Tag Archives: shrimp

Guest Blog: Mas (Farmhouse)

1 Feb

I work in a field where I get to meet a lot of really great people. It isn’t rare that I find someone who loves food as much as I do, but to find a kindred spirit who thinks about it night and day and loves nothing more than talking about it is unique.  When I sat down next to Alexis at a lunch, we were excitedly chatting about her recent meal at Mas (Farmhouse) almost immediately, with her showing me pictures on her phone.  Kindred spirit… check!

It has come to my attention that, disappointingly, I cannot visit every great restaurant in the world, let alone in NYC on my own.  So I am thrilled that Alexis agreed to guest blog about her Mas (Farmhouse) dining experience.

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From Alexis:

I recently started working closer with Sara and when we recently dined together at Millesime, we quickly realized we shared two major passions in life; food and Words with Friends.  I actually mentioned to my husband that these are the only two things I needed in life, he was a bit taken back that I didn’t include him in my list, but hey, I thought that was a given.  My passion for food has transpired over the last few years and I am known to be eating lunch while reading menus for dinner, tomorrow’s dinner, next week’s dinner, you get the point!  I have a self proclaimed eating disorder, where I go to sleep dreaming of food and wake up the same way.  Harnessing this issue has been a problem, so when I was given the opportunity to guest blog, I realized that this may be the perfect outlet for my infatuation. Here goes it…

Mas (Farmhouse)

This past weekend my husband and I went for dinner with another couple.  Of course I read the menu in advance, but I must say the menu doesn’t read as well as the food looks and tastes. Also, despite the waiter’s best effort to showcase the culinary offerings as “custom”, we were a bit overwhelmed by the variations in which you can order; 4 course tasting; 7 course tasting; create your own tasting; a la carte.  We decided to order a la carte but collaborated and shared so we could taste more dishes.  This is always the way I (try to) order despite some people not always in agreement. There’s always that stinker who “doesn’t like to share”… Hate those kinds of people….

Diving right into it…. We were greeted with an amuse-bouche – I didn’t get the exact description, my first blogging error, but don’t hold it against me! – Goat cheese tartlet with caramelized onion and some kind of gelee and micro greens?!

It was truly fantastic and a perfect bite to get our palates going.  I could have easily eaten at least three more of these little tastes of heaven …

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For our Appetizer course, I rallied up the troops to each get something different… I love duck, especially confit style, so I was excited about my selection: Duck Confit Tart with Espresso Gastrique; Apple Butter, Sliced Pears & Mâche Lettuce. The portion size was really nice for one, and actually just enough to give everyone at the table a taste, albeit a small taste as I realized quickly how delicious this sucker was after my first bite ;). The blend of flavors and ingredients in this dish were incredible, and again I would’ve loved to supersize it into an entrée!

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My husband ordered the Yellowfin Tuna l’Occidental; Flashed with Beurre Noisette & Crispy Shallots. Despite him not knowing what half of the ingredients were or knowing what the “flashed” methodology of cooking is, he’s a sure thing when it comes to Tuna with any semblance of tartare-y style. The crispy shallots were a really nice addition, adding texture to the dish and breaking up the typical tuna tartare flavors you usually see.  Very refreshing dish…

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My girlfriend ordered the Shrimp Crusted with Spaghetti Squash; Salad of Frisée & Marcona Almonds with a Horseradish Dressing which was actually on the special tasting menu, but they were flexible to allow her to order it as her app. Although it was certainly a unique presentation, I felt the frisée salad overwhelmed the plate and drowned out the beautiful look of a dish as unique as this one.  Despite the amass of greens, this was another superb dish with unique flavors and texture. I would have gone in for seconds if I wasn’t so wrapped up in hoarding my Duck confit.

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Lastly, my friend’s husband ordered the Brussels Sprouts Roasted with House- Cured Lamb Bacon; Deviled Quail Egg, Butternut Squash Confit & Shaved Pecorino. This is the only dish I did not try. Brussels Sprouts aren’t really my thing, but the rest of the table seemed to enjoy it.

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New blogger mistake #2  = missing a photo-op of our pseudo third course.  The Ricotta- Lemon Tortellini; Wild Mushroom Stew, Sunchoke Purée & Parmesan Foam was actually an entrée, but we concurrently decided that we all would like to try it and share it as a table.  This pasta was amazing.  I would have licked the plate and scarfed this dish down if it was just mine, but I tried my hardest to be polite and somewhat refined. This stacks up with the Duck Confit as my favorite dishes of the night. Also, I am a self proclaimed pasta addict, so I may be a tad biased.  I also love mushrooms, ricotta, and I mean you can’t go wrong with parmesan foam, can you? I wish I had a picture to share of this dish… sorry!

For my entrée, I actually sprang for the chicken. For me, I almost never order chicken in a restaurant, but since I tend to put more emphasis on the ingredients and preparation than I do on the actual protein – I just had to try this.  The chicken was good, but I wasn’t overly impressed.  I found myself forking under the chicken for the escargot and the butternut squash risotto, which were two major elements that elevated this dish.

Chicken Breast Roasted with a Black Trumpet Mousse; Hen of the Woods Stewed with Escargots, Butternut Squash Risotto & Fennel

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I also found myself wishing I ordered my husband’s entrée – Butter Poached Lobster with Hon Shimeji Mushrooms; Huitlacoche Purée & Ricotta Spaetzle with Baby Arugula- The ricotta spatezle were so interesting and different, they tasted like a mini ricotta gnocchi and were super light and airy. These morsels mixed with lobster and a mushroom like puree created for literally the perfect bite….

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We were too full for dessert, but the restaurant provided us with Lemon Marshmallow’s that hit the spot.

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Overall, I would rate mas (Farmhouse) very high – a solid 9.  I definitely recommend this place to anyone that is looking for a unique meal with a French flair. This spot is pretty pricy so it may be best suited for a special occasion, dinner with rents or if you have the luxury of a business expense account, snag some foodie client’s and enjoy!

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L&W Oyster Co

1 Jan

I joined an old coworker for lunch right near my NYC office at a brand new place, L&W Oyster Co (on 5th Ave between 28th and 29th). I think it had been open for just a few weeks.

The menu was a bit different from what is posted online, so here was the lunch meeting from a couple weeks ago:

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The restaurant is quirky, small, and fun.

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With magnetic poetry on the walls.

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And place mats explaining some of their favorite oysters (though not what is on the menu).

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My ex-coworker started with the clams.

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And I got a selection of the three oysters on the menu and we shared some large shrimp cocktail. (All the fresh seafood was very good and very fresh)

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And we were delighted to be given a pack of their homemade goldfish crackers.

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They were mildly spicy and baked to a perfect crispy.

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Steve got The Popeye with steamed mussels, chorizo, spinach, white wine, and gigantic beans. I couldn’t try it due to the chorizo, but he really enjoyed his meal.

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I got the Clam on Clam action which came with a clamwich (fried clams, tarter sauce, and pickled shisito peppers, which I asked to not have due to the my allergy) and some chowdah (brooklyn clam chowder, brooklyn lager, corn nuts, and house cured pancetta).  Before my meal made it in front of me, our waiter realized that my clamwich still included the peppers, so back into the kitchen that went.  But I got to start on my chowdah and quinoa (which was tasty).  I really loved this chowdah.  Creamy without being too heavy, good clam flavor, and the corn nuts and pancetta in it were just perfect.

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And when my clamwich (with salt & vinegar potato chips… YUM!) came out, I enjoyed that it was on a parker house roll roll.  It was a nice fluffy foil for the crunchy clam strips (though I wish they were more clamy in flavor).  The sandwich was good, but not as good as the chowdah.

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We also ordered some coffee (gotta love a French Press).

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And tried their sorbet of the day, which I can’t remember the exact flavor, but I remember it being some sort of citrus, and it was especially delicious. Great flavor and texture.  Really great end to the meal.

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I was impressed by our entire lunch here and think it’s a great lunch spot.  Nothing was among the best of that dish I have ever had, but everything was solidly tasty and I like what they’ve got going on.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

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Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant

19 Apr

 In Hell’s Kitchen, there is a restaurant called Hell’s Kitchen (not to be confused with HK). It is a Mexican influenced restaurant that happens to have great grilled vegetables to satisfy my cousin’s vegan needs.  He says they are really fantastic veggies.

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I went with Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Grilled Chayote, Sweet Plantain Puree, and Salsa Verde (sans peppers).  It was incredibly well cooked and seasoned.  

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Mike chose the Grilled Tiger Shrimp with Sauteéd Vegetables, Sweet Plantain, Gucamole, and Serrano Sauce.  He said it was very enjoyable.

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I was impressed that a place I walked by about a hundred times turned out food this flavorful and fresh.  We all really enjoyed our meal and I look forward to going back, since it’s in the neighborhood.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 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

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

 

 

 

Artichokes and Truffles Sauce: Gilt Taste

1 Aug

 

 

I have been shopping with Gilt for a while.  They have some great (and some not so great) deals on fashion and home goods.  They used to be a bit too pricey all the time, however, they have lowered prices and now have designers making (sometimes less quality) goods right for them.  You need to be smart in what you buy and do your research to make sure you’re really getting a good deal, but I have found some EXCELLENT items.

I was excited when they announced a new division: Gilt Taste.  It’s goal was to focus on foodie type items.  It reminds me of an upscale food market.  I love browsing through it, but I can’t say that many things have caught my eye to say “I need to buy this now!”  Impulse shopping for food items is not something I do in the same way that I do for, say, shoes.  (I will definitely be shopping there for my next dinner party, however!) But right in the beginning, one thing caught my eye.  I didn’t say anything, so imagine my surprise when Mike said he had a surprise for me and placed in my hand, this…

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Artichokes and Truffles sauce!  Two of my very favorite things, in one can.

We decided to make a scampi type dish with is with fresh pasta, scallops, and shrimp.

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It was delicious!   I was hoping for a bit more pop of truffle flavor, but it was delicious and such an easy way to make a gourmet style  meal.

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YUM!

If you want to sign up for Gilt Taste, check out this link.  I’m currently eyeing a cured meats sampler and a gourmet sea salt!

 

 

Florida Noms: Chardonnay (Palm Beach Gardens)

6 Jun

 

 

Our Florida trip was going to end with taking in a pre-season Mets game in Port Saint Lucie.  As we drove up in torrential down-pouring rain, I had a feeling the game wasn’t going to happen.  Sure enough, just as we were passing the Palm Beach area, the game was cancelled.  Since we were flying out of the West Palm Beach area airport, we decided to kill some time at the movies and the mall.  What else are you supposed to do in a Florida beach town in the pouring rain?  After a lovely indoor day, we had about 3 hours before our flight and found ourselves in search of a nice place to have dinner.  A few cross-checks via Yelp and OpenTable sent us to Cafe Chardonnay in Palm Beach Gardens.

Here is a peak at the menu:

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This place was having a bit of an identiy crisis.  It was called a cafe, had a cheesy graphic logo that looked like it was made in MS Paint, was decorated sort of high end French and sort of street cafe, and had an elegant sounding menu.

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We started with Warm Almond Crusted Goat Cheese to share.  It came with figs and a raisin bread.

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And it was fantastic.  The goat cheese was perfect, the figs were a great sweet compliment, and I liked that they crisped up the raisin bread so everything spread well on it.

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Mike had a wedge salad.  The blue cheese was chunky and very good.

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Then he had the Prawn “Scampi” over fresh linguine.

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We both agreed that it was just okay.

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I made a combination of specials (to avoid peppers) with the Sea Bass over the side dishes that were originally to come with the crab crusted flounder.

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Braised artichokes, mushrooms, gnocchi…  all the makings of a great dish.  But it just wasn’t.  It was okay, but also lacking.  (Is there a lack of flavor problem in Florida?)

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I was kind of surprised that the entrees were just bland, but dessert looked promising.

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We chose the pecan pie.

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AND the cheesecake (hush… it was “vacation”)

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Both were totally “ehh.”

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I think the best description for this place was “ehh.”  Everything was just “ehh.”  Which basically described most of our “high-end” Florida dining experiences on this trip… “EHHH”

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

 

 

Delta Grill

24 Jan

I had a long overdue dinner planned with a friend of mine and she suggested we try Delta Grill, which is on 9th Ave at 48th Street.  It’s a New Orleans themed restaurant that can just as easily be a tavern as it can be a sports bar.

Iris got the pork chops, and she was nice enough to give me a bite. These were quite good and the portion was about 4 times of any pork chop I’ve ever cooked.  They DO NOT skimp!

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We also split a side of the mac and cheese.  This looked great, but I wanted it to be better.

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I was trying to be a little healthy, so I went with the shrimp etouffe.  It was delicious!  The sauce was perfect and the shrimp had great flavor.  Even the rice was perfectly fluffy.  I really enjoyed this.

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This was a very enjoyable meal and I will definitely be back.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10


LATimes Food Festival

1 Nov

I happened to be traveling to LA on a weekend that happened to contain BOTH the Beverly Hills Food Festival and the LA Times Food Festival.  Unfortunately, I had to choose, so I went with the LA Times Food and Wine Festival that happened an inexplicably long time ago (September 5th, to be exact).

Perhaps it’s just because I’m not from LA, or perhaps our tickets purchased online were lacking in information, but we seriously had no idea where to park, and there were no signs.  A bit of digging and we figured it out.  The festival was actually right on the Paramount Pictures Studio Lot… which was pretty damn cool.

It was an insanely hot day, yet we sat in the blaring 90+ degree sun for an hour to hear the first talk: Food Blogging & Beyond featuring Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman); Aarti Sequeira (Aarti Paarti/Winner, The Next Food Network Star” Season 6); & TBD, moderated by Rene Lynch (Assistant Food Editor, Los Angeles Times).  This is where I got to know about The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond for the first time.

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The panel was really interesting and completely inspired me.  Aarti convinced me to try to  do a video blog (coming soon) and Ree really showed me how artful recipe photography could be.  They were very down to earth.  I don’t know if I really learned much, but it was great to see them and I really enjoyed it.

We were so warm by the time this was done, that we needed a drink.  The lines were quite long at each booth, so I high-tailed it to the very back of the lot and found The Sweets Truck there selling homemade lemonade and limeade.

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I’m not sure if it was just because of how parched we were, but I would say this was the best of both I’ve ever had.  I was looking forward to coming back to try their baked goods at the end of the day, however, they were sold out by then!  Glad we snagged the drinks when we did.

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While I was on a quest for liquid, Mike stood on the long line for the Nom Nom Truck (as featured on The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network).

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When I heard they were going to be at this festival, it really sealed the deal for me.  Not only do I love Bahn Mi, but COME ON, they are called the NOM NOM truck. It is meant to be.  Even when the line was soooooo long.

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So long, in fact, that I accidentally took a picture of the ground while waiting.  I liked the shadows, however, so I will share it.

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Finally we drew close.

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And we ordered the lemongrass chicken tacos.

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And of course the banh mi.

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Which was filled with deliciousness.  I actually liked the tacos even more than the bahn mi.  But it was all delicious and all worth the wait.

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As we walked back into the main grounds, I noticed Alex and CJ from Top Chef talking about “Life After Top Chef” as  moderated by  Krista Simmons. I only stuck around long enough to shoot this quick pic.

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I was fortunate enough to meet up with my very cool Aunt Farrell at the festival and she ordered a custom made ice cream sandwich.  I think it was potato bread cookie with bacon ice cream.  Unfortunately, the picture is blurry… but it was DELICIOUS.  I really wanted one of my own, but by the time we got there the line was prohibitively long and we were excessively tired and on our way to catch the plane.

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Our next stop was at a cooking demonstration by Noelle Carter.

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She made shrimp skewers.

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However, they had spices… so I missed out and gave my bite to Mike.

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Our next stop was for dessert at Nana Queen’s Puddin’ and Wings (also featured on The Great Food Truck Race).

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While I’m sure the wings are good, we were in it for the puddin’.

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It was good, but nothing special.  I’m pretty sure it was advertised as coffee/toffee and neither of those flavors were really present.  But the texture was perfect.

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We didn’t stop at many of the tables selling food due to the lines, however, we heard good things about the Mark Peel station so we decided to try it.  He had a beautiful cookbook displayed.

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They were out of most things, however, the duck confit sliders were left, which was fortunate since that’s what we came for.

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I knew the chef’s name sounded familiar and he looked like someone I knew, however, I didn’t put it together until later that he was on Top Chef Masters.  Luckily, he made an appearance while we were there.

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I somehow missed taking a picture of the duck sliders, but they were REALLY good and I will definitely be trying Campanile next time I’m in LA.

Our final stop of the day was supposed to be dessert, but this was when we couldn’t get online at the ice cream sandwiches and found out that The Sweets Truck was out of stock.  So we went with Korean food! I got a bulgogi taco (which was basically the meat and rice in a taco shell) and it was goooood.

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I think the best talk we did all day was actually the one that didn’t lend itself well to being photographed.  We went to a wine chat with the head wine guy at The Palm, Jonathan Mitchell.  I learned so much about wine in that half hour and he was an excellent speaker.

This was a lot of fun, however, we paid $55 to get in and there was basically nothing to eat without paying more.  You got drink tickets, but we weren’t gung ho about getting wasted before driving to the airport for a 6 hour flight.  I guess that it makes some sense since most food festivals with free food cost closer to $100, however, it made the lines move very slow and I wish they would have told us more details about there being no free food with the entry price.

I’m glad we went and had a chance to try so many places that we definitely wouldn’t be able to try in NYC.  It was a fun and a great way to end our LA trip.

Market Cafe

26 Jun

Right around the corner is a brightly lit place called Market Cafe (9th Ave between 37th and 38th) that looks slightly out of place below the Port Authority area.  Hopefully, for those of us in the neighborhood, places like this will continue to pop up and take over some of the abandoned and not-so-desirable store fronts in the neighborhood.  Don’t get me wrong, I love authentic, old New York, however, this area is still a bit more run down and loaded with the homeless population to be counted as a “desirable neighborhood” to live in.  I have never exactly been one to flock to the hot neighborhoods, however, and much prefer these “up and commers.” 

Anyway… Market has been a place we have been meaning to try since moving in, but it took us about 6 months to get there with dad and Maggie.  I started with sangria… which wasn’t great, but thirst quenching at least.

Maggie went with the salad… which I cannot remember.

Mike went with… shocker… the burger.  He was a good boy and got veggies instead of fries. Bravo Mike!  He liked it.

Dad chose the grilled shrimp with stewed lentils and and parsley oil.  The shrimp were delicious.  Mmmm char.

I chose the (“crisped”) roast garlic chicken with creamed potatoes, spinach, and roast garlic sauce.  It was nice and juicy, but I expected it to be crispier since it did say it was crispy in the description.  The garlic sauce was perfectly sweet.  Quite enjoyable.

Overall, Market is a nice part of the neighborhood and while not outstanding, it seems like an easy, reliable place to grab a meal.  Entrees are a little on the pricey side for a place that is a bit off the grid, but it matches the effort that the place is trying to make by being modern in the neighborhood.  All entrees were less than $20, but even the burger was $14.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10