Monday, June 29, 2009

A Quick Note

If you've been reading this blog and have been thinking to yourself, "Wow, this chick must be so rich and fat because she eats out everyday at all these awesome places!" you're only half wrong. I've thrown caution to the wind and am blowing all my money on food because I'm moving to Tokyo in August. Hopefully I'll still have this big appetite once I get to Tokyo - the land of sushi, curry and competetive eating!

Fancy Booze Bars

I'm not a big drinker. I can't have beer because it makes my muscles cramp and I feel like I want to die. Wine makes me want to sleep IMMEDIATELY. This leaves me with liquor which can be expensive depending on where you are and additionally, I get very drunk very quickly which is great sometimes, but not always. I can tell you a lot about restaurants and food in New York, but bars not so much -- I've either never been there or got so drunk I don't remember where it was.

But since it's the beginning of the summer, I've been going out a little bit more and have done some exploring with friends. This past weekend, I ended up at Mayahuel at the suggestion of a friend. This place blew me away! It is a tequila bar, which sounds pretty scary, but it's low key and the decor is definitely something to be admired. I had a smoky/sweet/spicy drink called the Watermelon Sugar (it wasn't bad, but I wouldn't go back for another) and a rose sangria/strawberry infused tequila/elderberry drink called La Vida Rosa. I could sip on this all day long - delicious! Last weekend, after seeing The America Ballet Theater's La Sylphide, my gal pals and I went to the Russian Samovar. They serve tasty Russian fare and house infused vodka by the carafe. We had the raspberry, cranberry and pomegranate. They were all good, but the last was the best by far. The shots went down smoothly to the live piano and impromptu tango dancing. Though it could get expensive, this would be a great place for groups.

I really can't talk about tasty drinks in New York without talking about The Rusty Knot. A small bar on the West Side Highway, this place is peculiar. It's decorated to look like your father's tiki den but the drinks are affordable and tasty. Their signature drink is called The Rusty Knot and it's a blended drink with house made sour mix, mint and rum. To call it a blended mojito would not do it justice. I highly doubt I'll ever find a drink that will knock The Rusty Knot off of it's pedestal, but I guess I'll keep looking just in case.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oatmeal, Two Ways

I am a big fan of oatmeal. I love everything about it - the taste, the texture and the feeling you get after eating a warm bowl for breakfast. There really is nothing like eating Oatmeal with brown sugar and fresh fruit. It's like dessert for breakfast, but really good for you. A few weeks ago, I finally tried the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Sandwich from one of my favorite restaurants, Prune. Sometimes you read about crazy dishes on the food blogs and you think "Oh, that sounds good." or "Dude, that's gross." When I read about the Oatmeal Sandwich, it was more like "HolygoodnessIhavetohavethatrightnowgetouttamywayYUM!". Usually when you have that kind of reaction, the meal never lives up to your thoughts but this baby totally did! Perfectly cooked steel cut oatmeal slathered on grilled sourdough bread that has already been slathered with peanut butter, sprinkled with brown sugar. With a side of salty pork sausage. It was perfect and I'm really looking forward to making one of my own. I'm thinking bananas may make a guest appearance on the Five Foot version.

On a not as awesome note, this past weekend, I found myself standing in the oatmeal aisle of the grocery store. I usually go for the High Fiber Maple and Brown Sugar Quaker Oats because it's easy to make at work and it's very filling. For some reason, I decided to go with the Weight Control Maple and Brown sugar variety. EWWWW. I understand that this version is probably better for my health, but seriously, I'm offended that this is allowed to be called oatmeal. The rest of the box ended up in my trash can. Lesson learned.

One last shout out to Portage Bay in Seattle for introducing me to slow cooked steel cut oatmeal. My life has never been the same.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

July Flavors @ Momofuku Milk

Attention! New soft serve flavors at Momofuku Milk Bar! I have to admit, when I first read the new flavors (Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, Blackberry and Apricot), I was a little disappointed. It was hard for me to say goodbye to the classic candy flavors because to me, combining candy and soft serve is the ultimate treat. However, I ate my words and my whole soft serve cup when I tried the Rosemary Soft Serve with Pretzel Crumb topping. Salty and subtle, it was an addicting and unique flavor. I was a little jealous of my friend's Apricot/Rosemary swirl with Olive Oil Cake topping - but now I just have an excuse to go back for more.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Return of Smooze

Sunday marks the first day of summer so here's a summer treat post for you. When I first moved to New York, I lived right near a Whole Foods. It may be expensive, but it was nice having instant healthy food on hand for those too-lazy-to-cook days. Last summer I made a refreshingly sweet and tropically adorable discovery at WF. Smooze! Not only is it fun to say, it's also fun to eat. I was immediately drawn to the packaging since, well, I'm Asian and will buy anything with a cartoon character on it. These Indonesian frozen pops are deeeelish! They're made with fresh tropical fruit puree (mango, pineapple, guava or passion fruit) and coconut milk. It's naturally sweet and little creamier than a popsicle because of the coconut milk. It's also dairy free for you lactose intolerants.

Smooze! is back on the shelves at Whole Foods and I highly recommend picking up a box for those hot summer days. My favorite is the Pineapple-Coconut, but yesterday I picked up a box of Pink Guava which I suspect will be equally as tasty. Here's to summer!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

DBGB Soft Open

I was lucky enough to eat at DBGB's soft open over the weekend. DBGB is Daniel Boulud's downtown venture into casual dining. Most people know Daniel because he serves a $100 dollar burger at DB Bistro Moderne. It has foie gras and shaved truffles on it. He's also a regular on the Top Chef judging panel. Lastly, he's adorable.

The food at DBGB was very flavorful. We tried 2 of the in-house made sausages and a HUGE beer menu. The menu lends itself well to sharing, so i
t's a great place for friends and big groups. I tried the Frenchie Burger which was very spicy, but in a good way. We finished off our meal with a Beer/Cherry Ice Cream Sundae. As you can see from the picture here, I really liked it. The ambiance is a big departure for Daniel - the kitchen is open so you get flashes from the pan and can hear the hustle and bustle of the hard working chefs serving you. The music mixed Franz Ferdinand, Klaxons and Ratatat and the servers were young and friendly. Daniel's Chef friends donated pots from their personal collections and he puts them on display throughout the house. The stars were aligned for me that night as we were seated between gifts from Tom Colicchio and Anthony Bourdain -- two of my favorite food personalities!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Momofuku Ko

Oh boy. Momofuku Ko hangover! I have never in my life, dined like that. Needless to say, it was amazing and one of the best dining experiences of my life. I got to try a bunch of things I'd never order if it were on a menu. (So that's what Foie Gras tastes like...Buttery!). I'm not a huge seafood eater. If there is meat on the menu, I'll always choose something that moos over something that swims. BUT! I'm glad that the chefs make the decisions for you and you just have to trust that what they put in front of you is worth eating. Dish after dish after dish, I was delighted and giddy and wanted to give the chefs a big giant sloppy caviar coated kiss. Unfortunately, you can't take pictures inside the restaurant, so I don't have anything to show you but the outside of the door and my glass of alka seltzer. You're just going to have to trust me on this stuff...

From memory, here's what we were served:
  • Soft Tofu and Chinese Sausage amuse bouche
  • Swiss Chard with pork
  • Buttery Pepper Biscuit
  • Long Island Fluke with Buttermilk and Poppy Seeds
  • Green and White Asparagus with Scallops
  • Sea Urchin in a Miso Broth
  • Poached Egg, Caviar and Potato Chips
  • Soft Shell Crab with Bay Sauce
  • Shaved Foie Gras over Lychee, Pine Nut Brittle and Riesling Gelee
  • Deep Fried Steak with a tasting of Onions
  • Guava Sorbet with a Skin of Cream Cheese
  • Black Sesame Ice Cream with Funnel Cake and Lemon Sugar
My favorites? Everything in bold above. These are things that I'm craving this morning. The Poached Egg and the Long Island Fluke were fantastic. I liked the different textures with the egg (potato chips?!) and the long island fluke kind of tasted like lox on a bagel with cream cheese. The Foie Gras dish was very fun because I wasn't sure if it was sweet or savory. I'm big on fruity desserts so I preferred the Guava Sorbet over the Funnel Cake (even though I finished off my dish before everyone else...oops!) but I was really happy to see that Black Sesame is Chang approved!

Aside from the food, it was really cool to watch the 3 chefs preparing our dishes. The ingredients they used were incredibly fresh. They blasted Led Zepplin and The Beatles. For $100 per person, I think it's totally worth it. So...anyone want to go with me again?!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Martha Stewart OmMmmnimedia

I never quite understood the Martha Stewart thing, but as I've gotten older, I have started to realize that she is quite amazing. Maybe not her personally. That whole securities fraud thing was not hot, nor was her appearance with Busta Rhymes at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. Know your place Martha! But when she's on, she's on. I admire the brand that she's built. I never identified myself as a "Martha" girl, but she snuck her way into my life so I'm not fighting it anymore. Two of my dirtiest cookbooks (stains and dog eared pages = sign of a great cookbook) are Everyday Food's Great Food Fast and Martha Stewart's Cookies. Everyday Food's is a great brand extension for Martha. It's pretty much 30-Minute Meals minus the "YUM-O!". (Dont' even get me started on Rachel Ray...) I've made about 60% of these recipes and my dining companions and I have liked them all. There's a lot of diversity in the recipe (Mexican, Asian, Italien and American) and she keeps the ingredients simple. Simple is good for weeknight meals. Martha Stewart's Cookies was an impulse buy over the holidays and I am so glad I have this in my kitchen library. She divides the book into types of cookies (crispy, chewy, cakey, sandy) and there's something for everyone. I think this book is responsible for my department's winter weight gain. I've never purchased so much butter in my life but I had to put that beautiful blue Betty you see in the picture above to work. Both books have easy to follow instructions, tips on the basics and enticing color photos for each recipe.

Martha's at it again with the upcoming release of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. I have no doubt that this book will be a hit, which is why I pre-ordered it 2 months ago. (Damn you Amazon!) If you don't want to shell out $15 for the book, you can get a taste of what Martha has to offer on her website. In honor of the new cupcake book, she's replaced Cookie of the Day with Cupcake of the Day. I probably won't even make a cupcake that looks like a hamburger, but it's fun to see what other people can do.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ko Here I Come

Ladies and gentleman, I scored a reservation at Momofuku Ko. After 8 failed attempts, I finally did it. My index finger is a little sore and I may need to get a new mouse but it was totally worth it. For those of you that aren't familiar, Ko has an online reservation system that is reminiscent of Ticketmaster in the early 90's. You have to log in at exactly 10am to have a shot at one of the 12 seat available 7 days out. Your heart races, you wait for the clock to turn to 9am and you incessantly refresh the page with your state-of-the-art dial up internet service provided by Prodigy. All you wanted was to see *nsync in concert but nOOooOO, those damn ticket scalpers beat you to the punch with their crazy hacking systems. Heartbreak.

This is so much better than sitting front row center for *nysnc. Like, waaaay better. Next Monday at 7:40 PM, I will sit down in front of the Momofuku Ko Executive Chef and he will feed me and my companion to be named later, what I suspect to be a spectacular meal of magical goodness.

For those of you wishing to get reservations of your own, I highly reccommend this tutorial on how to get a resi, brought to you by Deep Fried Kimchee.

Update: My reservation has been changed to this Thursday at 7:10pm so you'll get a full review Friday!

Taste of Chelsea-Meatpacking

This past Saturday, I heard there was a sale at the Christian Louboutin store in the Meatpacking and decided I needed to torture myself - sounds fun, right?. As I walked solemnly around the Meatpacking District, I stumbled upon a food tasting event that totally cheered me up. Tastes From the Meatpacking District Through Chelsea featured 26 restaurants from around the neighborhood. For $40, you can taste 6 booths while also enjoying live music and the wonderful New York sunshine. So how was the food? I don't know. I'm on a tight budget these days, so $40 for 6 bites of food seemed a little steep. (Yes, this coming from the same girl who, 5 minutes earlier tried to justify buying 4-inch patent leather Loubis for $600 - ON SALE)

Fret not! I didn't walk away completely empty handed. I was given a free sample of LU chocolate cookies and purchased some tasty ginger lemonade for a more reasonable $2 from The Simple Kitchen. It was the perfect beverage for the warm day. The Chelsea/Meatpacking food scene has more of a reputation of flash and glamour vs. taste and substance, but I think that is slowly changing. The Red Cat, Cookshop and Spice Market are great restaurants. The Chelsea Market, home to the Food Network, offers gourmet food on the go, perfect for a Hudson River Park picnic. Kind of like the San Francisco Ferry Building of the East.

I'll finish this post by saying that Chelsea is home to the best cupcakes in New York: Billy's Bakery. Crumbs cupcakes are too ostentatious. Magnolia's are overshadowed by their Banana Pudding. Buttercup is a close second, but they don't frost my cupcakes while lip synching to Madonna and I think we can all agree that that is the secret to a good cupcake.