Monday, November 30, 2009

Travels with Brownie: Pizza in South Dakota

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I never expected that I would find wood fired pizza outside of Rapid City, South Dakota. And I never expected that I would discover the Slicemeister's batphone in my hotel room...

A few weeks back my travels took me out to the Black Hills of South Dakota where my gracious hosts treated me to a pizza dinner at Stonewalls. I was surprised that the pizza was made in a wood fired oven.

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I chose the Pizza Marinara which was topped with anchovies, capers and kalamata olives. It had a nice mix of flavors though if I had thought it through in advance I would have realized that with anchovies, capers and olives it was going to be a total sodium bomb. While the crust was a bit thicker than I would have liked, the pizza was much better than anything I was expecting. Another quick glance at the menu revealed that I had ordered all wrong...under the additional veggie toppings I spied sauerkraut.

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Sauerkraut?! Seriously, sauerkraut on a pizza? I mean maybe if it were a Reuben pizza.

The pizza theme didn't end with dinner. As I checked into my room at the local Best Western I glanced down at the courtesy phone in my room and noticed amidst the emergency numbers and instructions for making long distance calls was a code for ordering pizza. In case of emergency dial 226 for pizza. Now if only that phone was connected to Di Fara's...

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Turkey Mulligatawny Soup

Turkey Mulligatawny Soup

Are you starting to feel a little turkeyed out, but still have a big bird carcass taking up space in your fridge? If you're like me, you always feel slightly guilty if you don't make a soup when you roast a chicken or turkey. That said, after several days of leftovers, your tolerance for turkey may be waning. Might I suggest a Turkey Mulligatawny soup...?

I'm not really sure how I got it into my mind that I was going to turn my turkey into Mulligatawny. I guess I came to the conclusion that I wasn't looking forward to a Turkey Noodle Soup as much as I thought and it was time to break some new leftovers ground. I've never made a Mulligatawny before, but I have enjoyed it at many of my favorite Indian restaurants.

As I trolled the internet for Mulligatawny recipes I was surprised to discover that there were many different iterations of Mulligatawny. The dish is attributed to Anglo-Indian origins and the name "Mulligatawny" means "pepper water" in Tamil ("Millagu" மிளகு means pepper and "Thanni" தண்ணீர் means water). Some Mulligatawny recipes I found were made with lamb. Others chicken or vegetable based. Some had rice. Some had noodles.

With no definitive trusted recipe to go on, I set about to do a little detective work and search for a recipe that had the components of Mulligatawnys I've enjoyed in the past. Clearly my soup would include turkey stock and turkey pieces and the Mulligatawnys I've have have always included lentils. The soup would need a peppery kick and Lawman-in-law told me that Mulligatawnys typically have a tart apple as well. Here's what I came up with:

Turkey Mulligatawny Soup (adapted from the Food Network's Mulligatawny Soup recipe)
Serves 6-8

For stock:
1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
Turkey Carcass
2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorn
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt

For soup:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups red or pink lentils
10 cups turkey stock (augment with canned chicken stock if necessary)
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves, plus several sprigs for garnish
1 cup unsweetened canned lite coconut milk
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for garnish
2 cups of leftover turkey meat (white, dark or a mix is fine)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions
In a 7 quarts or larger stockpot saute carrots, celery and onion in olive oil until softened. Break turkey carcass into pieces so it fits into stockpot. Add water to the stockpot until so that the pot is about 2 inches from filled. Add salt and pepper. Simmer stock partially covered for 3 to 4 hours until the broth has reduced and it's a rich color and flavor. Remove from heat and strain broth into a large bowl. Remove turkey and bones from sieve. Sort out the edible bits of turkey and set aside. Press carrot, celery, and onion into the sieve so that the extra juice and some of the vegetables are extracted and added to the broth. Set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil in stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the other onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly brown. Lower the heat to medium, stir in the coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Saute vegetables with spices for about a minute then stir in the flour and cook for another minute.

Add the broth (if your turkey didn't yield a full 10 cups, augment as necessary with canned chicken broth). Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Add the lentils to the thickened broth, turn the heat to low and simmer, covered for about 35 minutes. Add in apple and return to simmer for about 10 minutes more or until apple and lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Stir in the chopped cilantro. Ladle the mixture into a blender and puree in batches until smooth, or puree with an immersion blender. Return the puree to the pot and add turkey meat. Reheat over medium heat.

Stir the coconut milk, lemon juice into soup. Season with salt, and pepper to taste Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with cilantro and serve with the lemon wedges.

Turkey Mulligatawny Soup

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftover Madness

Mmm.  Turkey Leek Pot Pie

Turkey Day has come and gone. Hopefully order has been restored in your kitchen and all the dishes are done and put away. What remains are the leftovers, which are quite possibly my favorite part of the holiday. Here are some ideas for tasty ways to enjoy all that leftover goodness...

First up: Turkey Leek Shepherd's Pie with a Gruyère Crust. This is a recipe I created after Thanksgiving last year and I'm likely to repeat today. I rolled out the pie crust scraps leftover from my Pear Gruyère Pie for the bottom crust and made a simple roux with the leftover turkey stock. If you don't happen to have gruyère crust scraps in the freezer you can make a half recipe or better yet, make a full crust recipe and freeze the rest to use for future pot pies or cup pies.

For the filling I chopped and sauteed one leek, one carrot and one stalk of celery in some hard cider while I heated up about 1/3 cup of frozen peas and shredded 1 1/2 cups of left over dark meat. I mixed the filling together and added it to my pie plate topping it off with leftover mashed potatoes and baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes. Huge hit. There's wasn't so much as a sliver left.

Stuffing with eggs...a breakfast of champions. Stuffing is one of those things that I really only eat at Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas. Why do I always forget how tasty (and comforting) it is? And it makes for a hearty breakfast when served with eggs and gravy. Last year we made this Gourmet Magazine's Herbed Oyster stuffing recipe we found by way of Epicurious. How could bacon, garlic, oysters and cubed bread be delicious more delicious? If you serve it with sunny eggs and gravy! The eggs, gravy and stuffing combo works with any kind of stuffing, but the oyster stuffing was especially delicious.

Post Thanksgiving Brunch


And you can't forget turkey noodle. Just take the leftover meat and turkey carcass and substitute use it with your favorite chicken soup recipe. Warm and delicious. The perfect post shopping meal.

Turkey Noodle Soup!

Are you all turkeyed out yet? What do you plan on doing with your leftovers?
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Epic Lunch Fail: Pad See Eew from Breeze Thai

Pad See Eew from Breeze Thai
Confession time. I know to some I won't seem like a real New Yorker, but...I very rarely get delivery. I don't live in the range of any of my favorite places and I like to get out and about on my lunch break, plus I'm a cheapo. I'd rather take the walk and pick my food up and save the tip money for my next meal. That said, yesterday LC and I decided to maximize our lunch hour by having the food come to us. I've heard some very good things about Breeze Thai, so I placed our order. Two Chicken Pad See Eew lunch specials. Big mistake...

Again with the whole not seeming like a real New Yorker (or at the very least a real midtown office worker), this was my very first Seamless Web experience. Ordering was really easy, I picked my lunch special, was able to choose between soup or salad and specify whether I wanted my dish mild, medium or spicy. I liked how you could include special comments for each order. And since I rarely have cash it was nice to be able to pay securely online. I placed my order at 11:33pm and by 12:04pm my lunch was waiting downstairs. Sadly ordering was probably the best thing about lunch.

When the order arrived LC and I immediately knew something was off. The noodles were on the pale side and clumpy. Not to mention they didn't look like the extra broad Pad See Eew noodles that I'm used to. One bite confirmed that they were dry and fairly flavorless. LC pulled out some soy sauce to doctor the noodles, but that didn't do much. Fail. Major fail.

Now I've had bad Pad Thais in the past, but never such a lackluster Pad See Eew. I love Thai noodle dishes. Unlike Thai curries they aren't something that I can easily make at home. When Lawman and I go out we typically order at least one noodle dish so consequently I tend to judge a place by their noodles. I had high hopes for Breeze Thai. A good friend who is very particular about Thai food highly recommended it to me. She didn't have the Pad See Eew, but she said every dish that she tried has been consistently excellent. Maybe this Pad See Eew was the exception, maybe the chef was having an off day, but in all honesty LC and I couldn't finish our lunch. And what's more, we didn't want to finish it.

Pad See Eew from Breeze Thai

Next time I want Pad See Eew I'm sticking with Song, Wondee Siam, or Pongsri Thai.

Where do you go for awesome Pad See Eew (or Pad Thai for that matter)?
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Travels with Blondie: San Francisco, Late City Edition

Animal Style Cheeseburger
Well, first and foremost, did anyone really think I was going to go to the West Side and NOT get In-N-Out? Didn't think so. Cheeseburger, animal style, extra toast with animal style fries, black & white shake. 'Nuff said, moving on...

Lamb Merguez
My actual first meal in San Francisco was Lamb Merguez smothered in apricot fig chutney and topped with arugula. Odd choice, but I was hungry and Show Dogs was there and in I went. From what I gather, Show Dogs is relatively new which makes me only slightly jealous of San Francisco. The focus is sausages/hot dogs, but the menu is full of variety. In addition to a regular beef dog, and the lamb merguez, they have wild boar sausage, smoked chicken apple, boudin noir, and a 49er corn dog. On the side you can choose between barbecue fries or onion rings, but it's the beer menu that also impresses with some notable microbrewery beers. The merguez was spicy, but not overwhelming, some sweet from the chutney, and worth all $7. To drink I had my first taste of 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat, a very light, but not flowery wheat, I'm searching for it in the city-I hear it's out here too!

Saigon Banh Mi
My other notable meal there doubled as another banh mi education. After the final Foodbuzz meal, the Feisty Foodie took myself and NY Crumbs to Little Saigon to taste test two famous banh mi places, Lee's vs. Saigon. Saigon Sandwiches is the smaller of the two, by far. You walk in, there's a counter, and once the line reaches five, it's out the door. On the other hand, Lee's is a massive space selling numerous Asian and American delights. They had cream puffs, banana rice cake things, shrimp bread, and avocado milkshakes.

Avocado Milkshake
More delicious than it sounds, the milkshake was thick and creamy with a light avocado taste. I imagine a good treat on a hot, steamy summer day. As for which banh mi was better, I'll let Feisty reveal that, it was her idea after all!

Show Dogs
1020 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 558-9560
www.showdogssf.com

Lee's Sandwiches
623 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 929-6888
leesandwiches.com

Saigon Sandwiches
560 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 474-5698
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Photo of the Day: A Virgin Among Virgins

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Calling all pizza lovers, can you guess where this photo was taken? Click the jump to expand for the full context shot...

If you guessed Di Fara, you're right! If you look to Dom's left in the photo below you'll noticed a little Virgin Mary statue watching over the other virgins (of the extra virgin olive oil variety) and the pizza production at Di Fara's.

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Di Fara Pizza
1424 Avenue J
Brooklyn, NY 11230
(718) 258-1367
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Monday, November 23, 2009

George Motz Switches Teams!!

Plateful of Chili
The Bell House housed the semi-annual Chili Takedown yesterday, though there were many competitors, the Peoples Choice belonged to a hamburger expert! There was a lot of spice, a lot of chili, and a good amount of cheese.

Shawty Fire Burning Chili
Definitely the spiciest I tasted was the Shawty Fire Burning Chili. My lips were tingling until some cold stout could calm them down.

#9-Chili Heaven
The Food Experiments' Nick Suarez returned to competition with Chili Heaven. It included complimentary Fritos.

Brisk Autumn Chili
Pumpkin and autumn were represented by a few competitors, including Brisk Autumn Chili which was topped with Cilantro-Lime Crema. Perfect for cooling an afterburn.

#14-The Blasphemer
On the other hand, vegetarian chili had a smaller than usual showing with, I believe, just two applicants. This was for Blasphemer, the winner of the Vegetarian contest.

#18-Chili Five-O Hawaiian Heat
Pineapple and bacon. I repeat, pineapple and bacon.

#20-Oh God No
My personal favorite was the Oh God No, an arepa smothered in pulled pork chili and topped with slaw.

#28-Mama's Kick Ass Chili
And the grand winner of it all, George Motz's "Mama's Kick Ass Chili" complete with a nacho. Mr. Motz said he was inspired after judging the Lamb Takedown in October and wanted to try his hand with his mother's chili. Could a "Chili America" be formulating in his brain? I hope so.

The Chefs
And the winners:
Judges:
Third Place-#9, Chili Heaven
Second Place-#7, Shawty Fire
First Place-#18, Hawaii Five-O

#28-George Motz Wins!!
Peoples Choice:
Third Place-#11, Brisk Autumn Chili
Second Place-#7, Chili Heaven
First Place-#28, Mama's Kick Ass Chili

The next takedown will be big, folks. Cookies! COOOOOOOOKIIIIIEEES! December 20th, Bell House, 5pm. Tickets available very soon.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekend Brunch: Mimi's Hummus, I Think I Love You

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Mimi's Hummus in Ditmas Park is so much more than their namesake dish, in fact I'll be bold and just say that it's one of my favorite new Brooklyn brunch places in recent memory...

Mimi's brunch reminds me of brunch at Miriam when it first opened. Miriam was my first exposure to the wonders of the Israeli brunch--shakshuka, burekas, Israeli salad, and labne. Mmmm, labne. Lawman and I were early adopters at Miriam and it's still a favorite though the prices have creeped up over time--what once was a sub $10 brunch with coffee is now $11.95. The brunches at Mimi's don't come with coffee but the dishes are all under $11 with most going for $9.

Our first visit to Mimi's we tried the masabache ($8), a traditional hummus with chickpeas and a lemon and garlic dressing served with a basket of fluffy pita. I love me some lemon in my hummus and this one was creamy and delicious.

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That first trip we had to try one of the brunch dishes and it wasn't an easy choice. We went for the Idja (or is it Aija--I've seen it spelled both ways on the menu there0 ($9) which was a "green omelet" made with dill, cilantro, parsley, potatoes, and onions topped with labne (yogurty cheese) with a side of tabouli and a toasted pita. Why have I never thought of toasting pita, drizzling it with olive oil and dusting it with zaatar?! Brilliant. You add some labne to that, it's pretty much perfect. The omelet was good, but the toasted pita, labne and tabouli really made it for me and gave me a good idea for an easy make-at-home breakfast.

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Our second trip we tried another hummus, this time the mushroom one. Also very tasty, but I prefer the lemony masabache.

Mushroom Hummus from Mimi's


When a menu includes three different shakshukas, you have to at least try one. It was a tough choice, but we went for the Shakshuka Green ($10) a concoction of braised greens, tomatoes and lemon topped with two sunny side up eggs and Bulgarian sheep cheese. Bulgarian sheep cheese deserves more play. It's like a feta with more bite. Unfortunately it was so delicious and beguiling that there are no photos. Next time!

Speaking of Bulgarian sheep cheese, the best thing that we had for brunch was the Mimi's Sandwich--an open face pita with labne, roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, and Bulgarian cheese ($10). It wasn't the most brunchy thing on the menu, but it was quite possibly the most delicious. Again, it's all about the cheese. The sharp, sharp cheese paired with the smokey eggplant and the roasted red peppers was heavenly. I'm still thinking about that sandwich.

Mimi's Sandwich

I've considered making a trip to Murray's this week in search of my own stash of Bulgarian sheep cheese. Or maybe I'll just go to Mimi's for brunch...

Mimi's Hummus
1209 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11218
(718) 284-4444
Open Mon-Thurs: 12pm-10:30pm
Fri 12pm-11pm
Sat 11am-11pm
Sun 11am-10:30pm
Weekend brunch, Saturday and Sunday: 11:00am until 4:00pm
For more Mimi's brunch photos, check out our flickr set.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Travels with Blondie: San Francisco, Morning Edition

Breakfast at Bar Tartine
Those close to me know that I love breakfast. I believe it stems from the emptiness that encompasses my belly whenever I wake up. Due to this genetic awesomeness, I can only be one of those people who eats breakfast at work when I'm hungover. And because of this love, I think...I may have to...it's only fair...that I am considering...moving to San Francisco. Blame it on bacon!!!

Bacon & Eggs from Hayes St. Grill
Specifically, blame it on really really really (breath) really really really good bacon. Not the flimsy, flopsy, greasy, fatty bacon. No! The meaty, filling, still greasy, hearty, bacon. Le sigh. My stomach is now sad from the memories. During my Saturday morning there, I made the foodie pilgrimage to the Saturday morning Farmers Market at the Ferry Building and holy hotness, it's a market and a half. California's climate meant that there were not only the usual autumn vegetables, but also grapes, strawberries, peaches, loads of summer fruits I haven't seen fresh for at least a month, and probably won't see again until spring. There's a stand on the bay side, Primavera, dishing out tamales, but I, of course, wanted breakfast. A few stalls towards the building, I came across Hayes Street Grill selling this delicious specimen of bacon and eggs. An offshoot of their restaurant, Hayes Street Grill was selling eggs at least three different ways plus some lunchtime meals. Could life really get any better than eating bacon and eggs while watching the sail boats on the bay, and cars go over the Bay Bridge on a sunny, mid-60s late morning? I think not, folks.

Breakfast at Bar Tartine
But that was not the reason I am highly considering over handing in my 3rd-generation New Yorker card and going West like my great-grandparents didn't do. No, it was the one, the only, the famous, Tartine Bakery and its offshoot restaurant, Bar Tartine. Oh good Jesus in heaven, and I'm not religious. My first morning there, with no one to eat breakfast with, I made a beeline for the Mission to try Tartine. One look at the Bar Tartine website let me know that they were now open for breakfast from Wednesday to Friday. Would I pass up that opportunity? Not for my life, not after hearing about Tartine for YEARS. Bar Tartine's breakfast is what I wish every brunch was like. Quiet, laid-back, make your order at the bar, get your fork and knife, wait for your delicious egg bacon on a biscuit sandwich, and be jealous of those who can do this regularly. No waiting, no hustling, no rushing, just relax-but not too long, they do have to get ready for lunch. I'm sure brunch is crazier, I'll know for sure next time, but I would never pass up having the best breakfast a girl could have again.

Morning Bun From Tartine
Every day since, I've thought about that breakfast as well as this beauty hiding in a paper bag. After savoring my brekkie, I headed over to the mothership, Tartine Bakery. A line out the door, a person in front of me stated it best: "It smells like butter in here." It did. Luckily, the line snakes by all your options, so you're not scanning a crowd trying to figure out what you want. And if you're luckier, you have companions able to hold you seats. I was full to the brim, and it was too early for cake, so I chose the morning bun. Buttery, fluffy, croissant dough wrapped around itself, coated in cinnamon and sugar, I waited until I had some sightseeing done: "I'll just eat a little," five seconds later: "Oh, oops, you're gone."

For more information on the Saturday Market at the Ferry Building, click here.

Hayes Street Grill
320 Hayes Street, between Gough and Franklin
San Francisco, CA
(415) 863-5545
www.hayesstreetgrill.com

Bar Tartine
561 Valencia Street, between 16th and 17th Streets
San Francisco, CA
(415) 487-1600
www.bartartine.com

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street, at 18th Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 487-2600
www.tartinebakery.com
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Developments at the Woorijip Noodle Bar

Hello Kimchi!

With the weather getting colder, I'm getting into soup mode. Last week, when the soup craving hit I decided to make a trip to the Noodle Bar at Woorijip and I noticed some new developments...

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1) The Noodle Bar is now closed on Mondays. Their hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:00am until 8:00pm, with a break between 2:00pm and 3:00pm.

2) The Noodle Bar now takes CASH ONLY. In the good old days you used to be able to pay for your soup up at the main cash register where there's a line that does credit cards. Now you must pay at the Noodle Bar and they only take cash. Fortunately there are plenty of ATMs in the area--Citibank is just a couple doors down.

3) The Noodle Bar doesn't take the the Woorijip stamp card. They have their own card at the Noodle Bar. Each soup earns you a stamp. After 10 stamps your 11 soup is free. While you won't earn stamps towards Woorijip themed prizes, the payoff comes quicker (most of the "good" prizes from Woorijip go for 2 cards worth of stamps with 20 stamps per card and each stamp being worth $5, that means it will take $200 of investment until you see your reward. With the soup card, you get your freebie much quicker.

4) New soups spotted on the menu. Vegetable Dumpling Soup. Flat Noodle Soup with Spicy Chicken. Another day I dropped by I saw a Kimchi and Pork Dumpling Soup. Yum. The menu usually includes some standards like their vegetable Udon, a Spicy Ramen and a Kimchi Stew with Pork, Spam, hot dogs and rice cakes, but if you're interested in trying some of the special soups, you're best bet is to get there early. When I dropped by at close to the 2:00pm break time last week they were all out of the vegetable dumpling and flat noodle soup with spicy chicken. Lesson learned, the early luncher gets the noodles.

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Woorijip
12 W 32nd St, New York 10001
Between 5th Ave & Broadway
212-244-1115
24/7!
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Travels with Blondie: The Foodie Gathering in San Francisco!!

Outstanding in the Field Dinner
Two Thursdays ago, I touched down all the way across the country in beautiful San Francisco. I was excited to explore the city, while also looking forward to the First Annual Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival!! Street food, generous booze, an Outstanding in the Field, it looked to be an awesome weekend of eating.

Taste of San Francisco Food Fare
I'm still recovering from the food overdose. Of the food from Foodbuzz, I have to say my favorite item (and I think Zach's too, since he ate some off my plate!) was the pork sandwich from Roli Roti from Friday Night's Street Food Fare in the Ferry Building. Oh yeah, a food truck with a spit, or "a gourmet mobile rotisserie." Crispy skin, tender pork, great seasoning, there was open wondering on why we can't get this off a truck in New York. Because if we did, it would be AWESOME!

Taste of San Francisco Food Fare
Another highlight of that night was the braised beef taco from Tacolicious. Tender and moist, we need more good Mexican in this town, preferably off carts!!!

Taste of San Francisco Food Fare
On the dessert side, I got my first taste of Mission Minis that night. Over the weekend, I managed to try every flavor, my favorite being the Swiss Almond Coconut. Not too sweet, exceptionally moist for a mini cupcake, and no flavor overwhelmed the other.

Taste of San Francisco Food Fare
And I was blown away by some of the creamiest, flavorful ice cream I'd had in a long time. It was from Straus Family Creamery; they offered their vanilla bean and their coffee. Both were the perfect temperature, the right amount of flavoring, no icy bites, I can't wait to have more.

Olive Oil Tasting
On Saturday, I participated in an olive oil tasting instructed by Michael Tuohy, the chef from Grange in Sacramento. He is a wonderful teacher, funny, informative, and understood that not everyone sips olive oil on a daily basis. It really is like tasting wine, and gave me a new stance on olive oil.

The crew
Also on Saturday was my first chance to try Outstanding in the Field during the Awards Dinner. Though the cooks tried with their really makeshift kitchen, not everything went off without a hitch. The location, a warehouse in the outskirts, was done up nicely, and the company around me were delightful. The food wasn't bad, it was above average, I was just slightly disappointed since everything seemed to be cold by the time it arrived on our table. It wasn't a $200 dinner in my mind. The best part were the Brussels Sprouts, carmelized and roasted with guanciale and ponzu fried garlic.

All in all, the weekend was a success! Lots of food, samples, booze, prizes, people, I hope they'll do it all again next year. Thank you everyone at Foodbuzz, all of you are so nice, friendly, and all-around awesome.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Rock Center Discount Returns to Pret!

Egg Salad Baguette with Roasted Tomatoes from Pret

Oh frabjous day, the Rock Center discount is back at Pret! Back in the day Pret used to take the Rock Center Privilege card and then a couple years back they stopped. Well, last week they started offering the discount again. 10% off food and drinks, now that's what I'm talking about...

Pret is my go to coffee joint in the Rock Center area. Why? Let's see, their coffee is fairtrade, rainforest Alliance and organic and roasted within 14 days so it's fresher (and more importantly...stronger). And their milk is all organic, too. Oh, and did I mention that it's cheaper than the 'Bux, for stronger organic coffee and no Starbys line drama? And now with the discount it's even cheaper than before.

If you work in Rock Center you need to contact someone in your HR department about getting a card if you don't have them already. I have one somewhere, but most places will give you the discount if you flash your building ID or say you work in the building.

My not so new obsession at Pret is their breakfast baguette with egg salad and roasted tomatoes. Let's pause for a moment to discuss how roasted tomatoes make everything taste better. Lawman and I first discovered roasted tomatoes aka semi sundried tomatoes in Ireland. Basically it's a sundried tomato that's not dried all the way so it has some of that squishy, juiciness and then it's soaked it olive oil. Sundried tomatoes are too sweet for me and they remind me of those tough years in the late 80s, early 90s when sundried tomatoes were all but unavoidable. Semi-sundried tomatoes on the other hand are heaven.

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This little sandwich provides a nice spin on the usual egg breakfast sandwich and holds me over to lunch. It's $2.99 plus tax, but with the Rock Center discount it'll run you just under $2.99. For the more carniverously inclined they also do an egg salad baguette with bacon.

Pret a Manger
30 Rockefeller Center
Concourse Level
New York, NY 10012
(212) 246 6944
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Friday, November 13, 2009

In the Battle of Midtown Chicken Tikka Masalas, Minar > Indus Express

Chicken Tikka Masala from Minar
Chicken Tikka Masala is probably one of the best known Indian dishes. Made from chicken, cream, tomato, and spices, the origins of the dish are disputed--some claim that it was invented by a chef in Glasgow in the 70s and others claim that the dish has ancient origins. Whatever the case, Chicken Tikka Masala is undisputedly gateway Indian food. Through the powers of Tikka Masala I've convinced friends and acquaintances from far flung places like South Dakota, Alabama, and upstate New York that Indian food isn't nearly as scary as they imagine it to be. But not all Chicken Tikka Masalas as created equal--there isn't a standard recipe for the dish--and as I discovered this past week some Tikka Masalas are superior to others...

Lately I've been on a bit of an Indian lunch kick. I used to be a fairly regular customer at Minar on 46th Street, but for some reason and I'm not quite sure why, my lunchtime visits have dropped off. On a whim I decided to hit up Minar for lunch last week. When I get Indian food I love to have different things to sample, so the Everyday Combo with the choice of one meat and two vegetables rice or naan was an obvious choice. I completely agree with Zach Brooks that having to choose between rice and naan kind of stinks. I want rice AND naan. If you're willing to throw in the extra buck you can get both which is exactly what I did. The vegetable dishes that I ordered were tasty--you can't go wrong with channa masala and curried veggies, but let's talk about the main event...the chicken tikka masala. Minar makes a mean chicken tikka masala. Their sauce had just the right balance between tomato, cream and spices. And it even has a little bit of a kick at the end. Delicious. And bountiful.

On Wednesday I made a lunchtime visit to Indus Express. Still on a Minar Chicken Tikka Masala high, I decided to try it out at Indus Express. The same sort of combo--1 meat, 2 vegetables, and rice plus naan are included. The price is the same as Minar--about $9.70.

Chicken Tikka Masala from Indus Express

Unfortunately their Tikka Masala was not worth it. The sauce was sweet to the point of being utterly cloying and almost tasted ketchupy. Not for me.

Chicken Tikka Masala from Indus Express

I couldn't even finish it. If you have a Chicken Tikka Masala craving, I say Minar all the way.

Where do you go for Chicken Tikka Masala?
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