Archives for December 2013

Morimoto – Sensational the Second Time Around

I haven’t been to Morimoto in years. When I went back recently, I almost wept.

How much time I have wasted! How quickly I forgot how delicious the food is!

For a quick description of the ultra modern, dreamy interior, check out my previous review.

And yes, have a laugh at my expense…if I’m not a great blogger now, I was an ABYSMAL one then!

Now, onto the good stuff!

IMG950637 Morimotini with wasabi vodka and cucumbers

A drink worth mentioning. Not too spicy, but with a very slight nasal-clearing aroma that comes off as clean and crisp. It’s almost like a salad – it is light, fresh, and really stimulates the appetite. The alcoholic tang is really tempered by that slight wasabi kick.  It’s easy to drink this too quickly…be careful with this one!

IMG950638 Yuburatta with black truffles and dashi

This delightful play on burrata is actually better than it even sounds. Homemade creamy, smooth ricotta is wrapped in tissue thin yuba skin. When you break it, it indeed resembles burrata both in texture and rich taste. It’s soaked in a salty, savory dashi broth and topped with truffle shavings. Spread on chargrilled sourdough bread, it is UMAMI (in capital letters). It’s so intensely savory from the broth – it really enlivens the cheese and helps the milky, clean flavors shine true. And those truffles almost take it over the top but not quite – it takes the flavors right to the brink of being overpowering without overstepping its bounds. This is a must order.
IMG950639 Yosedofu

Some tableside magic that should make Benihana hang its  head in shame.

Did I just really mention Benihana in the same post as one on Morimoto? I really am FRITOS and foie.

Imagine a 140F bowl brought to your table, filled with soy milk. Imagine a server pouring a few ingredients in there, stirring it, then leaving it in the center of the table with strict instructions to leave it alone. Touch it at the risk of losing a layer of skin and being rebuked by your server.

When the server returns…
IMG950640 The soymilk has transformed into silken tofu! It is cut with a spoon and served with a mushroom broth, dashi soy, and crisped rice.
IMG950642 Transportive. Very light but intricate in flavor and texture. Soft, crispy, silken, meaty…the mushrooms provide heft and earthiness and the pops of crisped rice are unexpected and fun. That tofu is otherworldly. It’s soft but not mushy, with a cloudlike mouthfeel. The broth is very full bodied – meaty, somehow, and savory but not at all heavy or muddy. It’s a clear, clean midcourse…and it beats the hell out of sorbet as a palate cleanser! IMG950643 Miso glazed bone marrow with ikura and chimichurri

The standout dish of the night. In fact, a destination worthy dish. This is unbelievable – by FAR the best marrow that I have eaten in a restaurant ever. Sorry, Ai Fiori. You have officially been displaced. This shows me what marrow can become when it surrounds itself with good influences. The marrow is unctuous and smooth but not totally liquid – it spreads like liquid gold on the thick bread. It is laquered with garlicky, herby chimichurri and salty, briny pops of sake cured salmon roe. It’s a little spicy from the miso glaze, a little floral from the chimichurri, and soft and decadent all on its own. Creamy, zesty, garlicky, and salty…it’s indulgent and it’s perfect to share. It would be far to decadent to enjoy alone but as part of a suite of shared dishes…it’s unbeatable.  IMG950644 Foie gras and eel with Meyer lemon gelee and Asian pear

Decadent and rich. Well seared foie with a crunchy exterior and a still pink, soft interior. The bbq eel is sweet and fatty – it really doesn’t taste fishy – it’s the prime rib of the seafood world. However, next to the foie, it does taste brinier and actually leaner. Of course, next to foie, anything seems like a diet food. The teriyaki glaze is sweet, the Meyer lemon gelle is sour, and the entire dish – minus the sour Asian pears – is unique and delicious.

There were no missteps in this meal – not one. From the excellent service to the hip but welcoming decor to the truly memorable food, it is a night out to remember. Who cares if it’s old hat by now? Who cares if the sushi isn’t the main draw? What matters it that the food – especially that bone marrow – is not only commendable but destination worthy. It isn’t a cheap night, but it is well, well worth the money.

Even the second time around.

Chelsea Market Treats

This weekend, I wound up at Chelsea Market. I LOVE that place! The restaurants, the clothing shops, the food stores…it’s like the mall of my dreams!

And, after all, no matter how I may try to escape it, I am a valley girl. I am bound by my birth to love a shopping mall.

One of my favorite aspects of Chelsea Market is the large food court area with tons of different vendors. Tiny homemade doughnuts, vegan salads and soups, and gourmet grilled cheeses abound. Here are a couple of my favorite treats:

IMG_20131215_145110_551 Thai chicken curry pot pie from Tuck Shop

Australians don’t only get cute accents, they also get meat pies. Aussies love this stuff, and why not? A flaky, buttery crust surrounding savory, hearty fillings is just the thing for a snowy winter (or in their case, a snowy summer) day. This pie really fits the bill. The crust is a little dense and tough, but the filling is excellent. It’s creamy but not gloppy, with a surprising kick of spice – those little plastic cups of Sriracha are not necessary. The creamy coconut sauce is loaded with tender chicken, spinach, soft onions, and other vegetables. There are the aromatic note of kaffir lime and coriander. It’s large enough to satisfy for lunch but small enough to eat quickly. Heartily recommended!

IMG_20131215_180104_694 S’mores candy bar from Liddabit Sweets

It’s not just this bar, it’s everything from Liddabit. The chocolate is all rich and thick, with just the right balance of creamy and bitter. The fillings, from fluffy marshmallows to boozy pecans, are all high quality. Their signature honeycomb candy, in delightfully irregular icebergs, is enrobed in such a thick layer of chocolate that it is more like fudge. The bacon caramel corn is enough to cause a frenzy in our home, resulting in pulled hair and hoarding of said corn.

Liddabit is totally awesome.

As are all of my Chelsea Market favorites!

Meyer Lemon Roasted Zucchini and Scallions

Remember when I said that this cooking class would be a great gift?

That because Chef Fed, while fun and funny, is really an excellent teacher. He teaches why and how flavors go well together, and really hones your techniques so you can take his pointers and fly on your own at home.

What I learned more than anything was how important acid is. Acid, acid acid. My flavors at home are way too one level, and acid is going to take all of my recipes to the next level.

Like this one –  a little bit of summer that can only be made in the dead of winter, thanks to the sweet-tart taste of Meyer lemons.

Meyer Lemon Roasted Zucchini and Scallions

zucchini and boeuf bourgignon

Ingredients

1 sheet pan full of baby zucchinis

1 bunch scallions, ends chopped off and slimy outer leaves removed

3 Meyer lemons, juiced

2 tbsp. chili infused olive oil, or olive oil mixed with Tabasco

Plenty of salt and pepper

IMG_0534 1. Preheat oven to 350 and put zucchini and scallions on a cookie sheet with a lip. Then,  roll the veggies in olive oil and DOUSE them in in lemon juice. You want some of the pulp on there and everything. Really sour  up that pan!

IMG_0540

2. Top with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. You will hear lots of popping and sputtering and the veggies will turn so caramelized that they are almost black. That’s good.

3.  Enjoy hot, warm, or cold out of the fridge.

Delish. Spicy and salty, with crispy scallions that are like the lightest onion rings and tender zucchini, steamed inside its burnished skin. This is fabulous as a side dish for steak or fish and is also delicious the next day with a poached egg for breakfast This isn’t a word-for-word recap recap as much as a technique It’s remembering that acid is your fiend-  especially sugary-sour Meyer lemons. It’s remembering that sweet and spicy and salty and sour must all work together to create a truly round, fleshed out flavor profile. It’s remembering that heat is also your friend when working with sweet vegetables that give up their sugars when they are warmed quickly. It’s realizing that as much as you might cook, there is ALWAYS room for improvement and learning.

Thanks for this awesome recipe inspiration, Chef Fed!

Foodie Gift Guide and That Bourbon Ketchup Giveaway!

If you are like me, you already got your holiday gift(s).

If your last name happens to be “O’Callahan” or “Smith,” however, you may be getting your gifts in a couple of weeks.

In that case, I have decided to help you out with a few ideas for awesome foodies gifts.

Without further ado:

NYCE NYCE

Tickets to the New York Culinary Experience

Remember how I got to attend a class in this event last year and shared Naomi Pomeroy’s wonderfully easy and delicious asparagus veloute recipe? That is actually part of a weekend long session of classes with incredible chefs like Jacques Torres, Missy Robbins, and Matthew Lightner. Learn everything from molecular gastronomy techniques to making fresh pasta to cake decorating from Michelin starred and celebrity chefs. Go home with a goodie bag stocked with top-notch culinary equipment and enjoy delicious meals and wine receptions every day of the weekend. It costs over $1K, but if you can swing it, it’s an unforgettable weekend.

immersion blender via

All Clad immersion blender

I got this as a gift and let me tell YOU…I haven’t stopped using it since I ripped open the wrapping paper. It is compact but insanely powerful – I have used immersion blenders before but hey were always small, cheap, lightweight ones. This is a little heavier and a whole lot stronger. It could practically blitz cement into gray mousse. Make the creamiest mashed potatoes, the fluffiest whipped cauliflower, or a soup that is so well emulsified that you would swear it was cream enriched. This thing whips, blends, and purees like a pro. Best of all, it’s dishwasher safe.

truffle rav

TrufflePalooza reservation

Whenever these Locanda Verde special occasion reservations are available, get them! This autumnal white truffle meal is one of my favorite NYC events – the black truffle version should happen around  January. Treat your loved one to a 3 course meal featuring things like steak tartare, duck agnoletti, and honey cake – all topped with truffle shavings and soaked in the heady, intoxicating flavor. Also,  it’s really affordable considering how many truffles you consume.

IMG_20131208_202053_631

Sex on the Table classes

This was my Hanukkah gift and I loved it! Head to Chef Fed’s cool LES loft with a bottle of wine and a friend and spend the night learning how to grate ginger, why to wrap steak in foil before you sere it, and the secret to why citrus perfume is so popular in the USA. The food you make is really great and unusual – candied grapefruit and red wine sauce, anyone? The classes are all focused on aphrodisiacs and you will be surprised at how much you end up loving not only the food you make but the sweet, cool, Chef Fed himself!

photo-main via

That Bourbon Ketchup

I was sent this as a press sample. I am now…ob…sessed. This bbq sauce-ketchup hybrid has it all going on. The sweet tang of ketchup. The smoky spice of bbq sauce. The slight burn of alcohol and the proper viscosity of both sauces. It’s awesome on burghers, fries, eggs, and anything else you can think of. Slather it on a chicken breast and bake it. Mix it with sour cream and call it a chip dip. Eat it with your finger.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find right now as it hasn’t quite hit store shelves…

BUT…

I have a bottle to give away! To enter, you must live in the continental US. Just leave a comment here and see the winner announced next Wednesday! I will choose a winner at random. 

Happy shopping and eating!

Cafe Fiorello Does Not Impress

Ugh this is one of those posts I DREAD writing.

Like, I almost didn’t write it.

However, I realized that I owe it to you, my readers, to give you my honest opinions.

And, honestly…I don’t know how this restaurant has been around so long.

Cafe Fiorello has long stood across the street from Lincoln Center – prime real estate all year long, but especially good in the holiday season. Hordes of little girls and their grandparents flock to see “The Nutcracker” and afterwards, who wouldn’t like a little pasta? You would think the dining room would be at the top of its game to entice clients who otherwise might not come this way, to return in the warmer months.

If that’s the case…ai yai yai.

IMG_20131210_200105_773

The dining room si large and loud, but not unhappily so  just the generally happy buzz of contented diners. It’s on the fancier side of things, but it’s very kid friendly – really the perfect family setting.

IMG_20131210_200357_565

Bread basket

Tasty. The multigrain bread is dry and forgettable but the foccacia is lovely – vaguely garlicky and studded with fresh basil. Best of all, there is a pesto butter sandwiched in the slices, like delightful, creamy, salty surprises throughout the soft bread. Definitely enjoyable!

IMG_20131210_204520_207

Burrata

Okay, nothing more. Nowhere near Amali. Nowhere near a lot of places. A little dry. A little bland. A little…little. Where is the olive oil? The seasonings? The “more than 1 measly slice of tomato?”  All this is lacking and it’s still $18? It’s a miss.

IMG_20131210_212345_387

Meatballs

They serve their purpose, even though they did come to the table lukewarm. I love the nutty, crunchy pistachios on top and the soft texture of the meatballs. But they are quite one note. The sauce is too sweet and the balls are too bland.

That’s what she said.

Where is the fragrant oregano or the kick of Sicilian chiles? Where is the layer of sharp pecorino cheese or the sliver of melting garlic in the sauce? For the love of Pete, where is the SALT?

IMG_20131210_213153_429

Spaghetti carbonara with truffles.

Sure, I make the best carbonara. But this verrsion could at least TRY to measure up. Or, you know, it could be lazy and not offer any taste or texture other than “gloppy.” It could be lacking salt and have steamed the asparagus into oblivion. The egg yolk is wonderfully unctuous but..again..where is the salt? Or pepper? The pasta itself is the saving grace – it is obviously fresh and is al dente with a fresh, eggy flavor and ideal texture. Unfortunately, despite the ample shavings on top, it was like the flavor was purposefully sucked out of the truffles. Why? WHY?!

And the service…oh, the service. The night we went, the menu had changed that day. The place was busy. A bathrooms flooded. I get all that – I do. But when you wait an hour and a half for your meal, squinched into a booth that is crowded with patrons on either side, and the wrong meal is brought to you? You need more than just a small portion of the rather expensive meal comped.

You need an apology. A visit from the manager. A question about how they can improve. Some attention at all.

Our server was sweet but totally overwhelmed. Dining here was not a great experience.

And in a city with so many winners, why would you come here? For a better meal at half the price, go to The Smith.

Like I said, I hate writing less than stellar reviews…but more than that, I would hate if you wasted your time, money, and stomach space here.

Cafe Fiorello on Urbanspoon

Amali Makes Midtown East Dining…Interesting?!

When my girlfriend asked me to meet her for dinner near her office, I inwardly groaned. Midtown. Ugh. Midtown East. Double ugh. and Park Avenue. Like…who goes there to have a GOOD TIME?

The answer: me. Now, anyway.

IMG_20131209_184411_809 Amali is a wine bar that looks more at home in the east village than on 60th and Park. it has a casual, warm, urban-farmhouse feel. It’s ideal for a girls night out and I can’t wait to return with some friends. It’s candlelit and not too noisy – gret for romance, not so great for food photography.

IMG_20131209_191853_018 Burrata di campagna kritiko olive oil, maldon sea salt

Excellent, and it’s pricey because it’s great. It’s imported from the Italian countryside, and whatever they feed their cows is the right stuff. This burrata is far superior to the domestic stuff – it’s stretchy and smooth, surrounding such dense, creamy innards that they spread with a spoon on the toasted, well charred bread. It’s served doused in olive oil that is fruity and smooth. It’s also well seasoned  plenty of crunchy salt and spicy black pepper, which really elevates it. This is what makes this stand out seasoning is everything.

IMG_20131209_193722_991 Eggplant with calabrian chili honey vinaigrette, cilantro, sesame, yogurt

A standout of the night! The eggplant must be fried at some point, or maybe baked in an insanely hot oven, because the skin is incredibly crunchy and the insides are melting and soft. It’s served with a very spicy chili sauce over tangy, creamy yogurt and the sweet vinaigrette. The cilantro gives this a decidedly middle eastern feel – don’t come here expecting the same ole, same ole. This is a standout dish!

IMG_20131209_193734_164 Spanish octopus with castelveltrano olives, yukon potatoes, wild oregano

Excellent for those of you who love shellfish – this is fresh and mild, with no hint of the sea – much like a mild, well prepared clam. It’s tender and served with a salty, crushed olive relish that lends it a briny flavor. The potato puree is a fun take on the classic octopus-potato combination. It’s not too salty or overseasoned – the flavor of the octopus really shines.
IMG_20131209_203621_763
Ricotta honey doughnuts with honeyed ricotta

Oh. Yes. Ricotta makes these doughnuts moist and custardy on the inside. They are served piping hot and rolled in sugar, but aren’t too sweet. they are served on this creamy, vanilla scented whipped ricotta. It’s like zeppole gone up town.

It’s like me gone uptown – or at least midtown! This is a little overpriced, but it’s midtown east, so everything is a little overpriced. The service is great, the wine list is extensive (there’s a full bar, too), and the food is a great switch up from the normal Italian fare at wine bars. The menu is kinda ll over the mediterranean and middle east, which is what makes it interesting.

I just said midtown east was interesting. Whoa.

Carl’s Custard – My Favorite Landmark

And, now, a blast from my roadtripping past.

If you should ever find yourself in Fredricksburg, VA, don’t worry. This small town is near some awesome seafood, some finger-lickin bbq, and one of the best desserts you will ever taste.

 Carl’s Custard has been in this spot since 1947, and can be easily seen by the big neon custard cone on top. It’s actually on the National Registry of Historic Places, if you can believe it! Frozen custard is perfect road trip food – open late, cheap, quick, and – most importantly – something way too indulgent to eat on a daily basis.

  Frozen custard differs from ice cream in that it has more eggs added to it.  It is made in a machine that also incorporates less air into it than traditional ice cream, more like a gelato machine. In other words, the ice cream is richer.  It is to ice cream what Bill Gates is to your dad.

Just step up to the counter, order your custard and toppings, and dig in. The line, if there is one, goes quickly and the servers, who are often high school kids, are efficient and congenial.

Maple walnut sundae and a plain scoop of chocolate 

Shove it, Snapple. THIS is the best stuff on earth.  That first bite of vanilla custard hammers home the truth that this is NOT ice cream. This isn’t sugar or fluffy – it is pure, sweet, clean cream with the texture of frozen pudding. The sundae version amplifies that rich custard. The almost overwhelming, creamy, eggy feel is just barely tempered by the sweet maple syrup and meaty walnuts.  The chocolate has a bit more complex flavor, with hints of espresso and nuts, but with the same buttery, rich mouthfeel.  It is divine.

Don’t be a shmo. If you are in Fredericksburg, come here. Hell, if you are in Virginia come here! What other National Historical Landmark has a dessert takeaway?!

Sorry, Lincoln Memorial, you don’t hold a candle to this when it comes to lasting impressions.

Park Side – Don’t Fuggedaboudit

I never watched “The Sopranos”. But I love Goodfellas. The G-dfather. Every documentary about the Gottis is currently on my DVR.

I buy into the hype. I love a good mob story! Family, loyalty, intrigue…and food. Every mob movie seems to feature mouth-watering sequences with garlic, tomatoes, and ground pork. 

And if there were a restaurant that the mob frequented in real life…not saying they DID, just saying IF…that restaurant would be Park Side in Corona, Queens.

It’s across the street from a boccee ball court, described in my Ice King of Corona post. It has a valet run by men in suits – in fact, every server in the restaurant wears a suit with a bow tie and I didn’t even see any female ones. Funny enough, this doesn’t’ strike me as sexist – this is probably because most of the head servers there are career servers. They seem to have been here since the 1960s, and maybe they have.

This is Italian-American food at its finest. This is manicotti, spaghetti bolognese, and chicken francese. Don’t be looking for any micro-farmed greens or organic wines. Look for the food that you thought was Italian. And don’t be ashamed…we all love it.

photo_1 (2)

You can sit downstairs in chairs marked with plaques that  bear the name of the regular customers who weekly sit there. You can sit upstairs, in the frosted glass, flourescent lit, fabulously 1980s Marilyn Monroe room.

You might need shoulder pads to feel truly at home here.

Feel free to come dressed in jeans or an evening gown – anything runs and the hospitality is always the same – as if you are the head of the family, gracing the restaurant with your presence.

photo_4 (1)

Bread Basket

Like none I have ever experienced – it’s what Scarpetta’s bread basket was before it got all uptown and slick. Garlicky crostini, crunchy breadsticks, and the most fabulous salami and cheese filled bread. Its’s doughy and soft, layered with spicy pork and tangy provolone cheese.

photo_3 (1)

Don’t forget to treat yourself to the hunks of salty Parmesan and the juicy, garlicky, soft roasted tomatoes on garlic crostini.

This is the start to what is sure to be a gut busting meal.

photo_5

Every meal here comes with salad or pasta. Choose the salad, but only go for the Caesar dressing if you like an aggressive, heavy hit of anchovy. You will need something green tonight, after all.

photo_2 (1)

Chicken Parmesan

The finest in the world. On the planet. No apologies, no justifications. Just the best. The juiciest thicken cutlet, pounded thin so it stays tender. The crust is thick and very crunchy. The cheese is obviously whole milk mozzarella – nothing else could be this creamy and stretchy. It is broiled until it is bubbling and brown, with crispy bits amongst the soft, chewy bits of cheese. It avoids that horrible fate of most chicken Parmesan dishes – the dreaded sog factor. This is served with a generous swath of bright, oregano-heavy tomato sauce and still remains crunchy and juicy. It just can’t be beat. There is nowhere that makes chicken parm like Park Side. 

Oh, and I lied. Get that pasta with the chicken parm – it demands it.

photo_4

Chocolate cake

Of course, for a meal this nostalgic, only chocolate cake will do, and this one delivers. Fudgy, dense, moist…just like Grandma Mary made.

Or, in this case, Grandma Maria. 

This is the grand temple of Italian American cuisine. Without it, how could places like Carbone come to be? It’s not cheap but you get what you pay for – fabulous service, atmosphere that can’t be beat, and food that is just what you want when you order it. And in huge portions.

Maybe I better start watching “The Sopranos” after all…nothing like continuing with a theme.

BassaNova Ramen Shows Chinatown Who’s Boss

When I go to Chinatown, it’s not because i am in the mood for fine French food.

Hell, I’m not even in the mood for fine Chinese food.

I want down home, familiar, had-it-a-million-times-before Chinese food. The sweet, sticky char siu bao. The soft, slippery dan-dan noodles. the dumplings with crisp wrappers and juicy fillings.

I really don’t go there for ramen. And neither does anyone else. Other than a random bodega, you aren’t likely to find much besides Chinese food in Chinatown.

So imagine my shock when I came across a ramen joint in Chinatown.

photo_1 (1)

BassaNova Ramen is a basement level restaurant and it’s very modern. All white, impeccably clean, and minimalist. It’s just a place to stop in with family or a friend – not a good date spot. It is so totally different from all of the bustling dim sum palaces that I couldn’t help but be curious.

Of course, if I had read The Bible, I would have known…this palce is a Tokyo export known for its super rich, porky Tondaku Ramen. So, obviously…that’s what I got:

photo_3

Tondaku Ramen

Not for the faint of heart. This broth is almost gelatinous. It’s very rich and nutty, with the unmistakable tastes of pork and sesame. The flavor isn’t overly salty but the real standout here is the texture. It is almost a broth you can chew – does that make sense? It’s so full bodied and silky that it is actually filling on its own. Days later, I still remember it and can’t get the memory of the texture out of my mind. It’s so comforting and at the same time, new and exciting. I can’t recommend the broth enough.

The noodles are also excellent. Thin and very bouncy/springy. They really soak up all of the flavor from the nutty nori, the sweet toasted garlic, and the soft wood ear fungus – don’t be scared, it has the texture of bamboo shoots and is really tasteless.

And the pork. That PORK! How I wish I had gotten the full portion instead of the lunchtime one so I could have had another slice of two of that wonderful pork. It’s so soft that it really does melt in your mouth – sorry to use that expression, but how else can I describe what is essentially meat butter? The edges still manage to be charred and a little smoky, in contrast to the silky, lush meat.

This ramen rocks. 

And it’s a good thing, too, because this ois one of only a few items on the menu. It’s a really minimalist place – they don’t even serve Coke!

But they don’t need to. The staff is excellent, the price is right (bring cash for your cheap, delicious lunch), and the food is really great. It doesn’t have the signature kick of most ramen, and the noodles are a little thinner, but wow…it’s so complex. It’s so different. It’s so great.

Because even I occasionally need a break from dim sum.

City Winery – Where Food and Music Lovers Unite!

City Winery isn’t somewhere I thought would have great food. I thought that I would go see a great concert, eat some serviceable treats, and have a swell time with friends.

The concert was meh, the food was awesome, and…well…it was a swell time with friends.

Did you hear what I said? The food was actually awesome.

City Winery is a beautiful indoor concert space that happens to be a winery as well. The seating is a little tight but it fits well in a cabaret style atmosphere. The music can be loud and your neck might cramp if you have to look behind yourself to see the musician, but that’s all my complaining for the night.

Because the food was great!

IMG_20131203_192227_010 Mushroom and goat cheese flatbread

Wow – this pizza is surprisingly tasty! It doesn’t have any real char and the crust is a little fluffy, but the flavor is delightful. The mushrooms are tender and meaty – they really replace the craving for pepperoni or meat on a pizza. The goat cheese is light and creamy, tangy next to those meaty shrooms. It’s not too heavy or greasy but it’s still creamy and fulfilling.
IMG_20131203_192411_473 Beets whipped with feta and tahini

So fresh and well rounded that it would be at home in any Mediterranean restaurant in the city. The beets are very light and not too earthy, or as some might say “dirty” tasting. Not me, I havent’ ever tasted a beet I haven’t loved. Anyway, it is really aggressively seasoned. Nutty tahini, salty, creamy feta mousse, and more than a hint of garlic make for a fresh take on beets and cheese. It’s a really punchy, flavorful dish that is far more savory and robust than I normally picture a beet dish. The warm pita alongside didn’t hurt either.
IMG_20131203_192903_520 Squash arancini with tallegio fonduta

Oh yes! My major bone to pick with arancini  is that it is too heavy or greasy. Usually this is due to meaty, pork or geef based fillings. By filling these compact balls with squash, it manages to be crispy and creamy but not overly heavy. It’s sweet and savory , with the ideal sprinkling of cheese to keep it nicely salty. It can even take a dunk in the winner of the night, a fragrant, creamy, lightly aromatic tallegio fondue. Think cheddar meets brie. Yeah. It’s that good.
IMG_20131203_192932_680 It’s also soft and not too dense. These little bites were my number one winner of the night.  IMG_20131203_193200_518 Crispy tofu hot pot with butternut squash, mushrooms, bok choy, and sweet chili sauce

Another tasty dish! Nothing super memorable, but the tofu is tender and the thin crust is light and crunchy. The chili sauce is sticky sweet, but he squash soup has a really spicy kick! It’s loaded with ginger and coriander, and enough chiles to make me sit up and take notice. This isn’t the most intricately flavored dish on the menu, but it is satisfying and recommended even for meat eaters like me.

City Winery’s food actually outshone the concert – I am totally surprised! The service was efficient and competent, the prices were fair, and even the wine on tap was excellent (an unoaked chardonnay…buttery, no sign of smoke or oakiness…totally drinkable!).

The food was also great. If you go with great company and don’t mind the slightly cramped seating, it’s a wonderful way to spend a night!

City Winery on Urbanspoon