Friday, July 31, 2009

We'll be at the Rock Center Greenmarket for Lunch

Katchkie Farms-Rock Center Farmers Market
And why have we waited two weeks to tell all of you about the Farm to Table meal? Well, because this week is the reopening of the Rockefeller Center Farmer's Market and our new favorite farm will be there today! If you're lucky, so will we, mayhaps eating some sandwiches and lasagna.

Lunch Special
Yesterday, I took a small detour prior to work and stopped by the Port Authority Farmer's Market to say hello, and pick up some goodies. They let me know that they now have a lunch special: get a Veggie or Turkey sandwich and a side for $8! I had both a Thunder Pickle AND the beet chips yesterday, and I can assure you both are incredible. The pickle was a dill sour, so sour my throat hurt a little after, and it smelled like briney, garlicky goodness. A few of my coworkers managed to get a beet chip before I downed the bag; now I know why they have one regular customer who keeps upping her supply (first it was one bag, then six, and yesterday morning she bought ten right in front of me!)

Lasagna
A new addition to their prepared food is the 100 Mile Lasagna, something I can't wait to try.

Veggies
They had a good amount of veggies ready for the eating yesterday-I picked up some carrots-and they should be stocked today.


Rockefeller Center Greenmarket
Open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 8am to 6pm
Through Early September
www.cenyc.org/greenmarket
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Enjoying a 100 Mile Menu, with Farmer Bob

Leg of Lamb
A little over two weeks ago, Brownie and I received a special treat-we were allowed to enjoy the first of Great Performances' Farm to Table series, a celebration of the 100 Mile Menu, at the 620 Loft & Garden. And we got to see our new best friend, Farmer Bob.

The View
The 620 Loft & Garden is located directly above Fifth Avenue in the British Empire building of Rockefeller Center, across from Saks Fifth Avenue, and it's one spectacular venue. We've been there before, specifically when we hung out with Canadians. Luck was with us as the evening the dinner fell on gave us some absolutely beautiful weather.

Cherry Julep
This time around also included drinking a cocktail or two in the garden area, my choice being a cherry julep.

Joe's Dairy Ricotta Drizzled with Honey
While enjoy our drinks, we got to preview what was ahead at dinner with hors d'œuvres and amuse-bouches. Though we both loved Joe's Dairy Ricotta drizzled with honey-it was a good balance between sweet and tart,

Katchkie Farm's Fried Green Tomatoes
and we listened to Farmer Bob comment on the perfect, cookie-cutter size of the fried green tomatoes,

Beef Burger with Flying Pigs Bacon
but my favorite was the beef burger with Flying Pigs bacon. Just enough burger to whet my appetite, I did wish it was a little more raw, but the crispy, meaty bacon let me overlook any wrongs. I was very tempted to eat just the bacon off a number of baby burgers.

Pea Sips with Crème Fraîche
On the other hand, Brownie kept eyeing the pea sips with crème fraîche. I believe she called it refreshing, and very green.

Lettuce Bar
We also both partook in the lettuce bar with the incredibly big lettuce leaves from Katchkie. We saw the heads in person just a few days before, but when the leaves were laying out separately in front of us, they looked massive, crunchy, and super fresh.

Braised Pork Belly with Sour Cherries
Soon it was time for the proper dinner in the loft area. First course was Meiller's Farm Braised Pork Belly with sour cherries and baby greens. My piece was perfectly cooked, a light crunchy skin covering a good layer of melt in your mouth fat, and then moist pork underneath. The sour sweetness of the cherries and earthiness of the greens really complemented the pork belly.

Bedell First Crush
During this course, we were introduced to Kareem Massoud of Long Island's Paumanok Vineyards, and taste one of his reds. Almost everyone at my table was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wine, some even remarked about acquiring a bottle. It appears that Long Island wine really has come a long way, and should be respected among the great wine-producing regions.

Monkfish with Wheat Raviolo
Next was the fish course, with fresh New Jersey monkfish atop a wheat raviolo which was hiding some of Katchkie's kale and roasted peppers. The fish was superb and tasty enough that I quickly ate the entire portion. I loved the presentation on this one, if you gently lifted the raviolo to peer underneath, there was this shock of color with the green wilted kale and the bright red peppers.

Cutting of the Lamb
Then we witnessed the cutting of the roasted lamb by Chef Chris Harkness. The next day, we had an impromptu "what Blondie ate at dinner last night" and my British boss quipped "My, that's one leg of lamb." It was, oh, it was.

Lamb with Beets, Spinach, and Carrots
Moist and tender with a perfect balance of seasoning, it was absolutely scrumptious. The beets, spinach, carrots, and blackberries added the right blend of sweet to the meat. But when topped with some of Schoolhouse Kitchen's SmoothSweetHot Mustard (of which I got to take home a jar, hehe) it was beyond delicious.

<Three Fruits of July
After all this savory, it was time for some sweet. The main dessert dish, themed "Three Fruits of July," included a Locust Grove cherry milkshake, with one cherry in the shake, accompanied by a blueberry clafoutis and a raspberry linzer. All were excellent letting the full flavor of the fruits come through, and not overwhelmingly sweet.

Popsicles
While I was enjoying my dessert, one more was being brought around, strawberry and blueberry popsicles. My choice was, of course, blueberry and I have NEVER tasted a blueberry pop like this. It tasted like fresh, ripe, flavorful blueberries. If they sold these in the stores, I might actually consider it instead of my usual ice creams, it was that spectacular.

Oh, and the next Farm to Table will be up at the farm, next Saturday the 8th! Tickets are still available for that, and all the following Farm to Tables going on throughout fall. For the entire schedule and to order tickets, go to 100milemenu.com.



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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cucina & Co Are Making Whoopie (Pies)

whoopie pies from Cucina & Co
It's no secret that I love Whoopie Pies. It pleases me to no end that this New England/Pennsylvania Dutch Treat is starting to make some inroads in the city and when I saw whoopies turn up at Cucina & Co I knew I had to give them a try...

The whoopie pies at Cucina are pretty large and by looks alone the cake part appears to have been baked in muffin top pan. Interesting technique for uniform production, but it doesn't allow the whoopie to get the nice domed top that I'm used to.

whoopie pies from Cucina & Co

The cake was very dense and a little dry. It definitely needed to be accompanied by a tall cold glass of milk. If you go after 4:00pm, as I did, you can take advantage of Cucina & Co's 50% off deal and score on of these monsters for $1.50 (regularly $3.00). These whoopie pies won't be taking the place of This Chick Bakes' Mint Whoopie Pies as my favorite in the city to date, if you're feeling cupcake fatigued (ahem, Adam Kuban) and need a cheap sugar rush at 4:00pm, these will do.

The first couple of times that I noticed these whoopie pies they were on display beside the other desserts, this time when I went looking for them they were hiding in the case with the chilled desserts. If you don't see them be sure to ask.
whoopie pies from Cucina & Co

Cucina & Co.
30 Rockefeller Center
Concourse Level
New York, NY 10020
212 332-7630
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Ten Course Pizza Tasting with Paulie Gee

Pizza Bianco
Anyone who's a semi-regular poster on Slice or Serious Eats knows PaulieGee, regular poster and pizza aficionado. You can tell from Paulie's comments and flickr gallery that he knows his pizza, but until Adam Kuban's post back in April, I had no idea that Paulie Gee was a master pizzaiolo--an expert pie maker as well as pie taster. On Saturday night while Blondie was in the Hamptons, Lawman and I were fortunate enough to have an invite to Casa de Gee for a ten course Pizza Tasting. That's right a ten course pizza tasting...

All week leading up to the tasting I was craving some pie, I passed up opportunities for low end and high end pizzas, holding out for Paulie's and I'm definitely glad I did.

Paulie and his wife Mary Ann greeted us warmly by and within moments of arriving we were toasting each other with Paulie's legendary homemade limocello--a delicious way to start out any evening.

Limocellos in hand we made our way to the back yard to see where the magic happens. When I first spotted the brick oven in Paulie's back yard in New Jersey, my little Napoletana heart started to pitter pat. Was Paulie Gee's fam from Naples? Actually Paulie's grandparents immigrated from Palermo. The "Napoli" on the side of the pizza oven was in honor of the great pizza making tradition from the region. Can't argue with that!

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Lawman and I chatted with Paulie and Mary Ann while we waited for Pizzablogger and his wife to arrive for dinner and we sampled Paulie's homemade cow's milk fior di latte.

Paulie Gee with his homemade cheese


We also had a chance to peruse the dinner menu. I don't know about you but I love thinking about what I'm going to eat in advance. I like to savor the deliciousness of my next meal in my mind and if anything could whet your appetite it's this menu...

Paulie Gee's Pizza Tasting Menu

Now on to the eats...

Putting the Margherita Pizza in the oven

Paulie Putting the Margherita Pizza in the Oven

The first pie up was the classic Margherita, an ideal pizza for showcasing Paulie's homemade mozzarella, delicious secretly sourced tomatoes and fresh basil. His crust managed to be light and crisp with just the right amount of chewiness and char. Paulie's wood fired brick oven gets to 900 to 1000 degrees and cooks the pies within a matter of just a couple minutes so when the pie is in the oven it needs careful attention to make sure it gets turned and removed from the oven at just the right time.

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When the Margherita was finished in the oven, Paulie whisked it inside to add the Proscuitto di Parma on top right before serving so that the meat wouldn't get cookied along with the pie. Incredible.

Margarita with Proscuitto di Parma

Our second pie of the night, the Bianco with Chopped Fresh Garlic, Pecorino Romano, and fresh basil was just the right balance of saltiness and sharpness. Melt in your mouth perfect and though it's hard to pick one, this ranks up there with some of my favorite pizza of the evening.

Pizza Bianco

Paulie's Soppressata Picante pizza would have the most avowed pepperoni fan balking at that lesser meat topping...

Sopressata Picante

Another favorite that emerged was the accidental combination of Fig, Marscapone, Proscuitto di Parma, and Baby Arugula. I've never had marscapone on a pizza before and this pie was INCREDIBLE. The interplay between the sweetness of the figs and the marscapone, the saltiness of the Proscuitto di Parma, and the hint of bitterness in the Baby Arugula hit all the right notes.

Fig, Marscapone, Proscuitto di Parma, and Baby Arugula

I could go on and on about the wonders of Paulie's pizza but I've heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Hope you enjoy this slide show of my dinner at Paulie's...

To Paulie and Mary Ann, thank you for the incredible generosity you showed by inviting us to your home for this remarkable dinner. Paulie, you make a terrific pie and I hope that your dream of having your own place in the city are realized soon. For any would be investors out there--Paulie is a terrific guy and a terrific pizzaiolo. If his pie were available in the city it would definitely be among the greats.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blondie's Libations: Stoli and Sunshine in the Hamptons

Stoli Oranj
Like I told you earlier this week, I was given the chance to hang out with Thrillist.com when they celebrated the launch of Thrillist Hamptons this past weekend. Of course, the party was held at the latest "see and be seen" spot, the Day & Night Beach Club. And, just like every other weekend in my life, the booze started flowing early.

Stoli
The party bus left the city at 11:30am sharp-once everyone was tucked away with a gift bag and a drink. On the bus out there we had the chance to preview the new Comedy Central show Michael & Michael Have Issues. I'm pretty sure we viewed the pilot, as the punch lines needed some fleshing out. The people surrounding Moniker and I were really friendly and super fun which was a definite plus.

The Pool
Once there the bus and an accompanying Hummer unloaded enough people to fill the pool area of Day & Night. We had a drink, surveyed the scene, met a few people, before looking at each other and simultaneously saying "I've got the hungers." Luckily for us, they also serve food and there was an open cabana for us. What can I say? Moniker and I are more lounge in a cabana than splash in a pool; we did in Vegas, we'll do it in the Hamptons too.

Fraise Royale
Getting out of the sun also meant getting non-vodka drinks, namely my sangria with Sauvignon Blanc and Cognac, and Moniker's Fraise Royale with Creme de Fraise and Champagne. Both were nice summer drinks-fruity and sweet, more lady than girly.

Bacon Burger
For the much needed sustenance, she picked the Avocado Bacon Burger. It came with this insanely long piece of bacon. I'm still not quite sure what that's about, but it's bacon and I have a hard time finding anything wrong with bacon.

Pulled Pork Sandwich
I chose the pulled pork on a brioche bun, and it was delicious. I believe the pork was in a vinegar-based sauce, and it had just the right amount of said sauce. Enough to taste, not so much that I made a mess of myself. All in all, the food, while very pricey for what it is, is delicious and good. Then again, when you're drunk and hungry a lot of things are good, like chocolate-covered french fries.

The Scene
Now the scene there was quite the scene. Many 4.5 liter bottles of rosé were spotted being drunk out of. The pool area got rowdy and wet very fast, more than one person was spotted fully clothed splashing around. And dancing occurred on any surface that could hold a beautiful person. Moniker and I popped around, sometimes over by the pool, sometimes under the cabana, almost all of the time avoiding the various cameras.

yeah
The club is actually the revamped inside pool area of an older, still functioning hotel. I was completely expecting to see something naughty through one of the open windows or doors, but no such luck. The juxtaposition of an outdoor pool club with a hotel reminded both of us of pool parties in Vegas and Miami, but with the Hamptons crowd. And an awesome time was had by all, and that's what really counts, right?

Thanks again, Flavie.

To see for yourself, check out Nick McGlynn's shots, Guest of a Guest, Kelly Samardak's take on the party, or my entire set.

Day & Night Restaurant Beach Club
281 County Road 39A
Southampton, NY
(631) 731-3309
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Daring Bakers July 2009: Homemade Milano Cookies

A Flight of Milanos

It's always exciting when the month's Daring Bakers challenge is revealed and this month was no exception. Drum roll please...The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. That's right homemade Milano Cookies...

I have some limited experience making marshmallows from when I helped Erin from Serious Eats with her Peeps Week Peep Production, and I do love a good marshmallow filled cookie, but Lawman does not love marshmallows so I decided to keep peace and harmony in our home just make the Milanos.

I wanted to be a little playful with the Milanos so I decided to do a citrus trio enhancing the ganache with lemon, lime, and orange zest.

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, divide filling into three small bowls add different citrus zest to each and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

I must caution that a hot and humid July is not ideal weather for making these cookies. The piping was a bit difficult with the heat and though the cookies were crisp immediately after cooling, they got a little softer due to the extreme humidity.

Overall these cookies turned out fairly well--I really liked making the trio of flavors. I'll definitely give them another shot when it's not so hot out.

Pile of Milanos


For more inspiring takes on this month's challenge take a look at the Daring Baker's Blogroll.
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Celebrating National Hot Fudge Sundae Day with Sprinkles!!!

Hot Fudge Sundae
I spent National Hot Fudge Sundae Day hanging out with the beautiful people of Thrillist.com, and let's say this, I was in no state to be eating a hot fudge sundae at the end of that. But I HAD to celebrate one of my favorite national holidays, if only for my Big Daddy Love, may he rest in peace.

Hot Fudge Sundae
My father and I were always suckers for hot fudge sundaes; a good amount of my childhood memories involve the two of us eating them. And I have been craving one for months now, secretly holding out to try this-doesn't it look awesome?! So when Silly and I were driving around town yesterday, blantantly ignoring all of our life responsibilities, I got a hankering to stop by one of my favorite neighborhood dessert spots and fulfill this craving-to Pesso's it was. I got the moose tracks ice cream, hot fudge, whip cream, and for giggles, rainbow sprinkles. Lots and lots of rainbow sprinkles. Delicious, and perfect "sit in your car and wait for the rain to stop" food.

Pesso's
203-20 35th Ave
Bayside, NY
(718) 224-9130
www.facebook.com/PessosIces
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is Packing Grape Nuts!

Grape Nuts Topped Ice Cream from Big Gay Ice Cream
Soft serve vanilla ice cream topped with crunchy Grape Nuts cereal is my kind of awesome. When I saw that Big Gay Ice Cream Truck has been packing the classic malted cereal in their toppings arsenal, I knew it was my duty as a New Englander to have some for lunch yesterday...

Grape Nuts Topped Ice Cream from Big Gay Ice Cream


Delicious. I love the malty, nuttiness of Grape Nuts. I'll eat them for breakfast hot or cold. I'll have them as a snack over vanilla yogurt or as dessert in ice cream or pudding form. If you like Grape Nuts Ice Cream, but wish that the Grape Nuts stayed crunchy, this is most definitely for you.

For location and toppings check out The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck's twitter.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Savory, Sweet and Utterly Scrumptious Scones from Alice's Teacup

Scones from Alice's Teacup
One of my favorite things to get at Alice's Teacup are their fantastic and enormous scones. I usually get the mixed berry one. It's bursting with berries in pretty much every bite and never disappoints. This past week I decided to break out of the mold and go for a savory Ham and Cheese Scone and a Pumpkin Scone. Often times scones tend to be a bit dry and crumbly, not so at Alice's. These scones are unbelievably light and moist. And perfect for just about any time of day....

The Ham and Cheese Scone had cheddar baked into the batter and was studded with little pieces of ham and flecked with bits of chives. Delish. I've only ever had the scones solo or with butter, preserves and cream, but I'm definitely curious to try their Sconces Benedict: poached eggs atop a savory scone with rosemary hollandaise sauce & potato chicken hash. Next time!

Inside Alice's Ham and Cheese Scone

The Pumpkin Scone was nicely spiced and had a great caramelly glaze on top, something akin to sticky bun topping but without the nuts (heaven for this non-nut eater!).

If you're taking your scones to go, be sure to ask for some jam and cream to go as well. Just right for a picnic in the park!

Alice's Teacup
3 locations in the city:

Chapter 1:
102 W 73rd St
(between Amsterdam Ave & Columbus Ave)
New York, NY 10023
(212) 799-3006

Chapter II:
156 E 64th St
(between 3rd Ave & Lexington Ave)
New York, NY 10021
(212) 486-9200

Chapter III
220 E 81st St
(between 2nd & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10028-2726
(212) 734-4832
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Travels with Brownie: Checking out the Skinny Pancake

The Johnny Crêpe from the Skinny Pancake

This past weekend brought me to scenic Montpelier...the only state capital in our nation that's without both a Starbucks and a McDonalds. What Montpelier lacks in ubiquitous chains, they make up for in quirky local establishments and the Skinny Pancake was no exception. I'd go back to Vermont just for another crêpe there...

Located in "downtown" Montpelier, the Skinny Pancake is a charming little restaurant. Prior to opening the restaurant their Church St crêpe cart was the first vending cart ever in the Vermont Fresh Network. Their cart is on the mall block of Church St. and is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and also tours local fairs and festivals. They have a commitment to sustainable food practices and source as much of their food as possible from the local economy.

The Skinny Pancakes specialize in crepes of all kinds from the "Pure & Simple" (Vermont butter and granulated sugar) to "The Heart Breaker" (warmed Nutella, freshly sliced strawberries and bananas with a stripe of Vermont whipped cream across the top). In addition to the sweet crepes they also serve all sorts of savory crepes like "The Lumber Jack" (cubes of Vermont Smoke & Cure Ham plus shredded Cabot Cheddar Cheese) and the "Garlique Chic" (Misty Knoll diced chicken breast, homemade basil-sunflower seed pesto, roasted red peppers, sauteed onions and shredded Cabot cheddar cheese).

My friend and I settled on sharing a couple savory crêpes: the "Cheesy Pesto" which was filled with homemade basil and sunflower seed pesto, shredded Cabot cheddar cheese and Woodstock Water Buffalo Mozzarella and The Johnny Crêpe which consisted of Duclos & Thompson pulled pork, braised in a sweet whiskey BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, and Cabot cheddar cheese folded into a corn meal crêpe.

Both were absolutely delicious. I often substitute sunflower seeds in my pesto recipe at home because I can't have tree nuts so the pesto was pleasantly familiar and definitely tasty. It had a very nice balance of cheeses.

Cheesy Pesto Crêpe from the Skinny Pancake

The pulled pork in the Johnny crêpe was top notch. And really, you can you go wrong with pulled pork, carmelized onions and cheese? If you think you can, this is probably not the blog for you...

Johnny Crêpe from the Skinny Pancake

It's my great regret that I didn't have time (or tummy space) to try out the "The Raspberry Reception," a sweet crêpe filled with local raspberries, VT Butter & Cheese creme fraiche, fresh local mint & native honey. I did see a special on the menu that involved crêpes, brownies, and chocolate fondue among other delicious ingredients...That settles it. Blondie, pack your bags! We're going to VT!

The Skinny Pancake
89 Main St
Montpelier, VT 05601
(802) 262-CAKE

There is another branch in Burlington at:
60 Lake St.,
Suite 1A,
Burlington, VT 05401
(802) 540-0188

If a trip to VT isn't in the cards for you right now, Blondie says some of the best crêpes she's had this side of the Atlantic can be found on the Le Gamin Truck, but at $5 for a crêpe filled with Nutella she found it to be a little overpriced. I had similar thoughts about their ham and cheese crêpe. While a Skinny Pancake crêpe was definitely enough for a meal, the crêpes from the Le Gamin Truck were more of a snack. I'd be interested to hear what you guys think re: crêpes in the city...

Le Gamin Truck

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