Sunday, April 22, 2012

Grand Sichuan

Anyone who was mildly coherent on Saturday realized that it was absolutely gorgeous. We had the pleasure of returning to Jersey City (JC) for a Grand Sichuan pilgrimage. Grand Sichuan never ceases to amaze me. Soup dumplings? Enough said. Top it off with Sichuan red oil wontons, smoked tea duck, and eggplant with garlic sauce, and you have yourself a meal and a half. But readers note, you don't have to traverse across the Hudson to enjoy the cuisine; Grand Sichuan has many convenient locations including Chelsea, Upper West Side, and the East Village. Don't forget to order the crab and pork soup dumplings. Gentle with the transition from steamer to  soup spoon. Poke a hole, slurp, add sauce, slurp, enjoy the fragrant soup and meat. These are phenomenal and worth the 10 minute wait. Wontons are good as is the smoke tea duck (if you're OK with fat) but the other home run was the eggplant with garlic sauce. Sweet, citrusy, and savory, this vegetable dish is stellar. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jersey City

Tonight I had the pleasure of dining with my Uncle Alan in his Jersey City (JC) hood. Believe me, it's not scary. Think of it like going to Brooklyn, and in some cases, it's even a shorter trip. We went to the new restaurant, Thirty Acres, the JC hot spot opened by former Momofuku chef. If you're in the neighborhood, it's worth the visit. The decor it's simple with white walls, wooden benches, and unobtrusive decorations. The menu is succinct as well; three or four appetizers and entree options and one dessert. But the food itself is not simple, in fact, it's delicious. We ordered the crispy sweetbreads with jalapenos and homemade ketchup, grilled octopus with a lemon aioli, homemade cavatelli with a emulsified chicken liver sauce and broccoli, pan-grilled skate with sauteed cabbage, and "kevin's mom's lemon bars" (yes, you read that correctly, and yes, it's pretty amazing as it's the only dessert on the menu). I believe the menu changes daily and they will add more vegetarian options shortly. I would definitely recommend this spot, although be warned, the acoustics are not great, so leave the grandparents at home. Another bonus is the prices are digestible. The three entrees on the menu (swordfish, mackerel, skate--interesting, right?) were all under $20 and the lemon bars were $3 and easy to share. Portions aren't huge, but the food is so tasty and flavorful that you don't need to fill up on pizza afterwards.  And did I mention that it's BYO? Hmm...JC, you're certainly looking good, especially after the latest reports stating the average one bedroom Manhattan apartment is $3,400... 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dinner at Mak & Gregs

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of cooking and dining at Makena and Greg's apartment. Makena and I curated the meal and cooked two Smitten Kitchen recipes that had Asian flair: Peanut Sesame Noodles and Scallion Meatballs with Hoisin Glaze.  These two dishes are delicious and easy to make. For the Sesame Noodles, there is no need to buy a million sauces for this dish, you can most likely get by with what you have in your cabinet. We also didn't have soba noodles, so feel free to use whole wheat spaghetti. As for the Scallion Meatballs, we went rogue and bought ground pork instead of ground turkey. I would most definitely recommend using pork and if you wanted to go crazy, throw some ground veal in as well. My only complaint about this dish was the hoisin sauce was a bit salty for my taste, but besides that, these are two lovely dishes that are easy to make and delicious to taste.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An Afternoon Snack

Last weekend Will and I went to visit his family in Newport, one of our favorite spots. The weather was unforgettable and we found ourself strolling through the wharf and getting a feel for springtime on the New England coast. We ended up at the Clarke Cooke House and enjoyed one of my favorite afternoon snacks: crispy fries with ketchup and mayo and a big glass of sauvignon blanc. Next time you're in Newport, stop by the Cooke House and elbow your way to the bar (this spot tends to get very crowded, especially in summertime). The fries are to die for and the bartender Larry, our new best friend, doles out a great hefty glass of vino. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Maldon. Enough Said.

After my recent salmon post, many people were inquiring about Maldon salt, so perhaps a short dedicated post is in order. Sadly, I cannot say I've been a Maldon salt abuser for years. In fact, I learned of Maldon only a year ago, when Kelsey and her mom, Lindy, introduced me. I believe Kelsey met Maldon via her boss; so I really have Kelsey's boss to thank. So thank you. Maldon is a sea salt crystal that has the capacity to bring out amazing flavor in food. I've started using it almost exclusively when cooking. You can find a box at higher end grocery stores. At almost $8 a box, it's expensive for salt, but definitely worth every penny and lasts forever. May joy come to you with every Maldon salt crystal you generously sprinkle.