Category Archives: feature

The Buffalo Jump on Coonamessett Farm

Brandon-BaltzleyBaltzley cooking at his former restaurant TMIP.

I’d been following Brandon Baltzley on Instagram for about a year. His experimental edge and curious creativity showcased at Ribelle in Brookline was fascinating. Baltzley left Ribelle, which closed this month, to open The 41-70 in Woods Hole on Cape Cod. After a few months, a wedding, a baby, and a whole lot of what looked like delicious food, Brandon and his wife and co-chef, Laura Higgins, left due to differences with the owner. Still on the Cape, Baltzley is currently quietly cooking at Coonamessett Farm in rural Falmouth. There are two seatings a night,  Monday through Wednesday, and the 7-course meal costs $70. The pop-up is titled The Buffalo Jump. The chefs give away four free tickets to “industry” folks each night. I wrote in an essay and was incredibly fortunate to score two free tickets to this Tuesday’s 5pm seating. Below, are photos of the evening along with descriptions from the chef.

IMG_2657Table setting and a drink of celery and blueberry skins.

IMG_2659A tartlet of aromatic flowers with seaweed, milk curd, and sungold tomato.

IMG_2660Soft scrambled duck egg with fermented cabbage and clam.

IMG_2662Wood fired squash in red mole with duck liver, blueberry, and celery served with grilled hand bread (not pictured).

IMG_2664Roasted cod with wild raspberry and snap beans cooked in caramelized goats milk.

IMG_2665Blueberry doughnuts with sharp cheddar from Vermont.

IMG_2668Baked potato ice cream and sweetened, cultured cream with this year’s blackberries and nutritional yeast.

IMG_2670Cornmeal and juniper hallongrottor.

IMG_2681A goat.

IMG_2674Vegetables.

Baltzley is planning to open a new restaurant on the Cape next year in the Mashpee-Falmouth area. After this dinner, I’m certainly looking forward to whatever it is this constantly evolving chef does next.

5 Best Cookbooks of 2015

61o97hRaK8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Tartine Bread (Chad Robertson – $40) – A bread-lovers dream, this cookbook is solely for those interested in the highest form of bread making (i.e. nursing a starter everywhere you go). Must-Try: Country Bread

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Momofuku Milk Bar (Christina Tosi — $35) The sweet side to David Chang’s empire is just that: very sweet. Pastry chef Christina Tosi brings a sort of outside-the-box inventiveness not often associated with basic desserts. Must-Try: Crack Pie, Compost Cookies

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The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook (Danny Bowien and Chris Ying – $35) – What sets Danny Bowien’s new book apart from the many other chef-driven cookbooks is not the recipes. Yes, the glorious shots of dishes like Mapo Tofu and Kung-Pao Pastrami are glorious. And yes, the pantry section in the back of the book will have you gearing up to head out to your local Asian market. But it’s the candid storytelling that weaves between the recipes to tell the story of Danny, from his childhood in Oklahoma to celebrity-chef status in New York. Must-Try: Mapo Tofu, Hand-Pulled Noodles
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Tacos: Recipes and Provocations (Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothmans – $32.50) – This encyclopedic book of tacos brings tortillas onto the level of pasta. No longer are tacos something to be wolfed down without much thought; with fillings ranging from blood sausage and fava bean mayo to inverted al pastor, Alex Stupak takes tacos to a level you never dreamed of. Must-Try: Al-Pastor Tacos, Corn Tortillas

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Roberta’s (Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy, Chris Parching, Katherine Wheelock – $35) – The Brooklyn restaurant turned Bushwhack into the “it” neighborhood with the place everyone wanted to go to. Fast-forward a few years and they also have a 12-seat tasting counter as well as an outpost in a Midtown food court. With the cookbook, you can make their pizzas, pastas, meats, and vegetables at home. Must-Try: Speckenwolf Pizza

Tasting Part Deux: This Time Vegetarian

For our second Tasting dinner, we wanted to showcase vegetables at the forefront and be more accommodating to our guests. So, for the larger and longer (length and table-wise) dinner, we decided to go vegetarian pushing late summer/early fall produce into the spotlight. With all of the beverages generously provided by the fine folks at Campus Fine Wines, freshly foraged chanterelle mushrooms donated by the RI Mushroom Co, plus some very stylish aprons generously discounted (and one donated!) from Hedley & Bennet, we had some of the finest ingredients and fashion from both near and afar. Deb Hickey, the bartender down the road at Chez Pascal, was the Beverage Director for the night, pairing drinks with each course including one inspired combination that featured both homemade cucumber granita and vodka. Nate Kelly helped out in the kitchen along with my brother Dylan, in charge of the (two!) dessert courses, as well as myself in the heat of the kitchen.

We bumped up the number of people at the table from 7 people to 11, forcing us to add two tables to our dining room.  One of the highlight dishes included a chilled soup made of corn, buttermilk, and herbs and plated with seasonal vegetables (pictured below). Another favorite was the transition between savory and sweet which came in the form of a vegetable-forward plate of avocado ice cream surrounded by roasted vegetables, atop a mound of refreshing cucumber granita.

Even with the numerous hours that went into planning, scheduling, prepping, shopping, and cooking that went into making the evening what it was, I had a thrill making the entire event come to life for a second time.

We’re very grateful for Campus Fine Wines, Hedley and Bennet, and RI Mushroom Co for graciously giving us their fantastic products for a reduced price: we cannot thank you enough! Also, to Deb and Nate without whom the food and beverage never would have made it to the table. And finally: our guests! You are who we put in the effort for and we can’t wait to do it all over again.

You can view highlights of the night below, as captured by Deb Hickey.

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mitch bates / Momofuku Shōtō / north

IMG_0110Last night, I had the pleasure of enjoying (my birthday present) a special one-night only meal at north. Michel Bates, chef of Momofuku Shōtō the widely lauded Toronto tasting counter, came down to Providence to collaborate on a special meal with his old co-worker, James Mark. The meal was structured as a five course tasting, with two choices for each course. Since I was there with my brother, we were able to conquer the whole menu by dividing up all ten dishes between the two of us.  From high-quality albacore served raw to charred peppers and maitake mushrooms in a hearty broth, all of the dishes were very unique, each imbued with a clearly evident sense of north’s signature style as well as some Shōtō techniques. Being seated with complete strangers only added to the fun of the evening and it was exciting to chat with other chefs, culinary students, and foodies while we waited for the food. A truly unique experience all around. Aesthetically plated, thoughtfully conceived, and perfectly executed, it was certainly a meal to remember.

Below, you can view photos of the delicious meal.

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Raw Albacore smoked tomato, sesame, mutsu apple, fennel

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Littlenecks and Middlenecks burnt cucumbers, seaweeds, and cantaloupe

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Charred Peppers pickled mussels, holy basil, cilantro, maitake mushroom

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Chewy Beets plums, smoked lamb, juniper oil

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Roasted Broccoli toasted hazelnuts, rosemary oil, pickled chanterelles

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Corn Ravioli roma tomato, cojita cheese, lime  roma tomato, cojita cheese, lime

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Scup quebec saffron, summer beans, dried shellfish

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Gnome Cabbage celery root sauce, chicken livers, burnt pears

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Goat Cherve Soufflé golden beets, black walnut

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Cider Donuts chinese five spice, cider sorbet

Maine’s Foodie Capital: Portland

Portland, Maine is an up and coming food city that, despite it’s size, has some of the most exciting new restaurants on the East Coast. Whether you’re in the mood to gorge on a sinfully decadent lunch, pass around a profusion of small plates, warm up against a massive wood-fired grill, sip coffee in a trendy atmosphere, or commit to a five-course extravaganza, there’s something for everyone. After spending a day in the blossoming foodie capital of Maine, here’s my take on a few incredible restaurants.

For lunch, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Duckfat, where Rob Evan’s lunch (and dinner) spot spreads the gospel of one particular animal’s fat. Evans uses the duck fat to crisp paninis, to fry doughnuts holes which he scents with citrus, and to whiz into vanilla milkshakes. Their panini with “overnight” duck confit, kimchi, and cilantro-lime mayo was good, but not incredible. There’s really only one thing you simply must have at Duckf2at, and probably even in all of Portland: the fries. And if you want to go all the way, as I did, order the poutine which includes those crispy, salty wedges of wonder blanketed by a layer of duck gravy and cheese curds (y’know, to cut through the richness). The dish is truly phenomenal, albeit something you’ll only want to eat about once a year.

For an afternoon snack, we sampled Standard Baking Co. which Travel+Leisure called “Maine’s best bakery”. The pastries we sampled were good, but not mind-blowing. The blueberry-oatmeal scones lacked any strong blueberry flavor and the madeleines paled in comparison to Dominique Ansel’s baked-to-order variety. I didn’t get to sample any of the breads however, which seem to be the star of the show, ranging from German Rye to Flax Batard, Cracked Wheat Potato to Hominy Whole Wheat. However, when we returned back to Portland we took home two breads: the sweet and comforting Raisin-Pecan and the other sourdough-like bread we sampled (can’t remember the name).

For dinner, I had my eye on two restaurants. The first, Central Provisions, serving small-plates (Smoked Carrots, Ramen Carbonara, Suckling Pig, etc.), which Bon Appetit named the 6th “Best New Restaurant” in the country as of last year. The second being The Honey Paw, owned by three of the most powerful players in Portland, Maine (Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley, and Arlin Smith) who also own the massively popular bubbly, casual Eventide Oyster Co. and the darker, more refined Hugo’s. All three of these restaurants are on the same block which makes for an unique setting: guests can pop into each eatery and select whether they want an oyster bar, tasting menu, or now a noodle bar for dinner.

photo 4We settled on the latter (self-described as a “non-denominational noodle bar) which turned out to be a very good decision. The vibe of the restaurant is the kind of casual, yet refined feel that hipster spots have instituted as the new norm. There’s a record player spinning everything from Outkast to The Doors. There’s a counter stretching along the perimeter, a bar in the corner, and a large rectangular table in the center. The menu features small snacks, thoughtful appetizers, house-made noodles, large-format entrees meant for sharing, a few desserts, and some specials for good measure.

photo 1The lobster tartine should be how you start your meal: a slice of house-made Pullman loaf is deep-fried before being topped with a lobster-scallop mousse, paper-thin radishes, and cilantro emulsion. It’s like the lobster roll you’ve always remembered except infinitely better. You like that buttery crispy edge of the bun? Deep-frying the bread makes the whole thing that crispy. The lobster-scallop mousse scales up the decadence factor and the radishes and herbs brighten the whole affair. In short, don’t miss this dish.

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The Vietnamese Chili Lobster was less of a noodle dish, more of a pasta with an Asian flair (there’s the non-denominational part for you). The Wok-Fried Yaki Soba tasted like an okonmiyaki in noodle form. The cabbage, mayo, gochujang, and bonito was all there. But instead of on  a pancake it was placed atop noodles. Onto of all that there are fatty bits of bbq pork shoulder,  both soft and rich all at once.

photo 3And to end the meal, the soft-serve honey ice cream is a must. The chocolate magic shell and caramelized honeycomb add an addictive crunch all adding up to the most perfect end to a fantastic meal.

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On our way out of Maine, we found ourselves back in Portland. First stop? Tandem Coffee & Bakery which had been nominated by Bon Appétit as one of the 50 Best New Restaurants in the Country. The ginger cookie with white chocolate had the sort of  intense gingerness that hints at spice, tempered by the chewy texture of the chocolate. The hot chocolate made with Mast Brothers tasted like coffee made with cacao beans instead of coffee beans; it had virtually no sweetness whatsoever. The blueberry pie, however, was incredible, the perfectly soft crumble melding with the thick blueberries that made up most of the pie. While almost everything was delicious, I’m not sure if this is the best new coffee shop/bakery in the country. Then again, I haven’t scoured America in search.

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For dinner, we hit up Central Provisions. One of the most popular spots in town, we arrived twenty minutes before they opened for dinner only to find around twenty people standing around the bar and lined up outside. At 5, we entered the dining room and were seated at the chef’s bar where you can watch everything that goes on.

The waitress recommended we order three to four dishes per person. If you do so, I’m sure you would go away pleasantly full. But to do so, you’ll spend an average of $34-$46 per person. 

We ordered six dishes and every one was delicious. They’re known for their crudo (raw fish), so we started out with the Bluefin Tuna Crudo and Bluefin Tuna O-Toro. The former was beautifully plated with a julienne of radish, perfectly pungent mustard, and sesame. The latter was plated like a sushi plate, but infinitely better. Rice? Forget about it: it’s all about the fish. Thick slices of tuna are served with freshly grated wasabi that looks like parmesan and tastes like fresh radish, as well as some (unnecessary) soy sauce for dipping the fish.

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Next up, the Caramelized Sheep’s Cheese. The chefs take a small round of sheep’s cheese and crisp it up on the plancha, pressing Maine blueberries into it, and cooking it until it dissolves into a thin layer of wonderful crispiness. It’s drizzled with very good balsamic vinegar to add both acid and sweetness. The Roasted Cauliflower comes served with some chickpeas spiced with ras el hanout and feta cheese which was all delicious, but perhaps the least interesting dish of the meal.

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That’s not to worry, however, because the three dishes that came next were simply stunning. Their famous Suckling Pig dish is a pressed cube of pork cooked until the top is a crisp layer of skin and the rest falls apart when you cut into it. It’s served with an apple sauce, crunchy marcona almonds, and drizzled with brown butter.

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You can order foie gras four different ways: cured, parfait, the whole lobe (1 lb+ for $100), or how we opted: a small slice of the duck’s liver pan-seared and served with millet granola and a blackberry sauce. It melts in your mouth like meat pudding, tempered by the crunch of the granola and the sweetness of the blackberry sauce  Finally, a small filet of black sea bass is served with fig agrodolce and marinated wood ear mushrooms.

The only complaint I have is the size of the dishes. I understand the “small plates” movement: order a lot, share everything and I think it’s a great idea. You’re able to taste way more than you would be able to with 3-courses and it’s a fun way to eat. But when you’re left leaving hungry, it’s a bit of a problem. Yet when the food is so good, the atmosphere so fun, and the kitchen so close, it’s hard to complain.

Nice job, Portland. Nice job.

7 People, 6 Courses, 3 Chefs: Tasting, Pop-Up Dinner

A few months ago, a friend, Chez Pascal bartender Deb Hickey, knowing that I loved to cook, suggested I prepare a meal for some friends with perhaps a few courses (for experience, excitement, and risk) and a suggested donation to cover the cost. Instantly enamored by the possibility of cooking a high-stakes, all-out meal, I immediately began hashing out the menu and test-running dishes. This past Sunday, the idea came to fruition, thanks to my brother as pastry chef and a former chef (Nate Kelly) overseeing it all.

The meal, titled “Tasting”, sprung from my personal love of cooking. Looking for a way to share my passion, the opportunity to cook a multi-course meal fit the bill. Cooking the volume of courses for the volume of people proved challenging, while still hugely rewarding. One highlight of the meal was the drink; wines were thoughtfully paired with each course by Deb and provided by local Campus Fine Wines. Keegan Bonds-Harmon, a local young artist, provided the menu’s stunning artwork. The delivery of the meal involved lots of hard work, including devoting the entire weekend to the final 3 hour dinner. But, based on the overwhelming positive feedback as well as the pleasure we received from the meal’s creation, we’re hoping to do it again in the near future… For now, a view behind the scenes of what was a thoroughly enjoyable dinner. Click here for the evening’s menu, including wine pairings.

Photo credit: Deb Hickey. Thank you to Deb for documenting the evening. You can see all of the photos from the big night here:
bSNMhOsiDAZr3wNKKu2Be0WH7dH2JjqC_UOpHlEBD9cKeegan’s stunning menu artwork.

osYhceEjUzpzbHUogsdDIWOAkM1sixF2LLcGe_bZvzQ Deb’s wine selection.

AJdhR7NchxfZAejLFvtNQvy6QfQ1tNTZfact3M9wH5EA layered vegetable terrine.

NWvJohSmH43oMLlm8BuA8djA1mLapZImT_vpan4kQncThe first course, plated at the pass.

aBulr3u5e3QD1Ly0BKJeD2Q0YqfD0PGLKqp5sY-slBg-1Seafood salad is garnished with chickpeas and chives.

rYvLFWI2sxdqzhmr27gqh0nb-3nkpICdBYcXHvSEYYYRich, brown-butter roasted carrots are glazed with butter and plated with crispy sage leaves, carrot pureé, and a sage pesto.

7n-Zxt7Wzt6_O2tLPCQLmv40y-ypgTriXC-ifgv8FpMDuck breast is carved.

nBnHdiB0NL500RmXhJDuVv0EzQv5zo0gh6_k7jY04ok-1The finished duck plate.

Iq4v3xm1psPgrkLRdV3g1eaV9eqa5XkGk4Lcinds4S0Pork tenderloin sitting in a beefy-cider sauce.

tEbVfxcVuLZrbdl__r4P730kSbzeCekrEvh77TXB37YPastry chef Dylan Itkin scoops cake batter into molds for the final course.

xJXWwmCzIp1DAgZZKyxZP9IGRJ0IXJ5AtgKMy3yEQWAChefs at work.

At EatDrink RI, Brunch Is A Feast

This past Sunday morning, the Eat Drink RI festival, an annual gathering of local foodies in the downtown area organized by David Dadekian, came to a close with a behemoth of a meal located in the Biltmore Ballroom. A smattering of local chefs, both culinary and pastry, offered wonderfully delicious dishes showcasing the best Providence has to offer. The sheer range, featuring everything from sinfully decadent french toast (Julians) to perfectly tender strips of chicken swimming in a spicy bath of green salsa (El Rancho Grande). Below, a few highlights from the brunch.

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The aforementioned french toast, from Julian’s, made from raspberry babka and set afloat in a pool of mint chocolate sauce.

IMG_9706Gracie’s downtown patisserie, Ellie’s Bakery, was at the event with treats such as the Pain Au Chocolat and a scone with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and feta.

IMG_9696The fantastic north bakery was giving out Dark Chocolate cookies (pictured), as well as their latest menu addition: a sweet-savory Brown-Butter Miso cookie studded with bits of caramelized white chocolate.

IMG_9693Simone’s take on chicken salad: mesmerizingly light pieces of chicken tossed with creme fraîche and iceberg nestled atop a focaccia crostini.

Toronto’s Dining Scene

Gearing up for a trip to Toronto, these are the restaurants I’d like to visit the most. From David Chang’s four-story complex to hipster Mexican fare, Toronto is emerging as a culinary capital. What better time to delve in?

momofuku-daishoMomofuku Daisho Large format feasts as well as other creative, seasonal fare makes up one fourth of the Momofuku complex.

Queen Mother Thai food in cozy setting, known for their Ping Gai (marinated chicken grilled to a succulent crisp).

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Valdez Latin street food in a hipsetting.

-3Fat Pasha Middle Eastern fare with a modern twist.

Cafe Isabel
Bar Isabel Snacks inflected with Spanish tapa influences.

20141114-dandylion590-09Dandylion Nine seasonal menu items with a “vegetable centric” focus.

dailo-toronto-restaurant-20-introDaiLo New Asian cuisine, along with Dim Sum.

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Grand Electric Wildly popular spot for tacos.

Eating New York: Flame Torched Marshmallows, Japanese Bagels, and Wood-Fired Pizza

unnamed-16The music throbbed incessantly. Hip New Yorkers chatted loudly, their tables chock-full of half eaten plates. It was quite hard to hear my dining companions (my family), despite the fact they sat a few feet away from me. Waitresses walked to and fro carrying large platters of ingeniously inventive food.  The room is full, and then some.

The scene described is at Mission Chinese Food, Danny Bowien’s much-hyped redux of his now-shuttered Orchard street restaurant that was named the best restaurant of the year by the NY Times. While it was lauded for its incredible food, it was also criticized for its cramped, underground atmosphere and absurd wait times. At the new outpost, the small space has been replaced by a spacious, boisterous dining room that holds 130 people. The wait, meanwhile, is nowhere near gone. On a recent Friday night, we waited over 2 1/2 hours for a table (fortunately, not in the restaurant the whole time). When we finally sat down at 10:30 or so, incredibly tired as well as more than a little hungry, the 50 item menu got us excited. The breadth of the dishes, from a Whole Smoked Pork Jowl to Hot Cheese Pizza, is quite incredible. Almost all of the dishes we sampled—notably the Steamed Oat Noodles with charred eggplant and a savory granola as well as the Koji Fried Chicken with an intensely lemony dipping sauce—were phenomenal. The chicken’s exterior tasted more roasted than fried, with an added level of depth from the lemony sauce that cut through the richness with its fermented aftertaste. The noodles had a tangy acidity that similarly cut through the richness of the oats and sweetness of the eggplant.unnamed-14

When our meal was almost over, chef Danny Bowien came over to our table with the aforementioned Hot Cheese Pizza, explaining the process behind it. It was quite surprising, as well as amazing to get to chat with him. He was incredibly kind to take such a generous amount of time out of his busy schedule just to speak with us. He even came back to our table with recommendations for where to dine in New York. Thanks, chef!
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The next day began with breakfast at Egg Shop, a new eatery serving, that’s right, eggs. They specialize in serving this breakfast ingredient in all sorts of ways: it’s combined with miso quinoa for the Spandex, a very healthy but also not so tasty dish, though my mom would beg to disagree; it’s cooked sunny side up and layered onto a French hero with chipotle bourbon ketchup and pulled pork carnitas for the massively indulgent, The Beast. Most of the combinations end up working as tasty breakfast bowls and sandwiches that could easily start off any Lower East Sider’s morning. I opted for the French Toast which was sinfully topped with chocolate cream and maple syrup. Some fresh apples and blueberries perked up the overt sweetness of it all.IMG_8397

For a mid-day snack, we found it hard to resist Dominique Ansel Bakery, the deliriously trendy SoHo hotspot from the self-titled wunderkind. There was seemingly no line, but it wasn’t until we got inside that we realized it had simply been moved indoors away from the rain (it stretched through the entire bakery and lasted roughly 45 minutes). The day we visited the bakery was the one year anniversary of the Cookie Shot: a genius turning-on-its-head of a chocolate chip cookie meets shot glass. Molding the cookie dough into the shape of mini shot glasses, Ansel then bakes them off before filling them with lightly sweetened milk to order. When I sampled them a few months ago, the  result was a wonder of a pastry: soft, sweet, and thoroughly delicious. This time, though, I was going for something different. I chose the flame-torched marshmallow which is essentially the following: marshmallow batter concealing a sinful scoop of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate wafers, all frozen together and then flame-torched to order. It is truly marvelous, though it would have been even more so if it hadn’t sat on the counter for a minute or two.

With no time for lunch, we more than made up for it with dinner. We started off at Alder, Wylie Dufresne’s fairly new restaurant that has survived the late WD-50. The atmosphere of the place seemed fun at first, but the dinner ended up being more than a little disappointing. Alder is really geared for business-people and other New Yorkers willing to spend a whole lot of cash on ridiculously small plates. I mean so small you could eat one of them, which you’ve payed somewhere near $13 to $15 for, and not even be vaguely full. Needless to say, we ordered three plates. The first, the French Onion Soup Rings, were a riff on the fast food dish of onion rings meets the French bistro dish of very rich beef stock mixed with deeply caramelized onions (French Onion Soup). The dish presented here tasted more like fried onions topped with a relatively mild gravy. Next, the Shrimp on Chips was also fairly mild with its chopped Ruby Red Shrimp, dry peanuts, and tasteless green papaya salad. A little spice came in the way of thin hot pepper slices, but the shrimp cracker it was all served atop was very bland and not nearly crisp enough to have any substance or pac any substantial punch. The Pigs in a Blanket were Chinese sausage wrapped in rolled out Martin’s potato rolls and garnished with Japanese mustard and a surprisingly kicking hot sweet chili sauce. The sausage and bread was very dry and, this being the last dish we sampled, I was left on a sourly off-putting note.unnamed-15

Still hungry, we rushed over to the tried and true Momofuku Noodle Bar for some late-night noodles. We waited an hour or more and sat down very, very, vey late (really, it was about midnight). The classic Momofuku Ramen, was good though not quite as good as I recalled. The porky broth still clings to the noodles and it all has a meaty, silky mouthfeel to it. The pork was a little rare in some parts, tough in others, and at Momofuku I do expect the single slice of pork belly to be perfect, its fat rendered beyond perfection. We retired to our hotel, exhausted and full.IMG_8430

Sunday morning called for bagels, which a trip to the city is  incomplete without. Black Seed Bagels, the hip and happening bagel shop, only a few blocks away from Russ and Daughters and their sister cafe, Russ and Daughters Cafe. Black Seed is doing a collaboration with local chefs through early April. While we were there, chef Ivan Orkin (the Jewish noodle-king) was doing his decidedly Japanese interpretation of the everything bagel. His creation was schmeared with aonori cream cheese and an ikura-spread. It was incredibly fishy as well as very egg salad-y (a.k.a not really my thing). I was jealous of my brother’s classic “#1” sandwich with lox, red onion, tomato, and capers. But I was even more jealous of my mom’s delicious medium-cooked egg with thick bacon and luscious avocado which all melted together on an everything bagel.

A mid-day snack came from Momofuku Milk Bar’s outpost in the Chambers Hotel, conveniently located next to the MOMA. I enjoyed the Ceral Milk soft serve topped with cornflake crunch, but would look forward to visiting Má Peche, located in the same building, during a future city visit.

We ended the day at another of Mr. Bowien’s restaurants, the cuisine-breaking, mostly Mexican Mission Cantina. Having eaten there last September and being somewhat impressed, I was expecting it to be good, but not crazy good. And yet it was, crazy good. The meal started, like many meals at this great restaurant will, with freshly made guacamole topped with nutty sunflower seeds and served with crunchy chips made from Anson Mills’ grains. My brother and mom shared the plate of Spring Vegetable Mole. For anyone looking for a lighter, fresher option, I would recommend this very delicious mix of vegetables tossed in mole. The mole lacked some spice and assertive depth which can be found at Providence’s own Viva Mexico, but it was still fantastic. My Whole Fried Fish, however, was revelatory. I split it with my father, but it easily could have fed four. The tortillas served with it, which I attempted to make tacos out of, were completely unnecessary. The fish itself is fried, but it’s not breaded at all which makes for the most tender, fall-apart creature of the sea you’ve ever put in your mouth. So good, so good. (The following poorly-lit photo of the half-eaten carcass doesn’t do it justice.)IMG_8479

While my family might not have enough money to support as illustrious a trip as this for a second time, I can’t wait to go back to New York. The city is literally bursting with great food; it’s the kind of place where you eat one meal thinking of the next. Every restaurant I tried was thriving for something creative and original, even if they didn’t all achieve it. And that’s not always the point: the point is that they’re trying to be different than the next place and that’s what makes them special. New York, I love you.

NYC Restaurant Guide 2015

In preparation for a trip to the big city this weekend, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of some of the restaurants I’d like to visit. Obviously I won’t have time for them all in a single weekend, but nonetheless, here are the eateries I’m most excited about visiting. Below: Restaurants name, address, and what they’re known for.
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il Buco Alimentari & Vineria – 53 Great Jones St

While the sit down restaurant may be wildly expensive, the market is perfect for a morning pastry or even a quick visit-it’s a 10 minute walk from the Sohotel.
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Mission Chinese Food – 171 East Broadway

By far the most anticipated opening of last year, Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese Food 2.0 has earned rave press since it’s opening on Christmas. From duck baked in clay pot (shattered with a mallet table side) to Steamed Oat Noodles to Koji Fried Chicken to Wood Oven Fish, Drunken Style to wood-fired pizza on a dough from Tartine baker Chad Robertson…Run, don’t walk.

Mission Cantina – 172 Orchard St

The dinner menu has changed drastically and the lunchtime-only burritos are considered the best in the city, but breakfast is the time to go. The Vietnamese breakfast includes everything from Vietnamese style coffee to chicken pho.

Tertulia – 359 6th Ave

Spanish-style tapas are cooked on a wood-fired grill at Seamus Mullen’s acclaimed restaurant.
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Ivan Ramen – 25 Clinton St

The sit-down restaurant located on the LES expands the Gotham West Market with seven ramens plus appetizers including “1000 Year Old Deviled Egg” and the much hyped okonomiyaki.

Gotham West Market – 600 11th Ave

With additional vendors and breakfast, the market has grown larger than ever before.

Clinton St. Baking Company – 4 Clinton St

A tried-and-true breakfast spot with trendy pancakes.
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Russ & Daughters Cafe – 127 Orchard St

According to the New York Times restaurant critic, Pete Wells, the city’s authoritative voice on food, Russ & Daughters Cafe was the second best restaurant of last year. There’s more than lox here: blintz, latkes, eggs, and smoked fish are all on display.

City Bakery – 3 W 18th St

The most indulgent, richest hot chocolate in the city (and the pretzel croissant).

Levain Bakery – 167 W 74th St

The biggest, best chocolate chip cookies in the city.

The Breslin – 16 W 29th St

April Bloomfield’s The Breslin, one of her two restaurants located in the hip Ace Hotel is darker and heftier than The Spotted Pig. No hamburger with blue cheese, but a lamb burger with feta. Dishes include Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly, Seafood Sausage, and an incredibly popular caesar salad.
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Alder – 157 2nd Ave

WD-50 is now gone, but Wylie Dufresne’s more reasonable and more casual restaurant, Alder remains. With modernist dishes such as Seared Scallops with hummus grits and French Onion Soup Rings, the restaurant has been much lauded for keeping Dufresne’s spirit alive.
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Empellion –

Taqueria – 230 West 4th Street

Cocina – 105 1st Avenue

Al Pastor – 132 St Marks Pl

Alex Stupak, former WD-50 pastry chef, ventured off to open Empellion Taqueria in 2011 serving inventive tacos and other Mexican dishes. Since then, he’s created an empire with the more formal Cocina (think expensive entrees) and the much less formal Al Pastor (think tacos filled with pork cut off a spit, to order). 20130823-264047-estela-beef-tartar

Estela –  47 E Houston St

Obama may have dined there, but he’s not the only one. Ever since opening, Estela has grown thanks to its chef’s vegetable-driven approach to cooking. With an in-demand brunch and dinner, Estela is one of the most buzzed about restaurants in the city.

Mile End – 53 Bond Street

Smoked meat sandwiches and other Jewish classics from the people who brought you Black Seed Bagels.

Pok Pok – 117 Columbia St

Andy Ricker has done to chicken wings what David Chang has done to ramen: he’s taken them and reimagined them in an entirely new way. But his spicy, sweet wings are not the only things at the hip Brooklyn eatery.2014_MaPecheHabaneroChicken.0

Ma Peche – 15 W 56th St

Located a few blocks from MOMA, the latest Momofuku restaurant’s service style has got people talking. Modeled after dim sum, dishes are brought around in baskets and on carts, making for a lively dinner experience.
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Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream – 2 Rivington St

Nick Morgenstern opened this hip ice cream parlor just last year. But it’s already jumped into fanatical popularity with it’s modern approach to ice cream. You can choose from flavors such as madagascar vanilla, raw milk, szechuan peppercorn, bitter chocolate, and vietnamese coffee just to name a few. If you’re in the mood for something more, you can order sundaes the size of a supper. Last year, chefs such as Ivan Orkin and Ignacios Mattos collaborated an completely original flavors. But even without chef collaborations, this ice cream parlor is the place to go for cutting-edge ice cream. (They also serve breakfast.