Sunday, July 11, 2010

Two Italians, One Citroen

So far nothing has stood up to the Osteria in Turbone and it is unlikely that any will. But it is hard not to make the comparison.

Anotonio's in Islington places tables in the courtyard where Citroen cars stand by day waiting to be repaired (and some continue to share space with diners in the evening) so it gets full marks for atmosphere. Fresh ingredients and basic pasta make it worthy or a revisit. It is the only place that I have seen cinghale, or wild boar on the menu. But if my review lacks the usual zest, it's because Antonio's is, at the end of the day, ho-hum and not inexpensive at £20-25/head.

Latium, in the West End, probably deserves a second choice because it seems to have lots of potential despite the fact that 3 of 4 of us appeared to order the wrong thing (what are the odds). Gnocchi and veal tongue doused in pesto that killed all taste; the bisteca, though, hinted at the flavours that the kitchen is probably able to put out. The £28 two course menu seems to be good value for a part of town inundated with price insensitive theatre goers. The service and the wine menu is inescapably Italian, if you get my drift.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

NYC: Applewood in Park Slope, Brooklyn

For our one year anniversary we went to a restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn known for using local and seasonal ingredients.  They are also listed on my previous post from the Slow Food.  Since we got married at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, we thought it only fitting to continue sustainable food restaurants.  Applewood is a restaurant that has been on my radar for some time now, and this was the perfect special occasion.

These don’t look so good but they tasted great.  The first one was black bean (left), butter (middle) and pate (right)

We started off with pork belly.  It had a lovely crispy skin and lots of flavor for the meat.  

I ordered the duck breast with a deconstructed panzanella, which was probably the best roasted duck breast I’ve ever eaten.  

Ethan ordered the pan roasted North Carolina wreckfish and pickled rhubarb salad

For dessert, we ordered the almond cake...delicious!  What a great way to end a fabulous meal.

Applewood (map)
501 11th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Sunday, May 23, 2010

NYC: Milk Bar

If you read my Momofuku posting, Noodle Bar was just okay.  Good, but I don't think I'll be dying for another trip here anytime soon.  Another David Chang joint we tried is Milk Bar.  We ordered the cereal milk shake, and cereal milk soft serve ice cream which tasted just like the leftover milk from a bowl of cereal - if only I could think of the cereal it tasted like.  It was really good.  I think I'd order the soft serve  ice cream again.

We also tried the Crack Pie and Compost Cookie.  The Crack Pie wasn't as addictive as I thought it would be, but it was good and tasted like a butter pie.  The Compost Cookie was great, it really was just a mixture of just about anything you can think of.  It was as if a little kid just came up with the recipe and couldn't make up their mind about what to make so they just mixed everything together.

The it primary ingredients (in case you can't see the detail from the photo) is sugar, brown sugar, cream, egg yolks, whole oats, unbleached wheat flour, and whole eggs.

Milk Bar (map)
207 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NYC: Momofuku Noodle Bar...Why the Hype?

I've made it pretty clear that my favorite ramen noodle joint in NYC is Ippudo.  The biggest contender in the city seems to be Momofuku Noodle Bar, but with all the hype, I've been resistent to go check it out.

I ate at Momofuku Ssam Bar over a year ago (pre-blog) and with much anticipation. I was sadly disappointed - probably the reason why I didn't feel the urgent need to try another David Chang restaurant.  At Ssam Bar, we tried their pork buns but they just didn't hold up to Ippudo's.  I do like that David Chang uses thinly sliced cucumber in his buns which makes it a bit lighter and refreshing along with extra thick cut pork belly. Still, I prefer Ippudo's with its spicy mayo flavor.

I guess I came to Momofuku ready to be disappointed, but I was in some ways hoping to be pleasantly surprised.  Let me start off by saying that I was really impressed that David Chang orders so much (if not all) his ingredients from local farmers.  One of the chalk menus on the wall included a pretty long list of the local farms - kuddos to him on that front.

While we were waiting for Yumi, Ethan and I tried their frozen soju cocktails. They had four flavors: flor de jamaica, yuzu palmer, lychee, and limeade and we tried all four of them.  My favorites were flor de jamaica (mild and floral) and limeade (very strong and it'll make your mouth pucker up).

Frozen Flor de Jamaica Soju

Frozen Yuzu Palmer

Frozen Lychee Soju

Frozen Limeade Soju (with a mint sprig)

Appetizers:  Yumi and I ordered the pork buns (2 per order) and Ethan ordered the tamale trio (chicken mole, pork kimchi, jalepeno queso).  Let me start with the pork buns.  They looked gorgeous and just looking at the photos again makes me salivate and want to stuff my face... but then again it wasn't that great the first time around. It wasn't bad, I just think when up against Ippudo, I'd rather have an Ippudo pork bun.  I wasn't that excited about the tamales either.  They all tasted very similar for some reason and  were a bit dry.

The Noodles:  The three of us ordered the same momofuku ramen (pork belly, pork shoulder, poached egg).  I'm not saying it was bad, it was fine, but even after the first couple bites, I knew Ippudo remains #1.  I did like the big fatty chunks of pork belly but the broth didn't seem as complex in flavor as Ippudo's and the consistency of the noodles was more al dente than I care for.

Conclusion:  I don't think I'll be coming back, but I'm glad I tried it.

Momofuku Noodle Bar (map)
171 1st Avenue (between 10th & 11th)
New York, NY 10003

Sunday, May 9, 2010

NYC: Han Bat Korean Restaurant

This is my favorite Korean go-to restaurant in all of Manhattan.  It might've been my cousin Ester who introduced me to this restaurant years ago when I first moved to New York City, and what a find.  My two favorite dishes here are Pajun (seafood pancake) and Gop Dol Bi Bim Bap.  I always leave here painfully full.  It's just too hard to stop eating even when you think your last bite will be your never is.

Here's why these are my favorite dishes...the Pajun is perfectly crispy on the outside and chock full of seafood and scallions on the inside without being greasy.  What a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.  The Gop Dol Bi Bim Bap is the BEST in all of New York.  Bi Bim Bap is a bowl of rice, assorted vegetables, beef and a fried egg on top.  You mix in some guchujang (hot chili paste) and  you mix it all up.  Gop Dol or Dol Sot, is a stone bowl used to serve your bi bim bap extra hot.  This is my favorite Korean dish, and since it's something you can't really replicate at home unless you have a stone bowl, this is the place where I go when I have this special craving.  No other Korean restaurant makes their stone bowl as hot as Hanbat.  The best part of this dish is scrapping the bottom to get the crunchy burnt rice.  After eating here a few dozen times, I've finally mastered the mixing technique to maximize the surface of burnt rice in my mouth is watering right now just thinking about eating here again.

Ban chan


Bul Go Gi

Gop Dol Bi Bim Bap

All mixed up

Han Bat (map)
53 W. 35th Street (near 6th Avenue)
New York, NY 10018

Thursday, May 6, 2010

NYC: Eating Locally in New York City Restaurants

I recently read Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet and watched Food, Inc and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.  I now feel obligated to do something about the way I eat.  After watching Food, Inc, it really did make me start thinking differently about the food I consume.  Now, I'm not going to be able to eat ALL local meat and produce, but I can plan a little better and purchase more food from our farmer's market in Inwood.  Ethan and I signed up for Inwood CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this year for the first time, so we'll be getting our produce and fruit delivered to our park beginning in June through November where we can pick up our share of seasonal food once a week.  We also just discovered we can order our meat through them as well since they coordinate with farms in the area.  This last weekend we purchased some black fish from our local fish vendor at our farmer's market. The fish is so fresh - what a great way to purchase your seafood! I think we're going to try to keep this up and have a nice fish dish every Saturday or Sunday.

The Slow Food NYC Website is a great resource to find restaurants in the area who support the slow food movement.  Here are a few from the list that I can't wait to try or revisit.

Applewood (Brooklyn - Park Slope)
Back Forty (Manhattan - East Village)
Blue Hill (Manhattan - West Village)
Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, NY)
Craft (Manhattan - Flatiron District)
Egg (Brooklyn - Willamsburg)
5 Points (Manhattan - East Village)
Flatbush Farms (Brooklyn - Park Slope)
Franny's (Brooklyn - Park Slope)
Get Fresh Table and Market (Brooklyn - Park Slope)
The Good Fork (Brooklyn - Red Hook)
Home (Manhattan - West Village)
Hundred Acres (Manhattan - West Village)
James (Brooklyn - Prospect Heights)
Prune (Manhattan - East Village)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Old Place

Best to ask a Mandarin speaker to help you make a reservation here: English is definitely the second language and reservations are recommended.

The 'street' name of My Old Place is Lao Di Fang which when translated means "eat lots of Northern Chinese food for cheap but don't tell the foreigners about this place". In fact, I would not have posted this 'find' if it weren't for a fact that only Nellie reads this blog.

The green beans and chili chicken with numbing Sichuan spice are must haves; the ribs are so-so.
88 Middlesex Street, London E1
+44 207 247 2200

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NYC: Sundaes and Cones

Sundaes and Cones, what a great little homemade ice cream shop on a beautiful tree lined street in the East Village.  It's also right around the corner from Ippudo, so it's perfect for getting dessert right after dinner.  I got a scoop of Taro Root.  They do have other standard flavors too, but their unique flavors, such as Lychee, sesame, wasabi, etc add a bit of twist to this place.

I love this little secret ice cream shop. There aren't a lot of seats inside, but there's a couple benches outside where you can sit if it's a nice day. I can't wait to go back here again!

They also take custom cake orders as well.

Sundaes and Cones (map)
95 East 10th Street (bet. 3rd and 4th Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NYC: Frankies 457 (Brooklyn)

I came here this past weekend to meet a friend for dinner.  Scott lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn so we decided to go to Frankies 457.  They have another location in Manhattan but any excuse to come to my former borough makes me happy.  Coming down to Brooklyn really made me miss my old neighborhood (Brooklyn Heights).  On our way to dinner we picked up some bagels at Montague Bagels (aka, "Hot Bagels"), the very best bagels in world...yes, the best in the WORLD!

We decided to go out for Italian since Ethan and I are planning a trip to Italy in June.  Scott's been to Italy several times, and we thought coming to Frankies would get us in the mood and he can share some of his secret places we have to check out.  I've actually been wanting to come here to Frankies for some time now, but never quite made until now.  The restaurant is in a beautiful, intimate space that really makes you want to kick back and enjoy dinner and conversation with great friends.  It does get pretty crowded but we never felt rushed.  We ended up sitting at the bar, which was perfectly comfortable for the three of us.

We started off with three orders of the Crostini: Lardo, Guanciale, and mushroom:


It took me a little while to figure out what I wanted.  The menu isn't very big at all, which is always a good sign.  You hope that with such a small menu, whatever you end up ordering it's going to be good.  Scott ordered the Gnocchi, I ordered the meatballs and Ethan ordered the Cavatelli.  The winner of the night was hands down the Cavatelli.  The pasta looked like little worms, but oh my gosh, they tasted so good.  The gnocchi was good, but it didn't really stand out in flavor.  My meatballs were a bit disappointing.  They weren't bad, but I was hoping for more flavor especially since it included pine nuts and raisins.  There weren't many raisins (very tiny little bit), I should've known better.  Ethan makes a amazing meatballs with pine nuts and currants - his are definitely better.

House-made Gnocchi Marinara and Fresh Ricotta

Meatballs with pine nuts and raisins

House-made Cavatelli with Faiccos Hot Sausage & Browned Sage Butter

For dessert, Scott and Ethan both ordered the Ricotta Cheese Cake and I ordered the Tiramisu.  The cheese cake was a bit dry and cake-y but the Tiramisu was delicious!  The next time I come back, I know what I would order.  Maybe next time I'll have to come for brunch.

Frankies 457 (map)
457 Court Street (bet. Luquer & 4th Place)
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Monday, April 19, 2010

NYC: Cachapas Y Mas - Venezuelan Sandwiches

Since I moved to Inwood last July, I really haven't explored many of the restaurants in the neighborhood.  It was Friday and I was craving something local, so Ethan suggested Cachapas Y Mas - our first time here.

We both ordered the patacones, which is fried green plantain smashed into a tortilla shape and used as the bread.  Ethan ordered the Chicharron (fried pork) and I ordered the Pernil (roasted pork).  Both were good...I wouldn't say great, but I really have to give this place one more chance.  Maybe next time I'll have to try the Cachapas (baby corn cakes), or the Arepas.

The space is really small, only two booths and four stools facing the front window.  There was a constant flow of people coming in and out, most people were taking their food to go.  I really had high hopes for falling in love this this fried plantain sandwich - everything about this included something I would love.  The only problem was that it really did feel quite heavy and greasy - not that that's bad, but as much sauce I would put on it, it just tasted kind of bland.  I will definitely be coming back to check out more items on their menu.

Patacones Chicharron (fried pork)

Patacones (fried green plantain)

Cachapas Y Mas (map)
107 Dyckman Street (bet. Nagle & Post Ave)
New York, NY 10040