Archive | August, 2011

Kefi: Restaurant Week Menu

31 Aug

 

We were on the Upper West Side and in need of a place for dinner.  I had heard very good things about Kefi, and realized they were still running their Restaurant Week special.  This Restaurant Week menu had a lot of items off the regular menu, and I realized the regular menu was also very well priced.  

Mike started with the Kefi salad.  It had feta cheese and was dressed very well.

 

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I chose the grilled octopus with bean salad.  Now this… this was a show stopper.  I like octopus just fine, but it’s never something I LOVE.  This octopus?  I wanted to take it out to dinner, buy it wine, and beg it to come home with me at night.  It was perfectly grilled, with a bit of char, and not a hint of chewiness.  If this is what octopus always tasted like, I would probably eat it exclusivity.

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For our entrees, Mike got braised lamb shank with orzo.  The lamb shank was tender with full flavor and an awesome sauce.  I usually would have been very jealous of this entree, but mine was even better.

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I got the shrimp, orzo, feta, tomato, and spinach.  It was all baked into a delicious bowl of amazingness.  It reminded me a bit about very adult mac & cheese made Mediterranean style. It was sensational.  I was stuffed half way through but wanted to finish every last bite and lick the plate.

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For dessert, Mike got ice cream. One was toasted sesame and the other was maple walnut.  Both tasted homemade.  Delicious!  

 

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I chose the chocolate mousse and halva with sesame ice cream. I love halva and as thrilled to have it in the dessert.  The mousse was delicious and rich, but I had eaten so much of the previous food that I really didn’t have room for it.  

 

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Overall, Kefi was a surprise and a delight.  I cannot believe people are flocking here in herds. Especially after I learned that it was opened by Michael Psilakis and Donatella Arpaia.  With heritage like that, and food this good, Kefi should be packed every day. But it wasn’t. So go there. Now.  Before the secret is out!

And bring me back some of that octopus.  

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

 

 

 

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Birthday Dinner 2011: Daniel

29 Aug

Mike and I have an awesome tradition where every year on our birthdays, the other brings the birthday child to one of the best restaurants in the city.  It’s always a surprise, and we don’t know where we are going until we get there.

On my birthday last week, I was thrilled when I stepped out of the taxi to see that we were at Daniel.  Daniel has been on the top of my list for a long time.  It has been a NYC staple of excellence for years and I have enjoyed dining at Daniel Boulud’s other restaurants, including Cafe Boulud and Bar Boulud. I’ve also had great meals at DB Bistro and can’t wait to try DBGB and the new Boulud Sud.  Daniel has 3 Michelin Stars, making it my second 3 Michelin Star Birthday in a row, with Le Bernardin last year.

Daniel offers a 3 course menu, where you can choose a la carte for $108 or do a full 6 course tasting menu for $195.  It’s definitely a special occasion meal! We went for the 6 course menu, which allowed us to choose 1 of 2 from each of 6 sections.  Since there were 2 of us… we just said to bring us one of everything.  (I always wanted to say that).  We didn’t go for the wine pairing (which was anotehr $105) because I had work the following day and didn’t want to have to weave out of there the way I did Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  We did a themed order of wine and got a bottle of Russian River Chardonnay followed by a Russian River Pinot Noir (big fan of those Russian River wines).

(They also have a 3 course meal with wine pairings as a theater prix fixe for $105 from 5:30-6pm Monday-Thursday.  Not a bad deal with wine!)

Here is a gallery of the menu, since it changes seasonally:

The restaurant is impressively beautiful.  It FEELS like a special occasion place.  We were sat in a corner booth that was a bit private behind screens.  It was nice to be tucked away, however, I like to people watch and this actually made it a bit detached.  Our little round booth was insanely comfortable, however, and if I ever have the opportunity to design a corner sitting area, I will think of the perfect leaning pillow that was in our booth.

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We started with an amuse bouche, and I cannot recall much about it besides the fact that mine didn’t have peppers.

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I recall something about smoked salmon and melon.  I recall enjoying it.  I recall thinking it was all fresh and summary. That’s about it…

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There was a noticeable delay in service as we waited for our first course.  This happened a few times between courses, creating very strange pacing.  This was the only dark spot on an otherwise fantastic service.  Ok… well not entirely spotless… read on…

Our first course started with duck terrine with sauternes.  It was perfectly divided between the richness and sweet when combined with the apricot.  Delicious and full of flavor.

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For this same course, we received a pressed squab terrine with turnips, bok choy, and chamomile gelee.  This was a great balance, again, with  great richness, balance, and flavor.

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Our next course started with Snapper Ceviche with celery vinaigrette. I believe this one was supposed to be served with a pepper oil, but they kindly left that off.  This was delicious, fresh, and I even enjoyed it (I am a certified celery hater).

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With this course, we were served peekytoe crab in an heirloom tomato gelee with avocado, thai basil, lilliput capers, and olive bread tuile.  The crab was sensational.  Enhanced by the multitude of fresh (though mostly unidentifiable) pretty things on the plate.

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Course three was a Maine sea scallop rosette with lovage.  It was supposed to come with Hawaiian hearts of palm, avocado-tomato coulis, and pickled fresno peppers.  This was probably the best dish on the menu, EXCEPT, one bite in I know I was in trouble.  There were even tiny red flakes that were visible (I call it the “trouble color” because very few things except peppers are that burnt red color).  We asked the waitress and she INSISTED there were no peppers.  She went to the kitchen and came back to tell us that they were red celery.  Hmmm… I would hate to disparage a restaurant like Daniel… but my mouth was instantly swollen and itchy. And just on the side where I took the bite. It took me a good 4 ounces of milk to even take down the itching.   Hmmmm.

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Paired with this course was artichoke and squid ink ravioli.  This came with littleneck clams, ruby red shrimp, razor clams, sea beans, saffron cream and opal basil.  If that sounds like a lot of ingredients, it was. And they all blended beautifully.  It was as visually stunning as it was delicious.

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Our next course was Atlantic flaked cod with tarbais beans, wild lamb squarequarters, chorizo, purslane, and marcona almonds emulsion.  I couldd not have this one, so I will default to Mike for a review: “From what I remember, it was good, but oddly… starchy? pasty? But it was decent.”

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My dish was grilled Alaskan King Salmon with black musto oil.  I guess the sides listed wouldn’t work, so I was served some peas, zucchini spears, and broccoflower.  I am not a salmon fan. In fact, I thought for years that I hated fish, but turns out I just hated salmon.  This, however, was very tasty.  And those were some of the best peas I have ever had.

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Our last savory courses were listed as a “Duoof Beef” and a “Tasting of Veal.”   Neither dish came out the way it was intended, I assume due to the allergy.   The beef was supposed to be black angus short ribs with cauliflower mouselline, seared wagyu tenderloin, chanterelles, crispy potatoes, and poached bone marrow.  Reading back over that description, we definitely got shafted.  We only got the seared tenderloin.  The short ribs,  chanterelles, crispy potatoes, and poached bone marrow were all missing!  But at the time, we didn’t notice.  The tenderloin was perfection.

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The veal also wound up not being as described.  The 3 selections was supposed to be roasted tenderloin with eggplant puree, braised cheeks with glazed zucchini, and crispy sweetbreads with caper coponata.  It came out with 2 pieces of tenderloin and a crispy sweetbread, no sauces/toppings.  I was a bit bummed because I was looking forward to those cheeks, but this was still excellent.

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Daniel does a really lovely job of celebrating birthdays, with a lovely complimentary cake and candle (and thankfully no singing).  It was tasteful and delicious.

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Our desserts then came out from the menu, with a warm guanaja chocolate coulant with liquid caramel, fleur de sel, and milk sorbet.  This was insanely rich (without being overdone) and had AMAZING flavor.

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They even went the extra mile with the pretty gold flake on top.  This was perfection in chocolate.  I didn’t think the world could get any more divine than this cake… and then…

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…I tasted this. Lemongrass poached pineapple with coconut meringue, lime-rum gelee, and pina colada sorbet.  I never would have ordered this after reading it on the menu.  While I love coconut, I’m always worried it would taste like sunscreen.  Pina coladas are good, but they can taste really cheap as a flavor.  Meringue is one of my favorite things in the world, but it’s usually not done well.  But this… this was everything that is right with the world.  This was heaven.  This was vacation in my mouth.  This was probably one of the best desserts I have ever had in my life.  And you know I love desserts!

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Along with these desserts, we received a basket of fresh, still warm madelleines.  Mike had never tasted a madelleine before.  I have, but not anything like this.  These were fluffy and light and nearly melted in my mouth.  Sensational.

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Just when I was debating if I would manage to roll myself home, a number of dainty bite sized desserts came out.  Beautifully prepared.  I was getting ready to loudly profess my love to the pastry chef at this point.  Or perhaps write them a love letter to tuck into a check.

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And then came a tray of delicate mini chocolates.  And this is where I cracked our servers shell.  I asked her to please pause for just a moment to take a picture.  Normally I would never have asked, but it was my birthday and we were drinking… so I went for it.  She put on the face and smiled, but you could tell that she was not happy to be doing it.  Hence… my shot was blurry and I didn’t retake.  (I can’t say I blame her.)

And it was a delicious exclamation mark on the meal.

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Overall, our meal here was stunning and delicious.  It had some highlights (the scallops, even though there were peppers… the tenderloin… the DESSERTS!) and some so-so things.  I can’t say there was any one savory meal that was mind-blowing, but it was a fantastic meal.  The pacing was off, the peppers things were still questionable, but service was obviously a refined art form in this restaurant.  It’s funny to be in a point in our dining history where while this was an amazing meal, and it still ranked at about #7 on the overall list.  But it was still #6. And it will remain hard to beat.

And I really hope they serve just desserts.  Because I want to go back for just that.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

My Very Own Cookbook Has Arrived!

27 Aug

Thanks to Foodbuzz, I received a free photo book from Kodak Photo Gallery.  I posted about it first here.  I was thrilled when just 4 days later, it was at my door!

I chose to do a cookbook, but from there, I was stumped.  I cannot thank Mike enough for helping me put this together.  It’s a lovely hard cover book that I didn’t get a good picture of, but trust me, it’s just so pretty!  Here is the cover…

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Page One (with Grandma’s Meringue and Brownies to open the book).

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The last page is my favorite mock ice cream made with frozen bananas.

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I usually have to flip through my blog or through my hard copy recipes to cook from, so it will be so nice to have this book to reference on the spot.

If you want to make your very own photo book (or cook book), you have just 5 more days to get 40% off a medium hardcover or a large Photo Book. Go to www.kodakgallery.com/creativity to redeem.

Happy Nomming!

Sergimmo Salumeria

22 Aug

I have been singing the praises of my neighborhood for a while, saying that it was “up and coming.”  Thankfully, that turned out to be true.  The area between what is classically known as Chelsea and the northern area that is Hell’s Kitchen (affectionately named “Hellsea” by some) has not exactly been a great supply of food.  Penn Station and Port Authority don’t scream “Eat Here!”  But in the last 2 years (and mostly in the last 6 months), 9th Avenue between 34th and 42nd Streets may actually be going somewhere.

One welcome addition is Sergimmo Salumeria.  There is currently one in Queens, but they also just opened one on 9th Avenue between 35th and 36th Streets.  It’s a small place, but they did an amazing job decorating it and making it very welcoming.

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I had heard that this place was already generating lines out the door, and seeing as though I had never heard of it , it was time to try.

 They have some very classic Italian packaged goods, and I had to try the Espresso Coffee Soda.  It was not what I was expecting, and had some redeeming qualities, but I don’t know if I will go out of my way to drink this again.

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I decided to try Il VIP which included prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, arugula, E.V. Olive oil, and fig spread.  It is VERY expensive at $14… until you get it.  Half this sandwich left me so full I could hardly walk back to the office.  (And the second half made an AMAZING addition to an omelet the next day.)

The bread had the outside crunch and inside give and fluffiness that you dream about in bread.  The prosciutto and mozzarella were unbelievably fresh and I loved the fig jam (though I wish there were a bit more of it… but I am a fig jam fan so I may be in the minority on that preference).  The arugula was also a great bitter crunch for it.  A fantastic sandwich overall.

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We also tried 2 different kinds of risotto balls, one meat and one vegetable, as well as a sampling of olives.

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The balls were lightly fried, creamy on the inside, and had good flavor.  I actually would have preferred them with a bit of sauce, but they were still good.

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The one problem with having a line out the door is that it’s hard to keep the AC pumping enough to keep diners… and sandwiches… cool. By the time I finished my first half, my second half was starting to pool onto the serving board.  

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We went back a second time and got an assortment of other goodies.

I tried the Bresalola e Arugula saald with arugula, bresaola, and shaved parmigiano drizzled with lemon dressing and E.V. olive oil.  It was absolutely delicious and fresh.

Someone ordered the chicken salad with grilled chicken, arugula, sliced avocado, cherry tomatoes, and corn with lemon dressing and E.V. olive Oil.

The special that day was pork shoulder with balsamic, arugula, and cheese.

Someone else ordered the Di Fracesca Panini, which was a fried cutlet, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and artichokes.

Overall, everything we have had here has been very tasty.  It’s a wee bit on the expensive side, but they have big portions and fresh food.  It is a novel menu for this neighborhood and I’m glad to have this in the neighborhood.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Kodak Gallery: My very first cook book

21 Aug

I am a member of FoodBuzz, and there are some wonderful perks that we receive from advertisers.  Since I work in the advertising industry, I am very familiar with these promotions and I always feel honored when I am one of the lucky bloggers who has the opportunity to check out new products and try new things so I can tell my readers about them.

Most recently, I was provided with the opportunity to make a photo book with the Kodak Gallery.  It took me a bit longer than I anticipated to put it all together, because I took on the extreme undertaking of putting together my first cookbook.  I was also lacking on a theme, but then Mike came to the rescue (per usual) and suggested I make a cookbook of my favorite dessert recipes. BINGO!  Best part: I will now have something to reference in a nice, concise, pretty format while I bake.  YAY!

I just finally completed it (a bit past the deadline… sorry Kodak!) and I am now anxiously awaiting its arrival.  Here is the cover art:

It was a very easy process and a lot of fun to be able to compile my own book.  It took a bit of time to work out, but really that was because of the choice I made to have it be a collection of recipes rather than a standard photo book.

I am also able to offer my readers 40% off a medium hardcover or a large Photo Book. They tell me you simply have to go to www.kodakgallery.com/creativity to redeem.   The offer is only available through this URL from 8/1/11 – 8/31/11, so act fast!

Special thanks to Mike for the idea and the help in assembling.

 

NOTE: This post is part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with KODAK Gallery.  I received this book for free as part of a promotion, but was in no way asked to provide a review, positive or negative.  All content contained is property of NYCNomNom.com.

M. Wells Diner

19 Aug

I feel as though I am the last blogger on earth to be blogging about M. Wells Diner.  Part of that reason is that M. Wells is in Queens.  And I just don’t get to Queens very often.  There is currently a Jim Henson exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image, however, so we decided to make a day out of it.

M. Wells is built into an old diner car in Long Island City.  Usually, it’s quite easy to get there since it’s right above an exit to the 7 Train, however, the 7 wasn’t running this day.  So we took the E and walked (and happened to pass PS-1. Another institution I still need to check out).

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They are famous for their menu.  They are from Quebec, and bring some of their classic food but then add some of the more crazy ingredients, such as foie gras, pork tongue, and gravlax.

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I was very curious about the spaghetti sandwich, to be honest!

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They also had a nice cocktail menu.  I tried the Take 3, which had Cynar in it.  Cynar is made from the bitter taste of artichokes.  I was hoping for more artichoke and less bitter.  I added sugar.  SHHH don’t tell.

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They had a special that day for chicken fried steak in a foie gras gravy over fries.  Om nom nom. This was delicious.  The steak was perfectly cooked and the breading was crispy without being over breaded or greasy.  The foie gras gravy was at the height of rich deliciousness and it was delicious on both the steak and the fries.  A fantastic combo.

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We also ordered the escargot and bone marrow.  This was awesome.  There was more bone marrow than is normally served in restaurants (YAY!) and the escargot on top added great texture and depth of flavor.

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We ordered the Maple Pie for dessert, which was described as a pecan pie without the pecans.  This was decent, but a little underbaked and lacking in texture. The crust was AWESOME though.  I had major crust jealousy.

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Overall, M. Wells Diner is just FUN.  It’s fantastic for the food adventurer but doesn’t sacrifice quality and excellence just because they use original ingredients.  They could just rest on their laurels and be satisfied by SAYING they have foie gras dishes, but they go the extra mile to make sure they’re actually tasty.  This was definitely worth the trip to Queens.

The latest news is that the owners were in a real estate battle to extend the lease.  They were unable to secure a lease on the space that made sense for their business, so they will be closing up shop at the end of August.  They have promised to open a new location in Long Island City shortly thereafter, however.  They will be throwing special tasting parties all throughout the month of August as a farewell to their current space.  Sounds like fun to me!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Stone Barns Farm: Tarrytown, NY

17 Aug

After an epic and amazing meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, we decided to take the following day and come back to the farm to explore.  Now I am an animal lover, however, I have no problem (and actually quite enjoy) seeing an animal alive knowing that it will be served for dinner shortly.   I have a definite detachment.  Maybe I’m weird that way.

We went to their cafe and tried the fresh baked croissants and blueberry muffins.  These were awesome, fresh, and cooked just right.

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And the cafe was filled with beautiful fruit.

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And walls of local products.

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After we ate, we started to walk around the grounds.  They have old grain silos that they made into a sitting are and a coat closet.  It was a beautiful site inside.

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We went in search of pigs… and pigs we found.  Great big pigs.  Mmmm delicious.

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There really are Stone Barns on the property and they give it a very unique and beautiful look.

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The greenhouse where they grow the food has a movable roof so you can flip up the glass panels in nicer weather.

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Inside is a wealth of veggies and herbs, half of which I had never heard of.

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And they took as much are in how they planted as to how they plated the night before.

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We ducked around the back to see some young chickens hanging out in a barn.

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And stumbled upon some more pigs as we took a bit of a hike on the grounds.

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This guy was behind an electric fence that looked more like a few pieces of string.  I remember hearing about pigs that eat humans and won’t say I wasn’t a little nervous this guy wasn’t going to come charging.

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On the top fields, it was turkeypalooza.  Turkeys turkeys everywhere!

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And an errant chicken was hanging out beside the road.  I’m pretty sure this gal earned her freedom.

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We were just in time for bath time for the piglets.

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These guys were absolutely adorable.

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And really loved their mud baths.

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Clean vs. dirty

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Pig butts.

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We checked out the sheep.  These guys were all marked (I assume some for shearing, some for milking, and some for grilling)

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There was also an area of beehives.  I didn’t get close enough to get any good pictures of the bees… for good reason.

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There were chicken coups all along the way and some kids were around collecting eggs right out of them.  Quite cool.

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They also have a beautiful flower garden on the property.  On this particular day they were hosting a Farmer’s Market and it was surrounded by beautiful blooms.  This daylily caught my eye.

And I really like how there are blooms at every different stage of life in this following photo.

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We ended our day at Stone Barns by taking a jamming and canning class.

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It was taught by a woman named Kelly Geary who wrote Tart and Sweet.  The class itself was a bit haphazard, but it was good to see how it was made and I walked away confident that with a little bit of research, I could do it (and I just did! Tonight!)

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The farm is a really great place to spend a day, and it’s very close to Manhattan.  You can take a quick train up and get a taxi or drive up in less than an hour. It is a really fun place for kids and the day we were there, many events were going on.  You can get more information on their website, but I highly recommend a visit (followed by a meal!)

Blue Hill at Stone Barns: Tarrytown, NY

15 Aug

We were trying to determine where to go for a getaway weekend.  I knew we might not get out until late afternoon on Friday, and had to be back on Sunday, so we didn’t want to go far.  We thought about the usual contenders: Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, Jersey Shore, Long Island beaches.  But then Mike came up with a fantastic idea… to go to Tarrytown, NY and finally visit Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  We have been wanting to go for years, especially after trying their NYC location which was wonderful.  The only reservation we could get with the 1 week notice was at 9:30pm on Friday night.  So we decided to get a local hotel room and then we would explore the area the following day.

Stone Barns is very easy to get to. The train is very quick and you can get a cab right there.  We got a ZipCar and arrived less than an hour after we left our apartment.

Blue Hill is literally on the farm.  The chef finds what is freshest from the farm that day and makes a menu out of it.  You never quite know what is going to come out, but you can be sure it’s good.

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We arrived about 10 minutes early and were told we would be seated soon.  So we made ourselves comfortable at the bar, which had these lovely, comfy chairs and couches.

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Their cocktail list was very unique, but both Mike and I were enamored with the “Up in Smoke” which had whiskey, mescal, and smoked peaches, lime, and thai basil.  It was definitely unique. Not sure I would get it again but I’m glad we tried it.

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We had nearly finished our cocktails when the Maitre’D came over.  I assumed it was time to go but he informed us that they were a bit behind schedule and asked if we would like to begin our amuse bouche in the bar area while we waited. We happily agreed.

First up were lightly fried fresh beans (green and wax).  They were delicious and the fry just added a hint of crisp.  I also liked that they served it on slate.

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Next up was a few fresh veggies from the garden (arranged on skewers sticking out of a block).  We had fennel, butter lettuce, a radish, and a gooseberry.  Everything was tasty, but the gooseberry was sensational.

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Next up came a pancetta fried squash blossom.  I find that many times squash blossoms retain too much grease from frying, but these were tender and cooked just right.  I can’t say I tasted the pancetta too much, but the entire thing was tasty all together.

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Next was something I remembered trying, and loving, at Blue Hill NYC.  These were tiny tomato “burgers.”  These were perfectly sweet with perfectly ripe tomatoes.  Even better than I remembered.

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Next up came some sliced meats.  The one on the left was bresaola (air cured beef) and on the right was prosciutto.  Both were quite tasty.

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At this point, we were so pleasantly enjoying our experience that we hadn’t even realized that we were nearly 45 minutes past our reservation when we finally sat in the main dining room.

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The did an amazing job with an old barn, keeping it modern and industrial, while clean and looking like it belonged on a farm.

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I opened up the menu and was pleased to see that of the multiple artwork available on menus, I received the artichoke. (I LOVE artichokes).  The menu gives a choice of 5, 8, or 12 courses.   The 5 and 8 have the same amount of food, but the 8 had more variety.  The 12 is called the “Farmer’s Feast” and it sounded quite epic.   Too epic for being after 10pm.  (Sidenote: This place is a “Special Occasion” restaurant.  It is expensive even as far as NYC Tastings go.  Be prepared.  But it is 100% worth it.)  We chose the 8 course and, to add to the opulence, I also got the wine pairing.  (Note as dishes get increasingly blurry below… both in images and in recollection of what we ate).

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I then realized that the beautiful flower sitting on our table was ALSO an artichoke.  Gorgeous.

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And then the food started coming out… Look familiar?  It was so delicious and light the previous time that we didn’t mind a second helping.

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Next came a melon shooter.  It was melony, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to drink it again.

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And then more beans…

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When the meat came out again I debated saying something, but this was NEW meat so I just had to try it.  I believe the left was bresaola again but on the right was bologna.  Now I don’t like bologna.  But this is what bologna was supposed to be.  Made me think that I cannot even imagine how they can call deli bologna “bologna” if THIS is what it was supposed to taste like all along.

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Next, out came a salad.  It had fresh and seasonal vegetables with (YAY!) gooseberries.  It also had some marscapone and a foam that I cannot recall anymore.  They also topped it with edible flowers.  It really just looked like freshness in a bowl.

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The next item was a piece of brioche (that also had some swiss chard that didn’t photograph well).

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And this was paired with homemade ricotta that they strained in front of us.    It was creamy and rich and I kind of wanted to bathe in it.

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We were then served poached lobsters with corn and shallots.  It was in a broth that tasted like everything that is wonderful about lobster and corn.

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At this point we really wanted bread to lap up the broth from the lobster dish, and without a moment to spare, out came the bread with homemade butter and two specialty salts.

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They were flavored with tomato and spinach.  And they were wonderful.

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Next was an egg dish.  It was a poached egg over julienned squash noodled.  I took a small bite and realized that the dark red specks were, in fact, peppers(which, thanks to my allergy are my mortal enemy).  Mike really enjoyed the dish while I waited for a replacement.

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At first I was a bit upset to be missing the egg course, because there are few things I love as much as a fresh and well cooked egg.  I was also surprised that the pretty impeccable service had made this mistake.  But then… my replacement came out.  It was a lightly fried poached egg (say what?) in a pea broth.  Let me just say, this was so freakin’ amazing that I was GLAD they made the mistake.  How on earth they fried a poached egg will remain a mystery to me, but it was sensational.  The pea broth was a perfect foil for the egg and everything came together with perfect flavor and texture.

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Our next course required special preparation, where a special type of egg yoke was grated onto our dish.

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This was a homemade ostrich egg pasta dish (with the shaved egg thing over it) and a sauce that I cannot for the life of me remember but I do remember thinking it was absolutely delicious.   (Note: this is when I realized that the wine pairings, which were supposed to be “small pours,” were no where close to small and were starting to impact my ability to photograph and recall what we ate… not that I enjoyed it any less, however).

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Our next course was the meat course, which had sliced flank steak and beef tongue. I usually am not a huge fan of tongue.  Sliced deli tongue is fine, but give me a slice of pastrami any day instead.  This tongue, however, was one of the best morsels of food I have ever had.  It was rich and melted in my mouth, with intense meat flavor.

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Up next were desserts.  This was fresh blueberries, marscapone, and sorbet. It was fresh and delicious and all the right balances of sweet and tart.

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Our last bite was a caramel sauced, fresh milk ice cream, chocolate mousse with chocolate ganache and fresh berries.  It was decadent with nothing too sweet, nothing too rich, nothing too bitter.  It was perfect.  A blend of everything that is right with dessert.

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At this point I was a bit thankful that it was over… I was so stuffed (and so damn drunk) that I was concerned that Mike would have to carry me out (or roll me).  At this point we were served a mint smoothie, some fresh fruit, and some chocolate cookies.  I took a nibble and sip of each, and each was delicious… but just far. too. full.

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Overall, this was one of those meals for the history books.  It was easily in the Top 10.  From start to finish, everything was delicious.  There were some mistakes in service (the seating, the double amuse bouche, the peppers) but the overall service was so fantastic with great attention to detail, that none of that mattered.  The wines during the pairing were each very good, but nothing that stood out and it was honestly just too much.  I wouldn’t recommend going for that part, but everything else is a must.  Each bite was fresh, delicious, and elevated what food should be.  It was unbelievably expensive, but worth every penny.  It is one of those once in a lifetime food experiences that everyone should have the opportunity to have just once.   Some people dream about vacations to Bali, some about luxury cars, some about owning race horses… me? I dream about food experiences like this one.

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10

Hibachi at East- Berkeley Heights, NJ

10 Aug

 

My father just bought a new house in NJ (Congrats again daddy!) and we decided to have a celebratory dinner at East, a local Japanese restaurant in Berkeley Heights, NJ.  At first we sat in the regular section, but out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of fire and realized that the room just next to us was for… HIBACHI!

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We still got some sushi to start, however, including a Philadelphia Role (a completely blasphemous but tasty role of salmon and cream cheese).  It was tasty, but I’ve had much better.

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The Hibachi was very typical, with the show of cooking that is completely tacky and overdone but always a good, nostalgic fun.  Our guy started with a greasy smile…

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Then lit it on fire… OOO FIRE!

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He made a heart shape out of the rice (and then made it “beat” but pulsing his spatula underneath it in the effortless style that only a Hibachi chfef can know)

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I LOVE Hibachi Fried Rice.  Why it tastes so much better from Hibachi than almost anywhere else, I do not know. But I do now need to solve the mystery to eat FAR too much of it with utter joy.

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We ordered an assortment of dishes.  The veggies (on the left of this pic) come with the meal (as did miso soup, the fried rice, and 2 shrimp each).  There was also steak, scallops, chicken, shrimp, and lobster tails.

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And then the classic onion volcano.

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FIRE!

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And then a very cute display of a toy that pissed water to put out the tire.  Nice evolution of the show for the adults.

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I chose the scallops, which were awesome.

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Plust the steak… which was just okay.

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Overall, as far as Himachi goes, this was perfectly fine.  Not outstanding, but still enjoyable.  I was glad that they didn’t force anyone to catch shrimp in their mouth at this one.  For that, an extra 1/2 nom point!

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

 

 

 

The Sunburnt Calf

8 Aug

One of the first brunch places that made me fall in love with brunch was The Sunburnt Cow in the LES.  It was always a trek, however, to get to Avenue C.  So I was thrilled when they opened up a new place, called The Sunburnt Calf, on the UWS (79th between Broadway and Amsterdam).  Like The Cow, The Calf offers Endless Brunch, which is a selection of most brunch meals on the menu plus endless Moomosa’s, Moo Mary’s, Foster’s, Screwdrivers, and Greyhounds for $18. My mom, also being  a fan of The Cow, joined me for my first sampling of the Calf.

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The day we arrived it was HOT!  And the AC was not working.  We kept our menus to use as fans.

Mom got Eggs Benedict.

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I decided to try the omelette of the day, which was a Greek Omelette.

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It had feta and tomatoes and was supposed to have shrimp.  Sadly, they went a little skimpy on the fillings (and since it was $5 more, it seems pretty sad).

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Overall, it’s hard to beat endless brunch drinks at all.  This was a bit disappointing, however. Nothing was outstanding and the lack of filling in my omelette was a pretty poor performance.  The heat didn’t help at all.  I’ll give them another try, but this time was just… barely above average.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10