Fried goodness

This weekend my friend and I were walking through a street fair on Lexington Ave. when I mentioned that I had somehow never had a fried Oreo, a fried Twinkie or any of the other over-the-top fatty fried anythings that have become synonymous with carnivals and fairs. No sooner had I said the words when BAM! A fried Oreo stand! It was practically a sign from God. We needed to try them.

Fried Oreos

Golden, warm and doughy soft on the outside with powdered sugar on top and that crunchy black Oreo goodness inside, these fried calorie bombs were delicious. A little messy and perhaps gluttonous, but man, were they good.

NOTE: I don’t have a close-up picture of an actual fried Oreo because to be honest, it wasn’t around long enough to be photographed. I practically inhaled it. True story, folks.

Vietnam on the brain (and stomach)

Lately I’ve been on a serious Vietnam kick. After reading Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour, a collection of stories based on some of the episodes of his Travel Channel show No Reservations, I’ve decided that’s where I want to go, Vietnam. He also wrote about Portugal, Morocco, Spain and Cambodia among others but it was his chapters on Vietnam that really hooked me. I did some other reading, checked out Lonely Planet, and even thought, hell, let’s see what a round trip ticket might cost me. The answer? A lot. Duh, no surprises there. But even if they were giving away airfare, I couldn’t take the time off so yea, so much for that plan.

My wanderlust hopes might’ve been dashed but I still had Vietnam on the brain. More than anything, Bourdain had got to me with all his talk of Vietnamese food. So since I couldn’t make it to the actual country, I went in search of the food.

Vegetable spring rolls

Bao Noodles, a cozy bistro-like restaurant on a quiet stretch of second avenue close to my apartment, had good reviews and I liked it from the start. It was cute, our waiter was smiley and chipper without being obnoxious, and the menu had lots of things on it without being completely overwhelming. Continue reading

My kind of food court

Sometimes I really love my job. Last night was one of those times.

Because I’m a card carrying member of the media, I was invited to a press preview of The Plaza Hotel‘s new Food Hall, an upscale food court by celebrity chef and restaurateur Todd English. But because it’s The Plaza and not your average gathering place for pimply faced teenagers, scratch  any thoughts of greasy chinese food or day-old pizza slices baking under heat lamps. Instead, the Food Hall is elegant and softly lit with eight different stations: a sweets and coffee bar, a cheese and charcuterie counter, a sushi bar, a wine bar, a seafood grill and raw bar, an Asian dumpling and noodle section, a brick oven pizza counter, and a grill and rotisserie. On top of all that, the Food Hall also sells an assortment of imported and gourmet jams, sauces, oils and all sorts of other specialty food items.

In the center of the hall, the fish and seafood grill

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Island living and eating

Right before catching a plane back to New York we decided to eat one last meal in Florida, and what better place to wrap up a a relaxing beach weekend than at Tommy Bahama.

Didn’t know Tommy Bahama sold food? Yea well, me either. I thought they only sold linen shirts, swim trunks and other I’m-on-vacation clothing but apparently the “Purveyor of Island Lifestyles” also has a chain of restaurants. We made a pit stop in Sarasota and checked it out.

I have to say, I was somewhat skeptical. In my head I was ready to write the whole place off. Beachwear and food shouldn’t necessarily come from the same place, right? I mean, I don’t pick up bikinis at the supermarket. Just because Tommy could make nice casual island getups didn’t mean he come make nice food,  I reasoned. But I’m happy to report, I was wrong.

Fish tacos

Going with the recommendation of someone who’d already been there, I went with the fish tacos. One, because it seemed fitting to eat seafood in a beach town and two, because I’d never actually had fish tacos before. (I’m usually a beef or chicken kind of girl.) The three soft, white corn tortillas full of blackened fish (no, I actually don’t know exactly what fish), pico de gallo and a spicy chipotle aioli sauce were colorful in appearance and taste. The fish was tender and soft with that slightly burnt spiciness I love from the blackened outside. The other ingredients gave it a zesty, peppery savoriness that was refreshingly unlike most tacos I’ve eaten. With the tacos came a kind of weird side: three fried plantains in a crispy tortilla shell filled with a pineapple and coconut  sauce. I love plantains so I of course ate this up quickly, but I didn’t get why they were cold, almost like they’d been pulled out of the fridge. Maybe it was to play off the warmer flavors of the tacos, but this could of been much better if they were heated up.

Key Lime Pie

My last wish while in my ol’ home state was that I get a slice of my favorite Florida dessert: Key lime pie. Tommy’s was good, and as the waiter had put it, was “not too sweet, not too tart.” It had a nice thick, creamy consistency and a subtle citrus after taste. My only suggestion for improvement would’ve been to top it with a little less whip cream.  All that fluffy white cream took the spotlight off the tangy key lime flavor. Aside from that, it was a sweet adieu to Florida. I had another island to get back to and Tommy Bahama wasn’t exactly the purveyor of that one’s lifestyle.

“If you like piña coladas…”

It's not a beach vacation without one.

I’m not the Sunshine State’s biggest fan, but seriously, nothing tops the feeling of lounging on a quiet stretch of beach with a piña colada in hand, toes in the sand, breeze through your hair and nothing but turquoise water clear to the horizon, all a thousand miles away from work and the hubbub of New York. Eighty percent humidity never felt so good.

Master Fat

I was going through my usual weeknight post-work, post-dinner, pre-bedtime routine of sitting on the couch, TV on, headphone wearing boyfriend next to me, feet propped up on the coffee table, laptop on my lap routine of Facebooking and general online browsing when something I read made me stop cold. My fingers froze over the keys. My eyes shot open and I gasped— a long, over dramatic, hand-to-my-chest gasp.

Recession special

“What is it?” asked Flaneur, looking slightly worried as he pulled off a headphone and paused what he was working on.

I turned the computer toward him, pointing to the screen with Sam Sifton’s latest review.

“The Fatty Crab people opened another restaurant. In Brooklyn. Fatty ‘Cue. ‘Cue as in barbeque. Fatty Crab meets barbeque!”

[Pause]

“We need to go. Soon. Really soon.”

Looking to avoid a long wait (because like Fatty Crab, they don’t take reservations), we went last night, a Wednesday. But because I forgot to write down directions, we stumbled around Williamsburg lost, walking up and down the same street (also, the wrong street) three times before finally realizing that we were a good twelve blocks from where we needed to be. When we finally found it, nestled in between a bunch of ugly buildings on an ugly street, I had worked up a monstrous appetite. Continue reading

Non-edible food purchase (almost)

I love office supplies

If it wasn’t for the fact that I have a perfectly fine stapler already sitting on my desk (albeit a big clunky one in a drab institutional gray) I totally would have bought this sushi stapler I saw at Urban Outfitters. If I ever used a stapler at home, I would have bought this one but then again, I don’t ever staple anything at home. Point is, this stapler is awesome.

Haute stoner cuisine

There’s a great story in The New York Times today about the creative effect pot has on chefs who smoke. The Times calls it “haute stoner cuisine” and I think it has a nice ring to it. So much better than munchies. Forget about the disgusting food you wolfed down in college, stoned out of your mind at 3 in the morning (McGriddles anyone?). The food they’re talking about isn’t on the dollar menu and the chefs aren’t bloodshot-eyed stoners working the late shift. These are professionals who are passionate about what they do. What they come up with in the kitchen, whether stoned or not, ends up being some of the best, most inventive, most delicious food out there. So who cares if they smoke a little pot?

Roy Choi, owner of Kogi Korean taco trucks in L.A. summed it up nicely.

“It’s good music, maybe a little weed and really good times and great food that makes you feel good,” he said.

Anyway, here’s the story. Enjoy:  Chefs Using Marijuana Create a New Kitchen Culture

Who’s your Babbo?

When my sister told me she’d be coming to visit for her 23rd birthday and wanted to go somewhere nice for dinner, I consulted my restaurant to-do list, read reviews, asked friends, compared menus and instead of picking one, I sent her a list of five places to choose from.

She was picky as a child and still not a very adventurous eater today, so I wasn’t surprised when she passed on my exotic options like Malaysian, Korean and Lebanese and instead went for the one Italian restaurant on the list.

Italian food is safe, I’m sure she assumed. Nothing weird about a bowl of pasta, right?

But where we went was anything but your usual Italian restaurant. Babbo, Mario Batali’s Greenwich Village take on Italian food, was creative, inventive and bold in flavor and personality—  not the place to go to for a safe plate of spaghetti and meatballs. And while the ingredients were Italian,  you won’t find the dishes you fell in love with on that last trip across the pond. Everything at Babbo (Tuscan slang for daddy) was unlike anything else anywhere else.

My sister was a little hesitant and her boyfriend, who I found out just that night is a seriously picky eater, looked on the verge of breaking out into a nervous sweat. Meanwhile me and my boyfriend debated back and forth on what to get, excitedly pointing out different menu items and listening with rapt attention as the waiter described the specials for the night.

To my sister and her boyfriend’s horror, Flaneur started things off with a lamb’s tongue antipasto. Soft, diced tongue was mixed around in a heap of Chanterelle mushrooms, all of it cooked to an earthy brown color and a smooth consistency. Resting on top was a “3-minute” egg (i.e. a poached egg that’s boiled for no more than three minutes) which when poked with a fork, oozed with runny, orange yolk. It had a pungent, almost sour taste which I thought was delicious for a couple of forkfuls but then became almost overwhelming. My sister and her boyfriend watched in disgust as we cleaned the plate.

Warm lamb's tongue vinaigrette

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