Tag Archives: New York

Crazy Deal Comin’ At Ya!

I’ll be out of town this weekend (dog-sitting! I’m more excited than I should be…) and while I’m stoked to get away, I can’t BELIEVE I’m missing this!

Prix Fixe Brunch and Oyster Lesson
What:
Chef Nick Korbee gives a shucking tutorial, followed by brunch in the quaint former carriage house.
Why: Penn Cove oysters with Rainier cherries, grapefruit brulee with lemon mascarpone, Broad St. Benedict (poached egg, Bluepoint oyster fritter, roasted potatoes, choron sauce), and a Bloody Mary or champagne cocktail for $18.
When: Saturday at 11:15 a.m.
Where:
Smith & Mills, 71 N. Moore St., b/t Greenwich & Hudson Sts. (212-226-2515).

Someone please, please go to this and then tell me all about it.

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It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye…

One of the most depressing things about living in New York is the closing of your favorite restaurants. This summer brought about the death of two of my most favorite Italian spots: Carmine’s Italian Seafood in the Financial District, and La Focaccia in the West Village. If I had to name my top ten favorite restaurants in New York City, those would have been numbers 1 and 2. And now… well. I’ll spare you the tear-stained details.

In honor of the closing of La Focaccia I bring you a recipe for the dessert I always ordered there: strawberries with zabaglione. The perfect cap to a meal of penne vodka and gnocchi, zabaglione can be served over any fruit or cake, it’s thick and creamy like custard, and is easy as all get up to make.

On the menu:
Strawberries with zabaglione

1 quart strawberries, washed and quartered
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a small, metal bowl whisk together the yolks, sugar, wine, and vanilla. Place the metal bowl over a saucepan half full with bowling water; make sure the bowl does NOT touch the water! While constantly whisking, cook yolk mixture over the simmering water for around 10 minutes, until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy*. Serve warm over strawberries.

*Note: taste the mixture before you remove it from the heat. If it’s not to your liking, add a bit more sugar.

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The Redhead

Wednesday night I spent a lovely evening with my friend Jason of NYC Daily Deals and I Dream of Pizza. One of the highlights was not being the only loser at the table to pull out a camera every time a dish was presented. Another highlight was the killer food. Can you say fried blueberry pie? This girl can.

The Redhead 349 East 13th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue, New York, NY. The Redhead is a neighborhood joint with a bar occupied by locals and a cozy little dining room safe from the frat boys and hipsters that dwell in the neighboring NYU area. The menu is simple and brilliantly prepared, as if you were sitting in your grandmother’s kitchen… if your grandmother was super trendy and cool.

On the menu:
Flatbread with sausage, mushrooms, and mascarpone
Newport steak with fried green tomatoes, smashed ranch beans, and redhead steak sauce
Buttermilk fried chicken with cornbread and strawberry and spinach salad with almonds
Fried blueberry pie with lemon ice cream

Verdict: Hello, lovelyyyy. Fried chicken. Fried pie. But nothing was overdone or greasy. I didn’t leave the restaurant feeling like I’d just exited a Hardee’s. There wasn’t a single disappointing element in the meal, but the flatbread was the real star of te show: a crispy crust with melty cheese and perfectly tender toppings. It was almost like a pizza but sans sauce. After the little starter had disappeared I kinda wished I had another one. Or ten. Whatever. The fried blueberry pie was also incredible: tiny little empanada-like pastries filled with fresh blueberries and warm blueberry sauce over a scoop of tart lemon ice cream and topped with candied strips of lemon rind.

This here is comfort food at its best, y’all.

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Blue Smoke

This week I participated in my second Restaurant Week venture, with a delicious pay off (every once in awhile you get a RW dud where it’s clear you’re getting the establishment’s dregs… cough SMITH & WOLLENSKY cough).

Blue Smoke East 27th St, between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue, New York, NY. Blue Smoke specializes in barbeque, with regional specialties from across the country. In the basement of the restaurant is Jazz Standard, a renowned jazz club with live music every night of the week.

Grilled octopus over wild rice

On the menu:
Grilled octopus over wild rice with hazelnuts and cherry tomatoes
Chicken wings with blue cheese sauce
Kansas City Spareribs with coleslaw and pit beans
Peach and raspberry crisp with buttermilk ice cream
Sour cream cheesecake with blackberries and mint

Peach and raspberry crisp with buttermilk ice cream

Verdict: I should preface by telling you that I am a BBQ snob. I know… shocking. The best ribs I’ve ever had are the face-meltingly good babyback ribs at Kirsty’s Red Dog Tavern in Inlet, NY way up north in the Adirondacks, and at Black-eyed Sally’s BBQ and Blues in Hartford, CT. Everything else pales in comparison.

So while the ribs at Blue Smoke were good, it was the pit beans that became the star of the show. They had a beautiful smoky-sweet flavor and were nestled between delicately tender shreds of pulled pork. I could’ve eaten a bowl of the beans alone. The octopus was also surprisingly delicious for a BBQ joint, and proves that the kitchen is much more skilled than BBQ diners might anticipate.

Another point worth mentioning is the outstanding Blue Smoke Original Ale. Just give me a pint of Blue Smoke, a bowl of pit beans, and I’m happy.

I’m a simple girl, folks.

Sour cream cheesecake with berries and mint

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The Beauty of Queens

One of the reasons I love my neighborhood in Queens so much is that there are hundreds of different types of cuisine at your fingertips, and all of them made authentically. One stretch of road offers Brazilian, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Ecuadorian, and Indonesian. On Sunday I braved the heat with friends to explore an Indonesian food bazaar at the Masjid Al-Hikmah mosque in Astoria, Queens and had quite the incredible Sunday meal.

I would love to go into detail about the names and ingredients of all of the authentic dishes, but to tell you the truth… I’m short on details. When I asked what each dish was, the woman behind the counter took pity on my blatant white-ness and described things as “ground beef inside pastry dough” or “ground chicken in fried dough.” My favorite description was “vegetarian patty” with a shrimp head blatantly sticking out of the side. Exhibit A: “vegetarian patty”:

We indulged in ground chicken mixed with spices tucked inside thick crusty dough, ground beef and spices inside thin layers of pastry dough (my personal favorite), rice wrapped around ground beef cooked inside a banana leaf, banana cake inside of a banana leaf, shrimp crackers, and sticky rice made with coconut milk, rolled in shredded coconut topped with plum sauce.

Again, I wish I could tell you all of the authentic names of these dishes but be happy with that incredible picture. The Masjid Al-Hikmah mosque in Queens has these bazaars quite a bit so it’s worth checking back to their website to find out when the next one is. The food is authentic, incredible, and dirt cheap. My friends and I probably spent around $20 total and ate until we couldn’t see straight. Sunday Success.

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Classy Ladies

That is one giant shaker of Old Bay, but we're not complaining

In addition to my incredible birthday lunch, I was treated to an equally delicious birthday dinner. I got an e-mail a few weeks ago about a special deal at Choptank in Manhattan from Tasting Table (on a side note, if you live in New York and you don’t get these e-mails, you are SERIOUSLY missing out). For $36 you get half a dozen crabs and a growler of beer. I said, a GROWLER of beer. That’s a half gallon, people. One half gallon of beer.

Please don’t judge me.

Anyway, I knew this was what I wanted for my birthday. When the waitress laid out the newspaper, handed us little wooden hammers, and set down a roll of paper towels, I knew I made the right choice.

They pour those crabs out on the table in front of you from a paper bag! Love it.

Choptank 308 Bleecker Street between Grove Street and Barrow Street, New York, NY. Choptank is named after the Choptank River in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay. The food is mid-Atlantic inspired and seafood-centric, and just down-home enough to make me want to go back again and again.

On the menu:
Homemade potato chips with Old Bay, served with crab dip (a free starter!)
Middleneck Clams with garlic Butter, herbs, and country toast
Tasting Table special: 6 crabs plus a growler of Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner, served with red potatoes and fresh corn
Thousand layer cake with fudge frosting
Hamburger cookies with frosting and vanilla ice cream

Thousand layer cake

Verdict: The clams! The clams! Oh lord, the clams! The crabs were a lot of work (a LOT of work) and not really worth the effort, but oh man, the clams. I could’ve eaten three dozen. They were served in a steam pot full of melted butter with just a pinch of red pepper flakes and a hint of garlic. Becca and I both agreed we’d like to pour that sauce on everything from steak to cardboard. It was that good. Choptank gets its seafood from a New York fish market, but their baked goods are imported: the cake from a local bakery, and the cookies are delivered straight from Maryland where hamburger cookies are a local specialty.

Hamburger cookies - essentially black and white cookies but amaaaaazing

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Oui, Oui Baby

Marinated fingerling potatoes

French food is my favorite cuisine. Hands down. And for my birthday, my parents took me to Gordon Ramsay’s Maze at The London where Monsieur Ramsay has created quite the menu. This $26 pre-fixe lunch is available year round, but right now it’s Restaurant Week and there is an additional pre-fixe menu for only $24.07. So… there’s really no reason not to go. Have you left yet? Okay, read the review first. And then go.

Tortellini of beef short rib

Maze by Gordon Ramsay at The London 54th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, New York, NY. Maze offers a standard 3-course pre-fixe meal for lunch with tapas-sized offerings. The food is French-inspired but in true Gordon Ramsay style, there is an element of comfort food and Asian fusion.

Pan seared halibut

On the menu:

Marinated fingerling potatoes with Holland leeks, poached quail’s egg, and prosciutto
Tortellini of beef short rib with escarole, trumpette royale and dashi
Cobb salad with free-range eggs and blue cheese
Pan-seared halibut with butternut squash and brown butter vinegar sauce
Boulliabaisse
Chocolate pudding with stout ice cream, pretzel, peanut butter powder
Vanilla custard with citrus fruits, brown sugar oats and mandarin sorbet

Cobb salad (minus the bacon for my veg mom)

Verdict: DEEEEELICIOUS! I read very mixed reviews of this restaurant online, but I was so impressed, as were my parents, and that’s saying something. I won’t try to run through every dish for you, but let me tell you that the sauces made these plates. My gorgeous halibut was set down in front of me and then the waiter poured the brown butter sauce over and I almost dove in head first. The chocolate pudding was also a stand out dish, and I don’t know what peanut butter powder is but I know I need more of it in my life. I went back to work in a food coma and was effectively useless for the rest of the day. In my book: success.

Boulliabaisse

Chocolate pudding

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