Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MOMA Food Art

Food at the Museum of Modern Art

No More Biscuit Rolling Here

Sunday, June 27, 2010


"If you read my blog, you'll know that I'm a pilates freak. And by pilates, I mean waffles."

--Zach Galifianakis

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?

America's favorite father as a food critic...

Marge: Who wants pork chops?!

Homer: [carefully tasting the food] Sorry Marge, I'm afraid this gets my lowest rating ever. Seven thumbs up.

Marge: You always liked my pork chops.

Homer: Marge, I'm sorry, but your cooking's only got two moves, Shake and Bake.

Marge: You like Shake n' Bake. You used to put it in your coffee.

Homer: People change, Marge. My palate has grown more sophisticated.

Marge: Oh yeah, what's a palate?

Homer: Oh ... it's a ... special time in a boys life when ... got to go! [rushes out]

--The Simpsons, "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?"


Anyone who reads this blog probably knows by now about my obsession with oysters, so I don’t need to regale you with more adjectives describing my undying passion for these beautiful gems of the ocean. I will, however, share my new found NYC seafood spot—Fish. I first heard about Fish back in November when I met my sister Sonya’s boyfriend, Patrick for the first time. (Note: If you want to bond with me just mention oysters and it’s likely we’ll be friends forever.) When Pat found out I was into oysters he informed me about the best oyster deal around—the Red, White, and Blue Special at Fish. You get a half-dozen Blue Points or clams and your choice of a glass of red wine, white wine, or Pabst Blue Ribbon for just eight bucks. That’s right, eight dollars. At most restaurants you’d be paying eight bucks just for the wine, let alone six succulent oysters.

So ever since that fateful November day I’ve been dreaming about this mythical Red, White, and Blue Special. And finally—seven months later—I made the pilgrimage with Sonya and Patrick. It was everything I desired and more.

We each ordered a Red, White, and Blue Special. I opted for white, Sonya went for red, and Patrick upgraded from blue to black (Guinness). In addition to the half-dozen Blue Points I decided to try two other varieties—a Kummomoto from the West Coast and a Malpeque from eastern waters. I tasted the Kummomoto first—I’d never tried West Coast oysters before and I was pleasantly surprised. Don’t you absolutely love that the flavors of oysters change depending on what waters they lived in? As Pat phrased it, West Coast oysters taste more buttery and less briny. The seemed to have a less intense ocean flavor while still remaining delicately decadent.

A West Coast Kummomoto and an East Coast Malpeque

The Blue Points were simple and classic East Coast oysters—highly enjoyable and garnished with just a squeeze of lemon. While I don’t usually add Mignotte sauce (vinaigrette made of shallots with lemon or sherry vinegar) I decided to try the Mignotte at Fish and found it to be probably the best I’ve ever had, elevating the flavors of the oysters rather than masking them.

Blue Points

Sonya ordered a lobster bisque, which was smooth, creamy, and complete with thick pieces of lobster. Pat’s clam chowder was amazing—nice juicy clams and potatoes swimming in one of the best chowder broths I’ve tasted. Rather than being super thick and dense like many clam chowders, this broth was very light while still retaining a creamy texture.

Lobster Bisque

Clam Chowder

Then came the Angels on Horseback—raw oysters wrapped in double-smoked bacon with horseradish and cocktail sauce. The genius of this appetizer is that it combines two of my favorite foods—bacon and oysters. If I didn’t enjoy them I don’t know if I could live with myself, but of course they were absolutely delicious—a little over the top and indulgent, but still delicious.

Angels on Horseback

With its exquisite raw bar, casual atmosphere, and the fact that servers wear shirts that say "Sex, Drugs, and Lobster Rolls," Fish exceeded my expectations and is definitely worth a visit for any lover of seafood. If you’re in the West Village, be sure to stop in and try the best oyster deal around!

Fish on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Tapas are a great way to dine out. Rather than each person ordering an individual meal, everyone can enjoy a taste of each dish. And since portions are small, it’s the perfect opportunity to order multiple plates, each one offering new flavors, spices, and textures.

At ALTA, located at 64 West 10th Street in New York City, I enjoyed an amazing meal of tapas with great company—my two sisters, Sonya and Tara, and Tara’s friend Suzanne.

We started off the night with drinks at the bar as we waited for our table to be ready. There was tasty sangria, robust Rioja wine, and mojitos. The mojitos at ALTA were phenomenal—light and refreshing, just as a mojito should be. Thankfully they didn’t overload the drinks with sugar as many bars make the unfortunate mistake of dousing the clean flavors with cloying syrup. Instead the mojitos were loaded with large leaves of bright green mint and just a hint of sweetness—simply lovely.

We ordered a bottle of Rioja to accompany the meal—a red wine from Spain that’s the perfect companion for tapas. To start we ordered a medley of Moroccan cured and Arbequina olives called Bella di Cerignola. They were delicious, salty olives that ranged in size and color. The most interesting were the super tiny olives—I’m not sure what they were called, but they were pretty damn cute and tasty.

Bella di Cerignola: Moroccan Cured and Arbequina Olives

After the that the dishes just kept flowing—crispy balls of fried goat cheese swimming in a little pool of lavender-infused honey; striped bass sashimi with truffle soy vinaigrette, crisp artichoke, and chive oil; beef Carpaccio with horseradish crème frâiche foam and orange supremes; avocado relleno with crabmeat and shrimp, frisee, and orange segments (we got two of these with one on the house because they had accidently made an extra plate in the kitchen); decadent seared foie gras on pan roasted brioche with mango ginger chutney, Persian pistachios, and bee pollen; pulled pork empanadas with sweet and spicy cilantro dipping sauce; braised short rib of beef with beet-barbaresco taglierini and fresh grated horseradish; and house-made Jonah crab ravioli with asparagus, sun-dried tomato, brown butter, and verjus emulsion.

As the meal progressed I became dizzy with the variety of flavors, the quality of ingredients, the rustic red wine, and the exquisite execution of each and every plate—each bit was a new journey in salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and savory (umami). Together they combined to release the perfect bust of happy chemicals, warming the body and tingling the mind and taste buds.

While each dish was excellent and decadent, I was particularly taken with the beef Carpaccio and the seared foie gras. Both dishes were completely new experiences for me. I’ve been interested in ordering beef Carpaccio for quite a while now, but every time the opportunity arose the person I was with wasn’t as thrilled as I was at the prospect of raw beef, and not knowing if I’d like it or not I didn’t want it to go to waste if it wasn’t to my taste. But when I saw it on the menu at ALTA I knew the moment was right—and it certainly was. It arrived with the beef spread thin and bright red, almost glowing on the plate, with just the light of the candle on the table enhancing its delicate appearance. It was adorned with horseradish crème frâiche foam and orange supremes. The taste was exquisite—the garnishes elevated the flavor of the beef to heights that would make one swoon.

Carpaccio of Beef with Horseradish Crème Frâiche Foam and Orange Supremes

But then there was the seared foie gras on pan roasted brioche with mango ginger chutney, Persian pistachios, and bee pollen. It was absolutely heavenly. Now, I’ve had pâté before, but I’ve never ventured into the realm of foie gras. I’m definitely hooked. The liver melted into the brioche like butter—it was smooth and velvety and rich and sensual and everything you could ask for in one simple bite, like a universe of flavors condensed into one mouthful. Beautiful.

Seared Foie Gras on Pan Roasted Brioche with Mango Ginger Chutney, Persian Pistachios, and Bee Pollen

The best part about the whole meal is that my “vegetarian” sister, Tara, ate her first piece of red meat in about ten years. I was so proud. Tara was a vegetarian for a very, very long time. About a year-and-a-half ago she started eating fish, and more recently she added chicken to her diet again. Suzanne had also refrained from eating red meat for years, but at ALTA they both unleashed, consuming the raw beef Carpaccio, seared foie gras, and braised short ribs with gusto…there was no holding back. My friend Jonas has been quoted as saying that eating meat again after being a vegetarian is like getting over an eating disorder. So for all you vegetarians out there who are ready to rid yourself of your wayward diet, apparently ALTA is the place to do it.

If you’re in the city, do yourself a favor and head to ALTA for delicious tapas, good wine, and an unforgettable dining experience. You won’t regret it.

Fried Goat Cheese and Lavender Infused Honey

Striped Bass Sashimi with Truffle Soy Vinaigrette, Crisp Artichoke, and Chive Oil

Avocado Relleno with Crabmeat and Shrimp, Frisee, and Orange Segments

Pulled Pork Empanadas with Sweet and Spicy Cilantro Dipping Sauce

Braised Short Rib of Beef with Beet-Barbaresco Taglierini, and Fresh Grated Horseradish

House-made Jonah Crab Ravioli with Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomato, Brown Butter, and Verjus Emulsion

Alta on Urbanspoon

White Lady with the Bread

The streets and subways of New York City offer the potential for interacting with a wide array of people. Last weekend I met a sous chef in Astoria who helped me navigate my way to the Upper West Side, saw a man rolling a blunt at 3 am on the subway, and was told by a stranger on the street that I was a beautiful girl. But the most interesting interaction by far was being serenaded on the 3 last Sunday.

Before getting on the train, my sister, Sonya, her boyfriend, Patrick, and I picked up some delicious baked goods for a quick breakfast. Patrick got an enormous, warm chocolate and peanut butter cookie, Sonya grabbed a whole wheat raisin roll, and I opted for a sourdough roll. We boarded the train with our snacks in hand and stood near a door—with one of my hands on a rail and the other grasping the tasty roll with a crusty exterior and soft center. As I stood there enjoying my bread an older black man set an amp down on the floor of the train in front of us and sat down on it with his guitar.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced, “I’m going to sing a song now. This one goes out the lady standing next to me—the white lady with the bread. And you know what your song is, white lady with the bread? It’s this one right here!”

And then those unmistakable notes were strummed on his guitar—dun, dun, da, da, da, da….dun, dun, da, da, da, da… “I got sunshine, on a cloudy day!” he burst out singing, “when it’s cold outside, I got this white lady with the bread—look at her, you know she got a college brain!”

Wow. I stood there—is this actually happening right now? I couldn’t help but smile and laugh.

“Come on, everybody, sing along!” he shouted, “Even the white people!!” And he entered into the chorus. “I guess you’d say,” and then a bunch of us on the train jumped in, “What can make me feel this way?”

“White lady with the bread, you’re my girl, my girl, my girl. Talkin’ ’bout my girl, my girl!”

“I’ve got so much honey, the bees envy me. I’ll bet this white lady with the bread’s got a college degree. I guess you’d say—everybody sing along—what can make me feel this way? My girl, talkin’ ’bout my girl, the pretty white lady with the bread, won’t you be my girl, my girl, my girl!”

But it didn’t end there.

“Now,” he said as the song ended, “for the white lady with the bread’s friend standing next to her.”

“Sister,” I corrected him.

“Her sister! For you, I’ve got another special song. For you, I’ll be there. For you, I’d even bring Michael Jackson back! Just call my name, and I’ll be there…Now if this guy with the water bottle next to you is your boyfriend, then you should know that he’s got another girlfriend back home. But he’ll still take you there. And if he doesn’t,” he paused, “I’ll be there.”

“Just call my name,” he continued, “Everyone sing along, even the white people, I’ll be there! Well don’t you know, baby yeah, if you need me, we can go back to my place and drink champagne out of mason jars—just call my name, and I’ll be there, I’ll be there.”

As he finished up the song he announced, “Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I’ll accept any donation. It’s appreciated—I’ll take money, water bottles, child molest—I mean child support money,” and he made his down the train, “college credits, food stamps…anything.”

So, if you see this man on the subway, please throw him a buck or two, because as the white lady with the bread, he sure made my day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bacon Maple Doughnuts

Is everyone aware that there exists a bacon maple doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon? I heard about these mythical treats a couple of years ago, and I do believe it's time to make the pilgrimage. Look at's a thing of beauty--the holy grail of doughnuts for foodies everywhere!

Bacon Maple Bar, I've got just a few words for you: One way, or another, I'm gonna find ya...I'm gonna getchya, getchya, getchya!

Food York

A visit to New York City this past weekend was simply filled with inspiring food experiences. It's difficult to not eat good food in the city--even just walking down the street the air is laden with the scent of delectable treats. There's sizzling meat, mustard on soft pretzels and hot dogs, and gourmet ice-cream trucks. Roasted corn-on-the-cob at a street festival dispels a smoky sweet smell among the shoppers. In Brooklyn take-out margaritas in styrofoam cups litter McCarren Park. Warm bagels are slathered in soft cream cheese on a Saturday morning. Delightful sushi dinners are accompanied with all-you-can-drink sake. And of course, sex, drugs, and lobster rolls. The list is endless and it changes with each day in the city.

New York is a conglomerate of various people from around the world with different motivations and intentions. It's no wonder that regardless of what food you're in the mood for, you can almost always find it in New York. The variety stimulates the senses--each bite offers a new opportunity to experience the richness of life through taste, smell, and texture. As your body transforms the deliciousness of the city's food into energy, the soul of New York becomes a part of you as well. Welcome to Food York...

New York Cheesecake

"When a man is tired of New York he is tired of work. And thought. And cheesecake."

--David Frost

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sublime Moments

"For me, the cooking life has been a long love affair, with moments both sublime and ridiculous."

--Anthony Bourdain