Oyster Omakase with In a Half Shell

Julie Qiu is an oyster enthusiast.

No, make that an oyster-pedia.

Oyster-tainer?

Well, she is the coolest, most interesting, passionate oyster lover I have ever met. And now – great news – her business, In a Half Shell, hosts pop ups! Yes!

Each pop up includes 6 oysters total (3 differet types), 2 wine pairings, all of her information about how the oysters are grown and how they shoudl taste and…well, I’ll just let the appisode guide you:

I can’t highly enough recommend attending one of Julie’s oyster omakase classes. I mean…she had me loving an oyster from ALABAMA!

Have an awesome weekend, all! See you on Monday!

Chopped Caesar Salad at Odeon and Other Weekend Eats

This weekend was a mish-mosh of snacks, eating out, and cooking at home. There may have been the undocumented bowl of cereal or sample of Australian cheddar cheese at Fairway (sharp and VERY good), but here are the highlights:

20150320_133916 Chopped Caesar salad at Odeon

I can’t believe that I hadn’t ever been to this Keith McNally classic. I can see why it has stood the test of time. It has a broad menu, excellent staff, and really delivers. My favorite course at lunch was this chopped Caesar. Wonderfully cheesy and savory without being too fishy. Lacy crisps of croutons, well chopped lettuce, and – thanks, Chef! – enough dressing. I would totally come here if I was in the ‘hood. 20150320_200841 BLAT with turkey

Sometimes, simple is best. From the bottom layer up:

sourdough bread

mayo (don’t be stingy here)

bacon (diced and cooked until VERY crispy)

tomatoes (sungolds are always the best, even in the winter)

butter, iceberg, or red oak lettuce (just one leaf)

2 very thin slices honey or maple roasted turkey (nothing too smoky – with the bacon, you don’t want a smoke overload)

1/2 mashed avocado, about 3 seconds away from being too ripe

mustard (honey dijon or horseradish, depending on if you want a sweet or a spicy edge)

sourdough bread

Did I mean simple? What I meant was exact precision is sometimes best. 
20150321_084353 Fake out indulgent drink

1 double expresso

1 layer of whipped cream right out of the can

Sweet, thick, frothy, bitter. So amazingly good that I can’t believe that it isn’t a “thing.”
20150321_184704 Marzullo’s rainbow cookies

The only rainbow cookies that I enjoy. These are less cookies and more cakes. Tiny, hand cut, freshly baked cakes. Layered with cherry and apricot jams. With soft, almondy, spongy layers of cake. And a thick, dark, fudgy layer of chocolate on the top and bottom layers. No gross fake cherry flavoring or stale, crunchy layers here. Wipe up that drool and get yourself some of these treasures.

And how was your weekend?

Delivery Diaries: Topaz Thai

I see an eventual end to this never-ending stream of delivery food! There is SUN today!

Anyway…

The lower part of the UWS of Manhattan has a dearth of good Thai food. There’s great stuff in the 90s, great stuff in the 40s, but not a lot of worthy pad see eu and curry puffs here. Which is a disappointment because I am a pad kee mao KILLER.

This is how our latest delivery venture went with Topaz Thai Restaurant:

20150307_195311 Curry puffs

The standout of the meal. These are exceptional, even at the slightly above room temperature at which they arrived. The chicken and potato mixture inside is soft, buttery, and intricately spiced. It’s fragrant with coriander, anise, and just a touch of curry. The pastry is rich and flaky. Any slight grease of the dish is cut by the sweet and tangy vinegar sauce served alongside. I would get 2 orders of this as a main dish and call it a day. 
20150307_195319 Pad Thai

Never my favorite dish, but this version just isn’t good. The noodles are sticky and dry, the chicken pieces are too large and thus rubbery, and there aren’t enough bean sprouts or green onions. Worst of all, it’s tasteless. I can take it if my pad Thai is too sweet or salty, but to have no taste at all is just a waste of good noodles.  20150307_195338 Dancing chicken

Very good, if one note. This minced chicken and chile dish totally delivers on the spice front. It makes your tongue tingle and your lips buzz. The greens in it are sliced thinly and provide a snappy, vegetal aspect to the juicy chicken, fragrant jasmine rice, and that excellent heat. But it’s missing a sour, fresh aspect. Some additional fish sauce, some lime, perhaps some fresh basil at the end…any of these would have elevated the dish to a memorable level. As it is, it was satisfying, but not craveworthy.

For the price, I wouldn’t order from Topaz again. The food was good but not great and though they delivered true to their delivery time, the price just didn’t justify the mediocre meal.

I’m not concerned though…like I said, the sun is shining and soon, I may even be able to go outside after 4 pm without being in pitch black!

Snowed Out

My plans to go out to eat or cook yesterday got completely snowed out.

I ate a cup of canned tomato sauce, 8 girlscout cookies, enough tortilla chips to choke a horse, and this:

A bright spot in an otherwise depressing eating day.

See you Monday for some actually delicious eats!

Delivery Diaries: Oaxaca Taqueria

I have been to Oaxaca Taqueria before, but not when it was snowing.

In March.

When it snows in March, I order in. And I drink white Russians.

Let’s just say that my alcohol tolerance has really increased this winter, mkay?

Anyway, let’s see how Oaxava delivers on the delivery front:

20150301_171808 Salad with pulled chicken

The salad that really eats like a meal. The lettuce is dressed in a light, zippy lime dressing and is tossed with fresh pico de gallo and piquant pickled onions. The chicken is juicy and well spiced with cumin and garlic. Guacamole is creamy and rich and the sour cream is…well..w.ho doesn’t love sour cream? I do miss a crunchy element here, but an order of fresh, well salted tortilla chips fixes that problem right away. This isn’t soggy or overdressed. It’s also not an afterthought, like so many salads at other Mexican places.
20150301_171811 Quesadilla

Tasty, nothing more. Crispy tortilla, melty cheese. It would have been improved by some jalapenos or pickled onions – they should jazz up the quesadilla offerings a bit.

20150301_171816

Carnitas torta

Yeah, this is what I want when it’s snowing. All day, every day.

20150301_172059 The juiciest, porkiest carnitas. Spicy jalapeno and cumin-spiced beans. Shredded lettuce, tangy cheese, and the bread…oh the gbread. The bread just makes this sandwich. Thick but very soft, threatening to fall apart but holding together through the smoky chipotle spread. This is definitely on the spicy side of things, but I love that. This is a LARGE sandwich and you could easily split it with someone for lunch, as long as a side of chips and guacamole is also involved.

Oaxaca Taqueria delivers on all fronts. It comes promptly, the price is fair, and the food is really good. As in, you don’t feel like you have killed your cholesterol when you are done eating.

It’s so tasty that I will almost be sad when spring finally arrives, because I won’t be able to order in as much any more.

Keyword: almost.

5 Things That New Yorkers Should Eat This Weekend

…or, at least, that THIS New Yorker will be eating.

1. The world’s best huevos rancheros

pix 043

2. Good ole fashioned Jewish chopped liver. 

3. Kale salad. A really good kale salad. 

20150210_141751

4. Cupcakes that make it worthwhile to change out of my pajamas. 

5. A really delicious slice of pizza. 

Look, I put kale in there, okay?

Happy eating, folks!

Delivery Diaries: Hummus Place

It’s time for another edition of Delivery Diaries.

This time, it is a simple lunch special for one from Hummus Place

For $10, I got a fresh, tasty, wholesome falafel sandwich and some slightly less healthy but still delicious fries.

Let’s take a look:

20150225_122433

Fries

Plentiful, obviously freshly made, and – shocker of shockers – not at all soggy. I mean, how many times have you had soggy, moist delivery fries. Gross. These are delivered so quickly that hey don’t have enough time to get soggy. They aren’t salted, which I LOVE – it’s pure potato-ey flavor. Not gourmet, but an indulgent and delicious sandwich accompaniment. 

20150225_122429

Falafel sandwich

A good delivery option, though nowhere near as satisfying as my favorite salad bar laden version at Maoz. The falafel does suffer a bit from sog factor, though it is well spiced with herbs and salt. The toppings are very good, and the tahini-heavy hummus is outstanding. It’s creamy and rich in a silk, olive oily, almost sweet way. It’s really superior. So is the green hot sauce, laden with cilantro and red pepper flakes -it’s no joke, so apply it sparingly unless, like me, you are a hot sauce masochist. Some pickles are all that’s missing to really bring this sandwich to the next level – that bright, acidic flavor would round this out well. Additionally, the portion is satisfying but not huge or messy, which makes this easy to eat while emailing or working.

Hummus Place is well priced and delivers well ahead of its projected delivery time. It’s not anywhere near my favorite falafel place, but for a quick lunch or dinner while working, I completely endorse it.

Mid Week Break!

Hi all!

Last night was my dear husband’s birthday. Instead of going to Shake Shack like he really wanted, I bought us a joint birthday present and took him out for an awesome sushi bar experience. However, no photographs were allowed. And there may have been 2 cocktails and a bottle of INCREDIBLE sake.

And, of course, to prepare for the meal, all I ate yesterday were 7 peanut butter Reese’s eggs, a piece of cheddar cheese, and a handful of dill and salt Triscuits.

So, I’m taking the day to nurse my hangover and eat some food that is blog worthy – I promise to be back tomorrow with more crave-worthy eats!

Delivery Diaries: Legend 72

This is a new idea where I will be posting about my takeout/order-in meals. What travels well, what arrives in a timely manner, etc.

Because there are, like, 3 months every year that I ACTUALLY never leave my house.

 So here’s Legend 72. NOT the cheapest delivery Chinese on the UWS, but it’s true to the time estimated and it’s absolutely, without a doubt, the best tasting.  20150221_192848 Cold sesame noodles

Nutty, chewy, creamy. A little ambient spice but nothing too WHAM BAM. It’s comforting and familiar but also complex and pitch perfect in its flavors.
20150221_192917 Sichuan cucumbers

The star of the meal. Tender-crisp, peeled, and served in a slightly garlicky, very verdant, thick, slick dressing. Cools you down without being bland. The perfect, fresh counterpart to an otherwise carb and fat heavy meal.  20150221_193001 Ma po tofu

This is just damn good ma po tofu. Jiggly, velvety cubes of tofu that are molten and soft but not mushy. Savory ground pork in a fiery, bubbly sauce laden with Sichuan peppercorns and red pepper flakes. A smattering of fresh chives and a spoonful of chile oil on top. This is everything I want in the winter. And it makes my nose run from its intense spice, so…booyah!

20150221_193038 Chongqing chicken

The best delivery version of this dish in the city – no question. Salty, meaty, juicy, ma la all OVER the place, and more than just a little bit of garlic. The peppers tickle your tongue with heat right before the peppercorns provide that weirdly pleasant numbing effect. It’s as close as you can get to a high without hopping on a plane to Colorado. If you are acquainted with heartburn, best to skip this. But if you, like I, love strong flavors and can handle the heat, get this in the kitchen.  20150221_193103 Juicy pork buns

Okay, so soup dumplings dont transport well. My bad. Still juicy and delicious, though the skin is woefully thick and that luscious broth was all over the container by the time it got to my home. Luckily, I just spooned it over rice and called it a day.

Legend 72 is the greatest Chinese delivery on the UWS. Yeah, I called it. You need to order about 90 minutes before you want to eat, but they are on Seamless and they are timely. The food is beyond delicious – it’s downright craveworthy. As in, it’s better than many dine-in Chinese meals that I have eaten. It’s not cheap, but you aren’t getting frozen shrimp and mystery meat beef with broccoli here. You are getting the real deal and it’s worth every penny.

Sweatpants, the couch, and some amazing sesame noodles. What’s wrong with that?

Weekend Eats: Slush Edition

This weekend was cold, slushy, and there were, like, NO good movies out.

Did anyone else eat almost entirely crap this weekend?
20150219_105349 Cadbury Creme Egg Biscuits

Duty free shopping at Heathrow isn’t about expensive moisturizer and gargantuan sized bottles of booze for me. Nope, for me it’s about potato chips and cool candy. Oh, and the greatest cookies since the first Girl Scout came to town. Buttery shortbread topped with that wonderfully sweet Cadbury Egg creme and enrobed in thick milk chocolate. These are sweet, rich, and the perfect afternoon snack. Or breakfast. Whatevs.
20150221_092733 Dunkin Donuts

VOM! Was this place always so repulsive? Cottony, sticky, stale, tasteless balls of crapola stuffed with phosphorescent jam. UGH.  20150222_110408 Avocado toast at The Smith

Again with the avocado toast, again with The Smith. I regret nothing. This is a delicious, savory, filling breakfast is a symphony of clean tastes and textures. Crunchy, seeded bread. Smooth avocado. Creamy poached eggs. Sharp scallions and bright, vinegary frisee. A healthy dose of red pepper flakes. Sunday morning and a cup of coffee are perfect accompaniments.