Search This Blog

Thursday, December 26, 2013

3 on Thursday

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday!  I'm spending my X-mas break in Vail so it's sure to be a white one - even more so than today's background pic of NYCs first real snow of the season.  Happy holidays!

  1. As a Southerner, I didn't grow up watching hockey but am happy to adopt the sport.  It's easy to follow and [particularly when fights break out] fun to watch.  Go Rangers!
  2. I recently went on a work outing where I was able to pick up these fab Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses.  There is actual gold leaf in the frames.  I feel like a lady of leisure wearing them.
  3. My lobby gave a nod to both the Jews and the Christians in my lobby with a menorah and a tree.  I had zero decorations in my own apartment so I was very happy to have a festive lobby to walk into.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Smoked Mozzarella, Broccoli, and Greens Panini

I know I wrote about Dominque Ansel Bakery yesterday but who cares - here we go again.  This time, we're talking savory.  While the bakery is famous for their desserts, they serve a couple soups, salads, and sandwiches that are, apparently, not to be knocked.  One such sandwich was profiled about eight months ago and it is pure coincidence that I re-created it at home on the same day I went to pick up sweets at the SoHo shop.  (Coincidence, because I forgot the bakery was the source of the sandwich in the article I had read so long ago.)

Since I've never actually had the sandwich at Dominique Ansel, I can't say how it compares, but I can say that I thought my version was delicious and hearty, be it vegetarian.  I made a couple changes: first, instead of using fresh mozzarella, I used fresh smoked mozzarella to give it a little something extra.  The smoky flavor reminds you of meat (since that's the usual beneficiary of the smoker) which sorta makes you forget that this sandwich is vegetarian.  Second, I swapped the spinach for sunflower microgreens.  Why?  Because I have never heard of sunflower microgreens before.  Have you?  Of course you haven't, which makes me baller for being the first to use them.  They sound fancy and exotic, making me fancy and exotic by extension.  They actually tasted great, too.  They're mild in flavor, but the leaves are firm so there's something to chomp on.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Reads

  1. There are plenty of women willing to be a surrogate.  Here's why.
  2. I hurt just thinking about female circumcision.
  3. Binge watching TV has become standard.  Since success of a show is often based on live ratings, I'm worried this is why so many of my favorite shows get cancelled.  I still miss Happy Endings.
  4. Apparently people are kinda racist when they shop online.

Dominique Ansel Bakery - Part II

I try to refrain from blogging about the same place twice, but when I can't stop thinking about a restaurant you deserve to hear me sing its praises. Dominique Ansel Bakery is my favorite bakery in the City, maybe even my favorite bakery of all the bakeries there ever were. This is huge considering how obsessed I've been with Milk Bar over the years. I still love Milk Bar and see it as a close second, but Monsieur Ansel has secured a special place in my heart.

I would like to do anything as well as Dominique Ansel does pastry. The magic soufflé is the perfect example.  I don't know a ton about baking, but I do know that soufflés have a reputation for being temperamental and difficult to pull off.  You have to time and measure everything just so if you don't want the whole thing to collapse.  Somehow, Ansel manages to do this with the soufflé INSIDE another cake.  How the soufflé retains it's light texture all while an entire second cake has to bake around it, I have no idea.  I've decided Dominque Ansel has voodoo powers and that's the end of the story.

The soufflé part of the magic soufflé is chocolate grand marnier flavored and is encased in an orange blossom brioche.  I'm not big on orange desserts but the flavor is not overpowering and it's not too sweet, which is good because I have a theory that super sweet desserts are trying to compensate for something.  I ate the whole thing in the street like an animal and feel no shame.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

3 on Thursday

Yes, I know we're racing towards Christmas, but I still can't get Thanksgiving out of my head, which is why my Thanksgiving plate graces the background of today's post.  I suppose it's time to stop living in the past and start thinking about the other major holiday that's almost here.  If it's half as good as Thanksgiving, we're in good shape.

  1. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Mark and Allison decided to host a wine tasting party.  They went to their favorite vintner and selected six wines (not too shabby for our group of eight drinkers), each chosen to represent one of those snobby wine terms that's always spouted at restaurants.  We had grassy, smoky, buttery, spicy...all of the Seven Dwarfs.  We sat around and discussed whether the descriptions were real or b.s.  Getting drunk, all in the name of science.  I'm sure there are plenty of times you sit around drinking wine - at least make a game out of it like we did.
  2. Bagatelle brunch gets crazy.  3 PM there feels like 3 AM in Vegas.  It had been a long time since I last went but I found out when Steph and I recently partied it up in the afternoon with some out of town gal pals that it's just like riding a bike.  We made friends with a table of guys and the next thing you know we're getting bottles upon bottles of Dom.  I'm not a club kinda girl, but every once in a while it's good to make an exception...especially when that exception leads you to drink wine out of a really long straw.
  3. I may have been one of the youngest people there, but Elton John can straight up play the piano.  At his recent MSG concert he played all the hits and I crocodile rocked with the best of em.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: Tough Jews

The mafia is a rarely discussed piece of Jewish history, one that is overshadowed by major events like the Holocaust or minor events like "my son, the doc-tah".  When most people think of Jews, they think of the stereotypes.  The smartypants.  The weaklings.  But guess what: in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, it was a group of Jews who ran a large portion of the mafia.  They were as ruthless as the Italian mafia that is publicized and even glamorized in the media, but most people have all but forgotten they existed.

The only mob boss in history to be executed was Jewish.  Outwardly, most Jews will wince at this fact, ashamed at the black mark the Jewish mafia has left on our history, afraid it unravels all the accomplishments the Jewish people have racked up ever since.  But a small part of [most of] them is happy to have the mafia on their ethnic record.  It defies the stereotype of the nerdy Jew and makes them a little more like everyone else.  The men Rich Cohen describes in Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams are ones who made things happen.  People answered to them, not the other way around.  Is this behavior ok?  Absolutely not.  But is it exciting?  You bet.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


For my December restaurant pick, I wanted someplace that was similar enough to Albert's choice of 5 Tacos so we could make a fair [enough] comparison between the two.  It didn't need to be tacos or even Mexican, but I did want it to be someplace casual with only a few chairs that served simple, authentic food.  With a total of six chairs and only about two items on the menu, Porchetta seemed to fit the bill.  The pork sandwich has appeared on many "best of" lists so it gets packed, but since I don't live around the corner, it's preferable to actually sit inside.  The solution, apparently, is to go at 5:30.  That's octogenarian supper time and those old fogies aren't frequenting small East Village sandwich shops so you'll score a stool.

The greatest compliment I could have received was Albert telling me I won the December battle of the restaurants.  I had a feeling he was going to tip his hat to me when I looked to see him hunched over his porchetta plate, inhaling his food.  He went silent as he stuffed pork, greens, and beans into his mouth with fervor.  Porchetta is basically Italian bbq and since bbq is Albert's fave, I should have known it would be a hit.  He stopped only when he realized there was a bowl of porchetta salt (made with herbs and fennel pollen) that he could sprinkle over his plate.  Side note: porchetta salt is used just like regular salt, but it tastes so much better.  While Albert got the porchetta plate, I went with the sandwich and was very happy with my decision because the ciabatta bread was perfect.  I guess it just depends on what you're in the mood for that day.  If you order to-go, your sandwich will be wrapped in butcher paper and if you eat in, you'll be eating off toile patterned china.  Both options will leave you feeling like you just had a meal prepared by your nonna.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Spinach Artichoke Soup with Ravioli

I have consistently posted on this blog every weekday for a while now which means if I'm slacking I must be reeeeeally busy.  That's why when I had almost all of Sunday free, I thought the best thing I could do for myself was to cook up something yummy so I would have a fresh post on Monday.  I spent Saturday locked indoors afraid of the snow that didn't let up all day.  After weather like that, there's only one thing to cook: soup.

I found this recipe and couldn't find a single thing wrong with it.  The only change I made to it was using small half moon mushroom ravioli instead of cheese tortellini.  The soup is already so cheesy that I figured I would be fine not using cheese tortellini and I was right - just use your fave stuffed pasta and you'll be fine.

This soup is creamy goodness.  It's like the spinach artichoke heart dip you love ordering at your favorite chain restaurant but when you're there, you feel obligated to eat it with chips or bread.  Here, you're free to shovel it into your mouth with a large spoon just like you always wanted.  The only way this recipe could be easier is if it came already cooked and you just microwaved it.

And it's cozy.  This is fireplace food.  I only wish I could have been eating it on Saturday while I watched the snow fall.  But that would have required me to leave the house in that gross weather and there was absolutely no way that was happening.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Have you ever been disappointed in something when the outcome wasn't even that bad?  That's how I felt about Alder.  The restaurant had been #1 on my list for about seven months and for good reason: it earned a 2-star review from The New York Times, is currently on at least three "Best of 2013" lists, and it is an attainable avenue to try the food designed by molecular gastronomy master Wylie Dufresne.  With so many important people pulling for it, it seemed highly unlikely it would be bad.  And it wasn't bad - let me be clear - I just didn't have the culinary epiphany I thought I would have.

There were a couple of hits, the drink menu being one of them.  The Dr. Dave's Scrip Pad had the strength and earthiness I love from whisky with the tartness of yuzu.  It was a beautifully made drink.  I also like that they offer "shorts," half the portion for half the price.  It allows you to get a little taste of something which I like for two reasons: I didn't worry about committing to a $12 drink that I may not like and also because it gave me the opportunity to try several things on their well rounded cocktail menu.

I also really enjoyed the french onion soup rings.  From what I have heard about Wylie Dufresne, it seems his specialty is confusing the taste buds.  These are onion rings, thick, beer battered, and fried, just like at the best of sports bars.  But they taste like french onion soup.  If food could be a pun, this is the ultimate corny Mom joke.  My favorite dish of the night, however, had to be the dessert.  That's a very rare statement for me as I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but the peanut butter cake was perfection.  The cake formed a thin shell around peanut butter and chocolate ganache lava.  I don't want to say lava because that makes it sound like just another molten lava cake from a chain restaurant which it sooo is not.  So let's call it magma.  Peanut butter magma.  When eaten with the sliced grapes, it was like a peanut butter and jelly that wasn't too sweet.

Now I feel required to warn you of the misses.  The fois gras was served on a graham cracker and was advertised as being served with pumpkin pie, pomegranate, and maple flakes.  The problem was that the fois was mixed with those ingredients to form a mousse.  It kind of ruined a beautiful ingredient.  Fois gras is very rich and therefore usually served alongside sweet ingredients, but if it's all just mixed together, you lose the richness and can no longer taste the liver.  When it comes to fois gras, I think you should get as creative and funky as you want with its sweet counterpart - just don't mix them together.  Another lackluster dish was the scotch quail eggs, which had a little too much marmalade,overpowering the sausage.

The other items fell in the middle - certainly not bad but not mind-blowing, either.  The pigs in a blanket were definitely better than anything you find at a tailgating party.  We tried the rye pasta with pastrami that bared a remarkable resemblance to a sandwich from a Jewish deli, just lighter.  We also tried the beef tongue, beets with coconut ricotta, and octopus with chorizo, sweet potato, and banana.  The octopus was probably my favorite, followed by the pasta.  Again, all was very good and worthy of multiple bites...maybe I just let all the good reviews put the restaurant on a pedestal.  Maybe I just need to stop doing that.  Pedestals are for sculptures, not restaurants.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Jalapeño Sausage Pasta

I bought some jalapeño chicken sausage with the intention of making some sort of jambalaya inspired rice dish. Intentions are great, but when you get home late with no time to buy any of the other necessary ingredients, intentions mean absolutely nothing. I opened up my fridge to see if there was anything I could turn into a meal and saw about 3 ingredients staring back at me. Not a large selection, but it just so happened they were items I could work with. 

While I boiled pasta, I heated up the [sliced] sausage in a pan and added some frozen peas for color and, you know, healthiness. When everything was almost done I added some heavy cream and grated cheese. I had some goats milk Gouda on hand and took a chance with it. Turns out it was great but plenty of cheeses would work, like parm or white cheddar. Toss in the cooked pasta with some salt and pepper and maybe a little pasta water to get to the right consistency. 

This meal may have started as a way to avoid ordering takeout, but it worked its way into something I'd be happy to eat on a regular basis. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

3 on Thursday

I hope everyone is still stuffed from Thanksgiving.  Spending the long weekend in Savannah with my family reminded me just how much I have to be Thankful for.

  1. I recently had the opportunity to tour the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.  I may not work anywhere near the science field but it was cool to see how they test every product that goes into the magazine like vacuum cleaners, shown here.
  2. By now I'm sure you've heard that the first day of Chanukah and Thanksgiving fell on the same day this year.  It is an impossibly rare occurrence that my Mom honored by making latkes, a traditional Chanukah treat, out of sweet potatoes, a Thanksgiving flavor.  It's great when two worlds combine.  We lit the candles on these menorahs my brother and I made as children.  I think they're way cooler than "real" menorahs.
  3. Matt and Karina threw a holiday party and Yankee swap this year with a gorgeous spread.  Having the menu on a butcher paper table cloth and using greenery instead of flowers gave a distinctly Fall vibe.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I mentioned the wonderful holiday that is #GivingTuesday in yesterday's "Monday Reads", but I want to make sure you know I'm not all talk and no action so I am confirming that I have, indeed, made a donation today and am encouraging you to do the same.

The holiday season is all about excess.  We all compare who can eat more on Thanksgiving, who can shop more on Black Friday, and who can drink more at the Christmas parties.  In the span of a month we are very self-indulgent and it couldn't hurt to make one day about others.  

Once I found a charity that meant something to me, giving was an easy and natural next step.  I made my donation to the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization devoted to ending domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.  It was founded by actress Mariska Hargitay, whose work on Law & Order: SVU showed her the lasting and devastating effects of abuse.  This cause is personal to me but may not be for you.  I don't really care; I just care that you give so find a cause that matters to you and make a difference.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Reads

  1. If you think dating is hard, try living in Hong Kong.
  2. I am committing to #GivingTuesday tomorrow and you should, too.  But don't listen to me; let Kevin Bacon convince you.
  3. I thought the Highline was cool but it looks lame compared to these floating couches.
  4. Did you participate in Black Friday this year?  I hope the deals were worth it!  

Five Tacos

While we may have barely squeezed in our monthly restaurant picks in the past, Albert got in his December pick on the first of the month.  Every time we walked past Five Tacos we were on our way to another restaurant, but it looked good enough that I did a little research online.  That's where I discovered they had five different sauces for their tacos.  I love love love dipping sauces so I fully supported Albert's December restaurant choice.

We got four tacos - chicken, pork, beef, and chorizo - and split them all.  I was least excited about the chicken because it just sounded boring, but it ended up being my favorite of the four.  It's not the cubed chicken breast you find at most Mexican restaurants.  It is hand pulled and so tender.  We actually watched a guy pulling the chicken while we were eating.  He'd been at the task for an hour by the time we sat down and that time and effort showed in the final product.  My favorite of the sauces was the coconut curry masala.  These tacos are authentic - not fusion - but adding this sauce makes it different without overpowering the taco's Mexican identity.

$4 tacos and $4 beers.  And it's a pretty good selection for both.  The shop is small but its location on St. Mark's and A makes it great for takeout to Thompkins Square Park.  A little taco-to-go?  Don't mind if I do.



Related Posts with Thumbnails