthos ordered and we drank a wee bit. Most of the items listed below were ordered two or three times...
1) Chicken Lollipops
2) Chicken Skewers with Honey
3) Chicken Skewers with Spicy Yuzu
4) Chicken Meatball dipped in Quail Egg
5) Chicken Hearts
6) Basic Chicken Yakitori
7) Kalbi
8) Wagyu with Fresh Wasabi
9) Berkshire Pork with Fresh Wasabi
10) Japanese Fried Calamari with a cream sauce
11) Fried Tofu
12) Bay Scallop and Octopus Sashimi
13) Abalone
14) Uni and Tofu Skin
15) Beef Tongue
16) Thinly Sliced Duck, Onions, and Garlic Chives
17) Shirako aka cod ectoplasm
18) Udon


Otafuku - Kinda Sucks!
236 E 9th St
(between 2nd Ave & Stuyvesant St)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 353-8503

Perhaps because I just don't appreciate the art of the Takoyaki very much.
But when people talk about Takoyaki in the city, this place in the East Village always comes to mind.
In my opinion, there really isn't much here that can be considered much of anything. Bits and pieces of boiled octopus, mixed in a batter and then cooked in cast iron molds till the outer portion is slightly crispy and the center is still gooey.
Then comes a barrage of toppings that makes our NY hotdogs look bland. There's a sweet and sour brownish glaze the Japanese call "sauce", mayonnaise, seaweed powder, pickled red ginger and bonito flakes to garnish this street food staple.
It's also enjoyed piping hot while you utter the words "Ah-Tsu" which literally means, "Oh, Hot", as you eat these bite sized balls with a toothpick.
I just don't get it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"fantasy football for foodies"

As you know, we have a new prez here in the States. With him comes a new administration, including the First Chef. This article talks about the possibilities of the new person, which is where I got the quote "fantasy football for foodies" from.

From the article:

"I get a kick out of all these people saying the No. 1 thing should be green, or sustainable or this, that or the other thing."

For me, I am imagining having someone make me a corned beef sandwich on a warm onion roll, with the right mayo and mustard with a cold pickle in the middle of the night.

Or a koolickle. =]

Change, Yes we Can

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Menu

It's coming down the stretch...
Do we all know what we are making?

Beaujolais No No

By far, this is one of the worst French exports I can think of.
Beaujolais Nouveau
Almost insulting I'd think. The reputation of France as a culinary Mecca seriously is tested and questions every year around this time.
I can appreciate a good marketing campaign like the next guy in sales, but seriously, stop it already. It's the same story every year, told by the same guys every year. Nobody gets it and there's no reason to. You can't even cook with this crap.

George Dubeouf is the largest exporter of Beaujolais Nouveau and therefore has the most to lose (or gain) from the annual production.
This year, his son rode through Manhattan holding up their sub par grape juice for all to see and gossip about. Embarrassing to say the least. Would the guys at Hershey's ride down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées proclaiming their chocolates were a gift from the gods?

Distributors of BN hit the streets this past week trying to promote the product, and as one bartender put it...
"those a##holes couldn't even finish their bottle, they had to pretend like they were enjoying their wine..."
That's right guys, the people selling BNs can't even drink it themselves.

Don't get caught up in the hype, and save yourself a few bucks...
You're better off treating yourself to a nice American microbrew and a juicy burger.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quick and Simple

It's been a few weeks since I've made a "no-fuss" dinner at home.
(Simple sometimes is best. 20 minutes tops)

It's been a lot of dining and eating out for the past few weeks, so staying at home tonight was a good change of pace. Not to mention it's such a money saver.

- Sauerkraut cooked with Sam Adams Cream Stout Beer
- Bauernwurst (Schaller and Weber) steamed on a bed of Sauerkraut
- Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
- Cucumber Salad tossed with Creamy Mustard Dressing
- German Course Mustard
- Victory Storm King

The one thing J wanted really bad was some homemade mashed potatoes so I took a little more care than usual this time and really nailed it out of the park.

Porthos's Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
6 large Yukon Golds
4oz Light Cream
3oz Butter
1oz Shaved Piave Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil in salted water till fork tender. Drain and add rest of ingredients. Mix well and adjust cream to desired consistency.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

British ban on happy hour...

Looks like the British may ban happy hour drink discounts to curb drinking. Pour timing (pun included) considering the market downturn. And considering how much the Brits love their beer it couldn't come at a worse time...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mr. Jones and Me

Mr. Jones - Highly Recommended
(especially for a Dudes Night)
243 E 14th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 253-7670

If you ever wanted a cool hang out with a lounge-like vibe and excellent food, this is the place.
I went a few days ago with the owner of Dassai Sake and former GM of Kumo Restaurant in LA. Needless to say, we were very pleased we got to dine there.
A true dude's night to say the least.

Mr. Jones is under the guidance of Chef Bryan Emperor (former Chef at Ten in Virginia and prior to that, staged in Tokyo, Shanghai) dish out some pretty tasty yakitori.
Just for reference, he uses Kishibori Shoyu, Akasake Mirin, and Kikusui Honjozo, among a few other ingredients to make his "yakitori tare" sauce.
On top of that, he is a stickler for Japanese charcoal, "binchotan", therefore giving everything an even more pleasant and pronounced smoky flavor.

One other aspect I want to stress is the beautiful waitstaff that work the floor of Mr. Jones.
Major props go to Jaime and the management in assembling one of the most "talented" teams in the city.
You guys rock!!!

I'm giving this place a 2 thumbs up DudesonFoods endorsement.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Off the Menu

CRAIG HOPSON has been named executive chef at Le Cirque. Mr. Hopson, who had been the executive chef at One if by Land, Two if by Sea, and chef de cuisine at Picholine before that, replaces Christophe Bellanca.

This will be the stage where he will shine.   Craig now has a boss that will let him sore with his imagination. 
Nothing is too good or too expensive for Sirio. 
Wish you all the best dude!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fornos of Spain - Review

Fornos of Spain - Recommended
47 Ferry Street, Newark, NJ 07105
Phone: 973-589-4767

The parents took me and the wife out for dinner and I was craving Spanish food, so the parents recommended Fornos of Spain in Newark. I've been there about 6-7 years back and I remembered it being solid. Still was, but not necessarily the authentic Spanish food experience I was looking for. Felt more like how Italian American food isn't necessarily food you get in Italy. But, I was still happy. Overall, I give the restaurant an 83/100.

My Menu
1) Gambas al Ajillo **
2) Paella Marinera *
3) Changurro **
4) Pargo al Horno **
5) Leche Frita
6) Flan Caramelo

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

Dish Comments
1) Crispy, sweet, juicy, perfectly cooked fresh tiny shrimp. I believed it was floured since it had a nice crispiness to it. Doused in loads of garlic, chili flake and oil - dipping the great bread they give you was killer
2) If you don't think of this as a paella, it's a good dish. Really more a soupy rice dish - most great paellas I've had are not soupy at all. Rice was cooked well, but just swimming in broth...good flavor though. This thing was packed with lots of mussels, clams, squid, and even a piece of lobster tail. Shellfish was slightly overcooked and it was missing the socarrat (crice) that is so key in a good paella.
3) Basically breaded and broiled crab meat and scallops topped with cheese. Flavor bomb. Not what I was thinking since I was expecting larger scallops, but I believed these were packed with the tiny bay scallops though. Not refined cooking, but just tasty stuff.
4) Perfectly broiled sweet snapper. Nothing snazzy, just tasting the uber fresh fish.
5) A fried milk dish which is popular in Spain I guess. The dish was just OK. Kinda like firmer sweetened flan (firm tofu like texture), breaded and fried. A little too thick and dull tasting for me.
6) I love flan and this one wasn't so great. I'm usually anti-uber sweet desserts, but this one could definitely be sweeter and needed more caramel.

Overall Restaurant Experience (83/100)

  • Food 8.0/10 – I find the food here similar to qualities you find at a steakhouse. Not refined cooking, but just basic cooking techniques done well enough to make it tasty. I'm assuming if I go to Spain the food there has similar qualities, but done quite differently.
  • Service 7.5/10 – Food comes out quick, but the waiter had a bit of an attitude. All the waiters are men which felt kinda like steakhouse.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – White table cloths and looks like a restaurant straight out of The Godfather. Kinda cheezy columns around the place, but eh...whatever. This place was packed with very large groups. And what was ridiculous was there were 6 birthday parties there. We know because all the waiters in the restaurant (like 20) surround the table and sing happy birthday very loudly in a deep baritone unison. Good times. We got there at 6pm on a Sunday with no reservations and were seated immediately. We were lucky since the place was packed.
  • Price 8.5/10 – While the food wasn't mindblowing, the portions were. Free dishes included olives (average), garlic bread (decent), salad (decent), another bread (great), spanish rice (decent), vegetables (very good) and potato chips (soggy). Dish prices are expensive, but you don't need to order many apps - we only ordered one and were stuffed. I'll be eating leftovers for the next 3 days. Oh...and btw - you get a choice of a free digestif at the end of the meal.
Closing Comments
While not the best Spanish food in the world, it's solid food that makes you happy. Like a steakhouse, this would be a great place to go with a lot of people. Bonus is there's a large parking lot available, so no need to park on the streets of Newark. Not sure I would necessarily go back with just me and the wife, but if we were entertaining and to lazy to venture in the city - this place would be an option.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Breakfast: On the Road Again

I was on my way up to a customer in Westchester and my tummy was growling.
I saw a Dunkin Donuts at a rest stop and a poster of their flatbreads caught my attention.
-Southwest Chicken Flatbread
-Iced Latte w/Blueberry Flavoring *
(Do yourself a favor, unless you crave fresh donuts, skip DD and pull in at McD's for an Egg McMuffing combo.)

A few months ago, the "Delish Queen" (Rachel Ray) was all over the media promoting DD and that really turned me off to the whole chain. Needless to say, I'm so glad she's no where to be seen or heard anymore.
I remember the good 'ol days when the "Time to make the donuts" guy was the spokeman. (RIP)
Those where the good old days.

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Southern Hospitality Not So Hospitable

Looks like Justin Timberlake's restaurant "Southern Hospitality" maybe cheating their staff out of tips, proper pay, and overtime. I guarantee this probably happens all the time in plenty of restaurants in NYC as evidenced by a $1.75mm settlement over similar charges with Jean Georges. Just the nature of the biz I guess...

Taco craving - Satisfied!

I went back to the Riverdale Park area today. Saw there's a mansion there that's historic. Funny how it's kind of ghetto now with the rich history there. Anyway, tacos were on my mind today, and tacos are what I had.

Taqueria Tres Reyes II

5403 Kenilworth Ave.
Riverdale, MD

I went to Taqueria Tres Reyes II today to get my taco-eating on, and I sure did. It's a little higher scale than a dive. The people who work there were all pretty nice to me. The link in the Washington Post pretty much nailed it on the head, even though I generally don’t agree with Tim Sietsema’s reviews. (Though I’d give the place 3/4 stars instead of 2 for what it is.) All the food I ate and saw looked quite authentic. The place was generally full of families and a table of friends. The quesadillas I saw there were quite large. Other items on the menu include tortas, cemitas, gorditas, pozole, shrimp cocktail (Mexican style) which seemed popular and was constantly being brought out by the waitress, and more.
My order was all tacos at $2.35 each:

Carnitas – braised pork
Lengua – cow tongue
Barbacoa – smoked/grilled meat
Tripa - tripe
Buche – pork stomach
Chorizo – Mexican pork sausage (think ground meat, not links)

My favorite tacos were tripe and chorizo. Tripe was outstanding. They were crispy and so full of flavor. I’d love to get a bowl full and munch on them sans tortilla. And chorizo… you can just never go wrong with it. The condiments on the table were a bottle of Tapatio hot sauce and the 4 pictured below. The pickled vegetables were crazy spicy. Had me sweating before I finished off my second taco.

This place has a new customer. And many more cuz I’ll spread the love.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Need... Craving... Tacoooossss

I literally drove 3 hours until I found this place. Part lost, part heavy friggin traffic, part rain, part going to couple other paces to find out they did not have simple tacos, part bad D.C. drivers, and part stupid GPS giving me long route. Anyway, found a Mexican grocery store to ask them where they sell tacos, and what do you know? 2 ladies inside making beef tacos and pork tacos. Wow. They also had Coca-Cola in a glass bottle that brought me back to childhood. I don't drink soda, but I just had to have one. Also, I read they taste better because of the sugar they use. Nope, the same to me. And it did say "hecho en Mexico." (Made in Mexico.) Anyway, at $2/taco, I was a happy camper $14 dollars later (including the $2 Coca (as they say)). I thought $2/taco was steep, but I drove around the area and found several other places that made tacos including an actual taqueria; they were all $2.35, $2.75, and around that price, so I guess I got a deal. They're only there on the weekends. This is in Riverdale Park on the corner of 410 and 1 near Maryland State University in College Park. I did not get the name of the place.
And after three hours of driving, it only took me 20 minutes to get home.

Bad feeling, but also good knowing it's that close by.

Friday, November 14, 2008

friday funnies

Veggie Burrito

Trying to go No Meat today.
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NASA Taste Tests...

Urine passes Nasa taste test

By Irene Klotz
Cape Canaveral, Florida

Astronauts flying aboard space shuttle Endeavour on Saturday plan to deliver a device to the International Space Station that may leave you wondering if Nasa is taking recycling too far.

Among the ship's cargo, which will help prepare the station for an expanded six-person crew, is a water regeneration system that, as one astronaut puts it, "will make yesterday's coffee into today's coffee".

"It's one of these great circle-of-life things," explained Don Pettit, a former space station science officer serving as a mission specialist aboard Endeavour.

The new system distils, filters, ionizes and oxidizes wastewater - including urine -- into fresh water for drinking.

I've got some in my fridge. It tastes fine to me
Bob Bagdigian,


The US space agency wasn't really thinking about saving the environment when it decided to invest $250m in the water recycling gear.

With the space shuttles due to retire in two years, Nasa needed another way to make sure the station crew would have a good supply of fresh water.

The orbiters make water as a byproduct of their electrical systems. On missions to the space station, the water is bagged and transferred over to the outpost for storage.

"When the shuttles retire, that nice water-delivery system that we have will go away," said Endeavour astronaut Sandra Magnus, who will be staying behind on the station for a four-month flight.

"In addition we're going to have six people on-station, so our requirements for water will go up."

Ms Magnus replaces Nasa astronaut Greg Chamitoff, who has been aboard the station since June.

Nasa doesn't plan to start using the new system immediately - engineers want samples to analyse to make sure it functions properly in zero-gravity.

The water has been thoroughly tested on Earth, including blind taste tests that pitted recycled urine with similarly treated tap water.

People may think it's disgusting, but if it's done correctly the water is purer than you drink on Earth
Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper,

Endeavour astronaut

"Some people may think it's downright disgusting, but if it's done correctly, you process water that's purer than what you drink here on Earth," said Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper.

The most frequent comment was the faint taste of iodine in the water, added Nasa's Bob Bagdigian, who oversaw development of the water regeneration system.

Iodine is added at the final step of the process to control microbial growth.

"Other than that, it is just as refreshing as any other kind of water," Mr Bagdigian said.

"I've got some in my fridge. It tastes fine to me."

Nasa plans to double the station's crew size from three to six as early as May.

Endeavour also will be delivering two new sleeping compartments, more exercise gear, a galley and perhaps most important, a second toilet.

"With six people, you really do need to have a two-bathroom house. It's a lot more convenient and a lot more efficient," Ms Magnus said.

Astronauts also plan to work on the space station's solar power system. Four spacewalks are scheduled to begin repairs on a contaminated rotary joint needed to aim solar panels at the Sun.

The flight is the fourth and final mission of the year.

Nasa had hoped to fly a servicing call to the Hubble Space Telescope last month but delayed the mission to May 2009 to prepare for some additional repair work on the observatory.

In all, Nasa plans 10 more shuttle flights before the fleet is retired in 2010.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/11/14 14:48:49 GMT


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Momofuku Milk Bar

Welcome to #4! That's right, Dave Chang is unstoppable. He's like the Tom Brady of the food world. (minus the supermodels, you get the point...)

He will open up Milk Bar tomorrow morning at 8am.
I got a little sneak peak today and its gonna be a ht for sure.

The premise is a bakery which serves both sweet and savory.
And what is a milkbar without the milk.
They serve 4 types today.
Regular **
Cereal Milk ***
Strawberry ***
Chocolate (86ed when I got there)
In addition, they serve these really awesome canned drinks from Lotte.
- Let's Be Mild Coffee
- Sac Sac Orange
- Sac Sac Grape
- Chilsung Cider

As for baked goodes, I had the "Volvano", which is a sourbread filled with potato gratin and bits of smokey bacon. Heated up to order, this was deeply satisfying.

Then I was served the "Big Boy Pork Bun".
If you've been to Ssam or Noodle Bar, you know of the pork buns. Well they are bigger now, and they also added a deep fried egg into the mix.
Like I needed more fat, but what ever, it was so good.
If you are in the neighborhood, you gotta go check it out. Everything on the menu looked great.

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Quesadillas alla Medici

So if you love quesadillas as much as I do, you will love it with any filling.
As long as there's a generous portion of cheese, and a nice flour tortilla to bind all the goodness in between, it's all good.

So here's the schpeel. I just moved from my tiny apartment to another tiny little ditty.
I have absolutely nothing in the fridge but some tortilla shells and shredded cheese that I bought the day before. That previous morning, I was at a cooking photo shoot and got to take home some extras.
I looked in my baggie and there were matsutake mushrooms, lobster tail and claws, and fresh shiso leaves.
Limited in options, I just threw everything together creating the most expensive quesadilla I've ever had. This was surely something fit for the Medicis.

The matsutake mushrooms were very earthy and pronounced, the lobster tail and claws gave a great mouth feel and slight ocean flavor, and the fresh julienned shiso leaves just punched up the flavors on the roof of my mouth.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Super Tacos & Bakery

Super Tacos & Bakery (formerly Tacos Pepitos & Bakery)
1762 Columbia Rd. NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

This is Adams Morgan part of Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is the most international city I’ve been to, so you’d think it would be easy to find good (READ: authentic) Mexican food. Wrong! There are many Mexican places in and around D.C., but they are Mexican-slash-Salvadorean (mainly), Mexican/Colombian/Bolivian, Mexican/ establishments. I miss real Mexican food dearly. I have now found a place that can help me through that. I discovered this place on Sunday and have already returned on Wednesday. In the two days I was there, I sampled many things. Some I would not repeat, yet there are others that will have me returning for sure.

The place is very small and has 2 counters on the inside where one can stand or sit on a bar stool to eat, and then there are 2 more on the outside. There is always traffic going in & out of here, so you can see they’re quite busy. When you walk in, you see the condiment stand on the right with both green and red salsas. One big thing that shows its authenticity is the real “salsa” which is spicy pickled jalapenos and carrots. As the name of the restaurant states, they are also a bakery. Both on right and left are their baked goods where the right has the typical selections you’d see at a Mexican bakery like conchas, and the left side has cakes in the refrigerator.

Now, onto what I ate and my thoughts.

Tacos. This is the real deal. This is my favorite dish at this place. You wonder why it’s called Super Tacos? It would have been better if they used homemade tortillas. If they were, they didn’t feel like it. Both times I was there. Other than that, the meats were delicious, which is the important aspect.

Carnitas (braised pork) – In a taco, this was my favorite. Very flavorful, plenty of meat, and goes perfect with the onions and cilantro mixture. And I don’t like cilantro.

Cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) – When you pull the meat from the taco and eat it alone, this was my favorite. For some reason, as a taco, it was a very close second. So delicious, moist, incredible flavor and texture, but a bit too many chunks of fat.

Lengua (tongue) – Insanely soft. If you like tongue, then you’ll enjoy this. Que rico

Pollo Guizado (chicken braised in tomato, onion, and chicken stock) – I love the carnitas, so I ordered more. They gave this to me on accident. No complaints here at all. If I ordered the chicken…

Torta. This is basically a Mexican sandwich. Since this is a bakery, all the bread is freshly made on premise. In fact, I felt bad for one customer, because they were waiting for a long time only to have the bread run out. The lady apologized and said she’ll make more and to check back in 30 minutes. This is another winner for STacos. I had the chorizo y huevo (Mexican sausage and egg). Besides the obvious, this is stuffed with avocado, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise (I think). It was quite large, and I ordered the smaller one. There are so many different kinds of tortas there, so I need to go back and try more.

Chicken quesadilla – It was made with a different kind of tortilla. In fact, I don’t even think it was a tortilla. I could relate it more to something like a pizza crust. I think it’s the same thing they used when making the huarache. It was okay.

Huaraches de cochinita pibil – Huarache is like a Mexican sandal. But in terms of food, it’s like a bread or pizza crust that’s sprawled out on a large plate. Kind of the shape of a sandal, I guess Beans is spread on the bottom, lettuce, a few more items, and finally, the “topping.”

Enchiladas – I had the platter which has chicken/cheese enchiladas with the typical lettuce, tomato, and sour cream on the side and comes with Mexican rice, beans with cheese on top.

Bakery – Picked several items from the bakery, and like many breads you’d find… meh. Not that great.

I have more pictures from the 2nd time I went, but unfortunately, I didn’t upload them from my camera, which is on its way to Africa and Asia now. Enjoy these pictures.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


With recent posts of cheese and beers, I had the urge to crack open a bottle of Sauternes which I had been saving. The beauty of these dessert wines is it's amazing complexity.
It's not just sweet. It's beautifully balanced with fruity flavors, body, the perfect amount of acidity, great viscosity, and most of all, a floral elegance that resonates after each sip.
Not to mention when it's paired with the right foods or cheese for that matter, it seems to be amplified exponentially.
It's a bit pricey, but if you enjoy the finer things in life, this is well worth every penny.

In the pic, I have a split bottle of 2002 Chateau Doisy-Daene Sauternes with a cheese plate of Morbier, Gorgonzola Dolce, and Piave in the background. Complimenting the cheese was some Lavender Honey and a great fresh Baguette from Balthazar. How Bon Vivant!
sidenote... Sauternes are a perfect libation for pairing with Foie Gras.

2002 Chateau Doisy-Daene ***
Morbier *
Gorgonzola Dolce ***
Piave **

Thanks to wiki... I've attached a short description of "Sauternes"
Sauternes is a French dessert wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux. Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This causes the grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavored wines. Sauternes is one of the few wine regions where infection with noble rot is a frequent occurrence, due to its climate. Even so, production is a hit-or-miss proposition, with widely varying harvests from vintage to vintage. Wines from Sauternes, especially the Premier Cru Supérieur estate Château d'Yquem, can be very expensive, due largely to the very high cost of production. Barsac lies within Sauternes, and is entitled to use either name. Somewhat similar but less expensive and typically less-distinguished wines are produced in the neighboring regions of Monbazillac, Cérons, Loupiac and Cadillac. In the United States, there is a semi-generic label for sweet white dessert wines known as sauterne without the "s" at the end and uncapitalized.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cheese and Beer Night

Picked up some cheese and beer to hang in and watch a flick with the wife. Beer and cheese kicked ars, but the movie was pretty terrible...88 minutes. Pacino is a great actor, but the director and writer were terrible. Wish I could get those 88 minutes back. Any who...below are the beer and cheeses that I had.

1) Taleggio (house cured) **
Comments: Soft very pungent cheese that has a buttery taste. Texture of a brie, but has tons more stank. Very tasty stuff. Cured at the Hoboken Cheese Store...

2) Appenzeller *
Comments: A nutty hard cow's milk cheese that has similar characteristics to a gruyere, but a more pungent flavor.

3) Raisin D'Etre **
Comments: Nice beer that paired perfectly with the cheeses. The slightly sweet finish really brought out the sweetness and nuttiness of the cheeses. I used the beer to help cook my ratatouille and ground lamb stew and it imparted the sweetness and hopiness into the stew.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Save money on your dinner bill

Just ran across this article, and the tips aren't bad. Of course, not every place will let you BYOB.
I read some of the comments that people have posted, and my gosh are people whiners.

Anyway, have a good weekend, earth

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Spain - On The Road Again

I've been tivo'ing Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow's food/travel show on PBS: Spain - on the Road Again and it's pretty entertaining. Concept is Mario, Gwyneth, Mark Bittman (from the NY Times), and Claudia Bassols (Spanish Actress pictured to the right) travel around Spain in a car soaking up the culture and eating some spectacular food.

What I've learned so far is:
1) Mario is a big celebrity f'er. Even Gwyneth calls him out as
he was dropped Bono's name for no reason.
2) The food on the show looked spectacular and from the looks of it; Spanish food might have some of the most clean flavors in Europe. Though I love Italian food and I believe there's purity of flavors, there's still a lot of stuff going on. A lot of the Spanish food on the show was straight up salt, pepper, olive oil, and cooked on the plancha. So amazing...of course they hit the molecular type places, but those flavors are very pure as well - just texturally different. I wish I could find a Spanish, non-tapas, non-paella restaurant in the city.
3) It's good to see that there are other weirdo's that go nuts whenever they eat tasty food. The crew (plus Michael Stype from REM) eat at the phenomenal Inopia (Adrian Ferrara's brother place) in Barcelona. The food looks ridiculous and they all look like they're about to orgasm with every bite. Great TV and affirmation that I'm not the only weirdo that freaks when I eat great food...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-0918

What a pleasant surprise. I expected a solid meal, but this was over the top. I can't believe it's taken me this long to set up a rez and dine at Eleven Madison Park. This place absolutely rocks.
My guests and I all did the Autumn Tasting with the supplemental Alba Truffles.
To go with the meal, we ordered a great bottle of Puligny Montrachet, and a fabulous medium bodied Burgundy.
The Somm was pushing us to go for a $400 Burgundy, but we stuck to our guns and settled for a $150 bottle that totally did the trick.

Autumn Tasting Menu with Alba Truffles ($125+$75 for the Truffles)
Amuse Bouche ***
Garden Potatoes with Smoked Salmon **
Foie Gras Terrine w/Pineapple Foam *
Maine Diver Scallops with Acorn Squash Puree *** perfectly paired with the Montrachet
Potato Gnocchi with Alba Truffles ***
Colorado Lamb Tenderloin Sous Vide *** perfectly paired with the Burgundy
Suckling Pig Confit **
Milk Chocolate Palette
Mignardises ***

I can't say enough about the meal last night. The white truffles shaved on top of their potato gnocchi really was a moment I'll never forget. What a treat.
All things considered, the price of the tasting was reasonably priced for Manhattan.
It's great to know Danny Meyer establishments are still solid as ever.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election 08

Watching the election coverage and eating some crispy buffalo chicken wings...great complements. Only if I had some beer...

Linguine with Clams

It's been about two weeks and I was still thinking about the Pepe's clam pie, so I was figuring I wanted those flavors in pasta form. Below is a simple, but uber tasty pasta dish. Juicy, briney clams and some sweet onions and garlic with some nicely cooked pasta is so satisfying. Make sure to get some bread to soak up the sauce leftover in the pan. If you have pecorino, it would be great to add to the pasta...

Ingredients (all are guesses, since I never measure)
1/2 box linguine
12 clams
1/2 red onion medium dice
8 cloves garlic minced
2 tsp dried thyme
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.5 tbsp butter
2 tsp dried red pepper flake
3/4 cup white wine
Sea Salt and pepper

1) Thoroughly clean the clams. I washed them, scrubbed them, and let it sit in cold water for 10 minutes. Change the water and repeat until the water is still clear after 5 minutes. Make sure all the clams are completely closed; any that are open are probably dead.
2) Add 1 tbsp butter and a drizzle of olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, pinch salt and pepper and cook for 5-10 minutes until soft. Make sure it doesn't burn, so stir every once in a while.
3) Set large pot of water to high heat. When the water comes to a boil, salt the water heavily and drop the pasta in.
4) Add garlic to the saute pan, pepper flake, and thyme (crushed between the palm of your hand to open up the flavors). Cook for 1-2 minutes again making sure not to burn the garlic. I know it's a lot of garlic, but the Pepe's pie was packed with sweet, pungent garlic.
5) Change the burner with the saute pan to high heat and add all the clams, wine, and cover. As the clams open up remove it from the pan, but make sure to dump any of the juice from the clam back into the pan. This whole process may take 5-6 minutes with each opening at different times. If they don't open, toss them out since they're probably dead.
6) As soon as the pasta is finished cooking (about 8 minutes - 1 minute short of the box time), remove the clams and add them back to the saute pan with the pasta. Cook over high heat for 1-2 minutes, until the pasta changes color and soaks up a good amount of the sauce in the pan. Cut the heat and drizzle extra virgin oil, add some more pepper flake, with the remaining butter (figured it would work like risotto). The key is to see that the pasta is very loose and juicy - great tactile sensation. If it's too tight, then add some pasta water. If it's swimming in broth, then cook it down some more. Buono appetito!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sezz Medi - Dinner Review

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

Back to Sezz Medi for a random date night with the wife. I wanted some fall flavors and Sezz Medi totally delivered. You wouldn't expect much out of this unassuming restaurant near Columbia University, but it might be my favorite Italian restaurant in the city right now. Solid Italian food and decent service for a great price. Overall, I give the restaurant an 86/100.

My Menu
1) Chicken Livers, Pancetta, and Sage served with a Garlic Crostini and Grilled Polenta (special) **
2) Homemade Pappardelle and Ragu Bolognese *

3) Lamb Shank and buttnernut squash cooked in Barolo with English Pea Risotto (special) **
4) Pear and Mixed Berry Tart

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

Dish Comments
1) Such a great dish and I'm totally making this sometime. Meaty, full-flavored chicken livers paired with the perfect Italian complements: salty pancetta, sage, and sweet caramelized onions. When you add this to the crispy crostini and grilled soft creamy polenta, you have some fireworks. Love this dish.
2) Nicely cooked pasta with a good bolognese sauce. Nothing mind blowing, but still satisfying. Weird thing is I may like it more straight from the fridge.
3) This is totally what I wanted - a great fall dish. Fall of the bone flavorful lamb shank, with surprisingly meaty and sweet squash. The velvety barolo sauce puts this over the top. Risotto was creamy, but a little thick for my opinion and the only thing holding it back from being a what the f dish.
4) After a solid app and entrees, we were pretty disappointed by the desserts. Usually, I'm anti-overly sweet desserts, but this was the opposite where the crust and berry mixture wasn't sweet enough.

Overall Restaurant Experience (86/100)

  • Food 8.6/10 – Great apps and entrees. Scores would have been higher if the dessert was better. Surprisingly, even though they serve great pizzas, the breads they serve are pretty subpar. You'd figure with that brick oven, you could make some solid breads.
  • Service 8.3/10 – Waiter was attentive and the food came out on time.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – Looks like a casual coffee shop with a brick oven. Crowd consisted of large groups, families, and couples. We got there at 8pm on a Thursday and were seated within 5 minutes. Surprisingly around 9pm there was a line to get in.
  • Price 8.7/10 – Experience was definitely worth the price. For everything above including a glass of wine it was $70 including tips. No entrees are more than $23.
Closing Comments
With Andrew Carmelini leaving A Voce, I think Sezz Medi is definitely my new go-to Italian for the solid food, great price, and good service. Peasant also serves some great food, but the service is consistently pretty bad.