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
Pickles (cucumbers with rice vinegar – not your classic Vlassic)
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.
Last Friday, as the snow pummeled Queens and I didn’t venture any further than my own block, Becca’s lovely husband, Giuseppe, whipped up a mushroom risotto that I want to eat every day for the rest of my life. Modeled on Giuseppe’s recipe, I created something similar tonight for dinner. And in light of the slightly warmer temperatures we’ve been having this week, I threw in a little green because I can not wait one more freaking day for spring to arrive.
P.S. Don’t let risotto scare you! It’s actually ridiculously easy.
On the menu: Giuseppe’s Mushroom Risotto with Asparagus
Serves 2 (I made this as a side dish with a lemon rosemary chicken that wasn’t super memorable, but risotto can totally take center stage in a meal if you so choose – just keep in mind, this might not be sufficient sustenance for 2 if it’s all you’re having)
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups chicken stock, simmering
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sized shallot, finely chopped
1 cup white mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 cup asparagus, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp butter*
3 Tbsp heavy cream*
3 Tbsp grated parmesan
Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat (keep in mind risotto triples in volume, so make sure your pan is big enough – I’ve made that unfortunate mistake before). Add mushrooms and let soften for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and shallots, constantly stirring for 3 minutes. Careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the rice, stirring so all the grains are coated in olive oil. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock at a time, adding more as the grains soak up the liquid, stirring occasionally. When adding the last half cup of chicken stock, also add asparagus. Once the risotto has soaked up all the stock, add the butter and cream and stir until blended. Plate, sprinkle with parmesan, and eat immediately (risotto turns into a gummy mess if you let it sit too long).
*Note that the butter and cream are optional. While this is not exactly a “healthy” dish (someday I’ll make something Dr. Oz would approve of…) it becomes infinitely more so without the addition of butter and cream, and you’re not really sacrificing that much. But I will tell you… everything is better with butter and cream. Everything.
Filed under Cooking, Recipes