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
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)
210 Elizabeth St. (near Prince St)
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.
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)
254 Bleecker Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)
132 Spring Street (between Green and Wooster)
Milk & Cookies Bakery
19 Commerce Street (between 7th Ave and Bedford)
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!
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.
105 Thompson Street (between Prince & Spring St)
I went to San Francisco about a month ago, originally to see if I wanted to live there, but since things have changed and I'm staying in NY, this turned into a brief, amazingly fun fooding trip. This picture makes me think of SF just as much as a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. Their row houses or whatever they're called are so colorful and beautiful. I wouldn't mind living in one of these.
Treats from the famous Tartine Bakery:
The BEST pain au chocolat I have ever tasted. I'm tempted to say even better than in Paris, but I don't really remember the ones I had there, so I could be unintentionally provoking the anger of Parisians everywhere.
At the Ferry Building Market, more scrumptious goodies. Had a really good mushroom leek tart from this stand.
A myriad of fancy mushrooms await you at the Ferry Market. I've never even heard of these varieties.
Gelato at the Ferry market: on top of both cups is pistachio, bottom of the left-hand one is pumpkin, on the right is mocha. I wouldn't recommend the pumpkin, but the pistachio is YUMMY - creamy and smooth, with a great pistachio crunch.
linguine with olives
- 1/2 box of linguine
- olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer)
- handful of olives
- 2 plum tomatoes chopped up
- 2 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
- 3 shallots (tiny onions)
- salt and pepper to taste
- parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes to sprinkle on top
- 1 lb beef
- handful of chopped parsley
- handful of chopped basil
- 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 finely chopped shallots
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of flour
- olive oil
In a pan, heat up the olive oil, about 3 tablespoons. Then, lower the heat to about medium low, spacing out the meatballs so that they can cook evenly, drop those babies in. Let each side brown deeply and continually rotate them. They take about 5-8 minutes to cook, but keep an eye on them because they can burn really quickly. Eat them while they're hot, although they're still tasty at room temperature.
Last summer, my uncle opened his own restaurant on Eighth Avenue (Bklyn Chinatown) and 52nd Street, called Lucky Eight (there was much debate on what the name should be, I suggested On Rice and Men, hehehe). Another of my relatives is the chef, previously he had been a four star chef in Asia. It's much classier than most of the other places in the neighborhood and serves really great Cantonese food for a great price. The waiters speak English and the menus feature lots of pictures so you won't have a mystery dinner. Below are some of the dishes we had this past Friday. I don't know their names, since my uncle usually orders in Cantonese, so I will give my own interpretation of what the dish is.
Steamed fish topped with scallions, parsley and ginger in soy sauce. I think the fish is probably sea bass, but don't quote me on that. It's a really great way of cooking fish, because it keeps it tender and delectable. I like especially like eating it with the scallions and ginger, adds extra punch. My grandmother loves the sauce and spoons gallons of it over her rice.
Eggplant with squid and a myriad of other goodies like snow peas and mushrooms. It's sort of like a hot pot dish, but keeps the eggplant intact and not overly mushy like other eggplant dishes. I love eggplant, so I like this dish a lot with it's smoky flavor and chunky eggplant pieces. Really good with rice.
Eighth Avenue and 52nd street
As for drinks, they offer a wide array of milkshakes - including a blueberry pomegranate flavor, none of which I tried because I wouldn't be able to also eat my burger without turning comatose. But I did try their good white (versus their good red, better red and better white) and for $4, it wasn't bad, not in the least.
My all natural turkey burger with - pay attention now - gruyere cheese, a fried egg, fried onions, brgr sauce and horseradish cream. AND of course, each bite I drenched in ketchup, mustard, and my new favorite sauce, smoky chipotle tabasco sauce. Yes I suppose all of that could mask the taste of the meat, but that's why I love burgers, for the toppings that mesh perfectly with the meatiness and I loveeeeeee sauces. The pickles were also quite good, not the super briny deep green kind you find in Micky D's, but a freshier, not so tart version. So I would say that in terms of sauciness and flavor, it was pretty successful. The only thing lacking was the bun, which could have been a little crispier.
This doesn't depict the actual burger very good, but it was the famed Montana Legend Angus beef along with brie and bacon. Apparently, the beef wasn't that good but everything else was. Onion hay seemed unremarkable from everyone else's reactions, asI didn't try it.
And finally...Number 14 which consisted of a veggie patty, brie, and sweet onion marmalade (as an aside the sweet onion sauce at subway's has the awe-inspiring ability to make even a plain turkey sandwich incredibly tasty). Karen found it really yummy and gobbled that baby down.
287 Seventh Avenue nr. 26th Street (right next to Chipotle)
Okay let's skip the small talk and get right down to business. When A made reservations, Momofuku's people told her to start with a few small dishes before the monster emerged.
The three terrine bahn mi, in the offal section of the menu, was, if not the best, among the best, I have ever tasted. It's too bad each of us only took a few nibbles each so that it would last around the table. I would definitely come back for this, and it's not even their specialty.
Next up, the sea urchin with whipped tofu and tapioca. It was, visually and texturally, an interesting dish. But not incredibly tasty. I'm not a big fan of foamy tasteless matter, which was how the tofu was prepared. We also ordered the grilled sweetbreads, which made up for the sea urchin. They weren't overly chewy, and had a great rich flavor.
Our last mini goody was what the menu called Tello's Chawan Mushi, which consisted of an egg custard - steam cooked for that particular egg fluffiness that many Asian cultures have in their egg dishes - with snails (although the menu said oysters, I didn't see any), scallions and truffles. A good reworking of the dish.
All in all, a night of pants-busting adventure, a celebration of all that is great about New York. Also, if your stomach can handle it, walk the couple of blocks to Veniero's for some superb cannoli to gobble down later, once the pork settles.
Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 Second Ave. @ 13th St.
342 East 11th Street @ First Ave.
We went to Sapa because one of our good friends just started his externship there (yay!), so we thought we'd surprise him at work. Starting off with a Riesling Auslese, thanks to a timely Eric Asimov piece, which was nice and sweet, but not cloying at all. A bit on the expensive side ($49), but split among 5 people, not so bad at all. Then here is when the perks started kicking in. M sent us over glasses of champagne! Not sure what kind, but very tasty and bubbly.
On to the food. Instead of regular bread and butter, Sapa offers a basket of toasted pita bread with two types of dip, white bean and eggplant. Both spreads were really great, although I prefer the eggplant, which was very similar to babaganoush.
The rice paper rolls were well-made, nothing that special, except for the roll du jour, which was a ceviche piled on top of a round of the rice paper. Slightly spicy mouthful of jam-packed flavor. The lettuce wrapped beef satay were pretty good, although there was a little too much peanut butter sauce inside. Teensy bit gooey. C and I ordered the smoked swordfish carpaccio with seaweed salad. It was very meaty (as swordfish normally is) and hearty, not fishy at all. Very good, in fact. The seaweed, cucumber and orange slices went seamlessly together with the swordfish. I would order it again.
Thanks to M, we also had three other starters, steamed mussels and clams with a lemongrass-coconut broth, cocoa and peanut-glazed spareribs, and halibut baked in a banana leaf. The flavor in the spareribs reminded me of the Chinese dish, the thousand year egg, which has a gingery spiciness and lots of soy sauce.The mussels were decent, but I wasn't big on the clams, which were too salty for me. The corn salad on top of the halibut was really flavorful and complimented the soft, subtle white fish.
As if that wasn't enough, we still had main courses coming up. Sapa has this great $15 deal on Sundays, where you can get lobster, steak, chicken or fish. Most people had the lobster which was monster-sized. It was so soft and buttery, they must have injected it with several bars of butter before cooking it. It was served whole, which is always yummier, but a lobster bib would have been very helpful.
I had the steak frites, which was topped with a huge chunk of garlicky butter and came with this delicious dark(wine reduction?) sauce. The fries were thin and crispy, just how I like 'em.
Only one dessert was had by all, due to the unexpectedly overwhelming amounts of food. The chocolate lava cake, which was very thick and rich with a good dollop of cream on top. I wish I had enough room to savor the banana toffee bread pudding that came with sour ice cream, but I think my stomach shrunk from jetlag, so I wasn't able to uphold my honor.
The service at Sapa was impeccable; all the waiters were incredibly nice to us and humored us when we were slow to order (or unable to pronounce Auslese). It also helped that it wasn't all that busy that night and we were friends of the roll bar chef! The manager came over and asked us personally if everything was okay, it was just awesome how hospitable they were. Better than Gramercy Tavern in their own way. They also get brownie points for a pretty bathroom with a reflecting pool.
Bottom line - Go to Sapa! It's a good date place (not that I'm an expert).
43 W24th St (at 6th Ave)
*pictures courtesy of WS*
I was starving at this point, so I decided to go all out and try numerous nibblies. The butternut squash soup had a great texture, not all the squash was completely pureed, which lent itself to the lovely warm taste. A little nutty, not too rich (sometimes squash soups are too thick and creamy, and I'd like to see anyone finish a bowl of mouth-coating soup like that), and served with a rosemary foccaccia. I also had half of a curried chicken salad sandwich that included tiny chopped up pieces of apple and sprinkled with raisins, which I've tried before, so I knew it would be satisfying.
Alice's scones are clearly the centerpiece around which this all revolves, which makes sense, since tea time in England is famous for its scones. They offer a myriad of different flavors every day. I ordered the eggnog chocolate chip, which had an interesting spicy kick that I've never encountered in a scone. It was a little drier than the other two scones K ordered. I would recommend going with the pumpkin or banana creme flavored ones which both had a glaze on top and were much more moist. All were served with a tiny pot of jam and creme; the jam was great, a little on the chunky side with lots of seeds and bursting with flavor.
I wish I could say more about the actual tea I drank, but I don't know enough about tea to properly appreciate it. They have a several page list of all the different teas they offer, but I would say to choose your tea according to what you order to eat, since you want them to complement each other.
The service was very attentive and considerate. Our waitress was really thoughtful, asking if we wanted the last bite of scone before she whisked the plate away. But if you go at the wrong time, Alice's is incredibly busy and I'm sure the wait is long. It's worth it to go once, just to try tea time like the English, and marvel at the tea list, bathroom and scones.
A couple of hours later, I was all ready for dinner at Cafe Mogador, a cozy Moroccan restaurant in the West Village. It's a dark, haphazard looking place, with a bar crowded to the nth degree. We had to wait about 45 minutes to be seated. Fortunately, there's this really cool little used bookstore next store, East Village Books. So we perused the shelves for awhile before attempting our next charge at the door (I found a $4 copy of Esquire's collection of fiction, a steal!).
Although the hostess was unfriendly and not particularly helpful, our waiter was genuinely nice and didn't bother us too much when it was clear we had been talking and not looking at the menu at all. I had a ginger martini was quite tasty and refreshing, really strong too.
I had the Moroccan fish tagine which was a meaty, filling dish of white fish, potatoes and carrots. Quite tasty and they give you a surprisingly spicy hot sauce on the side. The potatoes were perfectly cooked, not too hard and not too soft, scrumptious with the chili sauce. Now, I was never a fan of cous-cous, having had a bad run-in with a cold version that was gross and pebbly. But I see the problem now, cous-cous only tastes good to me when it's served hot and has sauce spooned over it.
I see why Mogador is so crowded, although after shelling over money for Alice's Tea Cup in the same day, I was reluctant to part with $17 for my tagine, good as it was. It's a fun place, though, and the bartender's pretty cute, so I would go back, preparing myself for the long wait first.
Alice's Tea Cup #2
156 E64th St (btw Lex & 3rd)
101 St. Mark's Place (at 1st Ave)