Top 10 Worst Foods - Get 'em in while you can!!

>> Wednesday, December 30, 2009

With New Years around the corner, if you're anything like me, you are planning to start a diet. FYI, I eat. I eat a lot and while I never claimed to be a nutritionist I would like to imagine that I know which foods are good and bad for me. This video below breaks down the top 10 worst foods for you and what makes them so...most of them are pretty obvious once she says them, but definitely makes you think! #8 just breaks my heart and #4 was a total surprise!



If that was just a little too much for you to watch, I've listed below the 10 items she mentions:
10.  Fried catfish (fish has very little nutrients, and then is fried)
9. Canned soup (almost half of the daily sodium in 1 cup)
8. Bacon (basically just fried salt, fat and nitrates - but soooo good)
7. Fast food hamburgers (duh - they have lots of calories, fat and sugar)
6. Store bought goods - little debbies, ding dongs etc. (high in fat, trans fat, sugar, calories - death in a plastic wrap)
5. Classic potato chip (addictive, high in fat, calories and sodium)
4. Hot dogs and LUNCH MEAT (?) (high in sodium, nitrates)
3. French fries (some places use a 'paste' to create a fry - ewwww)
2. Donuts (high in fat, calories etc.)
1. Soda (sugar, caffeine, preservatives and sodium)

Basically everything she is saying make sense, but I hate to hear it. 2010 is the year to get healthy! What are your New Years resolutions? Does it involve food? Tell me about it!

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Mushroom Ravioli with White Truffle Oil

>> Monday, December 28, 2009



Ok so let's talk about this. First off, I must give full credit to Leah for everything that I am about to describe. My very own aspiring chef and roommate cooked me one the best home-cooked meals I have ever had.

Last night Leah prepared homemade mushroom and shallot ravioli which we finished off with olive oil, salt and pepper, parmesan cheese and a drizzle of the ever so luxurious white truffle oil. The best part -- this recipe only takes about 30 minutes!


Ingredients:

  • 1 packet cremini, shitake, portabello mushrooms (really any kind you like)
  • 1 package wonton wrappers or papers
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots finely diced
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped (just a little sprinkle if dried)
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or more :) )
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 1 egg (for egg wash which is egg and splash of water to act as glue to hold ravioli together)
  • Olive oil
  • White truffle oil (optional but SOOOO worth it)

Directions

Finely dice the shallots and add them to a warm pan of melted butter (medium to medium high heat.) While the shallots are cooking, dice up the mushrooms and add them to the shallots when they are clear. Let everything cook for a minute or two then add in the wine (maybe have a glass while you are cooking...)

Let that mixture cook and reduce for a minute then add in the cream and thyme (again just sprinkle if you are using dried thyme.) Reduce until the mixture is thick and then remove from heat.

Once removed from heat add in mascarpone and parmesan, then season to taste (and try not to keep "tasting"; its tough, but you will need the filling...)

When the mixture becomes cool add a teaspoon to your wonton wrapper (becareful to not overfill because it becomes a mess) and with your egg wash brush the edges and fold over to make little raviolis.

If you are really fast you could have your large pot of salt water boiling while you are making your raviolis but don't feel pressured. Either way bring a large pot of salt water to boil. Allow the raviolis to cook for 1-2 minutes so they are al dente.

Put those suckers on a plate and sprinkle (or cover if you're like me) with parmesan, drizzle of olive oil, and a slight drizzle of truffle oil.

If that's not the best ravioli you have ever had then I will just have to make it for you. I guarantee you won't find a better recipe.

Many thanks to Leah and her divine culinary skills!

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Prochuttio, Mushroom Flatbread Pizza

>> Thursday, December 17, 2009





When I get a craving, I get a craving. I mean, I need to eat whatever it is that I want about 50 times over until I am finally satisfied. This craving lately has been pizza. However, as you remember last week I said I am trying to eat healthier so instead of going and buying a slice (which is about as easy as hailing a cab in NYC) I decided that I would make my own. This way I can be assured of the quality of ingredients measure out the calories etc. I am not saying that this pizza is healthy (it's not...not at all), but at least I know whats going on...


So this was inspired by a dish that I had at Pipa, the mushroom coca, which is really a flatbread, but I went with tortilla because they are easy.



So here we go:



Ingredients (these are complete approximations) for 1:

  • 6 slices of fresh mozzarella or 1/2 cup shredded
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms (sliced about 1/8 inch thick)
  • 2 thinly sliced pieces of prochuttio
  • 1/2 large tortilla or 1 small tortilla
  • Olive Oil
  • White truffle oil (completely optionally, but if you haven't noticed I use it A LOT)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Basically you are going to build this like a normal pizza except there is no sauce. Place your sliced mozzarella across the tortilla. Sprinkle mushrooms over top.

Place directly on the over rack for 10 minutes. If you are using fresh mozzarella its wise to place a cookie sheet below the tortilla as the liquid is cooked out of the mozzarella it will start to leak and cause your oven to smoke (not that I would know or anything...).

After about ten minutes, when the cheese has spread out, but isn't quite brown yet, pull out oven rack and place prochuttio on top and place back in oven for about 3-5 more minutes.

Once the cheese is brown and the prochuttio is cooked to your liking (I like mine a little crispy, but still tender) remove from oven.

Drizzle with olive oil and white truffle oil and there you have it, an extremely elegant pizza :)

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Steak Sandwich - How to Make the Most out of Leftovers

>> Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yesterday I wrote about the perfect sirloin that I cooked for Jef's birthday and today I want to talk about how to take steak leftovers and make a completely new and delicious meal out of them.

First off, there are a couple of things that I like to keep on deck at all times, one of them being onions. I use onions in almost everything that I cook, so having them on available is a must! Secondly, I am a big fan of dijon mustard. There are so many things that you can make with dijon aside from using just a spread (salad dressings, flavoring in soups etc.) and it's extremely useful to have around. Without further adieu here is the recipe for the best steak sandwich ever!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion
  • Dijon mustard
  • left over steak 
  • butter
  • french bread (really any good, crusty bread will do)
  • EV olive oil 
  • cheese (optional and really anything will work)
Directions:

First off, turn your oven to the broil setting. You would rather have the oven waiting on you, then you waiting on the oven...

Next, in a pan on medium heat, add enough oil to coat the pan. Once hot, add in the onion then salt and pepper. While the onions are cooking take out your steak and cut thin slices (about 1/8 in thick). You want them to be thin enough to chew through in one bite, and not so thick that you pull the entire piece of meat out when you sink your teeth in. 

Slice your bread and then butter the inside. Place inside oven for about 2 minutes, just enough so that the edges are brown and the butter is melted. Remove from oven and spread dijon. 

Add your steak to the pan with the onions, tossing generously (remember we don't want to overcook our perfectly cooked steak, just want to warm up the fat enough so that it will melt in our mouths). I had some left over mushrooms, so I added them in at this step too. 

After about two minutes, remove the mixture from the stove and place inside the bread. Here you can add cheese if you want. 

Return the entire sandwich to the oven for one last warming. After two/three minutes or until cheese is melted remove from oven and ENJOY.

This has long been a favorite dish of mine and it's really making use of left over steak, something I know a lot of people have issues with. What's the most creative way you use left overs? Let me know! thefrugalfoodies@gmail.com 

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The PERFECT Sirloin

>> Wednesday, December 9, 2009

As I quickly updated yesterday, Jef's birthday was this past Monday and we had quite a feast! I took several recipes from the cookbook I received for my birthday, Think Like a Chef, by Tom Collichio. My favorite dish of the evening was the main course protein - the thick, tender, cooked to perfect, sirloin.

To start, I went to the butcher at my local grocery store and asked for a 14 ounce sirloin NOT cut. Apparently the purpose of this is to get one loin in which you will cut into two so that the portions are the same. So simple, yet brilliant!

Once home, I let the meat sit out, so that it would come to room temperature (this allows the meat to cook more evenly.) Then I really just followed the instructions! My interpretation is below...

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. Sirloin 
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh pepper
  • 2-4 sprigs of thyme or rosemary
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • Olive oil

Directions

First, heat a skillet on medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat the pan. Tom emphasizes that the oil should not sputter, but simply shimmer in the heat. While the pan is heating, pat dry the sirloin (I used a paper towel and was SHOCKED at the excess moisture), then cut the meat into two even portions, add salt and pepper.

Once the oil appears to have a shimmer add the steaks to the sautee pan. Leave the steak down for three (3) minutes then flip to the other side for three (3) minutes. After both sides are seared, then flip the steaks on their outsides for two (2) minutes each. If you are nervous like I was, set a timer!


After these first four initial flips, add the two tablespoons on butter and sprigs of thyme or rosemary (I used thyme and thought it worked out great!) Let the butter cook down for a minute or two creating a brown butter sauce, then repeat the pattern once more (2 minutes on each sides) generously coating with the brown butter sauce.

Remove the steaks and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Bam you are done! You don't need a grill or a grill pan to make a delicious steak. Using simple techniques and ingredients you can create something quite tasty. That Tom is on to something :)

The rest of the meal was accompanied by purple mashed potatoes, mushrooms with thyme, garlic and shallot, french onion soup and of course cake!


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Jef's Birthday Dinner

>> Tuesday, December 8, 2009



This previous Monday it was Jef's birthday so I wanted to prepare a special meal. Instead of re-writing it here, I am going to paste a chat that I had with two girlfriends of mine. It pretty much explains everything and yes, this is really what we talked about...


The menu went something like this
French Onion Soup with Emthenal Cheese
Pan seared sirloin
Mushrooms
Mashed potatoes
which
doesn't sound that exciting
but just you wait...

so I got home at 5:30 yesterday
and having already prepped my onions yesterday
I started my soup
so with a couple tablespoons of butter and oil
I let those cook down for an hour
till they were sweet and tender
then I deglazed the onions with some Apple Cider Vinegar
to give it a little tang
after about 3 minutes, i added in the garlic and the beef and 


chicken stock
then let it cook for 30 minutes
I removed it from the stove and set aside
While the onions were reducing
I baked a cake
which isnt that impressive because it was from a box
but just FYI
I did it
now here is where I am going to toot my own culinary whistle
I had the mushrooms, potatoes, and steak all going at the same time
Phase 2:
I got the water going for the mashed potatoes
these arent your average mashed potatoes
I bought purple potatoes from the farmers market
so
I cleaned and peeling them and added them to boil water
in the meantime I prepped my steak
So while those are boiling
I cut my 16oz. sirloin in 2 (in my cookbook it says that you should ask the butcher for a loin that isnt cut so you get even steaks)
I seasoned with kosher salt and pepper
and then added to a pan with olive oil on medium heat
every 3/2 minutes
I turned sides
even on the side, sides
after each 4 sides had been cooked
I added 2 tbsps of butter and 2 sprigs of thyme
I let the butter reduce till it was brown butter
then after i flipped I spooned the brown butter over each side
meanwhile
I quartered my mushrooms and added them to a pan with olive oil
seasoned with salt and pepper and let cook for 2 minutes
then I removed them from the heat and added in shallot, garlic and thyme
oh and more butter
then I added in the mushrooms again and let them all cook
remember I am still basting my steaks
so its crazy right now
finally my potatoes are done
I strain them and put them back in the hot sauce pan
to get all the extra water out
then put them in the food processor with heavy cream and butter
sea salt and pepper
and i pureed till those suckers were smooth
before I knew it, it was time to put the soup back in the oven to melt the cheese
10 minutes later everything was on the table


If I ever have time to update this blog, I will write out the recipes (they were from my new Tom Collichio Cookbook!) 

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Dijon Dill Cream Sauce

>> Monday, November 23, 2009


You would have thought that the secret ingredient in my apartment last night was dill. I have a compulsion when I buy fresh herbs to use them immediately and in as many dishes as possible. A fresh herb is a terrible thing to waste :)

Inspired by an episode I saw on 30 minute meals, this dijon dill sauce is a great compliment to any salmon dish, and it's incredibly easy to make. With only four ingredients and about 5 minutes, there is no reason why you can't try this sauce tonight :)

Ingredients (for TWO people - that's right didn't cook this one just for me!):

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon for dijon mustard (that may be a lot for some people, but I love dijon mustard)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of freshly chopped dill
  • 2 teaspoons of capers
Directions 


Pretty straight forward - mix together in a bowl and chill before serving on top of fish :)

This is the perfect partner for the lemon-dill salmon I posted earlier in the month. With our meal I made some smashed potatoes, very similar to the potato salad from this summer and some pan roast mushrooms. The creamy, cool, sauce was a nice compliment to the buttery fish and the addition of the capers added a salty bite.

I will be making this sauce over and over again.

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Lemon Dill Salmon

>> Friday, November 13, 2009



So in an effort to take off some of those dreaded holiday pounds I am going to attempt to eat better this week, which basically to me means staying away from all the fried foods (what sinfully tempters they are though...)


Anyways in true Frugal Foodies fashion this recipe is super easy and can be executed extremely quick. We're talking 15 minutes or less.


Ingredients (for 1)

  • 1 Salmon filet (5-6oz)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill (if using dried dill, use less)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions
Set the oven to broil.
Coarsely chop dill. Take lemon and slice into 1/8 in slices (you'll need about 6). Place three lemon slices on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with some of the chopped dill.
Salt and pepper salmon filet and pat dill into salmon. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil then place the remaining three lemon slices on top.
Place in the oven for about 5-7 to minutes until flaky.
I served it with some shallots, mushrooms and green beans that I quickly sauteed in a little bit of butter and wine.
This was a quick and healthy recipe that can be created in about 15 minutes, not to mention it looks pretty too :)

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Happy Birthday to ME :)

>> Thursday, October 22, 2009


(photo credit here)


Well, it's here, today is my birthday!! Jef got me a WONDERFUL present, Tom Colicchio's Think Like a Chef (it's one of two parts, the other part is in transit but apparently somehow correlates to this gift).

What I already love about this "cookbook" is its not just a list of recipes, but instead teaches you the process of how to make things delicious. When I was first starting to get into cooking, I would often follow a recipe verbatim and it would turn out good. However, if I tried any sort of variation on the dish that is where I would run into trouble (mostly if I tried to switch proteins). It's here that I understood in order to make a dish successful you have to understand how to cook each component perfectly.

Much like Julie and Julia, I have decided that I am going to cook through Tom's entire cookbook. Renee and Tom doesn't have quite the same ring so I am still working on a name (Lessons from the Top (?)), but I will say this, I can't remember the last time I was so excited to embark on a project!! I will be starting in about two weeks when I am moved into my new apartment and have my kitchen set up. So be looking for posts then!

Thanks to everyone who has continued to read my little ole blog :) This will be 180th post! Can you believe it?!


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Smoke Daddy's

>> Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I can't say it enough, I love barbeque. I love everything about it, the sauce, the smoke, the fat, everything. So when my new friend Sara suggested that we go to Smoke Daddy's for dinner on our first friend date, I happily agreed. Located in Wicker Park, an area to the northwest of Chicago, this bbq joint was relatively easy to get to. I have a hard time navigating around my new city (praise for Google Maps!) so being able to easily get to this place was a big plus!


Upon entering the bar/restaurant you could smell the smoke down the street; this is always a good sign. Once inside the place was decorated just in time for Halloween, complete with cobwebs and fake spiders. We sit down and automatically I am happy as my eyes focus on the different bbq sauces at the end of the table. As I start to peruse the menu, I am sticker shocked but for a much better reason, the prices here are extremely reasonable! BBQ places can sometimes run on the more expensive side (shocking, I know), I'm assuming for all the labor that must be put into a delicious meal, however most of the sandwiches here run from $8.50-$11 and include one side, combo platters and ribs range from $11.95 to $24.95 which come with two sides- not too bad for a mountain of food!

I opt for the pulled pork sandwich with macaroni and cheese (more on this later) and a side of cornbread, which I asked be sent out immediately as I was starving and Sara went with the burger, Carolina style (which includes coleslaw on the burger).

The cornbread arrived and I knew I was in for a treat. It was about 2 - 2 1/2 inches thick and about 2 inches wide, piping hot and screaming for some butter! Never one to deny my food anything it wants, I added a heaping amount of butter and took a bite into the crunchy outer layer then just sat in silence as the sweet, spicy cornbread melted in my mouth. That's right, melted. I have no doubt that this cornbread was made in a cast iron skillet as it had that crunchy bottom texture that can only be achieved through cast iron. Furthermore, they added jalapeƱos, which as my loyal readers know, I love nothing more than a good spicy/sweet combo.

Satisfied and ready for more, our food came out quickly and we dove right in. Much like the lobster roll in New Hampshire, Smoke Daddy's understands the importance of a well buttered roll. It can provide the right amount of texture that will make or break a dish. This bun was on point. The bbq was smokey and tender, although being from the South we like ours a little more chopped and with some more fat, but honestly I really cant complain, it was tasty! Sara's burger was cooked to perfection (medium rare) and the coleslaw added a tangy crunch that I wasn't prepared to like, but did! Then I moved on to the mac and cheese...

I should preface this whole next paragraph by saying - this is why we went to Smoke Daddy's...

The mac and cheese came out in a little pot and was topped with bread crumbs. Bread crumbs you might ask? Yes, bread crumbs. Listen, I too was skeptical, but if there is one thing I know from all my dining experiences is trust the kitchen. Don't alter orders, eat it as is and you will be happy. So that's what I did, I stuck my fork in and hoped for the best (I didn't want to upset Sara). Let me say this, you have probably never heard me order mac and cheese before on this blog and that is for good reason, I just don't like it from restaurants...I've worked in the food industry and know that most places let it sit and get dried out...I am not interested in that at all. So when I ordered this I was expecting the worst. However, I found that Smoke Daddy's did a nice job of balancing the cream and the cheese and it made for a delicious side dish. The bread crumbs offered a contrast in texture that can be needed when eating noodles. Overall, it was very successful!

If you are looking for reasonably priced barbeque, and good drink specials (Miller light bottles were $2 on Wednesday) I would suggest Smoke Daddy's!

Smoke Daddy's
1804 W. Division
Chicago, IL 60622

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Made the Move to Chicago!

>> Thursday, October 15, 2009


(Photo Credit: Phil Velasquez. click here)

Some of you may have noticed my tweets or facebook statuses mostly discuss Chicago now. Well good reason, I moved! I loved New York and will always love New York, and despite my move I doubt that there is any greater city, but for me it was just time. I spent two years there and wouldn't take back a second of them. However, I have a lot of family in Michigan and Jef is in Chicago, not to mention I can keep my day job, so for me it was a logical next move!

I am SO excited to see what the city has to offer. As you have read, I've been several times before, but now I really ready to emerse myself in the culinary scene. I've already had some big hits!

So Foodies, I hope you will stay with me through this journey and still enjoy reading about all of my culinary adventures. I promise there will still be restaurants, recipes and product reviews!

My first Chicago-based post should be coming soon, but until then, check out the poll on the right side about Top Chef :)

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Beach Plum

>> Wednesday, October 14, 2009




Dear Foodies, you may have noticed I have been a traveling fool lately. This past weekend my travels took me to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. That's right New Hampshire. While I guess I have never given much thought to this New England state, I will say that I enjoyed my stay there more than I have a lot of places. The people, the homes, the beach, overall I don't know how anyone could not like this place. Despite the brisk weather (I mean it was October) people were still out walking and running along the beach, riding bikes, exercising more than most places I have seen. I am assuming this is to counteract the amount of lobster rolls that are consumed, which brings me to the subject of the this post: the Beach Plum's lobstah roll.

The Beach Plum is located along a winding stretch of Ocean Boulevard in North Hampton, New Hampshire just south of Portsmouth. Nestled between huge beach houses along the beach, this stand (specializing in ice cream) was still pretty packed with orders despite the 40 degree weather. I was with my new friend Rachel (who writes a fabulous interior design blog here) and we were hungry. Having wandered around aimlessly for three hours in search of bikes (long story, click on the here for the full story) we both decided it was lobster roll time!!

For those of you who may not know, a lobster roll is a New England treat comprised of lobster that dressed in mayo and served on a buttered hot dog bun. Some people may chose to add scallions, celery, tomato or lettuce. I would like to think of myself as a traditionalist when it comes to new food; I want it just as it was originally intended.

So we ordered our rolls and when they were ready for pick up I think I can honestly say that both of our mouths dropped open. There must have been at least 6 oz. of lobster on this sandwich. I mean, the thing was heavy to pick up! Served with chips and a pickle, we were racing home to try this treat.


Propped up at the dining table, we quickly opened our plastic boxes and dug in. While I am not a HUGE fan of lobster, I was very impressed with the tenderness of the lobster served here. The butter from the roll added a sweetness to the sandwich that was necessary in all bites. The mayo was just a side note and definitely did not overpower the lobster (something I have experienced in lobster rolls prior to this). Overall, this roll was one for my books.


The weekend in New Hampshire was great. The wedding we were attending was full of great people, many I like to think of as new friends. We all had such a good time there are talks about going back next year just for fun!

If you are ever in the NH area, the Beach Plum is a must stop. Very friendly staff, beautiful views and great food - doesn't get much better!

Beach Plum
17 Ocean Blvd.
North Hampton, NH 03862


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Public

>> Thursday, October 8, 2009


Let me preface this review by saying that it was my last Friday night in New York and I really wanted to have a special night out and eat someplace I had never eaten. So I met up with my friend Maggie and we were all set to go to La Esquina. Upon my arrival I received several furious texts from Maggie telling me how rude the staff was and that there was no way we were going to eat there on my last Friday. I quickly agreed and we headed east, further into NoLita (North of Little Italy). It's here that we came across Public. I had eaten at Public for brunch and had a fabulous time so I knew dinner would be just as delightful.


We walk into the converted warehouse space (which we later learned everything in the restaurant is meant for public use, thus why they give you pencils and soap) and are greeted by the hostess. Now, showing up on a Friday night without a reservation is about as Taboo as it comes in the New York dining scene, however I just knew that I would be lucky this night. We charm the hostess who finally agrees to seat us, but ONLY because it's my last night. 


Starving we ordered bread immediately and sipped on delicious cocktails. The server came back and it was go time. We ordered:



  • Cauliflower and gorgonzola soup with pickled bosc pear relish and annatto oil
  • Spiced Berkshire pork loin, warm guindilla chili and spaetzle salad, chamomile poached apricots and pistachio nuts
  • Australian barramundi with vanilla celeriac puree, braised garlic greens, verjus and muscat grape sauce




The cauliflower soup was so smooth and velvety that I had a hard time believe that it was cauliflower at all. It seem utterly impossible that someone could get cauliflower that smooth. The pear relish and annaotto oil gave the dish depth and the gorgonzola was ever so subtle in the background. A beautiful start.



Our entrees came out a little later than we would have liked (I mean we were starving), but sincerely they were worth it. Maggie ordered the pot and let me just say it had so many flavors it was hard to nail down which on I liked the most, the spicy/sweet thing is always a big hit with me. I ordered the barramundi. I love a good crispy skin on a fish, and I firmly believe that you have to have good crispy skin to have a truly amazing fish. There, I said it. Anyways, the crispy, salty skin contrasted against the smooth, sweet vanilla celeriac puree was a dream. I cleaned my plate in about five minutes.


I loved everything about our evening; the staff, the food and most of all the company. We finished our night we a free glass of champagne and headed out for my last night out on the town.
This really was the perfect meal to end on J


210 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012

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Sausages with White Beans in Tomato Sauce via Bon Appetit

>> Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Perfect for the first day of fall, the Bon Appetit newsletter highlighted several Oktobestfest, and easy Italian recipes. Upon looking, I was immediately floored to cook this delicious recipe: sausages with white beans in tomato sauce.

I followed the instructions almost to a tee and it turned out beautifully. Hearty, rich and protein heavy, this was a simple recipe that can be execute by the most novice of chefs. I would highly, highly recommend on a blustery fall day :)

I changed up the recipe for portions and also I did not have the 1/2 cup of reserved cooking liquid, but it was still great.

Ingredients (for two! Jackie ate with me :) )

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can white beans 
  • 4 links of sweet Italian sausage (although this was a lot for two people - going back I would use two)
  • 1 can plum tomatoes in juice
  • 1 large fresh sage sprigs
  • 1 cup water
Directions

Heat oil in a large pot (can be skillet, but I liked using a pot). Saute garlic until browned, about 2 minutes.

Add in sausage. I removed the casings and simply crumbled. To remove the casing just run your knife down the side of the link and pull back the casing. Saute the sausage for about 5 minutes until its brown.

Add in the tomatoes and sage. Let this simmer on low heat for five minutes.

Next add in the white beans and water, then place lid on and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes.

If your stew is too runny, take off the lid and turn up the heat. If you mixture is looking too dry add in 1/4 cup water.

Honestly, the consistency for me was perfect.

This will be one of my go-to recipes for the fall. Not only is it completely filling, but for the entire meal including bread the total came out to about $10, which will serve about 3 people (we had enough left overs for another person).

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Fette Sau

>> Friday, September 18, 2009


Now I have lived in the South for a long time and experienced all different kinds of BBQ. As you know from my previous posts, I'm not afraid to travel for barbecue that I know to be good. Take Lexington Barbecue for example - I drove an hour and half outside of Charlotte for 30 minutes of eating and I wouldn't take back one second of it. Bottom line: I love good food, especially barbecue, and will travel for it. This brings me to the subject of this post: Fette Sau.

I am not saying Williamsburg is far from Manhattan - it's not. It's just a mental distance that I had to cross. Fette Sau (which means "fat pig" in German) is only one stop off of the L line at Bedford and it's worth the whole 10 minutes that it will take someone from Union Square to get there...

Tucked in the back of an alley and only illuminated by a bright pink neon sign, Fetta Sau's inconspicuous nature is only the beginning of it's charm. Once home to an old body shop, this bbq eatery automatically kept rising in my books when I walked in and noticed the wall of liquor (mostly bourbons) and cuts of meat painted on the walls. The smell of smoke and meat fill the air and I was automatically turned into a vicious carnivore ready to attack my kill - or someone else's kill rather (all of their meat is lovingly raised). Instead of being rash, John, a wonderful friend of mine, sat down at the bar to check out all the different types of bourbons that we could sip on. The bartender informed us that they only server liquors from the northern hemisphere and despite my protest they were unable to make a hot totty, mainly because they don't have access to hot water or a stove. That's right, everything cooked at Fette Sau is slowly roasted. I put my anger aside and realized that this was a great thing - no stove in a restaurant - classic.

After consulting with our bartender we mustered the strength and stood in line, mentally prepared for our order:

  • 1/4 lb pork belly
  • 1/2 lb pulled pork
  • 4 pork ribs
  • Medium baked beans
  • German potato salad
Everything is weighed and priced per pound, which actually is great thing since you are able to mix and match pieces of meat and truly customize your order. Feeling confident we sat outside at our picnic table and then accessed each potential bbq sauce, because no matter how good your bbq is, sauce will always make it better. Just like Goldy Locks we had to try all three to find one that was juuuuuusssst right. The first sauce was clearly a North Carolina style sauce and definitely vinegar based, the second one was ketchup based and a little sweet, and the third one was so spicy! Instead of picking one we put the vinegar on the pulled pork and mixed the ketchup based and spicy bbq together. Perfection.


Now for the good stuff: how did it taste?! Well the pulled pork was juicy, tender and the right mix of meat and fat. Had a nice smoky flavor and would have been perfect on a sandwich. The ribs literally fell off the bone. I mean one bit and the meat was just dangling there! Pink lined the edges showing just how long those suckers had sat in a smoker. The care that went into the ribs was evident in every bite. Outstanding! Then the pork belly. Oh the pork belly. So rich, it would melt in your mouth. On either side of the meat were two large layers of fat that just soaked up the sauce, the smoke, everything. Honestly, I only had two bites, but trust me I savored every last second of them.

Unfortunately, the baked beans were a complete miss for me. The flavor was almost there, but there was too much brown sugar and too much sauce. I like my beans with a little more bacon and not as much sauce. I mean they were fine, but based on the caliber of dishes that I just described, I think you can agree, that more was to be expected. However, the German potato salad was a nice refreshing treat from all the heavy meats. With grainy mustard, sweet valdalia onions and tangy vinegar these were a hit!

While not an everyday sort of meal this was one for the record books. Delicious food, amazing atmosphere knowledge staff and reasonable prices make this a trip worth taking!

354 Metropolian Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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Solvay Cares Scholarship

>> Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's that time of year again, the Solvay Cares Scholarship is here! This scholarship is creatively focused and recognizes the achievments of students with Cystic Fibrosis or CF. It's a great cause and they need your help to decide the winner of a $17,000 scholarship.

Check out this video montage of all their work and click here to vote for your favorite student!!

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Clinton Street Bakery

>> Monday, September 14, 2009

It's 2:30 on a Sunday and I am thinking to myself, the time has come; Clinton Street Bakery once and for all - you will MINE. This immensely popular bakery has been on my list for some time (I feel like I say that a lot, but sincerely you should see this list...) and when my best friend Jessica came in town it provided the perfect opportunity to head down to the Lower East side and see if we could grab a sear at this famous brunch spot. Despite the fact that it was 2:30 in the afternoon we still had to wait for a seat, but at that point I was just happy to know that temporary bliss was only thirty minutes away. 


Brunch is a hard thing to sell to people - I mean how different can pancakes, bacon and eggs really be? When I kept telling Jessica "It's ok, just a little while longer this place is suppose to be great...I know your tired, but I heard the pancakes are out of this world...I promise it's worth it!" It better be worth it. 


Walking in, you think you are in store for just another classic diner/bakery. There is a lot of hustle and bustle and beautiful glass cases displaying the different scones and muffins. Lucky for us we were sat near a window and were greeted quickly. 



Knowing that I would die if I did not get something immediately, Jessica and I quickly scanned the menu and decided that scones and biscuits were necessary ASAP. Our lovely se rver returned with a mixed berry scone, butter and raspberry jam. Unfortunately there are no pictures because it was inhaled. I am 99% sure there is crack mixed in with the dough. Salty and sweet with a nice a soft, flaky crust, this scone was made for eating. 



Quickly after that our main meal arrives...

  • Blueberry pancakes with warm maple butter
  • Sugar cured bacon
  • Cheese grits
Jessica got something else, but let's be honest, I was focused on me. Me, me, me. My grits must have been prepared by a Southern; creamy, fluffy and bursting with cheddar cheese. The trick with grits it that you have to find the right balance between stirring often enough and not over stirring to the point where they become gummy. These were pretty damn close to being perfect, they congealed a little quickly, but maybe I was just savoring Jessica's pancakes too much. I'm going to be honest, it's not that the pancakes themselves were that great, its that the warm maple butter is simply out of this world. This for sure has crack in it, because there was nothing left in that little ramekin by the time Jessica and I called it quits. 
The sugar cured bacon. Hmm. Here's the thing. I really wanted this to be good. Really, I did. I have a sick problem with the whole salty/sweet thing. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. This time it didn't work for me. The sugar coating was so thick that it completely overwhelmed the saltiness of the bacon, which is the best part about the bacon. The sugar disabled the ability for the fat to melt in my mouth, which is the second reason that bacon rocks. I understand the notion behind it, but for me, I would rather just eat the regular bacon. Still points for originality.



Would I go there again and wait for 2 hours to eat? Probably not. However, I was more than happy waiting 30 minutes for a meal that I considered one of the better brunches in the city, if not just for that maple-butter-syrup-cracklaced-dipping sauce.  

4 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002 





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Pumpkin Fluff by Leah - Repost!

>> Thursday, September 10, 2009

Talk about welcoming Fall with open arms, this pumpkin fluff has affirmed my belief that all things Fall are incredible.

I came home yesterday to find this delicious orange treat staring at me softly whispering "EAT ME NOW" and so with a ginger snap I dove in. I couldn't stop. I made myself sick. No big deal, it was totally worth it.

If you too want to be seduced by this delectable treat

Ingredients

  • Approx. 16 oz. canned Pumpkin
  • Lg. container of cream cheese
  • fresh nutmeg
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • cinnamon
  • lg. box of vanilla pudding mixture
  • whipped cream
Directions
Mix canned pumpkin and cream cheese, then add vanilla pudding mixture.
Add spices to taste and then fold in whipped cream. Everything is just to taste, if you like more spice, add more spice, if you want it to be lighter, add more whipped cream. You can't go wrong.
Serve cold with thin ginger snaps and watch out, I guarantee you will put a dent in it without even noticing.
I received a digital camera for my Bday so pictures will be coming soon and who knows, potentially a video. The Frugal Foodies are getting crazy!!
Happy Fall Everyone!!

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Upcoming Posts

>> Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I know, I know I've been away...these past few weeks have been tough on me and my sanity...I've moved for the second time and am still not done (3 more to go...) However, I have been eating out a ton :)
Some of the thing on my list to write:

  • Corner Bistro
  • Lemon ice cream and Blackberry jam
  • Lemon Dill salmon
  • Clinton Street Bakery (SOO YUM!)
I am a lot better about updating my twitter account so if you are not already follow me on there: Twitter.com/TheFFs



I promise to start strong next week!!! Don't hate me dear readers!!

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No Reservations - Montana?

>> Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm a little confused by this one myself, but I am excited to see what the mountains of Montana have to offer on this week's No Reservations. Check out a clip below that highlights some of the experiences Tony has this week:




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Flounder "Picatta"

>> Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Since I have been running around like a nomad, I decided that last night I needed to cook myself dinner and better yet, a healthy dinner; eating out has really made the calories and dollars start to add up...


I had several friends and family friends in town this past weekend and the lovely, Dr. and Mrs. Jutras took me out in Little Italy for some food by my people. I ordered the chicken picatta and almost ate the whole plate. Served with pasta and bread I knew this wasn't the healthiest of meals, but the flavors were so clean and fresh, I kept thinking how delightful this would be with my farmer's market fresh caught flounder (which I have later learned is overfished - go figure...) so I committed to making this delightful dish this week.

Cooking in a new place is always an experience. I had all my ingredients ready to go, but for some reason I was nervous. I told myself just to calm down and let everything happen organically and let me tell you, this was one of the finest meals I have created!

Ingredients (for one, as per usual)
  • 1 filet of any white fish (tilapia, flounder, sole etc.)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 shallot
  • butter
Directions

Heat a skillet on medium heat and add enough butter to coat the pan - make sure butter does not brown! Salt and pepper your fish filet and add to the pan. Cook on each side for about a minute and a half (don't want it to be completely done cooking yet). Remove from pan and set aside.

Add shallots to pan (add more butter if necessary) and cook until they are clear, about 3-4 minutes (depending on how finely chopped), then add in capers and squeeze the juice of half a lemon. This will "de-glaze" the pan and be sure to move everything around and get all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan.

Add the fish back in the pan and let everything cook together for another 1-2 minutes. If you like more lemon, now is the time to add it.

The salty, briny-ness from the capers, mixed with the sweetness of the butter and shallots really makes for a dynamite dinner. Serve along some pasta tossed lightly in olive oil or with a side a green beans, really this will go with just about anything!

I am going to re-create again so I can take pictures, but this is definitely a favorite in my book!

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mmmmmmm Thailand

>> Monday, August 17, 2009

Tony does it again, this week traveling to Thailand. I love some thai food, although admittedly I keep my choices PG. No frog here, but for some reason this man makes me want to try new things. Check it out!

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Top Chef Master

>> Thursday, August 13, 2009

So this was interesting...I thought last night's episode was really a true challenge - to see how these chef can lead in the kitchen. I dont want to give too much away, but what did everyone think of the episode last night??? Twists and turns around every corner huh?!



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Easy Potato Salad

>> Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This recipe was completely inspired by the new potatoes that Dory and I had from Prune. Light, fresh, clean dill and tangy mustard really make this one a WINNER. Not to mention it includes no mayo so it's lighter on the waistline :) Get ready to impress your friends:

Ingredients:

  • red potatoes (I like to get 2-3 per person depending on size)
  • djion mustard (something like grey poupon)
  • olive oil
  • fresh dill
  • fresh thyme
  • finely diced shallots (1 big one or two small ones)
  • salt and pepper
Directions:

Place potatoes in pot with salted water before you start boiling (this will make them cook more evenly). Bring water to a boil and let potatoes cook till you can easily stab a fork through them (20-25) minutes.

Once potatoes are cooked, drain them and place in fridge. This can be done way ahead of time since you need the potatoes to be cold.

Once potatoes are cooled, cut into chunks (should be about 8 per potato, or more if they are larger) and place in a big bowl. Then, drizzle with some olive oil, sprinkle salt, pepper and toss in shallots. Once everything is added then add fresh dill and thyme to taste. I like a lot of dill. Finally, add in mustard to taste, I would say a spoonful at minimum and toss all together.

Place back in fridge until ready to serve. It's out of this world!! TRUST ME!!


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Stay Connected!!

>> Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Frugal Foodies
So I've added a couple of things to the Frugal Foodies recently in attempts to help everyone stay connected to your food lifeline - me!


You can become a "fan" on Facebook here

You can follow me on Twiter here

You can share any post that your little heart desires by clicking on the "share this" link a the bottom of each post!

I encourage everyone to write on the Facebook wall, "@" me on Twitter, like my great friends Dell and Marcy, and comment on here! I generally get back to everyone because all five people reading this are pretty vocal, but I love to chat with anyone!

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Crazy Couple of Weeks...

>> Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So things have been nuts around my place(s) for the last couple of weeks. I have been slowly moving from one apartment to another one (on foot) which leaves me very little time to cook/write. I will say that I have been to some GREAT places lately (most notably Prune)and am going to Chicago this weekend for Lollapalooza and may possibly eat at Table 52 with my buddy Art Smith. Maybe. I'm poor so probably not, but dare to dream right?


Stay with my foodies I promise to deliver delicious recipes and reviews soon!!

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Walnut Pesto


So as of last week I had never made pesto before. Straight up, I was scared. I was scared of the food processor. I mean how can anything that moves that fast be okay? I feel like once you turn it on you're done, there's no turning back, once it's in the processor it shall be fused together and become one forever -- whether you like it or not...

Acknowledging this fear, and being pushed by my desire for some delicious pesto, I decided to make some walnut pesto, using the food processor.

Ingredients (approximates of course, makes about 1 1/2 - 2 cups)


  • 2 cups basil

  • 1/2 cup walnuts (more if you like a nutter pesto)

  • 2-3 garlic cloves

  • 2/3 cup shredded parmesean cheese

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (approximately 1/3 cup)

  • Salt (to taste)


Directions



Ok not kidding this couldn't be easier. Basically you coarsely chop the walnuts and the garlic.

Then, you throw the basil, walnuts, garlic, parmesean and salt in the food processor. This may be the ONLY hard part, once the food processor is turned on, through the top SLOWLY start to add in the olive oil.

Overall, this process should take a minute, maybe a minute in a half.

Once its over you are left with delicious and nutritious walnut basil pesto. Slather this on a tortilla with some mozzarella cheese and there you go - pesto pizza (more on that later...)

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Julie and Julia - Sneak Preview Review

>> Wednesday, July 29, 2009


That's right! I saw it! Totally jealous? Well you should be. My new roommate, Betsy, invited me along to join her for the sneak preview and I knew going in I was probably going to like it...A LOT! And I did - it's just enchanting.

Without giving too much away, I will just talk about the characters. I immediately identified with
Julie on every level possible (aside from job maybe, she really hates her and I like my day job). I know it doesn't seem like blogging can be stressful, but it is a bizarre feeling to spend so
much time on something and then
wonder if anyone ever reads it. Not to mention it is very narcissistic...I know I force people to read, and if you are reading this now, you were probably lured in by a catchy "status" update on Twitter or Facebook :)

Anyways, I also fell in love with Julia Child, or the Julia Child that Meryl Strep portrays. She was just a delight on screen and really embodied the essence of the Julia Child I have in my mind.

In the end, this movie for me is less about the food, but more about doing what truly makes you happy. For these women it was finding joy through cooking and sharing their experiences with an audience, something I can completely relate with :)

Foodlovers and non-foodlovers alike will love this film. Just be sure to go after dinner - it made me starving!!

Check out the trailer here

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Prune

>> Monday, July 27, 2009

This past weekend my cousin came in town, and since she too is a foodie, we picked several restaurants that she has heard/I have wanted to eat at. One of these was Prune. This east village eatery has been on my list for almost a year now and despite varying reviews, I still wanted to eat there. Known for it's "Unpretentious American home cooking with eccentric, multicultural influences" Prune has one of the interesting menus I have come across in a long time. Bone marrow, lamb shank, sweetbreads with bacon and capers, oh my!


I had no idea what to expect walking up to Prune, but I wasn't anticipating a 20 person dining room,
with a beautiful old door, glass front windows, and a clear view straight into the kitchen. Our table wasn't ready so Dory and I went to the bar and had our first drink of the night, a "fresca", a grapefruit concoction that really tasted like the soft drink Fresca. After waiting for our table for 25 minutes (I was not pleased at this point), we were seated near the front. My frustration was completely eliminated when our server presented us immediately with fried chickpeas. These crunchy, salty, creamy popable bites were devoured in seconds. Literally, seconds. Things that small and delicious are dangerous.

For our appetizer we ordered buttered brown bread with spanish goat cheese and salted red onion and thyme (pictured top left). The portion size was just perfect. Large enough to subside the hunger pains, but not too big that I was so full I couldn't eat my entree. The cheese was so soft and when you added the salted onion, it was the perfect creamy crunch. Something
so simple, and yet so good.

Our entrees continued to impress. Dory ordered the lamb shank with braised romano beans and myer lemon (pictured right). A) Look at that thing. It looks like something out of midevil times. It was the biggest hunk of meat I have seen in my life. B) Once the cool metal fork touch the meat it immediately fell apart. The mix of dark meat and fat reminded me of a duck leg (I know, I know - it's lamb). Ahhh, so tender and delicious. I ate as much of hers as I did my own. Since we knew that the lamb was going to be a little heavy, I opted for the grilled swordfish with corn, bacon and arugula (pictured below). To me swordfish has a great texture; it's light, but not flaky and is really cuts more like a tuna steak than anything else. The corn, bacon and arugula mixture was of course delicious (hello, it has bacon in it). Lastly, for a side we ordered some new potatoes that were so good, I had to ask for the ingredients (which I replicated at home - check back for recipe) - a mixture of fresh herbs and mustard that was the perfect compliment to our meals.

We laughed as we sipped on sparkling wine and rose. I always say the meal can be great, but it's who you dine with that matters and I had great company :) I know that some people (eh hem, Marcy) have has poor experiences at Prune, but I would definitely go back.


Prune
54 East 1st Street
New York, NY 10003

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No Reservations - Rust Belt

This week Tony is back in the US and taking us through several cities, one of which I know particularly well , Detroit. Throw away your preconceived notions of Detroit, and understand that there is a rich culture there with delicious food and warm people. Granted I haven't seen the episode yet, but I hope he exploits Detroit's good qualities :) Here is a preview of his stop in Baltimore!



Also if you are interested, here is what Tony has to say about this episode.

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Sunsets in Chicago and New York

>> Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Every now and again I like to divert from food and just show some good ole pictures of the seasons. Recently I went to Chicago and we were lucky enough to get great weather thoughout the entire weekend. Here are some of my favorite summer sunsets in my two favorite cities:





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Centro Vinoteca

So something big happened last weekend. I ventured into a culinary zone that I have never been to before: I ate pork belly. Now before I get too far ahead of myself, let me go through the whole evening's events:


It all started with this little neighborhood Italian joint that has been on my list for a while, especially since Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen took over from Mario Batalli's right hand woman Anne Burrel. So when the proverbial question arose of "where should be eat tonight?" Centro Vinoteca came to the forefront.

Kerry and I went early on a Friday night, ya know around 8, and were promptly seated at the center bar, a place where I am comfortable. The bartender was very informative and let us (me) try a couple of wines from their extensive wine list before making my final selection.


Never ones to skip directly to the entrees, Kerry and I ordered two "piccolinis" or small plates. I
started with BLT which was pancetta, frisee, and tomato confit. It was salty from from the pancetta and sweet from the tomato. Honestly, it was the perfect bar snack. I could have eaten a couple of them and been satisfied for the whole night. Kerry ordered fried zucchini balls with a marinara dipping sauce. They were incredibly light and not greasy. I would order these over mozzarella sticks any day.

After chowing down on our appetizers, we both decided to order the specials of the night:
  • Spaghetti alla chittara with funghmisty and shaved parmigano
  • Seared pork belly served with mustard greens, onion puree, grilled pulnot and a pulnot chutney
Let's just say that once Kerry reached the end of her pasta, she replied with "I just don't want to
eat the last bite" I mean this was really, really good pasta. Our bartender/server told us that the pasta was all handmade, and the mushrooms were fresh. All ingredients that make for a delicious pasta dish. Then there was my pork belly (pictured right). It was so crispy that it was almost hard to break though the top layer. The meat was just succulent. Honestly, it was so rich that I had a hard time censoring myself. I knew I needed to slow down, but I really didn't want to. Then there was the pulnot (?)...I am still not sure that this is even the right fruit, but it was a cross between a plum and a tomato the perfect sweet/tangy contrast to the fatty pork belly. It really was so well balanced. I learned from our bartender/server that the belly is set in a brine for two days, then it's pressed, then seared as a whole, and then shaped and seared before serving...all that preparation was well worth it.


We really must have looked like we enjoyed ourselves because at one point the server started to stare at what we thought was the food and Kerry asked him: "Why do you keep staring at the food?" he replied "I just haven't seen people enjoy food like this in a long time..."

The evening ended with a deliciously light and effervecent desert wine name Brachetto and a molten chocolate cake. Can you ask for much more?!

I am actually disappointed that I have never been there before now. Hopefully I will be going back soon!!




molten chocolate cake

Centro Vinoteca
74 Seventh Ave. South
New York, NY 10014

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