Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kion Lounge (509 E. 6th St. btwn. A & B)

I generally consider 6th street between A & B the East Village's version of Club Row. All of the bars & restaurants seem out of place (except Buenos Aires & Joe's). I was a bit skeptical when a friend suggested that we go to Kion Lounge which serves Peruvian & Japanese Cuisine. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the food was good & that it wasn't full of douchebags.

We decided to eat at the bar & started with soups. Jhonny & I got the Miso soup & my other buddy opted for Pork Ramen. The Miso was pretty much standard fare, but the Ramen was very well received. I guess I'll have to try that if I go back there.

I was really in the mood for Sushi, so I ordered from the Japanese portion of the Menu.

Eel, Cucumber & Avocado Roll. Tempura Shrimp & Avocado Roll w/Tobiko. Both were very good & suprisingly fresh.

California Roll. Rainbow Roll. Jhonny ordered this, so I can't comment on it's taste. I'm not such a big fan of California Rolls though...

Deep ordered the Lamb Shank which I tasted & thought it was very good. Served simply with veggies, a salad & mash.

I enjoyed the food, but Kion is really not my first choice for sushi in the East Village. It's more of a club/lounge than a restaurant & I can imagine it being packed to the gills on Fridays & Saturdays. If you're in the 'hood, give it a try though.

La Bottega (363 W. 16th St @ Maritime Hotel)

I generally refuse to leave the East Village, but last Saturday Dan & I put on ties & ate at La Bottega on the west side. It wasn't busy at all, so we got a seat immediately. We ordered a bottle of Nebbiolo from their amazing wine selection along with the meat & cheese plates which we shared.

I really enjoyed the meats, in particular the prosciutto & the speck. There were some interesting cheeses as well, I liked them all, except for a ricotta that they had which was very dense (it must have been pressed) & unlike anything I've ever had before. With every bite, all I could think of was 'chalk'. The plate came with grapes & an amazing honey.

Dan ordered the Pork Chop w/ Roasted Veg & I got the special, a Pork Jowl Bucatini. I liked my dish, but Dan's pork chop was sublime. it was the juiciest, most tender piece of pork that I've ever had (& I've had a lot of pork in my time). I really cannot describe how good that dish was.

We had polished off our bottle of Nebbiolo pretty quickly, so we moved on to a delicious Rose Prosecco. By now it was dessert time, so we ordered the bread pudding which was served with ice cream & marzipan (which I haven't had in ages). A great end to the meal.

La Bottega is a bit out of the way for me (as I mentioned before), so I won't be going regularly, but I really enjoyed my meal & I highly reccommend the pork chop.

Peasant (194 Elizabeth St @ Spring St.)

I had a chance to eat at Peasant recently, it was a spur of the moment thing & I didn't have my camera, but I'll attempt to describe the meal as best I can. It was a Friday night & the original reservation was at 10pm for 2, but as the night wore on, more & more of us decided to tag along. In the end there were 6 of us. When we arrived, or table wasn't ready, so we ended up sitting by the bar & drinking wine till just after 11.

We shared 3 starters; Mozzarella Di Bufala, Bocconcini & the special of the night, Rabbit Livers. The cheese was really fresh & creamy, but the showstopper were the livers, truly amazing. I've never had rabbit liver before, but trust me when I say that I'll be ordering them whenever I see them on a menu.

I ordered the Stuffed Quail w/Polenta which was really, really good. The Lasagne Con Capretto was also very popular with the diners. Despite the long wait to be seated (not their fault really), the entire meal was very satisfying. The food was excellent, the service was out of this world & the decor of Peasant is awesome, particulartly the kitchen. It's a bit on the pricey side, but I think that it's worth it... Go there if you like rustic Italian food & good wine.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pete takes us to China.

The Club braved the cold yesterday & headed over to Pete's house for the first meal of 2009. We had all seen the menu the day before & I was really excited as Chinese cuisine is not something I typically try at home (aside from the occasional dodgy fried rice). Upon arrival we were greeted with prawn crackers & a delicious Thai-inspired peanut & cilantro dipping sauce.

1) Maine Shrimp served 3 ways.

Pete decided to throw in an extra course, so while we were munching on crackers & downing beers, he was busy peeling shrimp & plating. Soon enough, we were at the table & getting ready to eat. The raw shrimp was insanely creamy, with an amazing texture & sweet taste.

The first one was topped simply with lime juice & zest. Simple yet very effective. Next was something that I've never seen or heard of before; Pork Sung. According to the geniuses at Wikipedia, it's basically shredded & dried pork. it was like pork cotton candy & tasted awesome with the shrimp. Finally, a tiny fried anchovy with a spicy (really spicy) hot sauce. Call me a wuss, but I downed my beer after this one - really good though! An excellent start to the night!

2) Golden Purse Pork Dumplings & Vegetarian Roast Duck Rolls.

The pork dumplings were probably the best I've ever had. Crispy on the outside & the pork inside was amazing. I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical when I saw 'veggie roast duck' on the menu, but again, Pete served up an ingredient that I'd never heard of; Seitan. 'Wheat gluten commonly used as a meat substitute', ah, it all makes sense (& tastes great). Along with our 'duck' in the rolls were shrimp and vegetables. This dish came with 2 dipping sauces, the peanut/cilantro one & basil/chili sauce; both delicious.

3) Vietnamese Spare Ribs.

More pork, YES! I never met a part of a pig that I didn't like, but these ribs were insanely good. Tender, well seasoned & awesome with a delicious, light dipping sauce. I needed to take some time to reposition my expanded belly after this course, so we took a little break while Pete worked on the final course.

4) Gen. Tso's Chicken, Yangzhou Fried Rice & Pea Shoots.

Pete whipped out the biggest wok that I've ever seen outside of a Chinese restaurant & taunted his stove top to get hot enough so he could properly cook all 3 dishes (more on that later). Normally, I'd just talk about the flavors of the dish, but I have to mention the entire cooking process as well as Pete's skill with a wok was a sight to behold.

The chicken had been seasoned & deep fried earlier (while we were eating our prawn crackers), so all they needed was a light stir fry & sauce. Pete added ginger & garlic to peanut oil, then the chicken was stir fried, followed by hoisin sauce, dark soy, sugar & other ingredients. This gave them a far darker color & a less syrupy sauce than I'm normally used to when ordering from restaurants. It wasn't as sweet either & in my opinion, tasted far better.

Again, the pea shoots were stir fried in the wok with garlic & ginger. A bit of oyster sauce was added mid stir fry & the shoots gave off a lot of liquid, making a delicious sauce. They had a slightly bitter aftertaste which I liked. Teddy was ecstatic though & couldn't stop eating them. Great stuff!

Finally, onto my personal favorite of this course, the Yangzhou (or Young Chow) fried rice. Pete had done all of his prep, so he had all of the ingredients ready to go; garlic, ginger, Chinese sausage, Berkshire pork, chicken, shrimp, peas, onions, cabbage & cold (very important) rice.

By this time, it was really hard to get the wok hot enough, so Pete decided to move outdoors & power up his jet engine of a turkey fryer. Needless to say, the rice stir fried quite nicely! Basically, I couldn't get enough of this stuff. I'd have eating the entire platter if given half a chance! There's no way to describe how good it was!

5) Honey Crisp Apple Tart Tatin with Creme Fraiche.

Totally not Chinese, but by this time I really couldn't care less. Pete could have served up his shoe & I would have been happy. Simple yet delicious, I really enjoyed the crust.

We decided to skip the coffee & go with something with a little more bite. As you can see, Teddy approves! This was a really memorable meal & a great way to start the 2009 culinary season, Bravo Pete! I'm up next week & I have no idea how to top this one, or if it's even possible. We'll have to wait & see!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dram Shop (339 9th St.)

There seems to be a lot of pickling going on on the blog... Teddy did carrots & other veggies, but I had a chance to 'pickle' my liver at Dram shop which is one of the few reasons that I leave my beloved island of Manhattan (other than cooking club).

I've been there several times just for drinks & general merriment, but this last time, I actually had some food. Ok, so they were only buffalo wings, but they were some of the best I've had in NY. I've also heard great things about Dram Shop's burger, so I'll have to try that next time.

There is a sizable selection of beers & the staff are friendly. Add shuffleboard (which I am quickly becoming addicted to), darts, board games & pool into the mix & you're sure to have a great time.

Chocolate Bar Closes!

You may have (but probably didn't) read about my love for Chocolate Bar on 7th St. in the East Village. Well shortly after my post, the shutters came down & they were never open. I can report now that they've officially closed & are moving back to the West side. Boo!

Source: EV Grieve

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Picking Pickled Peppers.....and Carrots.

A bunch of carrots and jalapenos staring me in the face. They've been sitting in the fridge, waiting to be called up for a soup, braise or saute....what to do with them? I thought I'd try something different this time. Being a complete rookie to the pickling game, I had to find a simple recipe that utilized the meager contents of my pantry. Lazy, yet resourceful. After scouring the Internets, I was able to combine a few different recipes to fit my needs.

Here is what I did...

1 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
3 large whole jalapenos, sliced down the side to allow the pickling liquid in
4 shallots, peeled, but kept whole
3 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed

All of the veg was tossed snugly into the bottom of a container. I used a 4 cup, unbreakable plastic jug with a lock-down lid ($10 at Williams-Sonoma).

The pickling liquid contained:

1 1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 cup vinegar (I used regular white vinegar, but cider or red wine could be used to add a different flavor)
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp allspice seeds
4 tiny bay leaves (or 2 large)

All of these ingredients were brought to a boil in a medium saucepan and then simmered for 3 minutes. Pour the liquid over the veg and let cool. Snap down the lid and set aside.

I've read that they should be ready to eat in 3-4 days, but i'm going to let these puppies sit for much longer. Most likely 2-3 weeks before prying open the lid and snacking away.......if I can hold out that long.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Delicious Links

1) The Lunch Belle wages war on our arteries (with bacon!)
2) Doggy Bloggy goes native (with pork!)
3) Grant & Kate meet Jaws (no swine!)
4) Brooklyn Kitchen makes a mockery of Charlotte's Web (Extra helpings of pig!)
5) Section oranges like a pro

Have a good link? Post a comment & maybe it'll make it to the next installment!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fu Sushi (182 Avenue B)

I was looking for a sushi spot to take my Mom to for her birthday & I came across Fu Sushi. F U Sushi? Is that like Up Yours Burger on Avenue A? Jokes aside, I later learned that the place is owned & run by a certain Mr. Fu, which explains the name.

They opened a few months ago in a space that was a crusty old clothing store & the decor is pretty simple, with plenty of cozy tables & the sushi bar & kitchen at the far end. We were offered tea & water as soon as we sat down as we looked through the menu.

We were having a conversation about how we both hated any sort of sushi with cream cheese on it & presto, the chef sent out an amuse bouche of tuna 'crunch' on a corn cracker with guess what: cream cheese! Oh, the irony. It was actually really good though.

We decided to order the Sushi & Sashimi combination for 1 as a starter while we looked for more stuff to order. It took quite a while to come out as it's obvious that the chef takes decoration very seriously & I'll admit that it looked like a piece of art (which we eventually defaced).

I still can't get over how much food there was. Both of us were stuffed after eating the plate (& we still had a few pieces left). The White Tuna was by far my favorite, but there was 2 pieces of clam sashimi (we had to ask what it was), that both of us really didn't like, just a matter of our own tastes.

Mom-Dukes got an order of Uni (Sea Urchin) as well, which was equally as attractive. I didn't try it, but she looked very pleased.

After we were done, they sent out a martini glass full of sectioned oranges which were deliciously sweet.

The food was excellent, the service was amazing (no teacup went unfilled!) & it was incredibly well priced. My only real gripe was the lack of booze. Community Board 3 turned down their liquor license as they're in a CB3 resolution area, a real bummer!

I certainly will be coming back here soon & I hope that the massive portions & the lack of booze doesn't lead to an early demise...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Putting up

Everybody has to put up once in a while. I know I do. Try living with a Yale/Georgetown litigator. She's doing so well. I am not. And now, in the grimy (and sometimes joyous) throes of unemployment, I find myself with a lot of time on my filthy mitts. So, I find myself putting up again.

A lazy visit to my local supermarche revealed heaps of tomatoes, the sweet 100 kind, no doubt from Argentina and Colombia where the farmers have delicious sun-drenched all-year seasons while ours in the northern hemisphere wilt spectacularly. They are indeed lucky little plump red bastards, (the people and the tomatoes) dwelling in conditionales especial, as they do year-round between 30 and -30 degrees latitude.

I wanted to preserve those little kernels of sunshine and happiness (the tomatoes, not the people) and in the presence of an overwhelming glut of olive oil and jars, I set about dehydrating the little sods to augment their majestic flavour.

Take four 'punnets' of small, and I mean small, tomatoes, rinse thoroughly and set your oven to 200F. Spread em out on a baking tray covered with foil, lubricate with the olive oil of your choice, not too much, season with Maldon and black pepper, two half-heads of garlic face down on the pan so they dont' burn, and swidge all around on the tray. Scatter a few leaves of thyme, bake for one hour. Remove from the oven, sit in a warm place where they can release their useless H2o, for maybe 20 mins. Taste and revel in the the concentrated tomato flavour. Bung the results into jars, with the sweet garlic cloves squeezed from their fibrous and charred dwellings and tuck some twigs of thyme into the recesses. Top up with good olive oil.

I added a few cheeky slices of kumquat to embellish the acidity and citric sweetness. I closed the lids smugly, rewarded myself with a superb martini, stood back and admired the results. Like something you'd find in Dean &Deluca, no?

Let them chill to the max on a shelf of your choosing. Perhaps somewhere they might get noticed eh? Leave alone. For ages.

The temptation is to eat them too soon, but hold back brothers and sisters. Their taste (and the resulting oil) is far better if left alone for at least a month. Or two.

They are brilliant for garnishing braised meats to cut through the richness (OK short rib fans) or a nice piece of roasted halibut.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Remember Christmas Day? I don't.....

After a late start, at 11am, I knew I had my work cut out. To be honest the first three hours are a blur. I peeled carrots, made an agave and ginger glaze, I stuffed and roasted a goose, cooked off the game sausages I made, made a rich oh-so-rich cauli cheese, crisped up some bacon to go on top, chopped to scallions to top the cauli too, sliced and dressed parsnips, cleaned the house, washed my head, tapped the fat from the goose to make some uber-crispy roast potatoes, wrapped dates in bacon for cocktail-hour nibbles, creamed some spud for the venison and elk shepherds pie and then nipped down the road for a quick pint with my boss and sprinted back for 3.30pm to greet my hungry guests. Talk about full-on. I thought I might be able to chill for a few minutes, but the Cunninghams turned up super-puncutally, and the game was on, again. Good job they turned up clutching a bottle of bubbles and four bottles of delicious Burgundy, I was in need of some bubbles to maintain my stamina. I did have time to mix a promising martini, which I gulped down feverishly, and two by two the others guests began to show up. All brining enormous quantities of wine, beer and spirits. Fantastic.

After the gulped vodka and the glass of bubbles, my nerves were soothed and I was able to relax somewhat and think about my serving strategy. Mike had made a creamy apple and celeriac soup, which he would annoint with truffle oil, and all I had to do was cut some bread for toast. The devils on horseback were passed around (some lucky sods got two bites of the prune), the soup was served, and all the dishes were placed in a low oven to come up to serving temperature.

At around 8.30pm, some twit suggested 'creme anglaise martinis' (maybe that was me) and the rest of the evening is a bit hazy, but pictures speak a thousands of words. Don't they?

Max assumed his rightful position at the lappy to play computer games:

Guests start to feel the Burgundy:

And the vodka:

My Thursday Clubbers did me proud:

Beerman cracks a filthy joke:

The guest of honour, crisped to a tee and juicier than a direct hit on a Del Monte factory:

Cauli cheese, flanked by the game bangers:

It's all about the nippers on Christmas Day:

The missus considers drinking her new perfume:

JC has his own ideas about dessert:

The wife passes out at 9.30pm:

I think about cleaning up:

And I consider the path all this food is about to take:
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