Monday, November 30, 2009

Enchiladas (and Guacamole)

I made enchiladas for the 1st time yesterday, and I am wondering why I haven't made them before. This was the more popular type that Americans are used to where they're rolled up. They weren't too difficult to make, sort of fast, and tasted very good. Now that I made them, I know what I will do differently next time. Here is the recipe that a good friend gave me with some of my tweaks:

- 3 chicken breasts
- 1 pound cheese (I used colby-jack this time)
- 2 8 oz. cans Old El Paso enchilada sauce (You can use any sauce, red, green, homemade, etc.)
- Package of corn tortillas (though flour can be used but corn is more authentic)
- 3 T of your favorite hot sauce (I used Valentina)
- Cumin
- Salt

Boil the chicken breasts for 1 hour. While it's boiling, grate the cheese. You can by the pre-shredded, but I think grating it fresh is much better since the packaged cheese feels "powdery." When the chicken is done, remove from the water; and let it cool. When you're able to handle it, remove the skin and fat. Take the meat off the bone, and put it in a bowl. Next, shred the meat with two forks. I like to leave it somewhat chunky.

Enchilada filling
Add half of one can of enchilada sauce to the chicken in the bowl. Add the hot sauce. Add more if you'd like more heat. Add half of the cheese. That's right, half a pound of cheese. Add cumin and salt to taste. I like adding lots of cumin (4-ish T) for more of a "Mexican" taste. Mix everything together. If it seems too dry, add some more enchilada sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread enchilada sauce across bottom of glassware. Place a tortilla in a pan. (No need for oil or anything.) Place heat on warm, and heat tortilla for 30 seconds. This is to make the tortilla more pliable. (If using flour tortilla, then this is not necessary.) Remove tortilla, and place on plate. Place another tortilla in the pan. While the second tortilla is warming up, take some filling, and create a "row" down the middle of the warm tortilla. Roll the tortilla, and place it into the glassware. Keep doing this until you run out of tortillas or mix. If you run out of tortillas, place the leftover mix on top of the tortillas. Take the remainder of the sauce, and top the rolled tortillas. Take the rest of the cheese, and sprinkle on top of everything. Uncovered, place into the oven for 25 minutes. Enchiladas need to warm up and cheese needs to melt.

Remove from oven, and plate. I topped with sour cream, green part of chopped scallions, sliced olives, and guacamole I made. Other suggestions are pico de gallo, cilantro, sliced jalapeños, etc.

Next time I will add two chopped white or yellow onions into the enchilada mix as well as red pepper flake. I may try flour tortillas to compare. Crumbling cotija cheese, a Mexican goat cheese, on top makes it more authentic. Chihuahua cheese is another good Mexican cheese.

Quick guacamole
- 4 Haas avocados
- 3 plum tomatoes
- 1 white onion
- 1/2 jalapeño
- Cumin
- Salt
- Red pepper flake
- Large Ziploc bag

Remove skin and seed from avocados, and place in Ziploc bag. Dice tomatoes, and place in Ziploc bag. Chop onion, and place in Ziploc bag. Chop 1/2 jalapeño, and place in Ziploc bag. (Seeds make it spicier so add for more heat.) Add salt, cumin, and red pepper flake to Ziploc bag. Mash and mix everything inside the Ziploc bag while pay attention not to blow a hole in the bag. When everything is thoroughly combined, cut a corner in the bag, and squeeze into bowl. Quick. Done


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Noodles and Pork Broth

After making the delicious pork tacos, I knew I had to do something with that spectacular pork broth. So I figured cook up some ramen like noodles, drain, and toss in the pork broth with some shredded pork meat. What a hugely fun and flavorful dish!

The broth was so spectacular, but next time I may have to buy some actual ramen noodles and toss out the seasonings (wife's suggestion). At my local Asian market, I found 100's of varieties of noodles, but no ramen noodle without the seasoning packs...quite odd.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama's First State Dinner

Below is a look at Obama's first state dinner. There's an Indian twist to the menu since the Indian Prime Minister was in town. I always find it funny that they would want to serve Indian food as it'll probably be quite awful compared to the stuff they get back home. If I had friends from Italy in town, I probably would never take them to an Italian restaurant in NYC. But I digress...

The dinner was prepared by guest Chef Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit fame and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford.

  • Potato and eggplant salad
  • White House arugula with onion seed vinaigrette
  • 2008 Sauvignon blanc Modus Operandi, Napa Valley, California
  • Red lentil soup with fresh cheese
  • 2006 Riesling, Brooks "Ara"
  • Wilamette Valley roasted potato dumplings with tomato chutney
  • Chick peas and okra or green curry prawns with caramelized salsify with smoke collard greens and coconut aged basmati
  • 2007 Grenache Beckman Vineyards, Santa Ynez, California
  • Pumpkin pie tart
  • Pear tatin
  • Whipped cream and caramel sauce
  • Sparkling Chardonnay, Thibaut Janisson Brut, Monticello, Virginia
  • Petits fours and coffee
  • Cashew brittle
  • Pecan pralines
  • Passion fruit and vanilla gelees
  • Chocolate dipped fruit

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fight Food - UFC 106

Had the fellas over the new pad for UFC 106. Fights were good, but not as great as our Rock Band Beatles performance.

Pork Tacos
I've been craving pork tacos for a while now, so I figured why not give it a try. For some odd reason, I never found any great pork tacos during my wife and I's most excellent Mexican wedding/honeymoon. Most pork tacos I had in Mexico were sadly very dry, so I turned to good ol' Rick Bayless for some recipes. I was a little shocked at the technique, but then I remembered our friend Marko/Elexia's wedding and how simple and delicious those pork tacos were. Pretty spot on, uber easy to make, and f'n delicious.

7 pound pork shoulder
1 Red Onion and 1 Sweet Onion diced (I had one of each in my fridge)
7 cloves garlic minced
Tons of Salt

Corn Tortillas
Diced Tomatoes
Diced White Onion rinsed with water

Ciantro Leaves

1) Rinse and remove skin and most of the fat - save the skin for chicharon and fat for beans and/or rice. Debone and cut into 2-3 inch pieces. This took me about 30-45 thinks me needs a proper boning knife and proper butchery instructions.
2) OK, so add the meat, bone, garlic, diced red and sweet onion to a pot. Barely cover with
pot with a lot of salt like a big handful. Simmer. After 5 minutes, remove any grayish foam that floats to the top. Finish simmering for 2-3 hours.
3) After 2-3 hours, let meat cool for 30 minutes in the pot. Remove most of the broth and reserve for soups or sauces - it is uber intense in flavor. Shred meat with two forks. If it appears too dry, add the broth to the loosen up the mixture.
4) To serve, add the meat, tomatoes, white onion, cilantro leaves, and your favorite hot sauce to a corn tortilla - you can double up. Very simple and extremely delicious. Buen Provecho!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Simcoe Hops

I met a rep from Lagunitas the other day and he gave me this bottle to check out.
A ton of citricy hops to this brew.
Great if you love hops (which I do). But could use a bit more malts for the critics.

All in all, a great beer to pair with a seafood risotto.
Plus, clams, oysters, and shrimp make any meal a great meal.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Nothing fancy. Just the basics when it comes to killing the whole day cooped up at home watching football and being a total introvert.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bacon Pizza Slice

If you haven't had a bacon pizza slice in a long time, do it now - you can thank me later. The phenomenal combination of chewy, crisp, and smoky crust with bacon exhibiting similar qualities is quite seductive. Add a nice tomato sauce, garlic powder, red chili flake and you'll be in heaven...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sake in Jersey City

At the Westin in Newport Jersey City. Come check it out.

Chocolate Fix

Oops, almost forgot to postt my little chocolate desserts.

These Guylian Belgian sea shelled shaped chocolates absolutely rock!

Polish Home Cooking

The neighborhood Polish Mom&Pop shop that I live near serves some killer stick to your ribs comfort food.

Coming back from a 3 hour drive from Conn, I just wanted to pick something up to eat before heading out to another event tonight.

The cool autumn breeze natually calls for some heartier dishes. Stuffed cabbage, braised beef short rib, and perogies surely hit the spot.

But now the problem is a little food coma setting in.

I gotta hunt down some espresso stat.

Little Owl - Review

Little Owl - Not Recommended (for dinner)
90 Bedford St, New York 10014
At Grove St
Phone: (212) 741-4695

Random date night with the wife and although we had a great time, I was bummed about the food. I really dug our previous brunch here and was dying to go back. Unfortunately, our dinner was a little sub par. I give the restaurant an 66/100.

Our Menu
1) American Lamb Shank goat’s cheese scalloped potatoes
The lamb was quite tender, but the meat was over salted (not insanely so) and I'd like the temperature warmer. It was slightly above room temperature. The scalloped potatoes were phenomenal though - tasted like mac n cheese, but more delicious.

2) Roasted Cod butternut squash risotto and braised cabbage
Cod was quite tasty - nice and crispy on the outside and very tender on the inside. The risotto had a nice flavor, but I'm always a bigger fan of risotto that flows better. Italians always say allonda when they talk about risotto - means it moves like a wave. This version was not flowing at all, but the flavor was nice.

3) Spiced Fries chili aioli
Another dish over salted. Fries had a nice crunch to it, but the flavors were difficult to figure out due to the salt attack. L ots of Indian spices used here - almost a garam masala?

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

Overall Restaurant Experience (66/100)
  • Food 6.8/10 – Nothing completely god awful, but 2 out of the three dishes I wouldn't describe as good either.
  • Service 7.8/10 – Waitress was nice and helpful. Food came out quick. One annoying bit was she mentioned one of the dishes would take a long time, so we should order apps. Instead the dish came out immediately.
  • Atmosphere 8.0/10 – Tiny place, but at night time it feels more cozy than cramped - not sure if they rearranged the place a bit. Place had loads of couples in their 30's and some groups. We got there at 8pm and were seated immediately
  • Price 6/10 – $80 for everything (drink and tip included) which seemed a tad pricey considering the food was salty.
Closing Comments
I still dig the place for brunch and need to check it out for burger - Adam Platt's vote for best burger in NYC. Just no idea what's up with all these tiny New American joints / gastropubs over salting their foods.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Matsuri - Sake & Hot Pot Night

I had a great time last night at Matsuri Restaurant (Located in the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea).

Executive Chef Tadashi Ono and Food Journalist Harris Salat were promoting their new Japanese Hot Pot Book. 
They had some really good sake to pair with the hot pots and about 60 people came out to the soiree. 

Tasty food, really good booze, and a bunch of cute girls giggling the night away. 
Not a bad way to kill time on a Tuesday night. 

Please join us for an evening of Japanese Hot Pot and Sake Pairings!

In partnership with LUCKYRICE, Japanese Culinary Center and the best-selling cookbook, "Japanese Hot Pots" by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat, we invite you to a Japanese foodie event that will hit your inner palate!

Tuesday, November 17th

6 - 8 pm
Tickets: $35/per person at the door

Featuring a variety of Hot Pot Dishes and an extensive portfolio of Premium Sakes including Tengumai Yamahai, Shirakabegura Tokubetsu, Dassai 50 and more. Be sure to reserve your spot before tickets sell out:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Michelin Stars...Inside Look

The New Yorker ran a very cool 6 page piece; an interview with one of the very elusive inspectors that give out the Michelin Stars for restaurant ratings. I couldn't stop reading this article; absolutely fascinating!

Monday, November 16, 2009

... more Kit Kat flavors...

It never stops...
This the latest flavor only sold in Kyushu, Japan. 

Frantoia Oil - Le Bernardin Approved

I was watching the great show, Avec Eric, and the crew from Le Bernardin were blind testing Olive Oils. At first they tasted oils by themselves. Then, they added the oil to some fish to see which oil elevated the flavor of the fish the most. The verdict - Frantoia Oil won both tests. The caveat that Chef Ripert gave are oils are like wine where some years are better than others. May need to give Frantoia another look to see how different it tasted from my last review...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No Doc Says "NO"

I've never heard of a doctor saying, "you need to cut down on the fish."
Have you?

So I decided to eat as much fish as I could and see how long it would take to bring out my meat cravings.
It's been 3 full days and I'm not even close to breaking down to chomp on salami or even fried chicken.
Let it be known, this is from a man who set out to be a vegetarian for as long as he could (just to see what it was like). And after the first 12 hours of only eating salads and grilled veggies, he cheated with a crispy popeyes cajun fried chicken thigh.

Fish is great and so damn delicious.
It's got fats that scientists think are good for you.
Let me say that again... "It's got fats that Scientists think are good for you."
How can that be? This protein has flavor and texture, and is good for you.
Like a rare woman, you cherish it an never let her go.

So just this morning, I invited a few friends and grilled up some mackerel and served it Japanese style with grated daikon and soy sauce.
Saba No Shio Yaki
Take Mackerel out of the package...
Dab with paper towel and place on prep tray. Drizzle some dry sake over the fillets and massage.
Let the sake absorb into the meat for about 5 minutes. Dab dry and sprinkle sea salt. Let rest for 20 minutes.
In the mean time, get your charcoal grill ready.
(I usually create a 4 by 10 briquette wall of charcoal down the middle of the grill. This usually gives me enough room to move stuff around and lend to ample heat control)
Place fillets onto partial direct heat (skin side down) and flip after 6 minutes. Flip again after 4 minutes and get the skin nice and crispy. Remove and plate.
Garnish and serve immediately.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So Kong Dong

It's Saturday night, a bit chilly and a tad wet out. That's music to So Kong Dong. They specialize in soon tooboo chige (Korean soft tofu soup). Probably the best in the area, hence it being Paaaaaacked!

Aramis first brought this place to my attention about 3 years ago, then when I spoke out about the place to my co-workers, everyone was like "oh, the tofu place, I love that place."

130 Main St.
Fort Lee, NJ

Go check it out!
The place still rocks!

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lighthorse Tavern

Lighthorse Tavern - Highly Recommended
199 Washington St
Jersey City, NJ 07302-4527
(201) 946-2028

One of my favorite places in downtown Jersey City for a kick ass brunch.
I usually start with a bloody mary, some oysters and clams on a half shell, then the usual egg benedict or the house smoked salmon bagel specials. Good value just around the corner... can't beat that!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Amish Market

Amish Market - Not Recommended
240 E 45th St
New York, NY
‎ 10017
(212) 370-1761

There's a handful of Amish Market's in Manhattan that do a ton of business during lunch. The Amish Market is a supermarket that works you in by selling you the promise it's like an Amish food station, that things are clean, and all natural.
During lunch hours, you'll mostly find office workers stepping away from their cubicles to head either to the salad bar or hot food station and pack the plastic containers full of goodies to take back to their desks.
And at $6.99 a pound... one can work that comfortably into the budget.
Everything looks really good and people line up efficiently, waiting their turn to pick up their food.

Well just yesterday, I walked by an Amish Market and decided to give it a shot. I picked from the hot and cold bar and was rung up at the cashier... $9.00 flat.
Not great but not terrible I thought. That and a Diet Coke would run an even 10 bucks. I can live with that... or so I thought.

I double timed it back to my desk a block away and sat down to chow.
Low and behold the first bite.
I shit you not... there was absolutely no flavor.
I took another bite and the same thing... nothing.

I had just spit my gum out so I thought it was the gum's fault... but no it was the food. I waited a few minutes and took a few sips of my beverage to cleanse the palate.
I wish I took a picture of the morsels of food I picked (wanting to try everything so that I would know what to get next time).

Bite after bite, nothing. Everything was bland and really didn't have much distinct texture as well.
Biting into the beet salad felt like biting into the caesar salad with croutons...
Biting into the marinaded roasted chicken tasted and felt like biting into the tofu burger patties in the orzo salad.
I was sad(at my choice), but probably a bit more annoyed knowing that hundreds of people ate what I was eating and that Amish Market gets away with it. They make money by selling people crap. That just doesn't sit well with me.
Bad companies / restaurants should not survive. Ironically, they not only survive but are rewarded as well.
This is a typical case where our economic (capitalism) model has gone wrong.
A chain like Amish Market is able to rent out the large space and therefore create a business based on turn overs and numbers. In order to do so, they emphasize on cutting cost, whether it be labor or raw ingredients, and ultimately make up the difference by marketing and dumbing down the general population.
This place is no better than Applebee's but just packaged a little different. Thanks to really good marketing, the trip to Amish Market is highly habit forming, and they end up having repeat zombies coming in day after day filling on the same old slop.
The strong stay strong and the newbies never have a shot to climb the ladder of success.

If only more people woke up and demanded better.
At the end of the day, I guess it starts at home. If you don't eat well at home, you'll never know and/or demand better at restaurants.

Tough day for this dude. Amish Market, shame on you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Frites n Meats - Review

Frites n Meats - Not Recommended (1st try)
Truck between Greenwich and Chambers St
Tribeca, New York

The dudes at Frites n Meats are trying to capitalize on the latest craze of food trucks and well made burgers. This truck proudly touts the breads are from Balthazar, meats from DeBragga, and cheese from Murray's. I so wanted to love this burger, but unfortunately it didn't quite work out for me.

My Menu
1) Grass Fed Angus Burger, Potato Onion Bun, Gruyere Cheese
Comments - Solid beef flavor and great cheese. Unfortunately, the burgers were very dry and the texture not much better. Also, the fries were relatively limp with no crisp or big potato flavor. The chili mayo was pretty satisfying all together.

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

Closing Comments
The burgers are at a great price point at $5.75, but unfortunately the execution was way off. But, for that price point, I may have to give it another try - Tribeca is hella expensive during lunch.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blanton's Bourbon

Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon
"Fine Kentucky Bourbon"
Given as a present from the President of the Distillery.
I can't wait to crack into this piece of American history.

- taken from the website -
Blanton's Original
Type: Bourbon Whiskey
Recipe: Corn - Rye - Malted Barley
Mash Type: Sour
Still Proof: 70% Alcohol by Volume - 140 proof
Entry Proof: 62.5% Alcohol by Volume - 125 proof
Warehouse: H
Barrel Type: White Oak
Maker: Independent Stave
Staves: 6 month air dry
Treatment: #4 Char
Filtration: Chill Filtered
Bottle Proof: 46.5% Alcohol by Volume - 93 proof
Tasting Notes: Reddish Amber Color
Nose: A spicy aroma of Dried Citrus and Orange Peels with a hint of Caramel and Vanilla.
Palate Entry: Full and soft, marked by a mix of Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Orange, and Cloves.
Finish: Muted but well balanced with Vanilla, Honey, and Citrus.
Best Served: Straight, on ice, or used in a premium cocktail.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sushi Ichimasa - Review

Sushi Ichimasa - Slightly Recommended
302 W 50th St, New York 10019
between 8th Ave & 9th Ave
Phone: (212) 315-4800

Met up some of the dudes for sushi, but Sushi Yasuda was booked. Sad to say the only time I'm eating sushi in NYC it's either at Sushi Yasuda or East Japanese for some conveyor belt sushi. I decided to ask Porthos for a rec and he mentioned Sushi Ichimasa for some traditional fisherman style sushi, so decided to give a try. Although the fish was quite tasty, I was looking for a more customized sushi meal which you don't get here. I give the restaurant an 79/100.

Our Menu
Ordered the Omakase $60
1) Salmon Sashimi - Smoked **
2) 7 pieces of sushi *
3) Sushi Roll - Avocado and Toro *
4) Mochi Ice Cream *

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

Dish Comments
1) First time I've had something like this. Salmon was cut sashimi style, but it was nicely smoked (not aggressive) and reminded of the best smoked salmon. Pretty f'n wesome.
2) Next up, 7 pieces of sushi ranging for anago, kampachi, uni and the like. Everything had solid flavor and great texture on the fish - very fresh stuff. The rice was a little hard and clumped together, but again my benchmark is generally Sushi Yasuda and Hatsuhana.
3) More of an Americanized style of sushi roll, but still pretty tasty. Pieces of toro and avocado with some sweet sauce drizzled on top.
4) Tasty mochi ice cream...nuff said.

Overall Restaurant Experience (79/100)
  • Food 8.0/10 – Pretty solid sushi here and everything was pretty good - nothing mind blowing, but pretty happy.
  • Service 6.0/10 – The place is run by what looks like a husband and wife team. The wife serves everyone in the 15-20 seat joint. The husband is the lone sushi chef. Because of this, it takes forever to get your order in and your food. We sat at the sushi counter and ordered the omakase. Unfortunately, this is not the omakase I was expecting - you know the interaction between sushi chef and diner, where they customize the pieces for you individually based on your likes and disklikes. This omakase is a basically a set menu with zero interaction with the chef.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – Uber tiny place that was packed. Typical Sushi looking joint with lots of wood everywhere, but felt nice and cozy. Groups consisted of pairs of 2 with a large group in the back. Made reservations that day for 7pm and was seated immediately.
  • Price 6.5/10 – $100 for everything (sake and tip included) which seemed a tad pricey for the entire experience.
Closing Comments
Ok, so the question always is would I go back? If I were in the area and wanted cheap/solid sushi, I would order the $40 omakase since it was exactly the same minus the uni, ungai, and toro. But, if I was really craving good sushi, I would have to pass and check out some other place.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Easy like Sunday mornings

I just had a craving for a nice baguette sandwich this morning so I ran over to the local grocery and picked up the following...

Whipped it all together and voila...!

Sandwich Ingredients :
Hudson Bread Baguette
Oven Roasted Turkey Slices
Saucisson Sec Slices
Schaller Double Smoked Bacon Slices
Shredded Parmesan Reggiano
Kewpie Mayonnaise
Fresh Black Pepper

Salad Ingredients :
Sliced Apples
Toasted Cashews
Olive Oil
Champagne Vinegar
Chopped Cucumbers
Sliced Apples

sing it Lionel!!!

Take-home cake form Perse

Places like Bouley, Le Bernardin, Eleven Madison, etc... all give you a super sweet cake to take home and perhaps revive your memory the next morning with your fresh brewed coffee.

This particular almond/chocolate lovely I had from Perse was absolutely delicious.
It was tremendously moist, not overly sweet, good amount of chocolate, and a punch in your face amount of delicious almond flavor was the perfect Sunday breakfast.


Perse - Highly Recommended ($$$$)
10 Columbus Circle
(4th Floor Time Warner Building)
New York, NY 10019

To be honest, I have been trying to avoid this place because the thought of dishing out close to 4 hundred dollars a head on a meal was just out of the question.
But a good friend flew in from Japan on business and wanted to see us the other night. He had contacted J around 5pm asking her if we could all have dinner that night.
In addition, he's quite the gourmand and asked if anyone was serving White Truffles yet.

Now (global) recession or not, places that serve fresh white truffles aren't really hurting for business. They actually are doing quite well. But these are only a handful of restaurants frequented by the wealthy. (The rest of us proletarians must save up a few months to literally taste the rich life)
So after calling Daniel, Le Cirque, Four Seasons, Le Bernardin, Jean Georges, I got the same reply, "I'm sorry sir, we are fully booked tonight."
It was now 5:25pm, and something dawned on me, while batting a big fat "Zero", why not call, "Perse". I had nothing to lose?
Since their Feb 16, 2004 opening, they have served a full dining room every night. With a 2 month reservation list, my chances were close to none. But I called and asked the receptionist, followed by the General Manager to double check as a favor.
Low and behold, I got a table for 3 at 7:30 that night.

Chef's Tasting Menu November 4, 2009

Gougeres ***
Unlike most gougeres out there, this technically crafted bite sized morsel had some cheese fondant injected inside them that immediately set the pace for the evening

Amuse Bouche
Salmon Cornets
Very tasty indeed. Perfectly prepared salmon tartare scooped on a semi-sweet cone filled with creme fraiche

"Oysters and Pearls" ***
Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters
and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar
Rich sabayon sauce with nice creamy oysters and nestled tapiocas garnished with a healthy quenelle of caviar

"Carnaroli Risotto Biologioco" ***
Castelrosso Cheese with Shaved White Truffles from Alba
Seriously generous shavings of white Alba truffles on a bed of very moist risotto

Herb Roasted Fillet of Atlantic Halibut ***
Romaine Lettuce "Paquette," San Marzano Tomato Marmalade
and Mustard Cress with Whole Grain Mustard "Beurre Blanc"
Imagine the thickest piece of halibut poelle'd in butter, then roasted to perfection, garnished with really tasty tomato reduced to a marmalade consistancy. Sauced with rich, unctuous beurre blanc

Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster Mitts ***
Trumpet Royale Mushrooms, Sweet Carrots, Globe Artichoke,
Petite Onions and Field Mizuna with "Barigoule" Emulsion
If I could rank all the lobster dishes I've ever had, this one would be top on my list. How this dish is prepared is beyond words. This was the 1 dish I will think about over and over again when I think about Perse

Thomas Farm's Supreme de Pigeon ***
"Cuisse Confite," Brasied Red Cabbage, Frisee
and Sunchoke Puree with "Sauce Perigourdine"
Just a great classic. Perigourdine sauce with roasted breast of pigeon

Snake River FArms' "Calotte de Boeuf Grillee" ***
Crispy Bone Marrow, Chestnut Pierogi, Haricots Verts
and Horseradish-Scented Creme Fraiche
with Northstar Sour Cherry Jus
The calotte is the cap covering the eye of the ribeye. Accompanied with bone marrow that has been removed from the bone and roasted to make a beautiful crispy outer shell

Blue Ledge Farm's "Crottina" ***
Slow Baked Beet Tapenade, Fried Pecans and Cutting Celery
with Blood Orange Coulis
Goat cheese with eye popping condiments

Pear Sorbet ***
"Silver Dollar" Pancakes, K & J Orchard's Asian Pear,
Bosc Pear Compote and Anise "Panna Cotta" with Almond Crisp
An explosion of pears. The greatest palate cleansing dish I have ever had

Pumpkin-Chocolate ***
Mast Brothers' Chocolate "Marquise," Pumpkin "Bavarois"
and Hazelnut Marshmallow with Spiced Ice Cream
Tons of pumpkin flavor with insanely flavorful condiments. Each condiment could have been the center piece of the dish

"Peanut Butter and Jelly" ***
Peanut Butter Mousse, Concord Grape Jam, Peanut "Genoise"
and Grape Sorbet with Dried Milk Tuile
Cleaver, playful dessert

Mignardises ***
Roasted hazelnuts, chocolate truffles, fresh toffee, all delightful

The food is right up there with my Robuchon experiences. But it's perhaps unfair to compare the 2 because Perse was conceived to compete with the best of the best in the world, while L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is a concept borrowed from a sushi bar, where you can interact with the chef, keeping things a bit more relaxed.
But if I had to give out numerical rankings, I would have to say this meal exceeded my already very high expectations and bumped my beloved L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon experience down to second place.

Every single dish was perfectly executed.
It was masterfully orchestrated and even the temperature of each dish was perfect.
I also found the servers spoke very clearly when explaining dish after dish. I truly ate like a king.
Hats go off to the Kitchen for their extraordinary execution. I can't say enough how impressed I am with everything that night. How each dish came out just the way the chef intended it to, is beyond me. There are just so many anomalies in a restaurant for a meal lose a point here and a point there. But Robuchon did it, and so does Per Se.

Finally, the price. I paid $1,616.80 for the 3 of us. I am not likely to repeat, but I'm glad I got to have experienced one of the greatest restaurants of our time.

After the meal, my guests and I were invited to take a tour of the kitchen and meet the chefs responsible for our outstanding meal.
Bravo indeed.

Fun acts :
Over 4000 square feet of kitchen and office space in the back. They even have a seperate "Chocolate Room".
With over 50 kitchen staff responsible for every meal served.

Friday, November 6, 2009


If you're hungry, and you're anywhere around Chicago, say "Portillo's," and you'll immediately get a smile with someone offering to go with you. This is a chain that has grown from literally from a trailer stand back in 1963 by Dick Portillo to 43 locations that are pseudo-diners all around including a large location smack dab downtown. Like many restaurants, when they grow like this, the quality is not as good as it used to be. But, it's still a good place to go. If there was a Portillo's in the Washington, DC area, that would be the best hot dog joint for a hundred miles around. Portillo's is a hot dog joint that is a level above the grease pits. There are the different types of hot dogs, like chili dogs, jumbo dog, Chicago hot dog, etc., beef/combo sandwiches, burgers, salads, desserts, and more. Many locations are also paired with another restaurant. This particular location I went to in Schaumburg, IL two months ago is a Portillo's/Barnelli's Pasta Bowl to get your Italian on in addition to getting some other good eats.

It's hard to choose what to get when you're there, since the food is pretty decent. They're also known for the beef sandwiches. During this particular visit, I had a classic Chicago hot dog (a.k.a. "salad on a bun"), which includes a quality hot dog, relish, mustard (no ketchup!), chopped onion, sport peppers, and a snappy pickle on a poppy seed bun. I also had a Maxwell St. style Polish sausage (with cheese), cheese fries, and a strawberry milkshake. Price for everything was $13.03, though there was a special on the Polish that comes with a drink at that juncture. All very good. Writing this makes me wish I had them now, all over again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


My father is visiting and brought over with him a bottle of this fine Single Malt Scottish Whisky. I've had the 12 year, and other Spey region single malts, but Macallan is a big name and an extra 6 years in Oak and Sherry tanks will only round out the flavors that much more.
I'm thinking I'll open it during Thanksgiving but is there really a reason to wait that long?

I'm expecting pleasant smokiness with a touch of spice. With most likely an ultra smooth finish which I've never experienced before.
I'm definitely going to make Ice Cubes with distilled water and have them ready for the uncorking.
Hmmmm, the more I think about it, I may just open it up tonight.

The Macallan is a single malt Scotch whisky, produced at Macallan Distillery near Easter Elchies House, at Craigellachie in the Speyside region. Originally, The Macallan was only matured in oak sherry casks brought to the distillery from Jerez, Spain. Beginning in 2004, The Macallan introduced a new main product, the Fine Oak series, with the whisky mellowed in bourbon oak casks as well as sherry ones.
- wiki -

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Costco Eatery

They say you shouldn't shop on an empty stomach, because you may pay for things you don't need. It really is true. One shopping mecca for a Dude is Costco with all the electronics, tires, kitchen tools, and, of course, food. When there, and you don't want to wonder off and blow your money, go have yourself some food at the eatery. Or heck, even if you know you're going to spend some green, get something to eat there anyway. Believe it or not, the food is quite good. Not only that, but the portions and prices follow suit. I used to work about 20 minutes away from one, and once in a while when I was broke and had only $2, I'd head over there for lunch. And I would get change back! For that, you get a nice-sized (1/4 pound), and very good-tasting hot dog on a soft, steamed bun, and a large cup that's refillable. The condiments to top your hot dog included ketchup, mustard (yellow and deli), chopped onion, and relish. Not a bad lunch for $1.50!

Other things on the menu are abnormally large churros, huge chicken Caesar salad, delicious Italian sausage with peppers, tasty pizza, and more. Pizza is sold by the slice or whole. You can order beforehand and pick it up as well. This is what I did last time. Right before I parked my car, I order a combo (only one size - 18"), walked in, paid, and when I finished, my pizza was, too.

Good eats for a day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's a snap!

For whatever work throws at you... R&D Meetings, Sales Meetings, Client Meetings, etc... I refuse to let them take away lunch.

The hotdog is quite possibly the best answer to a busy work day. You can choke one of these down with one hand, and listen to your annoyingly full voicemail with the other.

Total time it takes eating is less than 5 minutes. How wonderful.

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Dogfish Head Pangea

I had gone down to Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Delaware a few weeks ago with Devin, and brought back a bottle of Pangea.
The premise behind Pangea is to take one ingredient from each continent of Earth and incorporate it into the beer.

As I recall, there was

Crystallized ginger from Australia

Water from Antarctica

Basmati rice from Asia

Muscavado sugar from Africa

South American quinoa

European yeast

and North American maize

This was a slightly spicy ale that pairs well with mid to heavy flavored dishes.
It's on the sweet side (like most hardcore ales), with deep, bold, complex flavors.

I served it with a plate of olives, saucisson sec, castillo blue cheese, parmesan cheese, and tomato salad.
Simple finger foods while sipping on this great brew.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kikusui Shin-Zake

I had the great pleasure of hanging out with Mr. Takasawa, the 5th generation President of Kikusui Breweries this past week in Boston.
He brought a special gift for me, 2 cans of Kikusui Funaguchi "Shin Mai Shin Sake", straight from the packing line.
These are the very first 2 cans to make it to the US shores. WooHoo!

Think Beaujolais Nouveau of Sake except delicious.
Crafted from the first rice harvest of the year, this is a speedy process to brew and ferment the very first batch of sake on the market.

I will be sure to crack these open real soon and let you all know how it fares.

To the right of the green cans is also a new product called Kikusui Organic Junmai Ginjo.
This is a certified USDA Organic premium sake from Japan.
I heard it was a painful 5 year process to jump through all the hoops and obstacles our beloved USDA posed. But everything aside, this is one damn good brew.

I paired it with some fresh east coast oysters at my favorite Eastern Standard restaurant in Boston and it was without doubt a match made in heaven. The two perfectly complimenting each other. One played off the other with great harmony. Probably one of my best pairings I've ever put together.
If you have a chance, go get yourself a bottle of Kikusui Organic Junmai Ginjo, and pair it with freshly shucked oysters on a half shell. This will redefine your stance on sake whether you already like it or not.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fund Raising

While driving through Delaware last weekend, Devin and I stopped at Cappriotti's for their turkey sandwiches. Pretty damn good. But I think Jersey Subs still take the cake when it comes to heroes and submarines.

Up next to the pick up counter, there was "The" jar. I threw in a buck, which makes me part owner of the future augmentations right?

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