Happy Hookerland

17 02 2008

I started this post so long ago and just never got very far. But just as a paean to the feasts of summer, thought I’d just put up some tasty pictures to get you salivating in anticipation for the joyful months ahead.

Red Hook Ball Fields (crossing my fingers in hopes that they’ll be back in full force)

best ceviche ever


hungry yet?

tamales
was so long ago, I’ve completely forgotten the name of this fruit.
picnic at Prospect Park, that king of parks

 

Oko, Park Slope frozen yogurt

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word travels fast in this town

30 08 2007

Crave Ceviche is a new restaurant that opened just last week, but when I dropped by this past Monday night around 7:30pm, it was like an overstuffed taco, with people pouring out the door. Granted, Crave isn’t very big, it felt as small as my EV room, but is probably about the same size as the first room at Pearl’s Oyster Bar.

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After nearly an hour wait (once A heard ceviche, no other food existed that night), we made it to a cozy bar corner (and by cozy, I mean tight squeeze) where we were immediately and cheerfully greeted by our wide-eyed waiter from behind the bar. Crave offers a Mexican style of drinking beer, sort of a beer cocktail, where they add lime, salt and hot sauce to whatever beer you choose. In Mexico, it’s called michelada, but at Crave I think they called it mordido style (I definitely spelled it wrong, but I can’t remember what it really is), so maybe it’s a Spanish version? I found it a bit gross, but then I also don’t like bloody mary’s or any salty drink except margaritas, really. I just went with one of their pricey sangrias ($9! for a not very generous glass). They do call themselves a wine bar, so there is a pretty good wine list, as well.

Now on to the food! The menu is divided by appetizers, sashimi, entrees, sides and a non-fish section. Ever since going to the Red Hook ball fields(post coming soon, I promise), I’ve been craving Latin American food. Naturally, the pupusa dish shouted my name, although it did do battle with the hamachi special which sounded nearly as seductive. The pupusa came with a pile of red snapper interlaced with carrots, microgreens, a couple of slices of a very hot pepper, radish and some other crunchy elements that I don’t quite recall. The ceviche part was “ceviche’d” (a verb the restaurant used) in naam pla (fish sauce), lime and kalamanzi (also spelled calamansi, a citrus native to the Philippines). It did have an almost sharp acidity but the pupusa – which is a thick, corn tortilla from El Salvador usually stuffed with a variety of different things – tempered the citrus. My dish was basically a salad with South-East Asian seasoning, which meant lots of good flavor and perfect for the summer heat.

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A decided to go with their UES banker dish – the arctic char ceviche’d in champagne and sea salt, garnished with truffles, strawberries, chives and caviar. It tasted just as good as it sounds. The arctic char – related to salmon which is why it resembles it in the picture below – was incredibly tender and practically melted in my mouth. The champagne imparted a very light, slightly sweet flavor to the fish, which really needed almost nothing. This dish, along with the others in the sashimi section, were served in two sizes, “a little” and “more.” This was the more portion.

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Good thing A ordered another dish since that one was a bit small, more as it may be. The filet mignon slider, ceviche’d in Worcestershire sauce (although they spelled it oddly – wostershire or something weird like that) and lemon tasted very much like it looked, a regular old steak sandwich, albeit with some very tasty manchego cheese. I could have used a pickle. It did, however, come with another sandwich staple. Potato chips. Homemade sour cream and onion potato chips. Nice and fluffy, but not enough sour cream and onion flavor. I like Blue Smoke’s homemade potato chips better. Heard their burger’s not bad either.

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Anyway, to cap off my meal, I decided to have an oyster shooter, a special of the day served with a dash of cocktail sauce and blood orange (you eat it like a tequila shot). I saw the couple next to us slurp theirs down in obvious enjoyment and once they heard me order one, they asked for a couple more, but were sadly informed that I just took the last one. Muahahaha.

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We were given a complimentary dessert cup of caramel covered with a chocolate and chili ganache at the end of our very satisfying meal. I would return to Crave Ceviche. IF I didn’t have to wait an hour.

crave ceviche 946 second ave (50th st)





A Public Space

27 06 2007

Teehee I am so witty and punny (A Public Space is also my favorite literary magazine). M, a friend who recently graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education, was very adamant that we go to Public, only a few weeks after he went for the first time, because he was craving their all their food.
I’m a little bit lazy, and I have much catching up to do, lots of posts backed up, so I will try and minimize my editorials. Public is an airy space, leaning on the cavernous side. But it’s beautifully lit, according to M, it’s by the same people who brought you the pretty lights of Sapa.

Marinated White Anchovies quinoa croquettes with spicy saffron aioli – really flavorful, as you can imagine, what with the anchovies and all. The croquettes had the texture of a softer falafel ball. I loved the pickled red onions that came with the dish, their acid cut right through and brought everything together.

It appears they’ve taken this dish’s description down from the website, so I will just have to give you what I remember, which is fried sweetbreads. They were a bit heavy and large. I like the sweetbreads at Momofuku Ssam Bar and Trestle on Tenth better. M was daydreaming about them since the last time he went, though.

My main dish, on the other hand, had me dreaming about it for days after – Snail and oxtail ravioli with pickled shiitake mushrooms, oven dried tomatoes, pea shoots and smoked paprika oil. I love love love oxtail dishes in general (especially when my momma makes them in a stew), and this one was definitely one of the best I’ve had – it was meaty and the ravioli had a thicker wonton wrapper feeling. Yes, it’s heavy, but are you starting to see a trend here? Everything, at least to me, is high-end comfort food with a twist, so I wouldn’t go if you’re not super hungry.

Chocolate chili mousse with passion caramel sauce and golden nuggets – VERY rich. It’s like eating a huge hunk of pure chocolate essence, but with a bit of kick from the chili.

Sticky toffee pudding with Armagnac ice cream and hot caramel sauce – best dessert out of the ones we had. It was like eating a gooey mess of happiness with each bite, L definitely gobbled that baby down. Sounds just as intense as it tasted.

Yuzu cheesecake with macadamia nut crust, blackberry sauce and basil seeds – a little lighter than the other two desserts, but no less flavorful and it came with the best dessert wine pairing.

I would definitely go back to Public. They also have a bar scene, but a romantic vibe going on, so it’s good for lovey dovey dinners and bigger, more boisterous groups. Plus, they give you free house-made soap in their bathrooms! I mean seriously, why wouldn’t you want to go? (Good call, M! We will return whenever the cravings start. I feel a quiet rumbling already)

Public
210 Elizabeth St. (near Prince St)





I love me some snacks.

14 06 2007

I get hungry fairly often throughout the day. I’m not really one of those people who can just eat 3 square meals and be a happy camper. I need to be munching every few hours or so, like a cow chewing the cud – a beautiful image I know. I thought I would share a few of the things I’ve been snacking on, since they’re mighty tasty.

I strolled by the Blue Ribbon Bakery (the little shop near the restaurant) and engaged in a impromptu honey tasting. And boy, was it fun. They had four types of honey, each one either from a different flower, processed differently or from different seasons. I decided to go with the autumn flower, because I liked the grainy texture and it wasn’t as cloying sweet as a couple of the other ones. It does have a really intense flavor, though, and a little goes a long way.
Continuing deeper into the Village, I stopped by Murray’s Cheese, and picked up this kooky yogurt from Iceland. The label looked homemade-ish and slightly more ghetto than your regular Dannon. Damn, that stuff was thick and a bit sour, which is how I like my plain yogurt, because the honey balances it out. But I could only eat half the cup, because the texture was so thick (and even thicker with the added honey) that it was almost like eating glue – in a good way, if that’s possible. Since then, I’ve tried the honey with other yogurts, and I’d say greek yogurt, specifically Fage, is really great with it.

Looks yummy, though, doesn’t it?


On one of those steamy summer days, I decided to drop by Vosges because I saw a peanut butter ad in their window. Visions of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream were floating through the bottomless stomach in my mind as I entered their Soho chic store. I didn’t see any peanut butter, but the skinny (how do you work in a chocolate shop and stay skinny is beyond me) lady behind the counter offered me a sample of their bacon flavored chocolate. And HOLY PORK GODS, it tasted like bacon and chocolate and it was pretty fantastic, actually. I know, my first reaction was EW? But I was instantly converted.
They also let you try their ice cream before you buy it. The skinny (seriously, how?!) hipster guy said wattleseed was his favorite, wattle-what, I’m sure you’re asking me as I asked him. I don’t think he actually explained what it was, but it tastes a good deal like coffee ice cream AND it has little chunks of macademia nuts in it, so can it really be that bad? I really enjoyed it and the flavors got better as I ate more of it. Ah, I just looked up wattleseed in wikipedia – it’s in the Australian Acacia family and apparently has a high nutritional content. I knew my body was getting something else out of the ice cream besides a happy, warm feeling inside. I didn’t sample it, but they had an Indian curry flavor that sounded intriguing and I’m sure I’ll be back soon to try it.

My health trend continued when my stomach insisted I find chocolate chip cookies immediately. From my office to Milk & Cookies was quite a hike, much longer than I anticipated, but boy, was it worth it. It was a cute little shop with a little kid feel (they host parties for children and adults) and relaxed vibe. After choosing the chocolate chip, I was trying to decide between the oatmeal raisin and the mint chocolate, when the woman helping me said they were both her favorites and that I should ditch the chocolate chip cookie for those two instead.
And as you can see, that is just what I did. No regrets here, none at all. The mint chocolate was better by a smidgen. I could use one of those cookies now.

Blue Ribbon Bakery
35 Downing Street (at Bedford)

Murray’s Cheese
254 Bleecker Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)

Vosges Haut-Chocolat
132 Spring Street (between Green and Wooster)

Milk & Cookies Bakery
19 Commerce Street (between 7th Ave and Bedford)





In case you didn’t know, it’s time for Season 3 of Top Chef

14 06 2007

On Tuesday, Bravo decided Top Chef Season 3 needed just a leeeeetttle more press, so they pimped Sam and Ilan out to have a little rematch in Union Square. I could barely hear a thing and I still don’t even know who won this contest, but everything smelled tasty as hell. Below are some photo ops that I managed to take advantage of. I’m not really a celebrity whore who loves to take pictures with them, etc (except for that one I took with Mario), but I decided hey why not, they’re here. Unfortunately Tom Colicchio ran away before I could grab one of him.

Lee Ann Wong from Season 1 works for Top Chef now, so she was there, chilling. She’s so cute!

Ilan’s so full of it. Winner of Season 2. I don’t know how.

Everybody’s favorite diabetic hottie chef, Sam. The girls were swarming him. I will say that in person, he is pretty hot. I felt like he was irritated by his good-lookingness or other people’s (read every straight woman and gay man within 50 ft) reactions to his looks – like I know I’m good looking, you know I’m good looking, let’s move on. But hey, you agreed to be on TV, so deal with it.

Now I will stop adding to the Top Chef furor. Thanks for letting me borrow your camera, J!





WHOO-HOO!

30 05 2007

My uncle’s restaurant in Brooklyn Chinatown (which I wrote about here) was reviewed today in the NY Times by Peter Meehan! It’s a very flattering article, thanks PFM!

Review of Lucky Eight





More than a Snack

22 05 2007

I recently changed jobs from the food wasteland of Midtown to the food oasis of Soho (or at least, relatively). With the weather so nice and a culinary feast (or so it feels after months of Subway) no matter which block I meander down. Before I actually started working, K and I happened upon Snack, which I’ve walked by a few times, but have never ventured inside. It’s a small nibble of a place with a row of 4-5 two people tables squished against what’s more like a hallway than an actual restaurant. But hey, that makes it cozy, right?


K hadn’t had lunch yet, so she went with the Vegetarian Souvlaki, which featured a cornucopia of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, feta cheese, butter beans doused in tzatziki and wrapped in a cushy pita. I didn’t taste it, but K enjoyed it immensely, groaning under the weight of all those beans and fresh veggies. I would imagine from its size that one of those babies would really fill you up. Since I had made a trip to brgr for lunch earlier that day, I decided to just get a snack, really (ha. ha. a pun!). So I went with their baklava, which was served pie style, rather then the rectangle format I’m used to. The layers of fillo at the top were really thick, but it was great – nutty(obviously), with cinnamon dusted on the sides, and honey drizzled all over the place. I wouldn’t say it was the best I’ve ever had. I prefer the fillo a little thinner and crispier. I had one of their frappes, which according to them is a Greek style iced coffee and that was worth going back for. It was strong, but not rip-your-stomach-lining-into-shreds strong.

I did go back once I started working and had the Roasted 2.0 with a cup of their mint lemonade. The Roasted sandwich is served on stirato bread, which is this sort of flat, crunchy bread that’s difficult to bite into. The eggplant that’s inside is roasted quite nicely, still a bit firm with good flavor. Although I almost feel like it would be better with a boiled egg inside. Their lemonade, though, is supremely refreshing. It seems that they get their drinks right every time. On my next trip, I think I’ll try a different sandwich, and maybe not on stirato bread – it’s messy and I end up looking like a geriatric whose teeth aren’t sharp enough to rip through some bread.

Snack
105 Thompson Street (between Prince & Spring St)