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Friday
Nov082013

Dinner: Asellina (2)

It had been a while so I decided to grab a late dinner with the boyfriend at Asellina. We both had a hankering for pasta, and since it's basically across the street from my apartment, it was an easy choice. 

Similar to my last post, the bar crowd, even at 9:30PM on a Wednesday, was still quite lively, while the dining room was less so. Despite this, we were seated right next to a LOUD large group. Coupled with the 80s remix blaring overhead, there was no way the boyfriend and I could have held a conversation without screaming... which may explain why the group next to us was so loud!

After we requested the music to be turned down and were moved to a quieter table, we finally had a moment to concentrate on FOOD! The menu hasn't changed drastically since my last visit, which isn't a bad thing. The bresaola & arugula salad topped with shaved Pecorino Romano cheese with a lemony vinaigrette was a very nice start.

 

The boyfriend is a big fan of prosciutto, and I love mortadella, so the charcuterie plate was a no-brainer. Since we had bresaola in our salad, our thoughtful waitress asked if we would prefer to have more of another meat. More prosciutto please!

what could be better than meat & Matt?

I decided to go with a pasta special: housemade beef ravioli with a celeriac-parsnip puree. I'm a huge fan of celeriac, and I really enjoyed its unsual use in this dish. I lapped up most of the "sauce" using the ravioli.

Without any influence from me or my initial post, the boyfriend opted for the saffron strozzapreti. The dish was beautiful and again delicious with a nice chewy texture, perfectly tender shrimp, a wonderful seafoody sauce and zucchini instead of butternut squash. 

We went with a simple side of rapini (broccoli rabe) that I added red chile flakes to for an extra kick. Since we had such a carb-heavy meal, I thought green veggies would be a good balance.

Once again a lovely meal at Asellina!

 

Asellina

Gansevoort Park Hotel

490 Park Avenue South at 29th St

New York, NY 10016

212/317.2908

Reservations available on OpenTable

Friday
Aug302013

Recipe: Steak Hash

Anyone who knows me knows that I love all things food. But I know someone really knows (and loves) me when they gift me their delicious leftovers! That is the case with ZCDIV... he had a work dinner at Bobby Van's, and they didn't finish about 1/3 of a porterhouse for 2 (blasphemy!). And the secret softie that he is, he dropped it off with my doorman while I was at Flywheel, and I came home to an awesome present!

Normally, I just remove pieces of fat from the porterhouse, render it in a skillet and then fry up the meat in its own fat - it's amazing how yummy good quality leftover steak is when just fried in its own fat (or butter). You can eat it on its own or pair it with salad, other veggies, rice, pasta...

This time, knowing I had a potato and 1/2 of a large onion on hand, I thought I'd get creative and make a hash! I found this Steak Hash recipe on the blog, For the Love of Cooking, and thought I could use it as a starting point. Next time, I'm going to add a minced habanero pepper with the onion for a little kick.

 

Steak Hash

1/2 large yellow onion, diced

1 medium russet potato, scrubbed and diced evenly (I diced on the small side so I wouldn't have to boil)

1/3 portherhouse steak for 2 leftovers (or any other leftover steak you have), some fat removed, meat diced

1-2 tsp minced garlic

1-2 green onions, chopped

salt & pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, render the fat that you cut off the steak. Once there's enough fat to glisten the entire pan, add the diced onion and just toss around until coated with fat. Add diced potatoes and do same thing until coated. Then spread in an even layer across pan and press down with spatula. Let cook undisturbed for 4-5 minutes so bottom browns. Then flip as best/much as you can (it's not as easy as it sounds) and brown other side for 4-5 minutes. Add diced steak and stir up and heat all the way through. Add green onion then season with salt & pepper.

I actually thought this tasted better reheated the next day and crisped again because the flavors had melded together better. Either way, it was really yums.

Monday
Aug262013

Pork Club Dinner: DBGB Kitchen + Bar

As we're gearing up to have our next Pork Club dinner, I thought it was high time that I finally posted about our last event. Similar to other restaurants in Manhattan, DBGB Kitchen + Bar offers a whole hog dinner... what could be more "Pork Club" than an entire pig?!?! Luckily, DBGB accommodated our last-minute planning, and as usual, an exeptional Pork Club dinner ensued.

There were 10 of us in our group, and of note is that the whole hog dinner at DBGB is offered for up to 8 guests... additional guests are an extra charge. The whole pig is probably more than enough for 8-10 normal people, but I would deinifely not want to be the one sharing my fromage de tete!

The menu we received on arrival listed what was included in our whole hog feast: spring salad; fromage de tete; roasted suckling pig; a few sides; and a baked Alaska dessert! They also listed some possible appetizers to share... but none included any porky options. Ummmm, why bother??!?

Since we are the Pork Club, we, of course, supplemented our meal with MORE PORK. We obviously opted for the Boudin Basque, one of the Grub Street's 35 best pork dishes, as well as another sausage, the Beaujolaise.

The salad and fromage de tete arrived first, and as nice and fresh as the salad was, I was a touch disappointed that there were no lardons, bacon or even crackling croutons incorporated. The piglet in me, sigh. That said, the fromage de tete "lollipops" more than made up for it. A pigs' head terrine served on a stick for us, each bite was unctuous, meaty and so flavorful. I was in love. One didn't feel like enough!

Our sausages were our next course, and the Boudin Basque was as beautiful as I remembered, a dark hued pig's head and blood sausage that was so tender, atop silky mashed potatoes flecked with scallions. This has always been one of my favorite dishes at DBGB. The Beaujolaise is a more rustic dish, a tasty, classic take on sausage, in a bacon-red wine sauce with mushrooms, onions and lentils de Puys... French countryside at its best!

doesn't do the boudin basque justice

Finally, the dish we were all waiting for... the whole hog! They brought out the uncarved whole pig before they served it to us. The skin was a richly browned auburn, and I know we all were thinking about the crispy sound that skin would make at first bite!

The slow-roasted suckling pig is actually stuffed with pork loin, spring onions, mushrooms and garlic which infuses all of the meat and imparts so much flavor into the meat as the fat within melts down. After carving, the pig became a work of art.

hi sergio!In addition to bowls of creamy polenta & mushrooms, potatoes with ramps and braised beans, we also received bowls of chicharrónes (fried pork rinds) on the side. Outside of the chicharrones, I kinda passed on the other sides. I was there for the PIG... when it comes to a feast, you have to keep your eye on the prize.

After devouring most every delicious part of the pig (we playfully fought over ears, trotters and cheeks), we were ready for dessert. Out came this extraordinary looking log of a Baked Alaska, a cake stuffed with strawberry & pistachio ice cream and yogurt sorbet and then baked in a meringue crust, topped with kirsch and then set aflame. We might not have needed it, but it was a pretty awesome finale to our meal.

As a surprise to us, they also brought out pig-shaped cookies. I couldn't resist... I mean, PIG-SHAPED COOKIES?!!?!

Pork Club events are always fantastic - abundant and delicious food and drink and even more wonderful company. Special shoutouts to Protik for choosing excellent wines (always) and to Larry & Sergio for organizing dinner and for creating Pork Club!

 

DBGB Kitchen + Bar

299 Bowery btwn Houston/E 1st Sts

New York, NY 10003

212/933.5300

Reservations available on OpenTable.

Call in advance for the whole hog feast!

Tuesday
May282013

Chinese Noodle Restaurant (Sydney, Australia)

I am currently working on a project, and it required due diligence... in SYDNEY! Good excuse to see my good friend, AK, and eat a lot of delicious food! The last time I was here was in December 2011 for AK's wedding, and I ate the most fantastic Asian food... it was like being in Asia! One of my favorites was Chinese Noodle Restaurant, a very small restaurant in the Haymarket area of Sydney.

There are only a few tables, capacity probably maxes out at about 32 people, if that, and it's very bare bones. The most decorative aspect of the restaurant are the odd tapestries hanging on the walls (with hanging tassels that got dangerously close to my water) and leaves adorning the ceiling and the plastic bunches of grapes hanging down.

Although I had just come from a lunch meeting at Balla at the Star and eaten a full meal as well as a scoop of gelato from Messina, I was still hungry (story of my life, sigh). I was torn between noodles and pork & chive dumplings. Ultimately, I ended up getting both. The noodle v. dumpling decision is one that is absolutely impossible for me to make. The answer is always YES to both.

The next question was whether to get their house specialty, the Xinjiang stir-fried noodles, or to get the Beijing-style noodles zhajiangmian, a black bean sauce noodle with minced pork & cucumber. Although I love zhajiangmian (it's been adapted into Korean culture so it's something I grew up eating), I opted for the former.

Xinjiang is a province in northwest China, and one of their primary dishes is this noodle dish, stir-fried with meat and cabbage, onion, bell peppers and tomatoes in meat stock. While I was eating, I overheard a Caucasian guy comment about these noodles, "Tomato doesn't belong in Chinese food!" If only he knew... certain parts of China use tomato in everything, from noodles to soup to just serving it raw like fruit. 

Anyway back to the food... the real kicker in this dish is the noodles... they are SO DAMN GOOD. You can totally tell that they're handmade by the texture; each delciious bite is different and they hold the sauce much better than machine-made noodles.

I love dumplings... like LOVE. And the pork & chive dumplings at Chinese Noodle Restaurant are fantastic. I usually choose boiled, but this time I went with pan-fried, mostly because someone sitting nearby ordered pan-fried dumplings and they came out like IMMEDIATELY, and I wanted instant gratification. Unfortunatly, my dumplings did not come out as quickly, but I am fine with waiting when it comes to dumplings this good. First, these dumplings have a lot of tender meat, and it's not sinewy like I've had at some other inexpensive Chinese dumpling spots.  I absolutely love the strong flavor of Chinese chives (it can be a little pungent for those not used to the smell/taste), but the real difference is the ginger. They use a pretty hefty amount of ginger, where some bites you can get a faint taste, and others you can actually taste a bite. It's AMAZING.

look how meaty and chive-flecked!If you've ever been to Sydney, you'd know that the price of restaurant food (and drink) is mad expensive. But Chinatown Noodle Restaurant feels like a steal. Plus they offer you tea as soon as you sit down and tap water upon request. Note, this place is pretty well known, so at lunch time, the lines can be long. And there's a school nearby, so you'll find a lot of students frequenting it as well. But it's well worth the wait!

 

Chinatown Noodle Restaurant

8 Quay Street, Shop 7

Haymarket, Sydney, NSW 2000

02 9281 9051

No reservations

Monday
Apr222013

Dinner: Eating House (Miami)

When I found out that ZCDIV had to be in Miami for work the same weekend as Miami's COCHON 555, the only thing I asked him before booking my flight was what time his golf outing would be over on Saturday. That allowed me to do the Saturday morning "KKdouble" (for those of you who aren't obsessed like me, that's a Flybarre with Kara Liotta followed by a Flywheel with Kate Hickl) and even get half of a 2nd ride in with Leah Clark. Even with all that, I arrived in Miami with enough time to have an awesome dinner Saturday night. Yes, my trip would be less than 36 hours, but that easily accommodated Saturday dinner, Sunday in the sun (weather-permitting, in an effort to continue my 2013 resolution to be tan the entire year), and the main attraction... Sunday evening's pig party, COCHON 555!

With only one evening to eat, I wanted to find a goodie, and since we were staying at The Biltmore in Coral Gables, I excluded South Beach restaurants in my search, for convenience-sake... plus, the only SoBe spot on my list is The Bazaar by Jose Andres. After a little digging, I came across Eating House, which, from my research, sounded like a similarly creative yet less extensive version of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, a dreamy meal.

I emailed to see if there were reservations available, and within 24 hours, I received a response with available times. Hooray, we were IN!

We arrived at the restaurant, on the corner of a somewhat busy intersection. The restaurant was formerly a bakery space that Eating House "borrowed" in the evenings as a dinner pop-up, and with its popularity, they ended up purchasing the bakery and its 1800 sq ft for their permanent space. The exterior is a bit reminiscent of the bakery, but with the outdoor tables, some patrons waiting for tables outside while drinking bottled beers, and a bustling bar as you enter the restaurant, it certainly is a bakery no more.

We were seated immediately, and our server, Joseph, was friendly and helpful without ever being annoying. You can tell Eating House is a laidback, hipstery kinda place, with servers wearing t-shirts/jeans and, that evening, hosting a "420" party with a special family-style menu, drink specials and even live music!

While we perused the menus, we received a bowl of spiced popcorn to munch on. Tasty! We opted for the special menu as well as a couple add-ons from the a la carte menu; I wanted to try as much as I could!

The 7-layer dip was a surprisingly refreshing take on this usually heavy starter which included super fresh tomatoes, avocado crema, salsa verde, red onion and cotija cheese with super crunchy chips spiced chips served on the side. The cold lo mein also tasted rather light, despite being a noodle dish, with fresh carrots and a soy/sesame/vinegary sauce. Unfortunately, I didn't notice the black garlic, but I loved the egg noodles.

Next up were the "bagel bites", a riff on a classic from-the-freezer snack, but Eating House's version was AWESOME. Tender meaty short rib, enhanced with black truffle and topped with fontina cheese on a chewy, toasty bagel made for the best adult bagel bite you will ever try. It was love at first bite!

The "chorriperros" - the name is derived from a combination of chorizo and perro, a Colombian-style hot dog - were fantastic. Chorizo-style kielbasa from Proper Sausages in a toasted hot dog bun with a ketchup, pineapple relish and topped with potato straws was another giant success. Huge props to Proper Sausages for making an awesome sausage for Eating House! (I may have to order sausages from Proper Sausages soon... or at least make a pit stop the next time I'm in Miami.)

We received a break from the 420 special menu when we received one of our a la carte menu items: pasta carbonara. This is my absolute favorite pasta dish: fresh pasta adorned with classically, guanciale, in a creamy, unctuous egg-yolky sauce; when it's done right, it is MAGICAL. And Eating House might have the best carbonara I've EVER tried. Theirs arrives as a bowl of fresh tagliatelle pasta blanketed with fluffy Parmagiano Reggiano, and when uncovered and tossed, a smooth, rich, creamy, truffle-inflected eggy sauce coats these perfectly-cooked ribbons of pasta intertwined with meaty chunks of crispy bacon... O. M. G.

Back to the evening's special menu, we received a vaca frita (crispy beef) bun, which is more than vaguely reminiscent of Momofuku's pork buns (that I had just eaten the evening before at Ma Peche) with its cucumber & scallion topping and hoisin sauce (Eating House's is sweetened with guava), except this was served on a dinner roll (looked like a potato roll). Unfortunately, the crispy beef bun was a bit too sweet for my taste; I should have asked for Sriracha as we did at Ma Peche the evening before!

Our final savory dish from the 420 menu was the candied pork belly on bacon pancakes with maple syrup. Despite the pork belly, I actually thought I would be turned off by this because it sounded so sweet, but Eating House got me again. The salty, fatty, rich pork belly was perfectly balanced by the sweetness and crunchiness as well as with the wonderful bacon pancake it was served upon. This is why I try everything; another winner.

Our other a la carte menu add-on was the raw cabbages salad (I thought I would need some vegetal considering what we were eating), and it arrived at the end of the savory portion of our meal; not sure if this was in error or European-style. This "salad" was a spin on a Caesar salad, but the dressing didn't include egg or anchovies. I enjoyed the presentation and delivery - shredded cabbages, dressed with "Caesar" dressing, spread on thin garlic toasts, layered on top of each other and then heavily showered with Parmagiano Reggiano. Unfortunately, my cabbages were overdressed and wilted which took away from the crunch you expect from not only cabbage, but also a Caesar salad.

We were pretty stuffed at this point (actually, ZCDIV was pretty stuffed even earlier on), but since dessert was part of the 420 menu (of course), it's not like we were going to turn it away.

The brownie sundae topped with vanilla Dutch Masters ice cream was interesting... our brownie was a little disappointing, being on the dry side, but that ice cream... the vanilla Dutch Masters infused ice cream left a slight tingling sensation at the back of the throat with each bite. But I have to give it to the chef at Eating House: the "breakfast" dessert of Fruity Pebble mousse on top of milk panna cotta then sprinkled with a healthy dose of Fruity Pebbles was the perfect translation of and improvement on cereal. Wow, fantastic!

One last notable: the succinct wine list has great options and is completely affordable, with most bottles in the $40 range, the priciest at around $60. (I was eyeing only whites, and the Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc was fantastic, the Albarino also tasty and they even have a Txakoli available! ZCDIV had a glass of the Malbec which he enjoyed).

What it comes down to... you will definitely be surprised, impressed, and sometimes in awe of what Chef Georgio Rapicavoli does with food. And most importantly, you will definitely leave Eating House happy. Move over Michael's Genuine; I think I found a new Miami fave!

 

Eating House

804 Ponce de Leon Blvd at SW 8th St

Coral Gables, FL 33134

305/448,6524

Reservations are most easily obtained via email: eatinghousemiami@gmail.com.