Monday, September 29, 2008

Three Tarts and Klee Brasserie

When I have my lunch and shopping outings with petiteseour, often dessert is the best part of our meals. On this rainy day in Chelsea, we had wanted to eat at Le Grainne Cafe, but it was closed for a private event.

So not wanting to walk too far, we ended up at Klee Brasserie, just a block away. We caught them just before the kitchen was closing for lunch, and ordered some garlic scape and chicken soup, mini lobster rolls, and pasta with sausage (rainy day comfort food). It was a nice space, but the only memorable thing about the food was that the soup was served from a Bodum coffee press poured over a "popcorn cake" which ended up being kind of like a matzoh ball.

As I said dessert was far better, as we waited out some heavy downpours at Three Tarts. I got an Espresso gelée and almond panna cotta with a Valrhona dark chocolate "lovely." Petiteseour got a parfait with a creme fraiche and maybe some tropical fruit compote (I can't remember, maybe she can help me out) and a chocolate "yumball."

Klee Brasserie
200 9th Ave. (Btwn 22nd & 23rd St.)

Three Tarts
164 Ninth Avenue (at 20th Street)
Phone: 212/462-4392

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Snacking and sipping at my desk

I saw this great little Nutella snack pack at Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market and had to get it. On the one side, you get a sweet lemon tea to sip, and on the other side you get to "make your own Pocky" dipping cookie sticks in nutella!

I was also enamored by the "This is not a paper cup" that I saw at the MoMA Design store. It's actually a double layer ceramic mug with a silicon top. Like an adult sippy cup!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Congrats to Grace Garden Chinese- Best in Baltimore!

In Baltimore's City Paper, Grace Garden Chinese was named the Best Chinese Restaurant in Baltimore this year. Thanks to the support of Chowhounders and the Skillet Doux blog, I found out about this local treasure of a restaurant, and now they are getting much deserved acclaim for their great food. Congratulations to Chef Li and his family!

Here are some other dishes I would highly recommend. Up top, the slow braised pork belly with mustard greens (mui choy- the sauce was slightly sweet and goes great with rice. I also tried the tea smoked duck- so much flavor.
Mrs. Li has some fresh Chinese vegetables she grows in her garden. In August, she had chive blossoms (pictured- cooked with salty fish). I recently had bitter melon with beef in a black bean sauce, and they hope to have winter melons next month.

1690 Annapolis Rd
Odenton, MD 21113
(410) 672-3581

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Girls Cooking Night: Celebrity Chefs

For our last girls cooking night, we decided to each choose a celebrity chef recipe, not tell the others whose it was, and see if we could all guess. The picture above is of the Wylie Dufresne dish I attempted to make - the caviar "egg roll."

It's basically a deconstructed egg. The whites and yolks are separated, seasoned - the whites with salt and white pepper, the yolks with salt and cayenne pepper, and beaten. The yolks are poured into a rigid plastic bag - probably ideally a tube, but I went with what was on hand, just ziplocs - and set aside to allow time for the bubbles to disappear.

The whites are fried quickly into bubbly thin sheets. Wylie called for 1 cup of clarified butter for the frying! I opted instead for a few tablespoons of duck fat (again, what I had on hand).

After an hour or so of resting, the yolks were then supposed to be cooked in a bain-marie (water bath) of 155 degrees for 2 hours. Here you can see my make-shift set-up for this - with the plastic bags duct taped to chopsticks which could rest on the edge of the pot so the bags didn't hit the bottom, and a computerized meat thermometer to make sure the water stayed around the 155 mark.

Then the yolks are chilled in the bag for another few hours until they set up nice and firm, and eventually the whole shebang is rolled together. Well, while mine are not so pretty, they tasted pretty good, at least. I served mine with tobiko roe rather than black caviar for the obvious reasons of frugality. The slow-cooked yolks develop a nice creamy consistency.

When I emphasized the deconstruction element of the dish, Brownie guessed Ferran Adria, and when told she was on the right track, got WD as the chef pretty quickly.

The other dishes of the evening were Mark Bittman's chickpea salad (which everyone guessed since we all read the NYTimes food section), Rachel Ray's lemon chicken (no one guessed), Jamie Oliver's bread with herbs and goat cheese (struggled on that one), and Bobby Flay's lamb chili (guessed right away).

Amazingly, even though we didn't really coordinate ahead of time (since we had to keep our dish a secret), we ended up having quite a complete and rounded meal - with appetizer, bread, salad, 2 different meats.

We finished off with desserts made by Princeton's local celebrities at Chez Alice.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weekend in Wisconsin

I was up in Wisconsin this summer for my annual Boys Weekend. It was a time for local Wisconsin food, good beer from Caldera and Three Floyds, swimming in Lake Gilbert, games of horseshoes, and inappropriate nudity

We went to Waupaca for our first dinner Friday night at Simpson's Indian Room. Of course, we had to go for the traditional Wisconsin Friday fish fry. For appetizers, the find was deep fried sauerkraut balls. They were mixed with mashed potato- like a croquette and came with Thousand Island dressing for dipping.

For dinner, I opted for the fried Walleye- it's got to be my favorite of the lake fishes to fry up. Some people in the group got Blue Gill, but I was told that they could have been a little more fresh.

During the day, we started a small campfire while playing horseshoes, and we cooked up some bratwursts and Hungarian sausages from a local butcher Schwai's. The brats seemed to have a hint of fennel in them- with a little mustard on a bun, so delicious.

For our second dinner, we got a small pork shoulder and smoked it in a green egg for the whole day. Then, the meat was pulled apart with a fork- it was unbelievable. The pork was juicy and flavorful.

Before heading off the the airport to go home, we stopped off at Kopp's for a delicious bacon cheeseburger and a chocolate malted milkshake.

Simpson's Indian Room
222 S Main St
Waupaca, WI 54981
Phone:(715) 258-2330

Kopp's Frozen Custard
5373 N. Port Washington Rd.
Glendale, WI 53217

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Breakfast at Jo's Cafe, Milwaukee, WI

After flying into Milwaukee for my annual weekend with the boys, Lickingpants and I went for breakfast at Jo's Cafe in the north side of town.
After some tasty coffee, we both split a plate of biscuits and gravy. The ladies next to us called it a "heart attack on a plate".
We then ordered the places specialty, the Hoffel Poffel: a dish of scrambled egg, spicy salami chunks, potatoes, onion, and cheese. The salami was awesome.
Our waitress, upon delivering our plate said, "You guys sure are hungry."

3519 W Silver Spring Dr
Milwaukee, WI 53209
(414) 461-0210

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Espuma, Rehoboth Beach, DE

While at the shore for Labor Day, we went Espuma (Portuguese for "foam") in Rehoboth Beach, DE for dinner one evening. It was nice to be at the beach and to have a little foodie experience.
For starters, Fougoo ordered the "rethought" bacon and egg salad. I had the Black Mission fig salad with endive and a parmesan foam.

For an entree, I ordered the trio of Berkshire pork which came with a roast pork, a pork loin, and a pork fricassee all bathed in a nice foam.

Redneckhunter got the special, the veal Ossobucco, which was spectacularly good.
Kelly ordered the Espuma vegetarian extravaganza which came with 3 cold and 4 hot vegetable dishes. Kelly's fav was the sweet pea ravioli. I finished off one dish which had some bitter melon in it.

For dessert, we tried two items: the "chocolate, chocolate, chocolate", which consisted of a molten chocolate cake, a chocolate pots de creme, and a small chocolate milkshake and Jay's ice cream sandwich, which was 2 citrus merigues surrounding hazelnut ice cream.

28 Wilmington Ave
Rehoboth Beach, DE
(302) 227-4199‎

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

BrookLEn in Paris: Spring

How many brilliant American artists have conducted court in France, impressing the Gauls, binging on the excesses of Paris, impatiently waiting for the sound of the soiree to reverberate on our shores? The city attracts the talented who are happy to receive the one-glove applause of the French. I discovered a new member of this ex-pat clan at Spring, a restaurant in the 9th arrondissement operated by Daniel Rose, a native of Chicago.

Before arriving, we got lost in the neighborhood, discovering an amazing cheese shop where we picked up some foie gras for 1000yregg (which has its own story). Like Spring, the 9th is mixed culturally, a spicy bouillabaisse in the city of gastronomy. When we arrived at the tiny restaurant, we were literally eye-level with chef Daniel's prep table, which he conducted like a stage. The ten-top room filled quickly (only one seating, around 9-ish). This is where things get fuzzy, as we were offered amazing wines, and I was not the punctual blogger that I should be. What I can do is describe this five-course experience.

The courses were all prepped and plated for the room, each layer of the dish having it's own moment of consideration. The second course, a red snapper, started out as julienned radishes in a lime dressing. Eventually, the radish slaw was placed on the snapper, and then an impressively light beef broth was poured around the deep serving dish. Surprising, subtle flavors, some Chicago, some Paris, and a complete delight.

Other highlights were a duck served three ways (braised, moussed, and tartar), and a dessert of berries in an angelic peach-mint broth. After sending around the last plate, the chef grabbed a bottle of his favorite whiskey and started chatting with the diners. Some he knew, others became friends quickly, and carried out the post-meal festivities until hours not meant for our country.

28 rue de la Tour d'Auvergne
75009 Paris
+33 (0)1 45 96 05 72

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cinghiale, Baltimore

I had dinner with friends at Cinghiale, the Italian restaurant of Cindy Wolf's Charleston group in downtown Baltimore. The place is separated into two sections, the osteria, which is bistro-style, and the enoteca, which is more dressier.
We ate in the osteria, but I ended ordering dishes from the enoteca menu.
I started with their spectacular La Carne Cruda, raw veal tenderloin with a poached quail egg and parmigiano.
My friends ordered the heirloom tomato salad with gorgonzola.
For my second dish, I ordered ravioli with wild boar.
My entree was Il Maiale, an generous rack of Berkshire pork with red wine sauce served with grilled peaches and a salad of fennel and arugula. It was incredible.

All in all, I would no doubt return to Cinghiale- great food and great atmosphere.

822 Lancaster St
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 547-8282

Friday, September 05, 2008

Koi Palace, Daly City, CA

While in San Francisco, the family went to get Dim Sum on a Sunday morning at the Koi Palace in Daly City.
We were told to get there early, which meant around 9:30 am, and would you believe, the place which was the size of a basketball court was already packed.
We were excited that they had soup dumplings which were good. We ordered a few standards- turnip cakes, shrimp dumplings, and the sticky rice dumplings with sesame.

We ordered 2 kinds of tofu: the first was salty and savory, and the second, was served with a sweet syrup.

We got some starch in the form of sticky rice and noodles.

We tried two kinds of BBQ pork buns, one with a baked wheat exterior and the other with a steamed rice exterior. Both were delicious. According to Fougoo's dad, they are always eaten last in order to not fill you up at the start of the meal.

365 Gellert Blvd
Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 992-9000