Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Old favorites: Soba-ya and Spot Dessert Bar

One Saturday night, a couple of friends and I tried to get ramen at Ippudo, which was recently deemed the second best ramen in the city on Serious Eats. We arrived at 5:40 in the evening, to be told it would be a 2 hour wait! For ramen!!

So we went around the corner to an old favorite - Soba-ya. They are known for their soba, but I have to say, I get more excited by the small dishes. This time we got pork belly with a poached egg in dashi, pumpkin with shiitake mushrooms (the green things on the toothpick are fresh gingko nuts!), and shrimp shumai with the most interesting shredded rice flour wrappers.

For dessert we went one block over to Spot Dessert Bar on St. Mark's Place, Pinchet Ong's place. We got what was called Satay Peanut Crema with Concord Grape Sorbet and Condensed Milk Bacon Toast. Mostly we ordered because if there's bacon on a menu, probably I'll like it. It really was a deconstructed PB&J sandwich - not what I was expecting at all, and really delicious!

229 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533-6966

Spot Dessert Bar
13 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 677-5670

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sunday Brunch at Simon, Palms Place, Las Vegas

I went to Las Vegas last month for Matador 21 concerts at the Palms with several friends from grad school. We stayed at the Palms Place hotel in a swanky suite that had a tub in the center of one of the rooms. On Sunday, we had sumptious brunch at the Simon Restaurant, owned by celebrity chef Kerry Simon.
It's all you can eat buffet style, and you can order special items off a menu as well. A big plus was that you can just come down from your room in your pyjamas. We opted in on the bloody mary bar- all you can drink bloody marys with a choice of various vodkas, hot sauces, and ingredients ranging from horseradish, gardinera, various pickles and celery.

From the buffet, they offer sandwiches, sushi, breads, and fruit smoothies. I started with a plate of sushi. One of Simon's specialties is a spicy tuna with sesame rice crisps. My friend Verder raved about the yellowtail.

Our table then proceeded to get a variety of items from the made to order menu. There were several items using poached eggs. See got the lobster eggs Benedict version which had the lobster cooked in the bread. Chupacabra got a version with beef, chile verde and potatoes.

I was compelled to order the fried chicken & waffles. I was a little disappointed that the chicken was a boneless chicken breast, but the batter on the chicken and the waffles were tasty.
A big hit was the deep fried brioche French toast See ordered. It was decadent.

We finished out the meal with the Simon Junk Food plate which included all items made by the kitchen including one of the best Snowballs I've ever had. Their version of the Hostess cupcake was also good. I thought the Fruit Loop crispy was too sweet though.
Another bonus for the meal was that we saw singer Neko Case at the table behind us.

4381 West Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV

Sunday, November 07, 2010

One Night in Phoenix with Skillet Doux

I had one night in Phoenix last month, and I made sure to hook up with my good friend and talented food blogger, Skillet Doux. I brought along a nice care package of zongzi from Grace Garden for him, and he took me on a little tour of the food scene in Phoenix.

We started the evening at FnB (Food & Beverage) in Old Scottsdale, a fantastic place that specializes in seasonal food, and in particular, vegetables.
First up was fried zucchini with mint and chilis, a simple dish executed so well, I could have eaten this all night.
The second dish was roasted eggplant topped with yogurt, pomegranate and za'atar spices.

When I saw there was a dish with lamb's tongue on the menu, I knew we had to get that. It was a salad that also had rye bread, green beans and cherry tomatoes.
We also ordered the shishito peppers, tuna confit and anchovy. Both were light and simple, yet so satisfying.
We rounded out the meal with roasted quail on a bed of couscous, butternut, basil & toasted seeds. It was perfectly prepared. With just this sampling of the FnB menu, I would say it was one of my most memorable meals this year.

Our next stop was Nogales Hot Dogs for Sonoran hot dogs. They are served on a fluffy steamed bun, and the hot dog is wrapped in bacon, served with pinto beans and topped with mayo, onions, and tomatoes. I added some mushrooms and queso cheese onto mine.
With a Jarritos and a pickled jalapeno, this is a perfect late night snack.

Our last stop was at Posh, a fine dining place, for their weekly Thursday night staff meal. On this night a lot of staff from various area restaurants show up for small bites and drink specials.
We had an Arizona version of scrapple & eggs. Chef told me that the scrapple is made by a local butcher. I think it was actually made of better parts of the pig, and it was not spiced the Pennsylvania Dutch way. At least the eggs were delicious with the green chili sauce.
The second item was creamy duck confit crepes. It was nice and rich.
My favorite was the preparation of foie torchon brulee. It went well with my drink, named The Interesting Cocktail which was made of Blanco Tequila, Aperol, Creme de Cacao, lemon juice, and grapefruit.
It would be good to assume I was totally stuffed and ready to roll to bed by the end of the night's dining through Skillet Doux's Phoenix scene.

7133 E Stetson Dr.
Scottsdale, AZ

Nogales Hot Dogs
1945 E Indian School Rd
Phoenix, AZ

7167 E. Rancho Vista Dr. Suite 111
Scotsdale AZ

Friday, November 05, 2010

Pure Thai Shophouse, NYC

On our last shopping and eating day, petiteseour and I had a day that was light on the shopping, but excellent on the eating!

We had lunch at Torrisi Italian Specialties where we very happily shared the house-roasted turkey sandwich (to die for - so moist and flavorful, piled high with a wonderful dressing, shredded lettuce, thinly sliced red onion and tomatoes), delicious chicken parm hero, and a variety of sides - broccoli rabe, brussels sprouts, and sweet and sour eggplant relish, which was delicious on bread. Unfortunately we had just missed the eggplant parm - which sold out just a few people ahead of us in line. Also, unfortunately, no pictures - super crowded squeeze and we were just too hungry! We will be back though to try the lasagna, house-made mozzarella and ricotta, and that wonderful-looking eggplant parm!

Next was a stop at old standby Il Laboratorio del Gelato where petiteseour and Anthony went with daring flavors like tarragon pink peppercorn, and basil, while I stuck with delicious fruit flavors of lychee and concord grape. Then off to buy beautiful macaroons at bisous ciao to give as gifts, with a pit stop for coffee and a couple of Robicelli cupcakes at Cake Shop. After visiting our friend and dropping off said gift of macaroons, another tea break at the Limelight Marketplace where I discovered the wonder that is Bacon Marmalade. So good I'm headed back this weekend to pick up more jars as holiday gifts!

But on to the final round - dinner at Pure Thai Shophouse. Being a regular at Recipe and a fan of Land Thai Kitchen, Petiteseour really wanted to try David and Vanita Bank's newest venture - a noodle house in Hell's Kitchen.

We started with the Crispy Shrimp Sesame Crepe - which was not what I was expecting at all, but was really delicious. My only complaint may be that I didn't get much shrimp flavor, though the kaffir lime curd on top was tasty. The actual slices of lime though were a little jarring at times, when you got one on its own. All together though, it was a really interesting dish and one I would definitely order again.

But the main star of this place is the homemade noodles. We got the house specialty Ratchaburi Crab and Pork Dry Noodles along with add-ons of pork cracklings and a sunny side up egg. The egg was a great addition - just gave a little bit of extra moisture to the tie everything together. The noodles were satisfingly firm. The roast pork was the color of Chinese char-siu, but much milder - a nice surprise for my Chinese palate - and the yu choy added a nice bit of crunch and bitterness. We finished the meal with some fruity drinks - chrysanthemum for me and roselle (a bit like cranberry) for petiteseour.

Pure Thai Shophouse
766 Ninth Avenue (bet. 51st and 52nd)
New York, NY
(212) 581-0999

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

We've been nominated for a Mobbie!

Click here to vote for my blog ... early and often

We've been nominated for a Maryland Outstanding Blog in the Foodie Category. Please click on the image above and vote for us daily - you're allowed to cast one vote per day up until November 12. Thanks a million!

Please note: they do ask you to register with an e-mail address, so just check the box saying that you don't want to receive e-mail.

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Southern Thai Dinner at Little Spice, Hanover, MD

My friend Nick recently organized a dinner at Little Spice in Hanover, MD that focused on Southern Style Thai cuisine. The chef-owner's mother came from that region of the country, and she was excited to make a few specialties from South Thailand.
We started with a set of appetizers. First, we had crispy rice cakes served with a warm shrimp dipping sauce. I've had a version of this dish with pork before. This shrimp version was also very tasty.
Our second appetizer was fish cakes, or Tod Mon, served with crispy Thai basil. We used a sweet chili sauce on top of the bite size cakes.

We followed a generous set of entrees. We had Gang Garee, a Thai yellow coconut curry, with chicken and potatoes. It was like Thai "comfort food" in that it was rich, warm and just pleasant to eat.
My favorite dish was crispy stir fried catfish with curry paste and fried basil leaves.

We also got Naam Prik Gapi, a dish that I have only tried for the first time this year, that being at Bangkok Garden a few months ago. It is a fermented spicy shrimp paste served as a dip or topping for fresh raw veggies like cucumber, eggplant, or squash. While I think most of the table was thrown by the "funky" flavor of the paste, I liked Little Spice's version. While not as spicy, I think I appreciated more subtle flavors in their take of the dish.

We had Southern Thai style fried chicken. It was seasoned with garlic, turmeric, and onion marinade and topped with bits of crispy garlic. Alas, the chicken was a little dry and overdone.

Another favorite of the evening for me was the Khua Kling, a classic Southern Thai dish that took minced pork cooked with dry spicy curry. I loved the hot kick it gave you as you ate more and more of it.
Our last main was a whole fish cooked in a banana leaf. Unfortunately, it was overcooked and too dry. I imagine it's hard when you are making items not usually on the menu.

We finished with a great trio of dessert. I particularly liked the warm tapioca with coconut milk and canteloupe.
We also had fried banana and fried pineapple with palm sugar syrup.

1350 Dorsey Road
Hanover, MD
(410) 859-0100