Friday, January 22, 2010

Tasting, Basketball Game, and Cheesecake Factory

In the past couple days, I've applied my "don't say no" resolution and its been fun. I started it all off by signing up for a tasting/lecture by Chef David Waltuck, one of the country's most respected chefs. Chef David owned and operated the critically acclaimed Chanterelle Restaurant which started out in Soho then moved to Tribeca. Chef David is one of four chefs to receive a four star rating from the New York Times. He started the restaurant when he was 24 which is incredible considering how successful the place was. Chanterelle was said to be one of the first restaurants to bring fine dining downtown. Chef David and Chanterelle have received so much praise and recognition (including a couple James Beard Awards) that I could not pass up this opportunity.

Chef David was not much of a talker, but that was OK with me because he fed us some delicious food. He preformed three signature dishes that were all phenomenal. I was a bit scared at first because his three choices were all seafood. But then the nervousness turned into excited energy. Besides I couldn't back out, I sat in the front row!

The first dish was an Pemaquid Oysters with Sauerkraut and Caviar. I was really nervous about this dish considering I had never tried all three ingredients in the name. Part of me was even nervous about a possible food allergy. But it did look good and this was a once in a lifetime experience--so I went for it! I thought about wiping the caviar off the top of the oyster, but then I figured it was there for a reason. So I took down the oyster and immediately smiled: partly because I was proud of myself for trying it and the other part was because it was so good.

The next dish was a Grilled Seafood Sausage with a Beurre Blanc Sauce. This was actually my favorite dish out of the three. The seafood in the sausage was lobster, scallops, sea bass, and shrimp. The seafood sausage itself was so good, but when combined with the sauce--AMAZING!

The final dish was a Steamed Scallop and Foie Gras Dumpling with Mushroom Vinaigrette and Chervil. This was another really great dish. I went into this dish not knowing what foie gras was. I knew it had something to do with duck, but thats it. I later found out that foie gras is the liver of ducks or geese put on a specialty diet.

I considered getting a signed cook book from Chef David, but I didn't have $50 on me. I was told that I could get it at a later date if needed. But I did leave there with some great recipes along with an incredible experience. These are the opportunities that I would have passed up a year or so ago. This reinforces the idea of experiencing everything, even if its out of your comfort zone. This experience got me excited for the future! New York City here I come!

Seton Hall vs. Louisville
Last night I got a call from Hennessy asking me if I wanted to go to the Seton Hall basketball game. For a second, I thought of declining because of plans I had made earlier. Then I thought FUCK THAT. I agreed to go to the game, hopped in the shower, and ran for the train.

Hennessy told me he had "big jimbo seats" which meant GOOD seats! My dad use to get tickets to many of the local teams including the Nets (back when the Nets were good). He use to have Nets tickets second row, mid-court. Hennessy knew about these seats because we took him to a couple of games. He wasn't lying, the ticket were at half-court, second row. The seats were great!

Now this was my first visit to the new Prudential Center 9Newark, NJ). It was so easy to get to considering Newark Penn Station is down the block. The arena is AWESOME. There is 2 bar/lounge areas in the arena which are represented by a Fire and Ice kind of look. This is pretty neat considering the two big teams that play there are Seton Hall (blue) and The New Jersey Devils (red).

We hung out at the Belvedere vodka lounge, the area gleaming bright blue. This area was great, not only could you see the game, but you could sit at the bar or at a table and watch multiple TVs. The best feature this bar offered was an iced bar area, which keeps you drink cold. Now thats innovation! This concept is brilliant, especially to those people nursing their $8 beers.

Despite a breakdown in the 4th quarter, Seton Hall pulled out the victory. I would have liked to go to the bar across the street from the stadium for a brew, but Henny, Erin, and Palp rushed to grab a train-leaving me to venture home; back to New York.

Cheesecake Factory (Edison, NJ)
I was went home last Sunday for my grandfathers 82nd birthday. I had Monday off because of MLK day so I decided to stay home and hang instead of going back to the city after the birthday party.

On Tuesday, Colette and I went to the Cheesecake factory. We usually have a hard time deciding a place to go, but surprisingly this decision didn't take us a half hour. The cheesecake factory is a good place to go when you don't know what you want to eat. They have such a diverse menu that anyone could find something to eat here.

Colette told me to order something different, so against my own will I ordered the Spicy Chicken Sandwich instead of my favorite Buffalo Blast. It turned out to be a good decision, because I enjoyed the sandwich very much. Crispy chicken on a roll topped with buffalo sauce- how could you go wrong? The sandwich also came with fries that I couldn't stop eating.

Colette got the grilled salmon which I tried and enjoyed. I liked my second bite better as I dipped my fork in a lemon-butter sauce. Of course I liked my meal better, but thats because its fried and bad for ya!

Despite it only being 1:00, we opted to have a drink. My initial thoughts made me order their pink lemonade. I'm not usually a fan of pink drinks, but lemonade could be good when you haven't had it in awhile. I then thought that the drink Colette was suppose to get probably sounded better, so I changed my mind-- not knowing that the drink I ordered came in a Martini glass. The Ritz as they call it is a martini with courvoisier, champagne and pomegranate. The drink itself was delicious, I definitely will make this drink again, though probably on the rocks!

Colette got a strawberry martini which was made with Pearl Vodka and fresh strawberries. I tasted the pink martini and thought it was also pretty good. I liked the Ritz better though!
Another good meal at the Cheesecake Factory.

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