Monthly Archives: June 2010

Way Up North

Every once in awhile I need an escape from the city. I know, it’s crazy. Who would need a break from the constant insanity of the city that never sleeps? Lunacy.

This weekend I took a short MetroNorth trip up the Hudson River to New Paltz, NY to celebrate a friend’s birthday. If you ever make a trip to New Paltz, you’ll find a little college town with more than a few 60s-era hippies perched on curbsides. It’s charming. And it has some good eats.

Gomen-Kudasai 215 Main Street, New Paltz, NY. A small, traditional-style Japanese restaurant off the crowded central area of Main Street in New Paltz. The lawn is pure kitsch, as the restaurant is attached to a bizarre antiques store, but that’s the beauty of New Paltz. Strange oddities juxtaposed with college comforts. Beauty.

On the menu:
Shrimp and pork dumplings
Tempura vegetables and shrimp
Miso soup
Pickles (cucumbers with rice vinegar – not your classic Vlassic)
Sapporo beer

Verdict: Stunning. The tempura was crispy and not at all greasy, the vegetables were fresh and crisp, and the tray was full of food at a reasonable price*. I was so impressed by the meal that I asked whose cell phone had the best camera so I could snap a picture. I didn’t plan on eating anything incredible over the weekend but this place was delicious. Also impressive was the homey feel we experienced when we walked in. The owner greeted us warmly at the door and our waiter was attentive and friendly without being too much. The table next to us had kids with them and the staff went out of their way to prepare something special to the families’ specific requests. Gomen-Kudasai has a sushi menu as well that I’ll delve into on my next visit. And oh yes… there will be a next visit.

*Please note that I suffer from what is known as “New York City Price Dimentia.” Symptoms include forgetting what constitutes as affordable. The plate pictured was $15. To me, incredibly cheap. Maybe for you? Not so much. You’ve been warned.

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Happy National Donut Day!

That’s right. National DONUT Day. Good thing Friday calories don’t count.

Today enjoy a free donut from Krispy Kreme at Penn Station or your local Dunkin’ Donuts (with purchase of any beverage).

A little history on the day (thanks to Wikipedia, of course): National Donut Day is on the first Friday of June each year and follows on the Donut Day event created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.

So eat a donut today, people! It’s basically your patriotic duty. Happy weekend!

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Peachy Keen

As I mentioned, I’m trying not to chunk-ify in the month of June, so here is a quick and simple and DELICIOUS dessert idea that my lovely friend Becca came up with to satisfy my crazy sweet tooth without killing my new health plan.

On the menu:
Grilled Virginia peaches with cinnamon and sugar
Serves 2

2 ripe peaches
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Slice peaches in half and remove the pit. Heat up grill, or grill pan to medium/high heat. Spread butter on face of peaches and place face-side-down on the hot grill. Let grill for around 2 minutes. Remove from grill and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon while still hot.

Easy as pie, right? And honestly… it IS a pie! A peach pie. Without the buttery crust and 8 pounds of sugar. You could also make this even healthier by spraying the grill with cooking spray and leaving out the butter, or by using just cinnamon instead of the brown sugar and cinnamon. Peaches have so much natural sugar that comes out even more when you heat them, that you barely even need the extra sweetness. As a man in a coffee shop once told me, “You don’t need all that sugar! You’re sweet enough already!” And so are you, dear readers. So are you.

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I’ll meet you anytime you want, in our Italian restaurant

I’m just going to come right out and say it: if you don’t have a great sense of smell, then I feel really sorry for you. Your life is like a bowl of rice krispies that’s got the snap crackle but is missing the pop. Because when a batch of garlicky, pancetta-laden scallops are bubbling away in a hot oven and that glorious, buttery smell is wafting through the air… there is literally nothing else like it. Nothing.

On the menu:
Scallop Gratin (adapted from Ina Garten’s bay scallop gratin)
Serves 2

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 oz thinly sliced Pancetta, minced
3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley, plus 2 extra sprigs for garnish
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 Tbsp dry white wine, separated into 1 Tbsp (for topping) and 3 Tbsp (for the bottom of the baking dish)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 lb fresh sea scallops

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

To make the topping, place the butter in a bowl. With an electric mixer on the lowest speed, add the garlic, shallot, pancetta, chopped parsley, lemon juice, 1 Tbsp of white wine, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the 3 Tbsp of olive oil slowly, until combined. Fold in the panko with a rubber spatula and set aside.

Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towels. In a non-stick skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium/high heat. Place scallops in skillet, with 1 inch between each. Sear on one side for 2 minutes, flip over and sear on the other side for 2 minutes.

Place 3 Tbsp of the wine in the bottom of a small baking dish and place seared scallops in the dish [NOTE: for best results, your scallops should be touching in the dish with little to no room between them].  Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling. Turn on your broiler and let the dish broil for 2 minutes, until browned. Garnish with parsley. Serve with crusty slices of French baguette.

*note: these photos were taken with Becca's incredible new camera with a food setting... apologies for the crap pictures from my own camera that will follow this post

Also note that this dish yields AMAZING dipping sauce so you’ll need plenty of bread to sop up all that goodness.

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A Fish of a Different Color

Lately I’ve been feeling a little… chunky. Not like sophomore year of college where I literally had to buy a new pair of pants whilst working at the mall because the pair I was wearing was cutting off my circulation, but… chunky. It’s bathing suit season, you know? Time to lay off the extra mayo and pancake appetizers at brunch. Forget I just indulged in all-you-can-eat gnocchi. It never happened.

It is in the spirit of lighter options that I experimented with tuna and planned a weekday lunch for myself that won’t lead to high cholesterol at the young age of twenty-COUGH.

On the menu:
Mediterranean tuna salad
Serves 2

1 can of albacore tuna in water (or 1/2 cup tuna steak, roughly chopped)
2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked according to directions on box (I used elbow macaroni, but you can use any little chunky pasta)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THESE DIRECTIONS THEY ARE VERY VERY COMPLICATED: Toss pasta with olive oil. Add tuna. Add fruit. Add cheese. Add zest. Add salt and pepper. Toss. Eat. Feel healthy. Be happy.

I like this in a bowl with a fork, but you could easily put this on some toasted Italian bread, or melted between two pieces of flat bread with the chunks of mozzarella binding it together. But, as I mentioned, I’m trying to fit into last year’s summer wardrobe and extraneous bread ain’t gonna help me there.

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Lucky Gnocchi Day

The remnants of a pesto/ham and tomato/marinara bowl of love

One of my favorite New York Deals comes in the form of pasta. All you can eat pasta, to be exact. On the 29th of every month, Piola in the East Village offers an all-you-can-eat special in which they walk around serving from giant bowls of their handmade gnocchi with different sauces that include traditional marinara, chicken and broccoli alfredo, four cheese, pesto, and a magical ham-tomato red sauce that I believe also includes unicorn tears and fairy dust. Yes, it’s that good.

Tell the waiter you want the gnocchi special and let the games begin. If you want more pasta, you leave your little card on green. If your pants are about to split, maybe consider turning the card over to red and the pasta man will stay away from your table. I know gnocchi seems like a heavy dish to offer endless bowls of, but there is a little story behind this. From Piola’s website:

“The story begins with a missionary arriving in a small village in Italy on the 29th of an unknown month. He arrived upon a very poor house asking for food. He was welcomed to their house and was offered the only thing they had on the table, ‘Gnocchi’. The missionary was very thankful for their warm reception and wonderful food. Soon after the missionary left the house, the poor family found some gold coins right under their Gnocchi plate… 
Since then the ‘Lucky Gnocchi Legend’ has gained recognition all over the world. Families gather together every 29th of the month and enjoy Gnocchi in order to have luck and prosperity in their lives. PIOLA has adopted this beautiful legend, ‘Lucky Gnocchi Day’.”

Piola also offers a plethora of other deals, and the food is incredible. Let me tell you, dear readers, February is a sad, sad month.

Unless it’s a Leap Year. Then we’re cool.

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