Archive | November, 2011

Spiked/Spiced/ Sloshed/Sloppy Cider

29 Nov

A hit at fall parties has always been a special hot cider recipe.  It is easy to make for a large group of people and is always a crowd pleaser.  The recipe below is for about 10 people and you can just increase the amount from there.  We usually make it in a big lobster pot and let it boil away. Added bonus: It always makes the house smell AMAZING!

If you have kids, a fun project is putting cloves in the apples so they look like medieval torture devices.

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Ingredients:
  • 1 gallon of apple cider
  • 2 apples (you want something firm… I usually use granny smith but anything works as long as it’s not super soft)
  • 1 orange, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons of whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • ~4 tablespoons of cinnamon (I do this to taste since it depends on how strong the cinnamon is and if they added cinnamon to the cider you bought)
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon allspice (or more to taste)
  • Spiced Rum
Directions:
  1. Pour cider into a big pot and bring to a simmer
  2. While it is heating, poke cloves into the apples
  3. Add the cloved apples and the sliced oranges to the pot (it doesn’t have to be simmering yet, just add it whenever you are done slicing and assembling)
  4. Add the brown sugar and spices
  5. Let it simmer for at least 1 hour (the longer it simmers, the better it is)
  6. Taste it along the way and spice it up as you like it. If it’s not sweet enough, add more brown sugar.
  7. When you are ready to serve it, pour it into a hot cup and then add as much rum as you would like (don’t add it until right before drinking or else all the alcohol burns off… and what’s the fun in that?)

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Tabata Ramen

22 Nov

I have a soft spot for ramen.  After years of looking at it as an unfortunate staple of my college diet, I realized that the dried version was like comparing homemade, sharp cheddar macaroni and cheese with bread crumb topping to Easy Mac.  While I had flirted with ramen in the past, I fell head-over-heels for ramen when I went to Ippudo.  I dream about that ramen.  But it’s a fair distance away and usually has a wait (unless you know the secret), so when a new ramen place opened up close to my office, I decided to give it a try.

Tabata Ramen is on 9th Avenue between 39th and 40th Streets. They have a number of ramen options, including soy, salt, port, etc.  I went with a pork broth and got it with the egg and pork belly.  It was tasty, but it was no Ippudo.  In fact, I think Ippudo has spoiled me for the rest of my life.

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There was a veggie option with tofu

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And spicy options, which got an enthusiastic thumbs up from  my coworker.

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And if you’re not into ramen at all, you can get various meats over rice.

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Overall, this was fine, but it wasn’t awesome. I also find myself chugging down water for the next few hours after eating here.  It didn’t taste overly salty (or fake) but my body was definitely lacking in hydration both times I ate here.

I’m not going to go out of my way to eat hear again… might as well save my ramen cravings for the king.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

HK Brunch

17 Nov

I am still undecided about my feelings about HK.  It is close to my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, so I find myself there on occasion.  It feels a bit like a place with an identify crisis.  At times it’s a cafe, at times it’s a club, at times it’s a trendy restaurant, at times it’s a gay club.  No matter what it is, with garage door sides and a large leather curtain that you enter through, it always has a cool look.  I have had great drinks there, amazing appetizers and lousy meals (in the same sitting), some decent lunches, and some very long wait times.

We went there for brunch and it left me with a bit of indecision still as to whether or not I actually LIKE this place.

My cousin ordered the belgian waffles.  These were well cooked and delicious.  In my opinion, it’s a bit hard to get a belgian waffle really WRONG… they are just hard to find in a lot of places.  This one was fine, but it was no Wafels and Dinges (but really… what is?).

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2 omelets were also ordered.  Both seemed well cooked, but again, not special.

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I got the poached eggs with red wine sauce over wild mushroom asparagus hash. This was… weird.  Very tasty but the execution was all wrong. First, when I think hash, I don’t think soup. This was soup with a pile of veggies, a poached egg, and some red wine cabbage on top.  Delicious soup and vegetables mind you, but still soup. When you open a poached egg, you want the yolk to run into a delicious sauce that is absorbed by great ingredients.  When I broke this open, it was like someone threw yolk into soup. Because it was soup.  I’m still confused.


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Overall… I’m confused.  I don’t know how else to put it.  This wasn’t as our bad as our entrees last time, but wasn’t nearly as good as the tuna tartar app.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

The Palm

15 Nov

When you think of classic NYC steakhouses, The Palm is always on the list, but it has always been a bit of an unsung hero in my mind.  Every meal I have had there has been far above average.  My latest experience there was no exception.

Mike got the Shrimp Bruno: three jumbo shrimp française sautéed in a dijon mustard sauce. I don’t even like mustard but this was delicious.

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I got the Lobster Bisque. It was a very smooth bisque, filled with flavor, without being at all spicy (plus one for me!)  It’s classic and it’s delicious.

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We decided to split the T bone (best of both worlds: 1/2 tenderloin and 1/2 strip… so you get tender on one side and marbled on the other).

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It was perfectly cooked. Seared on the outside, pink towards the middle, and then a slightly red center.

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We went with some potato concoction (it may have been a special that night?) that tasted like it was cooked in drippings.  SO GOOD.

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We also got the creamed spinach which was cooked well, and thankfully featured more spinach than cream.

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The dessert selection was a test of will.

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Of which we had none…

Mike got the cheesecake, which was exactly how it should be. Nothing fancy, nothing dressed up. Just delicious, well baked, perfectly textured cheesecake.

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I got the chocolate lava cake.

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And it did exactly what lava cake is supposed to do:

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And it tasted great too!

Overall, The Palm should get more acclaim in the hotly contested NYC Steak Market.  It is classic, always well prepared, and with fantastic service.  There are a lot of people in New York doing a lot of fancy things… but the Palm isn’t fancy. It’s just good.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

RARE (Fashion District)

10 Nov

I had heard great things about Rare for some time, and had a few cocktails in their bar on the east side, but I had never sat down for a meal.   We went with a big group of people one night, so there was an assortment of food ordered.

We started with the french fry tasting basket which includes cottage fries, hand cut, and sweet potato fries. All were well cooked but nothing special.

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I thought that the assortment of sauces/ketchups/mustards was clever. (I just love sampling)

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We also tried the parmesan truffle fries.  There is never anything bad about parmesan truffle fries, but I did want a bit more truffle.

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We also tried th elollipop wings, which everyone liked. (I can’t weigh in because they had peppers)

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We also tried the frickles (fried pickles) which were again good, but not great.

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The greek salad was unlike any greek salad I had ever seen before! It was topped with full lamb chops and smelled delicious.

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The steak also smelled great and came with a lovely slab of butter. (Why are the things that are SO good SO bad for us?)

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I heard the burger was great, but I wanted to sample… so I got the Burger Trio, which is the chef’s selection of mini burgers.  I believe I had a bacon cheddar burger, a short rib burger and something else.  It was good, but I can’t say it was memorable.  I wish I had tried the real burger to get a real sense of it.

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Here is why I had burger envy…

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They all looked great and everyone who ordered the burger was very pleased with their decision.

Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Rare but I didn’t feel like I had enough to really judge the meal by.  Everything I ate was just so-so, but I don’t think I ordered well.

I will have to go back to give an official Nom rating.

Catch: Top Chef’s Hung Huynh’s new NYC Restaurant

7 Nov

As you all know very well (or should by now), Mike and I are total Top Chef sluts.  So when we were in search of a dinner location, we decided to try Top Chef’s Hung Huynh’s (Season 3 winner) new restaurant in Meatpacking.  Catch is a 3 floor restaurant, with the top floor dedicated to rooftop drinking.  It is owned by Mark Birnbaum (some of you will see this as funny as I do) and Eugene Remm and is the third restaurant in the EMM Group (the other 2 are Abe & Arthur’s and Lexington Brass) but I know them better as the owners of Tenjune (and many other night clubs).

The address is 21 Ninth Ave, but the entrance is actually around the corner on 13th street next to some construction and only identified by a C with an anchor above the door.  You feel lucky to have found it, then you get into a completely unidentified elevator bank where you look around for a sign.  You try to keep up appearances (after all, you are in the Meatpacking district), but deep down inside you can’t help but wonder why it’s so trendy to not tell people where to get into your business.  Lucky for us, someone else came in and immediately hit Floor 2… which opens up to a very modern, very Meatpacking space.

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I absolutely loved the weird fish in a suit on the menu cover.  Hipster? Sure! But it gave me a chuckle.  I immediately read the request for no flash photography, so apologies in advance for these dark iPhone photos!

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We started with oysters (I have been on a kick lately) and they were very good.  Not Imperial No. 9 good, but good.

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We then had The Catch Roll, which is crab, salmon, and miso honey… with just a touch of awesome.   The sweetness of the miso honey was absolutely perfect on the roll.

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There was nothing not to like about this. The textures, the flavors… it all came together perfectly.  I wanted to lick the miso honey off the plate but I refrained…

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Next up we tried the Macaroni and Lobster Cream.  You know everything about macaroni and cheese that is good in the world? This was all of that with lobster and a slight crunch on top.  It was heaven.

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We also tried the White Flatbread with clams, parmesan, and garlic.  This was good, but not great. If this was all I ate here, I would be disappointed.  It just wasn’t clammy enough.  The crust was nice and crispy, the garlic and cheese were good, but I was expecting more clam.

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For our entree, we split the Scallop & Cauliflower which came with pistacchio and tamarind brown butter.  This was one of the most unique scallops dishes I have ever had.  I love scallops, so I eat them a lot, but they get pretty basic.  They taste so good just simply seared, that they really don’t NEED anything else.  This was a very happy addition, however, as it added to the flavor without overpowering it.  Awesomely delicious.

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The dessert menu looked so scrumptious that we just had to try SOMETHING.

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So we opted for the peanut butter cup souffle.

When it came, the souffle was hot and domed (perfectly cooked) and then picked up what I think was ice cream off the plate and dropped it into the center.

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I was a bit worried about this, since really a souffle is good because of the texture, but this actually cooled it down so we could eat it and didn’t detract from the flavor.  I will say, however, that it is a souffle.  A peanut butter souffle.  I was hoping for a bit more chocolate in it.  It was still good.  But only if you like souffles (I like them… but I don’t LOVE them).

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What I did love, however, was the peanut butter popsicles (tasted like fantastic peanut butter gelato dipped in a hardened chocolate shell) and the little square chocolate cups filled with ground peanuts and what I think was peanut butter, sugar, and maybe some honey.  Scrum-diddly-umptuous.

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Overall, the food here was spectacular.  Very unique flavor combinations and artfully put together.

The one drawback, however, was our waiter.  He was everything that people hate about the Meatpacking district.  He was snooty, inattentive, and downright douchey.  He looked down his nose at us (I think because I was taking pictures) and made 0 effort to deliver even the most basic service.  For instance, he came to take orders from the tables around us on 3 separate occasions, all of whom sat after we did, each time barely spending a moment to put a “1 second” finger up towards us as he didn’t even make eye contact.  It took a good 30 minutes before he took our order, we somehow never got bread (pretty sure everyone else did), and when he came to finally take it, he made us feel as though we were entirely inconveniencing him.  It was a shame he was so bad since everything else was so good.

But the food was absolutely worth it.  It became obvious why Hung won Top Chef… his food tastes as good as it looks.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

Pork Bone Soup: If you are easily grossed out by gross things, SKIP THIS POST

3 Nov

I will start with the finished product. Why? Because the process is absolutely gross to look at… so if you do not like knowing what your food looks like before it shows up on your plate, skip this post.

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Ok… you have been warned!

Mike threw me an awesome birthday party at Albert Hall Tavern.  (You can see pictures of the party on my sister’s Facebook album)

The party consisted of a sampling of food and drinks and peaked with a suckling pig roast.  It was fantastic, delicious, and fun. We had the private room in the back and Chef Bill treated me and my guests to a night to remember.  (Ok… maybe I don’t remember ALL of it… but I will say that the beer was flowing and I MAY have eaten an eyeball AND a snout… but I’m not copping to anything)

Chef Bill was nice enough to send me home with all the pork bones to make pork bone soup.  I diligently picked off the meat, broke up the bones, and set it in a pot with spices, herbs, and vegetables to boil. And boil. And boil. And boil.

When you are making soup from bones, it is variable as to how much flavor will come out and how much fat. So you boil it for flavor then put it in the fridge to let the fat rise to the top. Then you skim off the fat and reboil it.  Repeat until desired flavor/fattiness.

The first time I boiled the pork bones, I decided it wasn’t quite enough flavor so I put it in the fridge and readied it to be boiled the next day.  What I didn’t anticipate, however, was what would rise to the top…

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Well hello piggy!

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I’m not going to lie… the science nerd in me thought this was SUPER cool.  So cool in fact that we actually tried to preserve the skull, however, it wound up disintegrating when we left it in detergent for too long. OH WELL.

After I got it to the desired flavor, I drained out the bones and refrigerated. Skimmed off the fat (which I froze to use to make bread at a future date) and then at the soup with rice and bok choy.

And it was good!

Bar’rique Take 2

1 Nov

 

After a great meal at Bar’rique a few months ago, I decided to go back to try it again when I met a friend for dinner.

My friend got the pea soup, which she said was very good.

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I had the pork belly appetizer, which as just delicious. The peach sauce on it was a great sweet (but not too sweet) compliment to the fatty pork belly with ta great crisp on top.

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I then tried the Skate special.  I am a BIG fan of skate, however, too often it is overcooked or not fresh enough and it just doesn’t taste right.  I always hesitate for a bit before ordering, but after such positive past experiences here at Bar’rique, I decided to try it.

I’m glad I did. It was perfectly cooked and had that great sweet flavor of skate with a very slight crispness from the breading.  It wasn’t over-breaded and it had a slight lemony flavor.  It was really fantastic, and even the little side salad was dressed in a delicious vinaigrette.

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This place continues to impress, and I look forward to going back again soon!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10