After a hysterically out of control…

December 11, 2010

… shopping session, Deedee and K were starving. They headed to the East Village to try out Momofuku ssäm, a Korean fusion restaurant. We asked for a couple of glasses of bubbly to go with the Mattaki Oysters, BC (yes, I’m outta control!) served with sliced fresh wild cranberry to garnish and give it a tang. Comte de Gascogne, Blanc de Blancs, NV (France) is a sparkling Chardonnay with refreshingly lively bubbles, citrus, and green apples. Next we had the Steamed Bunsstuffed with pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, scallions… yislamoulé ‘l buns tab’ak shoo taybeen. Last we had the Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes with chinese broccoli and sichuan peppercorn, which was killer spicy… yaani soooo harra that we couldn’t finish it, and believe me, Deedee loves her harr (chili). To put that fire out, we drank a couple of Avery “White Rascal” ales – a Belgian white from Boulder, CO. The label on this beer cracks me up; it’s a pale straw colored wheat beer, light with coriander aroma and a lemony fruitness in the mouth.

For brunch on Sunday, Deedee, M & JA decided to check out Freeman’s Alley. Hidden in a zaroubé on the Lower East Side, this place feels like it should be out in the country somewhere. With a hunting club motif, it’s cozy, cluttered, and makes you feel like you want to live there. For starters, akeed we ordered Bloody Marys while we nibbled on Devils on Horseback, which are bluecheese stuffed prunes (some use dates) wrapped in bacon… wipe that drool from the side of your mouth, please. The second round of Bloody Marys set the tone right for that Hot Artichoke Dip with Crisp Bread, apparently a signature dish. Chunky bits of artichoke in cream topped with cheese and just the right comfort food to start your morning with. We had an order of Thick Cut Bacon and the Bitter Greens Salad with Grated Egg & Warm Bacon Vinaigrette before we got our mains. Deedee asked for the Fall Vegetable Hash with pan fried eggs & herbed crème fraîche bas I had them with scrambled eggs instead… ‘nuf said. Can’t wait to go back for dinner on my next trip. I’m sure it’s a whole other level of orgasmic terrain. Freeman, habibi, where’ve you been all my life?! Definitely goes under “my new favorite place” category. Thanks for the tip, Warnink.

Met up with AEN later for a walk in Central Park. It was just the right thing to do on that beautiful cold sunny day and just what was needed to help digest the feast. It’s such a luxury to have such a huge park in the middle of the city, bas akeed it doesn’t compare one bit with Jnainit Es Sanayeh. Yaani shoo mfakreen halon el Amirkén?!

Last but not least, M & Deedee literally tumbled into Jeffrey’s Grocery – Luncheonette & Oyster Bar.  Yaani, wihyét Bob we were innocently walking in the West Village when some force just drew us inside. Shoo mahdoum hal mahal… it really is a grocery store, bas in the back there’s a bar and one high communal table. We had two rounds of a dozen oysters. The first time we had two of each of the oysters on offer. Second time around we picked three and had a dozen of those: the Blue Point oysters and the Beau Soleil, both from the East Coast, were briny and you could taste the sea in them. The other was Hood Canals from the West Coast, which are always sweeter. To quench our thirst we tried the Tröegs “Dream Weaver” Wheat Ale from Harrisburg, PA. I’m sensing a pattern here… you notice how many wheat ales Deedee’s had over the last few weeks? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had other types of beer but I think wheat beer wins. This cloudy orange Pennsylvanian Dream Weaver has the usual cloves, citrus allure with a hint of banana.

Jeffrey’s Grocery also offers a variety of cheese and charcuterie with a handful of salads and sandwiches for lunch versus appetizers and entrees for dinner. A short menu, but just right amount of items for this charming gourmet grocery store/luncheonette. Deedeelightful!

 

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Round two… ping!!

December 7, 2010

You guessed it, Deedee was back in the Big Apple for round two of her food orgy, and get ready cuz I’ve got a couple of new hot tips for you!

I have to admit, I get giddy with the flawless service at restaurants and bars in NYC. Yaani, pretty much everywhere in the US was impressive, bas NYC has an alternative take… a new dimension of professionalism, sophistication, and refinement in dining and service.

Spitzer’s Corner, located on the Lower East Side, serves around 40 beers on tap!! So I had to drag my beer drinking buddy, RLM, along. Not much of an adventurer, RLM had the Weihenstephan Hefe-weissen and stayed there. A South German wheat ale that tasted and smelled of tropical fruit, citrus and cloves. Deedee on the other hand, had to try as many different beers as she could handle. To start with, she had the Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner from NY. A light beer with earthy hoppiness, hints of herbs and honey. Next was the Lagunitas A Little Sumpin Wild from CA (if you say it fast enough it sounds like a little something wild… get it?), a pale ale with notes of pineapple, mango and melon. By that time, we’d ordered their Pork Fat Edamame to nibble on while we waited for our Kobe Burgers (made with 100% Kobe beef and medium rare, akeed) and the Hand Cut French Fries. After that, Deedee had to try that Allagash White from Maine cuz she couldn’t believe the description of that witbier: Banana, grassy wheat, creamy, and balanced… they were right! Last, but not least was the Pretty Things Baby Tree from MA: big plum, red wine, cinnamon raisin bread, and brown sugar. Thanks for the tip Cha, it was a hop-pennin’  experience!

Later Deedee miraculously found herself at The Spotted Pig… it’s a must, after all. M & M joined her. Hog Island Oysters, I couldn’t help myself, from northern California, these babies are sweet, tender with a briny finish. Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi with Basil Pestooh my Bob! The way these melt in your mouth is so sensual, they should be forbidden from consumption in public! Whatever you’re eating, you can’t not order the Shoestring Fries with rosemary. This time Deedee tried the Grilled Skirt Steak with Roasted Beets & Horseradish Cream, the slices of meat are cooked medium-rare and so tender you barely need your knife. The beets are roasted with kale, and drizzled with Horseradish cream… life is good.  (btw, for those of you who read The New Yorker, there’s an article about the chef in the November 22nd, 2010 Food Issue. Read Burger Queen. She really makes the best burger in the world… amongst others. A Deedee must-have.)

We were around 7 for dinner at Public, another one of Deedee’s regular do’s, so it was the perfect opportunity to try many items on their menu. As we waited for the gang to assemble, we had an aperitif at the bar. Deedee was curious to try The Chook NV, a sparkling Shiraz from SE Australia. The bubbles on this dark ruby red were subtle and light, the nose and palate are cherry, ripe berry and herbal spice ending with a tangy kick. We were then seated and the feast began. For starters: Grilled scallops with sweet chili sauce, crème fraiche and green plantain crisps; Pan-seared foie gras on spiced french toast with mango chutney, maple glaze and crispy bacon; Fried green lip mussels with shiso, sansho pepper, and wasabi-yuzu dipping sauce; Lavender cured ham with a salad of frisee, mirin glazed pecans, pear, pomegranate, and truffle dressing; Beet gnudi with whipped lemon ricotta and a smoked almond and celery leaf pesto. We ordered two different pinot noirs to go with our appetizers: Four Graces 2008 from Willamette Valley, OR a light/medium bodied ruby red, with vanilla, flowers, and light oak aroma, rounded palate flaunting red berries, fruit and light tannins. The other Pinot Noir was the Neudorf “Tom’s Block” 2008, Nelson, New Zealand, a lively bright red with hints of lavender and licorice, this wine is svelt with a mineral palate and fine tannins. With our main courses, we had the Craggy Range “Te Kahu”, Gimblett Gravels, 2007 a Bordeaux blend from Hawkes Bay, NZ. Deep crimson red and has complex aromas that hint at cinnamon, ripe fruit, and pine forrest. The body is full and layered in the mouth. Well rounded and tannic. A good transition. We culminated with Lang and Reed, Cabernet Franc 2008 from North Coast, CA, with aromas of ripe plum and sage, this Cab Franc is dry and tannic but well balanced with dark cherries. Altogether a selection of robust wines that were exquisite with our gamy main course choices. Deedee went for the New Zealand Venison loin, Cabrales dumplings, oyster mushrooms and salsa verde. Oh Bambi, you taste so fine!

Stay tuned… the NYC dining extravaganza isn’t over yet!


The City of Angels totally brings out…

December 5, 2010

… the carnivore in me!

Deedee rolled into Los Angeles, CA – actually Long Beach Airport which, if you’re traveling in the US, I highly recommend: small, quaint, and not much hassle.

The first night, Booboo and I hit Ribs USA. You can’t get clearer than that… baby back ribs, beef ribs, and… Bob’s ribs? Things to keep in mind: go casual and be prepared to get down and dirty… yaani, you WILL eat with your hands! No other way to do it, honey.

First thing on your table are the peanuts – throw the shells on the floor. Then comes the cornbread – nice and warm with butter and honey on the side. Next are the fries and Bob’s World – a hodgepodge of barbecued meat! Once you’re done, wash your hands in the sink that’s smack in the middle of the dining area. Ghassil idék mneeh, éh habibi?!

In the morning, after going for a long run to burn off Bob, Booboo drove Deedee to Patrick’s Roadhouse, a diner located on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) heading north from Santa Monica. A small hut with an extension, this place is cute, kitchy, and serves typical Americana food, yaani, eggs (cooked any way), pancakes, waffles & sides for breakfast; salads, burgers, et al for lunch/dinner. Deedee concocted her own: poached eggs on an english muffin with smoked salmon, capers and hashed potatoes. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was their coffee, which wasn’t robust enough. Before leaving, we met the cute Portuguese/German manager. If only I’d kept room for Nachspeise!

The next day, after a couple of meetings, Deedee needed to connect with mother earth, so she drove to Pacific Palisades and went for a 2 1/2 hour hike in the Temescal Canyon Gateway Park. How fabulous to be able to take a break like that in the middle of the city. Relax, get your nature fix, re-energize, then head back to the city and kick-ass in your next meeting!

The last night we graced La Grande Orange. For starters the Tuna Tartar & Guacamoli got lucky – made with chunky bits of Ahi tuna marinated in Yuzu vinaigrette layered over a juicy guacamole, served with homemade corn tortillas. When in the Sunshine State, you gotta try the local product, so Deedee started with a glass of Selby Merlot from Sonoma County. Dark fruit and blackberries, this thick velvety red gave hints of chocolate and coffee. Later Deedee moved on to Ridge Vineyard‘s Zinfandel, from Sonoma Valley (it was a Sonoma kind’a night). Silky smooth and tannic, this Zin embraces your palate with dark cherries, ripe plum, and mocha. It was just the right fit with the Asian Style Short Rib that came with chimichurri-coconut rice. I’m bashful and embarrassed to describe the emotions that dish gave me… so how about I leave that up to your imagination?

Booboooo… thanks for making Deedee’s trip a canni-ballistically meatatarian experience!