Friday, December 31, 2010
1. Waste em All burger from Grill Em All truck
The Food Network's Great Food Truck Race filmed its finale in NYC over Memorial Day weekend. We went down to the Union Square area to check it out, trying the two finalists - Grill Em All truck and Nom Nom truck - both from LA (we had been to Nom Nom in LA earlier in the year). We tried 2 different burgers from Grill Em All but my favorite (and one of the better burgers of the year) was the Waste Em All - topped with cheddar cheese, beer soaked onions and jalapeno peppers. The burger was definitely memorable (along with the yummy fries in truffle salt), and this also makes the list because we got to watch the filming and the end of the show before it aired, which was lots of fun.
2. Haribo smurfs
In the train station in Antwerp, Belgium, I found this bag of Haribo smurfs (smurfen, schtroumpfs). I haven't been able to find it anywhere else since then - not in Brussels, not in Brugge, not in the States. As soon as I tried the berry flavored smurfs, they shot up to the top of my favorite candy list. Unfortunately they're so hard to find. If you have any idea where I can find them, please help!
3. Patacon Pisao
When the Vendy Awards came around in September, one of the contenders we were really looking forward to trying was Patacon Pisao. They're usually far uptown (although they also have a place in Queens) so we had never tried them before. We tried the patacon sandwich (two flat green plaintains instead of bread, with chicken, ketchup, queso frito, lettuce, tomato and special sauce). It was delicious. We couldn't wait to get another one so we tried at the sh*tshow that was the Grub Street Food Festival where the line went in both directions, didn't move and there was no room to walk because of the mob scene (not their fault). After that failure, we ventured down to the Hester Street Fair on a different weekend they were there and had a patacon sandwich each. I got chicken again and it was quite delicious. They're opening a new location soon. I can't wait.
4. Veggie pancake from Pancakes! Amsterdam
We really wanted to try Dutch pancakes while in Amsterdam and Pancakes! Amsterdam seemed like a good choice. Dutch pancakes may look big but they're quite thin and filled with toppings so they're not that heavy. Our first pancakes there were so good that we decided while there that we would try to come back again the next day before leaving Amsterdam. I loved my veggie pancake the best - it had mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes and pine nuts. Healthy and delicious!
5. Hazelnut dacquoise at the Bar Room at the Modern
Back in 2005 or 2006, I went to the Modern for an interview lunch. For dessert, I had the dacquoise. It was so good that it stuck in my head years later as one of my favorite desserts ever (along with Lahaina Grill's Iao Valley lime tart, Brasserie's frozen chocolate souffle from 2003, Perilla's cranberry apple cobbler, maybe a couple of others - since I'm more of a savory person, I can actually make a short list of favorite desserts but absolutely cannot do that with savory food). I remembered it being like a crispy upscale candy bar. When we saw the dacquoise on the bar room menu, the choice for our 6 month wedding anniversary was simple. I had the dacquoise for dessert and it actually lived up to the memory and my expectations.
6. Khao yam at Jitlada
Jitlada was a definite on our LA places to go list. We heard that their Thai food was excellent and being lovers of Thai food, we had to try it. We were not disappointed. If you love spicy food, you will also not be disappointed because they do not tone down the spicy dishes and just serve them as they should be.
We had so many good things there but my favorite was definitely the khao yam (rice salad). Khao yam, a Southern Thai specialty, consists of jasmine rice, mango, green beans, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, Thai chiles, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, bean sprouts, coconut and dried shrimp. This was one of those dishes where after you eat it, the only thing left to say is, wow, when can I have it again? Unfortunately for us, we cannot find it anywhere other than Jitlada and we live across the country from Jitlada! While there, I was googling khao yam looking for places in NYC ... and google sent me links to posts about Jitlada. Oh well. A must for our next trip to LA.
7. Fish Soup at Cambrinus
We got into Brugge, Belgium late in the evening after spending the entire afternoon in Antwerpen, so we ventured somewhere close to our hotel for dinner. Cambrinus was a great find, and confirmed our feeling that we were really going to like Brugge (and we did). It was a bierbrasserie, with a huge beer menu and so many food options. The portions of the entrees were huge. This was also where I learned that in Brugge apparently people love spaghetti bolognese. My plate of it was so gigantic that neither of us could finish it.
But even better than the spaghetti bolognese was my appetizer - the best fish soup I think I have ever had. The menu said it was fish soup with "rouille" (spicy garlic sauce). I don't know how to explain how good it was, but it was so tasty and comforting. It came with two pieces of garlic "bread" which were also delicious.
8. Tofu salad from Burmese Fun Fair
There aren't many options for Burmese food here in New York so we get our "fix" during the various food fairs they hold during the year (usually in the summer). The tofu salad is one of our favorite things. We get there early to make sure we can get some before they run out, but the problem is that I want more in the days after the food fair and it's impossible to get. It's really that good and the flavors are so unique. This tofu salad was for a fundraiser in Woodside earlier this year.
9. Beef and bernaise from wd-50
If you know me, it might be shocking to have a dish in the top 10 with beef in the title considering how little red meat I eat (and also to have a burger on the list with it). But it's wd-50, so nothing is really what it seems. It was such a dilemma for me deciding between this and the cold-fried chicken, but in the end this was the one that surprised me most with its flavors, its creativity and its complete difference from what I thought it would be. And it was so tasty. Instead of beef with a bernaise sauce, it was bernaise gnocchi topped with caramelized shallot paste in a beef broth and accompanied by snow peas. Amazingly good.
10. Chipa guazu from I Love Py
We previously talked about I Love Paraguay, the Sunnyside bakery with some of the only Paraguayan food we could find in NYC. Chipa guazu gets a spot on this list because it was delicious from the first bite and it also represents everything we wanted out of our World Cup challenge. We got to try something new for us while learning more about the country and its cuisine. To me, the World Cup is not just about soccer/football, but about coming together, understanding one another and learning about the rest of the world in one of the few true moments of togetherness. Our Paraguayan lunch trip did this in so many ways. Not only did it have great new food, but I got to put my shaky Spanish to use, tried the chipa guazu on a recommendation from someone actually in Paraguay, and got to spend lunchtime surrounded by Paraguayan folks watching deportes on TV. The World Cup was also one of the main motivators to us finally putting this blog together so it holds a special spot on this list. (After all, at least one spot had to go to something we ate from the World Cup challenge!)
I can't wait to see what delicious food 2011 will bring. What were your favorite (or top or best) food memories of 2010?
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I tried it after we got home but waited to hear what A thought before I commented, since I didn't want to affect his perception of it. His first comment? "It tastes like pumpkin pie!" (Not the pie itself, but the pumpkin pie custard at Shake Shack.) That had been the exact reaction I had. It tasted just like pumpkin pie, but with just a little more spice. It didn't really taste like gingerbread to me, but I only had a couple of spoons. A got some more ginger spice in one part of the cup (and that part was heavily spiced with ginger), but mostly it just felt like spiced pumpkin pie.
A's rating: 6.5/10
M's rating: 5/10
Friday, December 17, 2010
There were so many options, many of them crowded, and then we stumbled upon Sherpa, a Nepalese-Tibetan place. It wasn't that crowded and it was different from everything else we had already eaten in Amsterdam, so we decided to try it.
There were a lot of options on the menu ranging from Tibetan pizza to different stews. I had Tibetan food in the city before at Tsampa and liked it, but had never had Nepalese food. A had neither, so this was going to be an adventure for us!
We started with mango lassis and they brought over some crackers:
Then it was on to our main courses, both of which we chose from the Nepalese side of the menu. I got chicken with spinach, and A got some lamb dish. All the dishes are served with black eyed beans, rice and salad, which you can see in the background on the table. It was good. Sorry that we don't have more color to the descriptions but it's been over 3 months now (can't believe it's been so long) so unfortunately our memories are fading...
We liked our dinner at Sherpa. We probably wouldn't make a special trip to go back on our next trip (unlike some of the others and since there's so many places to try), but if you're in the area, we recommend it. It was a nice close to the day.
Initially, we were a little disappointed. It just tasted like chocolate custard. There's nothing wrong with chocolate custard, and it was a good chocolate custard, but we got this because it was supposed to be more than just chocolate custard. So that was a little disappointing. (This reminds M of when she got sweet corn over the summer and tasted nothing but vanilla the whole time.)
There was one section of the cup that had a small hint of orange, so it doesn't seem like they forgot it. It was just really subtle and overpowered by the chocolate, so it didn't really seem to work. A got some chestnut flavor in a different section of the cup, but M didn't notice that, if she did encounter it at all. A felt the chestnut was as effective as the orange (not very).
So, our conclusion: it's good if it's supposed to be just chocolate custard... but it's not, so it wasn't one of their best.
Chocolate Orange Chestnut Swirl
If it were chocolate:
A's rating: 7/10
M's rating: 7.5/10
For what it really is:
A's rating: 3/10
M's rating: 5/10
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Now, we couldn't just go for beer. I'm perfectly comfortable walking around in a slight drunken haze, but M prefers not to do so. There were a few things that we read were recommended for all patrons. We tried to order the Osseworst, but they had run out. Instead we settled for a half order each of the Trappist Cheese and Salami. The cheese was really good, tasty cheese, and the salami tasted so fresh. M wasn't as fond of the salami since she's not really a fan of salami in general, but she did enjoy the cheese. She was just a tad unhappy because cheese and beer mixing together in her stomach did not feel all that great. She would do poorly in the Midwest :P
Oh right, there are 3 glasses there. After I finished my first beer, I opted to go for a Zatte. It was sweet, refreshing, and very very tasty. So tasty that M liked it a lot and took it from me. Slightly annoyed to have lost my beer, I went up and ordered a Natte so that I could try and keep this one. The Natte was darker, more hoppy, and quite delicious. It was definitely my favorite of the day, and M obviously loved the Zatte.
I'm not sure why I was so happy there. Yes, we just had some awesome cheese, salami, and beer, but they were closed. That meant no more beer for me. Oh well, we were already making plans to come back so it would be okay.
If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, and we wholeheartedly recommend it, definitely put Brouwerij 't IJ on your list of places to visit. You will not be disappointed.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Trois Pommes Patisserie (on 5th Avenue between Carroll and Garfield) looked so inviting on a cold winter afternoon. (And this rainy Sunday afternoon, with cookies in the oven, made me want to blog about it. Such winter hibernation.)
We got 2 snacks. A's choice (which you can see behind mine in the photo) was the peanut butter pie. It was like a rich Reeses peanut butter cup. (I won't say anything more about it, since it was A's snack, in case he wants to blog about it.)
Can you guess what mine was? (Probably, considering the title here.)
Red velvet twinkies!
The cake was SO good. I wanted more! The twinkie was more cake than cream, which was just fine with me. I should have taken another photo when I finally got to the cream, but the cake was so good that I forgot.
The cake wasn't dry, it didn't feel that heavy (despite being filling and dense), and had the right amount of sweetness. I was quite happy with my snack!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Today I went to Subway. I was kind of dreading the day after Cafe Cello (one of the missing posts) because the next restaurant on the block was some Brazilian place that usually has the gate down (but today they didn't but I think they are still closed down), and then Subway. Technically today should have been an Eddie's Pizza day, since their food truck was on the corner (and I haven't been there yet and it comes before Subway) but it was cold (23 degree wind chills) and they had a 15 minute wait (and I have work to do). This is the 2nd time I've had to skip Eddie's Pizza (last time was rain/cold, as I hope to write about some other time) and I was hoping to get there today for the City Harvest promotion but that's probably a reason they were even busier. So, Subway it was.
I don't HATE Subway, but I wasn't really looking forward to going. I have had plenty of Subway sandwiches in my time, mostly because my parents used to get them on the weekends for lunch after the gym all the time. Lots of turkey sandwiches where they would count out the number of slices they would give you, and put the stack back once you hit your limit. It just felt cheap to me, like they couldn't just let you have one more piece of cheese. Really, would it be so awful?
I think I have been to Subway for lunch once since I started working here five years ago. Once. I almost went back for the Save Chuck campaign but something must have come up because I never made it (and I am on board with anything that would save Chuck).
Which brings me to today. First Subway visit (by choice) in ages.
I guess Chuck made an impact on me because I went with the meatball marinara footlong (on Italian herbs and cheese bread). It doesn't look anything like the one on the show, but I didn't expect it to, since that's made for TV. I added a whole bunch of extra toppings even though it's a meatball sub and didn't really need anything, just because I could. Although I guess "tomatoes" sounded like pickles at first, so now there's pickles on my meatball sub (which aren't actually that bad).
It's actually not bad. I'm not running back to get more tomorrow but I might go back again. I think if I return I'll stick to the $5 footlong menu though because it feels less bad that they are being cheap with ingredients when the whole sandwich only costs $5. (Unlike other places... I don't think I posted a pic of my not-very-filled Europa sandwich and that was over $7.50.) And $5 for lunch is a good price. Always up for a deal.
Edited to add: I realized later in the day when doing my calorie counter that the calorie count that I thought applied to my sandwich only applied to the six inch and not the footlong meatball marinara. Talk about shocking. A footlong meatball marinara is close to hitting my daily calorie limit. That must not make the list of Subway "diet" foods.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Since I'm short on time, I'm not going to blog right now about the continuation of the block by block challenge (from Tuesday) or my unexciting visit to Europa today for an uninspired sandwich because I didn't even have time to continue the block by block challenge. Another time.
Instead, I'll talk about breakfast. That's usually easy because it's a granola bar. But not today. Today I finished off my portion of the Thanksgiving leftovers (and A finished the rest for dinner).
Stuffing, carrots, onions, shiitake mushrooms and asparagus. Now, that is my kind of breakfast. Doesn't it look good? Too bad I can't have this every day. I love leftovers for breakfast. It was what I did all through high school. A nice delicious start to the day.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I've been eating colcannon, stuffing, lentils and carrots for breakfast the past few days. Noticeable absence of turkey in that list.
Today for lunch my mom made turkey congee. She made stock from the turkey carcass, added brown rice, savoy cabbage (left over from the colcannon), dark and white meat turkey, onions, cilantro, chicken bouillon, and pepper, and put it on the stove for a couple of hours. Some green onions on top and it was a nice hearty use of turkey leftovers!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday was a gorgeous day. Temps in the 60s and sunny. Possibly the last nice day of the year. And I was running around like crazy for work and couldn't take a long walk to enjoy it. So I went to the second stop on the block for the challenge: Kim's Aunt Kitchen.
Like Moshe's, this is another cart I have always intended to try but just never have, and have probably passed a hundred times. They're known for their cheap (but good) fish sandwiches, but they also have platters and other dishes like bulgogi.
I figured that I should get a fish sandwich for my first visit to see if it lived up to the reviews. The choices for the fish sandwich were whiting or flounder. I am a flounder fan, so the choice was easy, even though it was $1 more. I got it on wheat bread with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce.
What a filling and tasty fish sandwich! For only $5, they give you two big flaky pieces of fried fish on the sandwich. Pretty good, both for taste and the deal you get. Another solid choice right by the office!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Green salad was fine but boring. The panini sounds from the description like it should be good but it just wasn't. It didn't have much flavor at all and in some places was very dry. The tomato and mozzarella salad was probably the best part of this plate but how do you mess that up?
Not pictured but the cookies were mediocre too. So disappointing to eat such a "meh" lunch. And I wasn't the only one to think that about today's lunch! Flavorless food sucks. I should have gotten an entire plate of tomato and mozzarella (but that wouldn't be fair to anyone else!).
Monday, November 22, 2010
It's a really small restaurant but they make the most of the space. There's several small tables and also a counter against the wall with stools. Since the chairs have no backs, there's also coat hooks all around the restaurant.
They also have cute bottles for their "pure" tap water, which can you see on the table here:
The first thing we noticed about the menu at Pure Thai is that for lunch it's really well-priced. The appetizers were $2 or $2.50 and the entrees were under $10. The portion size isn't huge either so you can get a mix of things for a pretty good price. (Everything is more expensive for dinner by about $3-4.)
We started out with two appetizers - curry puffs and spring rolls:
The curry puffs were filled with caramelized chicken, onion and sweet potato, and accompanied by the usual cucumber relish. This was definitely the better of the 2 appetizers. We almost always try curry puffs when we try a new Thai place and this was one of the better ones. The curry flavor was great and the puffs were light and flaky.
The vegetable spring rolls had shiitake mushrooms, jicama and glass noodles inside the fried shell, and a Thai chili plum sauce accompaniment. The filling was better than some of the other spring rolls we've had, but the curry puffs were much more delicious.
For entrees, we focused on the "Pure Thai Noodles" section since this contained some of the dishes unlikely to be found on other menus. A got the Sukhothai Pork Noodle Soup (thin rice noodle, roasted pork, long bean, bean sprouts, peanut, dried shrimp and pork broth):
This was SO good. It is similar to something A used to get at another Thai place down the street but has Chinese-style roast pork instead and the broth is different. It's perfect for the cold weather - warms you up from the inside. The broth and seasonings were excellent. And M loved the color of this dish.
While both noodles were good, this was probably the better of the 2. M got the Krabi seafood noodles (as dry noodles instead of as a soup). They were flat rice noodles with shrimp, calamari, tofu, water spinach, bean curd, cooked in a tomato pork broth:
Under all that, the noodles were a very uncommon pink color:
The flavor was great and M hadn't had anything like it before. Having had this as a dry noodle instead, she wondered if it would have been even better in soup (as it's listed on the menu).
We also got dessert:
There was only one option on the menu - yam custard with sticky rice. We love sticky rice (especially with mango) and finally figured out that the "Thai custard" that other places put on it is yam custard. This was better than the other ones we've had:
If you notice, we have said most things here were better than other Thai food we've had in the area (although each place has its strengths). It probably goes without saying that we will be returning for more!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I think I have passed Moshe's Falafel (at least) a hundred times. I had always heard they had good falafel, yet somehow I've never gotten it. I've walked all the way to the Port Authority area to get Pick-a-Pita falafel but haven't gone across the street to Moshe's. Crazy, right?
The stand is there every day at lunch and there's always a line. They move really quickly and spit out falafel sandwiches at a rapid pace. In addition to their namesake falafel, they also have soups and salads. But it would appear that people really go there for the falafel.
The falafel sandwich (which is a cheap $5.25 right now) consists of a big fluffy pita stuffed with multiple falafel balls, lettuce, tomato, tahini and (if you want it) hot sauce. It's garnished on the end with a pickle.
Here's what I liked about it:
(1) The falafel had a good texture, was fluffy and not dry. I had read some complaints online that the quality of Moshe's had gone downhill and that the falafel balls were dry. I was happy to see that wasn't the case with my sandwich. I really liked the fluffiness of the falafel, and the first bite was great.
(2) When the falafel is mixed with the lettuce and tomato and drenched in tahini and hot sauce, the flavor's great. (See next section, #2)
(3) A big filling sandwich but it doesn't hurt your wallet. I think it used to be less than $5 but at $5.25 it's still a bargain.
(4) The pickle was good.
And here's the less good stuff:
(1) The pita was kind of thick and bready. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it helps the sandwich to feel heavier.
(2) The tahini and hot sauce didn't sink to the bottom of the pita, so by the time I got to the bottom, all I had was falafel and pita with no veggies or sauce so it was kind of boring.
(3) The salad is just iceberg lettuce and tomato. I love adding salads to my falafel, whether it's beet salad, cucumber salad, etc. There's nothing wrong with only having lettuce and tomato, but I missed the diversity of flavor that you get with some of the other salads.
(4) It's a bit messy. When I opened the aluminum foil, I got tahini all over my hands. Not a big deal, since I was going to be eating the sandwich with my hands anyway, but probably not the best lunch if you need to be somewhere right after and can't wash all the sauce off your hands. Or if you're walking and eating at the same time.
Was it good falafel? Yes. Was it great falafel? I'm up in the air on this one. I haven't had falafel in awhile so it's hard to compare. There's also so many types of falafel and the ones I've had more recently are more dense and less fluffy. I guess the more important question is, would I go back to Moshe's for another falafel sandwich sometime. The answer is yes!
Inside looks a little chaotic, but there's a method to the madness. There are multiple lines in the store, one for wrap sandwiches and one for sushi. I'm not sure how the soup comes into play or really how the sushi section works, but this was my first time there. I opted to get the chicken shawarma wrap.
I got hummus, pico de gallo, cucumber and tomato salad, red cabbage, tahini, and hot sauce to go with my chicken. Their chicken is also interesting. It isn't the standard chicken on a spit like most shawarma places I've had in the past. All of their meats, whether it's lamb, chicken, or pork, are all cooked beforehand and stored. Whenever one of the meats starts getting low, they pull out some of the containers and heat it up on the flat top. It reminds me of Chipotle in a way. Another cool touch is that they make all of their wraps onsite. They have little bundles of dough that get pressed into the wrap throughout the day.
I got the wrap to go and brought it back to my desk to eat. I was a little worried because they wrap it with both ends open within the foil, and I thought it might get a little messy.