Tag Archives: duck

Arrows: Ogunquit, Maine (Birthday Dinner… 3!)

15 Nov

As huge fans of Top Chef (especially Top Chef Masters), we were thrilled when not just one, but TWO chefs from Maine were featured last season. Chef Clark Frasier and Chef Mark Gaier are life partners and own the restaurant Arrows in Ogunquit, Maine which focuses on sustainable food. We decided we must make it a stop during our whirlwind tour of wedding venues in Maine. The fact that it was the day after my birthday (and after our amazing meals at Eventide and Hugo’s) was just icing on the cake.

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There are lovely gardens out back.

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And I just loved the inside. Exposed beams, trees, lanterns. I loved it. 

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I want to find those lanterns for the wedding!

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I loved the wood boxes and metal watering cans to hold the breadsticks. And the baskets to hold the bottles of water. Nice touches. All very rustic and my style.

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Here was the menu for that night:

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Of course, I tried the Blue Honeybee cocktail. Why “of course?” Two of my favorite things: honey and wild Maine blueberries.

This had blueberry infused vodka, fresh lime, Maine made mead and soda, and garnished with orange marinated blueberries.

Yum!

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They served 3 different homemade butters. I had trouble deciding which I loved most. They were all so good.

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We decided to continue our tasting menu adventure by going with the “Chef’s Collection” which was a 6 course menu of oysters, prosciutto, silver striper, duck, lamb, and dessert box.

We started with 3 different types of oysters.  Fried oysters with green goddess sauce, poached in cream with chives and shallots, and chilled with green garlic and chive vinaigrette.

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I loved the crispy of the fried oyster with the green goddess sauce.  Great compliment.

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The prosciutto was slightly smoky and salty.  The greens on top were a nice counter to the rich meat. 

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The silver striper was pan roasted with kohlrabi fondue, sweet garlic pickled collard greens, and shaved carrot and buttermilk cheese salad.  Great textures and flavors combining into a very nice dish.

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Our next dish was the duck, and it had a few different versions. The menu titled it as “Duck, strawberries, and rhubarb” and had 3 components:

1- Smoked duck breast with duck cracklings, rhubarb chips, and a microgreen salad (top left part of the picture below) served with a sparkling sake and strawberry mimosa (top right).  All components of this were well paired and tasty.

2- Duck confit “cube” with strawberry gelee and port wine sauce (bottom right). This was so rich and decadent. I LOVED this part of the dish.

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And 3- Duck saucisson with pickled rhubarb with rhubarb-tarragon mustard and potato pancake.  This is in a separate picture because it was the only component of the dish that had peppers, so it was on Mike’s plate and not mine. Mike enjoyed it.

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Next up was the lamb, which was also prepared in 3 ways:

1- Fried belly with tarragon vinegar (Umami, rich, and delicious)

2- Braised shank with fennel puree and fennel salad (I don’t love fennel, but it was the perfect foil for the shank)

3- Grilled lamb with huckleberry gastrique (My favorite! The slight sweetness from the huckleberry was great with the grilled flavors0

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It was a beautiful dish,

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And cooked perfectly with crispness in the right places.

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The entrees ended and Mike and I both noted how the meal just kept building and building on itself.  It was a solid, surprising, and delicious meal that we again said was even better than our impression leave Jean Georges just days before.

And then the dessert came out. To be honest, I have no idea what any of this was. We were in such blissful fullness and this wasn’t written on the menu I photographed, so I will say that everything was good but I don’t remember anything specifically standing out. I remember thinking that I was glad for the smaller portion sizes because it allowed me to sample without feeling like I was wasting food.

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And they were lovely enough to bring me out a birthday treat. 

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Which consisted of donuts in all different forms and a smoothie of sorts. Again, I remember it being good but not outstanding.

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Though you cant beat a whole cherry in a fried pastry!

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And then there was still a tower of cookies to come! I really enjoyed these last little nibbles as we headed out.

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Overall, we were really impressed with Arrrows. Sure, they relied on the trios and some food magic that has become in some ways “cliche” in fine dining lately. But I’m sorry, I love the cliche. I love when a chef can make my food taste great and look artistic. I love being able to sample small bites and I enjoy tasting menus like this. In fact, I would say I’m pretty much a sucker for it.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

PS- I cannot believe I got to go to Jean George’s, Eventide, Hugo’s, and Arrows within 4 days of each other, surrounding my birthday. Have I mentioned how gosh darn fortunate I am?  I am thankful every day for this life I get to live. It is fantastic!

Ma Peche and Momofuku Milk Bar

31 Jul

 

I had a very good experience last time I was at Ma Peche, and it’s hard to believe it has been nearly 2 years and I still hadn’t taken Mike.   We had night plans in the neighborhood, so we made a reservation.  It wasn’t an easy task avoiding peppers last time, and this time proved to also be quite a challenge. Luckily, our waiter was helpful (if not a big miffed that I had such an obviously annoying request).

The menu has been changing lately, so here is a view of the menu that night:

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The space itself still has that kind of awe-inspiring look to it.  It just looks very grand and yet very welcoming.

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Mike started with the steamed bun that had lobster, maitake, and chicarron.  It was tasty but not memorable.

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We then tried the foie gras and it looked absolutely beautiful and tasted almost as beautifully!  It came with malt, papaya, and brioche and the papaya was just about the most perfect foil for foie gras I could ask for.  Yum.

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Can’t help but love the sense of design on the plate too.

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We then had the striped bass with mushroom, miso, and bone marrow.  It was quite tasty, though I’m not sure if I loved the bone marrow with fish combo.

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And the duck, with orange, pistachio, and rutabega. It was cooked perfectly, though I would have loved a bit more crisp in that skin and some extra sauce.

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And then we went upstairs to Milk Bar and tried ourselves some blondie pie (good but not great) and a milk shake that I cannot recall.  It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that I don’t find anything I’m especially enamored with personally. I don’t know why, but I’m never as impressed by Milk Bar as I think I’m going to be. Pity.

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Overall, I would say my previous meal at Ma Peche was definitely better than this one, but you just can’t beat the impressiveness of this David Chang establishment.  I’m surprised I don’t hear more about it, since it’s in an area severely lacking in interesting places to dine (sans tourists). As for Milk Bar, I think I’m still in search of “my dessert” there.

Ma Peche Overall Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Milk Bar Overall Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

 

 

Blue Ribbon Sushi and Grill

9 Sep

One perk of my job is that I get to go on client dinners.  This supplements my expensive eating habits nicely.  Sometimes I wind up at places that are less than ideal (a recent trip to Dos Caminos left me in the prickly position of a waitress saying to me “there is NOTHING on the menu you can eat”… awesome) but sometimes I wind up trying awesome places like Blue Ribbon Sushi and Grill (on 58th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in the 6 Columbus Hotel).

I had been there once before, however, this time I was with a coworker who knew the manager and he knew EXACTLY what to order.

We started with the lamb chops, which was yummy.  It even converted someone who typically doesn’t like lamb.  Winner.

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It came over a delicious sweet potato puree.

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Next up we ordered the pork belly.

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It was a delicious slice of perfectly cook pork belly with a great balance of sweet and spicy veg on top.

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We also ordered pork and shrimp dumpings, both of which were good, but no better than most NY Dim Sum.

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They enjoyed an order of spicy ceviche. I’ll take their word for it that it was good.

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We also ordered the duck, which came with orange teriyaki, cauliflower puree, and asian broccoli.  The skin on this was so perfectly crisp and the meat was so well cooked it almost melted in your mouth.  One of the top duck dishes I have had.

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And then… heaven came out…

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This was Oxtail Fried Rice.  It came with daikon, shiitake, and bone marrow.  The bone marrow was actually tucked inside an egg pocket.  See it broken open in the picture below.

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This was unbelievable.  One of the best dishes I have ever had.  And it was rice.  The most delicious rice I have ever had!  I actually felt bad while eating this that Mike wasn’t enjoying it with me and look forward to bringing him back here soon just for this dish.  Add this to the list of dishes I will crave during bad days.  Om nom nom nom nom nom nom.

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Just in case that wasn’t enough food, a sushi tray made its entrance.  I won’t go into the specifics (since I don’t remember them anyway) but I can tell you that every piece was awesome.

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For dessert we got bread pudding and this made lovers out of haters.  It was insanely good, perfectly cooked, unbelievably tender and moist, and full of flavor.  YUM!

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We also got green tea chocolate lava cake.  Awesome.  Simply awesome.

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This was a fantastic meal.  Absolutely fantastic.  Knowing what to order is key.  I usually wouldn’t focus on the cooked food at a sushi restaurant, but don’t forget about the “Grill” part of their name.  It’s fantastic.

And that Oxtail Fried Rice… mmmmmmmmmmmmm

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Philly Noms: Alma de Cuba

6 Apr

I love NYC, but sometimes, you just need to escape for a weekend.  Without a car, our choices are a bit limited (and renting usually comes to nearly $300 for a weekend, and wasting $300 makes me feel like we should be flying someone cool).  So when I had the urge to leave a few weeks ago, we did some digging and found out that the train to Philly was easy and cheap, and hotels were SERIOUSLY cheap (we stayed at a Le Meridien for $125! Thank you priceline.com.)  Neither of had ever been, which is odd since I grew up about an hour away.  We decided to take a weekend in the city to explore the history, museums, and, of course, the Noms.

Mike did some great research and booked a few recommended places.  Our first stop on the night we got in was Alma de Cuba. I’m always a little wary about Cuban food due to the peppers allergy, but Mike assured me the menu would be safe.  (Alma de Cuba is a Starr restaurant, which seemed to be a very popular thing to be in Philadelphia. Note to self: Further research this Starr guy)

The interior was modern and beautifully done.  They did a great job with the space.

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And they left in some old touches, including the staircase.

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The bread came out and I knew already that Mike had made a great choice.  It was sweet and warm and doughy and everything RIGHT about bread.   I could have eaten this for dinner and been happy.  But I was good and saved room.

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Mike began with the chorizo sliders.  He was totally in love with these things.  I wish I could have tried them.  He talked about them the rest of the weekend.

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I went with the Royal Palm Dates, which were almond stuffed and wrapped in bacon with blue cheese.  Holy cow! These were amazing. And such a portion.  At this point in the meal, we started singing Philly’s praises.

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We moved into the mains and Mike chose the Sugarcane Tuna which had a Costa Rican coffee-rum glaze, malanga fondue with shrimp and roasted tomato escabeche.  This was very good, but I think it was a bit of a let down after the apps. 

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Mike and I split the yuca with creamy mojo.  It was DELICIOUS.  Just the right crispness with a very slightly sour sauce that was perrrrrrrrrrrrrfect.

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My main was mind blowing.  It was the Lechon Asado which was crispy roasted pork, congri rice and sour orange mojo.  I had to switch out the congri rice for white rice due to peppers, but it wasn’t lacking in flavor ONE BIT.  It was so perfectly crisped on the outside and so perfectly slow cooked and tender on the inside.  It had so much flavor.  My only regret was that I was way too full to finish it and was trying really hard to save room for dessert. (I wound up doing something I never do in NYC and gave my leftovers to a homeless man because I seriously could not stand the thought that a bite of this would go to waste)

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Every review and comment we read about Alma de Cuba mentioned the chocolate cigar for dessert.  How could we not? 

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It was described as award winning almond cake wrapped in chocolate mousse, dusted with chocolate and served with dulce de leche ice cream.  What we were not expecting was the cute little matchbook that came out on fire.  Flames and all.  Quite cool.

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But the taste?

Oh

My

Goodness. 

This was hands down one of the best desserts I have ever had. And you know I am a harsh dessert critic!  This was just a perfect blend of flavors.  I want to go back to Philly just for this.

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Overall, our meal here was sensational.  On par with some of the best meals we have had in NYC and I am confident it will make the top 10 list of 2011.  I would probably skip the tuna next time, however, everything else I would go back for in a heartbeat.  This meal alone was worth the train ride.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

NYC Restaurant Week- Winter 2011: The Modern Bar Room

28 Jan

Still wondering where to go for Restaurant Week this time around (thru February 6th, as of now)?  This year there is a slight change:  No more Saturdays, and Sundays are optional (I’m sure a lot of restaurants are happy about that).  There are still plenty of reservations available on Open Table (though some places aren’t on there, so you have to call.)

Every year, one of the hardest Restaurant Week reservations to get is at The Modern.  I was browsing who had some openings, and was shocked to see a spot for 2 at The Modern Bar Room (in MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art) on the first day of Restaurant Week for 6pm.  I jumped on it, and invited That Lori (of Stuff I Ate) to join me.  She was more than happy to oblige.

I was slightly obsessed with the floral design in the entry-way.

Beautiful purple lilies (I think) of some sort.   It looked like a dark purple calla lily.  Simply lovely.

Right behind that was a bar, that had thoroughly stocked glass shelves.

A view of “The Bar Room.”  It was simple, tasteful, and (shocker) modern.

The menu was quite lengthy for Restaurant Week.

I had trouble choosing because so much sounded great!

It was as we were browsing this menu that we started running into the problem of the evening… our waitress was MIA.  And continued to be MIA for at least 30 minutes before taking our order, which she rushed through.  We noticed she gave everyone else a shpiel about restaurant week and how you could pick one thing from each category, however, the entrees were half portion and you could pick a full-sized portion of anything on the menu for $17 additional.

I was famished, so I scarfed through both pieces of bread quickly.  The butter was obviously homemade and delicious, but lacking in salt.  And there was none on the table… and no one to ask…

Lori decided to begin with a dish she had tried in the past, but was so enamored by it that she just had to get it again.  It was roasted Long Island duck breast with peppercorn-crusted apples and toasted pistachio-truffle dipping sauce.

The peppercorn-crusted apples were very good, and Lori LOVED them, however, I’m not a huge pepper fan.  The duck was perfectly ducky.  But the sauce… HOLY CRAP.  Now THAT was good sauce.  What could possibly be bad about pistachios and truffles?
I decided to go with the artichoke soup, since I can’t get enough archies.  The combination of the artichokes with pearl barley, toasted almonds, and ricotta was very nice, and didn’t overpower the artichoke flavor.  The biscuits had rosemary in them and were deliciously buttery.
I’m glad I had a hearty portion of soup… we proceeded to watch someone sit down, give their order, and receive BOTH apps and entrees before our entrees even came out.  The manager came over to apologize… our waitress did not.  She didn’t seem to have any problems with her other tables, however, we were the forgotten children all night.  Literally the red-headed step-children.  And SHE was a red head! (Perhaps she’s a self-hater!)
Lori chose the squab for her entree.  When it came out, it was VERY tiny, even for squab (as was mine… though I have to say, both of us left completely satisfied and perfectly full without being too full… I wish portion control was always that easy).  The squab was spice-dusted and I LOVED the cinnamony tang it had.  It also came with braised romaine, haricots verts and bacon salad.  (Did somebody say bacon salad?)  Delightful little squab.
I went with the pork belly that came with rutabaga choucroute and ginger jus.  It was a decadent few bites of porky goodness.
For dessert, I chose the dark chocolate tart that came with chocolate ice cream.  It had a delicious, crackly top like creme brulee (though made out of chocolate, not sugar).  It was scrumptious!  I even liked the chocolate ice cream, which is rare for me.
Lori chose the coffee caramel dome with vanilla ice cream and amaretto gelee.  It hinted a bit towards Star Wars…
The layers were awfully tasty, however, I forgot to take a pic.  D’oh!  I’ll link to Lori’s pictures once she posts.
I wish the light was better, but the gelee made for a very artful decoration.
Overall, besides the AWFUL waitress, the food was sensational and this ranked very high on the Restaurant Week experiences list.  The selection is fantastic and while the portions are small, they are packed with flavor, very satisfying, and in no way did I leave wanting.  If you can secure yourself a RW reservation at The Modern, DO IT!  (In fact… they have been extending Restaurant Week during the final week lately, so go ahead and snag a reservation for the week following while you can and see if they extend… you can always cancel!)
Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

HK

14 Dec

 HK is a restaurant and bar (and lounge? and rooftop bar?) on 9th Ave at 39th Street.  It looks very modern inside and has garage door windows that open in the nice weather.  They have expanded it, and perhaps they are just trying to be too many things.  They do somethings VERY right… and some things VERY wrong.

Our evening here started before heading to see a Broadway show.  We showed up at about 6, figuring that we would have no problem getting in and out in an hour and a half to catch the 8pm show.  The restaurant was almost empty, and our chatty waiter informed us about MANY things, including that he was having a bad day and that it was his iPod playing.  Congrats dude.

We started with an app of tuna tartar that came with herbs, apple, and quail egg.  It was absolutely FANTASTIC.  I would go back in a heartbeat for this (though it doesn’t appear to be a permanent staple on the menu).

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It was all downhill from here.  Our entrees took about an hour to come out. 

Mike order the lamb chop special.  It was… fine… but nothing special. 

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 And rather small for the price (it came to $30 when we got the bill).

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 But small was not even realized yet.  I ordered the duck with cinnamon pears and carrots.  Sounded great.

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But there were 3 thumb sized portions of the duck, which was bland, and a whole plate filled with pear (which were delicious and all… but you don’t order duck for just over 3 bites).   And as I ate it, in this VERY dark restaurant, I realized there was an orange burried under the pile with the rind still on… and a cinnamon stick.  Top Chef echoed in my head: “You don’t put unedible garnish on the plate.”  And to make that worse, in a dark restaurant, the taste of orange rind can really ruin a so-so dish.

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And on top of that, we barely got out in time for our show.  Two couples that sat down next to us about 20 minutes after we sat down were still awaiting their entree when we paid the bill.  They informed their waiter, who was chatting up the (overly cute and gay) men at the table next to them, that they had to catch a show.  The waiter’s response: “Everyone here is trying to catch a show, sweetheart.”  Uacceptable.

Go for the drinks and tuna tartare.  Skip the entrees.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Cookshop

10 Dec

As mentioned in my previous post, after the Dewar’s tasting, we needed food, desperately.  So we went across the street  to Colicchio and Sons.

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They told us to grab seats at the bar and people should be getting up any minute.  We hovered for about 5 minutes before feeling like we were just being plain rude… so I pulled out the iPhone and did some OpenTable-ing for the neighborhood.

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When I saw Cookshop (on 10th Ave and 20th Street) had a reservation open for 4 just 20 minutes later, we were out of there.  (Though we all vowed to return)

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We took the 5 minute walk and were seated immediately.

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This place just felt good inside.  Like someone put in a enough effort to make it feel special without making it feel overdone or uninviting.  Unfortunately, it was horribly dark.  Forget taking pictures… we could hardly read the menus!   (Apologies in advance for the overly dark pictures).

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Even though we had just sipped our way through the scotch tasting, we ordered some more drinks to keep the buzz going. We all had a good laugh when we realized that the locations that we had just learned about at the tasting were listed right on our menu.

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We went for mixers, however…

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We started with pizza.  Description sounded good…

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Upskirt was decent…. but it was just okay.

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The highlight was the gnocchi.   It was a special that night and included veal meatballs and brussels sprouts.    It was so perfectly pillowy.  We all mentioned how much we enjoyed this dish.

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Lori ordered what sounded a like a humble dish of eggplant parm.  But when it came out, not only was the portion HUGE, but it was delicious.

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Kevin ordered the “Lamb Three Ways.”  It was good… but not fantastic.

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Mike chose the porchetta, and he was nice enough to share some crispy cracklin’s with the table.  And we were all thankful for that!  It was delicious.

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I got the duck with lentils and squash.  I enjoyed the squash very much, and the duck was pretty good (though I wish the skin was a little crispier).

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We were absolutely game for dessert.

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Lori chose the Chocolate-Raspberry Sundae.  I am not a big sundae person at a restaurant, simply because I always prefer baked goods unless I’m going to an ice cream store specifically.  Lori seemed to agree and said this was just okay.  Nothing special.

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Mike and I both chose the Saigon Cinnamon-Pistachio pudding with a chocolate cookie, salted whipped cream & candied sicilian pistachios.  It sounded PERFECT.  But I found it lacking in flavor… I could hardly taste the pistachio.  Lori LOVED it, however, which is pretty funny since she did NOT like the Milk Bar ice cream with a similar flavor profile and I LOVED it.

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Overall, I thought Cookshop was delicious.   I think this is the kind of place I would prefer for brunch, however, dinner was very good.  I highly recommend the gnocchi!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

For Lori’s full review, check it out here!

Nomming thru Maine: Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor- Part 2

14 Jul

After planning so well for our restaurant stops in Portland, I really didn’t have many foodie plans for Bar Harbor.  We mostly stumbled upon places through the week.

One night we were looking for an early bite, however, most places didn’t open up until after 5:30.  One place we did find that was open was Rupununi

We started with the “empanadas” which were unlike any we had ever had before.  It was described as “Traditional Argentinian style, hand made empanadas stuffed with lobster, roast corn & cheese.”  It was like an empanada went to France and mated with a croissant.  But it was delish.

Mike ordered the Fisherman’s Fried Sampler with scallops, haddock, and Maine shrimp.  I think Mike maxed out on the fried food, however, the scallops were heavenly.  The rest was ehhhh. 

I went with the Lobster Scampi which came with fresh Maine lobster, artichokes, capers, cherry tomatoes, and spinach over linguini.  This was AMAZING!  You don’t see chunks of lobster like this outside of Maine.

Later that evening we were strolling through town and ducked into an ice cream store to buy some fudge.  I was so blown away by the following sign that I just had to try some of this ice cream flavor. (It was actually not half bad, though nothing I’d ever want as more than a taste)

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

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Unfortunately, our stay was very rainy, however, we made it over the Jordan Pond House one rainy afternoon for tea.  The location was a beautiful, old building right on the lake.

Here was the menu:


I went with the tea and popovers.


These were OUTRAGEOUSLY good popovers.

Mike went with the lobstah chowdah.

It looked kinda oily, so I was concerned, however, there were solid chunks of lobster meat that were as big as the bowl’s circumference.  And the taste was just sensational.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10 (for the afternoon tea anyway)

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On one of our last evenings in Bar Harbor, Mike and I went to Reel Pizza Cinerama, which is a movie theater that serves pizza (that smelled AMAZING) and had couches and little tables in front of seats to eat from.  We just had the beer.  It was a fun experience!

For dinner, we took a TripAdvisor recommendation and tried out Cafe This Way.  

I appreciated the design aesthetic on the ceiling.

The bread came out and smelled delicious. (It was fair)

We ordered the smoked duck wrapped scallops for an appetizer.  They were pretty good, but it wasn’t quite as ducky or scallopy as I would have hoped for.

We ordered a Pinot Noir while we were there that we enjoyed so much that I took a picture.  Look out for Angeline!

I guess I was on a duck kick and I ordered the roasted duck with spiced pears and blueberry jus.  This dish was dissapointing.  First, there were only 2 little slivers of spiced pear on the plate (with that heaping portion of duck!) and the blueberry jus wasn’t very interesting and the duck just wasn’t as flavorful as I’m used to (perhaps it was the type of duck this restaurant uses?)

Mike chose the grilled lamb sirloin that was served on a goat cheese, cheddar, onion, and jalapeno quesadilla with cilantro mint chimichurri.  I’m pretty sure he declared this just average.  Nothing like the lamb from Fore Street a few nights before.  

Overall, we were pretty disappointed by this place.  Nothing was bad, just underwhelming.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10


Duck… Duck… Duck… Cranberry

27 Nov

Another great “you know me SO well” housewarming gift came from Kim.  I had noted that I needed ramekins, but was so surprised when the ones that came to my house had frozen Mac & Cheese in them!  (Kim also sent me a jar of pumpkin butter from William Sonoma which is OH SO splendid.)  We defrosted them but needed a protein.  On the end of our new block is a butcher shop and I sent Mike on a mission to pick something interesting out.  I think he got a bit flustered, but he managed to secure 2 duck breasts and 2 duck legs.  I don’t think he realized that a duck breast has TWO, so we had a LOT of food PLUS another set of duck boobs in the freezer for another night.  I was a little disappointed to see that the he got frozen meat from the butcher, but it was still fun and duck, so why not?

On a quest to find a way to not only use the duck but to also use some of the HUGE bags of cranberries I have leftover, I found another Cookstr recipe that seemed adaptable. Sure it called for cherries, but what is a cranberry if not a tart little cherry?  More maple syrup would surely make it palatable!

We even used the middle griddle top that came with our stove rather than 2 big frying pans.

The sauce was very liquidy, but it cooked down into a delicious syrupy masterpiece that smelled heavenly.

The duck must have been thicker than the recipe called for since it took at least twice the time to cook (and I’m still not positive it was fully done, but we’re not sick, so I call it a win!)  The skin got crispy, but not quite crispy enough for some reason.

Most duck recipes called for cooking or braising for hours… so I guess I can’t complain too much for taking the quick way out.  It just didn’t have the pizazz I wanted or expected of duck.

Slicing into it was easy on the breasts… the legs were another battle.

The sauce definitely added some punch to it… though again, not my favorite dish.

Next time I make duck I’ll try one of the longer cooking recipes to see if that makes it better.  I also just realized I forgot to take a pic of the Mac & Cheese. D’oh!  Luckily we have two more so I’ll have to give them their photo op later.

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RECIPES
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Ingredients

4 boneless duck breasts, about 7oz (200g) each

½ tsp salt, plus more to taste

½ tsp lightly crushed black peppercorns, plus more to taste

For the sauce

1 tbsp butter

1 shallot, finely chopped (we were missing this)

1/3 cup ruby port (we used leftover red wine from the party)

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 whole star anise (we were missing this too)

1 sprig of rosemary (we used dried)

½ cup chicken stock

2 cups pitted fresh bing cherries (we used cranberries)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

(If you want to prepare ahead, the sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.)

1. Score the skin of each duck breast with a sharp knife. Season with the salt and crushed pepper. (I made little Xes… still not sure if this was correct)

2. Place the duck breasts, skin-side down, in a large frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes. Turn and brown the other sides, about 3 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a carving board and let stand for 5 minutes.

3. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes, until softened.

4. Stir in the port, maple syrup, star anise, and rosemary, and boil for 30 seconds. Add the stock and boil for about 3 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Add the cherries, and cook for 2 minutes more, until heated. Season with salt and pepper. Slice each breast on the diagonal into thick slices and transfer each to a plate. Top with the sauce and serve hot.