Saturday, February 21, 2015

Talde - Bucket List Check

Once again my cohorts J & J invited me to go out and check off another one of my bucket list restaurants. Talde is one of three restaurants owned by Dale Talde of Bravo's "Top Chef" fame, which is where I first became familiar with him. Although the restaurant is relatively close to where I live, it took the invitation from my cohorts to actually get my ass out the door tempted by the promise of Kung Pao Chicken Wings and Waffles (part of their weekend brunch menu) which had been calling my name for too many months until finally I succumbed.

This place definitely lived up to the hype. I recommend getting there as early as possible which we did (and I was grateful for since the place started getting packed not too long after we were seated). Well of course I started out with something wonderful to drink with booze in it, because let's face it, a brunch without a little booze and good conversation is just breakfast. I had the Very Excellent Bellini, which was very excellent indeed, packed with all sorts of nice tropical fruit goodness, and prosecco adding even more wonderful notes to it. Then J & J and I proceeded to try to make decisions about what to have. We knew for sure that we wanted to get the Kung Pao Chicken Wings and Waffles with the coconut brown butter syrup. We also decided to get the Pretzel Pork and Chive Dumplings, the Sausage, Egg & Cheese Fired Rice and the Corn Pancakes. To say we had plenty to eat would be an understatement. The chicken wings were the right kind of spicy and flavorful and definitely packed with all the good Asian inspired flavor you would expect. The coconut brown butter syrup is something I wish they would bottle but perhaps it is best that they don't because it would become my number one abused substance. The fried rice was a great twist on an old time favorite. The dumplings were great because of the crispy dough layer, and packed full of flavor. The corn pancakes were perhaps the more understated of all the things we ordered but we made generous use of the coconut syrup with these as well which helped to kick them up a notch.

 The Menu

 The Dumplings

 Kung Pao Chicken WIngs and Waffles... 
and coconut brown butter syrup...droool!

 My partners in crime

 Sausage, Egg and Cheese Fried Rice

 The Very Excellent Bellini

 Half way through eating our feast.

 


I definitely am glad I got to check this one off my list and hope to come back to it again soon. If you are planning on coming to NYC on a food pilgrimage, this restaurant should definitely be on your itinerary.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ippudo - Bucket List Check

Happy 2015!!! Although the year got started with a few sad events in the midst, I did manage to end 2014 on a high note with my little munchkin. OK so it was not a blow out party, but it was  wonderful because it was calm which is exactly what this girl needed after the hectic year 2014 turned out to be.

Right before the year ended I did manage to check another name from off from my restaurant bucket list. Thanks to my friends J and J (Names are withheld to protect the innocent) who are two of my five partners in crime when it comes to these sort of endeavors, we managed to get into Ippudo after a one and a half hour wait. Ippudo was part of a list of noodle restaurants around the city that were noted in Tasting Table's Ten Great Bowls of Ramen We Are Craving Right Now List (although one of my favorites Nauruto Ramen was not part of the list much to my dismay). This place was well worth the wait especially because December 30th turned out to be one of the chilliest days we've had so far this winter, so a hot bowl of ramen was just the thing to chase the chill away. For an appetizer we had the Hirata buns, which are about as wonderful as Baohaus' Chairman Bao (but not quite enough to make me want to stop my illicit love affair with this little bundle of deliciousness). For our main course us ladies went with the Akamaru Modern while our other cohort went up a notch ordering the Akamaru Chasu (which is the Akamaru Modern with extra pork chasu). All I have to say is that this was probably one of the most wonderful and satisfying experiences I have had eating ramen. Now I am looking forward to checking out the rest of the other places on that list and hope that they are all as wonderful as Ippudo was. Here are some pictures I managed to take.

 Bowls adorn the entry to our noodle heaven

 My partners in crime

 Hirata buns

 Hirata bun food porn

 Akamaru Chasu

Akamaru Modern

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Restaurant Bucket List

This week was very stressful for many reasons. Because of this I had to find ways to calm myself and get my mind thinking about happy things. Of course good food is an instant mood booster for me, not only in the consumption end but on the inspiration end. I wound up turning to Mind of a Chef which is now available on Netflix. The first Season follows chef David Chang (of Momofuku fame) around. I have had the distinct pleasure of dinning at Momofuku's Saam for a birthday celebration that involved the consumption of that wonderful  BO SSÄM dish they are so famous for. Watching this show and the type of people whom David Chang associates with and who his friends are got me thinking about what my restaurant bucket list would be. I consider myself lucky because I live in the New York metro area which is not lacking for tremendous restaurants most of which would have made my bucket list regardless. I have had the pleasure of dinning at wonderful five star restaurants as well as some very unassuming but wonderfully delicious hole in the wall type of establishments that I consider better than some of their more expensive counterparts.

So the question now is, what would a restaurant have to tempt me with in order to make me want to put it on my bucket list? I am still not quite sure yet but I do know that I have started my list and I am planning on making good on eating at these places before either, they decide to close or I myself expire. I have just started it off with a few restaurants (places where I have not eaten yet) but I am sure the list will grow as I learn more about what makes my favorite chefs tick and if what the places are doing peaks my interest. Here is my short but very tasty bucket list.

Arzak - San Sebastian
Noma - Copenhagen
Bird Land - Tokyo
69 n' Roll One - Tokyo (for those who are serious about their Ramen)
Sushi Sawada - Tokyo 
Mugaritz - San Sebastian

I should mention that there are many places that are on my list of favorites where I have already eaten including the above mentioned Momofuku Saam Bar. These are my top ones.

Baohaus - NYC
Bar Americain- NYC
Brasserie Les Halles - NYC
Le Padock - Brooklyn
Woodbury Kitchen - Baltimore
Pok Pok - Brooklyn
Seersucker - Brooklyn

Monday, August 25, 2014

Miso Paste - The Sequel

OK, OK I have slacked a bit and then went off on my Parts Unknown tangent, but as promised here is the second recipe that came out of my experimentation with red miso paste. On the side of the miso paste container I got, there was a recipe for miso barbeque sauce. As you might have noticed by now, I only stick to a recipe when there is actual chemistry involved that needs to be heeded in order to prevent culinary disasters. Otherwise, I pretty much try to challenge the norm. I was not particularly happy with what the ingredients in the recipe noted on the container yielded (to me it came out a little too acidy), so I adapted it and made it a little more me. Noted below you will find the ingredients list broken down into what the recipe called for and then what I chose to add to it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Miso Barbeque Sauce
Base Ingredients:
2 Cloves of garlic - minced
1/2 Cup of onion -  minced (vidalia will probably work best if you want your sauce to be sweet)
2 TBSP Sesame oil
1/4 Cup of mushrooms - sliced (the thinner the better)
6 oz tomato paste
1/4 Cup red miso paste
3 TBSP Vinegar
3/4 Cup of Water
Extra ingredients:
1/2 Cup Packed brown sugar
1/4 Cup dry white wine
1/4 Cup maple syrup (in honor of Nadia G, one of my favorite Canadians)

In a nice, deep pan, saute your garlic and onions in the sesame oil on medium heat. Let them get nice tender and fragrant. Add the mushrooms and saute until those are nice and soft too. Add in the remainder of the ingredients and mix with a whisk, making sure to break down the lumps from the miso paste and brown sugar. Once everything is nicely incorporated, cover and allow to simmer for five to ten minutes. Uncover and let simmer on low to reduce and thicken to your desired consistency (some people like their sauce a little runny. I prefer mine a little thicker because I like it to grab on to whatever I am putting it on). Voila! You now have barbeque sauce with a little twist. Now what to do with it?

I chose to use my sauce to coat a beautiful NY Strip I had been trying to figure out what to do with. I first coated the steak in olive oil, sea salt and garlic and let it rest in that mixture for abut 5 minutes. I placed the steak on a rack and put it in the broiler for 5 minutes on each side, then I took the steak out and coated it in the barbecue sauce and broiled it again for 4 minutes on each side. It was delicious. The picture below might not do it justice but I can assure you it was wonderful (and no, I did not eat that humungus piece of meat in one sitting. I still have some self control left).


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Food and Politics - Why Anthony Bourdain is More Than Just a Chef

If you have read my blog for long enough, you may have realized by now that I have a tremendous amount of respect if not affection toward Anthony Bourdain. Maverick, rebel, non-conformist, etc.. probably some of his most endearing qualities and the fact that the man can cook doesn't hurt my image of him as an Adonis of sorts. However, the quality that I have come to appreciate most about him is the fact that he is not affraid to discuss and present difficult political issues in his shows. This has perhaps put him in the unique position of being able to humanize issues that the news shows talking heads merely dissect and skew with their constant nonsensical jabber. There is so much of a difference in showing a political situation from disected facts and then seeing it presented from the point of view of people who are sharing good food and showing a side seldom seen. The side of people inside the conflict sharing their fears and hopes over the food that represents their daily living.

The particular reason for this post is regarding the very unsettling situation taking place in Jerusalem and the fact that is was not until a few days ago that I got to see the episode of Parts Unknown that was filmed in this region. It is, in my point of view perhaps one of the best he has done and one that I feel anyone who wants to see the human side of the conflict should be required to watch. Here is part of it that I managed to get from You Tube. Thank you so much Mr. Bourdain for doing this show and for presenting both sides so eloquently. No one could have done a better job. You are more than just a fantastic chef. You are perhaps the best journalist out there right now.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Week With Red Miso Paste

I have been in a culinary rut for a bit. I decided that the rut had to end and decided to get myself out of it by challenging myself to use an ingredient that I had not used before. As you might have guessed by now that ingredient was red miso paste. What is is? Well in essence it is fermented soybeans with some rice or barley thrown into the mix. Red miso is usually fermented for over a year and has a very robust and salty taste. If you want a little more in-depth information about miso check out this Wikipedia link that really gets into the knitty gritty of this awesome and very versatile Japanese staple.

I will start off with the first of two dishes I made with my challenge ingredient. I call it Tilapia in Red Miso Maple Glaze. Since I am flying mostly solo these days I made this recipe that is supposed to be for one but really could feed two.

1 Tilapia Fillet (usually about 3/4 lb)
1 TBSP Red Miso Paste
2 TBSP Maple Syrup
1 TBSP Olive Oil/Sesame Oil
1 Garlic clove - Minced
Optional Ingredient - Black figs

Preheat Oven to 380 degrees Fahrenheit. mix your miso paste and maple syrup together. Take your tilapia filet and spinkle the oil and garlic over it and massage them on the fillet. Add the miso maple syrup mixture and coat the fillet with it. Let the fillet rest in this nice mix for about 10 minutes. As an option I got some black figs and sliced them thinly and placed the slices on top of the fillet.


On a baking dish place a piece of foil large enough to wrap around the Tilapia fillet. Place your fillet right in the middle and fold the foil over it to contain the heat and allow the fish to sort of poach in all the wonderful liquid it was marinating in. Bake for about 20 minutes. As an added step, since I like a little crispiness, I placed the fillet under the Broiler for about 4 minutes which caramelized those figs nicely.

To serve you can either accompany your fillet with some rice and a steamed vegetable or like me you can place it on top of a nice massaged kale salad garnished with some dried cranberries.



Enjoy.

I will give you the other recipe on the next post. I am tired and need my beauty sleep.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Colombian Food Finally Celebrated

I saw something today that made me entirely too happy among the many things that have happened to Colombia lately. If you watched the world cup you must have seen how much Colombians love futbol (AKA soccer) and how overjoyed we all were at how well the team performed as well as what a great spirit of good sportsmanship they displayed. The joy we feel about this and many other things in life does not just come out of nowhere. We Colombians have it ingrained in our DNA to enjoy everything in the world and that includes food. Our country is known for being one of the most fertile and varied in the type of flora and fauna it possesses. This in turn has given us a wide range of vegetables and fruits, some of which do not exist anywhere else in the world. As you may be able to tell I am incredibly proud of the country where I was born and even more so with this wonderful article published by the Huffington Post celebrating 23 reason why Colombians know what is good. I have to admit I had a napkin in hand because the images just made me drool and long for the days I spent there last year with my munchkin. Anywhoo, I hope you enjoy the link and the wonderful images of the food they put up. I am still drooling and now I am off to get some food albeit not Colombian today but maybe this weekend. I leave you with some pictures I took of a wonderful meal my family and I enjoyed in Cartagena at a place called Mila Pasteleria located in the historic walled city.

 Sinfonia de Coco - Coconut Symphony
(music to my taste buds)
 Case full of many sweets I wanted to consume.
 Bariloche - Shrimp in a cream curry sauce over coconut rice
Posta Cartagenera - Beef medallions in a plum sauce over coconut rice