Saturday, July 30, 2011

Farmer's Market, Juice and Nails

After the ramen we went to the Union Square Farmer's Market. I picked up two bunches of radishes...delightfully spicy, it turns out.
Appreciated the look of these onions.
And stocked up on tomatoes, among other things.
Then we returned to Brooklyn and got our nails did. This included my first ever pedicure, but there's not proof of that really. I think the reason that many women in my life are so in love with pedicures is that their feet are a tougher sort than mine, far more in need of pampering and smoothing. My feet, however, are rather dainty creatures...I don't stuff them into high heels often enough that I have any real system of callouses, and my feet blister more than anything else no matter what. My point being that while I liked my pedicure, I didn't exactly understand what the big deal was. Afterwards I had a carrot beet juice at BeQu.
I've been rocking the golden nails for some and decided to give silver a shot. L. went with a green. I like the silver well enough, but gold is nicer - at least for my fingers. Though I would consider silver toes and a burgundy set of fingernails. Blah, blah blah.

Real Ramen c/o Ippudo

On Sunday as we were driving to the park for L.'s kickball game, I noted a small ramen shop and mentioned the fact that I'd never really had proper ramen. This sparked the decision that Monday's lunch would be ramen. Fast forward to Monday. L. and I took the subway into Manhattan and made our way through the serious heat to Ippudo. After just a few minutes' wait, we were seated at the large wood bar-like area in the middle of the dining space. This allowed us to have a view of the chefs, most other tables, and ourselves (there was a mirror). Worst explanation ever. I ordered a Sapporo on draft.
For my meal I did a lunch special set. Which meant the choice of a small rice dish in addition to a specific ramen. For my rice course/dish I ordered the Mentaiko (spicy cod roe) over rice. It wasn't as spicy as I might have expected, but it was good.
While a number of preparations appealed to me in terms of the ramen options (wasabi shoyu ramen I'm looking at you), I decided that for my first ramen experience it would probably be for the best to start out with a more classic version. So I ordered the Shiromaru Hakata Classic, "the original 'Tonkotsu' noodle soup topped with pork loin chashu, kikurage, menma, red pickled ginger, sesame, and scallions." I added a seasoned soft boiled egg to the mix. Unlike pho, or the 'ramen' you make at home, this broth wasn't something you could penetrate with your eyes. It was cloudy, creamy and rich with fat and porky goodness. Nuttiness of the sesame nicely accompanied by the occasional crunch of pickled ginger. The noodles, as many a review of ramen I had read mentioned, had a little springiness to them. Sigh. Now I'm thinking about ramen at 8:30 in the morning.
The mirror was confusing in some way to me. It so totally reflected the restaurant and even though I saw myself in it, I still felt like I was in some way looking at something in front of me instead of something behind me. Weird.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kick Ball, College Folks and More

L. has been in a kickball league for a couple of years now. Her team's name is Booze on First. They play on Sundays in McCarren Park. So, on Sunday, I accompanied her to Williamsburg and watched her games. I wasn't the only one. B., with whom we lived in a trailer our freshmen year of college, along with E., A. and T. showed up as well. L. was the pitcher. I was so proud.

L. being her cute self.

They ended up winning their first game, then losing the second two. Those of us not playing drank beer and some played Scrabble.

After I got to the park I texted R. to tell him I was in his general vicinity. R. and I grew up across the way from one another and his parents - D. and B. - were some of my parents' closest friends. We spent Thanksgiving with them, and it was such a good spot to land so soon after my mother's death. R. and I caught up on a variety of subjects and then I asked L. to take a few photos of the two of us. L. was in fine photobombing fashion and took quite a number of winning shots, and now I will share some of the best. It started out standard enough.
But then there was a little dancing.
Followed by a little 'you used to be this tall, and I used to be this tall recreation.
And we rounded out the shoot with a hug. It was good to see all the folks that night. I hadn't seen B. in a long time, and I feel like E. and I last saw each other when she visited Chicago nine million years ago. And I can't even begin to remember the last time I saw A. or T. Actually, it was our fifth college reunion ... so three-ish years back.
When the games concluded Fat T. drove L. and me back to their place and we picked up paninis from the nearby deli. I went with a chicken fajita themed sandwich. It was not amazing. The cheese wasn't melty enough.

Brunchy Lunch c/o Char No 4

Later on on Sunday, L., Fat T. and I met up with their recently-engaged friends N. and (crap I'm forgetting his name/initial) for a late brunch/early lunch at Char No 4.
L. and I both tried their bourbon bloody mary, a concept that seemed both surprising, scary and promising all at once. And it was surprising and promising, not so scary when you came down to it. Bourbon has so much more flavor than vodka, and how it would fit in with tomato was hard for me to imagine until it was in my mouth. They made it work. Fat T. tried their sweet tea/bourbon pairing - or at least I think that's what it was - maybe not? And I took a sip and liked it too. We sat at the bar and the bartender was quite nice and friendly, and the space is nice and light.
There were many things on their brunch menu that I wanted to eat, but I was feeling at least a small need to be semi-healthy, and I love I went with their beet/radish/arugula salad.
I counterbalanced whatever possible feelings of being a good, healthy person by also ordering their fried cheddar cheese curds with spicy pimento dipping sauce. The salad was good but not anything out of the ordinary amazing, and the curds and sauce were a nice step up from your typical mozzarella stick. But what the place clearly does best is pig. Fat T. had the pulled pork sandwich and seemed to like it quite a bit, and L. ordered their eggs benedict with house cured bacon (I think) on biscuits and really, really liked it.
Definitely a place that I'd go back to and explore the menu further.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recycling in Two Forms

On Sunday L., Fat T. and I got into their car and drove to a big parking lot where they could then donate some clothing. So wholesome.

I was trying to get a photograph of me with the trash in the background, but I think my hat messed that up. It's not actually trash. It's scrap metal. And a lot of it.
I guess I was kind of fascinated by how close this pile of scrap was to the city. Somehow I always think that the piles of refuse created by urban centers are all trucked far out of town...but that probably wouldn't make much economic sense. And this was a private pile. I saw a guy in a yarmulke loading off metal from a truck and because of that I think it's a Jewish scrap metal pile. Which really has no bearing on anything whatsoever. Just that I don't think I've ever seen a dude in a yarmulke laboring so intensely.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bagel c/o Mocha Bagel

On Sunday morning I got up a little before L. or Fat T. and went in search of a bagel. I ended up at Mocha Bagels. Their counter is very high. It's kind of intimidating. In any case, I asked for a toasted everything bagel with olive cream cheese. The man told me that the bagels were fresh out of the oven and then asked if I still wanted mine toasted, I said no, figuring that was the right answer. It was an ok bagel, though I still would have liked that added crisp factor of toasting. The olive cream cheese wasn't quite as potent and salty as I am accustomed. I didn't eat the whole thing because I had this sudden moment of 'if this isn't totally making you love it, why get fat eating it.' If I'm going to get fat, might as well only be through the consumption of things I truly love and desire. Maybe. At least at the specific moment in time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Umbrella Drinks c/o

L. and I did plenty of things on Saturday, but I don't really recall what they were. This was not a result of alcohol consumption. We went to brunch and then we hung out? And then we met up with N. for a drink at Zombie Hut. L. really wanted a drink on fire but I was not convinced. I ended up having their alcoholic peach iced tea drink, which was super duper way crazy sweet. I don't know what's happening to me, either I'm losing my taste for sugar (doubtful) or the world's drink makers (well at least some of them) are rededicating themselves to the cause of cavities for all. What?
Though the drink was sweet, that didn't stop me from enjoying its presentation: mason jar and blue umbrella. Blue is my favorite, so this worked out quite well for me.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lunch c/o Broken English

Last weekend I made my way to Brooklyn for some fun, food and music. What's a word that starts with 'f' that means 'music'? Philharmonic? Hm. Moving on. I got to L.'s around noon and after assisting her in sitting on her stoop and hoping people would buy the stuff she had along the sidewalk for a bit, we mobilized for a meal. We didn't have a destination in mind, though L. suggested oysters, which you know will always go over pretty well with me. We passed one or two places before seeing the Broken English sidewalk sign that said they had oysters. After a quick look at their menu, we decided that this would do nicely for us. I started with a mimosa.
Then we split a dozen oysters, the variety of which is beyond me at the moment. Maybe L. will leave a comment and tell you ... but maybe not. The oysters came with mignonette and then a salsa kind of sauce, no regular ketchup/horseradish pairing, but that was okay.
They were shucked decently. Just a few pieces of shell in one oyster...though another was a little mangled, which made me sad. I don't know why I like them to be whole before sliding them down my gullet; it's not like they're going to stay pristine once they meet my stomach's juices. Whatever.
For the main part of my meal I went with the uova in tegame con speck e funghi (Baked eggs with wild mushrooms and speck served over polenta). At first I was quite pleased. I liked the creaminess of the polenta, the earthiness of the mushrooms and the fact that the eggs' yolks were still a little runny. But once I hit about the middle of the dish I was a little less pleased. A fair amount of the egg's albumen was still in its clear form, which really just turns me off. I know I just slurped down oysters, which aren't always considered the prettiest of bites, but the fact is that eggs that still have clear albumen freak me out. I understood that if I just mixed the whole thing up a little more, that maybe the heat of the polenta would cook the whites a bit more, but ugh.
At one point our server must have seen me an L. have some sort of conversation about my aversion and came over to make sure everything was just fine. And I, in standard cc form (that being: when something is wrong I tend to act like it's not) said no and smiled. I don't know why I did this. I could have easily said 'well the egg whites aren't cooked all the way through and I don't like it, could you please put the dish back in the oven for another five minutes?' But for whatever reason I didn't do this and simply stopped eating the dish. I think partially this behavior stems from a stubborn place in my brain: if you didn't do it right the first time, what's the point in making you try again? The worst is when you ask for something done again and then it comes back and you're still unhappy, then you end up seeming high maintenance. And if there's one thing I don't want to appear to be (even if I am, which is up for debate), it's being high maintenance.
L. had eggs benedict I think. And I believe she was happy with them. Not blown away or raving, not not unhappy or off put. I had a second mimosa, both of which were nice and sparkly.

Work Hoagie c/o Primos

We've got a few new folks in the office as of late, and in honor of their first week and getting to know them, the whole office sat down and had hoagies some time last week. I went with the Sulmona with pesto. Proble was that the sandwich didn't come like I thought it would. This is - in retrospect - partially because I was ordering the wrong sandwich ... but also because they didn't actually give me what I had ordered in terms of specializing the hoagie for my personal enjoyment. Primo's was pretty quick to get me a new sandwich, even if it too had mayo when I asked for none (I'm a mayo lover, but even I sometimes need a break). I think my love affair with Primo's may be, at least for the moment, an oversaturated love. Or desaturated? Can love be saturated? Probably.

Caprese Salad c/o McCrossens

Some time last week I met up with A.S. at McCrossen's for drinks and conversation. We hadn't seen each other since our brunch at Fathom Oyster House back in early June, so it was good to catch up. I was hoping that McCrossens would still have some of the specials they had posted on their Facebook page a few days before (something like fois gras bruschetta), but that was not to be. Instead I had their caprese salad type dish and it was marvelous. Great pesto. Delectable tomatoes. Fresh cheese.
I had a Riesling and then switched to beer as far as my beverages were concerned.

Omakase c/o Morimoto and My Father

As we were driving back from Gettysburg, I asked my father where he wanted to have dinner over the coming days. He usually has some concrete ideas, and they're usually places I've never heard of but enjoy. In this case, however, he had compiled a list but other than the Oyster House hadn't come up with any specific places as much as a theme of 'things I can't easily get in Tennessee.' On that list was good sushi, and because I had long wanted to try Morimoto that was my primary suggestion to him. So on Monday evening, that's just what we did. I met Dad there and we were promptly seated at one of the tables lining the restaurant. Morimoto is a high-concept kind of place. A Stephen Starr/celebrity chef vehicle that seems, at this point, a little dated in its decor. Colored lights changing from pink to green to blue along the space's aisles, neon green tables and white leather chairs bolted into the floor. On the night we were there the place wasn't too packed, so the effect of all this colored light nonsense (which made it seem like it was trying to be a club instead of a restaurant) had a slightly eery quality when compared to the relative lack of noise generated by the patrons or staff. I gravitated toward the cilantro gimlet and let me tell you. It was something special. A mix of Belvedere vodka, cilantro and mint; it managed to be refreshing without being too savory nor too tart. Just delightful. Though one will run you (or in my case, my father) $14. Pardon the color casts on the photos, the lighting was a challenge.
So we both opted for the omakase tasting menu. Dad got the higher price point while I got the lower, and that is also true for the beverage pairings as well. I don't know how this could have happened but I have no proof of the first course, which for me was hamachi tartare with fresh wasabi and osetra caviar paired with Domaine Chandon sparkling rose. Dad had pretty much the same dish but with toro tuna. Many of our courses were similar in that fashion, the main difference being the 'fanciness' of the fish or protein. Next up Dad had the Kumomoto oysters with three sauces: japanese orange salsa, citrus cilantro ceviche, and thai fish sauce with jalepneo. His oysters were paired with a Pierre Sparr Pinot Blanc. I love Kumomotos and Dad was nice enough to give me one, though like the idiot I am I have forgoten which sauce it game with.
For my second course I received seared whitefish carpaccio seasoned with garlic, ginger, mitsuba and chives and then finished with a yuzu-citrus soy. This was paired with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. I go back and forth about how I feel about yuzu. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I'm indifferent. In this case I fell in the middle, but the fish was beautiful.
Next up was the sashimi salad. In this case I was given the tuna while Dad was given...shoot, some fish we really liked but isn't included in the menus they printed out for us to take home. This was the first dish to be paired with a sake (yuki no bosha 'a cabin in the snow' junmai - ginjo and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Branching out from house hot sake really is a touch and go process for me, as some sakes have very strong banana flavors that simply do not float my boat. In this case, however, my boat was floated.
After an intermezzo of raspberry lemon soda (delicious) we went on to our next course, which for my father was the Lobster Epice: Chef Morimot's eight spice lobster with citrus creme fraiche and fresh chives and paired with a Trimbach Riesling. I think we we were both a little less that amazed by this dish. It looked wonderful, and was certainly good...but the eight spice element...well, it was very reminiscent of Old Bay seasoning. The citrus creme fraiche, on the other hand, was quite a hit with my particular palate.
My next course was wok seared wild alaskan king salmon in an umami broth with spring vegetables, glazed shitakes and fava pesto. This was perfectly cooked and the pesto and broth did wonders as they made friends on my tongue. This was paired with a Joel Gott chardonnay.
Next up for Dad was braised Kobe short ribs with wasabi furikake crust, wasabi greens, red wine reduction, and pickled carrot and turnip, which came paired with a folie a deux cabernet sauvignon. Mmmm. Rich was the bite I had. Rich but so good. I feel like maybe Dad had good things about that wine, but I could be making that up.
For my next course I encountered roasted Peking duck breast with kimchee, white miso vegetables, scallion pancake and candied kombu. I liked the clash of cultures this dish represented, the kim chi was an especially nice touch. This went down all the more smoothly with a Napa Cellars pinot noir.
Our second to final course was a chef's selection of sushi. I wish I could tell you that I remember what everything was. But I think the standout might have been the amberjack. This was also a sake pairing course, so I had the Shichi Hon Yar 'Seven Spearsmen' Junmai.
And finally, dessert: Gingner peach cheesecake with graham cracker crust, peach puree and rasberry something. This was good, but not particularly memorable.
While the decor was a little weird, the service was good and the food excellent. There were many things on the a la carte menu that I'd consider if I were to return, from the ramen to simply more sushi. Though I really am beginning to feel bad about the whole 'we are literally killing all the fish in the ocean' thing that's happening these days. A big thanks goes to my father for the dinner and company!