Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Girls Gone Bad

New Yooooooork. I need to go here less often! Let's start with the best:

: This Robert DeNiro co-owned Italian restaurant in Tribeca has been getting a lot of hype lately, and luckily for part of my trip I was staying within walking distance so the cold rain wasn't a huge deterrance. Almost everything we had was delicious, and even with such recent raves it was actually very chill and down to earth.

Popular sheep's milk ricotta; super juicy shredded porchetta > Roli Roti

Pastries were a bit on the dry side, so they would've gone well with coffee (olive oil coffee cake, fig-almond muffin, huckleberry pistachio cake); Grandmother's ravioli which had an off/gamey flavor, and pumpkin sage brown butter agnolotti which was perfect; yummy lamb meatball sliders

SETAGAYA: East Village ramen joint that I really only went to because it was just down the street from where I was staying for the other half of my trip and because it was super cold and I wanted hot noodle soup! The broth was very oily, and my pieces of pork were almost all fat. Not going back.

: There's a choice of "Small, $8" or "Regular, $14." What they don't tell you is that their "small," is really half of a regular, where the regular is the size of a gray's papaya hot dog. Nice blend of herbs on top, nice chunks of lobster, buttery roll, but you can find lobster rolls in the bay area for triple the size at the same price and quality.


: During part of my trip I took a little stroll through Hell's Kitchen and picked up a loaf of bread, a mascarpone/dried fruit pastry similar to a danish, and a slice of potato pizza. The style was very Californian, but Cheeseboard > Pizzetta 211 > Sullivan for pizza, sorry.

: They have a very popular falafel, and it was tasty and loaded with lots of toppings. However, Taim > Mamoun's (value) > Azuri > Oasis in SF

: my friend wanted to go, so I took the chance to try their seasonal rice pudding pie + caramlized apples. Nothing special.

: tasty, great service, deceptively filling

Gray's Papaya for a quick snack

53rd/6th HALAL CART: I had never gotten a chance to go before, but I happened to be in the area and decided to be late to my scheduled dinner =P The things I do for food! Arrived 5 min before their scheduled opening time, and got in line after the 40 ppl already there. Chicken/lamb over rice... good late night food, but nothing to go out of your way for. Comparable to the former Meesha's in Berkeley, which sadly changed ownership =(

Chicken + rice in a Bergdorf bag... gotta roll in style you know

MILK THISTLE: I didn't actually go to the farm of course, but some time ago I had a brief mini obsession with milk and wanted to see how the lauded milk of the east compared to our very own Straus. Verdict? Straus > Clover > Milk Thistle. You just can't beat CA when it comes to fresh flavor! These are really great videos though.

MFK MILK BAR AGAIN: My cousin raved about their English muffin breakfast sandwich, so I woke up relatively early on a Saturday morning to get it. It's all about the melty yolk, but is really an artisanal version with some pea sprouts and some minimal pork bits. Surprisingly light, it was definitely not the I-feel-like-I'm-going-to-die-satisfying like Il Cane Rosso's. The volcano, on the other hand, was mostly potato and not enough cheese. This will really sink in your gut.

Layers of potato gratin wrapped inside baguette dough

CAFETERIA: My friend goes here often since it's close to her office, and as expected it was filled with models, fashionistas, and gays. Bacon mac n cheese, braised short rib tacos with a refreshing touch of butternut squash, and a side of spinach to ease the guilt. Bigger portions than you would think!

ABRACO: NY's coffee will never stand a chance against the west coast, even with BB alum.

RUSS + DAUGHTERS: wanted to get some fish, but was too full of fried chicken that I just got one piece of rugelach, mostly because I wanted to compare it with the version I used to make

Olive cookie from Abraco + rugelach from Russ & Daughters

GRAPE AND GRAIN: chill bar in Alphabet City where the "grape" side is wine-focused, and the "grain" side serves mostly locally brewed and crafted beers.

MFK NOODLE BAR FRIED CHICKEN LUNCH: this elusive reservation was my first meal of the trip, and our party of 4 made a feeble attempt to put a dent in what could really serve 10 people. We got about 2.5 whole chickens, made in two styles: triple fried Korean style, and southern. Korean was definitely better because of the extra crispy and light skin, whereas the southern style was breaded too heavily and each piece kind of looked like a big brown rock. We were also given sauces and things to eat the chicken as ssam. My favorite combo: korean style chicken + shiso leaf + mint + lettuce + jalapeno garlic sauce in a flour wrapper.

Bars are dark; veggies, herbs, and sauces

Definitely needed the wet wipes

CALLE OCHO: This UWS latin restaurant was mostly chosen for its massive size (party of 20 holla) and proximity to where we were coming from. Nothing special, except the "bread" ended up being these rolls that seemed to be made out of rice flour, so they somewhat resembled fried mochi balls. Spread on some black bean dip and you have something surprisingly awesome.

PDT: "Please Don't Tell" is a speakeasy adjoining Crif Dogs, where the entrance is through a phone booth inside the dumpy hot dog joint. A bit kitschy, but you have to admit that the phone booth is pretty neat. Drinks are your standard mixology type, but the real treat is their "guest chef" dog menu. We tried just about all of them including the hyped Chang dog with kimchi (I think Asia Dog is better), but I really liked the John John Deragon, which essentially tasted like a bagel with cream cheese.

OK, I'm officially Chang'ed out.


Monday, October 05, 2009


Empanadas from El Porteno while waiting for wild things (chicken and cheese were our favorites)

Tanto, a nontraditional izakaya (I prefer Oyaji): simmered sea urchin w/ egg, roasted rice balls w/ roe

Chili/slaw burger at Five; bad choice of platter.

PI flood relief: Brazilian coconut stew that tasted like Thai curry, chicken + waffles from Little Skillet (I don't know what spices they used, but combined with the syrup, I swear this tasted like peanut butter).

Brisket from Bakesale Betty (pre-stuffed with chips), view of the bay


Almond Jello, 1.5 Ways

Awhile ago, Alice went to a nut farm and brought back some raw almonds still in their shells. We had been talking about almond jello a few days before that, and I thought... why not an artisan version? No extracts, no syrupy fruit cocktail... basically strip away all the things that make it great. But hey, why not?

After shelling, I ground all the raw almonds up with some milk and a little water to make almond milk (which is actually vegan, but I wanted it to be creamy). Well, I made it a little too creamy and it ended up being more like a panna cotta. Even though I strained it, it was still pretty grainy -- should've used cheesecloth. I also poached some yellow nectarines in wine along with some lemon, cardamom, and nutmeg.

As expected, it didn't even come close to the original, but it everything did taste as natural as it could be. I was going to also make the traditional version since I happened to already have some cans of fruit cocktail, but for some reason I couldn't find ANY almond jello mix near my apartment. How is it possible that there are no Chinese markets past Park Presidio?? Mexican, Korean, Russian, American... no Chinese. Who would've thought. (Yes, I could've just used almond extract, but it's not the same! It needs to be from the mix!)