On The Menu

ToP Chef S5, Ep3 (JP Recap)

Comments (0) | Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not much for me to say in this one. I watched it...and wasn't all into it. If it was Pearl Jam or Radiohead instead of Foo Fighters, I probably would be watching this show on constant repeat right now.

Grant Achatz - totally cool in my book. They had to have just filmed this right after his battle with cancer. He looks way skinny (not that he was that big before hand). When they had the chef-testants grab the knifes out and the knives had numbers on it, I immediately thought they were going to make the chefs cook the recipe number from Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire, just like at Achatz's Alinea restaurant. But no...almost, but not quite. They had to cook from the page number of the Top Chef cookbook, a book that probably isn't as important as Escoffier's. In any case, still a neat quickfire, made even more interesting when they had to convert their dishes to soup. As we learned in previous season, making a good soup can win you big points. Leah wins.

Ariane - congrats, you can cook turkey well...something I can do too. But, unlike you, I'm an Electrical Engineer, not a classically trained chef with my "4-star" New Jersey restaurant. Meaning: you should be able to cook turkey!

EUROS - oh man, they did nothing to separate themselves this episode.

Eugene - big props for the home-made grill!

Jeff, Richard, and Daniel - seriously, they all screwed up. Two of my favorites up on the chopping block...and they were saved because Richard couldn't do a smore correctly.

Not the greatest of episodes, but still enjoyable to watch. "Sexy Pants" vs "Cougars"...that's the best team names they could come up with? Sheesh...

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Thanksgiving Feast!!!

Comments (0) | Friday, November 28, 2008

My favorite holiday of all time: THANKSGIVING! Since we couldn't be with our family, Abby and I decided to celebrate turkey day at our condo and have a few friends who were stuck in Boston come on over. There's a lot of food to cook, but I love to cook and was up for the challenge. Our menu was:

Spicy Citrus Brined Roast Turkey (18.8 lbs!)
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Spicy Sauteed Asparagus
Garlic Almond Green Beans and Grape Tomato Salad
Homemade Turkey Gravy
Candied Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping
Stovetop Stuffing
Abby's Homemade Apple Pie

It all turned out to be a huge success! The turkey was crispy on the outside and wasn't dry at all (except the wings because I didn't dock them correctly). The homemade turkey gravy turned out incredible! I made turkey stock in the morning, using the gibblets from the frozen turkey and added that to a roux made with the turkey drippings. So damn good...I wished I made more. We drank some damn good wine brought by our friend Joey, and played some drinking games while we were all stuffed and fighting off sleep after we ate. Was a very good time indeed.

I hope all our loyal readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

(*UPDATE - the wine Joey brought was a gift from our friend Vince. He wanted to let all the interweb know that he's the wine enthusiast of the group. San Fran/Bay Area Ladies: He's also rich and single!)

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Gaslight (JP Review)

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Not much of an in depth review here. We've been to Gaslight a few times before. It's really close to our condo. Also, we had a free appetizer coupon given to us as a "welcome to the neighborhood" package we got when we moved into our condo. Gaslight is a very nice place. It's very unpretentious and serves good French bistro fare. Prices aren't that bad, appetizers starting at $8 and entrees going to $26.

We started with the Escargot. I know a lot of people are afraid to eat escargot because...well because it's snails and it's disgusting. But I love it. My bro-in-law Andy was the first person to get me to eat them, about 5 years ago. Him and my sister kept saying that all I will taste is garlic and butter. And boy were they right. You fork out the little dude, spread it on a piece of bread, and it's so good. Then you dip your bread into the little cast iron container to get all the buttery goodness out.

For our entrees I went with the steak frites and Abby got the Croque-Monseiur. Again, this was nothing new to us. Both turned out as good as always.

We usually sit at the bar, but the dining room has a very nice atmosphere. This is a good place for anything ranging from first date, to anniversary, to just wanting to get out of the cold. I give Gaslight a 4 out of 5.

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Bourdain and Colicchio

Comments (0) | Monday, November 24, 2008

From Amuse-Biatch:


Pretty funny interview.

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A Free Day Off!!

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What does a girl do on a free day off? She puts her pjs back on, plops down on the couch, and begins an entire day of trashy tv watching. I've been semi productive today, applied for a credit card (yay for wedding debt!), got the heat fixed, and did some laundry. Now I'm attempting to be witty and informative in a stellar new blog post.

First things first...
David Dust commented on JP's Top Chef recap. I, in turn, read his. He's HILARIOUS. I suggest reading his blog for all things Top Chef...after you read ours of course. He and I might have to battle it out for Fabio's undying love. I have a feeling he'd win...

This week on TC, Padma wore a heinous denim skirt. Fabio has completely gone from secret crush to full on crush. (I think JP likes Steffan better) I don't care if people think Carla is crazy, I still like her. And Jersey needs to pack her knives and (as I quote HIMYM) "crawl into the open sewer pipe you call the Holland Tunnel and flush [yourself] back to "'pretty much New York'"
I loved that they were allowed to cook at Craft. CraftBar was amazing when we went there so I can imagine the kitchen in his main restaurant is fantastic. Lucky bastards. I also LOVE that they have to cook for bitter TC losers from NYC. I knew from the moment they aired the losers, we'd hear how each of them could have done better, blah blah blah...but you didn't so shut yo face losers. Making statements how you're better isn't going to get you on the show in place of the current cheftestants. Get.Over.It.

Onto this weekend's festivities. We headed to Michael and Samantha's to eat some yummy Thanksgiving food. The turkey was fab...as well as the "outside the bird" stuffing. I can't attest to the inside the bird stuffing because I didn't eat it. Hey, AB said it can contain salmonella, and while I could stand to lose another 10 lbs, I don't want to have food poisoning for Turkey Day. I made them an apple pie, which everyone said was tasty, but it wasn't as good as the previous two I made. I couldn't get the crust to work with me. So hopefully the one I make for Thursday will taste better. It may have been because I ran out of shortening...hmmm.

For John Paul's birthday I bought him the Thanksgiving issue of Gourmet Magazine. After going through it he picked out an ad for McCormick Saigon Cinnamon. They had a recipe for "Molten Spiced Chocolate Cabernet Cakes". I didn't have any souffle dishes so we went to Bed Bath and Beyond and with my 20% coupon, I bought a 4 pack for less than $7 (score!)
The recipe is as follows (SO easy to make) and makes 4 servings:
4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate (I used nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips) Also, 4oz is equal to 2/3 of a cup.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 tbsp Cabernet Sauvignon or other wine (I used whatever red wine I had already had open)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
6 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp Saigon Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Butter 4 (6-oz) custard cups or souffle dishes. Place on baking sheet.

MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 minute or until butter is melted. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in wine, vanilla, and sugar until blended. Whisk in eggs and yolk. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon evenly into prepared dishes.

BAKE in preheated over at 425 degrees F oven 15 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute. Loosen edges with knife. Invert onto serving plates. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired!

They're yummy and tasty and I'll upload pictures later :)

Next post will be after Thanksgiving :) Hope you all have a happy one!

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Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner

Comments (1) | Sunday, November 23, 2008

Abby's brother had us over to partake in a pre-thanksgiving dinner with some of their friends. Since the OU game was on at 8, I was able to stay to eat a plate before I went home to watch my Sooners dominate the Red Raiders.

Sam and Mike did a great job (I think it was mainly Sam) in preparing the turkey and side. Here are some pics, including me carving the turkey. (I was a little hesitant in carving the turkey. I believe that "he who cooks the turkey, cuts the turkey" and also, I've only carved a turkey once before...my skills aren't the greatest and I didn't want to butcher their bird. I did ok I think...it was good practice for the main event this upcoming turkey-day.)

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Top Chef S5, Ep2 (JP Recap)

Comments (1) | Thursday, November 20, 2008

Before I get into my recap of last night’s episode, I found this interview with Season 3’s leading jerk-off Dale (courtesy of Amuse-Biatch): link here.

For some reason, I really hope his restaurant tanks…he still comes off as a big d-bag in my book. I understand having confidence and standing behind your work (you are going to need that type of attitude if you want to make it in the cooking world) but how about a little humility buddy! Even the best chefs in the world will recognize others, especially one that beat your ass in a competition. To say of Hung, “I won, but he got the check”, to me is such a d*ck thing to say. I understand he’s trying to say that in losing he got the celebrity and cooking recognition he needs to start his own restaurant (at least I think that’s what he’s trying to say, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here cause I can be a nice guy) but don’t dismiss your competitor’s accomplishment so easily. The fact that he’s working with Sara Nguyen and CJ from season 3 makes me want to see them fail even more. (Ok, so maybe I’m not that nice of a guy…) I have nothing against Sara, but I couldn’t stand C “Big Time” J any more than I could stand Dale. And even though my brother-in-law Andy met him on a plane and said that he was a nice guy, I still hold reality-tv grudges. Even though season 3 was the best that Top Chef had to offer, I noticed I really only liked Hung, Tre and Casey, even though she couldn’t dice an onion. That being said, the talent level of season 3 was ridiculous. While I think he’s a major d-bag, Dale had some serious cooking chops. I seriously agree with Dale’s comment about how no cast can top season 3’s skill level. I mean, look at this year’s cast, the first show kicked off two newbies right away that had no business being on the show. If those two were better than every other wanna-be cheftestant, then you know this season’s talent level is way low.

Ok, I didn’t mean to get into that little rant. Time for last night’s episode:

Quickfire Challenge re-introduced us to a familiar face: Donatella Arpaia. She’s been on a lot of different cooking shows, but I really only like her when she does one on one stuff, like when she’s on Simply Ming. Much more engaging, seeing her work with food, instead of just being a judge. A quick interweb search of Donatella for the correct spelling of her last name gave me this link.

I guess they can’t introduce her as Donatella from the famous restaurant “David Burke and Donatella” anymore. (Side note: I like David Burke. Never eaten at any of his restaurants, but damn, he cracks me up every time I see him on TV or read his interviews. Seems like a cool guy to kick it with. I need to try his “flavor spray” on day…ok, that just sounded gross.)

So Padma, in a hideous outfit (per Abby), tells the cheftestants that they will have to make hot dogs and go against a famous hot dog stand owner. Now I really don’t understand why they had to bring this poor lady in (and I don’t mean poor like she’s a beggar…that lady and her hot dog empire is easily pulling in over $500K a year, if not more…I bet you it’s a lot more too) and make her stand there with her cart while the competitors cook up their hot dogs. Their hot dogs weren’t in competition with hers…they were in competition with each other! So strange. I gotta say, Donatella looks absolutely bored right now. So the cheftestants go out and make their own hot dogs. I’m actually impressed by this challenge and am not sure what I would have done. Would I have gone the dumb and easy route, like Jill, and use existing hot dogs and try to spruce it up a little? Or would I try to quickly make my own sausage and put my own little twist on it, even though I’ve never made sausage before? I’d probably go with the latter, but I can’t say I’d be any better than what Jill offered. (Thinking about this some more, I’d think I would have tried to make a “cheddar-wurst”. I’d have taken some ground pork and beef and seasoned it on the spicy side, encase it, and inject it with some melted cheddar cheese. Pan fry it until it’s done, and serve it on a hot dog bun with some homemade relish mayonnaise….damn, I might have to try to make that now…maybe I really can be a Top Chef!) Any way, there were a couple of “sushi hot dogs” which didn’t fare well. Both Euros made panini’s. But the major surprise was from Radhika. The self-proclaimed, “I’m of Indian heritage, and I don’t want them to judge me and think I only make Indian food”, goes against her own proclamation and makes an Indian styled hot dog. I bet you it tasted great…but come on!!!! What’s the old saying: “Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining!”? I’m getting ahead of myself, but in 4 challenges you use your Indian traditions and did well in 2 of them. When you went outside of that ethnic cooking style, you sucked and were ridiculed and beaten up. Ok, maybe not beaten up, but verbally abused by the judges. How in the hell are you showing us that you can cook with non-Indian techniques? I had you pegged as someone to watch, mainly because of your experience with Vikas (a world reknown Indian chef, who cooks amazing Indian food) but you can’t seem to step out of your comfort zone at all and do well.

So Radhika wins, with some props to Fabio. They get their elimination challenge and they will have to perform in a real live kitchen during the lunch rush and do a 3 course menu. With Jeff’s styling skills (he has good hair, dontcha know), they all separate into 3 groups of 5, doing apps, entrĂ©e and dessert. Why some of them (Ariane) openly volunteer for dessert and not have a world-class dessert in their recipe black book, I have no idea. This show has shown time and time again that if you don’t do desserts correctly, you are going to be part of the bottom 3 each and every time.

The make up ideas, go shopping, and start prepping their dishes. Tom walks in and lays the egg on them, that they will be in his own restaurant Craft and will be serving 50 chefs that didn’t make the cut to be on Top Chef. (It would have been neat if one of the 50 was recently kicked off Lauren, who technically didn’t get to compete either…) The chefs talk, cook, then go home. In the middle of the commercial break, something strange happens. It looks like the show is back on, with Leah talking about being single or something, then it shows her and Hosea flirting, then it cuts back to commercial. All that in like 1 minute and 30 seconds. WTF? Bravo, that was just weird.

Anyway, just as I feared, having 50 chefs that weren’t good enough to be on this show (and like I said earlier, the talent level of this season isn’t the greatest) was going to lead to a few camera hogs that will go overly negative in their critiques just to get some airtime. Sore losers the bunch of them. One chef is overheard saying how he doesn’t use animal fat or butter in his restaurant…that’s a restaurant I will never step foot in. Hey buddy, maybe at your glorified Soup or Salad joint you are king, but that aint going to cut it to be on Top Chef. As lunch is being served, one chef remarks how he could make something better, which I respond, “Apparently you couldn’t or you would actually be on the show instead of hamming it up to be Bravo for 5 seconds and hoping that will lead you to your own cooking show.” They even showed some 50+ year old lady…come on!!! This is the caliber of NYC chefs that are trying to be on Top Chef? This is FOOD USA MECCA!!!! Are the real talented chefs actually in the kitchen cooking and working their way up instead of auditioning for a TV show? Must be.

Jill continues to befuddle everyone by grabbing an ostrich egg and trying to make a quiche out of it. First of all, don’t pull a Patrick and try something you’ve never cooked with. Secondly, is quiche really new American cooking? Others that also failed included Eugene, Radhika (who has immunity and it clearly showed), Hosea and of course Ariane and her overly sweet lemon something with cherry surprise. “Cherry surprise” is not something I want to see on a menu. Visions of…well, I won’t say what, but it’s gross, comes to mind. Jeff looks like he’s struggling again with time, but his dish seemed to please all the taste buds. Jamie finally comes through with something good, and her chilled corn chowder/soup whatever, was generally liked. Crazy Eyes, I mean Carla, also does well with her dessert. But it’s Fabio who takes the prize for his carpaccio dish that looked absolutely incredible. Easily the best dish tonight.

Jill, Hosea and Ariane are chosen as the worst dishes and Jill looks like an idiot trying to defend herself. Tonight’s tough to figure out. Usually you can sense who’s going home, but all 3 have made a strong case for being kicked out of the kitchen that it’s hard to pinpoint who’s getting the axe. It turns out to be Jill. She remarks that she’s surprised that Ariane is still on the show and she has to leave…and you know what, you should be surprised and pissed off. You are no better than an old Jersey lady that might go down as the worst cheftestant in Top Chef history to have lasted to episode 3. Must really suck to be you. (And right on cue, old Jersey decides to play the sympathy card to steal all the attention away from the leaving chef by crying into Crazy Eyes arms. Yikes…get her off this show!)

In summary: The Euros still seem like the ones to beat. Jeff is going to have to learn how to manage time better. Radhika…I’m starting to question why I chose her as a favorite prior to watching the shows. Eugene…come on and wow us like I know you can. Ariane can’t leave soon enough.

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Belated Weekend Roundup (Steve's Greek Review)

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Due to the craziness of work, wedding reception selection, OU vs Davidson, and general laziness, the weekend roundup post that was promised was never posted. And after some thought, there wasn't much that went on last weekend that really needed talking about.

Anyway, on Friday we went to Steve's Greek Cuisine on Newbury St. This is a place that every time we've walked by, the smells have always called for us to go in and eat, but due to the fact that we've always have eaten right before we walk by, we never go in. (What a run on sentence that was!) On our way to Daisy Buchanan's for their really cheap lunch, we decided to hit up the Greek place that we always pass by. There's not much to say. It was typical Boston Greek food, meaning that the food wasn't bad, it had all the typical "Greek" flavors, but it wasn't mind-blowingly good. The prices weren't the best ($7.50 for a gyro) and when the menu says homemade chips, expect to only get 3-6 chips on your plate. That's it...just 3-6 chips. If I had known that, I would have gotten a side of fries too. Some pics will be added later. My search for excellent Greek food in Boston continues. Steve's gets a disappointing 2.5 out of 5.

Steve's Greek Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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Top Chef Related

Comments (1) | Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend roundup coming later today. Got a review of a Greek place in Back Bay that was a disappointment coming with it.

Anyway, if you were like me and were wondering why Ted Allen wasn't on Top Chef, it might be because of his obligations to Food Network. Not only does he have his food detective show, but also a new food competition show that is similar to Top Chef:


Also, courtesy of Amuse-Biatch, is this the reason why there might not be any Bourdain on Top chef:


I really hope he does guest judge though.

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Top Chef S5, Ep1 (JP Recap)

Comments (2) | Friday, November 14, 2008

We start off the season in the greatest food mecca in the USA: NYC. I didn't realize that the previous 4 seasons were all in different cities. The cheftestants are introduced, but really only like 8 of them really get to talk, the others are just shown. Immedieatly off the ferry, the 17 (such an odd number) are set for their first quickfire challenge...and this one has a twist. The winner of course gets immunity, the loser gets kicked off before even getting into the kitchen. I LIKE IT!!!! Already there are some annoying people I want gone from my TV watching life. Patrick, Ariane, Lauren...they annoy me. I don't know why, but I really hate the fact that Patrick and Lauren know each other. I understand that the cooking world is smaller than it seems (yes there are 690K or so people working in the industry as Padma said, but Bourdain, Colichio, and Boulud have all mentioned in writing or in interviews how most cooks will run into each other and how small the industry really is), but I hate it on reality shows when out of a group of contestants a couple of people know each other and are friends. This was one of the reason's I couldn't stand the lesbian couple from last season. But I digress...

The quickfire challenge was first to peel 15 apples (the first 9 are safe), then brunoise the apples (the first 4 are safe), then the remaining 4 are given 20 minutes to cook an apple dish. The two friends, Patrick and Lauren really must know each other because they make freaking salads...SALADS!!!! As our friend Sarah said, that's something we can do. You are on a freaking cooking competition where you have to WOW the judges to stay on the show, and you cook a freaking SALAD?!?!?! IDIOTS! The other two, Radhika (one of my sight unseen favorites already in trouble...) and Leah make a pork apply chutney and an apple scallop dish and are both safe. I wish Padma and Tom would kick off both of these cheftestants, but it's only Lauren. (This is probably a good thing, because if Lauren stayed on the show, we would be overwhelmed by her whining about how her husband is in Iraq as she tries to play the sympathy card to stay afloat in the competition.)

The cheftestants then have to pull out a knife from the knife block and they pair off to cook a dish from the ethnic neighborhood listed on their knife. The chefs will be battling it out in pairs, with the winners being safe and the losers up for elimination. Jean George was the guest judge. This might be the first time I've seen JG without a young Asian lady (or 5) on his arm. Seriously. Every photo, every interview, every TV spot I've ever seen JG, he's surrounded by pretty Asian ladies. When one of the cheftestants remark that JG really knows his Asian...I'm not so certain they meant the cuisine. I'm not going to go all into details here, but Stefan (another one of my early choices to kick ass) wins and it's between Patrick and Ariane up for elimination. I like it when I can predict who's already going to go home before I even watch the show. Go me! Again, I wish they would have just let both of them go...I see nothing good out of either of them, nothing that screams innovation, nor great cooking skills. They choose Patrick, and we'll have to deal with the lady from a 4 star restaurant in Jersey for at least another show. (That brings up the question of what the hell is a 4 star restaurant in Jersey...just like Ted Mosby, I am not a big fan of Jersey, so obviously my bias is showing here. I do hear they make a mean fried hot dog though.)

Anyway, the good: I like the Europeans, Stefan and Fabio. I thought Fabio would be a douchebag, but I kinda like him. The accents are really what I like. These are the good "I might be straight, but I sound gay and your women will want me" European accents. Always good on TV. (Unlike the bad accent of say the Boston/New England accent. Seriously, have you ever walked around Boston or been on the T and seen an incredibly hot chick that you just want to take home and provide for? Then she opens her mouth and that annoying Revere or Melrose accent comes out and you just want to bash her head into a wall to shut her up? No? Am I the only one that feels that way about this area's accent? And I'm not advocating for abuse on women, just abuse on people that can't talk correctly.) One of my other unseen favorites was Jeff. He totally looks like he has the skills, but nearly screwed himself because he wasn't paying attention to time. My last unseen favorite was in the bottom of both challenges, so maybe her connection to Vikas Khanna didn't really translate as much as I thought it would. Gene, Hosea, Danny and Carla were very enjoyable as well. Normally someone like Danny (as Abby calls him, "Joey from Nuu Yawk") would bother the hell out of me, but he seemed pretty cool in the first episode.

Now for the bad: Team Rainbow. They already have a freaking shirt for them available on Bravo's website for you to buy. Holy crap!!! Seriously, not every season needs a freaking T-shirt! I don't ever recall CJ saying "Big Time" except for the reunion show...and they make a T-shirt for it. Reach much? Anyway, neither Patrick or Jamie did anything that I enjoyed, though I hold out hope that Jamie will wow us later. For some reason I think she has some chops and can do some interesting things. (One more thing about Team Rainbow, Bravo did the vote text again and it was basically who you liked better, Team Rainbow or the Europeans. I mean, has there been a more obvious lopsided vote since Barack kicked Mccain's ass? You know the Bravo viewership is going to vote for Team Rainbow. As Abby says, "The gays love Bravo and Bravo loves the gays." And some of you might say that being European is very similar to being gay, and you might be right, but not tonight my friends, not tonight. 70% for Team Rainbow.) Melissa...I don't like her haircut at all...that's probably not a reason to want her off the show, but it's not a good impression. And finally, Gail...I'm so sick of her. What does she bring to this show? (Abby did not like her dress, but I think it matched her face pretty well...as in UGLY!) Where was Ted Allen? Why not have that 3rd non-guest judge be a rotation of Rocco, Ripert, and Bourdain? That would be so much more enjoyable! I mean, you guys are in NYC...Ripert and Rocco have to be available, right?

Anyway, this seems to be a good season in the making. They show clips from future shows and so it seems that Rocco will be a guest judge at one point along with Martha Freaking Stewart! Anway, we'll be in for a good ride.

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We are lame

Comments (0) | Thursday, November 13, 2008

So we're pretty much old people right now. Although I'm not sure if that's even true because my grandparents are in their 80's and they stay up until at least 11pm every night. Anyway, we had every intention of staying awake for the Top Chef premiere. But around 9:45 we gave in. So very lame. But we will be watching tonight! (I love tivo!) and will post with our updates tomorrow or over the weekend!

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Not Food Related: Gap Coupon

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Here's a coupon for 30% off at all Gaps and Gap related stores (BR, Old Navy, etc):


Just in case you were looking for some clothes or x-mas gifts.

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Top Chef Predictions - Abby

Comments (1) | Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I too read/am reading the bios for the new chef-testants of Top Chef. I'm a huge fan of this show and I really hope this season is similar to Hung's season (Hung = <3). Last season was very disappointing and I hope Bravo redeems themselves (itself?) with a better season. Now I'm not a chef, but I am snarky and judgmental so I'm the perfect viewer. I'm the person that will quickly point out who sucked, even though if I were in that same situation I would suck/panic. Then again, I wouldn't actually put myself in this situation sooo...
Back to the judging.
I'm reading each person's bio as we speak. Or, really, as I write. I've just read Alex's. His stance makes him seem kind of d-baggish, but I'm excited that he loves to cook all things duck. Plus he was born in Madrid and all Spaniards are cool in my book, so now he gets to stay for another week.
Onto Ariane. I'm not sure if it's the lavender pants or the fact that she has a "4 star" restaurant...in, uh, Jersey... but I'm not a fan. We'll see if she makes it another week. Next!
Carla loves to cook with bacon and also loves to bake pies. We could pretty much be the same person. I like her already.
Danny is 26 but looks like he's 46...his motto is kind of lame. He's from Long Island and could possibly be the next "Joey from New York". We'll have to stay tuned to see if they're actually alike.
Fabio is from Italy, is opening a place to help kids, and is William Shatner's personal chef. 3 reasons to hate him, but I kind of like him. He might be my secret crush. We'll see.
Gene might be my favorite. He's self taught and worked his way up. His chain is ugly, but that can always be removed.
Jeff worked under Norman Van Aken. His restaurant is name DiLido. John Paul says he will forever be known as "dildo". I hope he stays around so we can keep referring to him as "dildo"
Lauren seems lame. And the fact that she works at the most "luxurious steakhouse in Cincinnati" is almost laughable. Maybe she'll prove me wrong, but I'm guessing she'll be one of the first to go.
Leah loves pork. I love pork. I hope she's not boring because I like her!
Patrick is from Quincy so I'll automatically cheer on another Masshole. I hope he doesn't, like all other Mass people on TV, make us look like jerks!
Radhika seems eclectic and likeable. I like how she describes her style of cooking as "globally eclectic with a huge spoonful of love." A huge spoonful of love!! How could you not cheer for her?
Stefan frightens me. Yikes! He looks scary. I would not want to cross him! It might be my fear, but I kind of like him. I hope he kicks some ass!
Hosea, Jamie, Jill, Melissa and Richard aren't exciting enough. They all seem easily forgettable.

So that's my breakdown. I'll update later this week to see if I was correct with any of my predictions.

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Top Chef Returns

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Top Chef returns tonight. I must admit, I didn't start watching this show until the Thanksgiving episode of Season 2. (Bourdain was the guest judge and I was very curious.) Needless to say, I got hooked. Season 3 was incredible TV...it was frustrating, enjoyable, and overall a good time. Very good TV. (I got sick of Dale towards the end...he was so condescending to everyone. Him and the tall dude CJ...just a bunch of jerks in my eyes. And the whole "Hung didn't tell us how to cook the dish correctly at Le Cirque, wah, wah, wah..." Of course he didn't, and any true competitor wouldn't either. This is a freaking competition ass-hats! And to insinuate that this shows that he's not a team player in a real kitchen...how is that even relevant right now? He's not trying to make the dinner rush at Per Se (where he was a fish specialist, meaning he's pretty f-ing talented), he's trying to win a competition. Highlight from the show was definitely the mis-en-place showdown. So awesome to actually see them showoff their tools and craftsmanship. And I'm pretty sure I could chop an onion quicker than the blond from Texas with the fake boobs...but I digress.) I immediately hated Season 4. Everyone and their mother had a faux hawk. The whole lesbian couple thing was annoying. (Don't get me wrong, I like watching a good lesbian couple just like the next person, maybe even more so, but these two people in particular were just so hard to watch or root for.) I didn't watch many of these episodes...only when Bourdain or Ripert guest judged did I turn the dial to it. Also, this show is on at like 10pm! I go to bed right after Futurama ends at 9:30pm. Very tough to go the extra hour and half to watch the show pimp out Gladware and crappy Toyotas and Kenmore kitchens. Why not have Viking do all the kitchens and drive Audi R8s if you are going to product placement us to hell? At least then I could see something I wouldn't normally see. And then they got these stupid poll questions, like, "Who has a crush on Tom?" or "Who do you think is not wearing underwear while they cook truffle oil and are mid-coitus with duck breast?" Who are these people that actually text in their votes? Of course, I'm going to be interested for the first few weeks. We'll get to sift through the chef-testants. We'll have the hot chick, the overly-gay man, the foreigner, the woman that doesn't say anything on the show for 3 weeks and Abby and I go "who the hell is she?", and of course the loser that gets kicked off the first show. Should be good times. We'll post here our thoughts week to week.

Some links to get you excited for top chef:






And of course you will have to go here for recaps and general hilarity:

(UPDATE: After quickly going over the bios, here are my thoughts. The favorites are probably Jeff (who worked with Van Aiken and who's current restaurant is called DiLido...so funny!), Radhika (who worked with Vikas Khanna), and Stefan (who helped open Bellagio...which means nothing really but I really like the Bellagio). The chefs with the best chance to be kicked off tonight are: Ariane(for some reason, I think her age is going to hurt her) and Patrick (a culinary student, so basically same reason as Ariane, just in reverse). I think Fabio is going to be the douchebag of the show. And finally, Gene and Jamie win the award for "Chefs I think might do interesting work". That is subject to change after I watch tonight.)

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If Only I Had The Money....

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Some people say dropping $1500 on dinner is a waste, and that it should go to charity, etc, etc...you know what? If I had that type of money, I'd totally would drop it on something like this. (It's my money, I can do whatever I want with it hippies!!!!) But seriously, people drop this type of cash on sporting events, artwork, and even hookers...and I can guarantee a 20 course meal will last longer than that experience. So yes, it's outrageous, it's crazy to drop that type of dough on food when people are starving and food banks need donations...but it's an experience I wouldn't pass up if I could be a part of it. Gotta enjoy life if you can before it passes you by.

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Some links:

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Not the greatest of articles, but it is about steak and beef:


Also, our friend and fellow foodie Sarah mentions that these are some of her favorite best food blogs :




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Rib Roast (part 2)

Comments (0) | Sunday, November 9, 2008

Here's pics of the dinner. Turned out really well, other than the jus was a complete disaster...just too oily and didn't take on the flavor like i wanted it too...oh well, learned something new.

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Rib Roast (Part 1)

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Earlier this year, while we were visiting my sister and bro-in-law in Chicago (we like to think of them as the wealthier, cooler versions of us...since they are just as much of foodies, yet can afford to go to all the places we could only dream of...though we did beat them to Per Se) they made us an incredible meal for dinner one night. It was yellow curry mussels (recipe here) and standing rib roast. I've been dying to make the rib roast for dinner one night, and tonight was the night.

Here is the recipe from my sister Tina:

preheat oven to 425
place roast fat side up on a rack in a roasting pan
roast till 110-120 for rare, 120-125 med-rare, 130-135 medium
est 15-20 min per pound
let stand for 15-30 min before carving

spice rub
2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1 tbsp dried thyme, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp back pepper

Here is how Andy gave the recipe:

Recipe-- buy large piece of meat (rib roast). if they offer to take the bone off, do so, but keep the bones with the meat during roasting (they can cut the bones, but keep it aligned/tied)-- bones==flavor. Rub generously with spices. Stick in oven. First at 450-500 to sear the outside and then turn down to 325-350 to cook. Use thermometer to check doneness. Wait 10 minutes with meat under foil. Eat.

Taking what they said, and what I've found on the web, here is the recipe I'm trying tonight:

Spice Rub:
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp garlic pepper
1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 cup of beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Rub rib roast and lightly drizzle with EVOO
3. Place rib roast into oven for 20 mins.
4. Tent the rib roast with foil and lower temperature to 350 degrees.
5. Medium Rare is 125 degrees.
6. Take out the rib roast and let it rest for 20 mins before eating.
7. Take the roasting pan out and place over the stove top and deglaze the pan with the beef broth, making sure to get all the fat drippings incorporated nicely
8. Bring to a boil and salt and pepper to taste.

Pics of the rib roast prior to spice rub and after while the oven preheats:

As a side, we are making baked potatoes, per Alton Brown:


Pics of finished product to come later.

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Weekend Update (Mela, CBS Sports Scene and Seiyo Reviews)

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Been a long week so there weren't many updates other than some links. We stayed in for most of this weekend because we've been lazy and tired and not really in the mood to go out.

On Wednesday, my buddy Vivek took me out to Mela for a late birthday dinner. I've never been there before, but had the idea that it was just an overpriced Indian place that was not any better than some of the cheaper counterparts in Cambridge along Mass Ave. I remember seeing reviews when Mela opened up a couple of years ago that it was overrated and overpriced. That day I looked at yelp to see what the latest reviews were, and they were encouraging...in fact, I actually got excited to go eat there after reading these reviews. (Add in that Vivek just ate there a week ago and really enjoyed it, and I had a feeling I'd get a good meal.) The prices aren't cheap for Indian food, ranging from $15-$25 and there is a vegetarian tasting for two for $45 and also some special hot stone meat cooking meal available. That kinda reminded me of Bo 7 Mon, but I wasn't really in the mood to give it a try. I went with the old standby, chicken tikka masala. This is how I judge most Indian restaurants: if the chicken tikka masala is good, then the whole restaurant is good, if it's bad, I won't be back. I realize that this dish is so common and probably easy to reproduce and is not a great way to judge a restaurant, but so be it. We started with the vegatable samosa, which was damn good. I love samosas so this was a good start. There were two dipping sauces available, one spicy and one sweet. Both were really good, but the samosa itself was so tasty it didn't need anything added to it. Our entrees came, Vivek got a vegetarian tikka masala, and both our orders came with a large bowl of rice. I ordered some naan as well. The portions were huge! Seriously huge! The serving bowls were cool too, large elliptical shaped white bowls that held our tikka masala. I always eat more rice and naan then I do the tikka masala, probably because of my Vietnamese heritage where we consume more rice than the actual entree. (This is actually a true statement...I remember when we would go eat out with my Chinese in-laws or we would go eat at a Chinese restaurant, that we would always have to order extra rice because the meals would only provide you one tiny bowl per person. The idea being that you fill up on the chicken, beef, or fish dish instead of the rice. Well, the poor Vietnamese didn't have the luxury to have the main course be so plentiful...or be able to afford those proteins to create those dishes, so they would stock up on rice and the rice was the main course.) In any case, Vivek inhaled his entire meal and I had half of mine leftover. Perfect to take home and give to Abby, which she ate the next day for lunch and said it was really, really good. Overall, a good experience at Mela. I give Mela a solid 3 out of 5. Now that I know the chicken tikka masala is really good, I'll go back and try something else next time...maybe the hot stone meat dinner. They have a lunch buffet too, just not sure if it's on weekends or during the week...I'll definitely have to hit that up.

Mela on Urbanspoon

Saturday we had a mission to get to Wrentham Premium Outlets before the crowds and traffic did. We got there and did some shopping, looking for x-mas presents and some new work clothes. After we got all of that out of our system (a few hours later) we were starving and wanted to check out the Patriot Place complex at Gillette Stadium. It was a short drive from Wrentham and we knew a Red Robin was there. Patriot Place is pretty nice. I hope it stays nice and clean and new for a while, and does not get run down. More shops and restaurants are opening soon and the free parking is definitely a plus. Some co-workers of mine live out near the Foxboro area and they have told me how they make plans and reservations to go out there during the weekends and how crazy and crowded it gets. Well that's pretty cool for the suburbanites to have a nice little place to go to on the weekend that is trendy and hip. Because we had burgers for dinner on Friday (Abby did a good job with these) we chose not to go to Red Robin and give the CBS Sports Scene a try. Our thoughts on this place were the following: its a big chain sports bar/restaurant that will be loud and have tons of TVs flashing in our face and the food will just be like Chilies or Applebees...nothing special. We walk in and we see a line of people waiting...not a good sign. Then again, we saw tons of tables in the bar area open...maybe we can just grab a seat there. We go up to the hostess and after she asks us how we are doing, I say, "I need to speak to your manager right now!" She nearly shits a brick!!!! So funny!!! I laugh it off and say we just need a table for two. It's about a 30 minute wait to eat downstairs in the restaurant area, but we can be seated immediately in the first floor bar area, where there is only a limited menu. This is fine by us and we are seated. Yes this place is loud, and there are tons of TVs showing college football games (which is a plus for me) and there are also other monitors showing highlights from various sporting events and also David Letterman. I thought since we were right near Gillette, that we would be overwhelmed with Patriot crap...but we weren't...that was an unexpected surprise. Our waitress was nice and she came over and took our drink orders while we looked over the menu. I saw some nachos go out along with some burgers and fries. The fries looked damn good, so I had to get something that came with fries. Again, if we didn't have burgers the night before, I would have gotten the Kobe Sliders. Decently priced around $10. In fact, everything was decently priced in the bar area: $7-$14. Not too bad. Abby got the Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Quesadilla and I got the Grilled Chicken Sandwich. My sandwich is described as: Fresh Mozzarella, Ripe Tomato, Boston Lettuce,
Red Onion, Pesto, Black Olive Spread, Ciabatta Bread/ I normally don't get chicken sandwiches unless if they are fried because I'm always worried the chicken would be dry. Sure enough, my sandwich comes out and it's sliced in half and it looks very dry. I take a bite and...and...and it's not dry at all! In fact, this was a damn good sandwich. It was very light and the pesto and mozzarella added a lot to this chicken sandwich. The fries were also very, very good. (I love shoe string fries and these fries remind me of some of my favorites at Shyltzy's in the U-district in Seattle. http://www.shultzys.com/ If you are ever in Seattle, this is a great place!) Anyway, Abby seemed very happy with her quesadilla, and my meal was very good. CBS Sports Scene...you might be the best of the sports bar/restaurant chains! The only hiccup was when one of the runners came over with a burger and a quesadilla and asked us if these were ours. Obviously the couple who is currently eating a quesadilla and a chicken sandwich would have ordered another quesadilla and a burger. It was for the table behind us...and this could have been seen as a simple mistake, but come on!!!! Get your shit right!!! Anyway, I give CBS Sports Scene a very, very surprising 3 out of 5. (It would have been a 3 and 1/2, but that mistake by the runner cost them. That and the fact that the waitresses wore way too much clothes...this is a sports bar/restaurant...let's see some skin ladies!) This is a review of just the bar, since we didn't eat at the restaurant area. Which, come to think about it, not sure I ever need to...if the seating is faster, I don't see why I need to experience a larger menu...the bar area had everything I needed.

Finally, on Saturday night, after my Sooners whooped up A&M, I was mad hungry and in the mood for some sushi. We went to Seiyo on Washington Street. This is a very good, well priced sushi place in South End. Located across from Toro/Mike's Diner on Washington street, I've never seen Seiyo ever crowded or ultra busy. I don't understand that either, since every time we've gone it's been a good meal. I think there was an issue with Seiyo getting a liquor license, but they have one now. We ordered a bottle of white, a napa valley Sauvignon blanc for $35. Seeing as it's $10 a glass, we knew we'd get more than 3 glasses out of a bottle. Abby ordered the edamame and the Spider Maki Roll, which if you knew her is very adventurous. (She normally just gets california rolls or philadelphia rolls.) I went with the Crispy Salmon Skin roll and the Red Dragon Maki Roll (which is a spice tuna roll wrapped in tuna sashimi). We scarfed it all down in a matter of minutes. It was all very good. Vivek joined us shortly and helped us finish the bottle. He and Abby ordered another roll each and that came out quickly. The service was impeccable. Any time our water glasses or wine glasses were empty, they would replenish the glasses quickly. Always with a smile, which in this day and age is very rare. Overall, I give Seiyo a "very good and you should go there now" 3 out of 5. Seiyo also delivers, so maybe that's why it's always not crowded...who knows...I just hope they are doing well enough to keep the prices reasonable.

Seiyo on Urbanspoon

Tonight I'm making a huge dinner: standing rib roast with jus and baked potato. I'll have recipe and pics later.

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It's Restaurant Week But With A Perk...

Comments (0) | Wednesday, November 5, 2008

So if you wanna eat a three course menu for lunch or dinner for $24 and $35 respectively, there's a new promotion going on via opentable:


So you get double reward points and a good meal at some good restaurants. Again, I'm not the biggest fan of restaurant week meals, but getting double points for opentable is always a nice thing. (Even better if it was 1,000 points...)

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Most Expensive US Restaurants

Comments (0) | Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Link to a list of most expensive restaurants:


I was a little sad to see Per Se didn't make the list, so that I could say I've been to at least one of these restaurants. But to say L'Espalier is one of the most expensive seem ridiculous. You don't have to drop down over $200 on a tasting menu at this restaurant, like you would at French Laundry or Masa or Per Se, so I don't understand why Per Se wasn't on this list. Hell, our bill was like $700 when we splurged and went there...I don't think I'd ever drop over $150 at L'Espalier.

Anyway, I thought the list was very incomplete...I would have assumed a Boulud would have been on that list.

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Happy Erection Day!!! (That's asian-ese for "election")

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Time for me to go off on some rants:

1. Its 9:00AM on a Tuesday and I’m all of a sudden in the mood for a doughnut. Maybe a chocolate one with cream filling, or maybe a chocolate cake style one…who knows. I go downstairs to the cafeteria and THEY ARE OUT OF DOUGHNUTS!!! So I go to the little store down the hall and THEY ARE OUT OF DOUGHNUTS!!!! I have a feeling that even though I’ve already had Nong Shim noodles for breakfast (the breakfast of champions) that the reason I’m craving doughnuts is I heard on the radio that if you wear your “I Voted” sticker at some places, you can get free stuff. Seeing as I’m a convicted felon who lost my vote 7 years ago in what I still claim as an accident and not my fault (Judge Brewer of the 7th district court of Kingstown County, IL didn’t agree obviously) I do not get to participate in getting free coffee or free doughnuts at random places.

Various sites list what freebies there are. You can follow these links for yourself and find out:




Anyway, this has nothing to do with the fact that a building that holds nearly 2000 workers would be out of doughnuts at 9am. I spent the last few minutes walking up and down the hallways seeing if anyone brought extra dunkin doughnuts to their morning meetings, but alas, there were none…so now I’m staring at candy that Abby gave me and wondering if it’s too early to have a few pieces.

2. Speaking of office food, why is it that whenever I see a box of pizza left out by the copier at 2pm, knowing that its leftover from a meeting that probably started around 11:30 and the pizza is no more edible than the cardboard that holds it, I’ll still go and grab a slice or two? Yesterday I did this and immediately regretted this decision halfway through the pizza. Yucky…yet, if there’s leftover pizza there today, you know I’ll grab a slice.

3. I have a feeling that the reason I’m so fat and out of shape is probably summed up nicely by the previous two bullets…

4. How I Met Your Mother was horrible last night. Absolutely horrible. If that was my first time to watch an episode, I would have wanted that show to get cancer and get cancelled on the spot. Lets get off this crappy Ted stuff and get back into Barney, Barney, hot ass chicks, Barney and more Barney.

5. Simpsons got its highest ratings in over 5 years for it’s treehouse of horrors special. I watched that episode, first full Simpsons episode I’ve watched in probably 5-7 years…and it sucked. It was horrible. There has not been a good Simpsons episode since 1999. This is horrible crap that should have ended over 5 years ago.

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Pigalle (JP Review)

Comments (1) | Sunday, November 2, 2008

Let me preface this review by saying that we went to Pigalle during restaurant week a couple of years ago and had a great, great meal. The service was great, the food was beyond tasty, a very classic French bistro menu, and the atmosphere was very intimate and romantic. If we had this blog back then, I would have given it a 3 1/2 or a 4. Sadly, this was not the same Pigalle that I remembered.

Looking around online at menus for my birthday dinner, I knew I wanted to a restaurant that was holding a prix fixe menu or a special chef tasting menu that was under $50. A tall order, but there were some tasty, or so it seemed, choices. Hamersleys is currently holding a $40 3 course meal, and places like Salt and EVOO were having their midweek chef's tasting specials as well. Then I saw that Pigalle has their entire menu up for a 3 course dinner at $35. Now if Hamersleys had their famous roasted chicken on their special menu, I would have opted to go there, but they didn't, so Pigalle it was.

We got their a little early because we caught the Silver Line immediately. As we walked past the windows, we saw that the restaurant was basically empty. We walked in and there were a few people standing around the host stand...normally a bad sign. We were seated immediately at a very cute booth that faced out onto the rest of the restaurant.

We ordered all three courses at once. I went with the Steak Taretare (a $5 supplement), the Coq Au Vin, and the Apple and Cranberry Cobbler.

And so we sat with our drinks...when bread came. As many of you have probably read, Pigalle gives one piece of bread per person. A bread man comes around and places said bread onto your plate along with some butter, which was the typical french butter that was slightly cheesy in flavor. The butter was good, bread, nothing special.

Our appetizers came, and my Steak taretare came garnished with a soft fried egg, capers, some picked peppers and a small copper pot of waffle cut fries. The steak taretare was not the best steak taretare I've ever had, but was not bad at all. It just seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary. The waffle fries were slightly over salted, but cooked perfectly and crispy. The soft fried egg was clearly the highlight of this dish. I wonder how they cooked it...if they soft boiled an egg and took off the shell and then battered and fried it would be my guess...Abby got the House-cured Salmon to start...I'll let her talk about it.

Now we waited a long time for them to clear our dishes and then another long wait for our main course. No biggie because we were just enjoying a night out to ourselves, but something to note in a not quite busy restaurant.

I was pretty pumped for my main course of Coq Au Vin. I've been wanting to try this classic French dish for a long time. Basically ever since I saw Alton Brown cook it up in a Good Eats episode a few years ago. I've seen it on the menu at a few places, but I just never felt right about ordering it. Tonight I figured would be one of my best chances to get this dish done properly. I was after all dining at a restaurant that specializes in French classics. On the menu was also the steak frites that I usually order, but I really wanted to branch out tonight. So I went for it. Abby went for the Crispy Half Duck.

So my Coq Au Vin tasted like...well, it tasted like slow braised chicken. Something I've cooked many times before. Maybe it's because I hyped up this dish so much in my mind. Maybe it's because I have a strong belief that meals that have origins as being poor people's food usually turns out to be some of the best meals in the world and this is the one time where that belief is wrong. Maybe Pigalle's Coq Au Vin is nothing special...who knows, but this was just a very, very average dish. The chicken was cooked very well, the mashed potatoes were pretty tasty. The carrots and pearl onions, classic additions to Coq Au Vin, were good, but not great. I just didn't get the magic I was expecting with my first bite. Needless to say, I was slightly disappointed.

After they cleared our plates (another long wait) we sat and I soon realized that I was extremely full. Even though my first two courses weren't the greatest tastes I've ever had, the portions were a good size. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to eat my dessert. Which finally came after another long wait.

This was the highlight of my meal. The apple and cranberry cobbler was very good. The cobbler crust was the perfect combination of crispy and crumbly and the vanilla ice cream on top made it all the better. A very good dessert, that I sadly could only have 3 or 4 bites of because I was way too full. Abby had no problem eating up all her Creme Bruelee and seemed to be absolutely in love with her dessert. So at least the meal ended in a good note.

I read a bunch of chowhounds and yelps of how Pigalle has seemed to be going in a downward direction and was just hoping that those reviewers just happened to go on a bad night, maybe during the summer when others have mentioned that the cooking staff leaves to cook on the Cape or the Hamptons. Sadly our experience on my birthday night were no better than those reviews. I give Pigalle a disappointing 2 and 1/2 out of 5.

Pigalle on Urbanspoon

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