Monday, February 28, 2011

Papardelle Pseudo Bolognese alla Carbonara?

I wanted to cook up something special for my wife and she loves ground beef and eggs, so I immediately thought pasta. Then, I started thinking papardelle and a pseudo bolognese sauce made sense. I remembered enjoying raw egg yolk in some versions of carbonara in Rome, so I figured why not combine both. The one thing to note is the importance of acidity here as I believed egg yolk and bolognese would be way too heavy, so I brightened the dish up which made it sooo much more delicious and made you want to eat tons of the dish. Now, most Italians will poo-poo on this dish since it's not traditional at all, but it really is friggin delicious.

1/2 pound fresh papardelle
1/2 pound ground beef
1 diced sweet onion
1/4 tbsp butter
2 sprigs each of minced rosemary, thyme, and sage
1 pinch celery seed (didn't have celery at home)
5 crushed cloves garlic
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup Parmiggiano-Reggiano
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 egg yolks

1) Sweat the onions and herbs in some butter over low heat. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions get soft. Salt, pepper, and celery seed.

2) Cook the tomato paste for 5-10 minutes with the fire increased to high heat to concentrate the flavors. Add the balsamic and cook down for another 3 minutes. The balsamic will add some sweetness and brightness to the dish which will help balance out the egg yolk.

3) Add the meat over the high heat for about 5-10 minutes until browned. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

4) Add the wine and reduce down. Cook for another 5-10 minutes then add the tomatoes. When it comes to a boil, reduce to low heat and let it go for an hour or so. I omitted the milk, since the yolk would make this sucker creamy enough - hence the Pseudo Bolo.

5) Finish the sauce. Add the lemon juice which does not make it taste sour, but really makes the sauce taste more alive and slightly sweeter. Add the rest of the butter which enhances the texture and flavor. Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning.

6) Start cooking the pasta in boiling water heavily salted water. Since the pasta is fresh, I cooked it about 1 minute. Taste it - it should be still slightly raw in the middle.

7) Toss the pasta in the meat sauce and cook for 1-2 minutes. Finish with the oil and cheese and taste one last time and adjust for seasonings. Plate the pasta and finish with more oil, cheese, pepper, and add the egg yolk in the middle. Buono appetito!

The Cobb Salad

Yah. I don't care what you say.
I had a "salad" for lunch the other day and it was glorious.

Ham, bleu cheese, bacon, shrimp, tomatoes, eggs, avocados on top a bed of mesclin greens.

C'est Bon Magnifique

Take-Out Steak

Does this look like a steak you'd get from a take out menu?

I didn't think so either but that's precisely what it is.

ChopHouse in Wilmington, NC serves up one killer Angus ribeye steak.

Beautiful marbling, great dry aged beefy flavor, and grill marks done by a seasoned line-cook.

What more could you want?
Half the price you said?
This steak was 28 bucks!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


It wasn't too long ago, the only condiments on an American picnic table were Ketchup and Mustard.

But the other day, Aramis and I spotted Sriracha at Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck, NJ, right on the "fixins" counter.

Hey, what's good is good.

Branzino (no head)

Most times, when you order a "Whole Branzino", the head comes with it. The cheek meat is actually my favorite.

But perhaps having a fish head on a plate in Jersey City is still too ethnic.

Other than the minor complaint, I was pretty darn happy with the dish.
Hi5 Chef.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Not A Fan

I got a sample of this new sparkling tea a few weeks ago and I gotta say, it's quite terrible.

But obviously the producers of this product seem to have enough confidence in unveiling it to some distributors here in NYC.

Any-who, I'm definitely not a fan.
I love Jasmine Tea. I love bubbles. But this just does not work for me.

What next?

Some people have bottle openers, some have mini flashlights. But for the Iron Chef in you, try the new microplane keychain for a change.

Who couldn't use a little bit more grated parmegiano reggiano?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Riot Food

We've been hearing about the revolts in the Middle East and even out here in the good ol U.S.A. in the dairyland of Wisconsin. Although not as popular as the overturning of Hosni Mubarak and (possibly) Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, the protesting in Madison, WI has been heard around the world as shown in this article:

Ian's Pizza sent their leftover pizzas to the protesters, and someone in California followed suit by phoning in and donating pizzas as well. God bless the Internets and the media, and word traveled via news outlets, Twitter, Facebook, and more. At this writing, except for 5, all states, and DC, have reached out to Ian's Pizza to have pizza delivered to the protesters. It went past our borders, and people from other countries, including Egypt, have also donated.

And speaking of the wonderful world of technology and coups, you gotta love how the father in Egypt who just had her daughter after ousting Mubarak and named her "Facebook." Imagine her relationships in the future... "complicated."

Okay back to your regularly scheduled programs...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Flushing mall to be torn down...

Red alert. Red alert. Reports coming in that the flushing mall and it's stupendous food court will be torn down and replaced by a parking lot. Go get your shaved ice and various dumplings while you can...


The wife and I finally made it out to Eataly, the uber food mall by Mario Batali, and although I love all things Italian - this place sucks. It feels like I'm at Lollapalooza except I'm not seeing an awesome band. It's a chaotic mosh pit with absolutely no flow to the traffic. Not a great way to shop for ingredients.

Not only does the traffic flow suck, the one food item we tried was sub par - the focaccia pizza. Although it looked promising, it was truly subpar - foccacia was deliciously airy and fluffy, but the tomato and mozzarella were completely bland.

Although I'm pretty anti-Eataly now, I may be forced to come back since I finally found Bucatini (spaghetti with a hole in the middle) which is impossible to find anywhere in the states. Pretty happy about that and I may have to make some bucatini all'amatriciana soon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ciano - Review

Ciano - Dude Grade: B+
45 East 22nd Street (at Park Ave)
New York, NY
Phone: (212) 982-8422

I have to admit - I am a big fan of the chef here Shea Gallante. He started with Pino Luongo and then Lidia Bastianich, so you know he understands pasta well. After he upped his game and worked for Bouley which you can see in his food - really elevated techniques and refined cuisine. He capped that off earning three stars from the NY Times at the phenomenal Cru. Now, he's opening up Ciano where he takes delicious comfort Italian food and just elevates them off with his technique. Highly Recommended.

Our Menu

Crostino w/ Dungeness Crab ***
What a way to start the meal. This was a flavor bomb. A light mayo sauce (not drenched) covering the amazingly sweet dungeness crab - almost reminded me of a lobster roll. Then, add the great smoky/crunchy bread and topped with the salty flavorful salami - you have an awesome couple of bites.

Crostino w/ Whipped Chicken Livers **
I love me some chicken livers and these were exceptional. These were just really refined - an incredibly light airy texture. Huge chicken liver flavor that was just so friggin delicious.

Great texture on the rice and nice and crisp on the outside. Unfortunately, this was completely bland which was massively disappointing considering how phenomenal the crostinos were.

Rainbow Beets **
with whipped robiola, wild watercress and 12yr aged balsamic
I've seen this dish 100x and these were still great. Perfectly cooked beats that worked so well with the creamy robiola cheese and the ground pistachio nuts. Great combo of texture and flavors.

Roasted Veal Meatballs ***
served with creamy white polenta with herbs and truffle pecorino

Another complete WTF dish. I love me some meatballs and they're always homey/comforting and delicious. However, these are just on a completely different level - technique was so refined and spot on. The meatballs were soft and incredibly flavorful, but what put this over the top was the veal demi, creamy polenta, and pungent truffle pecorino. It was like a 100 hit combo that knocked me the eff out.

Pappardelle *
with Duck Bolognese, Oregano, and Pecorino di Noce

Pasta texture was perfect and the bolognese flavor was sooo delicious - love the twist with the duck. The thing that distracted me was the fact that it was a tad salty - probably accentuated by adding parmiggiano afterwards. We asked for a side of olive oil and it totally helped mellow everything out and actually made it taste more delicious.

Tortellini ***
with braised oxtail and fontina cheese fonduta

Another WTF pasta dish. As usual, the pasta texture was phenomenally al dente. Then, the interior was another flavor bomb - unctuous oxtail sitting on a tasty cheese fonduta. This is definitely one of the best pastas I've had in a long, long time.

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 (A-) - Phenomenal Italian food that serves very elevated cuisine. Even the breads were phenomenal which are toasted in the fireplace in the middle of the dining room. Unfortunately, the arancini was a miss and the papardelle was a tad off. Still, when this place is on, I don't think you can find a better Italian place in the city.
  • Service (A+) – The server we had was perfect - friendly, engaging, checked in often, and recommended phenomenal dishes. The food came out at a perfect pace - only about 5-10 min wait. As a side note, there's a hostess that looks like a model wearing a sexy evening gown. Seemed quite odd, but no complaints :)
  • Atmosphere (B) – Oddly, everything was very flesh colored and dimly lit - pretty romantic. It's a weird mix here as they're straddling a relaxed vibe (christopher cross playing in the background) and fine dining as all the waiters wear suits. We got there at 5:30 on a Saturday and were immediately seated. The place did get crowded with an interesting mix of older couples (70+), middle aged couples, and large groups. We definitely brought the average age down though.
  • Price (B-) - Price was around $80 a person which is a tad pricey (include a couple of glasses of wine), but the food was so good and the service was phenomenal. What caught us off guard was the pastas were listed as $16, but the server mentioned we can double it up as an entree portion. Unfortunately, we didn't put two and two together and realized that this would double the price from $16 to $30. The overall experience is still worth it in my opinion.
Closing Comments
For me, this is probably tied with Salumeria Rosi for the best Italian food in the city. Salumeria Rosi is way more rustic and laid back, but I would go to Ciano for more refined upscale Italian. Locanda Verde's right in the middle (not as good as either though) - no where near as refined techniques as Ciano, but slightly more refined that Salumeria Rosi.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Huong Viet - Review

Huong Viet - Dude Grade: B
358 Passaic Avenue
Nutley, NJ 07110-2737
Phone: (973) 667-0827

After moving out to the burbs of Northern New Jersey from Hoboken, there were two styles of cuisine which I have been having a hard time finding a decent replacement - Vietnamese food and a Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich. I can now cross Vietnamese off the list. My former go to Vietnamese joint was Nha Trang in Jersey City, but I read about this place online and it friggin rawks. I basically ordered what we always order at Nha Trang as comparison and it's light years better in my opinion and highly recommended.

Our Menu

Cha Gio (Fried Pork Spring Rolls) **
This is a really flavorful, perfectly crispy spring roll. Great pork flavor and even the romaine lettuce was of higher quality than Nha Trang.

Pho Dac Biet (Beef Soup with Tendons, Meatballs) **
This is by far the best Pho I've had on the East Coast - though Seattle may still take the cake in my opinion. The first thing you notice is how fragrant and flavorful the broth is. I think it has a pleasant aroma of star anise and cinnamon. Then, you take a bite of the noodles and you realize it's perfect al denteness and also the noodle to broth ratio is just right. The meatballs and tendons were also great, but the beef as with the majority of pho joints were slightly chewy and not super flavorful. Still a phenomenal pho.

Cai Xanh Xao Toi (Sauteed Mustard Greens) **
Perfectly cooked mustard greens where it was not insanely bitter. Nice and fragrant again from the fried garlic and what me thinks is potentially cooking in the pho broth. Even the sliced onions were delicious here.

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 (A) - The best Vietnamese food I've had in the East Coast.
  • Service (D+) – Servers were friendly, but this place is slow as eff. Funny as we were just watching Kitchen Nightmares before we left and I could hear Gordon screaming at them in the back of my head for the slow service. About 15 minutes to serve each dish which is ridiculous considering the place was empty and it's just fried food (4 mins top) and pre-made broth.
  • Atmosphere (C+) – A much nicer atmosphere than you'll get at your standard pho joints. White subway tile walls with nice wood floors. The place looks like it'll seat 30 or so, but it was dead on this Sunday night. Only 2 other tables (groups of 6+) were there that night.
  • Price (B-) - Standard pho prices which kick ars - pho is about $7, but the service was not great so that subtracts from the grade.
Closing Comments
Even though the service was hella slow, it's 100% worth the visit since the pho broth was out of control good. Definitely will return and try out some other dishes next time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Prime Meats - Review

Prime Meats - Dude Grade: A
465 Court Street
at Luquer St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Phone: (718) 254-0327

We dudes always debate which burger reigns supreme in the NYC area. My go to burger was always JG Melon which consistently won out over all burger pretenders. However, Porthos has been telling me the Prime Meats burger was on another level. With so much hype from Porthos, I figured it'll be tough to live up to the reputation, but it does. Hands down this is the best burger in the NYC area - not even close for me.

Our Menu

House-made Pretzel **
Great pretzel flavor and perfect texture. Crispy where the "x" is and soft and chewy around the edges. Super fun with the sweet mustard - not too sweet and spicy/delicious mustard flavor.
Grilled Bratwurst *
Moist and fun to eat.

Bacon and Braised Red Cabbage **
Like many other items we had, it was an eye opener saying "oh, so this is what it's supposed to taste like." The bacon had some great smoke, was slightly sweet and intensely porky/fatty. Really phenomenal and the red cabbage was incredibly tasty and acidic which cut the richness of the bacon.

The Prime Meats Burger ***
1/2 lb. Creekstone Certified Black Angus, house-made sesame roll & fermented dill pickle, lettuce, tomato, onion & hand-cut French fries

Every single thing I look for in a burger was found in The Prime Meats Burger. A ridiculously awesome beef flavor that's funky enough due to the ageing, but not so funky that it detracts from the experience. A nice sear/crispy char on the outside with perfect seasoning that's also very juicy. The sesame roll had some great flavor, but my only complaint was the meat to bun ratio was a tad off - a bit too much bun in my opinion. Any who, this is hands down the best burger for me.

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 (A) - Phenomenal burger and the other dishes kicked massive ars also.
  • Service (B) – Hostess was nice and friendly. Server did his job, but the food came out a tad slow...not awful though since the beers kept me occupied.
  • Atmosphere (A) – Love the vibe here. In the back, it's high ceilings with a lot of sunlight and it felt like a cross between St John's and any Steakhouse with the bright white walls with the dark wood panel trim. The place was pretty busy for a Friday lunch. The crowd was a mix of young and old couples, groups, and dudes hanging out. A consistent theme though is there are a ton of hipsters obviously.
  • Price (A) - $16 for the best burger in the nyc area. Can't beat that.
Closing Comments
Porthos always told me to check this place out, but living out in NJ - it's such a pain in the ars to take the F train to get out to Brooklyn. Now that I've been, I will 100% make that journey since I love this place. Comfort food at it's best cooked really eff'n good. The chef told us they're working on a roast chicken special with foie gras and chicken shmaltz (fat) I 100% want to go back for that.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shrooms & Butter

Like Bonnie and Clyde. These two just work well together.

Now with a little thyme and a little garlic, you got yourself a killer side dish for your steak.

With just a little soy sauce, it's an instant Japanese classic.

Throw in some clam broth and toss some linguine, you got a killer pasta dish.

Endless classics from two best friends.

I Love Scotch

It's all about the type of wood and how much wood the scotch sees.
For this particular little gem, it's matured in Spanish Oloroso casks with extra sherry butts for that unique roundness.

Very impressive and surprisingly not more than a JW Green Label.

I'm actively searching out small distilleries from now on. Just like anything else out there, it's all about the small hand crafted products that really WOW people.

Not to mention this is cask strength. Another delightful plus.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Prime Meats

I've constantly raved about this place for the past few months. And finally Aramis came along for the journey.

Yup, the burger rocked! And I'll let Aramis write up his thoughts on that later.

But every time I go, there's something new that rocks my world.
This time was the in-house maple smoked bacon on fermented red cabbage.
Are you kidding me guys?!

Absolutely delicious.

Friday, February 18, 2011

My favorite beer ever...

Victory Moonglow Weizenbock. Devin introduced me to this phenomenal beer this past week during the Victory beer tasting and I was floored by how delicious this beer is. Huge complex flavors - slightly smoky like scotch, a bit of fruit and spice. A phenomenal beer for the colder weather.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

8# of goodness down to 2#

Bo Ssam last week.
3 dudes tackling the meal that normally feeds 6 to 8 adults.

Really hit the spot!

Original Fettuccine Alfredo

2/17/11 10:00 AM
Did you know that the original recipe for fettuccine alfredo does not actually involve a pre-made sauce?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beer Night

written at 11:25pm Tuesday night.

Fellow dudes Devin and Aramis came out tonight to the Victory Brewery Tasting at Stag's Head on 51st and 2nd Ave. 
Totally worth the trip folks.  Because not only was there free beer, but the beers were PHENOMENAL!!!

Victory is a brewery located in Pennsylvania. 
As Devin puts it, "Everything Victory puts out, is wonderful.  Solid freaking Craft Beer."
Both Aramis and I were also blown away with the quality tonight. 

We tried 4 awesome beers but I can only seem to remember the last one.  (hey it's late and it's been a long day)
Saison Du Buff - a collaboration between Stone, Dogfish and Victory.  If you know anything about each of these breweries, you can actually taste all their signature flavor profiles in this single beer. 
Clean, Crisp, Medium Bitters with a gentle Citrus Hoppy finish.  Medium Light body with a aristocratic beginning, middle and end. 
The beer just tasted unbelievably clean and possibly is now my favorite beer.  (Pushing Dogfish Head 90 to #2)
If you love Sake, this beer is right up your alley.  All the tasting notes reminded me of a well crafted Junmai Daiginjo Sake. 

And oh yes, although not part of the Victory tasting, we got to try a sip of a one of a kind. 
Magic Hat - Brass Monkey with Brett. Hence "Funky Monkey"
You could totally taste the ripe funk in this beer.  I've never thought too much about Magic Hat but this one was exceptional. 
Thank god for Brett. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kimchi and Pork Belly

You've heard it before, and I'll say it again. There are just some things on this green earth that go really well together. Tomatoes and Basil, Chocolate and Hazelnuts, are just a few.

And tonight's dinner of Pork Belly and Kimchi is another All-Star combo. Out of this world delicious.

East Corner

East Corner Wonton - Dude Grade: C+
70 East Broadway
New York, NY
Phone: (212) 343-9896

All the foodies out there always point to Flushing or even Sunset Park now for delicious authentic Chinese food. I feel the attitude of many NY'ers is that Chinatown is really for "the tourists." My wife and I rarely go to Chinatown to eat anymore, but we had some errands to run down there so we decided to pop into this random joint. I was pretty damn happy as this place is straight up fun comfort food. Nothing mind blowing and probably not even authentic if you compare it to Hong Kong. But, this is authentic American Chinatown food which is basically the taste of my childhood.

Our Menu

Congee w Pork and Preserved Egg **
Whenever I'm sick or feeling down, this dish is my #1 go to comfort food. Generally, it's bland and I usually like to spike it up with a dash of soy and white pepper, but this friggin rocked - no extra seasoning required. Perfect texture and flavor and they don't cheap out on the portions of pork and egg. Big winner for me and this maybe my favorite congee I've had in Chinatown.

Hong Kong Style Noodles with Roast Duck *
Another comfort food item which was pretty fun. Noodles had a nice texture, but the sauce was a tad too much. The duck was real fun to eat 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 (C+) - Delicious comfort food that reminded me of my childhood. Not Hong Kong authentic, but still delicious.
  • Service (C) – Standard Chinatown service -very quick and not overly friendly. Works for me.
  • Atmosphere (C-) – Again, standard Chinatown joint where it's small, cramped and loud. Tons of kids with zero parental control being crazy loud and even running around and bumping into other people's chairs. Crowd consisted mainly of Chinese families with one table of tourists.
  • Price (A) - Roast duck noodles were $4 and congee was $2.75. Friggin amazing for delicious comfort food.
Closing Comments
This maybe go to for congee from now on and if I'm ever in the area, I would totally get takeout from here.

Sashimi Platter at Home

Roughly $25 from the Japanese grocery store, this is a great alternative to going to a restaurant.
Unless you are looking for the very best, this will do.

And being able to eat at your leisure at home is a huge plus as well.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Knife Sharpening

It's been a few months now since I put on a kick ass edge on my knives. The honing steel can only do so much to realign the teeth you know?

But the thing was, I realized my sharpening stones were a bit warped.
After about 15 to 20 new edgings, you are supposed to re-flatten the surface of your stones so they can give you that perfect Japanese flat single edge.

So I spent a good 30 minutes just grinding and flattening my 2 stones.

And you know what?
It was worth it. Looooooove the new edge on my babies.


At Mitsuwa in Edgewater about to get my Tonkatsu on.

豚, it's what's for dinner

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dim Sum

Getting my dim sum on before my trip to HK next month.

Cappuccino che triste

I have never been a coffee drinker, but on my recent trip to Italy, I kinda picked up a coffee habit.

Now back states side, I just can't seem to get the good stuff.

Everything is weak and over sugared.

How sad.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sugar Dusted Croissant

I had never seen one like this until I visited Milan.
Right outside Prada's flagship store, in the galleria near the cathedral, this cafe makes hand over fist.
Golden rule of retail, Location, Location, Location.

People say the breakfast pastries are the best here but in all honesty, I was duped into a tourist trap.
Argh, hate when that happens.

Sushi 4G

Not only did this roll have imitation crab and spicy tuna inside, it was deep fried, sliced, then squirted with spicy mayo and dusted with tobiko fish eggs.

Truly an American original.

And I liked it!

Monday, February 7, 2011


I love Italian sausage made with tons of fennel.
They're not only delicious, but soooooo easy to make at home.

I'm burning the midnight oil working on some reports and what not. Tummy started growling 30 min ago.
I can't tell you how glad I am to have had these links in the fridge.

I think work will have to wait while I sit back, watch some Superbowl highlights with a nice cold beer and these sausages on the couch.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

American Banquet Halls

Why do all Banquet Halls serve similar, if not the same boring dishes?
I mean seriously, we have all seen this exact same salmon dish at weddings, bar mitzvahs, reunions and even cruises.
I wonder if all these "chefs" took the same University of Phoenix cooking class?

Crab Tomato Pasta

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chinese New Year Dinner - Part Deux?

After a real fun Chinese New Year dinner with the wife, my homeboy Sekino rang me up for an impromptu Chinese New Year extravaganza.

Here's a list of what we ate from one of my fave Chinatown restaurants - Oriental Garden. Way too much food, but pretty damn delicious. Thanks again Sekino!
  • Pork, Chinese Cold Cuts, and Jellyfish *
  • Gigantor Oyster in Black Bean Sauce **
  • Shrimp and Fried Milk *
  • Chicken Soup **
  • Peking Duck *
  • Duck Lettuce Wraps **
  • Lobster *
  • Fried Pork Chop
  • Sea Bass
  • Mushrooms *
  • Spinach *
  • Oranges and Grapes
  • Almond Cookie and Water Chestnut Jelly *
Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Standouts included the huge juicy oyster that kicked ars with the black bean sauce. And, the surprisingly delicious duck lettuce wraps - loved the bits of skin, fat, and meat combined together. And no, this is nothing like the crap they serve at PF Chang's.