Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stinky Cheese Reco Diary Entry #2: Artisinal Cheeses

Perfect Pairing:  Loupiac and Stichelton 

Last Monday, my friend, Sacha, and I attended a wine and cheese tasting class, called "Perfect Pairings" at Artisinal. This is the rundown what we sampled and some of my favorite pairings.  

  • Sauvignon Blanc, New Harbor Marlborough, New Zealand 2007: Crisp, grapefruity, light yellow. Nice enough.  
  • Pinot Noir, Barton & Gustier, Vine dePays de L'Le de Beaute France, 2007:  Drinkable. Slightly too much acid for my taste. Didn't really like this one too much. 
  • Juniper Pale Ale, Rogue Ales: Very bold flavor.  Very hoppy and bitter aftertaste. However, went well with several of the cheeses.  
  • Loupiac-Gaudiet, Bordeaux, France 2003:  Lovely dessert wine, not overly sweet. Deep yellow. Like drinking melted caramel. Complimented the sharper, high saltier cheeses.
  • Nettle Meadow Kunik: Triple creme, made with mostly goat's milk and some cow's milk. So rich and delicious. Not too goaty.  
  • Chabichou di Poitou: Another goat cheese but firmer and more dense. Not as young as the Nettle Meadow. I would buy a wedge of this to eat for breakfast. 
  • Majorero: Sharper, crumbly goat cheese. Not my favorite of the night.  Didn't have the flavor that the other cheeses had. 
  • Bianco Sardo:  "Italian sheep's milk cheese--nutty!" That's what I jotted down, but to be honest I can't recall this cheese, so it probably wasn't a stand-out or didn't offend me.  
  • Montgomery's Cheddar: Deep golden color, sharp. Tasty.  Aged 2 years. Went well with the Juniper Ale. 
  • Sbrinz: A cow's milk cheese from Sweden. Really wonderful flavor.  Lots of tyrosine crystals that gave it crunch, and according to the instructor "packed with nutrients and proteins" .
  • Stichelton:  Amazingly creamy blue cheese, slightly grassy. Very flavorful.  
Out of the 35 pairings, the best pairings, in my opinion are....
  1. Loupiac and Stichelton - Unreal!  
  2. Sbrinz with the  Ale and Loupiac
  3. Montogomery Cheddar and Juniper Ale
  4. Stichelton and Ale
  5. Loupiac and Nettle Meadow
  6. Bianco Sardo and Sauvignon Blanc
At the instructional level, the powerpoint lecture was a bit tedious at times, but I appreciated the informative tidbits here and there.  Major downside: the location--a  major pain to get to (10th Ave and 36th Street). But generally, the experience made for an enjoyable Monday night! 

500 W 37th Street 2nd Fl New York NY 10018

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Typical Lunch

Will I ever tire of this lunch? 
At Tarralucci e Vino w a paper, pen and idea notebook (blank)...yet again! Ordered the Plutone  Panini, which is made of Bresaola, parmigiano cheese, arugula, olive oil w pink peppercorn dressing-- I've tried to make this sandwich at home, but can never replicate the exact flavors and textures. Had an iced coffee for a much needed caffeine punch. Mmmm.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mini Comment Card: Balthazar, Brunch Dish

Brunching at Balthazar
For as long as I can remember  Balthazar has always maintained its reputation as a consistently reliable brunch choice--great food, polite service and captivating people-watching (that is, if you don't mind the wait). I remember the  first time I went there for brunch. It  was at least 7 or 8 years ago, when my sister and cousins were visiting from D.C. and crashing at my grungy St. Mark's Place pad in the East Village. I actually don't remember what I ate or ordered at this fine bistro, but I do remember that we were seated next to--wait for it--NOEL (Scott Foley) from Felicity SANS Jennifer Garner, his new wife at the time. 
Homage to Perez
Scandal!  He didn't look happy and probably in the midst of moaning to his friends about his unhappy relationship--typical conversation material at many brunches in New York.  Jennifer's career was on the uptick with her show, Alias, and Felicity was...well, dying a slow, embarrassing, death on the WB.  It was at this fateful brunch when I was tipped off to their precarious marital status. 

But back to brunch at Balthazar! 

I usually order the Scrambled Eggs and Puff Pastry or Steak Tartare, but yesterday I noticed that the brunch menu had been expanded since I was last there, featuring many egg entrees. **The menu featured on their site doesn't reflect the new additions for some reason.

I ordered the Eggs Bella Donna, which consisted of  2 poached eggs with polenta, pancetta, roasted tomatoes and topped with a slice of parmesan cheese. It was really delicious, yet simple (alas, no pics). The eggs were perfectly cooked, oozing a brilliant yellow yolk, and complimented nicely with the well-seasoned tomatoes (sauteed with spinach) and the crispy pancetta, which provided some texture to the dish. The polenta rounded out the meal, giving it some heft--very satisfying.  I ordered toast, but the polenta provided enough starch that I didn't really need it. Balthazar can be pricey, but everything else is pretty commendable.  Be sure to make a reservation, so you can bypass the brunch lines....

80 Spring Street (Between Broadway and Crosby) 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Egg Class

The incredible, edible egg! 

I used to hate the suckers growing up, mostly because I couldn't handle the stinky, hard-boiled yolks. But now in my adult life, most recently due to my insane deviled eggs affliction, I gobble them up nearly everyday!

I had signed up for this Egg Class at
The Brooklyn Kitchen a while ago, when I was tired of overcooking omelets on Sundays and in need of a few impressive breakfast tricks up my sleeve. The instructor, Bettina, knew her stuff and was very patient and calm in temperament. The class consisted of 7 people and was very hands-on, as we all whisked our egg mixtures, flipped own omelets and poached our own eggs.  One misconception about eggs is that they are easy to cook. Technically, some egg dishes ARE easy to cook, but you need to master timing, which means having your eye on the clock at all times. I found myself constantly looking at the clock, which for the chronically late(Moi!)is a good exercise in time management.

A few suggestions:
  • Our class was pretty quiet, you will get more out of the experience, if you come with a ton of questions.
  • No need to make plans for dinner. You will be eating plenty and consuming at least a half a stick of butter. 
  • Do not wear long, drapy sleeves. Luckily, the folks at Brooklyn Kitchen had a few binder clips around to pin my bat-wings up and I averted an eggy fashion mishap. 
Overall, I learned some nifty cooking techniques on how to handle eggs and acquired some tasty brunch dishes for the weekend.  Have a good weekend!

616 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211
P 718.389.2982 / F 718.389.2981

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comment Card: Butter Lane

It was my friend's birthday, so I headed over to Butter Lane to pick up some cupcakes. Located in the East Village, the shop is very small and designed for take-out and made-to-order customers.  If you are looking for a confection and coffee after some retail therapy, don't go to this place--unless you can snag the bench outside of the store.  
The major pro to this cupcake place is the delectable array of  icing choices: raspberry, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, coconut,  key lime, etc...A choice between American or French Buttercreams are given.  I ordered the raspberry, vanilla, strawberry and chocolate cupcakes and sampled the raspberry cupcake. The raspberry icing wasn't just pink, but actually tasted like raspberry! Overall, the icing wasn't cloyingly sweet and there was the perfect amount slathered on the cake. Unfortunately, the cake was dry and crumbly.  Perhaps, it was because I bought an old batch, but it wasn't the best cupcake I've had.  Oh well,  there are plenty of other cupcakes to try in this city! 

123 East 7th Street
East Village 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hors D'oeuvres and Job Rant

I know that jobless numbers are sky-high at the moment, but when unemployed and at a party it seems like everyone has a job. Which is, FYI, not fun. Not only am I already suffering the material negatives of a limited income and the ongoing psychological affliction of boredom, but these hardships are compounded by the existential confusion caused by struggling to answer the ultimate New York party question What do you do? Am I going crazy? YES!

But, I suppose, one huge plus of being a lady of leisure is that I don't have to pass up invitations to parties on a school night. Woo hoo!! Soothing treats like glasses of free champagne and passed hors d'oeuvres have the power to temporarily sweep the anxieties away. But it all really depends on what's coming out of the kitchen (and the booze intake for that matter)...

I went to some sponsored event last night with my friend. As we were making our way around the dance-floor, we saw servers bringing out trays of the following:
  • Mushrooms with Puff Pastry
  • Ham and Gruyere with Puff Pastry
  • Goat Cheese and Puff Pastry
  • California Rolls
  • Fried Dumplings
  • Fried Egg rolls
I'm in no way an expert in the the perfect selection or progression of passed hors d'oeuvres, but that's a lot of puff pastry on the program, no? The bites were not bad, but some variety would have been nice. Everything was so heavy, including the mayonnaissey California Roll, which I didn't particularly care for.

I'm generally content when I see a mix of apps. I wouldn't have been unhappy if I saw the servers turning the corner with these fairly common dishes:
  • Mini BLTs/Reuben
  • Sliders (temp must be right and must be on the right bun)
  • Spicy tartare of tuna or salmon or beef
  • Cold Vietnamese spring rolls
  • Steamed Shumai
But if I could add my opinion to the caterer's suggestion box, I would recommend something similar to Pipa's Piggyback Dates stuffed with blue cheese, or a variation like this recipe from Gourmet:

To me, this is a bite of perfection.

I'll have to start a running tally of good apps versus bad apps.

At least there was plenty of champagne to swill last night!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Gross nonsense at Dominos!
Someone's getting a pink-slip....

Via: Consumerist

Vittles for the Week: Cocaine Smuggling, Beef Sundaes, and Low-fat Fries

And a cherry tomato on top!

  • Bait and Switch: You think you are all set to have a gloppy chocolate sundae, then, OH SNAP!, you just shoveled mashed potatoes and beef gravy in your mouth!
  • Top Peep: The Washington Post Peep Contest. Winner revealed.... 
  • New artisan-focused food site: Foodzie! Is it possible to make a living at preserving rhubarb jams? 

  • Cocaine in my Ampalaya!: Plastic bags of "white powder" were found inside of bitter melons bought by unsuspecting produce buyers in Queens.

Yum or yuck? 


Monday, April 13, 2009

Comment Card: Momofuku Ssam Bar

Buttermilk Biscuits! Sift the flour, roll the dough...

If I kept a top ten list of most annoying things about New York, "brunch lines on weekends" would rank somewhere among the top, between "open sidewalk cellar doors" and "reckless delivery guys on bikes that dont give a shit if they clip you when you attempt to cross the street". But for some reason, this Saturday, my friend, Patricia, and I were struck with luck and managed to snag 2 seats at the counter at Momofuku's Ssam Bar with no wait. Whoopee! The menu seemed to address our appetite levels, featuring a combination of Asian dishes and hearty eggy brunch fare. We ordered the following and split both dishes:

  • Steamed pork buns
  • Buttermilk biscuit with scrambled eggs and country gravy with ham

First, a word to the caffeine dependent--coffee isn't served here. You can easily buy a cup of joe at their sister bakery shop, Momofuku Milk Bar, next door, but I was too lazy to walk over. The steamed pork buns did not disappoint. I found them fairly similar to the buns served at the Momofuku Noodle Bar, with no glaring differences. I'm a big fan of these fatty treats. The Buttermilk biscuit with scrambled eggs was heavenly brunch choice--a real standout. The big highlight of the dish for me was the gravy-- deliciously creamy, featuring savory bits of ham. Sopping up the rich gravy on my plate with my crispy biscuit was probably the best part of my meal. Overall, the meal wasn't terribly expensive at all. We left with our bellies full and smiles on our faces.

Brunch Wrap-up

Food: Hearty and satisfying
Service: Very fast and friendly
Ambiance: Bustling.
Price: Not too bad ($25/person includes 20 tip )
Verdict: Great brunch choice. Sit at the bar!

Momofuku Ssam Bar

207 Second Avenue at 13th Street

Had to add this hilarious video, which might be better than the original. Sir Mix-A-Lot could not be found on the YouTube.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kiss my Grits

 Weird grits wading pool. Ummm. Ok.

If you find yourself in Warwick, GA today, you may want to head down to the 12th Annual National Grits Festival. Being a gal from the south, I lap up grits whenever I get the chance... preferably with bacon and a biscuit please!

Grits, bacon, biscuit, eggs-- southern hangover cure.

Unfortunately, the pics on the official site highlight the "Miss Grits Pageant" and don't really depict any mouth-watering images of hot plates of buttery grits.  Humph.  


Friday, April 10, 2009

Dinner Party: Lazy Friday Night

Friday Night Porky Delight

I attended a butchery demonstration using half of a farm-raised pig about a month ago, whereby the instructor divvied up sizable portions of his handiwork--offal, leaf lard, trotters and all the various cuts of pork--to a curious group of 8 carnivores. I received a total of about 10 pounds of pork, which I stuffed and stored in my freezer. Since then, I've been flipping through cookbooks, navigating the recipe morass online, and enlisted friends to join my army of tasting guinea pigs--all in an attempt to diminish my surplus of pork. 2 pan-seared pork chops, some braised pork belly and a second-degree burn incident involving fried pig skin later, I still had a ample amount of meat left over, which included a shoulder roast. So, last Friday I decided to turn the shoulder roast into dinner for two.

April 3, 2009 Dinner Menu
People: 2

  • Manchego cheese/charcuterie and papaya
I actually cobbled this together, because my pork dish was taking an incredibly long time to cook and knew my guest was hungry. I wanted to serve the papaya with with jamon or prosciutto, but made do with the cured meats I had in the fridge. 


I used this recipe as a guide, but gave it a personal twist by using a shoulder roast, instead of tenderloin, playing with ingredient proportions, and adding prunes and cinnamon to the mix. I think it worked, but I poured a tad too much maple syrup to the pork which spilled on to the pan. During the course of the cooking time, the glaze on the pan started to caramelize, burn and blacken, leaving a helluva crust to chisel out.
  • Roasted red potatoes with fresh thyme and rosemary
I used the recipe from Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" and deviated a bit to add flair and utilize the ingredients I had at home. I've actually whipped this dish up a million times. Sometimes the potatoes have a nice, crispy crust and sometimes they don't, which drives me bonkers. I decided to cook to the instructions and kept the heat on medium. I proceeded to monitor the potatoes as they browned and patiently flipped over each piece with pair of tongs, instead of moving them around haphazardly with my spatula. The potatoes turned out perfect. Success!
  • Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette 
I whisked 1/4 of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/4 Balsamic Vinegar, a dollop of grainy, Dijon mustard, salt and black pepper, adding some thyme to the mix. 


  • Leftover cut up papaya
  • Agua  
Teetotalers that night.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vittles for the Week: Poodle Show, Top Chef Burger Boy, and Happy Coffee Cup

Caffeine Contentment

Wakey-wakey!: First-place winner of Buzzfeed's contest "Cutest Thing That's a Thing Contest"

Byproduct of Bi-polar Disorder: Man overcomes mental disorder through art. 

 Fine Dining Between Two Buns:  An article about former Top Chef contestant, Richard Blaise and his burger joint based in Atlanta.  Next time I'm down South, I will have to stop by his place. The fries sound amazing.

Avocado Fries:  Gotta try this. 

Poodle Culinary Wiz: Cooking with Dog, a Japanese cooking show on Youtube!


Monday, April 6, 2009

Culture Clash --Visiting Home

Arroz Caldo--Filipino Rice Porridge

I'm visiting my family in Wheeling for an extended weekend--exploiting parental affection and sleeping till noon. Lovely! Lunch today consisted of slurping up Arroz Caldo and nibbling on Paczki.

Paczki, a Polish doughnut made by local bakers around Lent.

Good times in the Ohio Valley. See you Wednesday!

Friday, April 3, 2009

BFF! Cute Food Toys

 Some cuteness to kick off the weekend... 


Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Bacon Bitch...Psych!

What a ZANY April Fool's Day Prank!  Think Geek concocted a fake brand, Squeez Bacon, and proceeded to hock the fabrication to gullible consumers. Lured by a fairly detailed product page, the cured meat-craving patsies click to buy, only to get served with a "Gotchya" page.  Squeez Bacon isn't the first time that meat in bottle-form has swindled the masses.  Meatwater anyone?

Seriously,  I'm not sure why spreadable bacon is so outlandish. Ever hear of  Baconnaise

The Dinner Download twitterfeed tipped me off to what seems like a tastier condiment--Skillet Street Food's Bacon Jam....

Yum? Yuck? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dinner Party: Menu for 6

I stumbled across a new podcast called The Dinner Party Download through The 15 minute podcast is a mish-mash of  pop-cultural oddities, food trivia, music and corny jokes.  Check it out!

I actually had a dinner party for 6 lovely peeps last Saturday that I co-hosted with a friend. Here is the menu and other details.  There was plenty of food and leftovers, which we gobbled up over the last few days.  

March 28, 2009 Dinner Party Menu

People: 6  (50/50 M/F)
Vegetarians: 1  who ate seafood 
Start: 8:30 PM
End: 2:00 AM or so

  • Manchego with quince paste (Whole Foods)-- Could have served the cheese with marcona almonds too. Will do that next time. 
  • Halibut carpaccio marinated in olive oil and fresh lemon juice on a bed of baby arugula-Fish and greens from Whole Foods. Nice starter. Very light, citrusy and refreshing. 
  • Homemade pasta with pancetta and olive-oil--I didn't prepare this, but one of the faves of the night.    
  • Brussel sprouts with bacon and raisins:  Perfectly Cooked.  We also made a vegetarian version without the bacon.  Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa in Paris
  • Grilled asparagus with olive oil and kosher salt:  Yum. 
  • Grilled scallops with 5-spice and olive oil:  Scallops from Whole foods; 5-Spice from Chinatown. Make sure the pan is very hot or use non-stick. Thanks Claudia for this one.  
  • Roasted crown roast of pork with green peppercorn sauce: Ask for a crown roast of pork, frenched,  I had 10 chops --way too much meat for 5 people. Better to have more than not enough. Obviously, you can freeze the remainder or give away at the end of the night.  To make he roast look impressive, you can truss it like to look like this. Very easy to make, but you must monitor, so the meat won't overcook. (Be sure to watch the sauce too. We couldn't find measuring spoons,  so I sort of guessed at the flour portion and incurred lumpiness.) Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa in Paris with no fennel and a twist.
Dessert from Blackhound Bakery Cakes in the East Village
  • Strawberry and Cream
  • Lemon Curd
  • Chocolate Flourless Cake
  • Prosecco 2 bottles
  • Sancerre 1 bottle
  • Pinot Noir 1 bottle
  • Beer 6-pack
On Shuffle Mode, but I think I remember Bon Iver, Kate Perry, The Stars