Archive | November, 2010

Nanoosh

30 Nov

Nanoosh is a “Mediterranean Hummus Bar” with 3 locations in NYC (just below Union Square, near Lincoln Square, and in Murray Hill).  I frequented the one by Union Square before changing jobs, and didn’t realize until long after that I never blogged about it, even after going there at least 2 times per week.

Their pita is nothing special (bland and a bit dry) but it looks like puffed balloons.

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On this day, my friend tried the sweet potato and mushroom soup.  It was, unfortunately, spicy, so I was out. But she enjoyed.

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She followed that up with the quinoa salad (with Organic quinoa, red peppers, red onions, organic walnuts, dried
cranberries, & organic raisins).  She also enjoyed.

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I went with the salad I tried the first time I went there and has never let me down.  It’s SOOOOO good.  It’s the Nanoosh Garden salad (that comes with Organic romaine, organic cherry tomatoes, organic carrots, corn, heart of palm, dry roasted edamame with citrus dressing or citrus and Mediterranean spices dressing) but I order it with the walnut and grapefruit dressing (oil free).  The dry roasted edamame and the dressing just kick this salad into a whole new level of salad.  I can’t get enough of it!

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I hear people aren’t too fond of the hummus due to it’s thickness, however, this salad is perfect for me. And for that… I give it…

Total Noms: 7 out of 10

 


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Bon Chon Chicken

29 Nov

Welcome back from your Thanksgiving hangover!  You know what cures a hangover like none-other?  Korean Fried Chicken!

They actually opened up a BonChon on my street… and they even deliver.  VERY dangerous.   

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It came with some sides (which is typical for Korean food… surprise sides!) and I’m pretty sure it was some slaw and pickled radish.

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I also ordered a bulgogi wrap, since I’m OBSESSED with bulgogi. 

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It was good… but I prefer good ol’ fashioned bulgogi and rice.

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So of course we ordered that too!  It was good, but I prefer it from other places.  I think if you’re going to get BonChon, just stick with the fried chicken.

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Which is delicious.

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Slightly sweet, just the right amount of crisp.

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Naughty but oh so good!

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Virgin America- DeliBreak Lunch Box

26 Nov

I am not a fan of plane food.  I can’t think of anything grosser than pre-packaged, shelf stable, mass quantity food.  It reminds me of my highschool cafeteria… without the pizza and tots.  And now they make you PAY for it? ARE YOU KIDDING?!

So when I noticed that Virgin America really takes on a new look at in-flight meals (along with everything else), I figured it would be interesting to blog about their “GoPicnic DeliBreak Lunch Box.”  I like that you order it when you want it, and the cost isn’t awful seeing as though you are literally entirely trapped with their menu.  I think this was $6 and it was plenty to fill me for lunch and leave me with some snacks for hour 4 on the trip to LA.

This was the box front, which varied slightly from the description on the menu that I remember reading.

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And the list on the box even varied from the actual food that was inside.  I found this slightly concerning, since picky people may not be pleased by trading out potato chips for pop chips.  Luckily… I love pop chips!

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Thought I was kind of curious what sweet maui onino potato chips might taste like.

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They packaged it well, with a lot of options within one compact box.

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And like I said… it was plenty of food.

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A very good snack/meal option.  Thanks Virgin America!  You remain my favorite airline (even if you INSIST on flying out of JFK).

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 Nov

Since today is the best day of the year, Thanksgiving, NYC Nom Nom will be on break until tomorrow.

But I’m sure you are DYING to know what I’m bringing to our epic feast… Here is my list:

  • Meringue Kisses
  • Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • English Toffee with Sea Salt
  • Apple Pie
  • Butternut Squash Souffle (this is Mike’s awesome contribution)

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Totto Ramen

24 Nov

While on the Ramen kick, I wanted to post about Totto.  

I have been hearing about the deliciousness of Yakitori Totto (in the East Village) for some time, so I was excited to hear that the same owner was opening a branch somewhere near my corner of NYC (it’s on 52nd Street near 9th Ave). 

The restaurant has a waiting list on the door where you have to sign up.    

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We went early to make sure we could get in and out, but even at noon on a random weekday the place was packed and we waited about 20-30 minutes.

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Most seats are at the bar, but there are about 4 or 5 small tables as well.

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I thought that the rooster theme was cute, and was certainly found in multiple places throughout the restaurant.  (Including as a chalk drawing on the front sign that invited people in to eat some chicken… too funny).

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My coworker started with the Lunch Special:

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He said it was a bit bland.

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He also ordered the spicy ramen, in case the color in the following picture isn’t enough indication.

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I went with the non-spicy Totto Original.  It was really good… but it surely wasn’t Ippudo.

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Not that it stopped me from finishing every last solid object in the bowl.  And the rooster even resurfaced.

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If I hadn’t yet tried Ippudo, I probably would have loved this place.  But in the shadow of my favorite ramen in the city, this just didn’t cut it.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

The Best Ramen In NYC (so far): Ippudo

23 Nov

I have been to Ippudo (on 4th Ave between 9th and 10th Streets) about 3 or 4 times and somehow managed to miss blogging about it each time.  And that’s a damn shame… because I have been withholding the best damn ramen place I have found in NYC from my wonderful readers.  Maybe I did it subconsciously so the secret of eating here without waiting on the crazy line would not be revealed… but I’ll let you in on the secret… read on…

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Upon entering, the whole staff yells a very Japanese welcome.  Be prepared to feel yelled at… but they assure me it’s all meant in kindness.

The first time I took Mike, we ordered the Chef’s Tasting Appetizers.  I can’t for the life of me remember what they were, but those little corn things were delicious.  And of course I couldn’t eat the dish in the back due to the peppers, but Mike enjoyed.

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We also got the pork buns.  They are not quite the caliber of the ones at Momofuku Ssam, but they were delicious.

 

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One of my favorite things to order is the lunch special.  It starts with a selection of rice dishes and I absolutely LOVE the pork over rice.  It is packed with flavor and just the right amount of sauce.  DELICIOUS!

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The next dish is the Tsuke Soba, which is  cold ramen that comes with soup for dipping into.  My coworker loved this.

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I order the same thing each time:  The Shiromaru Hakata Classic, which they describe as “the original tonkotsu’ soup noodle with pork loin chashu, kikurage, menma, 1/2 boiled egg, red pickled ginger, sesame & scallions.”  I have found that adding Onsen Tamago (poached egg) and the sensational Kakuni (braised pork belly) brings this soup to a whole new level. Nom Nom Nom.

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So what’s the secret for getting in when the bar is packed and people are gathered outside, prepared for the 1.5 hour wait?  You need to go in-person to make a reservation day-of.  I highly recommend heading to Union Square around lunch time, starting at Ippudo where you put your name in for an early dinner.  Then walk around the Union Square Greenmarket and take in a movie at the Union Square Cinema.  That should put you at Ippudo just in time to walk right in, much to the dismay of the waiting public, and sit down for an epic meal.

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On one such occasion where I was bringing some good friends to this awesome place, I managed to capture some additional decorations inside.  (I really enjoy their aesthetic)

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The table where we sat had these cool ropes under glass to decorate the table.  Very cool.

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Now back to the food… The group started with Yamaimo Isobe, which is fresh mountain yam topped with mentai plum and jalapeno masago, served with nori.

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Everyone ordered their ramen of choice.

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I love how they serve each in a different bowl.

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And trust me, the side of pork belly is TOTALLY worth it!

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Each broth is a little different.

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And absolutely delicious.

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I’ve never heard anyone have any complaints about their soup.

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One thing that I find pretty funny is that many people read the following on their menu and get all excited about more noodles:

“Kae-dama is a system that offers you an extra serving of noodles. when you have almost finished your first serving of noodles, order by saying, “kae-dama, please”. in a few minutes the server will bring you another ‘ball of noodles’, and put it in the soup. at that time, you must have enough amount of the soup in the bowl to accommodate the new noodles, that is, you shouldn’t drink much of the soup if you are going to order the kae-dama.”

No one ever feels like they are hungry enough for more noodles by the end.

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Their dessert menu always has a few curiosities on it.

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This time we ordered the marscapone and ice cream cake…

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The Crepe Cake…

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And the Macha Brulee.

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I really like the brulee, personally, and the slight flavor of tea is really nice. Not everyone likes it, but that just means more for me!

Overall, Ippudo is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC.  I highly recommend it.  Just go and make an in-person reservation.  You won’t regret it.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10


More Birthday Catch-up: Ma Peche

22 Nov

Lori and I come within 2 days of sharing a birthday.  We have made a tradition out of going out to celebrate each other each year since our fateful meeting.  (In fact, it was one of those birthday celebrations where I met Mike… and the rest was history).  This year we decided to try the new David Chang‘s new midtown restaurant: Ma Peche (on 56th Street between 5th and 6th Aves).

The restaurant is in the Chambers Hotel (and you have to kind of walk through the lobby to get to it).  The room has very high ceilings with an huge space and what appears to be a very small kitchen.  You can see the kitchen area below, lit up towards the right of the picture.

The drink menu didn’t leap out at me, but I eventually chose the Ampersand and Lori chose the Moscow Mule.

Both were quite good, but nothing to write home about.

I was VERY excited about the men, however.  The Prix Fixe wasn’t that enticing…

But I couldn’t wait to try the pork & duck terrine or the crispy pig’s head or the pork ribs or the striped bass or the steak frites or the cavalo nero…

I honestly didn’t know how I was going to decide.  And then… the bomb hit.  The waitress informed me that 99% of the menu had peppers in it that couldn’t be changed.  Now… I didn’t have this problem even at Ko where they make the menu for you and serve whatever they have that day… but here at Ma Peche, I was SOL.  We kept asking for certain dishes and basically were told over and over again that it would kill me.  DAMN.

I couldn’t stand the idea of Lori missing out because of me, however, so I encouraged her to get the crispy pig’s head.  I actually risked it and took a little bite. It was delicious, but definitely something I couldn’t eat without pain.  It was worth it though.

We split the scallops with papaya, soy beans, and poppy seeds.  It was a beautiful plate and we thoroughly enjoyed.  The parts apart were good, but once you combined it all together into one mouthful, it was fantastic. There was also a hint of salt that brought it to a new level.  I do have to say, however, that I definitely prefer my scallops seared.

To give me an entree option, they actually had to go off the menu and gave us a crispy rice noodle with vegetables.

The noodles were cool spirals and weren’t so much crispy as they were chewy.  But in an AWESOME way.  The sweet potato was pretty bland (which was sad since I LOVE sweet potatoes), however, the corn in this was SO. FREAKING. GOOD.  I actually would go back here JUST for this.  I find myself craving them now.

The steak with rice fries was a fantastic dish.  The fries were more like flash fried rice balls and I LOVED them.  I thought they tasted like popcorn and I couldn’t get enough.  The beef was also fantastic and had the perfect flavor.

For dessert, we went to the offshoot of Momofuku Milk Bar.  It’s a carry out dessert place and we decided we would grab a bite and eat it in the hotel lobby.  They had a large assortment of delicious look cakes and we couldn’t wait to try a piece.  Lori blogged about our visit as well.

I was especially excited to try the Apple Pie Cake… I was just curious how you could make a pie into a cake.

What we didn’t know, however, is that they don’t sell these cakes by the slice.  Only complete.  Le sigh.

Luckily, all was not lost.  They also sold cake balls!  They basically enrobed those cakes in chocolate shell.  Nom Nom Nom.

I also couldn’t resist trying the soft serve.  It was salty pistacchio caramel and that sounded just too good.  I expected more, but I liked the kinda of sweet, kinda salty flavor.  Lori wasn’t a huge fan.  It was definitely polarizing.

The cake balls were good, but not as good as I had hoped.

The apple pie was certainly my favorite though!

Overall, the food was innovative and fun to eat.  I wish I could have tried more, however, what I did get to try was fantastic.  I was not impressed with Milk Bar, but it was satisfying.

Ma Peche Overall Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Milk Bar Overall Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Spaghetti Squash and Slow Cooker Pears

19 Nov

I feel like I am already at the tail end of this incredible cacophony of  support for the long neglected spaghetti squash.  I first encountered this awesome veggie about 8 years ago, and when I found out that it has ZERO Weight Watchers Points for a whole cup, I had to make it part of my weekly cooking.  I love squash to begin with, so having a squash that is easy to cook, can be paired with just about anything, and is good for me is pretty awesome.

How easy to cook?  I’ll tell ya.

The hardest part is cutting the sucker in half, lengthwise.  I always sharpen the big knife before going into it, however, it makes me yearn for an axe.  Once you have it split, you can just scoop out the yag and seeds from the middle (just keep those seeds for roasting!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I use the side of a large spoon to scrape around the opening.

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After that, you put it cut side down on parchment paper, a Silpat, or slightly greased cookie sheet and just roast it up at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  A fork should easily be able to scrape out the insides.

So why do they call it spaghetti squash?

Well… what starts as a seemingly solid piece of squash winds up turning into these beautiful strands that look just like spaghetti.

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And you can treat it like spaghetti and pair it with a pasta sauce, cheese, veggies or any other savory topping.  You can also make a sweet version and I’ve heard brown sugar and butter on it is especially delicious.  Personally, I’m dying to try this recipe which pairs it with maple syrup and shallots.

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Another quick and easy, yet totally healthy recipe for a good dessert after you’ve had your spaghetti squash is putting a pear (or apple) in the slow cooker.  I just cored 2 apples and then put them in the crock pot.  Then I poured over some apple cider (until it came up about half way on the pears), a sprinkle of brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, then set it on low for about 4 hours until it was tender.

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Topped off with a bit of homemade schlag and it was a very yummy treat.

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Mike’s Birthday Dinner Part 2: Black and White Cookies

17 Nov

The second part of Mike’s birthday dinner had to be dessert.  I tried to think of something new to make that Mike loved.  He always seeks out black and white cookies, so I decided to try my hand at them.  I also decided to try to take a lot more “making of” pictures for this recipe.

Here is the ol’ melted butter in the mixer pic.

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I then creamed said butter with sugar.

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And then started adding eggs.  Here went #1 of 4.

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As you are looking at the picture below, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “why on earth is that egg so happy?”  I’ll tell you… I tried to take a picture of these eggs with my camera about 400 times. It couldn’t find a single surface to focus on, however, so I got crafty.  And… named him Fred.

Say “hi” to Fred!

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And then… Fred had to die.

Goodbye Fred.

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I mixed the eggs in with the butter/sugar and then added in milk, vanilla extract, and lemon extract.  That is when it got scary.  It looked curdled.  I’m sure the lemon extract had something to do with it.

I paused for a moment, but then decided to continue and see how it all turned out.

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Next up came the cake flour, salt, and baking powder.

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Which, when all combined, looked like something edible again.  (Oh boy and it was good eatin’ batter!)

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This here is moments before I licked it completely clean.

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I dropped the dough onto a pan by an ice cream scoop, aiming for bigger cookies than the 1 Tablespoon suggestion would have brought.  I wanted bakery size!

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Then I used the back of a spoon to swirl the top to make them flatter.

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Using my trusty Silpat all the way.  Well… half of the way.  I only had 2 mats and 4 pans.  D’oh.

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And then into the oven they went at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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And if it wasn’t clear why Silpats rock, here is photographic evidence that Silpats are pretty much the best invention ever.  THOUGH, after the suggested 30 minutes, both trays were still pretty raw.

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I actually stuck them back in the oven and checked on them about every 3 minutes for the next 15 minutes.  It was now 50% longer than the original recipe called for and I started to get nervous.  I took them out and they were less raw, though still quite white on the bottom.

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I took a bite and figured it didn’t matter so much since they tasted awesome.  And onto the cooling rack they went.  (Though, as mentioned in the previous entry, some came into work with me.)

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When I came home (prior to making dinner), I started glazing the cookies.  The bottom shows the white glaze, which basically just looks half shiny.

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Then I added chocolate glaze.  I was in WAY too much of a rush so I didn’t spread these out enough.  So they weren’t nearly as neat as I would have preferred.  I was also pretty bummed at the transparency of the chocolate glaze and could not for the life of me figure out how most places get it so dark!

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But they tasted great!  Though not bakery great.  I guess there are just some things you should leave to the pros!

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RECIPE
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Black & White Cookies
(original recipe was from AllRecipes.com, however, I read the notes and tweaked it accordingly)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup boiling water (just add until it’s the right consistency)
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (good quality)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Butter/spray 2 baking sheets or use a Silpat.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk, vanilla, and lemon extract. Combine cake flour and all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
  3. Bake until edges begin to brown, about 20 to 30 minutes (or more?). Cool completely.
  4. Place confectioners sugar in large bowl. Mix in boiling water one tablespoon at a time until mixture is thick and spreadable. (Add more than the indicated amount if you need to).
  5. Transfer half of the frosting to the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Stir in the chocolate. Warm mixture, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat. (or do it slowly in the microwave)
  6. With a brush, coat half the cookie with chocolate frosting and the other half with the white frosting. Set on waxed paper until frosting hardens.

Shorty’s: “NYC’s Only Authentic Cheesesteak”

16 Nov

Down the street from the office there lives a little Cheesesteak restaurant called Shorty’s.  They bill themselves as “NYC’s only authentic cheesesteak.”  I have to assume they mean authentic to Philly, especially because there is all sorts of Eagles and Philthies merchandise everywhere (BLEH!)  Now seeing as though I have never been to Philly, I can’t really comment on authenticity.  (And yes… I know… it’s crazy that I have grown up less than an hour away and never been to the City of Brotherly Love.  But I will try to go soon, just so I can lick the Liberty Bell… special Nom cred to anyone that gets that reference).

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The inside is a long bar with a few small tables on the side.  It’s not easy to jocky for seats, but it is feasible for lunch.

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And for this special, you can see why it’s usually packed!  $9 gets you a “shorty” cheesesteak (that’s 6 inches of sandwich for ya) and a beer from 12pm-7pm and 11pm to close.

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We started making a tradition at work where we would go each Friday.  Unfortunately, 2 Fridays into the plan and I was out.  It’s all tasty, but I literally was useless at work on Friday afternoons.  And I’m not a fan of being unproductive, no matter how delicious cheesesteak is.  Not to mention the waistline damage!

I do love their Italian Fries, however.  These have Italian seasoning and Romano cheese.  Nom Nom Nom.  Delish!

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They must be used to groups, because they conveniently label each sandwich so you know who gets what.

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I went with a chicken cheesesteak my first go-around and it was topped with sharp provolone (not sharp enough… at all), mushrooms, and onions.

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Delicious… but HEAVY.

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And definitely missing out on that oozy, cheesy goodness that I usually expect with cheesesteaks.  The steak version I would level set in about the same place.

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They do have the classic option of Cheese Whiz, and I hear this is the way to go.

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You can also top it with sweet and/or spicy peppers.  My coworkers went for the pepper duo.

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The last time I was there I tried something a little different and went with the Potato Skins with steak, wiz, bacon, and sour cream.  They were DELISH, but I couldn’t even make my way through half of the course before my stomach said “ENOUGH!”

My coworkers love this place, and the special is pretty awesome, but only go if you are prepared to dedicate a few hours to digestion and digestion only!

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10