Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen – Awesome Milkshakes Near Port Authority

Port Authority can be a hard place to grab a bite. If you only have an hour, you don’t have enough time to run to 9th Avenue, and maybe you don’t feel like ramen that day. That’s when you need to know about Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen.

Schnipper’s is a casual restaurant with 2 locations run by the brothers who started Hale and Hearty. It is a joint where you order at the counter, take a buzzer, and are paged when your food is ready. Then you go get your food and eat it in either the large, serviceable dining room or the outside patio area. The patio area overlooks Port Authority, so it isn’t exactly scenic, but it can make for some great people watching. The food here is classic diner-meets-burger joint, and there is something for everyone, from gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to fish tacos to the best milkshakes in the city.

Fresh Market Salad with beets, corn, avocado, radish sprouts, toasted almonds, croutons,
tomatoes, chick peas, parmesan, and vinaigrette

For a casual burger-oriented spot, this salad was surprisingly tasty. Fresh, crisp vegetables with special items like peppery radish sprouts and buttery hunks of avocado. The vinaigrette is creamy and mild, a perfect addition to the salty parmesan on the salad. This isn’t enough for a meal, but it is a good way to get in your vegetables. Especially if you also get an order of…

Chicken Fingers and Fries

This isn’t fancy, but it is fantastic. Crispy, light breading that breaks apart with an audible crunch to reveal moist meat. The chicken fingers taste  indulgent, but not at all greasy or heavy. Seasoned well, with a slight kick from just enough pepper, these are dynamite when dipped in the restaurant’s homemade honey mustard sauce that is sweet, thick, and tangy. The fries are also excellent – universally crispy and well salted, the only suitable accompaniment for chicken fingers. The fires are also delicious when ordered “Sloppy” style, topped with a loose, hearty chili that is similar to Cincinnati style chili.

Vanilla Malt Milkshake

*photo is of a different milkshake, but you get the idea*

This alone is worth the trip to midtown. The perfect consistency – thick enough to scoop with a spoon but not so thick that it stalls in the straw. Creamy, not icy. Sweet and aromatic with real vanilla flavor. Ask to add a scoop of malt powder for an additional layer of nutty, almost umami flavor. The other flavors are good, especially the coffee, but the vanilla milkshake is by far the best. The malt really brings this milkshake over the top, and is the best that I have had in Manhattan.

Schnipper’s has its pros and cons. Unfortunately, it can be insanely busy at lunchtime, it is a little pricey, and though the chicken fingers are great, I can’t say it’s worth a trip from another part of town. But, if you are in midtown and want a meal that is tasty but isn’t fast food, I would absolutely say head to Schnipper’s.

And, if you are a milkshake fiend, ignore any of the cons. It is worth the money, it is worth the subway or cab fare. Just go there.

Port Authority never had it so good.

Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen (41st/8th) on Urbanspoon

Salmon Piccata

Spring is here, and it’s the time to enjoy ramps, sweet grapes, and lighter food than what we ate all winter. Not just to get into bathing suits (because heaven knows that some of us do that only under extreme duress), but because the sunlight just demands food that can be cooked quickly and doesn’t weigh us down.

Don’t worry…ice cream is VERY light. Especially when topped with whipped cream.

This recipe was invented when my dad was craving salmon one night. My mom was craving chicken piccata and – boom. The lovechild of the two dishes came to be. Less work (since there is no pounding required), lighter, and more acidic than chicken piccata, this salmon picatta is just the thing for a warm summer lunch or dinner.

Salmon Piccata

Ingredients:

1/2 lb salmon, skinned and filleted

2 cups white wine

juice of 3 lemons

1 cup seafood stock (or water)

1/4 cup capers

1 shallot, diced

1/2 cup flour

3 tbsp.  olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

1. Saute the shallot in the olive oil in a pan over medium heat until the shallot is translucent, about 7 minutes. While that happens,

2. Cut your salmon into 2 inch long pieces and cover them in flour. They should look almost like fish fingers.

3. When the shallots are translucent, put the fish into the hot oil. Leave them for about a minute and a half,

then flip them when they have a light crust. The point isn’t really to cook it there, just to give it a crust. Let it cook for another minute on the other side.

4. Add the white wine and stock – be prepared for the pan to steam drastically when you add the liquids.

5. Add the capers, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and let it cook for 5 minutes, or until the biggest piece of salmon flakes easily with a fork.

6. Remove the salmon from the pan and save it on a plate. This is so the salmon doesn’t overcook.

7. Let the sauce reduce for about 10 minutes to thicken. You can always add a pat of butter to make the sauce a bit thicker, but this tempers the acidity of the dish. Be sure to taste the dish here for more salt or pepper.

8. Serve.

Salty, acidic, pungent. This is for someone who loves strong flavors. The salmon is very mild, with a light crunch form the quick saute action.  It’s just incredibly clean and fresh – perfect for summer with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. It is light, it is fresh, and it is delicious with rice, pasta or mashed potatoes.

And don’t worry, this still leaves plenty of room for an ice cream sundae.

Maille Mustard Store in Paris

On my trip to Paris last summer, I visited what might be the best shop in Paris. By the best, I don’t mean the most exclusive, the most expensive, or the trendiest.

I mean, of course, the most delicious.

The Maille store in the Place de Madeleine area looks like it has been there since the times when carts and horses roamed the streets of Paris instead of cars. Inside is nothing less than the Disneyland of mustards.

You have probably seen Maille mustard in America, but never a selection such as this. Mustards with fruits, mustards with exotic spices, mustards made especially for fish and mustards made to pair with cheese. Mustard based sauces for fish soup and mustard glazes to use for meats. Even special, seasonal mustards using the most seasonal vegetables and spices to create flavors like apricot curry, goat cheese pear, and wheat bread spiced mustards. There must be 80 mustards or more in the store at any given time, that change seasonally, and are not offered outside of France. There are even some mustards you can only get at one of the Maille stores, here or in Dijon, France.

You can also buy your own (huge) carafe, which is refillable, and have it filled with one of three mustards that are on tap: A mild, grainy Chardonnay mustard, a spicy and sweet Chablis mustard, and a classic,tangy Dijon mustard. Each is delicious, each is different.

Taste them with the provided breadsticks, make your choice, and watch the salesperson fill up your jar to bring home.

The best souvenirs really are edible.

I bought a jar of the black truffle and celery root mustard, which is, to date, the second best condiment I have ever tasted(Sriracha, you still win) – complex, earthy, heavy on the truffle taste with the herby aroma of the celery root. This makes a turkey sandwich into a gourmet meal and is incredible when spread on a rare steak sandwich.

This mustard store is always where I spend the bulk of my souvenir money in France. You can keep your fancy clothes, have fun at Cartier, but leave the mustard to me.

Jiro Dreams of 15 East Sushi

Art is a powerful medium. It not only reflects the human experience, it makes us question our beliefs and contemplate the meaning of life and if we are alone in the universe.

In the case of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, it also makes us hungry.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary about what many consider to be the finest sushi restaurant in the world. It chronicles Jiro’s life work, his passion for sushi, and his relationship with his two sons.

To get an idea of how serious he is about his sushi, when a young man first comes to apprentice him, he is allowed only to squeeze hand towels for the first 3 years of service. After that, he may start slicing fish. Then, and only then, is he allowed to start making the omelettes.

Jiro doesn’t fool around.

And neither does Chef Shimizu, at 15 East.

This small, almost hidden restaurant in Union Square, has some New York City’s most excellent sushi. After seeing the veritable food porn on the silver screen, I was craving some really high end nigiri and sashimi, and 15 East was the first stop on my list.

The restaurant is done in clean lines and light tones, with a small sushi bar in an anteroom outside the calm dining room. Note that if you make a reservation online, you won’t eat at the sushi bar – you must call in person to make a reservation here.

Though I was craving sushi, that’s not all that 15 East does well.

Foie Gras and Truffle Chawanmushi

This steamed egg custard arrives piping hot, with an earthy scent from the black truffles. The first taste is that umami hit of the foie gras reduction swimming on top, then the rich creaminess of the egg custard. Eggs, truffles, foie gras: the trio to end all trios. Perfectly balanced, perfectly complimentary. Hidden in the custard are meaty mushrooms and slightly spicy radish. This savory custard is indulgent without being heavy – an ideal appetizer

Soba with Santa Barbara Uni

Uni is the pure essence of the ocean, like a silkier version of oysters. At its best, it is salty, clean tasting, and almost melts on your tongue, leaving behind something like the memory of ocean air. This is uni at its best. Perfectly cleaned tongues of uni, dissolving in the mouth, tasting so fresh and almost sweet. Draped over al dente soba noodles, which have very earthy taste that is pleasantly reminiscent of hay. With its deep, soy flavored broth, this is a complex and satisfying dish.

Sushi Omakase

For $28, you get a selection of 7 pieces of nigiri plus half of a roll, all the chef’s selection. If you particularly like or don’t like something, feel free to mention it, and your request will be met with pleasure from the waitstaff.

This could not be a more perfect plate of sushi. Well, rewind…it could. The rice, is, to my taste, a bit too al dente and not seasoned enough. However, that is nitpicking, because it is still good and the fish is fantastic. Everything from needlefish to hamachi to king salmon to seared goldeneye snapper is seasoned specifically and served so that each fish would compliment the other. Some are clean and snappy, some are velvety and rich, some are lightly seared and smoky and others are touched with a bit of ponzu to impart a lightly acidic taste. The negitoro roll is fantastic – fatty, lush, sharp with scallions.

Though this is a perfect lunchtime portion, be aware that your inner sushi beast will be awakened and you will probably order more sushi after this. Don’t blame yourself – after all, you’re only human. And this sushi is divine.

15 East is not the place to come when you want 3 sushi rolls for $10 and a fruity cocktail. It isn’t the place to take someone who thinks that sushi means fusion rolls filled with cream cheese and Doritos. This is a place to spend some serious money in a lovely setting with a passionate waitstaff who loves to discuss the difference between toro and maguro with you.
The sushi is pristine and the cooked dishes are inventive and expertly prepared. Though Jiro dreams of sushi, Fritos and Foie Gras dreams of 15 East.

15 East on Urbanspoon

gDine at Desmond’s

And this is why I love living in the 21st century.

GDine. This company, that has recently expanded to NYC,  is the answer to all of your group dining prayers. You know, that time when it comes time to pay the bill and all of a sudden, people are in the bathroom, or don’t want to pay for the wine they didn’t drink, or all of a sudden get amnesia and just walk out without paying a dime?

GDine solves all that by offering  ”a multi-course menu with many options at exclusive discounted rates.” Basically, you can go online, choose a 3 course menu for as low as $30 or so, have everyone pay online before they go, and BOOM…then all you have to do is go and enjoy. The dining experience couldn’t be easier or more welcome.

To try this out, I selected a 3 course option at Desmond’s, a modern British restaurant in Midtown East

Desmond’s is a casual restaurant, and although the food is upscale, the atmosphere is extremely relaxed. This is a perfect place to take a mid-day break from shopping – you would not be out of place in nice jeans and a sweater.

Biscuits and butter

An identity crisis of sorts – buttermilk biscuits in a British restaurant? – but the nicest identity crisis across which I have ever come. Warm, fluffy biscuits are light and tender. The whipped butter is creamy and light, delicious when spread over the steaming bread, melting into little pools and rivulets.

Pork Belly with Salted Caramel and Apple Salad

Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, incredibly sweet and undeniably porky. No over seasoning or complex sauces here, just the thick pork belly, with its crackling layer of fat and its tender but not mushy meat. The fat is perfectly rendered, with no gummy or undercooked parts, and paired with the salted caramel, it becomes more savory and earthy; almost wild-tasting. The salad is simple but refreshing, with a light vinaigrette that adds a necessary acidity to the dish.

Salmon Fishcake with Parsley Sauce and Poached Egg

Once again, the interplay of textures is excellent. A thin, extremely crisp crust covers flaky salmon, mixed with soft potatoes and fragrant herbs. It is comforting and mild tasting, and when punctured, the perfectly runny yolk of the poached egg provides a rich sauce for the fishcake. The parsley sauce is herbaceous without being too floury, merely accenting the herbs inside the fish cake. Served with some gently wilted spinach, it is a light but filling lunch.

Meyers of Keswick Bangers and Mash

Of course, if you want to go the heavier route (and more respect if you do), go with the excellently prepared bangers and mash, served with winey caramelized onions.

Eton Mess

This delightful dessert consists of crisp meringue cookies, freshly sliced strawberries, and strawberry coulis, all doused in freshly whipped cream. Served with some basil on top to cut through the sweetness, this is a delightful dessert – fresh, sweet, and not too heavy. I could have eaten a pile of this and…okay, well, I did!

Desmond’s is a great lunch stop, but more so, gDine is a great experience! You are presented with your choices for the meal, then simply eat and leave. Everything else is taken care of ahead of time. The only change that I would make is the fact that the tip must be paid beforehand – tip is something that can vary based on service, and I would prefer to leave it at the restaurant. Other than that, this is a pretty flawless system!

Eating well and not having to worry about splitting the check? Between that and air conditioning, the 21st century has paid for itself.

*Disclaimer: My meal was paid for, courtesy of GDine. I was not paid, nor was I required to write a review. My opinions are my own and, I feel, unbiased.*

Desmond's NY on Urbanspoon

Kitchen Sink Frittata

I am one of the few people in this world who does not love leftovers. Unless it is a soup that improves with age, leftovers just don’t really appeal to me. I love the pomp and circumstance of cooking a meal, making sure all of the components match, and then enjoying the meal in its entirety that night. The idea of eating the exact same thing the next day just doesn’t appeal to me.

You always thought I was high maintenance, didn’t you? You were right.

That’s why I am a huge fan of repurposing leftovers. Turning steak into sandwiches, making rice into kimchi bacon fried rice,and  breaking up fish and mixing it with potatoes to turn it into savory fishcakes. If the seasonings are different and the presentation is something new, I’m not just eating leftover food to get rid of it. I’m preparing a whole new dish that I would never have thought to cook before.

The magical binder for most leftover ingredients is eggs.

Though sometimes you want something simple, there is nothing wrong with a kitchen sink frittata. This is a chance to literally use up whatever you have in your house – steak, fried potatoes, bits of cheese…think of this recipe as a guideline, not a set of rigid rules that must be enforced. The only must have add ins are cheese (for texture) and potato (because, really, potato is just wonderful). Anything else is totally up to you – make it vegetarian or meat lovers or anything in between. Additionally, this is perfect for using up ingredients that are about to go bad in the fridge.

Kitchen Sink Frittata

Ingredients:

Leftover cheese (a good melting cheese is best – I like sharp cheddar or creamy fontina)

Leftover meat of some sort (steak, chili, carnitas, etc.) (or ground chicken/beef/sausage)

1 onion (or scallion or leeks), chopped or sliced

1 potato (any kind you like), scrubbed and sliced or cubed thinly (or leftover fried or baked potato)

Leftover vegetables(i.e. tomatoes, asparagus, corn, string beans, broccoli…whatever is lying around your fridge, waiting to go bad)

Leftover herbs (cilantro, basil, and rosemary are all great options) or dried herbs

Oil in which to sautee

Eggs to bind (2 or 3 per person)

Salt and pepper to taste (And any other seasonings you enjoy)

*If you are using all leftover ingredients, skip to step 4*

1. Cook onions in oil until slightly golden, in an oven safe pan.

2. Add cubed potatoes and any other vegetables that may need to be cooked (in my case, squash).

3. Add all other vegetables, meats, and herbs to hot pan and heat until it’s all heated through (in my case, chicken sausage, canned tomatoes with chiles and cilantro). Also, preheat the oven to 350 F.

4. Scramble eggs in a bowl, and add the seasonings and cheese you plan to use .

5. Add the eggs to the pan and evenly distribute. If you need to stretch the egg mixture, you can add some water. Once the eggs have dispersed in the pan, don’t  stir  at all.

6. Cook over medium high heat until the bottom has begun to set and the sides start to pull away from the pan.

7. Put the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the eggs are totally cooked through.

8. Taste for seasonings and serve!

You can serve this hot or cold, for breakfast or dinner, with salad or bread or just some hot sauce. The best thing is that it will never taste the same. Try a Middle Eastern themed one, with ground lamb, dried cumin, and olives. Go for a French inspired one with tarragon, leftover diced ham, and shredded Gruyère cheese. Or, go for my Mexican creation, with diced sweet potatoes, cilantro, and chicken sausage. The only rule is to not overcook the eggs – the result should be creamy, not rubbery, but with enough body to be cut into wedges and still hold its shape.

And the result should also be delicious. Leftovers will never keep you down in the dumps again.

3 Hot Cocktail and Wine Bars in NYC

It’s about that time again, where I take off my eating pants and put on my drinking hat. Time for a round up of the most delicious cocktails I have had in recent memory!

PDT

This is one of the coolest bars I have ever frequented. Hidden inside a divey hot dog shack, you go into an old telephone booth, pick up the receiver, and give your name (reservations are a must – call at 3 pm the day you want to go). Then, the back of the telephone booth will open and you will be led into a small, elegant space where a James Beard nominated cocktail program awaits you. Everything from a bourbon-bacon fat cocktail to a peanut butter and celery concoction to the cocktail in the photo above, with the flavor of candied apples and rum, is complex and unexpected. The price is steep, but the payoff is excellent. As an added bonus, you can get hot dogs and tator tots designed by chefs like David Chang and Daniel Humm – really Haute Junk Food. This is a destination cocktail bar that is sure to impress.

Glass of Fino Sherry, Terroir Tribeca

This wine bar is known not only for its delightful small plates (anything fried is a good bet) and excellent by the glass wine selection, but for its very reasonable happy hour. So reasonable, in fact, that if you get there before 6 pm, your glass of sherry is FREE! This is a wonderful introduction to sherry, a potent fortified wine. This is much less sweet than I expected, with a strongly nutty aroma that was perfect with a wedge of manchego cheese. One small glass of this and you may, as I did, find yourself hooked! And hey, the price is right!

NYC and the Orient at Slightly Oliver

This cocktail bar can’t possibly be on the Upper West Side. Except that…it is. Large, decorated like an eccentric English library, and with a collection of delicious craft cocktails, this place is so swanky that it seems more like the East Village than neighbors with Barney Greengrass. This drink, with Thai Basil infused Gin, Yellow Tomato Water, Reduction of Tangerine and Peppercorn, and Habanero Bitters speaks well to that point. Light, herbal, with a slight kick from the bitters and a note of sweetness from the Tangerine, it is like a subtle bloody mary – the best one I have had in NYC. If you like Bloody Marys, get this. If you don’t, there is a cocktail menu filled with expertly crafted libations, one of which is sure to tickle your fancy.

And if you don’t drink, sorry for this post…and really sorry that you don’t drink.

Slightly Oliver on Urbanspoon

The Best Hot Sauces

I love hot sauces. Not just small, citrusy serrano peppers or large, milder jalapenos, but sauces and pastes that can keep in the fridge or cupboard to up your spice quotient at any time.  And, in the style of one of my favorite bloggers, Justin, I have decided to write a comprehensive post on all of my favorite spicy condiments, so you might be able to spice up your dish. Bland meals, begone!

Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

These are smoked and dried jalapenos that are rehydrated in a vinegary tomato sauce. They become plump and soft in the sauce, and the sauce itself often has onions and sometimes carrot coins. Chipotles in adobo are smoky, with a back of the throat heat that is mild at first, but can build when used in copious amounts. The tastes is very earthy, and goes well with strong flavors such as beef, and tangy flavors such as sour cream. One of the best mixtures on the planet is chipotles in adobo, mashed with a spoon, mixed with mayonnaise and spiked with lime juice. Spicy, smoky, sour, and creamy, this is delicious on everything from baked chicken to french fries. I confess to eating these whole out of the jar with a wedge of baguette.

Cholula

via

My favorite Mexican hot sauce, hands down. Not especially spicy, it has a gentle zing that combines garlic, vinegar, and some chiles. There is the slight, heady note of cumin in there, and that makes this sauce expressly Mexican – don’t try using it in an Asian dish.  Thin and smooth, it is fantastic drizzled on a fish taco or mixed into some fresh guacamole. This isn’t the kind of hot sauce that blows your head off, it is the one that accents other flavors. Suitable for even the worst spice wimps.

Habanero Tabasco

via

Regualar Tabasco is so vinegary, so thin, so, just kind of…well…weenie. There, I said it. It’s a weenie hot sauce. Habanero Tabasco, on the other hand. is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Slightly more saturated in color and thicker in texture, this could nonetheless look like regular Tabasco sauce. The taste, however, is worlds different. It is lip tingling, cheek flushing, nose running hot. Use with caution, because this is far more habanero-forward than salt or vinegar-forward. It is really the closest thing on the market to shaving fresh habaneros on your food. Slightly fruity toward the back of the palate, with a tongue-prickling heat that, when used in large quantities, sends a chill right down your spine. This is just the stuff for spicing up omelettes or making chili sing in a higher note.

Chinese Mustard

Similar to wasabi, this thick paste has nasal clearing properties. Much more hot than actually spicy or subtle, this has just a bit of mustardy tang and is far closer to horseradish than the stuff you put on hot dogs. A bit mixed with soy sauce and sweet Thai chili sauce makes the most delicious dumpling sauce on the planet, and if you cut your regular mustard with a teaspoon or so of the stuff, your macaroni and cheese will find new heights.

Gochujang

This Korean condiment uses fiery red chiles, rice powder, and fermented soybeans. This gives the sauce a complex flavor that is sweet, spicy, nutty, and incredibly umami (fromt he fermentation). It has a bit of funk to it, like fish sauce, and is not too hot – more spicy or zesty. This is a key component in any Korean meal, and when mixed with ketchup, makes a fantastic hamburger topping. Also, thin it with vinegar to make some quick Asian pickled onions.

Sambal Oelek

Pure chile flavor. Little garlic and almost no vinegar taste, these chili flakes are hot and a bit pungent, perfect for suing in salads or stir fries. I use this anywhere I want pure chile flavor, but have no fresh chiles in the house or am too lazy to chop fresh ones. Sambal Olek has such a straightforward chile flavor that it is useful in many types of cuisine – I have used it to spike everything from pasta sauces to leftover chicken mole. Just use a little at a time,a s the stuff here is really incendiary. This is hot sauce in the purest sense of the word.

Sriracha

via

The mothership sauce. The holy grail of sauces. The I’m-so-hungover-I-can-barely-see-please-get-me-something-to-eat-sauce. Sriracha is king of the castle. This thin, but not runny sauce, fire truck red, mixes vinegar, chiles, and garlic in a way that no other sauce can duplicate. Squirt its smooth red paste from its green cap onto anything that needs a garlicky, acidic, and quite spicy punch. Since it’s Thai, it is a natural for Asian food – pho, oyako don, and steamed fish are all delicious with Sriracha. But it’s oddly addictive flavor finds its way into other types of food too. Eggs, baked potatoes, cold pizza, salad dressings, fried chicken, bacon sandwiches, and stalks of celery have all been kissed by Sriracha to great effect. It makes a fantastic chicken wing sauce and gives Bloody Marys both body and an addictive heat. This is not the spiciest hot sauce around, nor the most exclusive. But it is, unmistakably the most delicious.

Have I missed any great hot sauces here? If so, PLEASE let me know in the comments!

Because: I like it hot.

Chef Michael Antonorisi Collaborates with Godiva

Godiva, well known for its truffles and luxurious chocolates, has decided to mix up the classic treats for which they are so well known. By joining with Venezuelan chocolatier Michael Antonorsi of San Diego area’s Chuao Chocolatier, the company has left plain dark chocolate behind and switched it for flavors like breadcrumbs, wine, and even pop rocks.

The press event, held in the Madison Avenue flagship, featured all of Antonorsi’s limited edition chocolates for Godiva, none which tasted anything like chocolates Godiva has previously offered. These are all about mixing salty, bitter, and spicy with traditional chocolate notes.

Salted Chocolate Crunch – Toasted panko bread crumbs and olive oil ganache with a touch of sea salt in decadent dark chocolate

By far my favorite chocolate of the night. Crisp chocolate surrounding smooth, dark, sweet ganache that finished with a bit of crunch and salt. The ideal mixture of creamy, crunchy, sweet, and salty.  It is like a grown up Nestle Crunch bar, made with higher quality ingredients more subtle shades of flavor.

Nut & Honeylicious – Sweet honey almond hazelnut praline and luscious milk chocolate  and Salted Caramel Spice – Rosemary-infused salt butter caramel in creamy milk chocolate.

While the Nut & Honeylicious chocolate was tasty enough – sweet with notes of honey, and hearty with the toasted praline – the Salted Caramel Spice was just outstanding. Mixed with the creamy milk chocolate was a strong taste of rosemary, heady and piney next to the sugar in the liquidy caramel. If you don’t like rosemary this isn’t for you, but if you do like it, it’s positively eye opening. Rosemary breaks through the sometimes cloying sweetness of milk chocolate, bringing out its savory and grounded notes.

Firecracker Fudge -  Caramel chipotle fudge and a touch of salt exploding with layers of popping candy and dark chocolate

This is interesting. The first taste is pure, pleasantly deep dark chocolate. Them, all at once, it feels like you have swallowed (true to its name) a tiny firecracker.  Crackling and popping all over the inside of your mouth, till you can feel it echoing in your ears. Here is where the heat comes through, the smoky, gentle fire of the chipotle. This is very complex, and – I must admit – not to my liking. I have to admire the ambition of it, though, and could see how others might enjoy it.

The recent collection with Chef Antonorisi is interesting in the best way possible. It is unexpected, it is exciting, and it is delicious. These chocolates are limited edition, so head to Godiva whilst they are still there and treat yourself to some of these unique chocolates!

Of course…a regular old truffle isn’t too bad either!

*I attended a press sponsored event. I was not paid or required to to write about the product, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, unbiased.*

Asian Steak Sandwiches

If you have ever had to convert something from the metric system to the  standard (American) system of measurements, you probably say that you hate conversions.

Allow me to change your mind a bit.

Though simply prepared steak is often the best kind, there is always room for variation. This doesn’t require a whole new recipe, it just requires a little conversion. For example:

Ketchup = chipotles in adobo + sugar = red wine

Worcestershire sauce = tamarind  = sautéed, melted anchovies

Steak seasoning blend = adobo sauce = thyme and rosemary

And right there, you have converted American to Mexican to French – all steak recipes, all delicious. Of course, my favorite way to alter my favorite steak recipe leans a bit more to the far east.

Asian Steak  Sandwiches

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs. flank or skirt steak

1/2 cup sweet Thai chili sauce

4 Tbs. tamari or soy sauce

2 tsp. fish sauce

1 handful cilantro, cleaned

1 clove garlic, smashed but not minced

1 bulb ginger, sliced lengthwise so its innards are exposed

sandwich fixins (toast, Sriracha, mayonnaise, Asian slaw, etc).

1. Put the Thai chili sauce, fish sauce, tamari, garlic, and ginger in a zip top bag.

2. Add the cilantro. 

3. Add the meat to the bag, squish it with your hands to ensure that the marinade gets all around the meat. then put the steak in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. 

4. After the steak has marinated, let it come to room temperature (VERY important step). Put the broiler on high and broil the steak for 3.5 minutes per side for medium rare steak.

5. When the steak is done to your liking (don’t forget, it will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven), take it out and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. RESIST cutting into it, or the juices will run all over your cutting board instead of redistributing throughout the meat.

6. Slice and enjoy! This steak is far less sweet and sticky than the kind I normally enjoy. It’s quite fragrant with cilantro, with only a touch of sweetness from the chili sauce. The funk of the fish sauce becomes quite savory, with the spice of the ginger and the kick from the fresh garlic. The real coup here is how the marinade accents the flavor of the meat. It isn’t overly Asian – it would not be out of place with a baked potato in a steakhouse – but the balance of sweet, salty, sour, and heat could only speak to the Asian tenets of flavor. This would be fantastic over hot rice or in an Asian salad, but it also makes a heck of a fusion sandwich. 

All you need to do is:

Spread some Sriracha mixed with mayonnaise on two pieces of toast (preferably baguette or white bread, but anything will work).

Layer the room temperature steak on one side and some fresh or pickled vegetables on the other side.

And enjoy. All the wonders of a steak sandwich mixed with the best part of Asian cuisine.

And you thought you hated conversions…