Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tourist Trap

Last night, the 4-man decided to grab some dinner considering we were all home--something that hasn't happened in awhile. We roamed the streets of the financial district looking for something different. We go to Stone Street way to often and the food there isn't that good except for Adrienne's. Front Street is another option with restaurants like Salud, Nelson Blue, and Suteishi. For some reason, the guys passed up on the Front St action to somehow end up at the Heartland Brewery. I tried to discourage eating here, but J-blow sat down and the rest followed. The brewery puts out decent food, but the portions are small. Thank God for the fries that accompanied my pulled pork sandwich otherwise I would have left starving. Jon and Greg did leave hungry as their buffalo chicken salads were light on the chicken. Sure its nice to sit outside in the seaport, but there's restaurants that are way better value right outside the seaport. We got stuck in a tourist trap and everyone left a bit unsatisfied.

Come on Irene

This weekend, many restaurants shut down in anticipation of Hurricane Irene. Some restaurants couldn't staff their restaurants while others were just being prudent. There were a few restaurants and bars that did stay open and I'd bet they are happy they did. There was a lot of talk leading up to the hurricane, but it wasn't all that bad. The rain was pretty strong and whipping winds brought down a couple trees, but no real damage was seen.

On Saturday, some friends headed over to the 13th Step after experiencing cabin fever waiting for Irene's wrath. This "bro bar" was in full swing when we got there. The place was packed and people were partying like they didn't have a care in the world. Rounds of beers/shots were bought, dance circles formed, and new friends made. It might not be your normal scene, but less loose --its hurricane season!

And after all the boozing and dancing, you could order some wings or a chicken a waffle sandwich to bring home for a drunk snack. The chicken and waffle sandwich proved to be so delicious, someone paid me $100 to brave the storm and pick them up 2! So next time there's a hurricane, put on a ridiculous outfit (wetsuits welcomed) and head over to "bro bar", the 13th Step!

Kim's B-day lunch

I've wanted to go to The Modern for quite some time; but sometimes its hard to make that trek uptown. My sisters birthday was the perfect excuse to hop on the 4 train and head uptown to the MoMa. Unfortunately, I didn't get to visit the museum; but I can save that for a date. We ate in the Bar Room at The Modern, because we pursued a less fancy atmosphere then the Dining Room allowed. The Dining Room is an elegant space overlooking the sculpture garden offering a prix-fixe menu. The Bar Room is a more casual space although still pretty stunning. The Bar Room offers small plates of rustic, Alsatian cuisine. Gabriel Kreuther is the executive chef and overlooks food coming from both rooms. Chef Kreuther's vision and execution was brilliant and greatly impressed my family. Lunch at The Modern was incredible.

Here is what we had

Tarte Flambée Alsatian thin crust tart with crème fraîche, onion

and applewood-smoked bacon 14.

Warm Lamb and Goat Cheese Terrine with toasted pistachios

and watercress 16.

Spicy Steak Tartare with quail egg 16.

Grilled Diver Scallops with red pepper, corn, toasted almonds

and saffron-roasted garlic emulsion 22

Alsatian Buckwheat Späetzle with Yellowfin tuna paillard crudo,

roasted foie gras, pine nuts and black pepper gastrique 25.

Duck Confit à l’Orange with cauliflower and fingerling

potatoes 20.

Sepia risotto with Pancetta

But not only was the food excellent, but so was the service. From the front door to the presentation of our check, I found that the staff was so welcoming and professional. But Danny Meyer wouldn't have it any other way! I think its safe to say that The Modern is one of the best restaurants I've been to in awhile. I'd definitely suggest checking it out. Fellas---take a girl to the galleries at the MoMa then end your date in the Dining Room at The Modern. She will be impressed and probably take advantage of you for dessert. Just make sure you like her because this is not a cheap date!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer Recap

It seems like we just started summer and now its almost over. With football season around the corner, many New Yorkers will spend their weekends in the city rather than in the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore. I too am guilty of fleeing the city whenever possible to escape the bounds of this concrete jungle for a more open environment. Open in the sense of boundaries, open in the sense of horizons. Cool beach breezes are more desirable than hot subway platforms any day in my opinion. Late work weeks and trips outside the city have kept me busy, but I do want to recap some great summer moments before the excitement of fall hits.

Early in the month, Corey (a co-worker) and I gave a beer presentation at work. We covered some basic beer knowledge that we thought it was important to know. Before the presentation we were given the opportunity to meet with chef Nick and discuss some possible beer/food pairings. During this meeting, the kitchen at Maialino prepared a variety of food to taste with our artisanal beer selection. Our first course included a bunch of our smaller, fried dishes including baccala, octopus, artichokes, and zucchini. It also included one of my favorite bar snacks--sweetbreads and mushrooms wrapped in prosciutto. We found a lot of good pairing combos, but thats probably no surprise considering beer and fried food go hand in hand. Our second course consisted of a few of our pastas including the tonnarelli, picci, vongole, and carbonara. This was definitely the hardest course to make solid pairings. Our next course was our entree course and included the spigola(sea bass), maialino (suckling pig), pollo diavolo (chicken), and spezzatino (lamb). Somehow we managed to move on to dessert where we had great success with the Verdi stout and the chocolate tort. After all said and done-- we ate some great food, drank some good beer, and made some good pairings in the process. It was an educational process that turned out to be one of my best food adventures of the summer.

It gets better! Garret Oliver, head brewer/partner of Brooklyn Brewery, was a guest speaker at our presentation. Not only was it cool to hear him speak, but Corey and I got to have dinner with him afterwards. We sat in the bar area of Maialino and the kitchen cooked for us. They sent us out an array of food including pork ribs, lamb ribs, agnolotti, picci, bolognese, animelle, meatballs and a few other goodies including dessert. Not only were we enjoying some great food and beer; but we were doing it with one of the most influential brewers in the country. Garret is a pretty big deal in the world of brewing, so it was awesome to pick his brain. Signing up for this beer presentation was the best thing I've done in awhile.

Another great summer moment was a trip to the Boardy Barn for my roommate J-blow's bday. Boardy Barn is said to be the ultimate Sunday fun-day spot with tons of beer, dancing, and smiley-face stickers. Boardy Barn is rumored to sell more beer than Yankee Stadium--I don't know if thats true; but if so then thats impressive. It was raining, but that didn't stop our 34-person party bus from pulling up to this Hampton Bays hotspot. I believe the Barn is only open on Sundays, so people flock here rain or shine. You probably won't leave the Barn dry anyway, so weather doesn't really matter. Just plan on throwing out your clothes and being extremely hungover for work the next day. The Barn brings out your inner party animal and reminds you of your wild college days. Boardy Barn is open till Labor Day so you still have some time to check it out. Whether you're on your way back from the Hamptons or you make a special trip, Boardy Barn is worth the trip and probably the best sunday fun-day experience you will ever have.

On a more educational note, one of my favorite summer experiences was on a work field trip to Liberty Farms in Pennsylvania. Liberty Farms, one of our purveyors at Maialino, invited us for a day on the farm. After a tour of the property, we ate lunch. Chef Nick and some other BOH staff made a delicious tomato salad from the 50+ varieties planted on the farm. Scallions, basil, and olive oil brightened up the salad and made it something to remember. After lunch, we were put to work. Picking potatoes, thinning beats, and picking basil were just a few jobs that I got to help out with. It was a great experience to see where our food comes from and see the care that goes into it. A farmer is a farmer because they love what they do and it really shows in the quality product they produce. If you are ever given the opportunity to work on a farm, I highly suggest it. Its back-breaking work, but there's something cool about farming your own food.

Summer was filled with a ton of great food moments from going out to new restaurants to BBQing down the shore. Fresh, local seafood at Blue Claw Seafood Market or trips to the Chicken or the Egg are going to make me miss summer.

Photos of Summer