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NYC FOOD TRIP DAY 2 and 3 (Amy Ruth, Spotted Pig, Aquavit Cafe, Congee Village)

Comments (0) | Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday travels have made posting difficulty. Here's some pics from our 2nd and 3rd day in NYC:

Amy Ruth's



A famous soul food restaurant in Harlem. I guess my buddy Nabeel sees tour buses on Sundays lined up outside Amy Ruth's full of Europeans and Midwestern Americans taking a tour of the famous churches and choirs and eating damn good soul food. We asked the very friendly and fast waiter what we should get and he said Chicken and Waffles...neither of us were in the mood for waffles, though they did look and smell great, so we got the fried chicken breakfast instead. Fabulous! This is what Hen House should strive to be. I give Amy Ruth's a 3 1/2 out of 5. (It would have gotten a 4, but i did get a peice of hair in my home fries. Now I know what you are all saying, why didn't I bring this up to the manager. To be honest, I didn't even care. I've gotten hair, bugs, other stuff in my food before and normally I just remove the foreign object and continue eating. If I was at a 4 star place, or some ultra trendy and swank place I would have made a stink. But this hair could have been one of Abby's that was on my sweater I was wearing, since she likes to wear that sweater too. I didn't want to dock the restaurant a full point for this mishap since it didn't really affect my meal much, but it should be known.)

Amy Ruth's on Urbanspoon


Spotted Pig



The famous Spotted Pig! Owned partially by Mario Batali and with April Bloomfield as head chef, this is a gastropub made famous by all the celeb chefs that visit frequently. (I also didn't realize Michelin has given the Spotted Pig a 1 star rating!!!) So we knew we were in for a damn good lunch. The waiters and servers were way too hip to be real. I mean, they were just dressed so cool and trendy. If I dressed liked that, I would have been beaten up and made fun of...but these guys were just so hip. Abby and I split the hamburger with shoestring fries. Nabeel gets one for himself. (We did feel a little guilty bringing our Muslim friend to a place called Spotted Pig, but after one quick glance at the brunch menu, there wasn't much pig available.) Next to us a European couple get their side order of shoestring fries...and it's a damn lot. The amount of shoestring fries you get with your hamburger is quite a bit already, so the side order is really for 2 or more people. Our burgers come out and it was damn juicy and freakishly good. I mean, there is no place in Boston I can get a burger this good...no place. Which really, really sucks. If I lived in the West Village, I would easily visit the Spotted Pig at least once a week if not more! The only knock on the gastropub is the coed bathrooms. I'm ok with coed bathrooms (hell I have one in my condo) but the fact that the stalls were sized for anorexic models. Very claustrophobic indeed. I give Spotted Pig a 4 1/2 out of 5.

Spotted Pig on Urbanspoon


Aquavit

I had a lot I wanted to say about Aquavit, but due to my holiday travels I wasn't able to update the blog as much as I would have liked. Abby ordered the smorgasbord and I got the Swedish Holiday Plate (Julbord) allowing us to taste a lot of different Swedish bites. We figured this was the best way to judge what Aquavit and Swedish food was all about. Nabeel was all set to get the meatballs, until he was told there was pork in it, so he went with the chicken over mashed potatoes.



This was our complimentary starter, a salmon pate. Pretty good.



This was the cold plate of my Swedish Julbord dinner. Some hits and some misses...basically good, just nothing special. It came with some sort of hot wine drink which I did not like, but Abby did, so I gave it to her.




Abby's Smorgosbord dinner. Some similar bites that I had, along with an oyster and some other items.



Nabeels chicken dish...it looked really good and Nabeel said it tasted pretty good.




The last of my Julbord, the first picture being Jansson's Temptation. Some sort of potato dish. Again, this was basically all good, but nothing special.

We asked if Marcus Samuelsson was in so that we could take a picture with him, but he just left for the holidays. Bummer. While I was disappointed in Swedish cuisine, I cannot say I was disappointed in Marcus Samuelsson. I believe I just don't have the palate to enjoy Swedish cuisine, but when done by a master such as Marcus, I can enjoy certain flavors of the cuisine. While it may be against what he is all about, I wouldn't know since I've never met him nor have talked to him, I'd love to taste his Ethiopean heritage or maybe his own version of French cuisine. Taking the Samuelsson out of Swedish food would be a bad thing indeed, for I'd probably never eat Swedish food (other than Ikea hot dogs) again. I give Aquavit a 3 out of 5.

Aquavit on Urbanspoon

Congee Village




Before our food arrived, I asked Nabeel if he had ever ordered food off a menu, thinking it had no pork in it, only to have the dish arrive and have pork. He said he has and he'd return the dish and ordered something else. Sure enough, after our little conversation, Nabeel's chicken and mushroom dish comes out with Chinese Pork Sausage in it. Luckily he ate a lot of the Chicken and Mushroom Congee I had ordered and some of Abby's Sesame Chicken. The other congee I ordered was Duck and Meatballs and it was fantastic. Both congees were in fact. Abby liked her Sesame Chicken. As always, I've never had a bad meal here, though sadly I feel bad my buddy Nabeel didn't get what he wanted. I give Congee Village a 3 1/2 out of 5.

Congee Village on Urbanspoon


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NYC FOOD TRIP DAY 1 (Momofuku Ssam, Perilla, Chicken and Rice)

Comments (1) |

After a long drive, that got really slow and scary due to weather once we hit Grenwich, CT, we arrived into a snow covered NYC. We drive straight to our first destination.

Momofuku Ssam.



Ssam is a sort of Korean burrito usually eaten at a street vendor. Knowing this, we looked on the menu...and couldn't find the ssam anywhere on there. We asked the waiter what we should order, thinking he would tell us where the ssam was, but instead he lists off 5-6 items that all sound amazing. Momofuku Ssam is very similar to Myers and Chang here in Boston: small and large plates that you can share with each other, a sort of Asian tapas. We were sitting at a very long bar, with many smaller tables behind us. Once we sat down, I immedieatly knew I would like this place. First the bar had hooks underneath, a big plus. Second, the bar stool was the best bar stool ever! It was solid wood with a sloped foot holder. If you've sat on as many bar stools as I have, you can tell why this is another huge plus. Very comfortable indeed. There is a daily prix fix lunch for $28 and your choices are the following:

kimchi apple salad OR seasonal pickles OR buns

grilled branzini OR spicy rice cakes OR turkey paillard

blonde pie OR pb & j

Abby ordered the steamed buns, the spicy rice cakes and the PB&J dessert. I ordered the cured hamachi and sichuan beef tendon. Of course we were sharing all of it.



The steamed buns came out first. The description says: pork belly, hoisin, cucumber, scallions. And boy was this fabulous! This was one of my favorite dishes the entire weekend, and that's saying something because we did not eat one bad item at all. The bun was the type of bun that one would get with peking duck. The pork belly was fatty and delicious, just melting in your mouth. The hoisin and cucumber was the right amount as to not overpower the dish. A great way to start this lunch.




Next up was the cured hamachi with edamame and horseradish. I'm not sure if I've had hamachi before, though I think I have. These pieces were so delicate, that they were slightly difficult to pick up with chopsticks. No matter. It was tasty with or without the horseradish sauce. I couldn't tell if wasabi was mixed in as well in the horseradish, but I would think so.





Sichuan beef tendon with green mango and peanuts were next. I was expecting this to be similar to the Vietnamese Goi Salad, and in some ways it was but not quite. At first, I don't think I liked this dish very much, but the more and more I ate, it really grew on me. Also, I was very surprised that Abby was eating beef tendon without any care. She said she tried not to think about what she was eating...the way she scarfed down the beef tendon, I would assumed it worked. The beef tendon was used as sort of a noodle like texture in this cold dish. The green mango and peanuts were the right compliment to the beef tendon. After we finished eating it, I noticed I wanted more...guess first impressions can change once you continue eating.



Our final dish was the spicy pork sausage & rice cakes with Chinese broccoli and crispy shallots. I totally was expecting crispy rice balls with sausage mixed in, but as you can tell by the photo above, it was nothing like that at all. What looked like a big mess, was in fact a spicy and scrumptious dish. We had to pull out some of the chilies so that we wouldn't accidently bite into them while eating. This was a dish that I would want after a night of drinking. It was hearty, warm and very, very good.



Our dessert was the PB&J. Now this was a great way to finish our lunch. It wasn't so large that we couldn't finish, but we could both share it with 2-3 bites each.

Momofuku Ssam is a definite must to try out if you are in NYC. The food is good and the atmosphere is cozy and unpretentious. This is the sort of place I wish was in Boston. I'd go every other week, easily. The only knock is the prices, which were maybe a dollar or two higher per dish than I would have liked, but it's worth it. There was another diner sitting next to us enjoying the Banh Mi sandwich. This was made with ham & chicken liver terrine. I have issues with spending $10 on a sandwich that should cost $2, but I'd be willing to give David Chang a chance on his rendition of the Vietnamese sandwich. Overall I give Momofuku Ssam a 4 out of 5.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Perilla

You all know why we went to Perilla. Top Chef. Harold Dieterle was the winner of the first season, a season I really didn't watch. (I didn't get into Top Chef until the middle of season 2.) However, Abby loved Harold and said he was amazing. Watching various episodes on reruns and I have to agree that he definitely seemed to have some serious chops. Would we have found out about Perilla if we didn't know about the reality show winning chef? Probably not. It's located on Jones street off of West 4th Street and we probably would never have been able to locate it unless if we were specifically looking for it...meaning, unless we lived in the neighborhood, we'd probably never know about it. Thank god for reality TV I guess. I'm sure Harold probably enjoys the attention too, allowing for foodies and wanna-be foodies to find his restaurant due to exposure on Bravo.

As we walked into a very handsome dining area, at a very early dining time of 6:15 (no other time was available on such short notice), there is a bar to the right and some nice light work hanging above smaller tables to the left.



We knew that there was one item we had to order: the duck meatballs. They were amazing! I wish we didn't run out of bread before our appetizer arrived, so we could have used it to soap up all of the yummy broth. We were instructed to break the quail egg on top and mix it all together. I'm not really sure what that adds to the broth, maybe it thickens it, maybe it adds a lot of flavor...either way, it was tasty. The meatballs themselves were very moist and juicy. Maybe a little fatty because it was duck, but I like a little fat with my dishes, so it was perfect for me.




For our mains, Abby got:

Roasted Bacon Wrapped Game Hen
spaetzle, chestnuts, persimmons & pomegranate molasses

I ordered:

Poached Maine Lobster
pea greens, crispy shallots & coconut milk froth

Normally I would have gotten the Hanger Steak or the Duck Breast, but I always get steak and we just had duck meatballs, so I decided to go with something new. (I never, ever, ever order lobster at a restaurant.) After seeing a hanger steak dish go to our neighbor, I really wished I would have ordered that. It looked incredible. That's not to say my lobster was bad. It was perfectly cooked and tasty. The coconut milk froth was a little confusing though. I'm not the biggest fan of foams, it really does look like spit to me, but this wasn't too bad. I could tell he was trying to tie in the lobster flavor with the coconut milk flavors, and it really does go well together. I feel like something was slightly missing though from making this dish perfect...not sure. Abby's bacon wrapped (two of the greatest words in the English dictionary) game hen was very, very good. I had a couple of bites and I could tell Abby was really enjoying her dish.



We were stuffed and chose not to get dessert. However, a couple of brownie bites were given to us as compliments on the house. I wish I could say it was only us who got them, but it looked like everyone else had received this nice going away gift.

Now comes our geekiness...We wanted to know if Harold was cooking. He was. We wanted to know if we could take a picture. We could. Abby freaks out. I'm pretty excited that we can go back into the kitchen. I love professional kitchens and when we went to Per Se last year, I was pissed I didn't ask for the kitchen tour. So we head back there and there he was, Top Chef Season 1 winner Harold, expiditing dinner. We thanked him and the kitchen for a wonderful meal, we asked if we could take a picture, he said sure.



Then I made a remark that I didn't think was bad, but Abby said it could have came off insulting. From the TV show, I seriously thought Harold was like 6'8. When we were taking our picture, I said that to him. He said he hears that all the time. However, Harold, if you are reading this, I apologize if I insulted you. That dinner was incredible and the next chance we get to come back, we will.

I give Perilla a very strong 4 out of 5.

Perilla on Urbanspoon

Since our dinner was somewhat early, we had some time to kill before meeting up with our friend Nabeel at 10. We asked the hostess at Perilla what's a good bar in the area, and she mentioned the Blind Tiger. A local spot that had tons of beer on tap and in bottles and it was just down the street. Sounds good to us, since it was freaking cold and the sidewalks were slushy and icy. We enter the Blind Tiger and it was PACKED! Dammit...I was hoping we could sit down at the bar and have a few without being pushed and prodded while people ordered drinks, but nope. Oh well, there are tons of beers, so we decided to give it a shot. I could not get the attention of the bartenders to save my life. I tried one end for like 10 mins...nothing. I asked kindly if i could sneak in between a couple and waited for another 10 mins...nothing. Finally Abby got a seat at the bar, but we had to wait to order as we got passed over by people who just showed up. We get our beers finally and it was slightly uncomfortable. While we drank, we noticed the menu. This was no ordinary bar menu. First, there was a cheese plate paired with one of the many beers. There were tiny bites of caviar and deviled eggs. This was an interesting bar menu indeed. If we had not just eaten, I would have gotten a sandwich and a small bite or two. In any case, we decided one beer was fine and left to find another spot while we killed some time.

Blind Tiger on Urbanspoon

Walking around in NYC in the freezing cold with horrible sidewalk conditions and dress shoes that have next to no grip is a bad idea. We walked around Greenwich Village for a while trying to find a decent spot...after 30 mins or so, I decided the next bar we see we go in, just to get out of the cold. We were on the corner of Gay and Christopher and we arrived at a bar called Pieces. Outside of it, Abby asked me if I was sure I'd be ok going into this bar, since it obviously was a gay bar. I honestly didn't care and really, why should I. I just wanted a beer and to get out of the cold. So we entered, got a little table by the window and ordered a couple of beers. Abby clearly was enjoying seeing the 95% naked men being shown on the screen. I just realized how out of shape I was watching them. The place was dirty, and the bathroom smelled horribly. But overall, it was a decent spot to get out of the cold and get a drink. Once we finished our beers, it was time to meet up with Nabeel for some world famous Chicken and Rice.



53rd and 6th is home to the best Halal Chicken and Rice stand in all of NYC. At least according to our friend Nabeel, who happens to know a few things about good food. Normally there's at least a 45 minute line. Maybe it was the cold, or that it was still early, but there was only a few people in front of us. We got the chicken and rice platter ($6) and proceeded to go to the Starbucks across the Hilton to eat. OMG!!!! This was some damn good street food. It was incredible. The white sauce (I think it was some sort of ranch sauce) was perfect for the chicken and rice. The hot sauce I didn't touch because Nabeel's friend mentioned how hot it was. Abby and I scarfed it down, regardless of the fact that we just ate our self crazy at Perilla a couple of hours ago. If you are in NYC and are in for some late night eats (only open from 7pm to 4am), hit up 53rd and 6th. It'll be the food stand with the long line. (There's one on the other side that had no customers at all...I wonder how they stay alive.) As my buddy Nabeel said, you can tell this is some good food because they have their own plastic bags. Not the generic White "Thank You" bags or the Black "I just got something from Chinatown" bag, but a Halal Chicken and Rice bag for your food. They even have their own website:

http://www.53rdand6th.com/index.html

I give Halal Chicken and Rice on 53rd and 6th a 4 out of 5.

More on our NYC trip later.


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ToP Chef S5, Ep6 (JP Recap)

Comments (0) | Thursday, December 18, 2008

Aight, I’ve been saying this the last few episodes: this cast of cheftestants suck! Like, they royally suck! I’m pretty sure the line cooks at a place like Intermission Tavern would do better than half these so-called chefs. Now, I don’t think all of these cheftestants are all bad though…just that the product they are placing out for us viewers (and apparently the judges) is utter crap. The Euros should be dominating! Jeff definitely has a vast knowledge of food and can clearly make complex dishes…I’m just not understanding why it’s not happening for him. I mean, seriously, how can you let someone like Ariane beat you in this sort of competition. All she has done is cooked the basic of basic foods. Granted, she has proven to do them well, but you should not be winning this competition for TOP CHEF by just cooking turkey and lamb well…especially if you weren’t the one that made the flavors for the lamb. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, so onto this week’s craptacular episode.

So in the beginning they show Jersey herself talking about how awesome she is…blah. Hey bravo, you got enough ugly middle aged women on your Desperate Housewives show, no need to be showcasing this one as well! Then there’s a little snippet of the Euros, being totally awesome. How could you not like/root for these two? Then they show Hosea (with a T-Mobile Sidekick! I need to go get one now, along with some Glad-ware!) apparently being able to talk on the phone. I didn’t know they were allowing cheftestants the ability to converse with the outside world. But then we learn that Hosea’s dad is sick and he’s allowed to chat to catch up. Look, I ain’t got a heart of stone or anything like that, but COME ON!!!! I don’t really care that you and Leah are trying to cheat on your significant others. I don’t really care that Alex is missing out on his wedding planning. And now I don’t really care that your dad is sick. I do hope he gets better and can beat cancer, but I’m watching this show to see your food and cooking chops, not learn your life history. (That’s not really fair to take this out on Hosea…I should be blaming Bravo for it all…but a part of me wonders if these cheftestants will go to any lengths just to get their story out there.) Anyway, onto the quickfire challenge: making a one-pot holiday dish that is judged by Martha Stewart. Now all the cheftestants go crazy for Martha, speaking of how great her and her empire is…and I gotta say, I don’t see it. I admire Martha for her empire completely, but as someone wanting to be a Top Chef, is Martha Stewart really someone you want to hold your candle to? I understand if you wanted to be a branded chef, that she should be a role model…but to be a branded chef, it all starts with what makes you a chef: your food! In any case, Jersey goes off and talks about how both her and Martha are from Jersey and how she’ll try to use that to her advantage (making it the first time anyone on reality TV show had tried that tactic…most others have tried to hide their Jersey roots because of shame). The other cheftestants explain what a one-pot meal is and some mention how hard it is…really? Abby and I cook one-pot meals all the time. Ming Tsai does at least one one-pot dish on every Simply Ming episode. This seems like it should be a staple of a chef’s repertoire. In any case, the losers are Euguen, Fabio and Jeff. Dammit, two of my favorites and one of my wildcard in the bottom. The winner turns out to be Jersey (god dammit!) for making filet mignon and cauliflower puree. Seriously…that was the winning dish. Now I know a thing or two about steaks, and filet mignon is the easiest of the steaks to cook. It’s all about the product. All you do is season it with some salt and pepper and some extra virgin olive oil and sear it on all sides and you are done. Let the meat speak for itself. So you gotta ask yourself, was the cauliflower puree all that great? It must have been to push Jersey above Jamie (sea scallops and kale) and Hosea (paella). Think about that…a simple steak plate (which can hardly be considered the hardest one-pot wonder meal) beat out paella? I mean, come on! Paella has a million things going on in it, plus the fact that it was cooked under 45 minutes! UGH! All this means is Jersey wins immunity and I’m forced to stare at her for at least another freaking week!

Then the Harlem Choir comes and the cheftestants have to pull from the knife block and predictably the number on the knife represents one of the 12 days of x-mas. This is a tough challenge. I could probably think of a few things for some of the days of x-mas, but some are really, really tough. Good job on the cheftestants for tying in their dish to the theme. There was some drama of a refridgerator not being closed correctly, ruining Hosea and Radhika's dishes. But in the spirit of x-mas (filmed probably in July) all the cheftestants help out to get the dishes complete. This was the point I figured no one was going home. No way the story of all of them helping out combined with the fact it's an x-mas special mean anyone's going home.

At the charity event, an AIDS fodation, the guests are given red ribbons to place by their favorite dish. Hosea and Jeff win over big, with the ladies liking them and their dishes. Hosea even flirts with a blonde that is wasted and wants to bone, which gets Leah (still not seeing that great rack) all jealous. They do realize their significant others are watching this right now...if they are still together with them I guess. Here's a list of all the dishes made (courtesy to TWOP):

Twelve drummers drumming: Stefan makes a creamy chicken pot pie
Eleven pipers piping: Hosea makes pork loin with chipotle mashed potatoes with apple brandy jus
Ten lords a leaping: Jeff makes seared Halloumi and Kassiere cheese with roasted beets and pears
Nine ladies dancing: Fabio makes sweet corn and roasted pepper crab cake
Eight maids a milking: Melissa makes gorgonzola and NY strip steak on sourdough crostini with cranberry vinaigrette
Seven swans a swimming: Jamie makes crudo of sea scallop in vichyssoise
Six geese a laying: Ariane makes deviled eggs six different ways
Five golden rings (people coming in from other rooms for that part): Eugene makes poisson cru with pineapple ring and Yukon Gold potato chip
Four calling birds: No one
Three French hens: Leah makes braised guinea hen with butternut squash on brioche
Two turtledoves: Carla makes braised chicken with duxelles and mushroom cap
A partridge in a pear tree: Radhika makes braised duck leg on brioche with pear chutney

Hosea wins and Jamie, Eugene and Melissa are all the losers. But in the kindness of Colichio's heart (and also because of his major disappointment) he tells them all that everyone is safe this week and that they all need to step it up. He calls out Jersey's Deviled Eggs and wonders aloud if they expect to win with dishes like that. I applaud Tom for speaking out to this group. As a viewer, obviously I can't eat their food to really judge them, but it really looks like they are sucking it up. This is TOP CHEF!!!! Next week Tom tells them to cook their best dish. AWESOME!!! I love the fact that this will truly show off how good (or bad, I'm looking at you Jersey) their cooking chops are.


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It's Going To Be A NYC Weekend

Comments (0) | Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We are taking a little trip to NYC this weekend. Going to visit a friend (and fellow foodie) and hit up some good restaurants. It's been over a year since we've gone to NYC, and I blame that on my siblings for moving out of the city to live on the West Coast for that.

We already have a few spots lined up. Since we are broke saving up for our wedding, there will be no $1K trip to Masa or $500 trip to Le Bernardin, though one day maybe we'll go. We have reservations for Friday night at Perilla. Those Top Chef fans out there will know that to be Season 1 winner, Harold, restaurant. Saturday night we have reservations at Aquavit Cafe. Aquavit is of course Marcus Samuelsson's place and it's main dining room is too expensive for us this weekend, but the Cafe menu is just right up our alley. Those not familiar with Marcus, he's the famous Ethiopian/Swedish chef that you can see on episodes of Simply Ming and other chef shows. His wiki bio is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Samuelsson

While reading chowhound and yelp for the latest reviews of both places have not been encouraging, I'm hoping for and will expect the best from both places.

We are also planning on hitting up Congee Village (cheap, cheap and sooooo good!) and also Momofuku Ssam (again, can't afford David Chang's Ko, so we'll go with the Korean Burritos instead) along with getting street vendor food (no place in America is as good as NYC in terms of street vendor food).

There are tons of other places I'd love to go to, but probably won't have time, and these include Prune, Spotted Pig, and Les Halles (though I've been here many times, so it's not a total loss if we skip it). We do hope to drop in on Le Bernardin for a drink in what we've read is a really cool lounge/bar and maybe we can get a picture of everyone's favorite: Eric Ripert.

Late night after some drinks might find us searching for Shwarma King. I have no idea if that's even the name or where it's located, but memories of $3 shwarma while heavily intoxicated just make me happy.

Any other hole-in-the-walls we should hit up? Your favorite bars? Any food related specials going around NYC this weekend you know of? Leave us a comment and let us know!


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Tuesday Is For Links

Comments (2) | Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A few more links to pass along. (The first two are from fellow bloggers that you readers should check out. Their links were hidden in the comment section, so I figured they should be brought out.)

http://daviddust.blogspot.com/
http://foraysofafinancefoodie.blogspot.com/

Grub Street is a great food blog with the latest in all NYC restaurant happenings:
http://nymag.com/daily/food/

This site just cracks my shit up! Watch the youtube video and start laughing.
http://jonesbigasstruckrentalandstorage.com/

One of the best web-comic around. Look up in their archive for the Armadeaddon series. Incredible, especially if you grew up on role playing games and video games like I did.
http://www.penny-arcade.com/

In Boston, there are really only two radio stations to listen to: WERS and WFNX. The former is a public radio station for Emerson College. The latter is the only alternative rock station in Boston. The morning guys at WFNX get me through my morning commute every day. Funny, nerdy, incoherent...so much better than any other morning show in Boston. Check out their website:
http://wfnx.com/shows/sandbox/default.aspx


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Holiday Gifts For Foodies

Comments (1) |

Found these little lists online and I figured I'd share it all with you:

http://www.examiner.com/x-1673-Baltimore-Food-Fun-Examiner~y2008m12d16-5-fun-foodie-gifts-over-100


http://www.examiner.com/x-1673-Baltimore-Food-Fun-Examiner~y2008m12d11-5-fun-foodie-gifts-between-50-and-100

http://www.examiner.com/x-1673-Baltimore-Food-Fun-Examiner~y2008m12d10-Fun-foodie-stocking-stuffers


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When Irish Eyes are Smiling

Comments (0) | Saturday, December 13, 2008

So a few weeks ago we were watching Rocco's new show on A&E called Rocco Gets Real. I guess he has a new cookbook by the same name. One of the episodes was about a girl who wanted to make a birthday dinner for her Irish boyfriend. They start with a little background about the couple. Let's see. They've been together 9 months. And they've been living together for 3. Wait, what? Oh yeah...in Queens. This broad gave up her MANHATTAN APARTMENT to go live with her boyfriend of less than a year...in Queens. Yikes. So it's her boyfriend's birthday and she wants to learn how to make him Coddle which is also known as Irish Stew. Her reason is that he was talking about how only his dad will make it and that he misses his dad. She then states how she's surprising her man and flying his dad in for his birthday. Wow. Okay. Is it me or is this relationship super-intense? Since they haven't been together for even a year, this is the first time they're celebrating his birthday. More than likely it's not a big one (ie 30, 40, etc) because that would have been mentioned. Way to go all out for the first birthday together. How are you going to top this one genius? That's right. You're not. But for now you get to be on TV. And I get to watch Rocco cook. By the way, I think Rocco has TOTALLY redeemed himself from his younger days on "The Restaurant". He's charming, and yes he's still arrogant, but he knows what he's talking about.
So Rocco shows up and teaches her how to make coddle. Honestly, I really don't think she needs the help. She's not totally inept, but whatever. If she wasn't on TV I wouldn't have learned this recipe and I like it sooo...
Here's the recipe:
http://www.aetv.com/rocco-gets-real/video/index.jsp

You have to watch the full episode, but pick the second clip because that has everything you need. The printed recipe isn't online yet. After writing down the recipe, I had to make some adjustments. First I halved the recipe. There's only 2 of us, no need to make enough for 6. Next, I couldn't find Irish sausage (bangers). This might have to do with the fact I read an article about Irish sausage being recalled. I don't know about you, but every time I hear the word "bangers" I totally think of Mrs. Featherbottom...Since I couldn't find Irish sausage, I went with Italian mild sausage.
Also, I couldn't find Irish bacon. I read that it's similar to Canadian bacon, but I couldn't find that either. So I just bought pancetta. So in reality, I made an Italian-Irish stew. Whatever. It was still scrumptious.
The final thing I changed was instead of using hard cider (a 6 pack was $12 and I wasn't going to drink the remaining 5) I used regular cider. Quite tasty.
Overall it was a very easy dish to make. I think it took 45 minutes to prep and get everything cooking and I let it simmer for 3 hours.


Oh and if you want to cry like I did, watch the third clip when the boyfriend's dad shows up.


(Scroll down a few posts for pictures from this dinner! I'm too lazy to repost them in this entry)


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Top Chef - Abby

Comments (0) | Thursday, December 11, 2008

So I know I'm getting to be an old lady when Top Chef is 15 minutes longer and I can hardly stay awake. Stupid Bravo. They totally didn't need to add those 15 minutes, they could have cut out those weird snippets they keep doing (mostly about Hosea the Hussy and Leah the Leper...as in, she's all over Hosea...). Anyway. They start off with their quickfire challenge and as Padma is standing there, Bravo conveniently edits Fabio giving her the once over :) I wish he'd give ME the once over...but only if his name was John Paul. So they do this tasting and it ends up being Stefan who loses to Hosea. Great. Hosea is around for another week. Ugh. Then they find out they're going to be catering Gail's bridal shower. They get into teams of "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue". According to Yahoo the phrase has this origin: http://ask.yahoo.com/20031027.html
JP previously wondered if I'd use the phrase at our wedding. More than likely. Oh, and the something blue can be anything (flowers, handkerchief, dundies). Anyway, they break up into teams and try to figure out what to cook. Something New and Something Blue definitely have the hardest task at hand. Something blue kept talking about the ocean and blue and I kept yelling at my TV..."USE BLUE FISH!!" but did they listen? No. Idiots. I blame Leah. Everyone goes to the kitchen to prep and we find out exactly what everyone is going to make. Honestly, this elimination challenge isn't that exciting. Booooring. The next day they head to Manhattan to Gail's "bridal shower". Seriously? Where are the presents??? Where are all the ribbons on the presents?? How will she know how many children she's going to have if she doesn't have any ribbons to break??? And if there aren't any ribbons, how will she make her fake bouquet for her rehearsal? And really ladies (read: PADMA), where is the cake?? This bridal shower SUCKS.
Everyone presents their food. Jeff's sorbet is loved. In yo face Stefan. Jamie's carrot mixture thingy is a hit, but stupid Ariane's lamb is an even bigger hit. WTF. Seriously. She hasn't proved she can cook anything. John Paul makes a fabulous turkey. I'm sure I could make a tomato salad with my eyes closed. And Joey makes fantastic lamb (or so I'm told because I hate the stuff). All of us aren't chefs. And we don't belong on Top Chef. Neither does Ariane. She really hasn't proved herself at all. Making the basics isn't going to win the competition. Kick her off already.
Team New fails miserably and for a little bit I'm scared my beloved Carla and Eugene are going to be sent home...
Team blue presents their lackluster fish (which totally would have been better if they did a BLUE FISH). Too bad Fabio's charming personality couldn't save their team from the bottom 2.
At judges table Carla doesn't throw Danny under the bus. I believe she is the ONLY person in TC history to keep her mouth shut even though she's not the one who messed up the dish. Kudos Carla. Kudos.
The judges discuss and the Blue team is safe. Bummer. I was hoping Leah would get sent home. Or that other girl with the bangs. Who is she again??
In the end Danny is sent home. He likens his being sent home to a ref making a bad call in a football game. Sadly, he is wrong; the fans will not be booing because you are gone Danny.


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ToP Chef S5, Ep5 (JP Recap)

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Oh god…they made this 15 minutes longer than usual…get ready for tons of Real Desperate Housewives and Swanson commercials. (I totally want the mom in that commercial to be like, “Wanna know a secret? You were adopted and now we are going to cook you alive in this chicken broth.” I hate child actors and actresses…they make me want to puke. And don’t even get me started on the Desperate Housewives show…seriously, if they want to make this show interesting, have it be about early-20’s hotties always in their bikini, not middle aged fat women.)

Anyway, on to Top Chef. Ariane won last week and she’s still frustrating the hell out of me. When you think of Top Chef, don’t you want an aspiring Boulud, Ripert, or Keller? Not some Jersey mom? I dunno, maybe she’s a much better chef than I’m giving her credit for, but dammit, do something to wow me. (Then again, maybe the competition is just that bad this year…in fact, I’m really beginning to believe that this year just has incompetent ass-hats pretending they can cook.)

So Top Chef can still continue to surprise and intrigue me, and this week’s quickfire did it for me. Testing your palate is a great Top Chef challenge. And I like the tournament style chalkboard. (Side note, even though the BCS has looked fondly on my beloved Sooners a few times I would love a playoff in college football.) There are a lot of clips of people showcasing how much they hate Stefan, but damn, I kinda dig this cat. Jamie knows he has a crush on her, and even wonders if he knows what a lesbian is. Um…honey, he’s EUROPEAN! Straight, gay, it’s all the same with him. Hell, he’d probably bring Fabio into the mix. Anyway, back to the tasting palate challenge. Hosea wins, and with it he gets immunity. Also, there is a confessional that both Leah and Hosea have significant others, but they still flirt a lot. To this I say: I’m still not seeing this great rack on Leah.

The cheftestants are broken up into 4 groups, “old”, “new”, “borrowed”, and “blue”. They all know this has something to do with a wedding. Do women even abide by that old saying? I mean, I’m not sure if Abby really is, and I don’t see why she would either. Who would want something old or borrowed on their wedding day…and if your wedding colors are different, why would you have blue if it might clash? Weddings are dumb…

The elimination challenge is for the cheftestants to cook four dishes (one from each group) for Gail’s bridal shower. Since Gail works for Food and Wine magazine, the 40 women who are attending will be foodies of some caliber. Throughout this challenge the cheftestants talk about their significant others and their weddings. Fabio’s wife is a hottie. Of course, I wouldn’t have expected anything less. The dude has the “Joey Tribiani” smirk every time he talks and it’s a winner with the ladies. Ariane talks about her family and they show a picture of what I would classify as the typical Jersey family. Jamie talks about how she hasn’t had this experience yet. I guess that means she never will either, what with her living in California and all that Prop 8 business. The big reveal comes when Tom does his sniff and sneer and Stefan mentions how he’s been married twice, to the same woman. This is also probably a good reason Alex was let go last week. He probably would have cried like a little bitch talking about how he’s missing his wedding planning, etc. I’m starting to believe Bravo is picking people off due to agenda, instead of talent.

So team OLD does heirloom tomatoes, something I would never have guessed of doing. I guess heirloom tomatoes are old tomatoes. Great… I guess. Stefan comes off as an insufferable know-it-all, and Jeff and Hosea aren’t thrilled. Jeff does a sorbet and it does fabulously, even though Stefan thinks it looks like crap.

So team NEW does deconstructed sushi, which sounds cool until Eugene decides he can’t cook properly anymore and Daniel…well old Danny boy goes ape-shit. Like he goes completely nuts! He adds mushrooms to Carla’s salad (a big no-no in my book…don’t touch other people’s food) and he adds way too many sauces all over the plate. Craziness. When they were discussing what they were making, I knew it would either be a complete success or disaster. There was no middle ground here. Sadly, it was the latter and they were the worst dish.

Team BORROWED, borrows from Radhika’s Indian culture and they go out and celebrate thanksgiving with all the white people, who of course then proceed to rape their women and give them rats. Oh wait…it’s the other type of Indian culture they borrowed from. They make a lamb spiced with some sort of Indian marinade. It goes all dramatic with the cooking of the lamb (of course done by drama queen Ariane) but it’s cooked perfectly and tasted great. Dammit…Ariane is safe for another week.

Team BLUE, lead by Fabio and his dream of the deep ocean, go with “controversial” Chilean sea bass (also known as Patagonian Toothfish, but if it was still named that, no one would ever buy it, but change it to Chilean sea bass and everyone including Al Gore will eat it even if it’s being over fished) and some sort of yellow and green sauce. Fabio ties it all together to the 40 horny and drunk ladies in the bridal shower, but sadly the food doesn’t match up to his charm. It’s bland. Seriously, it looked boring and like crap from where I was sitting. They are up for elimination with team NEW.

Jeff and Jamie are praised for their work by the judges, but Ariane wins again. WTF??!?!?! Is this season that bad? Where is the magic in all these chefs? I think Jeff totally got robbed, and you definitely can make a case for Jamie too. Radhika, I believe, made the actual marinade for the lamb. So all Ariane had to do was put it in the oven and take it out when her thermometer said so. That’s it! All those wonderful flavors the lamb had, was not because of her! Ugh….

Anyone from team NEW could get kicked off and I wouldn’t be surprised. While team BLUE’s food definitely wasn’t exciting, at least it wasn’t a complete disaster. I take back what I said earlier…if Carla leaves, I’d be surprised. She was quiet and didn’t speak up, but she didn’t screw up on a dish she’s known for (Eugene with sushi) or go absolutely nuts like Daniel. (That’s saying something when you out crazy “Crazy-eyes” herself.) In the end it was Daniel’s turn to go. He looked like he was about to cry when they said it, but he left with some dignity. While he grew on me as a cheftestant, his chops seriously weren’t there for this competition. He’s only 25, so he’ll get a bigger palate soon enough. Martha Stewart next week…yikes…


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Pork Chops and Potato Au Gratin and Sauteed Apples

Comments (0) | Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dinner tonight:






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Coddle (Irish Stew)

Comments (1) |

Abby made this dish on Sunday. Not too bad, considering we have never tasted it before. Pretty good actually. Abby can write up the recipe if she wants.





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Top Chef Ep 3 Recap (Abby)

Comments (1) | Monday, December 8, 2008

This is my very very brief recap of Top Chef from last week. Leah sucks. Seriously. She's just getting on my nerves. I think she talks too much and she acts like a know it all. I don't care that you know what everything is, keep it to yourself. Stop acting like a not so amuse(ing) douche. I'm still in love with Fabio. He's my number one. I'd like to see it come down between him, Crazy Carla, and possibly Jamie...although Danny is starting to grow on me. Did anyone else immediately think of Fozzie Bear when Danny yelled WOCKA after he finished his segment? I dig it. Ooh David Dust can refer to him as Straight Fozzie Bear instead of Straight Danny Bear! He's still a bear!! Anyway...stupid Arianne made a stupid salad and stupidly beat everyone else. WTF people! You're going to let Arianne beat you on TWO challenges? STEP IT UP PEOPLE! Rewind just a min, it comes down to the top 3 being Jeff, F<3bio, and Arianne. The bottom 3 are Jamie, Melissa, and Alex. So the top 3 are woken up at 2am and then brought to the Today Show. They prep their food and then their food is given to the ladies of the show. I only recognize the lady from the View and then Kathy Lee Gifford. The Cheftestants aren't allowed to actually give their presentations. I believe in my heart that if they were actually allowed to give their 2 minute shtick Fabio totally would have won. How would they not vote for him? SO dreamy. Even Jeff would have done better than Arianne. No way would they have voted for Jersey. The ladies try each piece and Kathy Lee the annoying drama queen must have felt that she wasn't garnering enough attention and totally spit Jeff's out. I'm guessing if she had met Jeff, there's no way she'd ever spit anything of his out...
Onto the bottom three...the night before they have j-table Melissa is outside with Hoseya, Leah, and I'm not sure who else. Anyway, Leah keeps telling Melissa to make sure she stands up for herself and let the judges know she wants to be there. Melissa agrees and totally says she's going to do just that. HELLOOOOO have you NOT watched the last 4 seasons??? NEVER listen to anyone who has immunity. Dumbass. Guess it works out in her favor though because she gets to stay another week and Alex is sent home to his (almost) bride. Best wishes man.

Next week...Padma is conveniently throwing a bridal shower for Gail and letting the Cheftestants cook...whatup free food?


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Weekend Post (not good meals and Top Chef recap)

Comments (0) | Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nothing much on the food front for us. Friday night was spent drinking way, way, way too much, mainly at Jillians, but I can say that the BBQ Chicken Pizza was damn good. Jillians is a pretty cool spot. Pool and bowling and a lot of people trying to be trendy. You got a mix of young and old. The pool and bowling are kinda expensive, but Abby's red bull and vodka was $7. That's not bad in Boston. Not bad at all. I ended up spending way more than I needed too on shots and lots of beer, which lead to me being hungover on Saturday morning.

Saturday night, following a midday drinking binge at a friend's housewarming party, we got home just in time to watch my Sooners win the Big XII championship. Bring on the Gators! About the only thing that went wrong last night was that Foodler and Gourmet Curry House really let us down. Craving some good Indian food, we jumped onto Foodler and made an order for Gourmet India. The menu of Gourmet India did not allow us to order single nan...instead we had to order catering portions, which meant 5 peices of nan. Whatever, we were hungry and we like Gourmet India. 5 minutes after I placed my order, I got a phone call telling me that Foodler was no longer working with Gourmet India until they fixed their menu...dammit! Fine, we went with the next Indian place on Foodler, which was Gourmet Curry House. Bad, bad, bad. The chicken tiki masala was bad and way too spicy. The vegatable samosa dry and had no flavor. The rice wasn't the typicaly Indian rice, more like Chinese takeout rice. The nan was good though. I give Gourmet Curry House a 1 out of 5.

Today, it snowed and was cold and we wanted some pho. Since we had to drive to run errands, we went to Dorchester for the Vietnamese food. We went to Sunrise Vietnamese Restaurant, a place we have been before. The pho was good, not great. Abby's broth was very different than mine, even though we ordered the same thing. Not sure if the combination of hoisen, sirachai and lime juice was that much different either. I give it a 2.5 out of 5. Worth giving a shot if you are in Dorchester.

Sunrise Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Finally, my Top Chef recap. Basically...I'm not impressed. The breakfast amuse bouche was a good quickfire challenge, and while I agree with Leah that it is suppose to be only one bite, you shouldn't bring that up just to spite your competitors. Guess it worked in her favor because she won. (A note about Leah: They mention her great rack...I have yet to see it. Seriously, if you keep mentioning a great rack, you best show the audience the boys! Come on!) Rocco is a great guest judge, but he seemed off in this episode...not sure why. Probably just me though. The elimination challenge was kinda neat, but I agree with the bloggers on the interweb that that seemed more of a challenge for Next Food Network Star than top chef. Let's get back to the food people! I also didn't realize that Kathie Lee was on the Today show. (My sister Suzy said she's on the 4th hour...really? A 4th hour of Today show? WTF? Do we really need 4 hours of Today show?) Arianne, again showing nothing that would classify as being a top chef, did show some freaking smarts for understanding the time constraints of the challenge and made just a tomato salad. Jeff and Fabio both seemed to have done better dishes, and I even think Danny did a better job. I'm really sick of Arianne. And the dude who got kicked off, Alex, seriously, you are about to get married and you try to be on a competition? WTF? Either you are fully driven to win Top Chef, or you aren't. That didn't mean Melissa should have "thrown you under the bus"...but her point is valid. Alex should have been kicked off for crying after reading Richard's letter...I wonder if he was trying to apply to be part of Team Rainbow....And that brings me to the defensive Jamie. She seems like she has the chops to do something, but damn, you gotta take criticism a lot better. How many times in the past seasons did someone get kicked off earlier than they should have because of their bad attitude at the Judge's Table? Just stand up there, defend your dish and act like a professional.

Speaking of Rocco, there was an episode of Rocco Gets Real where he helped some lady make coddle (an Irish Stew). Abby's making that for dinner now. Will post pics of it later.


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Tre Wilcox Article

Comments (0) | Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Found this while trying to read some stuff on my Sooners:

http://newsok.com/city-mom-gets-prize-top-chef/article/3327092


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