July 30, 2013

Greek Offerings

I remember in the 11th grade, my high school chemistry teacher went to Greece and recounted to me how amazing the food was. I instantly decided on the spot that I was going to Greece, for the pretty landscape but more so for the food. 5 years later, I got my wish, although I wasn't all that much wiser on Greek cuisine since the only exposure I've ever had to Greek food was Greek Lady aka lamb meat and french fries stuffed in a pita, and hummus (which isn't even exclusively Greek). Fortunately for me, my chemistry teacher was right and the food was amazing (the landscape was pretty great too) and I finally learned about the nuances and complexities of Greek cuisine.

Pork filet stuffed with smoked cheese from Metsovo, wild rise on veal gravy and fig syrup
Veal rib-eye with truffle honey garnished with hot salad from local black-eyed beans on veal gravy
Grilled octopus stuffed with rice, lamp mutton, ragu pasta, Greek yogurt with dried fruit.
Pork T-Bone Steak, Grilled Octopus.
Pork Souvlaki, Mezze, Spring Salad, more Greek Yogurt with dried fruit.
Baked feta cheese with honey, BBQ pork chops, Stewed beef with feta.
Amazingly delicious salads, a very innovative Greek salad with capers, Mushroom risotto.

Michelin Funkyness @ Funky Gourmet

Was browsing through some travel pictures and I realized I had an entire backlog of Greece pictures I never, figured I would start with what was probably my favorite meal of the entire Europe trip. While  the food was delicious, what made the meal so memorable was the creative presentation and innovative production of each dish. We ordered two different tasting menus and thoroughly enjoyed each item they presented to us. There was also a tiny army waiting on us throughout the entire which was quite an experience. The concept of Funky Gourmet is to put some serious twists on traditional Greek dishes and ingredients.

Left: Mastic, Mastic, Mastic (aka Mastic 3 ways)
Right: Salsify in the Soil
From what I can understand, Mastic is a plant resin that comes from the Greek island of Chios, it seems to have quite a few medicinal and cosmetic uses, which is probably why the glob of mastic on the left like soap. It was also the first time I saw a dish presented on a gnarly tree branch. Salsify is another interesting ingredient that refers to the root of a purple plant considered to have oyster undertones. We were served dried salsify roots in a cream mixture meant to represent dirt. How clever.

Left: Squaring the Pea
Right: Spring Vegetable Salad.
The spring pea soup was tasted and light with lots of "green" flavors. But let me rave about the salad. I know it doesn't look like much but it was hands down the most complex, delicious salad I have ever eaten. The mini plum tomatoes were blanched in a sugary liquid and peeled. They were so delicate and light, I didn't even realize I was eating a tomato. If I could create a last meal menu, this dish would be on that list.

Croxetti with Basil Pesto
The Croxetti might have been my favorite dish just because it was so fun. Croxetti is a type of medallion pasta that originates from Northern Italy and traditionally bore a coat of arms; our croxetti were made from a beet base and bore the name of the dining establishment. There was also a mortar for us to make our own pesto and a small pot of hot water to cook our pasta. 

Left: Scallop in the Sea
Right: Yellowtail with Wild Greens
The yellowtail was cooked splendidly and perfectly moist, but the star of the two was definitely the scallops. The scallop was only slightly cooked and retained a sweetness to it that I had never experienced before; what was even crazier was the ginger ale foam it was paired with.

Left: Funky Gourmet Burger
Bottom Right: Greek Salad

The burger was quite tasty but I forget what meat they used. When we saw greek salad on the menu, we didn't think it was going to be a very impressive dish, but we were so wrong. All of the flavors we were used to from ordering copious Greek salads throughout the trip (sweet tomato, sour vinegar, tangy feta, spicy onions) had been packaged into some sort of granita were each bite of ice tasted like we were actually eating a Greek Salad.

Rib Eye on the Stone
Another DIY dish. The stone was steaming hot and the smell of the thyme underneath perforated the entire restaurant. We were instructed to sear each piece of meat on the hot stone for few seconds and eat with the accompaniments. I loveed the idea but apparently Japanese BBQ is very similar so V was not very impressed.

Beef Cheek with Pairings
I loved the wide selection of pairings we were given. Depending on the pairing, it really altered the taste of the beef cheeks. Since we were getting quite full already, the lighter pairings such as the onion jelly, green apple and tomato paste really stood out.

Left: Orange Explosion
Bottom Right: Smoked Ice Cream Sandwich
Who doesn't love liquid nitrogen overflowing all over a table? The orange explosion was a fun mini dessert which consisted of dark chocolate filled with orange liquor liquid that exploded in your mouth. How they got the liquid inside such a thin shelled chocolate ball, I have no idea. I probably could have gobbled up 10 of those things along with another 10 ice cream sandwiches.

Left: Bread, Butter & Honey at -196C
Right: Mignardises
When I saw bread and butter for dessert on the menu, I was slightly disappointed but once again,  I was pleasantly surprised. The dish essentially tasted like creamy chunks of ice cream with delicious goblets of the best honey I have ever eaten and it was all made with liquid nitrogen. Pretty sure we tried making ice cream in chemistry class with liquid nitrogen and it tasted nothing like this. The mignardises consisted of a blueberry chocolate muffin, raspberry macaron, orange jelly candy and a chocolate truffle.

Definitely one of the best and coolest meals I have ever eaten. Don't know when I'll ever be back in Athens but if I am, I might just have to go back to this place.

July 23, 2013

East Village & Beyond

A roundup of the notable eats from the past 2 weeks in NYC. Despite the long commute to work, East Village sure has its charms..especially when it comes to all of the great food. The night before I moved to NYC, I created a spreadsheet of 100+ restaurants/foodtrucks/holeinthewalls that I had to try. Fortunately, I've manage to slowly chip away at the list (while concurrently adding even more).

1) Asian Goodness
Totto Ramen: Spicy ramen with egg + char siu pork, Extra intense ramen with extra pork, egg and other goodies
Prosperity Dumplings: BEST DUMPLINGS I have ever had (and $9 for 50 of them???)
Brick Lane Curry House: Lunch buffet for 10 bucks!
BCD Tofu House: New K-town obsession. Spicy cold noodles and spicy hot tofu :)
Sao Mai: $6 bucks Bah Mihn and Pork Bun.Yummy and one of the cheapest eats in EV.

2) Flushing

Hahm Ji Bach aka the most famous Korean BBQ in Flushing, Queens. Michelin recommended to boot.
Pork Belly & Gal Bi
Li's Noodles, Kung Fu Bubble Tea, Xiao Long Bao from Nan Xiang Dumpling House, Portuguese Egg Tarts from
New Flushing Bakery.

 3) Drinks
Cucumber cocktail, Punch bowls from CienFuegos, happy hour at 10 Degree Bar.

4) Gourmet Fast Food
Crif Dogs Hot Dog
Luke's Lobster Lobster Roll
5) Good Old Fast Food
Japadogs: Beef hot dg with spicy mayo, seaweed and other Asian flavors
Mark's: Bacon, regular, and pulled pork sliders & cheese fries

July 1, 2013

Brunch & BBQ

Bottomless Brunch @ Dohyo

Had my first bottomless brunch 2 weekends ago. Man they sure are a marathon but quite a bit of fun. Dohyo is located in the eccentric Yotel Hotel in Midtown West. Our brunch was filled with the usual breakfast offerings including a live DJ, a server in rollerblades and spandex and lots of balloons.

Mimosas, sangria, eggs, seaweed salad, burger slides, muffins, springrolls, spicy tuna rolls, french toast, disco fries...the 6 of us managed to order everything on the menu, our server was slightly horrified and equally impressed.
Food wasn't all that memorable (but who goes to a bottomless alcoholic brunch for the food?), however, what I really did like was how generous they were with the food and booze. Our pitchers and glasses of sangria and mimosas were never remotely empty. Definitely a good place to for large groups and celebrations.

BBQ  @ Fatty Cue

Really yummy Asian fusion BBQ (always an interesting concept) in West Village. Quite pricey for the portions but yelp had a half off gift card and free shots when you checked in so we were fat and happy by the time we left.

Yes the Pickleback shots sound disgusting but guess what? it works! and it quite tasty. We were also drunk after the shot since we hadn't eaten yet all day...
Star of the meal was definitely the beef brisket which came with buns and garnishes to make your own brisket buns. The fatty pork riblets were tasty but a little overcooked and not enough meat on the bone. 

Sunday Mezze at Kanella

A little late coming, but finally managed to go through all of the pictures and make a post on graduation dinner. The Wharton Ceremony was on Sunday which just happened to coincide with the day Kanella had its 10 course Sunday Mezze meal. Kanella describes itself as a Greek-Cypriot restaurant which I've never had before.  Everything tastes refreshing, surprisingly light and the portions were perfect so that we could actually make it thourgh the whole meal. 

First courses of salads, antipasti & pickled vegetables.
More salad, rice, and fish.
Halumi cheese, sausage, and beef.

Beans, puff pastry, more meat, and spinach pie.
Fig & Almond tart, and some sort of sweet cheese with orange cake.
Compared to what we ate in Greece, this was definitely representative of the country's cuisine. Unlike a lot of tasting menus, this was definitely more homey and felt more like a big family meal (which is what mezze is actually supposed to be so good job Kanella :).

NYC Desserts Roundup

Back from another Tour de Europe, haven't had a chance to properly rave about all of the food we ate in Greece or the Greek meal I had in Philly before I departed for the islands, but in the meantime, some new (and old) dessert finds in NYC. Spent the past 2 weekends apartment hunting and eating every chance I could get (more eating than hunting) and here are the discoveries.

Puddin' - Some of the flavors are sweeter than others (which I don't like) but the rice pudding option was amazziing and it sure beats paying the twice the price from Rice to Riches.
Big Gay Ice Cream - Have wanted to try this place since February. I think i love the concept and serious flair more than the ice cream itself
Forty Carrots - Always a good option after shopping in soho.
PopBar - Went for the sorbeto flavor instead of a gelato flavor so wasn't crazy about it.

YAY finally got to try Wafels & Dinges. Ordered the wafle that beat the great Bobby Flay.
Spekuloos: Gingerbread spread that might be better than Nutella (which I think they now sell at Trader Joe's)

Been to Magnolia Bakery before for the cupcakes but apparently its the Banana Pudding that it's really famous for. I don't even like bananas or pudding all thaat much but this might have been the favorite dessert out of everything.

Tous de Jours - I am obsessed with shaved ice and shaved ice that's the size of your face and comes with green tea is an added bonus.
Pie Face - Cute little pie shop originally from Australia. Peach Ricotta pie was quite tasty.
Back to blogging on some real food now...although who's to say desserts aren't real food.