Sunday, October 31, 2010

When in Rome...

It's 8pm (Pacific Time) now, and I am sitting at the gate at SFO waiting for my flight which won't board for another hour.
I should be listening to my vm and perhaps catching up on emails, but all I can think about is the kickass meal I just had in Sausalito.

This little blib of a post won't do the restaurant justice, so I won't get into it til I have more time. So in the meantime, let's talk UNI.

Most NYC sushi chefs swear by California (Santa Barbara) Sea Urchin. And I'm a big fan. But to have it in California was a whole new experience.

Firm, Fresh, Uber Tasty, and Utterly Beautiful.
Words can't describe the "Awesomeness" of this gem from the ocean.

Argh, I'm gonna miss you San Francisco.

Anything is possible

A buddy of mine is about to open a killer resto in 2 weeks, right next to the Iron Chef.

Morimoto in Napa.
[They do over 600 covers a night (so there is demand) but it's just conceptually strange.]

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Diesel Fuel

Just flew into Napa this morning and BAM!
Quick reminder I'm in "Tree Hugging Country."
So California!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Zengo

What happens when you put together Mexican and Japanese culinary inspirations?
Well, if you are in NYC, the answer is Zengo.
A little zing in every bite. Bold flavors and surprisingly fun cocktails.

This was lunch a few days ago.
2 house concocted rolls, and Togarashi Fries on the side.
Not so bad.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nostalgically Nasty

I must have been sniffing the glue again at work because for some reason, I was craving "Spaghetti and Meatball" the other night.
I B-lined it to the neighborhood Brownstone Diner and sat my butt down.

Memory is a fickle thing. It had me thinking I was missing this silly dish I had from childhood.
(sigh)
And so there it was, just a pile of crap, piled on top of each other and pushed in front of me.
Meatballs were tough and obviously flavorless.
Pasta was predictably overcooked. It's as if "al dente" was a Taliban initiation ritual, and the diner was avoiding it like the plague.

I really don't know what else to say about S&M (the food guys), except I'm probably good for another 20 years til I have my next plate.

Kitchen

Now this is a stove!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chicken Korma

I wanted to cook up some Chicken Tikka Masala, but my local Indian grocery store didn't have a lot of the ingredients I needed, so I decided to do a hodge podge using a korma seasoning packet with the addition of tikka masala style ingredients. It came out friggin delicious. If you think about it, this is basically using my favorite cooking technique the braise - sear, saute, simmer. Any who - highly recommend this next time you're craving some Indian food. Caveat - you can keep it real and make your own curry powder but my Indian buddy swears by Shan's powder mix.

Ingredients
Cooked Basmati Rice
2 pounds chicken thighs, skin removed and bone in
1 Shan Korma Mix (use 3/4 box if you like it less spicy)
1 large onion diced
1 finger of ginger minced (2 tbsp)
3 green chillies minced (less chillies if you want to make it mild)
3 cloves garlic minced
1 small box pearl onions roasted and peeled
1 cup yogurt
3 cups crushed tomatoes
Chicken Fat/Skin (or canola oil)
1/3 cup water
Honey

1) Marinate chicken in 2 tbsp of Shan mix. Let sit for at least 30 mins.

2) Sear the chicken over medium high heat with some chicken fat extracted from the chicken (skins will give off a good amount of fat) in a large saute pan. The key is to not touch the chicken in the first 5 mins of cooking so it caramelizes well - a key to making this dish flavorful. Make sure to brown nicely on all sides, then set aside - about 5 more mins.

3) Saute the diced onion, chillies, and ginger in the same pan. Cook for 5 minutes over medium low heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant about 30 seconds.

4) Cook the rest of the Shan mix in the same pan with some more chicken fat or canola oil. Cooking spices seems to be a key technique when working with Indian food. This really amps up the flavor a bunch - about 5 minutes.

7) Add tomatoes and scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Let this brown for another 5 minutes - more flavor.

8) Add the chicken, pearl onions, water, and simmer for about 30 minutes covered.

9) Finish with some yogurt and a tsp honey for a creamy texture - stir in to incorporate. Final time to adjust - if you want it creamier add more yogurt. If you want to make it slightly sweeter go Bobby Flay on it add more honey. This is really a killer dish and definitely a go to from now on. It's relatively spicy, so if you can't take the heat reduce the number of chillies and the amount of spice mix you use. Spice mix also has a high sodium content so no need to season at all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Farmer's Market Brunch

Although some of you maybe sick of the term locavore, eating produce from farmer's markets are 1000x better than anything you'll get at Whole Foods. After visiting Stone Barns - an excellent farm in the Hudson Valley, I cooked up a delicious brunch made up of fried eggs, fried potatoes, and a side salad of mustard greens. The color of this egg yolk was pretty mind blowing to me (picture didn't do it justice) and the flavor was truly unparalleled. These eggs were picked and cleaned off that morning, so when you pick them up, they're as fresh as it gets. Even the friggin mustard greens and yukon gold potatoes where absurd in flavor and texture. If there are any farmer's markets nearby, go support your local farmers now and enjoy the better ingredients and cook up a delicious simple meal.

Elephant U

OK, granted the bar at Le Cirque (at the Bloomberg Building) is a pretty loud bar for a fancy joint.
That, and throw in a hot blonde waitress straight from Russia, via a Tourist's VISA from Canada...

I ordered a "Campari Soda" and got a "Cranberry Soda."
It's humorous to say the least.

Ahhhhh Perestroika.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Attack of the McRib

Last week Porthos mentioned to me that there had been published reports in various media outlets of the return of the elusive McRib to various McDonalds around the country.

I for one had never had the opportunity to bite into the elusive sandwich and understand what all the fuss and supposed cult following of what many people believe to be the best thing that they serve at any given point on their menu. I was not about to let go of this opportunity to pass. To get a sense of the accuracy of the media frenzy I turned to the McRib locater:
http://dudesonfoods.blogspot.com/2009/01/national-treasure-mcrib-locator.html to confirm these sightings. Several Confirmed and Unconfirmed sightings had placed McRib all over the greater metropolitan area no later than 10-23 at 6:00 PM EST.

Flash forward to 10-25 12:30 EST. I'm at work - I'm hungry. However employees were just not cool with the idea of me bringing back the smell of McDonalds into an office setting so I obliged before I got myself in trouble with HR for not adhering to environmental concerns expressed by ((jealous)) team members.

Dinner - wasted no time in seizing the opportunity. Sure enough the McD's right outside my apartment in Eastern midtown had one. After waiting 5 minutes for the clerk to deliver my bag of rib (I guess I have to cut them some slack - after all it is specialized processing) I was ready to go. No joke, even John Cougar Mellencamp came on McRadio singing Ain't that America! F'n Right it is! I'm thinking if you don't like the McRib you better get the hec out of my country!

So lot of build up so as surprising as this is for me, even someone who enjoys a Big Mac perhaps once a few months - totally underwhelmed. Its not horrible - it just does nothing for me. The sauce is bland - needs some sort of extra kick sweetness or spicyness to it. You think they would be accomplishing something by having two pickles and a few onions thrown in. Just an ok piece of meat in Ok BBQ sauce with no texture to it. I guess for context - um ok , its fast food ...but why all the fuss! Do the employees not make decent McRibs anymore - do they not care like their ancestors? I guess I'll never know.

Interestingly enough as I cam away hungry - I ordered one 99 cent hamburger, the first thing I ever remember having at McDonalds - and called it quits. Did I mention I got the Shortline and Mediterranean stickers? If anyone needs these let me know - I wont be going back for a while.

Lunch Special

Fish Lunch Special at Aburiya Kinnosuke.
45th between 2nd and 3rd.
$16.00 flat. What a deal.

Fried Chicken alla Coyle

Watched UFC 121 (Brock needs to learn how to fight) and fellow dude Coyle decided to cook up some Fried Chicken. This was a fried chicken unlike any other where the batter was not overly crispy, but more crisp and flaky - kinda like the fried taro you get at dim sum. This was due to the use of milk and egg in the batter and it completely friggin worked. Also, frying in crisco flavored with garlic, rosemary, and bay leaf really perfumes the house quite nicely...Glade should make a plug-in with that scent!

Wegmans

I am so happy! I've been paying attention to the opening of Wegmans in my neighborhood since I heard they were building one several months ago. I've been to one in Virginia, but it's quite far to go for shopping. I always thought it was unfair, since there are two near each other but none around me. Of course, that area has the demographic that is being catered to. At any given day, you'll find the parking lot with plenty of very nice vehicles. Now it's our turn to have a Wegmans, and today is opening day. If you haven't been to one, think Whole Foods but bigger, badder, better - with lower prices. You walk in, and the smells hit you from the various "departments." There's sushi, Indian, pizza, Asian, comfort foods, Thai, seafood, sandwich department and more. And to boot, this new shopping center also has a Best Buy AND a Costco! How cool is that!?!? Just in time for the holidays. Opening day had police directing traffic from over a mile out ,and employees in the doorways giving out those discount cards along with a recycled bag for shopping, lots of freebie coupons (spend $10 and get butter or bread for free in week 1), a food magazine, and more. 5 miles and 7 minutes away. Yes, I counted. Oh yes, we're going to be great friends, the Wegmans and me.

http://www.wegmans.com/
9001 McHugh Dr.
Lanham, MD
20706
240-487-5400
6AM - midnight

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Brunch

Steaks are good any meal of the day.
But when there's Sunday NFL football on all day, a steak makes extra special sense.
Quiche and Salads just won't cut it in this household.

Obsessed Much?

Why yes. While these puppies are out for a limited time, it's McRib Time!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bo Ssam

Where else do I go to "EAT"?!
When it's "game-time", the answer is always Momofuku.
And with their plethora of eateries, I chose the Ssam Bar for the incredibly delicious Bo Ssam.

Not only do they use one of the best Berkshire/Duroc crossbreed piggies out in the US market, the meat is marinaded for 6 hours prior to cooking. Then a humbling 8 hours in the oven ensuring the meat is "fall off the bone good".

To take it over the top, you pack it in a lettuce leaf and spoon over kimchi puree and scallion oil for bodacious flavor. And as if that weren't enough to create the ultimate Umami bomb, you top that off with a creamy and briny raw oyster.
Flavor on flavor, with texture on texture, and then more flavor.

Truly one of the best things ever created by man.

Autumn at McDonald's


Updating a server farm of over a hundred servers means getting out of work in the wee hours of the morning. What's open at that time when thirsty besides bars? Mickey D's! And with Porthos' fall season drink at the Bucks in mind, I decided to try what was advertised: pumpkin pie milkshake. I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, but I don't dislike it, either. But it's autumn, and it just seems like the thing to do. And I'm glad I went with my gut feeling on this cuz it was pretty darn good. If you don't like pumpkin pie much, that's okay... cuz this is better!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I mean... Come On!

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Very Quick Scrambled Egg Lunch

The thought of scrambled eggs have been on my mind for 2 days from a conversation with a friend. Since I'll be doing maintenance, upgrading, patching, and other mundane things on my server farm tonight into the wee hours of the morning and even tomorrow, I'll be heading into the office late today. In about 7 minutes, I took a few things out of my fridge, scrambled them up, threw them in tortillas, and had a Very Quick Scrambled Egg Lunch. Ingredients were 2 eggs, Chihuahua cheese (that I brought back with me from Chicago since I can't find this ANYWHERE in DC), (thinky sliced) red onion I had laying around, and some leftover piggy from the bo ssäm I made on Sunday (blog post coming soon to a theatre near you), and some cumin. Started nuking tortillas for 1 minutes, heated some butter and olive oil in the pan, threw in the pork and onion to sizzle a bit, emptied the bowl of whipped eggs & cumin, scrambled them a few seconds, turned off heat, and threw in the cheese. I took the tortillas out of the microwave, put them on a plate with the eggs, and a moment later, I was munching down on some quick, sloppy, tasty food.


















Takashi

The tri-state boys were out in full force last night and ended hitting up Yakiniku Takashi.

Since I've been before, I took the liberty of ordering, and as always ordered a little too much.
- 12 orders of Kalbi
- 8 orders of White Rice
- 1 order of Kimchi
- 1 order of Horumon
- 7 Drinks

By the last 3 servings of Kalbi were a bit painful. But that didn't stop us one bit. We ate every morsels of goodness like true champs.

Yakiniku Takashi's quality of meats is unrivaled in the Manhattan. And I just happened to visit Gyukaku (in the village) the day before. So the comparison was fresh in my head.

How should I put this? Basically there was no comparison. It's like putting Megan Fox and Katy Perry against each other. Quality, Taste, overall Experience was in Takashi's favor.
In Layman's terms, you'd gladly eat either one if placed in front of you, but the preferred meal is Crystal CLEAR.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A moment of silence

I had some business to attend to today down in Tribeca, and I walked by what once was one of the greatest restaurants in Manhattan.

We surely miss you...

Bouley Studio

This will be my second chicken sandwich post of the day and I'm not afraid to do it.

Bouley Studio on the corner of Duane and W Broadway is probably one of my favorite joints for a quality quick bite.
You pay a 20-30% premium but each ingredient is just leagues better than the rest. Truly yummy stuff.

Hand shredded moist organic roasted chicken, avocados, last of the seasonal heirloom tomatoes, crisp lettuce and thinly shaved red onions, all neatly layered with real mustard seed mustard and a touch of mayo, all on a perfectly fresh baked baguette.

$8.00
Do It!

Oops, I did it again

I just love it. These pseudo fancy sandwiches from Starbucks really hit the spot when a hot dog or meat on a stick just won't do.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thanksgiving is a-Comin!

Thanksgiving, lately, means dinner with my best friend in DC, Marcus. His family comes in from different places, they break out all the good food, I'm with people close to me, and I feel like part of his family. You know, like the show Diff'rent Strokes. I also have the privilege to experience different food than what I grew up with for Thanksgiving like greens, mac-n-cheese, yams, and so on. Because of this, I try making the dishes myself, and I think my collard greens are quite good now, thank you very much - what with the bacon fat, turkey, and so on. Anyway, this time of the year I get excited for many reasons, and one of them is his gathering. The peach cobbler that his mom makes takes me into the stratosphere. I. Effin. Love it! They gave some for me to take home one year. I never told them this, but even after the huge dinner, it never made it home.

There; I said it.









Advantage

I talk about how DC doesn't have great sushi, but then I should also realize that it is probably much, much better than what's in most of the country. For example, here is lunch today: chirashi and miso soup. No big deal, simple, and relatively cheap at $15. And, it's right up the street from me. And, it's relatively probably pretty damn good in comparison if I were in pure Americana suburbia or some poe-hunk little town. I should be happy. And you know what? This suddenly tastes better. It is... oishi!

Gordon Ramsay : Chicken Tikka Masala

It's no secret I really like Gordon Ramsay's style of cooking.
Yah, he plays a hard-ass on TV (not far from the truth), and some of the scenes are edited to exaggerate the reality of the scenario, but that's show business.


video

Coca-Cola History

If you are a big fan like me, it's pretty interesting.

video

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

McRib Sandwich

First day of the highly anticipated McRib sandwich from McDonald's.

Talk about a true Dude Food, Foods for Dudes, no matter how you say it, it's this kind of genius thinking that makes the US of A so great!

Every kid enlisting into the armed forces should be issued along with their sidearm, 50 rations of McRibs when they go on leave. It's the right thing to do.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Um yeah, I'm gonna get me some STAT.

Velo Bistro Wine Bar - Review

Intro
Velo Bistro Wine Bar - Recommended
12 N Broadway
Nyack, NY 10960-2620
Phone: (845) 353-7667

The wife and I wanted to break the normal weekend routine - you know: Whole Foods, Home Depot, Target...good times. So, we decided to head up north to the Hudson Valley area and picked this cute town called Nyack. It has a Hoboken type feel, but with an older crowd - a ton of shops, restaurants, and bars right on the Hudson River. Looking at Yelp and the chow boards, people were raving about Velo and while this is not blow you away food, it's solid serving comforting food which is perfect for the cold weather. Apologies for the blurry pictures - looks like the droid camera doesn't do well in very dark places.

Our Menu
Mussels in a Pesto Broth **
I haven't had mussels in forever and it's perfect food for the cold weather. These were nicely cooked with most being plump and juicy. The thing that put this over the top was the spectacular broth that was spiked with pesto. Add the nicely charred bread which was a perfect sponge for this broth that has crack-like addicting qualities.

Mac and Cheese
*
Shaved Black Truffle and White Truffle Oil, Pesto Bread Crumbs
Creamy and loose cheese sauce (perfect texture) served with a papardelle-like noodle, but slightly thinner. The sauce was flavored nicely, but I'd like a little more cheese flavor and less truffle. Still pretty tasty though.



Prosciutto Wrapped Cod (special) *
The cod in general was pretty moist, served with a nice onion cream sauce and very buttery mashed potatoes. The sides of brussel sprouts, fried matchstick potatoes, and some type of sweet root veg (parsnip or sweet potato) were uber comforting for the weather. The proscuitto didn't do much to the cod though in terms of flavor - just keeping the fish moist.

Homemade Brownie and Vanilla Ice Cream
Brownie wasn't my cup of tea. I'm a bigger fan of a chewy brownie rather than one with a cakey texture. The combo of ice cream and brownie was nice though.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (7.8/10) – Satisfying bistro food. Nothing blow your mind, but still exactly what I wanted with the cold weather.
  • Service (8.5/10) – The server was pretty damn good. Our's was friendly and made good recommendations of the dishes and the wine. Food came out at a pretty good pace.
  • Atmosphere (8.0/10) – Reminds me of plenty of restaurants in Hoboken with the exposed brick, darker decor, and candle lights. Kind of like a nice bar type of feel. We got there at 5pm on a Saturday and were the first ones in and were seated right away. The place was packed with mainly families and some other groups of people. We were definitely the youngest ones there over 18.
  • Price (7.5) - Price was ok for the quality of the food. About 23-28 an entree which wasn't so horrible to me.
Closing Comments
Great times in Nyack and the food was pretty good at Velo. I wouldn't make a trip from NJ just to eat here, but I would go again since these flavors are definitely in my strike zone with the cold weather.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Food Wars - Second Seasons Sucks...

I'll admit it, I was a fan of the first season of Food Wars. The original premise of the show was to pit two rival restaurants in a city to a blind taste test. The tasters usually included a super fan from each restaurant, a critic, and two local celebrities. It was always fun watching the super fans to see if they can guess their favorite restaurant or eff up and pick the rival restaurant. Also, the concept is something we dudes employ - if there are arguments of who serves the best dish, why not try both the same night to settle the dispute...right guys?

Any who, season 2 has been airing and the new format b-lows. Instead of having a blind taste test, the restaurants now present their dish to the judges and they get to talk about the food - pretty dumb in my opinion. That was the whole fun trying to guess based on taste alone without any other factors. Also, they've dropped the super fans and added the host as a judge. Again, another terrible move as the super fans potential to guess the wrong dish made it a reason to watch. Pretty awesome when the super fans talk loads of trash and then incorrectly picking the rival dish. Finally, having the host be part of the judging makes no friggin sense, since she already tastes each dish in the respective restaurant kitchens to begin with. Needless to say, this series is definitely going to be deleted from the tivo...maybe I'll give the rip-off Food Feuds a try...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Arnold Palmer

When on the links, what else would you drink besides a cool brisk "Arnold Palmer"?

McRib is Back

Remember those McRib sandwiches at McDonald’s with the delicious, zesty BBQ sauce with the meat falling off the bone? I really don’t, since I was but a young lad when it was readily available. Apparently there are no bones, and heck, it’s not even rib meat. But what the heck, I’d like to give it a try, since, on November 2nd, they’ll be readily available again for a short time. There’s quite a following for these sandwiches and stories of people driving 4 and 10 hours when they hear of a McD’s offering it, since they still do appear from time to time at select locations. Read this NPR article, or better yet, listen to the interview to hear about others who blog about it, create Facebook pages for it, and so on. This makes me want to eat the sandwich more so than what the actual sandwich will be. I gotta recollect if I liked this sandwich or not. There is really a cult following to it. In fact, look at the replies to Aramis' 2-year old post.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Edible La-Yu

Granted even vegetables can taste GREAT with a steak, this edible La-Yu is a fantastic condiment.

Marketed as 食べるラー油 (La-Yu) in Japan, this is a home run condiment that is about to hit the US market.

Not overly spicy but flavorful and accompanied with deliciously roasted garlic, I am a FAN!

Unbelievable

Most likely not up for a Michelin Star.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ruby Tuesday's (Orlando Airport)

Slim pickens my friends.
I chose what I thought was bulletproof and yet these corporate chefs never cease to amaze me.

How this was OK'd for the menu is beyond me.
This was absolutely horrible.

If there was the opposite of a Bocuse D'or, these guys would place pretty high.

The Fountain of Youth is at McDonald’s!

No, really; they found the secret of looking young. Just ask Sally Davies, a New York-based artist and photographer. She bought a happy meal back in April, has taken pictures of it, and posting them to her Flickr account ever since. The incredible thing is that it looks – but not feels – almost like it did from the day she bought it. It didn’t even accumulate mold. She did this because she told her friend that she heard of a teacher that has a 12-year old Mickey D’s burger that still looks the same. Perhaps this is the secret to Ronald looking so young. Heck, have you seen what he looked like years ago? Worse than now! McD’s needs to go into the Nip Tuck biz.

You know what’s the saddest thing is, however? After reading this article, seeing the various pictures & videos out there…. it still won’t stop me from getting a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger. (No ketchup/extra pickles, thank you.) I know, I know!


That's right; you know you want it.