Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ricotta at A Voce

I had lunch with Mama at A Voce where we saw Missy Robbins. Last time I was there, Andrew Carmellini was still the chef. For the appetizer, we ordered the cows milk ricotta with extra virgin olive oil, mint, chilies and thyme

It's so visually appealing, but unfortunately could've used a bit of salt.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cheese + tapioca flour = deliciousness

We've started "Sunday Funday" which pretty much means a lazy Sunday at someone's apartment and copious amounts of food. Vonatron (this is your new name now on my blog) donated her apartment this time. Last time she tried to make Pao de Queijo but apparently it failed. This time I tried my hand at it. I used a different recipe (pretty much the most basic one I could find) and they came out totally legit. At first I was super worried when I was trying to beat in the tapioca flour since it was really hard to incorporate it (also made a huge mess). But in the end it all worked out and after reading the recipe reviews, it seems that I could've done half butter, half oil and also upped the amount of tapioca flour in the recipe. The dough is extremely sticky, so I kinda just plopped down chunks of dough onto a baking sheet. We had made some bacon in the oven so I just reused the bacon fat greased baking sheet.

End results: delicious.

Pao de Queijo
adapted from

2 cups tapioca flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter*
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese**
2  large eggs

Preheat oven to 400F

Bring the milk, salt and butter to a boil and then remove from heat. Make sure not the burn the milk.

Slowly add the tapioca flour, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon until incorporated. It might take a while but it will work. You can add up to 1/2 cup more of tapioca flour if you want to be able to form actual balls at the end.

Next add the two eggs, one at a time, followed by the cheese. Stir until everything is incorporated. If the dough is not too sticky, you can knead it. I didn't and it was fine.

Make balls or drop lumps (this is what I did) onto a well greased baking sheet and sprinkle with some more cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden brown on top. Eat while still hot!

* You can apparently substitute half the butter with oil as this is more traditional
** Some reviews also said that you should substitute half the Parmesan with a softer fresh cheese, like queso fresco for more moisture but you can probably use any kind of cheese

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hecho en Dumbo (Manhattan)

So since coming back from Paris, I've been getting into the whole coupon thing. First I signed up for Lifebooker and have booked a manicure and salsa classes on it already, in addition to other things. Then I signed up for Groupon, although I haven't found anything yet. And I've also bought 4 coupons for a 2-person $40 brunch with a pitcher of sangria at Boutique Eats in Chelsea. We will be brunching there shortly. But I find myself turning to and for a lot of NYC-based restaurants. Scoutmob gives you percentages (30% or 50%) off your total check (usually with an imposed limit) but these are free. Blackboardeats used to be free and it still sometimes is, but other times you have to pay $1. And so I paid $1 to get 30% off (maximum of $15) at Hecho en Dumbo (although it's the Manhattan location so maybe it should be Hecho en Manhattan?). 

JP and I went for brunch after one of our apartment-searching weekend mornings a while ago now. We sat at the table overlooking the kitchen (which I love). The guacamole wasn't memorable but margaritas were appropriately strong (tamarind and jamaica, of course). 

What I really enjoyed was the small plate of mini-pastries they gave - two palmiers (these are really popular in Mexico) and two small sweet buns with jam and butter on the side. It's little things like this that count and make you remember a restaurant. That and watching the staff make our food. 

My enchiladas were alright, a little too cheesy for me. JP really liked his huge bowl of pozole. I can understand that. Pozole isn't something I would order regularly but sometimes it just hits the spot. And with $15 off the check, we were quite happy. 

I wouldn't go out of my way to go here but if I was in the area, this is definitely a contender. On the plus side, they're open super late and have a late-night menu if you're out in the Bowery area.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kittichai - AYCD brunch

The girls and I brunched at Kittichai a few weeks ago to celebrate the return of rock-climbing girl (I need to come up with nicknames for you guys, rather than using initials). Surprisingly I've actually never been. But it was fun! I liked the decor, especially the candles/flowers in the pool that's in the middle of the dining room. We went for an All-You-Can-Drink (AYCD) brunch but somehow, it seems that I am the only lush around these parts so I was one of only two people that actually did the $25 AYCD (unlimited blood orange or lychee mimosas, or bloody marys), while the rest of the group opted for the $20 three-course prix-fixe lunch (it's restaurant week all year round over here!). I went for the kaffir lime souffle pancakes with lemongrass butter

They weren't pancakes per-se and they weren't a souffle either...they were more like pancake-sized airy disks. Whatever, they were delicious. I think the better option was however the $20 lunch, although I am rarely in the mood for a three-course lunch at noon on a weekend. But if you are, this is an awesome deal and in a nice, fun setting (although the food isn't exactly Thai...)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Coppelia - a new Latin diner

AB visited this weekend from Rhode Island before he goes down to Brazil later in the summer. He finally met JP and vice-versa (although it seemed as if both of them didn't believe the other existed...). The visit pretty much meant non-stop eating, starting with Saturday brunch at Coppelia, a newly opened Cuban diner from the chef behind Toloache (love their margaritas). It's conveniently located on 14th and 7th, and will soon be open 24 hours. I really liked the decor - comfortable unpretentious booths with (Formica?) tables evoking the diner-feel, with the decor being predominantly in the warm yellow/ocean turquoise color palette. 

What stood out the most for me were the Torreijas de Oliva, pretty much a slice of french toast laden with olive oil, in the best of ways, and with a crispy brulee'd crust. it was almost pudding-like in consistency. 

I also had a semi-spaz moment when Pichet Ong, their consulting dessert chef walked in. He definitely saw me staring at him wide-eyed. I also took him to Ippudo (2 hour wait as always) and the pork buns were just as good as I remembered them to be. Now if only that rumored location in Midtown would open so maybe the wait time would be cut down to 1.5hrs...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Visting the twin in Durham

I've been unpacking/making house since the day we moved into our new apartment (April 7th). That moving day was fairly hell-ish. It started with me waking up at 7:30am to finish anything that needed to be finished/packed in our corporate apartment, to going to our new apartment at 9am and having all my stuff from Paris finally delivered (yay!) to picking up our UHaul truck and going back to the corporate apt and picking up all our stuff and then dropping by JL's to pick up the TV, dresser and chair, then back to the new apartment to drop things off (mind you, this is in the middle of the day so traffic in NYC is not so fun), and then going to IKEA in Elizabeth and spending lots of time and energy there and basically we finally dropped the UHaul off at around 8pm and they charged us an extra $30-$50 because apparently we were supposed to have the truck inspected before we left with it but we didn't because they told us to JUST GO PICK UP THE TRUCK. so there we went with keys in hand. ANYHOW. 

Thankfully, the weekend before that hell-ish weekend, I spent some quality time in (unfortunately not too warm) Durham, NC with my twin, SK. I figured since she's graduating Duke Law this year, I should go down there one more time (I make it seem like I've been a lot, but no, only once before). Plus, I love me some barbeque. The other time I went, it was non-stop eating, including taco-truck-hopping that we devised. This time was fairly similar as we were pretty much in a food coma all weekend (although a pleasant one).

After arriving in the morning, we had lunch at Toast, a paninoteca which seems like nothing special from the outside. But our sandwiches were ridiculously good and I give them points for not using bread that is overwhelming (e.g., ciabatta). No, they used some kind of hearty wheat-type rustic italian bread which made me think what I was eating was way healthier than what it was. We ordered two paninis and split them. I went for a spin on a classic pasta dish of rapini, italian sausage, roasted garlic and asiago fresca cheese, while SK got the panini with grilled chicken, roasted peppers, mozzarella and salsa verde. Not, I'm not a huge fan of bell peppers/roasted pepper but SK's pick was ridiculously delicious with just the right amount of heat from the salsa. I would have ordered a second one in a heartbeat had we not had other eating plans lined up. Oh, I also tried Cheerwine which has been getting a lot of traction in NYC recently it seems. It's cherry soda. Tastes kinda like Dr. Pepper to me. And contrary to what the name may lead you to believe there is no alcohol content.

We followed up our paninis with a little bit of walking, some window shopping and locopops, gourmet popsicles that are pretty much the equivalent of paletas. And you know I love paletas. I don't think I picked the best one (black raspberry and tangerine) but it was still good and I remember the one I had two years ago was really good too. Whatever, I eat pretty much anything that's put in front of me except for some things.

Our trip to locopops was followed by a fruitless effort to locate the NC Bulgogi truck. Firstly, we are twitter-inept and secondly, the truck lied. They said they weren't doing lunch service that day but they didn't say anything about dinner, and so we kept driving by their spot but they just weren't there! We decided to give them an extra 30 minutes to show up while eating the new Ben & Jerry's Late Night Snack ice cream. You know, I thought I'd really like this one since I'm a huge fan of the sweet/salty combo but it just didn't win me over. The ice cream base was too sweet and the chocolate covered potato chips weren't salty enough. In fact, they weren't even chips, they were kind little pulverized balls of potato-chip-stuff that was more mushy than crispy. Fail. And NC Bulgogi truck fail by this time as well. 

So what to do when you can't have korean tacos and kimchi quesadillas? You go and get mexican tacos as a place called Chubby's Tacos whole logo is an overweight, belly-sticking-out cousin of Speedy Gonzales. My tacos: Carnitas (juicy! flavorful! yumyum!) and Al Pastor (why is this so cloyingly sweeeet???). The best part about this place is the serve-yourself salsa bar with about 10 different salsas to pick from. That and the fact that it's so cheap. Each of my tacos were $2 and came with two tortillas. I also had their agua de melon but I wouldn't bother again - it's artificially flavored and tastes funny. 

If you think that's all we are that day you'd be mistaken. We went out in Chapel Hill where I had one of my first encounters of a real-life campus college, complete with a bar filled with fraternity/sorority people coming back from some kind of formal, and a ton of southern-looking blonde girls. After said bar? Fried chicken and cheddar biscuits at Time-Out at 1:30am. This thing is a monster for $4.50. SK and I shared although she did get herself an extra biscuit. They basically cut open a hot biscuit, put some fried chicken breast in there with a few slices of cheddar which end up melting and provide the right amount of moisture to the sandwich. And the chicken was hands down one of the moistest (is that a word?) pieces of fried chicken I have ever had. Not even fried chicken, just chicken in general. It was surprisingly super juicy. Needless to say, we went home quite happy that night.

And our food adventures continued the next day as how could I go down to North Carolina and not have some pulled pork and hush puppies? That's the thing I was most looking forward to! Last time we went to Q-Shack, a place where the hush puppies are so good I still drool thinking about them. This time we went more traditional and went to Allen & Sons. Yelp reviews made it seems as if it was down some sketchy dirt road in the middle of the woods in who-knows where. No, its just on the corner of a pretty large paved road surrounded by trees. Maybe a little further down are the boonies but we didn't venture that way. Plus, I think Audis and BMWs in the parking lot signify something other than middle-of-nowhere. Behold the sole barbeque I ate that weekend: a pulled pork sandwich with hush puppies and sweet tea followed by a pie-ish banana pudding

The sesame seed bun was super soft and I liked how they didn't sauce the meat for you but let you do it yourself. The only strange thing was that I got a couple of unchewable black pieces in my pulled pork but I guess it's just the super burnt parts. But I had to discreetly (not so much actually) take them out of my mouth and put them aside. Hush puppies were super-fried and really sweet. I think I prefer mine with a thinner crust but these were still good. And unlimited refills of sweet tea. Sigh. This is the good stuff right here.

But the banana pudding wasn't enough. I had read about Scratch Bakery before coming down there and had to go. I was warned that they sometimes run out of things but they seemed pretty well stocked (maybe they've gotten used to their popularity?) when we came by around 2pm. I was looking for their peanut pie which Serious Eats ranked as one of their favorite but apparently it's a seasonal special. So we went with a slice of buttermilk sugar pie and a slice of lemon chess pie, although as some point we were considering getting two more slices (vanilla carrot cream and I think the mexican chocolate cream). I loved the buttermilk sugar pie. It reminded me a little bit of tvorog, a russian farmer's cheese. And I was amazed at how the crust stood up to the fillings of both pies. Unfortunately, we were so full that we didn't finish both slices completely, but almost. I was proud of us. 

Since we didn't want to be complete fatties, we went shopping to walk it off. I, of course, had to go and buy something at Anthro (pants! $20!) but we were really looking for a semi-formal dress for SK, which we found at Urban....we also had an Apple Pie Apple while shopping from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. It's a Granny Smith apple covered in caramel, then some white sugary candy stuff, and finally rolled in brown sugar and cinnamon. Most impressive was how they cut it to make it more manageable to eat!

Sunday eating did not end there but with a fancy dinner at Nana's. We had gnocchi carbonara (peas, pancetta, etc) and really good wheat foccacia, as well as fried oysters and calamari to start, followed by some fish (what fish did I order...I forget), and a cast iron grilled chicken with a butternut squash risotto cake. Neither of us finished our entrees (this is the danger of eating so much food during the day!) but somehow we managed to have room for dessert...a meyer lemon bavarian mousse with mini honey-almond madelines and raspberries

Ridiculously delicious weekend.