Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chikalicious

Several times I've been invited to dessert bars. And several times I've been disappointed. Mostly by Serendipity 3. But that's another story in and of itself. Most of the time, I can't get myself to eat that much dessert. Don't get me wrong, I like sweets. But only if they're properly done. And also, I'm more fond of lighter yet still delicious desserts. Heavy, gut busting "American" desserts do not amaze me. Yeah, I'm looking at you Paula Deen. On a recent visit, I was convinced by both Gourmet Mandu and Chikalicious to rethink this whole dessert bar thing. I was pleasantly surprised. And I loved it! First, the decor. Simple, modern, clean, small. I liked it. Nothing to stray you from the food. We sat at the bar where the dessert chefs work. I love that idea! Usually, I've seen regular chefs work. But not dessert chefs. What a treat! The menu is prix fixe at $12 per person. You get an amuse, a choice of entree, and petit fours. That's a decent price for 3 desserts. We started with yogurt panna cotta in carrot/ginger soup. Interesting when I first heard the description. Delicious when I tasted it! The panna cotta was slightly tangy being made from yogurt. And the carrot/ginger soup cut the creaminess. The ginger was ever so lightly present. Next, I ordered the Fromage Blanc Island Cheesecake. Before I ordered, I had some questions. I asked if it were thick and dense like a traditional NY Cheesecake. Of course not! The chef told me that it was light, airy, and completely delicious! I was sold. After tasting this baby, I was glad I picked it. It was everything that the chef described and more. It was almost like eating something along the lines of whipped cream and ice cream. The flavor was so rich and creamy. But the consistency was so light, I couldn't believe it. It was so good. I didn't have a problem eating the whole thing. My friend ordered the White Chocolate Mousse with Basil sorbet. I had a taste of hers and it was good as well. The basil ice cream really cut the creaminess of the mousse. And the wafers added some crunch to the texture of the dish. Those little black things? Those are basil seeds. To end the meal, our petit fours consisted of toasted coconut marshmallows, chocolate truffles, and some kind of berry gelee (it had a very long French name that I cannot remember). The marshmallows were homemade. You can tell. So soft. And the coconut gave it that extra umph. The gelee were sweet and slighty tangy. Good as any would be. And the truffles were sweet with a slight bitterness from the cocoa powder on the outside. Chikalicious was so good! I was very happy from that meal. I am thankful for Gourmet Mandu for bringing me. And thankful for the chefs for making such wondering things. Their service was great and it seemed as though they enjoyed their jobs. This is the type of dessert I can happily handle consistently. It's sweet yet light. Several courses didn't make me want to double over. Yes, it was that good. I really need to rethink this whole dessert bar thing.


Chikalicious
203 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 995-9511
chikalicious.com Read more...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mercadito

Gourmet Mandu came back to NYC for a visit. Her visits are always welcomed and highly anticipated because we always go out to eat! It's our thing. And we love it so much. This time we went to Mercadito. It's a taqueria and cevicheria located in the East Village. The restaurant is small and the decor is "old looking". But it's purposely made to look that way. They use old wooden chairs and tables. It's almost like a worn down beach shack feel. But clean and welcoming. We arrived at 6:15pm on a Tuesday evening. It's not packed. But there are a couple of tables filled. I have to admit that I went with skepticism. Ever since I spent a summer in California, I've been spoiled with ridiculously good Mexican food. And it's true. NYC doesn't have anything nearly as good. The only place that has ever remotely reminded me of California-Mexican food is Florencia 13. But that still was a far cry of what I had experienced on the West Coast. Anyhow, we started with the Guacamole Tradicional ($13.5). They have several other more exotic types. But I wanted to get a good feel of what they can do with traditional foods. And it was delicious! The avocado was creamy and buttery. It was lightly accented with lime and cilantro. But avocado was the star. The fresh, crispy tortilla chips complemented it well. Next I ordered the Pescado Tacos ($14). They contained sauteed tilapia, tomatillo salsa, huitlacoche, and manchengo cheese. I got 4 tacos wrapped in a soft corn tortilla. The fish was prominent. The huitlacoche is "corn smut" but it tasted bean like. It was good. And they just sprinkled some cheese on top as a nice accent. But most of all, I'd like to rave about the corn tortilla itself. It was good. It tasted real. Gourmet Mandu ordered the Estilo Baja ($14). Four tacos with battered and fried mahi mahi with coleslaw and chipotle aioli. I liked this better than my own order. The flavors melded together better. The fish was crispy. The coleslaw gave it a nice crunchy texture. And the aioli brought everything together. Again, wrapped in that great corn tortilla. We also ordered a side of platanos ($5). Every time I go to a Mexican restaurant, I always order fried plantains. I love them and will always get them. I know that they're easy to find and probably make. But I don't care. I'll order it anyway! And these were typical fried plantains. Sweet and soft. Slightly fried/charred outside. We shared everything. We ordered more than we could finish. We left a little bit of the guacamole and a handful of the platanos. I hate to waste food but I couldn't stomach anymore. In all, the food was good. I would definitely come here again. Prices weren't bad at all. Although it reminded me more of the West Coast than Florencia 13, it still didn't live up to the Pacific. Ah, there's just something about the Mexican food there. It's just that good. But I'm just glad I'm finding better choices here.

Mercadito 179 Avenue B New York, NY 10009 (212) 529-6490 mercaditony.com Read more...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Memorial Day BBQ

I love Memorial Day. But for all the wrong reasons. It's supposed to commemorate our veterans and soldiers. But I'm in it for the food. It marks the first non-official day of summer. And there's lot of BBQ-ing and grilling involved. Mmm, some of my favorite food of all time. And this past weekend was no different. Food galore!
Appetizers: Baked Brie Bread Bowl. This was monstrous! Gooey goodness! Grilled Shrimp. Slightly spicy and perfectly done. Entrees: BBQ Ribs. Lovely BBQ sauce. Meat was falling off the bone. So tender. So good. I had extra helpings of this. A side of asparagus salad. A nice complement. And right in season. Can't have a BBQ without some burgers. Even better, cheeseburgers. Indian people always grill something Indian. This time is Chicken Tikka. And I'm glad they made this. Yum! Desserts: The famous Lemon Mousse. So incredibly good and light! Extra servings of this! Some kind of Indian Walnut dessert. Nutty. Fresh Fruit Salad
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dim Sum from World Tong

My family's go to place for take out dim sum has been World Tong for years. We've been here since the Joe Ng days. Now he's moved on to better things (Chinatown Brasserie). The place just hasn't been the same since he's left. And they've added more tables without adding more space. It's always cramped and service can be spotty. But that is the usual take on dim sum for me. I grew up knowing dim sum as breakfast/brunch/lunch food in noisy, busy places. And where service is a far second to food. When we actually leave the house, we go to other (better) dim sum houses. World Tong is only for take out. I wouldn't suggest delivery. The last time we ordered delivery, they added $10 more of things we didn't order. Then they made us pay for it. On top of that, they didn't care when we called. And the delivery man was late. That's just too much to deal with for delivery. But when you're standing in the restaurant and ordering, you can see everything. The following are a few classic dishes we get:
Pork spare ribs in garlic and black bean sauce Shrimp rice noodle skin The innards: shrimp Phoenix Feet: chicken feet Leaky milk custard buns The innards: yellow goo Beef tripe Fish meatballs Dumplings in rice wrapper The innards: peanuts, pork, shrimp, chives, mushrooms
World Tong 6202 18th Ave Brooklyn, NY 11204 (718) 236-8118
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A sweet craving in the afternoon...

Haribo Gummy Cherry Cola from a dear friend in Germany.
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Sala 19 is always good!

Dinner at Sala 19 is always good. I was introduced to this place by my good friend, Mr. Matzo Ball Soup. It's a Spanish restaurant in the Flatiron area. It offers lots of tapas. It also has larger plates as well. The sangria is really good here. And we always get a pitcher or two. It's been a part of my outings ever since that first time. I even highly recommend the place to other people. The food is always good. The service is attentive. And the prices are decent. I will continue to go here over and over again. Recently, I went to Sala 19 to celebrate a couple of birthdays. We had 5 people and we ordered a lot of food. At the end, everyone was happy and full! The bill with 2 pitchers of Sangria ($29 each), food, tax, and tip (20%) was $330. This is what we ordered. Keep in mind, we had 2 servings of some of the dishes.
Chorizo Frito (spanish sausage): slightly crispy and spicy. So good!
Calamare a la Plancha (grilled squid): fresh and lemony; not chewy at all!
Brie Fundido Tosta (baked brie and serrano ham over toast): creamy from the cheese, salty from the ham, and crunchy from the bread.
Queso de Cabra con Miel (fried goatcheese with honey): crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.
Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp sauteed in garlic and olive oil): arrived sizzling but perfectly cooked and very garlicky
Croquettas de Jamon (serrano ham croquettes): soft potatoes specked with ham and fried!
Chuletas de Cordero (lamb chops): nice and medium rare; tender; good sauce
Mejillones al Vapor (steamed mussels): juicy and plump mussels; the broth is aching to be dipped with bread.
Lubina a la Brasa (sea bass): very tender but had lots of little bones.
Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelet): soft and pillowy but had lots of flavor
Datil (bacon wrapped stuffed dates): surprise of the night; very good combination; fantastic!
Molten Chocolate Cake: gooey chocolate goodness
Rice Pudding: flavors worked really well and it had a creme brulee sugar top.
Sala 19 35 West 19th Street New York, NY 10011 (212) 229-2300 salanyc.com
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lunch Week 11: Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided. So my lunch for the week: Pasta with Sausage and Peppers I needed something quick and easy this week. Pasta is always easy. Sausage and peppers are fairly quick and easy too. Combine the two and you have a complete lunch. For this meal, I used turkey sausage because of its low-in-fat quality. For the vegetable department, I used green bell peppers, onions, fennel, and garlic. Also, I used a little bit of tomato paste for flavor. The pasta is whole wheat. First, the vegetables. Slice everything until they are slightly bigger than bite size. Remember that they shrink when cooked. Next, bring a pot of water to boil to the pasta. Add salt and oil. Then add pasta. And cook according to the directions on the box. When fully cooked, drain thoroughly. Add the vegetables to a hot pan with oil starting with the fennel and onions. After a few minutes add the peppers and garlic. Cook slowly until slightly softened. Then add the tomato paste. Mix thoroughly. Add the sausages whole until cooked through. When the sausages are cooked, remove from pan. Wait a few minutes then slice into pieces. Add the sausage pieces back into the pan along with any juices that escaped. Mix and cook for a couple more minutes. Lastly, add drained pasta to sausage and vegetable mixture. Mix well. And everything is done. The vegetables absorbed the sausage juices. And the tomato paste adds a nice tang. The sausages are a little on the lean side but that was to be expected. As I said, a nice and easy complete meal. Read more...