Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The interior of the restaurant is very quaint and filled with small tables, which created a cozy (and loud) atmosphere. Each table has a tin dish filled with poppadoms--a nice change of pace from the usual bread and butter--that gets replenished often.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Now that the holiday season is underway and you've had your fair share of stuffing and mashed potatoes, I'd like to share a refreshing first course idea for your next dinner party. It's simple, inexpensive, and also tasty: smoked salmon. I was tasked with creating and executing a first course, which was to precede a pasta puttanesca. Tired of the usual salad, I wanted to find a pairing that would whet the appetite for a seafood pasta. I decided to think somewhat outside of the box and use one of my favorite brunch staples. Usually I have smoked salmon as a bagel topper or perhaps rolled with a dollop of cream cheese and served as a passed appetizer, but plating it as a first course during dinner was something I had not tried. You can have fun with the toppings, but I served the salmon over bibb lettuce and topped the fish with creme fraiche, capers, and a squeeze of lemon. It was an instant hit amongst the guests.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Sunday, November 4, 2012
A week in Italy feasting daily on pasta, pizza, and gelato daily didn't prepare me for the richness of France's cuisine. I've been to France a few times so it wasn’t like I was a novice. Perhaps it was a race to the finish since it was the end of the honeymoon?
Within three days, we consumed foie gras, pâté, and head cheese--and that's only the offal department. Additionally we devoured steak, duck, lamb, and pastries (a cardiologist's nightmare). Lucky for me, Paris was a walking city so I didn’t gain 10 kilos. But I digress . . . and am by no means complaining. Our trip was a gastronomic orgasm. Here are a few of my favorite meals:
We arrived in Paris and went to a hip bistro called La Regalade. They had a 35E three-course prix fixe. Instead of the traditional bread and butter on tables, La Regalade gives each table a terrine of pâté, a jar of cornichons, and fresh baked bread. Other nice dishes were the squid ink risotto with calamari, and filet of veal with snap peas and rigatoni. Their desserts were also delicious. We loved the mason jar of rice pudding and the praline souffle.
While in Paris, we had the pleasure of dining with our French uncles, Claude and Dominique for a Sunday lunch. Our meal included foie gras, head cheese, monkfish in a blanquette sauce, braised mushrooms and leeks, a cheese course, and sorbet from the famous Berthillon. Each course was paired with excellent French wines. Did I mention this was lunch?
One of our last meals was at Chez Fernand, a darling restaurant in the 6th arrondisement. We feasted on French onion soup, escargot, and braised lamb shank served with legumes. We shared a bottle of Bordeaux that paired excellently with the rich local fare.
I cannot express in writing and photos what an amazing trip our honeymoon was. I hope I inspired you to take a trip to Italy and France. I cannot recommend it enough!
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
We have returned from an incredibly delicious honeymoon filled with beautiful sites, culinary endeavors, and local wines. We traveled to Rome, Sardinia, Pompeii, Positano, Capri, and Paris. Each city had so many delicacies and I spent much of my time ooh-ing and aah-ing over the smallest bite. I consumed so many memorable meals that I could write a new blog to cover all of the food I tasted. Instead, I will devote two blog postings to the trip: one to Italy and the other to France.
In Rome, we stuck with the basics: pasta, pizza bianca, cappuccinos, and gelato. One of our most memorable dinners was at Campana. I had the fettucine with cream and black truffles. As you can imagine, this dish was incredibly decadent. I never have had such amazing truffles in my life. Every bite enlivened my senses. Make sure to get your share of truffles next time you're in Italy.
For lunches, we explored the sinuous streets and found two restaurants that we loved.
One was Il Bocaro, a tiny restaurant situated on a cobblestoned alley. We stuffed our faces with homemade burrata like we've never tasted and rigatoni with crispy sage, bacon, and Parmesan cheese (let me know if you have a recipe for this dish as I need to recreate it).
We also explored the Jewish district, which had interesting food. We feasted on eggplant Parmesan and fried artichokes prepared in a Jewish style at the famous Giggettos.
I have never tasted fried artichokes like these. The artichokes were the perfect balance of crunchiness and saltiness. Every leaf was a pleasure to consume.
In Alghero, Sardinia, we dined on local seafood. One of our most memorable meals was at Il Pavone, where I had an amazing sea bass served in a gratin style with crispy potatoes and fresh local spinach. Every bite was fantastic and you could certainly taste the freshness of the fish that was caught earlier that day. Even my husband said it was one of the best seafood dishes of his life.
In Positano, we went to Lo Guarracino, a pizzeria that came highly recommended by friends. We sat on a cliff that over looked the sea. For 12E we sipped on a liter of local red wine while we gobbled down a 14E pizza topped with mozzarella, caramelized red onions, and local ham. The pizza was so delicious that we actually considered returning for dinner, instead we went to Next2, which featured local farm food. During our stay, we also ate sublime bruschetta with toasted bread that was rubbed with fresh garlic and topped with local Italian tomatoes and mozzarella.
And that wraps up my Italian culinary highlights. If anyone is going to Italy soon, please let me know as I have many restaurant recommendations. Stay tuned for a Paris post!
Thursday, October 4, 2012
I apologize for my recent quietness the past few weeks. As many of you know, I am getting married this weekend. So as you can imagine, I've been a bit preoccupied. Before I depart for the festivities and honeymoon, I wanted to share this delicious dinner my fiance and I made for a casual Rosh Hashanah dinner party.
The menu consisted of Julia Child's Roasted Chicken served with Saveur's Savory Kugel, Food &Wine's Roasted Beets and Celery Root with Goat Butter, and a side of arugula and raisin challah from Zabars.
The chicken was quite on point. For this particular roast, I decided to go a little rogue and added fennel stems in the roaster and also placed half a lemon and tarragon leaves inside the cavity. I always feel a need to dress my chicken to the fullest--I just can't resist! I also like to take a few tablespoons of melted butter and massage the outer and under-layer of the chicken skin. I promise this will lead to crispy and delicious chicken skin.
As for the kugel, I usually go with sweet, but this savory version may change my tune. The crispy noodles were a perfect complement to the sauteed onions and rich cheese mixture.
The Roasted Beets and Celery Root recipe intrigued me for several reasons. I have never cooked with celery root and was excited when Fairway had the vegetable in stock. I simply sliced off the outter skin and chopped the vegetable like I usually do for kohlrabi. I was also intrigued by goat butter. Unfortunately I couldn't find the butter at Fairway, but luckily I have Zabars at my finger tips.
I really loved this dish; it was relatively easy to make and the goat butter adds a decadent consistency.
So now I must bid you adieu. Looking forward to sharing my food photos from Italy and France in just a few weeks! Ciao!
Monday, September 17, 2012
I don’t think anyone can argue that this weekend was absolutely gorgeous. I felt lucky to be able to bask in the beautiful weather and even more grateful that I got to take advantage of the Upper West Side farmers market. In honor of a last gasp for summer, I created this simple, yet tasteful summer salad. Hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy it before the weather gets too chilly.
4 leaves of raw kale torn into small pieces
2 small heirloom tomatoes sliced
2 tablespoons of shaved fennel
1 tablespoon of homemade pesto or any variety you like (I used Marcella Hazan’s recipe)
1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese
1 dash of maldon salt
2 cracks of fresh black pepper
Mix all together and enjoy!
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
I thought I'd feature a special post for this occasion.
I recently had the opportunity to indulge in a private tasting with Chef Amanda Charbonneau at the signature Muse restaurant at the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel in Newport, RI. Chef Charbonneau recently graduated from Johnson & Wales and has been the Head Chef at Muse for several months.
Our second course was Napa Cabbage with shaved carrots, toasted cashews, grapefruit segments, cilantro, and mint leaves. This dish was light and managed to keep a balance between the crispness of the vegetables and sweetness of the fruits and herbs.
Our third course was a seared halibut plated over a spring onion and pea risotto, sauteed cauliflower, and a lemon beurre blanc sauce. This course really knocked my socks off. I've had several discouraging experiences with halibut of late, namely that the fish was dry and flaky. However, this rendition made me believe that halibut can indeed be delicious if given the time and attention it deserves. The fish was perfectly seared, enveloping the moist white flesh that practically melted on my fork and in my mouth. A sensual and delicate delight.
The fourth course was a sirloin steak topped with an herbed butter and served over sauteed asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes. Sounds typical, right? This preparation brought back my love for meat and potatoes. The perfect crispy, salty outer layer sealed in the juiciness of the red meat. A real crowd pleaser.
Finally, our tasting ended with a vanilla bean creme brulee served with fresh berries. A lovely finish to our decadent tasting.
I was so utterly delighted with our meal that I am determined to visit Muse as much as possible when back in Newport.