Minute Steak Salad with Goat Cheese and Pickled Onions

The minute steak is much maligned. People think that it is cheap, thin, and tough…a little like Tara Reid. BUT…if it is prepared properly, with a bit of acidic marinade and a VERY QUICK sear so it is left quite rare…it is cheap, thin, and divine. London broil for a fraction of the price – a perfect luncheon for one.

Of course, the way to do this the right way is to serve it on a crusty roll with sautéed onions, melted swiss cheese, and plenty of Tabasco sauce.

But, in the interest of using up the arugula in my fridge, I made it a steakhouse salad instead.

Salads are wonderful, even and especially in the winter. They can be a refreshing,filling, and – yes – even a little bit indulgent – ending to a day of eating cereal and microwaved burritos at work.

Minute steak salad with goat cheese and pickled onions

minute steak salad

Ingredients:

2 minute steaks (or 1 leftover flank steak, skirt steak, filet mignon…nothing too fatty)

1 bunch arugula, washed and dried

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (I love bucheron)

1 dash Worcestershire sauce

1 recipe pickled onions

drizzling of steak sauce

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1. Put the Worcestershire sauce and the steaks in a zip top bag. Marinate for 30 minutes or so.

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2. Put the stove on high and put the steak in a notstick skillet, or a one that is greased with a wee bit of oil.

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3. For small minute steaks, cook no more than 1.5 minutes per side. Remove them and let them rest so the juices redistribute.

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4. Cut the steak into bite size pieces. That color in the photo is ideal…no grayer than that.

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5. Put all of the ingredients into the salad bowl and eat immediately.

This is what makes minute steak good – quick cooking and complimentary side components. Warm steak, juicy and salty, softening the rough arugula and bringing out its slightly bitter tones. The onions are piquant and the tomatoes are soft and sweet. The goat cheese warms under the heat of the steak, melting slightly and releasing its tangy,savor flavor. The steak sauce is sweet and spicy – making this more of a meal and less of a salad. The important step is to eat this while the steak is still warm and that the steak be very rare so it’s still juicy even though it’s thin.

And, now…a slow clap for the minute steak:

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Roasted Bone Marrow

I have been craving meat lately  - minerally, fatty, juicy MEAT. In case you are too, I thought that I would repost this blog post, detailing how to make one of my favorite delicacies: bone marrow.

My friend Steve once described me as being a primal eater.  He says seeing me eat is like watching a lioness stalk, hunt, then devour her pray  because her life depends on it.  Those are his EXACT WORDS.  He says watching me eat sometimes scares him because I am so ravenous and full of gusto when I dine.  And that’s just when he sees me eat a turkey sandwich.   If he saw me eat this stuff, he would cry, pee his pants, and call his mommy. 

 Beef marrow bones.  You read that correctly-I love to eat the marrow of cow bones.  And veal, for that manner.  Hell, I’ve even done lamb.  And I have enjoyed every last one of them.  Do you like butter?  Hamburgers, olive oil, avocados, soft boiled eggs?  All of these things are reminiscent of the taste of marrow bones, and if you like those, you will like these.

 Ingredients:

Marrow bones, split legnthwise

Stock

Salt

Bread

1. Pour your stock into a large stockpot and bring it to a boil. 

 2. Add the marrow bones. You want to leave a couple of 6 inch bones in the stock for about 20 minutes-until the marrow inside the bones has turned slightly  yellow-y gray and less opaque-like this:

*Now don’t toss that broth!  You have just doubly fortified it by throwing the marrow bones in there!  It is now prime for making soup, stew, sauce, or eating as is with some warm bread.  Keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze it in baggies and take it out when you want it!  Just DON’T THROW AWAY THAT LIQUID GOLD!*

3. Now throw these gorgeous bones onto a tinfoil covered baking sheet and pop it in the oven under the broiler for another minute or so – not too long at ALL! Just until it gets brown and your stomach rumbles and you get the intense feeling that you are becoming a primal beast

 

4. Needless to say, just tear into the bread when the marrow is ready.  Knives have no place in the primitive world.

 

5. Except, of course when it involves spreading this marrow on your bread.  Sprinkle each mouthful liberally with coarse sea salt.

Oh.

My.

Word.

(I was thinking of a wholly different phrase to describe this experience, but it was, though more accurate, also more R rated).

 

Meaty. Lucsious.  Silky.  Buttery.  Greasy.  Eluzive.  Rich. Full of veal flavor and aromatics from the broth. All too fleeting.  Divine. Like – too good to be real.  Like, the perfect primal snack.

Sponsored Post: Meatopia 2014 and Cookware Giveaway from JCPenney!

Remember when I went to Meatopia? And it was a porky, beefy, meaty extravaganza?

Well, this year, it was part of the NYCWFF and it was much more centrally located, full of people but not so crazy packed that you couldn’t get any food, and was more delicious than ever.

And I worked with JCPenney to cover it all.

Let’s just let the photos speak for themselves, shall we?

20141019_163736The joint was jumping and though the weather was cool, the scent of roasting meat was in the air, the JCPenney lounge was stocked with comfy couches and adorable decor, and people were ready to chow down and get their cocktail on!
20141019_163914A man hand hacking some pork is a truly beautiful sight.
20141019_165616 Oxtail pot pie by Celebrity Cruises

Fatty and gelatinous in the best way possible. Meaty and almost sweet in round, beefy flavor. This tiny pot was about all I could handle of it, because it really was SO rich. Sure didn’t taste like cruise food, though. 20141019_165757 Beef heart with polenta and pomegranate seeds from SD26

Well prepared, with a slight chew and a taste somewhere between liver and flank steak. Deep and earthy, with a minerally finish. 
20141019_170118 Grilled Vietnamese pork ribs with tomatillo salsa from The Little Beet

One of the best dishes of the night. The pork chews like a steak and has a smoky, charred finish that contrasts with its naturally sweet taste. The salsa is bright and tart, but not spicy. It just adds a hit of acid while letting the pork shine. 
20141019_170542 Cream soda cured pastrami sandwich from Glen Oaks Club

I can’t believe that there is good pastrami outside of NYC. I mean…wow. This ain’t Katz’s, but it’s fatty, juicy, and wonderfully tender. The slaw alongside is creamy and light, and the rye bread is really great – it kinda mushes into the warm pastrami, like great rye bread should. Best of all, this wasn’t crazy salty.

20141019_164935Mandatory rest break with my sister at the JCPenney relaxation lounge.

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As you can see, it was all modern and clean but also cozy. These days, modern doesn’t mean sterile and JCPenney’s lounge managed to be comfy with overstuffed couches and festive – but not cheesy! – holiday decor.

141016_JCP_NYC-11And come on…who couldn’t use some spooky cupcakes, right?

20141019_171111 Quail speidini from Michael White

The man does no wrong, okay? Tender, juicy, mild, with just a hint of mushroom-like earthiness. Drizzled in a fresh, lemony, herby gremolata, this is finger food at its greatest. 20141019_171234 Chirashi from Commerce

Okay, I have to go here, stat. That’s how delicious this is. The steak is just barely seared so the interior is room temperature and basically raw. It was served over fantastic sushi rice – warm, sweet, sticky -and piquant pickled vegetables. I could eat a barrel of this or more. 
20141019_172650Michael Psilakis spit roasted lamb taco

Ending on a high note. The lamb is so soft and juicy and utterly lamb-y. It’s mixed with a vibrant green salsa and served in a warm corn tortilla with creamy, dill scented tzatziki. It’s garlicky and delicious – I couldn’t love it more.

Don’t worry, you can get a chance to recreate all of these dishes with a giveaway sponsored by  JC Penney! They are giving away a Charcoal Companion®Sauce Pot and Basting Brush ($40 value) to one lucky reader! Enter by leaving a comment, and a winner will be chosen at random this Friday morning!

In the meanwhile, I’m going to go get a salad.

Disclaimer: I was compensated to write this post. The opinions and account of the affair are my own.

Elsa Doll Cake Tutorial

This is the most ambitious baking project I have undertaken…well, ever. It was for a huge group of discerning people who have a lot of experience in this realm and are often quite blunt, if not downright RUDE about he food that they eat.

Of course, I’m talking about toddlers.

And an Elsa cake.

An Elsa from Frozen cake, in case you have been living under a rock and have (been blessed to) not heard the (for PETE’S SAKE, when will it finally lose popularity???) song (by Adele Dazeem) “Let it Go.”
20141017_113833 So you want to know how to turn this…

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Into THIS?

Well, here’s what you’re going to need:

1 Wilton Wonder Mold

2 8 inch cake pans (it’s ok if one is deeper than the other. I prefer to use springform pans)

5 boxes Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge cake mix (other mixes may work, but this is the one that I used and trust not to collapse or dry out over 3 days.)

1 can baker’s nonstick spray (the one with oil and flour)

3.5 – 5 lbs. frosting, plus 1 small can white frosting. For the blue frosting, you can get blue or white and then dye it blue with food coloring. The industrial stuff is the best. You really want the super sugary, corn syrupy stuff that will harden and keep the cake soft and moist over the 3 days of making it.

Various snowy decorations, to include white chocolate buttons colored in different shades of white and blue.

1 turntable

1 offset spatula

2 heavy duty pastry bags with 1 wide tip, 1 narrow tip, and 1 rosette tip

1 piece of wax paper large enough to cover the turntable with overhang on each side, cut in half

1 doll pic or doll torso (tearing off those legs feels so wrong yet so right at the same time, doesn’t it?)

DAY ONE:

20141017_115523 1. Grease and flour your pans. I mean REALLY grease and flour it. I emptied almost half a can of baking spray into my 3 pans.

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2. Prepare your cake mix according to the box’s directions. Only make 2 cake mixes at a time in a large bowl, to ensure that all of the dry mixture gets incorporated with the oil, water, and eggs. Fill each pan about 3/4 of the way up each with cake mix. That should mean that the Wilton mold gets 2 mixes and each springform pan gets 1.5 boxes of mix. 
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3.When the cakes come out of the oven (after no less than an hour, because we are really filling these pans with some dark, dense cake), they will be domed. That’s okay! Let them cool COMPLETELY…or at least mostly. This is going to help them shrink away from the sides of the pan and also make it more stable when you level the cake.

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4. While the cake is still in the pan, level that cake! Just line your knife up right on the cake pan and carefully slice across to rid yourself of the dome. If your cake turns out a little slanted or uneven, that’s okay. And if, like mine, it is still a little domed with a flat top – like a plateau – that’s okay, too! When you have done this, remove it from the pan. This is why the springform pan is awesome – no tricky guessing and hoping and tapping to release your cake.

20141017_1331215. Put your 2 pieces of wax paper on the turntable. They can overlap slightly but they must come over the edges of the turntable. This ensures that any icing will fall on the paper and not the turntable. When it comes time to serve the cake, you just CAREFULLY and SLOWLY wiggle the parchment out from underneath the cake and voila – clean surface!

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6. Squiggle some frosting on your first layer of cake with your large tip on the pastry bag. Really pile it on there – maybe 1/2 a cup or so. Move it all around the center of the cake, where it will be darker because you cut off the dome. Don’t put it to the edges, because when you layer the second cake on top, it will squish the icing out.

IMG_53667. Stack one round cake on top of that one, repeat the icing circle, then top te whole thing with the wonder mold cake. As you see, there is a ton of piped icing around that top middle layer – that’s because there was a space in between the middle round cake and the top wonder mold cake, created by the plateau. Just fill it in with icing and then put it in the fridge for 15 minutes to help with hardening the icing. 

IMG_53688. Now, it’s time to coat the cake with a thin-ish layer of frosting. This is called the crumb layer. It’s so that any crumbs of chocolate cake that get picked up by the spatula get caught in this layer of frosting and not in any of the frosting that shows. When you are done with this, the cake will look uneven and horrible. Don’t worry! And if the icing layer seems a little more thick than thin, don’t worry about ir…we are heading towards icing city and this is just the first depot. Now, put the cake in the fridge and don’t touch it till the next day.

DAY TWO:

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9. After letting the cake rest on the counter for about 30 minutes, it’s time to frost. You are going to want a LOT of frosting. I find that it goes on best when it’s applied in small swirls – as this is where the offset spatula comes in. Without it, you might dig into the crumb coating or get icing all over your hands. So, just spackle this stuff on, tier by tier. Don’t worry if it’s uneven and thick  - just keep going till the whole cake is covered in small swirls.

IMG_538310. Now, it’s time to smooth it out. Go in 3 or 4 rounds, just running the flat side of the spatula against the cake in a slow circle. Use the turntable to help you. Have a light touch and angle the spatula slightly outward at a diagonal angle towards you. This ensures that he cake gets wider towards the bottom, like a ballgown.

IMG_538411. This is what you end up with. Don’t worry about the slight bubbles in the frosting; we have decorations for that. Also, another layer of frosting. Apply that second layer after refrigerating the cake for about 15 minutes.

IMG_538512. After 2 coast of frosting and cutting a shallow hole, big enough for the doll’s torso, it’s time to decorate! Here, my mom piped white icing (using the small tip) that makes a triangle that takes up 1/3 of the cake. Make sure that the triangle that it makes is over the 1/3 of the cake where the frosting is the most uneven. It’s going to be totally covered.

20141018_13193913. Take your white chocolate buttons and layer them on the 1/3 triangle of the cake. It looks best when it’s scalloped - like a mermaid tail.

20141018_131936Make sure it goes all the way to the bottom.

IMG_5387That’s the stuff!

IMG_539214. Over the next 2/3 of the dress, go to town! Big snowflakes, small snowflakes, tiny metallic balls, and white chocolate coated rice cereal all look swell. Just remember – there is no such thing as overkill here. My guess is that you are making this for a kid aged 2-11. Subtlety doesn’t kick in till the kid knows everything in high school. So, really..go to town. I even put some rice cereal in groups of 3 to create hidden Mickeys. What, it’s a thing.

DAY 2 OR 3:

IMG_540415. Put the doll torso in the cake, piping icing rosettes around her waist to blend in and lifting her arms so she doesn’t get frosting on her. Remove the wax paper and serve right on the turntable. Wait, that picture isn’t good enough…

elsaThere we are…that’s the stuff. When serving, cut a slim triangle 1/3 of the way down the cake (after removing the doll torso!), then cutting that slice into 3 or so slices for kids, 2 for adults. Cut the front 2/3 of the cake first, since it’s easiest to not have to worry about the chocolate buttons if you don’t have to. When you have cut the top 1/3 of the front 2/3 of the dress, move down the tiers…

Was that complicated enough for you? I hope just barely. Please don’t be scared of making this. It takes forever and transporting it is OBNOXIOUS (Cookie sheet in a shallow cake pan, a VERY SLOW cab driver, and more than a few prayers) but…well…it’s a showstopper. People wills top you and ask you what bakery you got it from. Parents will applaud you on the spot. Facebook will be charmed.

And the look on the kids’ faces when they see this absolutely makes every backbreaking stroke of frosting worth it.

So…do you wanna build an Elsa?

My Top Seamless Orders

This weekend was so insane that I didn’t even get to cook. Not so much as a microwaved quesadilla. There was lots of eating, but none of it what I would call gourmet, and none of it what I could call home cooked.

It’s times like this that I bless the person who invented take out and delivery.

So, where do I order from most on the UWS? Here are my top choice, all available on Seamless:

Sushi: Amaze 82

Trust me, no one is more shocked than I that I love raw fish from a pan-Asian place. Their Thai dishes are pretty one note but the sushi is shockingly delicious. The tuna is fresh and soft, the salmon is mild and almost sweet, and the eel sauce is tender and fatty. The fusion rolls are an embarrassing delight (come to me, Passion Roll), but the best part about this place is the rice. It’s almost always excellent – room temperature, sticky, and slightly sweet – and even when it isn’t excellent, it’s always very good. No dry, sticky clumps here. The only downside is that it’s often longer than they say it will be to get your food, but it’s worth the wait!

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Burgers: Jackson Hole

I love this place. I don’t miss the char of a grilled burger or the soft squishiness of a smaller one. I love THIS place. Huge, beefy burgers that always arrive medium rare, smothered in sweet grilled onions, sharp cheddar, buttery avocado, or any number of other things. The fries are thick steak fries, but if you are smart, you will get the onion rings. They are some of the best of the thick variety, that I have tried. They get a little mushy in transit, but not too bad. Don’t shy away from the soups, appetizers, or other sandwiches here – everything from Jackson Hole is reliable, and it’s always delivered quickly. Big, big fan.

Chinese: Grand Sichuan

Finally – great Chinese in delivery range! Go for the spicy stuff – Gui Zhou spicy chicken, Sichuan wontons with red oil, dan dan noodles with chili…do you get that this place specializes in spicy stuff? Salty, savory, fiery…this Chinese place has it all, as long as all that you want is a flavor explosion that will leave you with a running nose and garlic breath.

Indian: Benares

Great set meals for a great price. We talking a full size appetizer (I love the crispy, thick skinned samosas with fragrant mashed potato interiors), an entrée (Kozhi Varutha Curry is my favorite – coconut milk, a slightly spicy zing of ginger, and intricate spicing that I couldn’t possibly start to decode), rice, naan, and condiments – all for under $16. It’s enough food for one gut busting meal or 2 sensible lunches. The food is made very spicy if you request it so, but I have found that it’s most enjoyable when cooked to the chef’s specifications. It’s not overly greasy or salty, as delivery Indian food can be, and it’s always delivered in a timely fashion.

Sandwiches: Lenny’s

It’s a chain but it’s great! Fast delivery, the never get the order wrong, tons of options (bagel scooped, salad chopped, a million types of breads and toppings), and really tasty, wholesome food. The mozzarella, tomato, onion, and capers is one of my faves. I always add sliced red onion and balsamic vinegar, and it always hits the spot when I need something light but filling. Of course, I get chips on the side. So it’s not too light at all.

New York’s New “Luxe”

And now, an article that I wrote that was never published…until now!

NYC is the grand dame of USA cities. It’s known for grandiose hotels with fabled guests, storied restaurants, and rooms that have been documented in every movie from Plaza Suite onwards. However, there is a new wave of hotels that promises to make the old guard up its ante. These hotels are sparkling, swanky, and still deliver on luxury. Here’s the latest and greatest of where to rest your head in the city that never sleeps.

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The Park Hyatt – the most anticipated opening of the year in NYC, or perhaps of the last few years. The luxurious Park Hyatt brand is world renowned for its elegant design, superior service, and incredible restaurants, but with the new flagship location in NYC, it may have well outdone itself. It’s located conveniently in midtown with a modern Christian de Portzamparc design, iphone chargers in every room, and a mini bottle of Krug in the mini bar. That’s right…Krug. Expect rainforest showers in every room, a 25th floor indoor lap pool, and – if you are interested – a breakfast at one of the hotel’s restaurants, The Back Room, that include Dom Perignon champagne, a Beluga caviar bagel, and foie gras toast. Start spreading the news – upscale in midtown is here to stay.

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The Refinery – The 1920s meets the 2000s in this small boutique hotel. Located just steps from Bryant Park, it takes advantage of its central location with a summertime rooftop bar that lets imbibers take a break from the city mayhem and relax in the open air. It also offers stark black and white dramatic furnishings and locally created art, wifi, air conditioning, and a communal fitness room. Enjoy the seasonal fare at the hotel’s Parker and Quinn restaurant or enjoy Koreatown, only a few steps away from the hotel. Best of all, sit in your elegant room and enjoy a view of Manhattan.

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The Viceroy – Hello, blue skies! Only a block away from Central Park, The Viceroy blends modern conveniences with the stately history of the city – after all, it’s right near the glitzy jewelry stores on 5th Avenue! Each room has luxury linens, espresso machines, and flat screen TVs. Enjoy nightly complimentary cocktails in the bar, and indulge in American fare at Kingside, a restaurant by celebrated chef and “Chopped” judge, Marc Murphy.  

Union Square Cafe – Enjoy it While You Can

In case you didn’t know, The Union Square Cafe is scheduled to close d you will spretty soon…hopefully to reopen, but who knows? Clearly, I’m devestated. One look at this  review from the archives and you will see why:

I have to admit…I have been here before. I just haven’t blogged it. But when I ate here for lunch, I knew that it deserved a place on the blog. So what if it has been famous for decades? So what if everyone and their mother has written about it? So what if I like to watch Teen Mom 2 while playing online poker?

Whoops, off topic.

Anyway…I knew the time had come to visit once again to make sure that Union Square Cafe wasn’t just an oldie, but a goodie.

As Danny Meyer’s first restaurant, Union Square Cafe is an elegant but unfussy space that has several rooms, all with enough tables to look busy, but not so many that one feels cramped.

The bread was warm, but not what I would call exceptional. The baguette was a bit cottony and the whole grain lacked the sour or nutty flavors that really great grainy bread has. The olives, however, were outstanding and worthy of mention. Meaty, juicy olives were just salty enough, oily and even sweet with some orange rind in there. I could have eaten the whole bowl.

Actually, I did eat the whole bowl.

The day’s special was a Crispy Pig Ear Salad with Upland Cress, Candied Pistachios, and Champagne Mustard Vinaigrette. Our INSANELY cool server told us that the chef had just picked up the pig’s ears and the cress (which isn’t actually related to watercress, it is a microgreen) from the farmer’s market that morning. Wow. Fresh. And…freakin amazing. The pig’s ear (one of my FAVORITE parts of the pig) was fried to crispy, greaseless perfection. An airy layer of crunch surrounded a tender, incredibly porky layer of meat. Pig’s ear can be tough if it is not cooked well, but this was exceptional. The candied pistachios added a nutty and substantial component to the dish, while the cress was incredibly herby and fragrant. The champagne vinaigrette was extremely tart, which cut through the fatty aspects of the salad.

Bibb and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce Salad with Gruyère and Dijon Vinaigrette is always on the menu and I ALWAYS get it. The lettuces are so fresh and taste so different – the Bibb is soft and almost ethereal in its lightness and the Red Oak is crunchy and earthy. Dressed in the LIGHTEST, most mild vinaigrette imaginable, neither oil nor vinegar nor mustard is discernible, just the cohesive elements. Here, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. The croutons are deliciously crunchy and soaked in roasted garlic and oil and the gruyere cheese is nutty, salty and rich next to the light lettuces.

These two salads just prove how DIFFERENT and DELICIOUS salads can be…they get a bad rap, you know?

I mean, just throw a pig ear on it and some 3,000 calorie croutons and you are good to go!

Our server heard us exclaiming about the food and brought us a complimentary dish she thought we might enjoy. Please note that she did not know that I would be reviewing this meal – she just wanted us to try it. Like all Danny Meyer restaurants, the level of hospitality here is just non-pareil. This was the Spanish Mackerel Crudo, Artichoke Puree, Olive Tapenade, and Chili Oil. The mackerel was SO light and mild it tasted more like hamachi than anything else! The artichoke puree was fresh, vegetal and incredibly artichokey, and there seemed to be no salt other than that from the olives. The light hand with the seasoning let the fish and the artichokes shine – a combination I would not have made, but the lightness of both really complimented each other, especially with the slight heat from the chili.

 Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu and Parmigiano Reggiano. Do yourself a favor, and get a pasta dish here. It is all housemade and it is all delicious.

Yes I just made a blanket statement…and I stand by it.

The pappardelle was smooth, toothsome but not hard and rich with yolks. It was with a long braised pork ragout that tasted of sage and perhaps juniper berries…truly aromatic, complex and deep. The boar was less sweet than pork usually is, with a heartier and slightly gamy taste – not unpleasant, but the way that lamb is gamy. Rich and a little wild tasting, hitting flavor darker and deeper notes that pork does not often hit. With a sprinkling of Parmesan, this dish came together on a creamy high note.

And that is what this whole meal was…a high note. Well priced, well fed and EXTREMELY well served, we left feeling as if we had REALLY had an experience, with people who loved to cook and eat as much as we do. You have to make a reservation, often weeks in advance, because this place fills up, but it is worth it. Cause sometimes an oldie really is a goody.

Union Square Cafe on Urbanspoon

Snacks and Sips at Joe’s Pub

Earlier this week I went to a fabulous show at Joe’s Pub – a great cabaret theater downtown where there is, of course, a minimum. We went far above our minimum because we were hungry, but here is what you can expect:

20141013_185323A very well made, though ill photographed, dirty martini. It’s too bad that the picture is so terrible, because the stemware used is great (way less likely to spill than traditional martini glasses), the vodka is chilled to the point of icy, and there is just enough olive juice in there to make the drink border on savory without being salty. 20141013_185824 Fries with aioli

So good. Like gourmet McDonald’s.  No parmesan cheese, no truffle oil- just crispy, hot fries with Heinz ketchup and buttery, creamy aioli. 20141013_185842 Pickle plate

Good, if not especially memorable. Who doesn’t love a plate of snappy, vinegary pickled veggies?20141013_185831Homemade farmers cheese with seeded crackers

Okay, this is craveable. I would get it again in any restaurant. It’s a dense, creamy cheese that tastes almost like melted cream cheese. It’s layered with woodsy oregano and a pool of olive oil. Served with those garlicky seeded crackers, it’s just delicious.

The food is good and so are the drinks, but they are of course way overpriced – it’s a cabaret, what do you expect? The food isn’t as great as the offerings at 54 Below, but the entertainment is great, and after just 2 of those excellent martinis, you will have reached your food minimum and be in a great mood to enjoy the show.

What’s for Lunch?

A few tasty eats around town:

20141012_142732Cookie butter cups

I hate you, Trader Joe’s. My arm fat hates you, my cholesterol hates you, and my blood sugar hates you. I hate these small, dense, rich/sweet chocolate cups filled with smooth, slightly spicy, gingerbread-y spread. I hate how I have to eat 8 of them to feel like I have had my fill. I hate how I have to hide them from my significant other because I want them all. I hate you. 
20141013_115546 Lentil ball at Mmm…Enfes

Jury is out on this one. I didn’t love the texture – it is served cold and has the texture of wet sand - kind of like a cold, kind of soggy falafel. But the flavor is really great. It’s grains and chickpeas and lentils and scallions. It’s earthy and fresh,a nd – best of all – really spicy when dipped in the hot sauce on offer. It’s spicy stuff – it creeps up on you and it’s a front of the lips, itchy, fiery burn. It’s almost too much – a painful, acidic finish. You know I like that, right?

20141013_115852Passion fruit macaron from Macaron Parlour

Too soft and sticky without the proper airy cookie texture of a traditional macaron, but awesome flavor! It’s really bright and tropical, with a fruity scent and a sweet, creamy, milk chocolate ganache. I would get this again in a heartbeat.

What did you have for lunch?

The 5 Most Overrated Things About Fall

I don’t hate fall.

I mean, I don’t love it – I am not a fan of colder weather, shorter days, or saying sayonara to great tomatoes -but hey, it’s better than winter. But some people are insane about fall. Like, they are fall-tastic.

They are a little crazy. Fall is fun – it’s fine! – but it isn’t the be all, end all of food seasons. Basically, here are the things to skip around fall.

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Apple picking

Am I the only person who honestly doesn’t enjoy this? The one and only time I went, it was freezing, drizzling, and the tractor that we rode on to get to the orchards broke down. Do you know what happens when a tractor carrying city slickers and toddlers breaks down? Mass chaos ensues. People pull out asthma inhalers and calculating how long it will take for an Uber to get to New Jersey. It was almost Titanic to push ourselves onto that next tractor. And apples just doesn’t do it for me in general -sure, they were okay, but to really get them where they had to be, I had to make it into a pie.

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Pumpkin anything-but-pie

Just STOP IT. Pumpkin is delicious in pie and maybe in a couple of savory stews, but it doesn’t have to be in muffins, cookies, cakes, gum, soda, etc…in fact, it only tastes good in pies. I really think that people like pumpkin spice lattes because they are just happy to welcome full fat beverages into their lives after a summer of fat free iced coffees. Pumpkin belongs in pie. Leave it alone, already.

All root vegetables, all the time

I love mashed celery root and roasted turnips as much as the next gal, but what wouldn’t I GIVE for a juicy tomato or some sweet, tender spring onions? I rely heavily on fresh herbs all summer long and in the winter they just don’t taste the same. It’s a lot of heavy, umami flavors that are certainly delicious and craveworthy, but I definitely miss the bright, vibrant flavors and crunchy textures of summer salad.

Heavy, meaty braises

Similar to the root vegetable situation, I just miss the proteins of summer. Light, lemon scented fish. Tender spring lamb. Entire meals made of nothing except vegetables and some light, pungent sheeps milk cheese. Farewell Cobb salad dinners and hello lasagna, steak, and mashed potatoes with bacon. I mean, I guess that isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

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Candy Corn

This stuff is actually delightful. I have no idea why it’s on here.

Okay, I guess that fall isn’t the worst thing after all. I don’t know why I thought fall was overrated.

Bring it on, seasons!