A Little Weekend Jaunt to…

Dubai! Yes, it’s true – I’m accompanying my dad on a mile-burning run to Dubai. That means that in 72 hours, I will be flying from NYC-London-Qatar-Dubai-Abu Dhabi-NYC.

I’m only leaving the airport twice, for a total of about 30 hours on the ground.

We are taking one flight that is 14 hours…straight.

We are going straight from flight to flight in most cases.

This is…insane.

He loves it.

I’m scared.

Now is the time to follow me on instagram. I will be photographing every crazy step of this short and crazy journey.

I promise to check in Monday – at which point I will already be on my way home from Dubai.

Pray for my jet lag!

Classic Patty Melts

I wasn’t going to post this recipe, because I figured that everyone knew how to make it, but then my girlfriend asked me “what’s a patty melt?” Sacre bleu! This is perhaps my all time favorite burger iteration, and everyone should know how to make it at home. In case of a snowstorm.

Or a faux-storm.

Be sure to get that 80/20 fat ratio going on and don’t let your burgers overcook (I kind of did and I couldn’t be more annoyed about it).

Patty Melts

1 lb. ground beef

1 onions and 1 cup mushrooms, sliced

butter and oil, in which to sautee

Worcestershire sauce

steak sauce

mayonnaise

mustard

rye bread

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1. Sautee the onions and mushrooms in a little butter nd oil. Sautee them slowly ,over medium low heat. This is going to take about 30 minutes and it’s worth it – you don’t want fried onions. You want sweet, caramelized onions. The mushrooms just get better and juicier as you go – don’t forget the salt and pepper!

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2. Season the meat with the Worcestershire sauce and steak sauce. I use a sauce that has a good kick of horseradish, because I don’t like a ton of condiments actually on the burger itself.

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3. Remove the onions and add 4 VERY GENTLY formed patties. Then, I cover the pan with a lid and walk away for maybe 5 minutes for a rare burger, 7 minutes for a medium rare one. I steam them because I love a patty that is jut too loose to flip and the juicy, steamed texture.

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4. Add the cheese to the top of the burger when it’s about a minute away from being done and watch it melt. Awww yeah.

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5. Assemble on the bread with mayo, mustard, and relish if you have it (we didn’t).

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6. Eat with potato chips.

The patty melt is so perfect that it doesn’t need condiments or a fancy side dish. It’s all about the crunchy bread, the juicy meat, the tangy cheese, and the sweet onions. I added mushrooms but they aren’t necessary. The Worcestershire sauce certainly is necessary, and I love the kick of steak sauce mixed into the patty. Since I steam this burger, the patty is soft and juicy. The crunch comes through in the rye toast – it has to be rye! And no ketchup! And don’t skimp on the mayo! I know, I know – lots of rules with this burger.

In this case, rules weren’t meant to be broken – they were meant to be devoured.

#Blizzardof2015 – No Snow, Lotsa Food

Apparently, I’m not a muggle. 

The “ixnaystormiarmus” spell that I cast rendered Juno all but powerless in NYC. The streets were clear all day yesterday. 

But, don’t worry – adult snow day still proceeded as scheduled. 

No vegetables were consumed in the making of this day. 

20150126_191331 Patty melts

Medium rare burgers topped with melted cheddar cheese and sauteed onions. Served on toasted rye bread with mayonnaise and mustard. So simple and so good. Just be sure to get a fattier blend (80/20 should work) than I did for ultimate tender, juicy burger heaven. 20150127_102354 Makeshift French toast

My husband’s specialty. He makes last minute French toast without drying out the bread or using any cinnamon (because we are always out of it). He makes a simple batter with eggs, milk, and honey. Then, after letting the challah (gotta be challah) soak for a few minutes, he fries it gently in a pan. The magic touch comes when he sprinkles sugar on each side of bread JUST before he puts it into the pan and then does the other side just before he flips it. This gives the toast a crunchy, bruleed top that is dynamite with sweet-tart boysenberry syrup. 

20150127_194526 Macaroni and cheese from Fred’s

Good! Not mind blowing, but we were so excited that we could get delivery that we totally eschewed the $100 worth of groceries that I stuffed into our fridge “just in case.”20150127_202601Cookie dough

I’m an adult. I pay taxes. And if I want to, I’ll eat cookie dough. No salmonella (yet). 

Come back tomorrow for your regularly scheduled programming.

The Milling Room – Fabulous Pasta, but Will I Return?

Newsflash:The Upper West Side is now becoming  a PLACE. First, Parm. And now, The Milling Room.

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This new-ish restaurant in the old Corvo Bianco space is luxe and upscale with a downtown vibe. It’s a great spot for date night and there’s a happy hour in the cozy bar up front.

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Bread

It seems simple and awesome. Warm, pillow peasant bread served with wonderfully buttery, fruity olive oil. I forget how tasty bread is when it’s simply warmed. Even if you’re counting crabs, splurge for this.

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Beet salad

Standard but delicious – sweet, toothsome beets, a tangle of lightly dressed, bright frisee, and some really good creamy, funky blue cheese. The blue cheese is what makes this worth ordering – so often, lesser cheese is paired with beets and this high end cheese is a reminder of how complex and tasty beets really are. The creaminess and salt bring out the beets’ meaty, minerally flavor.

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Orzo mac and cheese

THE BEST mac and cheese I have had since S’mac. I wouldn’t even have ordered this – it was my friend’s choice – but now I could never NOT order it. Creamy and delicate, with no overtly sharp or salty tastes. Instead, it’s a deeply savory,m garlic and herb taste that takes center stage. It’s primarily a textural thing paired with that garlic – creamy orzo, crunchy topping, slightly spicy garlic. It’s not too heavy or salty – you eight want to order 2 dishes for an appetizer as a table for 4.

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Rabbit pappardelle

My new favorite pasta dish in the hood. I rarely order pasta -  prefer to get my crabs the French fried way – and when I do order it, it had better WOW me. This did. The house made papardelle is thick and quite al dente - this is a chewy, eggy noodle. It’s served in a buttery, winey sauce loaded with diced tomato and sweet onions ND roasted garlic flavors. The rabbit is luxurious. It’s not at ALL gamey -it’s juicy and tender without any rubbery fat or unpleasant gristle. It reminds me a lot of pork – it’s more mild, even, than lamb. I would get this again in a heartbeat, and in fact can’t wait to do just that.

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Apple pie

Buttery puff pastry, soft stewed apples, and a drizzle of caramel. Yeah, I knew that you would like it.

So, this place has awesome food, is fairly priced, and is right up the street…sounds perfect, right?

Hold those horses, chief,

There are service issues. Big, bad service issues. It took us FOREVER to get a cocktail list. We had to flag someone down for the bread. We waited 45 minutes in between when my glass of wine was served and when the rest of the party received their beers. What, were they brewing them in the back? The appetizers came out in an appropriate time frame and after we enjoyed we waited for our main courses. And waited. And waited. After an hour – yes an HOUR – my husband finally asked the server where the food might be waiting. The (very nice) server shrugged his shoulders and said that he would check. They were brought to our table about 3 minutes later. The restaurant wasn’t very busy and it wasn’t the first week of service. It was a 3 hour meal without needing to be one. We should have been better attended or at least given some sort of apology for the egregious lack of pacing. The isn’t a cheap dinner, and my husband was so put off by the service that he doesn’t want to return even though the food was great. I would return, but only once more to see if last week’s service was a fluke.

Because, like I said, the UWS is becoming a PLACE. And I would love to see The Milling Room become part of that.

5 Foodie Things That Have Happened to Me Since #Blizzardof2015 Was Announced

20150126_0847181. I saw one grown man, well dressed and supposedly well bred, shout at another one. “SERIOUSLY, F*&^% you,” for taking the last organic chicken at the Chelsea Whole Foods. At 9 am. In front of other people.

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2. The shelves of the stores looked like this by 10 am.

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3. I took this home on the subway. THE SUBWAY. Luckily, I found a seat because everyone smart did their shopping yesterday.

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4. I stocked up on important things like Panetta, imported chocolate with sea salt, and 2 kinds of cookie dough mix. I forgot to get toilet paper, batteries, or flashlights. I’m absolutely not going back out again. Crossing fingers.

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5. I ate this for an early lunch. A little bland, but the texture is good and the sea salt on top is shockingly crunchy and effective in enhancing the caramel’s sugar.

Stay warm out there! And, oh, west coast…I have never hated you more.

Chocolate Cookies and Avocado Toast

Some  foods to enjoy this weekend or next week:

20150119_130128 Belgian Boys mini choco stroopwafel

OMG AMAZING ! I know that I say that about a lot of foods, but this one really is amazingly tasty. Stroopwafels are a Dutch specialty – circular, crispy waffel cookies filled with sticky caramel. They are crunchy but also have a little five, thanks to being softened by the caramel. They are sweet, but not overly so, and come from tiny to almost record-sized. These are even better than the best ones I had in Amsterdam. They are covered in this thick, creamy milk chocolate that breaks cleanly to reveal a gingerbready cookie and stretchy, sweet caramel. If you like chocolate, caramel, or cookies, you will love this. Twix, get your sad self out of my sight. 20150121_123257Avocado toast at Joseph Leonard

I just love the food here. It’s hip and overpriced but it’s also great atmosphere and just really wholesome and god. I felt stupid ordering avocado toast – like I can’t mash my own avocado at home?! – but this is so tasty. For some reason, I always have stringy avocado on mine and my toast is either too thin or too crispy, and I over season it…This was perfect. Smooth, buttery avocado barely sprinkled with chili flakes so there is some mild heat but not so much that it sears. The bread is thick and warm but not too crispy. It’s served with perfectly fried eggs and a tangle of bright,vinegary watercress. It’s wholesome, delicious, and served till 3 pm. What more could you want?

Queen of Sheba – Memorable Food, Questionable Service

It was a cold, rainy Saturday. We hadn’t eaten since 11 am. And we needed food that we could eat in our ratty jeans at 530 pm.

Ethiopian, it was!

20150117_173209 Queen of Sheba is the type of place that you might have seen in Alphabet City in the 1990s. It’s half casual cafe/restaurant, half ethnic enclave with low stools and cool (I assume Ethiopian) woven tables with tagine covers. Obviously, we chose the tagine table. And waited to get served. For a loooong time. The service here is lackadaisical at best…at worst, it’s like sitting in coach on a flight all the way to Ethiopia. And this was at an off hour when the restaurant wasn’t busy. 20150117_175145 Tomato salad

Just fabulous. I know, it seems weird – how can a simple tomato, onion, and jalapeno salad be fabulous? But it was. In a bright, but not sour, dressing that is laden with fruity olive oil but surprisingly not heavy or oily. It’s fresh and vibrant, laying on spongy, pleasantly sour injera. The injera underneath the salad is the best part – it soaks up the juices and becomes wonderfully flavorful but not soggy. Oh, and roll up those sleeves – this salad, like all Ethiopian food, is eaten with the hands.

20150117_175153 Sambusas

Samosa-like pastries. Fried pastry pockets filled with cumin spiced ground beef and served with a tangy, spiced (but not spicy) chile sauce. Delectable. You can also get them filled with lentils, which might be even more delicious. 20150117_181740Kitfo and Menchet Abesh Wot with collard grens, lentils, kidney beans, and cheese

Kitfo – Ethiopian steak tartare – not as good as Awash. Less heat and a bit smokier. Still very tasty, but not my number one fave.

Menchet Abesh Wot – Utterly delicious. Spicy, buttery ground beef seasoned with jalapeno, ginger,and just a hint of garlic. It’s like the best old school taco meat without cumin or coriander. It’s rich, well spiced, and I couldn’t stop eating it. The collard greens, lentils, and kidney beans were all excellent, reminiscent of Indian food. The feta cheese tasted like squeaky air, but that’s really the only  loser on a plate filled with winners.

Queen of Sheba is cheap, delicious, and great…if you aren’t too immediatelyhungry and don’t have anywhere to go. Look, the service is really bad…horrible. But if you are in the hood and have a hankering, I think it’s the bees knees.

Mei-Jin: Neighborhood Ramen and Great Fried Chicken

Upper East Side ramen. That’s what this post is about.

Mei-Jin isn’t somewhere I  purposely headed. But, after a late afternoon viewing of (the quite good) Into the Woods, it was raining. And I was powerfully hungry. So, ramen it was! This spot is very comfortable and large – there is no need for reservations even when it’s busy. The turn over is quick and there always seems to be more room.

20150118_190128 Chicken karage

Wonderful Japanese fried chicken. Piping hot and juicy, with a puffy, shattering crust. Squeeze lemon over it, sprinkle it with salt,and drag it through the slightly spicy aioli. The acid is key – it makes the taste pop and sparkle. This is better than even Korean fried chicken because it isn’t overly salty or spicy – the taste is really all about that chicken. 20150118_190334 Fried Chinese broccoli

Fried and indulgent. Pleasantly greasy but still crisp shards of tempura over crunchy Chinese broccoli. it’s dragged through sweet hoisin sauce. FRied, sweet, crunchy..PLUS vegetables? It’s a win win!
20150118_192103 Ginger chicken meatball ramen

So tasty on a cold night. Bouncy noodles and a (rather thin) gingery chicken broth. It’s filled to the brim with soft chicken meatballs and goodies like…20150118_192322 a barely hardboiled egg,with a still translucent yolk…20150118_192415and those lovely, familiar ramen noodles. This bowl is gigantic and well priced – I could have shared it with someone and still been filled to the brim.

Mei-Jin isn’t destination worthy ramen, but it’s a great neighborhood joint. I miss the thick, velvety tonkatsu broth of other venerable spots, but this is really tasty and there is no need to queue for 6 hours beforehand. Excellent service, a great menu, and tasty food for fair prices. ON a rainy night, it hits the spot.

Quick City Bites

Besides a sensational burger, here are some other weekend eats:

20150116_203435 Calamari at Pinxto y Tapas

Man of La Mancha meets fried food fantasia at this affordable and fun Spanish restaurant in New Jersey. Though we had several tasty dishes, the calamari is a standout. Crispy, fresh, mild, and perfect with nothing more than a sprinkle of lemon. The doughnut-like maduros are also absolutely unmisable. 20150118_105558 Gorilla cheese truck ravioli grilled cheese

Ravioli. Muenster cheese, bacon. jalapenos. Onions. Did I mention ravioli IN the sandwich? These grilled cheeses are quickly becoming my guilty pleasure – small enough for a snack, large enough for lunch once you add some tater tots and creamy tomato soup. This is stretchy, melty, crunchy, and FRIED RAVIOLI-FILLED. Still not over the excitement. 20150118_124824Schmackery’s

The hit of any brunch fete. The fluffernutter cookies are something else – soft, chewy, and intensely peanut buttery. I’m still a red velvet addict, though.

Brindle Room – The Best Burger in NYC

I don’t think that I have ever written an entire post on just one main dish at a restaurant that offered more than that dish. 

And yet, that’s exactly what I ‘m going to do:

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Brindle Room has been on my B list for awhile. I have wanted to go for the burger. But, let’s be honest – a lot of places have great burgers.  And a schlep to the East Village isn’t exactly my idea of a great Tuesday night.

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The restaurant is tiny – it looks more like a neighborhood bar or gastropub than anything else. I made reservations but when I saw the Lilliputian kitchen and the none-too-crowded dining room, I scoffed at needing them.

When I waited 30 minutes for the burger, I doubted my decision in coming downtown at all.

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And then, this arrived.

It looked good.

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Then I had a fry. These are good fries. Very good fries. Fresh cut and in between thick-and-thin. They are well salted with the crispy, translucent potato skins that I love most of all. Served with Sir Kensington’s ketchup and some of the best, spiciest, well seasoned hot sauce that I have ever enjoyed, these are worth a side dish order on their own.

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Then, the burger. Made from dry aged steak and deckle trimmings. With caramelized onions and a light topping of melted cheddar cheese.

This is a burger. This is better than Minetta Tavern, Corner Bistro, and In-n-Out combined. It’s the only burger, besides Louis Lunch, that has required no extra condiments. I did add a couple of the excellent pickles, but ketchup would have totally overwhelmed the meat. The meat is something else. It’s coarsely ground and lightly packed so it is tender but not falling apart. It holds together with seemingly nothing other than fat and a prayer. It coats your lips in the wonderful, slick layer of fat that marrow sometimes leaves behind. It tastes deep and minerally, but not at all funky or gamy. It’s the best burger I have had in NYC. No question. The onions are sweet, the bun is squishy, but that meat is where it’s at. I could eat 3 of these. Don’t order it to split with your friends – this is a small burger and you will not want to share.

And at $12 for brunch, the price is right.

Brindle room isn’t fancy. The service is a little slow. And the atmosphere is so hipster that you will feel as though your jeans will never be skinny enough. But the burger is so wonderfully, amazingly, totally, perfect that you won’t even notice.

I weep for this burger.

And the place filled up fast, so make those reservations and don’t doubt your decision for a second.