Friday, February 27, 2009

2009 International Restaurant Show NYC

Come check it out this coming Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
International Restaurant & Foodservice Show at the Javits

Tough on Food

There's a new letter grading system being put into place (2010) that will display a restaurant's cleanliness for all to see from outside the establishment. It's probably a good thing.

following taken from the NY Times
- “I’m Inspector Williams from the department of health, and you’re going to have your inspection today,” said Corey K. Williams, holding out badge No. 3042

- Mr. Kim, 62, like thousands of owners of food-service establishments, lives in fear not only of fines and their effect on his thin profit margin, but also of being shut down immediately and forced to post the dreaded yellow closing notice. “They are so strict,” he said. “They cost me, $2,000, $3,000, easy, each time they come.”

In July 2010, the stakes will be even higher, with the results posted for customers to see: a blue A, a green B or a yellow C on an 8-by-10-inch inspection placard.

- Some restaurateurs tentatively endorsed the plan. “I think the letter grading is probably a good system,” said Bobby Flay, proprietor of Mesa Grill and Bar Americain in Manhattan. “But if a restaurant gets a bad grade due to a paperwork technicality, the consumer will be misled.”
Paranoid Bobby probably wasn't an "A" student in school... LOL

for the full story, click here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Shady Japanese Joint

Even though this incident happened in late 2007, it's still pretty common.
But common or not, it's just damn embarrassing. On so many levels.

From Dept. of Health to Dept. of Corrections

The New York Sun is reporting that the operator of the midtown Japanese restaurant Naniwa has been arrested for trying to bribe a city health inspector in order to avoid a summons. Kazuo Mitsuya allegedly tried to slip the inspector $200 to make the restaurant’s violations just go away. Presumably offended by the low sum offered, the inspector got on the horn with the Department of Investigations, who sent in an undercover officer posing as a health inspector and arrested Mitsuya when "Mr. Bribe" – wink, wink – appeared again.

We called Naniwa this afternoon; according to the hostess they are open for business. She insisted that she not heard about any arrests or the Sun article, but refused to put the owner on the phone because he was “making the food.” The scandal follows a recent smorgasbord of Department of Health restaurant closings, all part of the enduring legacy of Rat Rodeo ’07.

But really, two hundred lousy bucks? Considering how much a restaurant like Naniwa stands to lose in revenue and bad publicity from a DOH shutdown, the bribe seems laughably low. Then again, Naniwa promotes itself as an “authentic” Japanese restaurant; perhaps in Japanese culture modest bribes are a sign of respect?

Photo from BigPru's Flickr.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A good deal's a good deal

For those of you who know me, you know I'm pretty picky about my food. 
Especially if I'm paying for it at a restaurant. 
So it's understandable to be picky about who I plug or recommend as well. 
Well, Jean Georges has won me over with his take on the recession specials. 

The saying, "the most expensive thing in a restaurant is an empty table", couldn't be more evident. 
Take a look at his recent blog entry and you will see what I mean. 
He's trying to fill empty seats during specific hours by giving perks. 
And quite frankly it's a great reason to give his flagship restaurant a try. 
For the quality of ingredients and level of cooking you get, the price is fantastic. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

5 Tables and a Plywood Wall

Spice'n'Hot (India) - Highly Recommended
Malden, MA 02148
Open Everyday

We used to go to a little Indian place when we lived in Connecticut: small, family-owned, amazing food, and prices so low I wondered how they paid the rent. It has been a while since we moved to Boston, and most of the Indian food we've had could not hold a candle to our (now closed) little favorite. 

Two years ago we moved to Malden, just North of Boston. We noticed a very small Indian store when we were following the moving truck... "huh, could buy spices there" we thought. It wasn't until we were unpacking our last box (2 weeks later!) and going out for a bite to eat, that we noticed that the door next to the Indian store was an oddly named restaurant: "Spice'n'Hot (India)." Very weird... why the heck is "India" in parentheses? We ordered some samosa and two dinners for $17 bucks and took it back to our new place. It was great on flavor, but the sauces were kind of thin; the samosa, however, were amazing, crispy-but-not-oily and with a deliciously-rich potato center that was not heavy. We weren't blown away.  It was OK, and we could walk to it. 

Flash forward two months: we stop in to get another few samosa and a bite to eat... whoa, he has gotten better. Sauces are rich but not fatty; they are smooth and layered with complex flavor. This is the kind of Indian food that I imagine fits the bill as "home cooking." The best part is that we are watching the training and development of this man's skill and ease in the kitchen. His demeanor is always warm, his unwavering dedication appreciated, and his specialty of the house, samosa chaat (2 samosa covered with a chickpea saute, sweet chutney, fresh onion, and cilantro), is a must order. 

One man, great food, 5 tables and a plywood wall.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jersey Fresh Tomatoes

Went to Whole Foods looking for some canned tomatoes and stumbled upon the Jersey Fresh brand...insert joke here. Watching America's Test Kitchen, they always preach using tomatoes that aren't packed in tomato puree, sauce, and preservatives. Surprisingly, this brand was the only one I found that listed tomatoes and salt as the only ingredients. Most were packed in puree, juice or sauce.

So, I brought this bad boy home for a test run and the first thing I always do is to eat the tomatoes right out of the can. These were delicious and had a great bright tomato flavor with a good amount of sweetness. It really tasted fresher than most canned tomatoes.

It was a shocking revelation and I always used to go for the famed San Marzano tomatoes. I need to do a side by side comparison, but my initial reaction is the Jersey tomatoes tasted fresher, fuller, and were much better. This revelation was like finding out there was no Santa Claus. I always bought into the belief that the volcanic ash from the region made the San Marzano tomatoes superior to all others. That maybe the case in Italy; however, Italian canned tomatoes in the US are always packed in puree which may give it a more cooked flavor. This is done to avoid some US import tax.

Any who, rocking the Carmellini sauce with the Jersey brand yielded a completely WTF moment. The sauce is full of rich tomato flavor, still retaining it's brightness and has a nice sweetness to it. It definitely will be my go to canned tomato when making da sauce. Another bonus in this tough economy is they're $2 versus the $5 or 6 for the San Marzanos.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ice Breakers - Raspberry Ice Tea

If you are tired of minty breath mints, give these a try.
I believe they come in a variety of flavors (peach, raspberry, lemon, etc...), non minty.

And although you need a PhD in chemistry to pronounce let alone know what the ingredients are, these little nickel sized suckers are mighty tasty and refreshing.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Sunday Bloody Sunday...

Met up Porthos and another buddy with the wife. What was to be an innocent relaxing afternoon turned into food chaos...completely expected when hanging with the dudes.

BBQ Chicken - Highly Recommended
26 Saint Marks Pl
Between 3rd and 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
Phone: (212) 982-9616‎

An east village fast food fried chicken joint that originated in Korea. The gimmick is they fry everything in extra virgin olive oil. Super crispy, moist chicken. The best was the BB wings - a sauceless juicy hot wing that is packed with thinks there's ton of MSG in the batter. A tad pricey at $8 for 10 wings, but still worth it for me.

Our Menu
Teri-Gold Wings *
BB Wings **
Olive Nuggets *
Hot Ginger Bubble Tea **
Hot Taro Bubble Tea **

Momofuku Noodle - Highly Recommended

171 1st Ave, New York 10003
Btwn 10th & 11th St
Phone: (212) 777-7773

After our amuse bouche at the chicken joint, we met up another friend at Momofuku Noodle. As my wife mentioned, this is a completely different noodle bar from the one that originally opened way back when - noodles are their weakest food item. They're doing some fun things here, but the place is a mob scene. Not sure I would necessarily wait like some of these people - some were waiting an hour plus to get in. Also, the food was a tad pricey, but still 100% worth it - bout 70 a head. The standouts were the whole fried chicken - crispy, moist and topped with a flavorful garlic, ginger, scallion combo. Also, the pork belly roll in the ramen was a big time wtf moment...definitely something I would get alone. And finally the shitake bun, which surprisingly is better than the pork bun which was a tad dry.

Our Menu (Porthos ordered everything, so this is a guess of what we had)

Soy Sauce Egg *
7 Spice Potato Chips *

Raw bar- Oyster celery gelee, oyster with spicy fennel *
, scallop with enoki *
Raw sliced fluke
Mackarel (special) *
Hamachi Collar (special) **
Steamed Pork Bun *
Steamed Shitake Bun **
Sliced Beef Tongue **
Bouchot Mussels (sausage, kale, and fennel) **

Momofuku Ramen * (pork belly roll was a ***)
Fried Poulet Rouge **
Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream *

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What the world needs SPAM!

No, not the email kind, but the edible kind...ok, I guess that's debatable also. Looks like in this crazy economic world we're living in, sales of Spam is going on strong and helped Hormel report a higher-than-expected profit.

If you're one of the people buying this product, here's a spam recipe that the new prez enjoys...

Building Like A Dude

Americans have embraced recycling; at least outside of the south. Recycling is a good idea, it reuses the raw materials from bottles and paper etc. and turns them into another product. The problem with this solution is that it takes energy to convert one thing to another. The humble beer bottle however is finding its use without the costly recycling process.
To recycle a beer bottle it is color sorted, crushed into cullet and then melted down, molded, coated and processed into new bottles. In some areas of the world this costly process is not possible and there have been rebels in the last 100 years that want to simply reuse the item. Which is why I was overjoyed when I saw that the Buddhist monks from Thailand's Sisaket province had taken ecological responsibility to a new level. It turns out that the new Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple is built entirely of beer bottles. Now that is a religion I can get behind!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yes we can roll

Probably the coolest roll to hit the sushi bars since the California Roll was invented in 1968.

Prosciutto + White Castle Cheeseburgers

Pretty awesome combo.
I picked up some White Castle Cheeseburgers at A&P and brought them home to nuke and chow.
They definitely aren't as good as having them from the eatery, but non the less, it's pretty satisfying.

I had some prosciutto in my fridge and had a Joey Tribbiani moment.
Cheeseburger = Good
Prosciutto = Good
I put them both together and it totally worked!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Day Dinner 2009

I had visions of grandeur when coming up with the Valentine's Day menu for the wife, but she requested simple so I decided to go more for the comfort food. Below is what I made.

Oyster Stew
I was craving oysters and thought an oyster stew would be nice to start. A had a simple recipe from the Oyster Bar in NYC, so I decided to give a try with some slight tweaks. It's very rich and intensely flavored. The double boiler method yields an uber plump and juicy oyster. The chervil looks really pretty as one leaf, but using a few more brings a nice subtle fresh flavor. Chipotle powder yields a wonderful smoky flavor to the stew.

8-10 oysters, shucked (you can buy shucked oysters)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup clam juice
1 1/2 cup half and half
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
pinch chipotle powder
salt and pepper
toasted ciabatta bread

1) Add a bunch of water to a small pot and set over high heat. Place a metal bowl on top of the pot making sure the water does not contact the bottom. Ta have a double boiler.
2) Add garlic, butter, worcestershire, and clam juice to the pot.
3) Once butter melts, dump in the oysters plus their juice and the half and half.
4) When the mixture gets warm, taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking
5) In a soup bowl, add the ciabatta bread to the center. Add oysters on top and add the cream mixture around. Top the oysters with a pinch of chipotle powder and chervil leaves.

Wagyu Yakiniku Style Beef, Tomato Sauce, and Scrambled Eggs Served over Rice
This is a hodge podge of memories I had as a kid. For some reason, my uncle and aunt used to serve steak and ketchup and eggs and ketchup. Oddly enough, they tasted hella good with white rice, so I decided to recreate this using better ingredients. The combo of the wagyu beef, tomato sauce, onion, and eggs are killer with white rice. And, like all great dishes, the steak and eggs tastes phenomenal in the morning even without the rice.

3/4 pound wagyu beef (yakiniku cut)
6 organic eggs
1/4 cup half and half
Tomato Sauce, tomato juice reserved (warmed)
1/2 cup Soba Tsuyu
2 chinese leeks thinly sliced (scallions would do just fine)
1 clove garlic minced
1tsp ginger minced
1tbsp oyster sauce
2 yellow onions sliced
peanut oil
cooked white rice

1) Add 1/2 cup tomato juice, 1/4 cup tsuyu, garlic, ginger, 1/2 the leeks, and oyster sauce in a bowl. Add the wagyu to the bowl and cover in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2) Remove the wagyu from the fridge and let drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Reserve the marinade. Dry the wagyu with a paper towel.
3) In a nonstick pan, cook the onions for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the marinade plus another cup of tsuyu. Cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes - should be soft. Remove from the stovetop and remove the onions and the juice in the pan.
4) In a stainless steel pan, cook the wagyu beef until browned on both sides. About 1-2 minutes per side on high heat. Be careful since the wagyu can get burned quickly since the tomato juice and oyster sauce have some sugar. Remove.
5) Beat the eggs, rest of the leeks, and half and half well. Season well. Set nonstick pan over high heat with oil. Drop the egg mixture in.
6) Using a nonstick spatula, pull the mixture back and forth slowly - this will yield bigger curds which I like. When the mixture starts to set a little (still very moist though), pull the pan off the burner and throw the reserved onions in.
7) To serve, add white rice to a bowl, a small amount of tomato sauce (maybe 1tbsp), eggs, onion juice, and beef. Garnish with more sliced leeks.

Valentine's Cheese and Wine

For our Valentine's Day dessert, we had some cheese, wine, and Japanese pastries. All were really flavorful and fun to eat. Good thing me and the misses are married, since these cheeses have some crazy stank to them - definitely not first date food.

Grayson ***
The Grayson is a soft stinky cheese that has a complex intense flavor with the ash providing some texture. Definitely a WTF cheese.

Raclette **
The Raclette is also stinky and soft, but not as complex and having a slightly sweeter flavor. Unfortunately, after eating the Grayson, the Raclette is almost a little bland.

"Braida" - Brachetto d'Aqui 2007 **
A sparkling red dessert wine that had the right amount of sweetness without being disgusting. A nice refreshing drink with a hint of cherries.

Alma Rosa 2007 - Chardonnay *
A nice buttery wine that paired well with the egg, rice dish that I made. It seems like most wine connoisseurs don't like wine with a lot of oak, but I do.

We also had some nice had a red bean flaky pastry and an incredibly moist condensed milk pastry. Great stuff.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hot Dog Economics

The other night, Aramis and I ended up at a Gray's Papaya joint and were about to devour some dogs.
I struck up a conversation with one of the guys manning the counter...

Porthos - "How many dogs do you sell in a day?"
Worker - "In today's climate, 1500..."
Porthos - "Fifteen Hundred?!"
Worker - "Yah, just about that... "
Porthos - "What the... What about on your busiest day of the year?"
Worker - "On Halloween, we do about 10,000."
Porthos - "Holy Shit! Ten Thousand hot dogs?!"
Worker - "Yah" (With a smile)

Here's some simple math.
You get 2 Hot Dogs and a Drink for $4.75
It used to be $2.75 a few years ago, and then $3.50 about last year. Now it's a wopping $4.75.

Breakdown at $4.75 per set of 2 dogs.
1,500 Hot Dogs = $3,562.50
4,000 Hot Dogs = $9,500
10,000 Hot Dogs = $23,750
And it's safe to say the wholesale food cost for 2 hot dogs is less than 50 cents.
(About 10% food cost)

Just to put this into perspective...
There's over 15,000 restaurants in Manhattan alone. And the average 60 seat bistro in NY is lucky to bring in $8,000 of business a night.
Nobu 57 in Midtown New York City does about $30,000 a night. This is probably one of the busiest restaurants in the city.
They employ 30 chefs and cooks, 50 waiters, and 6 managers. Not to mention they pay Midtown rent for a gigantic 275 seat capacity restaurant furnished with custom made seats, tables, counters, bars and just about everything else they keep on premise.
Food cost is well above 30% so therefore the $30,000 of food and drinks sold every night, only $20,000 is left to divy up between 80 workers, a considerable overhead capital, prime real estate rent, and an alcohol license, to name a few.

On the other hand, at Gray's Papaya, you can operate comfortably with 6 people. 2 cooks, 2 cashiers, and 2 doing prep. No fancy furniture, no mess with liquor licenses, no reservations to deal with, and definitely no nasty customers to bitch and moan about bad-service or if the Miso Cod is a little cold or too dry.

Just goes to show, image isn't everything.
The hot dog peddler plays an important role in society and can also make a very good living.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Country style breakfast

Scrambled eggs, Sauteed mushrooms and a slice of Prosciutto.
Simple, not overly filling, and utterly satisfying.

- Scrambled Eggs (easy way)

Crack 3 eggs into a mixing bowl and beat.
Add 3T of water and beat until it's almost homogeneous.
The water will fluff up the eggs when cooking.
Add 1T of butter into a med-high heated non stick pan.
Once butter is melted, add eggs and stir aggressively to make sure no discoloration.
When you see most of the eggs becoming solid, remove from pan back into mixing bowl and this will help bring down the temp of the eggs and stop the cooking rapidly. Continue to stir and this will create the desired scrambled effect.
Set aside for plating.

- Sauteed Mushrooms (Button "Champignon" Mushrooms)
Quarter the mushrooms and set aside
Smash up 2 cloves of garlic
Heat pan to high
Add 2T of Olive oil and throw in garlic
20 seconds later, add the mushrooms and add another 2T of butter
Toss for about 45 seconds and add 2 pinch of Salt. If you have some Thyme, a pinch adds a nice touch to the mushrooms.
Toss for another 30 seconds (till you see some juice forming)
Remove from pan into a bowl. There is carry over heat and the steam will cook the mushrooms perfectly for the next 2-3 minutes.
Set aside for plating.

Valentine's Day at Porthos's

For my Valentine's dinner yesterday, I played around with a pork tenderloin dish I had envisioned.
Ingredients : Pork Tenderloin, Thick Sliced Bacon

Pork -
Season the tendie and wrap bacon around the hunk of meat.
Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and boil in water for 15 minutes.
Remove from boiling water and chill for 3 hours.
Carefully remove foil and sear the cylinder of meat in hot pan for around 10 minutes to crisp up the bacon.
The residual heat will bring the internal temp of the tendie up to around 140 degrees for serving as well.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

You win some, you lose some, then you make sure you win the next one

Looking back... i've visited Sobaya 3 times in the past 3 years. No more!
The first and second times were rather pleasant. Both were for lunch and I had ordered the Noodle lunch specials.
Last week however, I had a little food crawl with Aramis and we hit up Sobaya right after Lan.
It was an impromtu dudes outing and what a mistake it was to throw Sobaya into the mix.
Our first stop, as we all know, Lan is consistently solid. Chef Akiyama always delivers great food.

At Lan, Aramis and I were comped a House made Tofu with King Crab, Dashi Gelee and Uni Amuse Bouche to start, and later in between our flights of sushi and yakitori, a spectacular Pan Seared Duck Breast with Foie Gras topped with a Miso Scallion Garlic Sauce was presented for us.
This was a WTF moment. Perfect harmony with resonating umami from the miso sauce. (Work of a genius)

Too bad our next stop at Sobaya was no where as good.
Yes, when we go out to eat, we make it a point to hit up 2 to 3 places in one night.
To some, it may seem excessive, to us it's just normal.

So to put it mildly, Sobaya is now on my list of "Do Not Go" establishments.
Whether the Chef has changed, or if they are just trying to cut corners and cheap out on ingredients, this place has really bottomed out.
I ordered the following all in one shot. This was a tactical error on my part.
I will know to pace myself next time when I'm dining at a questionable place, and order 2 dishes first to give them a prelim screening :
- Anago Tempura (Horrible) - old fishy oil soaked the tempura
- Duck Meatballs (Terrible) - mushy sweet meatballs
- Smoked Duck (Terrible) - tasted old and discolored
- Ankimo (Below Average) - was the frozen ready to serve kind

The level of disappointment was monumental. We couldn't call it a night with this being the last food we ate, so we decided to stop at a Gray's papaya and wolfed down a recession special.
The last time I checked, it was $2.75 for 2 dogs and a drink. Apparently I missed the gradual increase to $3.50 at one point. But last week, it was $4.95 !! WTF!
Sounded more like an inflation F U to me.
Anywho, Gray's did the job and we went home happy.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Early dinners at Totto

Yakitori Totto - Highly Recommended
251 W. 55th St., New York, NY 10019
nr. Broadway
Phone: 212-245-4555

Aramis and I have posted about Yakitori Totto multiple times last year, and to tell you the truth, it's not going to stop.
The place is just GREAT!

I met a buddy of mine for an early meal Monday night and we decided upon Yakitori Totto for obvious reasons.
It's simple, straight forward food that's reasonably priced and crazy delicious.
The advantage of getting to this gem of a restaurant early is, there's a ton of "special parts" that are limited in quantity.
For instance, Chicken Knee Bone/Cartilage, Chicken Breast Cartilage, Butt, Chicken Thigh Oyster, Chicken Gizzard, Chicken Heart...
It may be a little too exotic for some, but if you can stomach the sound of it, it's well worth trying.
My buddy and I pretty much ordered the last 2 skewers of all the specialty items and felt a little guilty... But the guilt quickly faded when we took our first bite of Hiza Nankotsu (knee bone) and we just smiled and savored the moment.

Can't say enough good things about these guys. Go check them out!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hard to beat

There are so many snacks / junkfoods out there to choose from, but for some reason, when faced with a decision, the double stuffed oreo cookie wins out everytime.

And notice the lift tab (like portable wetnaps)on the left. Designed to quickly seal up the package for later consumption. It really does keep your cookies fresh.

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Pantry Raider II

After the mini fiesta at Gottino, the wife and I were still craving food...I know, completely ridiculous. So, I opened up the pantry and made this wonderful tasting pasta.

Spaghetti with Fried Egg and Light Clam Sauce
A really fun tasting pasta. Salty and full flavored from the clam juice and anchovies. Breaking the egg yolk creates such a silky sauce and the nuttiness from the pine nuts caps everything off. I could eat tons of this stuff...goes to show how important anchovy, pine nuts, and parmiggiano are to the home pantry.

1/2 box linguine
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter
extra virgin olive oil
1 cup clam juice
2 anchovy filets, packed in oil
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup Parmiggiano-Reggiano
1 tsp red pepper flake
2 cloves garlic
5 sprigs parsley, leaves only - hand torn

1) Set saute pan to low heat and add oil and butter. Add garlic. Make sure garlic doesn't color - you want the garlic to infuse in the oil.
2) Add the anchovy fillets and clam juice. Stir around and let it reduce.
3) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a large handful of salt and throw in the linguine.
4) 2 minutes before the pasta is done - cook two eggs in a non-stick pan in olive oil or butter over medium low heat. My preferred method is drop the egg in the pan and when the whites start forming, toss a splash of water in and cover for 30 seconds to 1 minute until just set. This will help steam the top of the egg.
5) Add linguine to the pan when it's almost al dente - 1 minute under the box time. Add a little pasta water to loosen up the mixture (a good amount will be needed). Always taste the pasta to make sure it's perfectly al dente. Add the pine nuts, more olive oil, parsley, and most of the parmiggiano - stir around.
6) To plate - add the pasta in the middle of the plate. Add the egg on top, more olive oil, and more parmiggiano. Buono appetito!

Giant Squids

My buddy N, in San Diego loves going fishing.
And by chance, he caught this sea monster the other day. OK.. this isn't any Jacques Cousteau or Jules Vernes giant squid but for all amateur fishermen, this is pretty big.
N even tried to eat it sashimi style but apparently, when these giant sea monsters are caught... or when they realize they are about to meet their demise, they release some bitter tasting adrenalin through out their body in hopes of being spit out by whom ever is trying to eat them.

A good soak in milk was supposed to do the trick, but I haven't heard back from my buddy. I guess it wasn't palatable even after the milk soaking.

This Is Why You're Fat Dot Com

Nothing much to say here. Just click on the link. Day-yum!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gottino - Review

Gottino - Recommended
52 Greenwich Ave, New York 10011
bet. Charles & Perry St
Phone: 212-633-2590

Did the date night with the wife and decided on Gottino - a wine bar that does some very tasty snacks. The owner of Gottino is Sara Jenkins - also owner of the killer Porchetta. She was there (not cooking, but chilling), which was cool and would also make Colamecco proud...chef's that surprise, surprise actually are at their own restaurants. Great times and some great wine there. If it weren't for the price/quantity ratio, I would give this a highly recommended rating. Overall, I give the restaurant an 80/100

My Menu (all dishes served with tuscan bread)
1) Frittata Porri *
2) Bottarga e Uova **
3) Ricotta Tartufato
4) Chicken Liver Pate **
5) Goat Cheese with Quince **
6) Spicy Sausage Spread *
7) Affogato *

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

Dish Comments
1) A tasty frittata made with potatoes and leeks. A bit on the cold side, but decent nonetheless.
2) A great dish and rivaling the best of the night. Eggs made using the espresso steamer which yields an uber creamy egg. Topped with salty bottarga (kinda like bonito) made this a salty, creamy masterpiece.
3) A nice creamy ricotta. However, the key to this dish was the truffle oil which would have paired perfectly. But sadly, there was absolutely no truffle flavor.
4) If it were not for Barney Greengrass, this would have been an absolutely big time what the f moment. Rich, sweet, and creamy...quite honestly the perfect chicken liver pate. So good, I want to go back to Barney Greengrass to see if that still stays tops on my list. Make sure to not be dainty with a thin spread. You need to use a dude size spread to really enjoy it properly.
5) A nice, rich, creamy goat cheese paired perfectly with the quince paste. Went great with the tasty wine I had - a fruity red called Vernaccia Nera.
6) A spicy sausage spread that sadly didn't have that much sausage flavor - still fun though. I was trying to figure out what the spice component was, maybe pepperoncini? But, midway I finally figured out that it was probably the smoky chipotle pepper. Interesting non-Italian touch.
7) Creamy gelato from the famed Capogiro Gelato from Philly. Sweet cream gelato with great texture topped with espresso. Fun stuff.

Overall Restaurant Experience (80/100)

  • Food 8.2/10 – Totally my strike zone here. Nothing was a what the f moment, but everything was fun to eat and great with the wine. All the wines we had were pretty fun. The best was Brachetto d'Acqui - a subtely sweet, red wine with effervescence.
  • Service 8.5/10 – Waiters were very helpful recommending dishes and wine together. All waiters also allowed you to try before you buy which was pretty cool. Food took a while to come out, but wine and good conversations always makes you forget that stuff.
  • Atmosphere 8.0/10 – A tiny wine bar, that surprisingly looks tinier than it actually is. A long marble bar and a setup similar to Tia Pol. However, if you sit at the bar (a must), there's a standing area behind the bar and still enough room for people to pass by without bumping into you. Place takes no reservations and there are only 3-4 tables. We got there at 7pm on a Saturday and were seated within 15 minutes...people seemed to take off after one hour.
  • Price 7.4/10 – $120 for 2, which is very pricey but we had 4 glasses of wine on top of all the food we had. Probably better if you went with more people since you can share more items. The glasses and dishes were around $10, but the portions are small for their price - we weren't 100% full after this feast either.
Closing Comments
Definitely a go to place for a glass or 4 of wine and 100% need to go back with the dudes and eat the entire menu.

Great deal Alert!!!

I was with one of my vendors from Japan Monday, and we decided to stop by Jean Georges for lunch. Partially because we had some business to conduct over there, but mostly because of the tremendous deal they have going right now.

After a successful restaurant week earlier in January, they decided to keep the $24 lunch prix fixe deal for the rest of the year.
I was a little skeptical about the quality, and portions I would get. After all, this is NY Times 4 Star/3 Star Michelin Jean Georges we're talking about... Their bottled water alone is $24...
Their normal entree a la carte go for $45!
Such was not the case.
The current economic climate in NYC has really brought out the competitiveness of all chefs and it's now their turn to be at the beck and call of us guests.
It's a diner's market right now and let's not be shy.

Dishes served :
- Soy Glazed Beef Short Ribs, Apple Jalepeno Puree, Rosemary Crumbs **
- Parmesan Crusted Confit Leg of Chicken, Salsify, Basil and Lemon Butter **
- Pannacotta with Drunken Raisins and Earl Grey Jam **

I splurged on a great glass of Chardonnay, but it was totally worth it and really made the meal special.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Anthony Bourdain: Food Porn

Just finished watching Bourdain's food porn episode. Expecting the standard clip show - either rehashing segments they already played or showing the segments that got cut during the editing process. I was 100% wrong and glad I decided to watch. The film crew goes around to some big time chefs and ask them what their version of food porn would be.

Notable food porn segments include:
  • Eric Ripert and his uni and caviar pasta
  • Alan Wong and his butter poached lobster and abalone
  • Terrance Brennan and his soft poached egg topped with cheese sauce and truffles
  • The mother of all segments was the phenomenal Au Pied de Cochon and his franken-pig recreation. Basically, taking every piece of the pig, from nose to tail, and cooking each piece using a different cooking method - obviously there's fois gras stuffed items to make it over the top food porn. Completely f'n sick and a wtf money shot moment...

Just one more

I gotta bash the Bahamas one last time.
So these horrific dishes were from Amici.
Located at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort - Nassau, Bahamas

Amici is considered one of the better Italian joints on the island but take it from me, (and I'm not fussy about my Italian food compared to Aramis) it's Terrible.
This was one of the worst Italian food experiences of my life. #1 worst experience may still be the time I went to Tutta Pasta in Hoboken, NJ and almost threw up after taking a bite into their pasta dishes. That said, Amici deserves a solid Second place for their terrible food.

Dishes ordered:
Caesar Salad - 2/10 If they had torn open a romaine lettuce packet from Shoprite and doused it with a Paul Newman's Caesar Dressing, it would have been 10 times better.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina - 3/10 ($41) As you can see in the picture, it's not even a Porterhouse. Any educated carnivore will tell you this dish is specifically a Porterhouse grilled with seasoning, herbs and a touch of nice Olive Oil. I guess the chef skipped that particular lesson while getting his online culinary diploma.

Pasta alla Frutta di Mare - 2/10 ($38) Again, take a look at the photo and tell me this is one of the most unappetizing dishes you have ever seen. Totally a WTF moment for us. And get this, it tasted worse than it looked. It was as if the cook boiled the pasta and the seafood in the same pot of unsalted water, then tossed it with clarrified butter before plating.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thanks Bobby... A true American Hero

They survived everything from the Great Depression to the Atkins Diet. And now Twinkies have even endured bankruptcy. 

Workers at Interstate Bakeries in Schiller Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, preparing Twinkies for packaging.

After more than four years, their maker, Interstate Bakeries, emerged from bankruptcy protection this week.

The private company, which also makes Wonder Bread, Hostess Ding Dongs and Drake's cakes, had at least one powerful fan rooting for it: Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York. Mr. Schumer personally appealed to a big lender to help Interstate through its troubles.

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

"Upstate New Yorkers can now have their Drake's cake and keep their jobs, too," Mr. Schumer said in a statement this week.

Created in 1930, with a banana cream filling, rather than the vanilla of today, Twinkies — love 'em or hate 'em — are about as emblematic as junk food gets. With 39 ingredients, 150 shamelessly empty calories and, officially, a shelf life of about three weeks, the Twinkie is a cream-filled symbol of American culture. Their mysterious longevity even earned them a joke in "Wall-E," Pixar's postapocalyptic robot love story.

Hostess Brands was acquired in 1995 by Interstate and today employs 22,000 people in 41 bakeries. But Interstate succumbed in September 2004 to various ailments, including the low-carb Atkins and South Beach Diets.

Burt P. Flickinger III of the Strategic Resource Group, a retail consulting firm, said Interstate faces stiff competition from rivals like Sara Lee. In light of the recession, even Hostess, the cream in Interstate's Twinkie, might have to lower prices, he said.

Craig D. Jung, Interstate's chief executive, said the company was working to adapt to tougher times and healthier snacking. It will expand its line of calorie-conscious snacks like Twinkie Bites, which have 100 calories a pack.

"At end of the day, consumers want to indulge," he said.

Fishy fishy fishy

Take a look at the beautiful fish restaurants can get their hands on in the Bahamas.
Just season and grill. That's really all one needs to do when fish is this fresh.

But such is not the MO down there. Untalented chefs grab their knives like 1st year plastic surgeons in med school and hack away.
It's a sin what "chefs" put out down there.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Newsflash - Loads of Pizza is Bad for You!

The founder of Papa John's mentioned eating lots of pizza is not good for you. Thank you Mr Obvious. We know it's a really bad idea, but we don't care any way - it tastes so f'n good. And obviously Papa John's is one of the worst offenders as their pizza comes with a dipping sauce made from butter...

Cravings 1

Unfortunately, there are those moments when you just crave the intangible.
The Landis Hotel in Taipei serves up a killer don po ro dish that's pretty sublime.
I can't wait to dig into my next bowl of this.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Pronounced : Konk
A disgusting looking sea creature. This shellfish is all over the waters of the Caribbean.

I had high hopes for conch dishes down here. Thinking maybe it would have the texture and similar taste to a Geoduck. Not the case.
In addition, to my dismay, the culinary standard is quite low down in these islands, and leaves nothing worth reporting.

There is a little development called Fish Fry on the northern road of Nassau that specializes in the conch cuisine. I ordered everything conch on the menu.
The Conch Salad stands out amongst the rest. But still, it's barely worth your time as a tourist down here.

Conch Burger - 2/10
Conch Fritters - 4/10
Conch Salad - 7/10
Conch Chowder 6/10