Mini version, massive deliciousness

My mom does this thing that probably only I find irritating: the woman loves to speak in diminutives, which in Spanish, exist for every freaking word. In English, a small table is just that, a small table. In Spanish, it’s una mesita. A small dog? Un perrito. A small house? Una casita. I don’t know why, but it just gets under my skin.

img_7896So when my roommate told me about these things called mofonguitos, the diminutive of the Carribean dish mofongo, I grit my teeth for a second and maybe got a twitch in my eye. When I saw the pictures, however, my only question was when are we having these?

And so we found ourselves at the very tippy top of Manhattan, squeezed into a small table at a no-frills place called Bombonada, while Spanish music blared from the kitchen and we stuffed our faces with one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, handheld versions of the normally plated mofongo.

img_7893Traditionally served as a heap of mashed fried plantain, topped with a stew-like sauce, cheese, rice and a protein of your choice, here the plantain mash was used to make palm-sized cups that were then filled with all manner of tastiness: shrimp, ground beef, pork, chicken, all saucy and juicy, topped with a thick layer of gooey, melted cheese.

At first glance, they kind of look like the potato skins from Friday’s that I so dearly loved as a kid, but these, totally different, were worlds better. We had a few different kinds, (not all photographed because honestly, they just weren’t on the table long enough to get their photos snapped before being devoured) but I think my favorite might have been the ground beef, because it was so rich and hearty, completely over the top and gluttonous.

Yes, the name still kind of grates on my nerves but when something is as ridiculously good as that, I could forgive an annoying name any day.

Hot fix for a summer cold

Ladies and gents, I am comin’ to you live from SNOT CITY. That’s disgusting, yes, I know. And I’m sorry— kind of—because you clearly didn’t come here to read about the drama that is my sinus cavity right now, but it’s true. I’m in the midst of an obnoxious summer cold, and it sucks.

Sorry folks, it's not all food porn here.

Sorry folks, it’s not all food porn here.

I’m all red nosed and stuffy, bursting into sneezing fits every quarter hour or so, and I have a cough that feels like there’s a lone Pop Rock lodged in my throat. And so help me God, if I have to eat one more cherry flavored zinc lozenge, I’m gonna vomit.

Yesterday after leaving work, where the indoor temperature is precisely 30 below zero, the only thing I wanted was a hot cup of bone broth. Not only is it pretty much soup I can walk with, but it also has damn near magical healing powers. Bone broth is allegedly full of minerals and other good stuff that help aid the immune system and reduce intestinal inflammation (Woof. How terrible does that sound?) as well as help you sleep better, boost energy and keep you looking young (HOLLA!) thanks to collagen.

A few places in the city have it, but the closest to me at the time was Barney’s Bone Broth, a small walk up window near NYU. I went with Barney’s Signature broth, made from grass fed veal and beef bones, chicken, carrots, celery, onions, thyme, rosemary, garlic and parsley, all served piping hot in a to-go cup.

Even on a warm summer day, the hot bone broth was comforting and delicious, a portable soup-as-cold remedy for a sick girl on the go.

Pub grubbing

Here in the land of the free and home of the brave, eating in a pub usually entails greasy potato skins, goopy chicken wings, baskets of tater tots, or the odd pretzel dog (Rusty Knot, I’m looking at you).  But across the Atlantic, over in England, I love that eating in a pub can be so much more civilized.

What I eat at bars in the States would make my mother burst into tears (especially if she knew how much I’d drank to arrive at the point of eating in a bar) but what I’ve eaten at pubs in London would make her beam with pride at my ability to recognize a balanced meal and vegetables that haven’t been deep fried.

savory pie at the Tea Clipper

Lunch at The Tea Clipper would make my mother proud

Take the lunch I had at  The Tea Clipper in Knightsbridge, for example. Pretty standard pub, with sticky tables, semi-surly bartender and lots of beer to be had, yet lunch was a perfectly respectable, and quite tasty, savory pie of the day with a generous serving of steamed carrots and greenbeans and a not-too buttery mound of mashed potatoes. Underneath the flaky, golden pastry crust of the pie, was a hearty beef stew of sorts, filled with chunks of juicy, soft meat and mushrooms, all perfect for wolfing down with forkfuls of mashed potatoes.

I am not, even for a second, hating on the greasy, fatty, guilt-inducing pub grub of American bars. I’m just saying that it’s nice to be able to have the option to have a more responsible, sensible, yet still delicious meal in a bar… even if it’s just serving as a foundation for lots of drinking and debauchery later on.

Sorry vegetarians, this lunch isn’t for you

Lumpiang barquillos: crispy, crunchy, meaty tastiness

Recently, while hanging out with one of my quasi-vegan friends, she pointed out that I’d been neglecting my non meat-and-dairy eating blog readers. (All two of them.) Looking back at my recent posts, she has a point. And while I fully mean to write something soon that will appeal to my herbivore friends, this particular post is not the time. In fact, if you’re still reading and you don’t want to hear about me eating various parts of a pigs face, then you should probably just come back another time.

For someone like me, who constantly wants to be somewhere else in the world and would be content to spend the rest of her life traveling, New York is the best place to live. Where else can you eat from every corner of the world without leaving the city? Last week, during what was one of my days off from both work and my pseudo-diet/healthy eating regime, the beau and I had lunch at  Maharlika, a Filipino restaurant in the East Village.

We started our lunch with a shared order of lumpiang barquillos, long, thin, crispy, crunchy rice paper rolls filled with a blend of beef, pork and water chestnuts. With them came a tangy, chili sauce and a little mound of sweet shredded carrots, both which were great garnishes and enhancers for the meaty, yet delicate barquillos. Their long, rolled up shape reminded me of the taquitos we used to eat in college (usually not in a completely clear state of mind) but way better. These Filipino barquillos would be dangerous during a bout of the munchies…

Sisig: a skillet full of piggy deliciousness

But now the part where I eat pig face. Pampangan-style sizzling sisig seemed almost like a tongue twister when I read it on the menu but once I got past the name and on to the description, I was all about it. Pig ears, snout and belly, (cooked three times) with garlic, fried egg, bird chilies and lemon with garlic rice. Seriously, how, unless you were like one of my aforementioned non-carnivore friends, could you not be curious about a plate like that? I wasn’t sure what that would look like, or if I was really ready to see a snout in front of me, but when it came out, a small skillet with what looked like corned beef hash topped with a fried egg on top, I was so ready. The waiter chopped and mixed everything up in front of me at the table, putting down a small wooden bowl filled with fluffy, white garlic rice  and a tiny dish of garlic and chili infused vinegar next to the skillet. And let me say, for those of you interested in a foray into eating animal faces, this is the way to go. The sisig, with its mix of meaty, rich pig parts, spices, bright tangy flavors of vinegar and chilies was delicious, like the cooler, more exotic, more interesting cousin of a plate of breakfast hash.

You can always bet on the greatness of food topped with a fried egg

The beau, ever along for the ride on my search for good eats,  had the iLog lunch. (Not an Apple product, but a play on Ilog, a municipality in the Philippines.) This particular entree comes with your choice of sausage, so Flaneur went with the longsilog, a spicy sweet longganisa, or pork sausage made with garlic. Inside, the meat was orangeish in color and had a bright, spicy sweetness that was delicious in its own right but even better when dipped in the bright orange-yellow yolk of the sunny side egg. Also on the plate, was a a mixture of pickled Filipino veggies to add a sweet, tangy edge to the rich meat and egg. And like the sisig, the iLog lunch also came with garlic rice, the best base for all of the colorful flavors on the plate.

So vegetarian friends, I’m sorry there wasn’t much for you here this time. Everyone else, get yourself some pig parts Filipino style. It’ll make you appreciate the fact that you eat meat.

Jackpot!

Cancun is made up of two very different parts: the zona hotelera, or hotel area, where all of the tourists and spring breakers hang out, fry in the sun, and get tanked at the clubs, and the centro, or downtown area, where there’s no beach, no big resorts and just a lot of locals.

Parque de las Palapas

Though we spent the majority of our time in Mexico exploring places other than Cancun, we did find ourselves looking for a place to eat there one night, and it was then that we hit the jackpot of food: Parque de las Palapas. An open and lively square, the park is named after the umbrella’d tables where people gather to listen to live music and eat the delicious food from the  many food stalls and carts selling all sorts of traditional Mexican eats. From tacos and quesadillas to things I had never heard of in my life, everyone was selling something, and for what amounted to no more than a couple of dollars.

Everything was so good, and so mind-bogglingly-cheap that we came back for lunch a different day. Add up everything below and it probably still was barely 20 US dollars. And let me tell you, it made buying lunch in New York upon my return almost that much more of a painful experience.

First, some of the most simple, no-frills tacos I’ve ever had. Nothing but juicy, savory hunks of chicken on warm tortillas, but yet somehow better than a lot of the sloppy, fat, overloaded tacos I’ve had at home.

Chicken tacos

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Morini’s cure for missing Italy

In a reversal of roles, my sister is in Italy right now and I’m stuck at home. She’s there on a spring break trip as part of her advertising major’s curriculum and after a week of visiting agencies in different cities, she’ll get class credit for it.

Basically, I’m jealous. I want to be on vacation right now. I want to eat my way through Italy  for a week (or a lifetime).  But no, I can’t. Not right now. So to make myself feel better about this fact, I pulled off a hard to snag, last minute reservation for two at  Osteria Morini, Michael White’s new SoHo restaurant.

Fritto bolognese

While the scenery wasn’t as nice (SoHo’s cool but it ain’t Italy), the restaurant itself was cozy and cute, going for that rustic trattoria look (even if the prices were definitely more big city than Italian countryside). For not leaving the country, it was a pretty delicious alternative. Continue reading

The end of another good Week

The end of NYC Restaurant Week is bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I’ve had lots of really great food over the past two  weeks and tried lots of new dishes and new restaurants. On the other hand, all this eating out is making me feel like an absolute cow. I’ve been avoiding the scale at the gym like it’s an old boyfriend. I walk into the locker room and immediately look down, as if I make eye contact, I’ll be forced to go over and say hello. And then everything will get awkward and uncomfortable.

Spiced chicken samosas with cilantro yogurt

But of the different lunches and dinners I’ve had over the last couple of weeks, my favorite was at Spice Market, the  massive Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in the Meatpacking District. With two choices for each of the four courses offered, Flaneur and I successfully managed to get everything that was on the southeast asian inspired restaurant’s RW menu.

But instead of writing about everything and making this an obscenely long post, I’ll tell you this much: the chicken samosas were delicious, and probably my favorite savory item. The slaw was good but my least favorite, and Flaneur thought it was way too spicy (although he’s a weeny about spicy food so take that for what it’s worth). The desserts were both fantastic and if they sold the ginger ice cream by the gallons, I would totally keep my fridge stocked. Everything was beautifully presented, with each plate artfully designed to be just as appealing to the eye as it was to the tongue. The colors, like the flavors, were vibrant, bright and bold. Beautiful and delicious? A meal after my own heart. Continue reading