Tag Archives: Seafood

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

Leave a comment

Filed under New York Restaurants

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

1 Comment

Filed under New York Restaurants

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Chefs, New York Restaurants

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking, Heritage, Recipes

The Green Wonder

Sometimes I have mundane things for dinner, and I think, is this worth posting? But if this grabs you:

… then maybe you might be interested in my hum-drum dinner. I am currently obsessed with everything to do with this green fruit, and I find myself ordering anything on a menu that has avocado in it. They have the good kind of fat (I know, right? Good fat?! Yes, please!), they add gorgeous color to any dish (okay, not ANY dish), and they have such a brilliant, smooth, creamy texture that I could just bathe in them.

But I won’t.

That would be weird.

Anyway… tonight for dinner I created a burger-less version of my favorite burger: swiss cheese, bacon, and avocado. This is amazing on a ground beef patty, but I used sliced smoked turkey (on sale at my local grocery) and it was divine. Way better than the spoiled potato salad I had for lunch…

…I don’t want to talk about it.

Are you an avocado lover? Here are a few more ideas of what to do with this peerless pitted pod of perfection.

… Sliced up and wedged between scrambled eggs and mozzarella in a tortilla for breakfast

… In the standard guacamole with salty chips and margaritas (avocado, chopped red onion, lime juice, and cilantro – easy as pie!)

… Blended with powdered sugar and lemon juice as frosting for a yellow or white cake (seriously!)

… Sliced up on toast with a sprinkle of lemon juice and coarse kosher salt

… Cut into chunks, add chunks of honey dew, sprinkle with lime juice, and use as a salsa for white fish or sauteed scallops

… Sliced up on crusty french bread underneath a layer of watermelon (I know, this is a weird one, but it is SO GOOD… I’m a texture girl myself)

A few tips when using avocados:

In any type of recipe, once you remove the meat from the skin and the pit, it will turn brown unless you add lime or lemon juice (notice all the above suggestions that are not immediately melted on a sandwich have lime/lemon juice in them)

A ripe avocado can be cut in half, around the pit, and twisted apart. Stick a sharp knife in the pit, twist, and it should pull right out.

To remove the meat from the skin: scoop with a spoon starting at the narrow end of the half, or for a VERY ripe fruit, peel away the skin (this is my favorite way because it preserves that smooth rounded appearance)

If you’re only using half an avocado at a time, you can leave the pit in the leftover half and it’ll help it keep longer in the fridge.

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Miscellaneous, Recipes

I ate the day, deliberately

Allow me a completely self-indulgent moment to be a full-on geek. Last night I attended a poetry reading by one of my absolute favorite poets, Seamus Heaney. When he read this one aloud, I was immediately reminded of why I love to write, and why I specifically love to write about food. This poem is as much about food as it is about history and conquest, but like all poetry… the reader can take what he will. I promise, tomorrow I’ll be back to photos of sweet and/or cheesy goodness.

Today we feed our brains.

Oysters
by Seamus Heaney

Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.

Alive and violated,
They lay on their bed of ice:
Bivalves: the split bulb
And philandering sigh of ocean
Millions of them ripped and shucked and scattered.

We had driven to that coast
Through flowers and limestone
And there we were, toasting friendship,
Laying down a perfect memory
In the cool of thatch and crockery.

Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow,
The Romans hauled their oysters south of Rome:
I saw damp panniers disgorge
The frond-lipped, brine-stung
Glut of privilege

And was angry that my trust could not repose
In the clear light, like poetry or freedom
Leaning in from sea. I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb.

1 Comment

Filed under Miscellaneous

Jean-Georges Nougatine

Sometimes, even as a lover of food, I forget why New York is great. It’s loud, its manic pace is constant, and as the weather gets warmer, the city gets smellier. I’m ready for a change. But then, out of the blue, I have a New York moment and I remember why there is no place like this place and how I will never be able to find another like her.

Jean-Georges with a Lady Who Lunches - a blurry camera picture because we were trying hard to be classy and discreet

When I sat down at a Jean-Georges restaurant near Central Park on Wednesday for lunch and Jean-Georges himself walked out of the kitchen, I felt like 13-year-old-Lauren would have felt if Jonathan Taylor Thomas had walked out of the kitchen. I’m not ashamed to say I got butterflies. He’s just that good.

Nougatine New York Magazine praises this little sun-filled restaurant at 1 Central Park West as “possibly the least heralded and most overlooked restaurant in town.” My good friend Becca invited me to lunch as payment for a cake I made her (seriously, does baking have its perks, or what?) and on the hottest day of an unseasonably warm April, we sat down for a posh meal where the dining room is run like a well-oiled machine and the Ladies Who Lunch throw birthday parties with Tiffany blue boxes as table favors.

On the menu:
Warm Beets and Rich Yogurt
field mache and lemon oil
Shrimp Salad
with avocado and tomato champagne vinegar dressing
Salt and Pepper Calamari
with citrus-chili dip
Roasted Red Snapper
with broccoli raab and sweet garlic-lemon broth
Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin
with miso butter and roasted brussel sprouts
Creme Caramel
with sacristan (puff pastry twisted and dipped in sugar) and citrus
Jean-Georges Warm Chocolate Cake
with vanilla bean ice cream
[the prix fixe meal allows you to choose 2 small plates plus a dessert for $26]

Salt and pepper calamari

Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin (blurry because I barely had time to snap this picture before I dove into the deliciousness)

Verdict: To. Die. For. “What’s in that, crack cocaine?” I wish I could say my dining partners and I said this only once. Everything was so delicious, warm, inviting. Each bite left all the right pleasant notes in my mouth. The portions were perfect, and I left the restaurant feeling sated and glowing. Forget the temperatures outside. I was radiating sunshine from inside. The prices at Nougatine are far more reasonable than any of Jean-Georges’ other restaurants in Manhattan, but it’s still not a cheap meal. I make it a point to seek out affordable, delicious meals in New York so believe me when I tell you this: if I had only $100 to spend on one final meal in New York City, I would take it to Nougatine.

Red Snapper

The famous Jean-Georges Chocolate Cake with vanilla bean ice cream

Leave a comment

Filed under Chefs, New York Restaurants