Saturday, May 29, 2010

Things I Ate in Paris: Day Three (con't)

Another day, another stop at Pierre Herme. It seems impossible to come to Paris and visit here only once. And it seems that Paris rivals New York for things that people wait in long lines for. Pierre Herme, being a narrow sliver of a shop, seems to have a line constantly snaking out the door.

This day we sampled the famous signature Ispahan macaron, a giant masterfully crafted delight of rose, raspberry, lychee and cream.

This almost-too-beautiful-to-eat macaron is so rich with fruity flavor yet light. The lychee, hidden in the middle is a refreshing surprise and the mild watery quality of the fruit plays off the tangy sweetness of the raspberry.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Things I Ate in Paris: Day Three

Falafel platter (with eggplant, cabbage and carrots) at Chez Hanna in the Marais. Long lines for the couple of shops open on Saturday, but we avoided it by sitting down in the restaurant (and paying a premium for it but our weary feet thanked us).

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Times Take on The Tangled Vine

The Times offers an opinion on The Tangled Vine, which I reviewed last month.

Things I Ate in Paris: Day Two

Dinner at Josephine Chez Dumonet.

This is the place to go for your classic French bistro experience, to eat traditional French dishes. The house specialty is the duck confit and the main reason why we were here. Last year, I had eaten the best duck I've ever tasted here and was now back for more. Luckily we were able to get a reservation; they are not open on weekends. There's also a list of hot desserts that you must order at the time that you order dinner. They are pricey but they are entree-sized and require sharing. But if you can muster enough appetite, I'd highly recommend it. Had I allowed my eyes to be bigger than my stomach, we surely would've also ended up with one of several desserts we saw appear on other tables.

We shall work our way up.

Dinner began with a complimentary soup starter. Maybe red pepper? Maybe potatoes? We were unable to identify it and this is not the type of restaurant where dishes are set before you with an introduction. The waiters here, though friendly, speak limited English and are constantly busy. But it was wonderful nonetheless.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Small Bites

-'s list of the most annoying restaurant Web site features is spot on.

- monopolizes the business of online restaurant reservations, but several competitors are now popping up.

- An ode to civil rights leader Dorothy Height, who passed away recently, and her love of sweet potatoes.

- The other side of Food Network personality Sandra Lee? Girlfriend of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

- Gourmet magazine fans have not migrated to other high-end food magazines.

- The inventor of the Chipwich has died.

- A St. Louis cafe run by the Panera Bread chain has adopted the pay-what-you-want model, which has had mixed results among other restaurants. 

- The Meatless Mondays campaign makes the meat industry nervous.

- Too much raw bok choy sent one woman into a coma.

- Defining what qualifies as candy (to determine what would fall under a candy tax) isn't as easy as one would think.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Things I Ate in Paris: Day One (con't)

Dinner at Itineraires

Another lovely option for a prix-fixe meal. But you also have the option of choosing how many courses (from one to three) you would like.

Clam Salad
This came with thinly saved rounds of white mushroom and fennel fronds. I had never had a combination like this before. It was tastier than the white, bland-looking presentation might suggest.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Things I Ate In Paris: Day One

I arrived in Paris midday on my first day hungry (what else is new?) and ready to eat. I came prepared with many eating guides, including a special Paris issue of Gourmet magazine from a couple of years ago and a copy of Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris (Clotilde is the author of a blog I occasionally read, Chocolate & Zucchini.) Browsing through these, I sought out something near the hotel and settled upon La Gazzetta, which had also recently been written about in a New York Times article about good prix-fixe deals in Paris. Testing out the veracity of such write-ups is fun and I was glad to find that indeed this was a good deal. Our two-course meal started with a cold fava bean, almond, cucumber soup that was a bit too grassy and green for us; a white pizza with anchovy, light and salty; and white lentils served with thinly sliced pork, which was deliciously refreshing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Small Bites

An abbreviated version of Small Bites as Food in a Nutshell goes on hiatus for the next week. Hopefully I shall return with some Parisian posts.

- Kit Kat candy bar flavors expand when you head to Japan. There, you can get a taste of Intense Roasted Soybean or Soy Sauce. NPR taste tests several of them.

- Is the increasing presence of the Internet and social media in people's lives having an effect on the way we eat? A Salon essay explores the idea, such as the fact that it has encouraged the small plates trend.

- Slate holds a showdown between recipes from Cook's Illustrated and food52, a Web site cofounded by New York Times Magazine food writer Amanda Hesser.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recent Eats

This is Pizza Moto at the Brooklyn Flea. They arrive there with a mobile brick oven. Because they don't have a brick and mortar operation and I was there, I thought, how could I NOT seize the opportunity to try pizza? But it would be a challenge as I saw that my $9 would get me a rather large pizza (margherita) cut into eight slices.

I took this down, all by myself, in under 15 minutes. You better believe it. How silly of me to take a paper bag in case I couldn't finish it. The pizza was thin and tasty. I really enjoyed the light, sweet tomato sauce; I prefer my pizzas less saucy. But the center of the crust had gotten slightly soggy, despite my being able to ingest it no more than two minutes after it had come out of the oven. Based on a similar experience at Motorino, another brick oven pizza place, perhaps the sogginess is just a characteristic of these types of pizzas. My other complaints are that the cheese didn't fasten to the pie very well and that it didn't have enough basil. But the crust was nicely charred and had enough salt to keep it from being bland.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Perfect Pair

When I'm not indulging in "fancy" food or enjoying ethnic eats, nothing beats the reliable combination of pizza and ice cream (or custard).

I kicked off May's custards with Flan Wednesday. It was not what I expected; the most notable aspect of this flavor was the surprising presence of lemon zest. When I think of flan, I think of an eggy flavor with notes of caramel or cinnamon, which was present in the custard. You'd think cinnamon and lemon would clash, but they both seem to fall along the same spot on the sweet scale and together helped to make this flavor interesting and unique.

My day ended with a stop at Artichoke Pizza, a place that I'd heard about but felt had to be reserved for just such an occasion, a late-night snack stop. It's a tiny space that at the hours nearing the next day seems to perpetually have a line out the door. There are only four types of slices. I had to get the signature artichoke slice for $4. Although it's on the expensive side for a slice, this was a giant, thick triangle well worth the price. This is smoking hot spinach-artichoke dip slathered on crusty bread. Despite burning the roof of my mouth off with the first bite, I couldn't make myself wait for it to cool off; I plowed through the creamy, salty goodness while standing at the skinny counter along the wall before my stomach could register just how filling it was. A full day of getting full and ending full.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Small Bites

- David Chang and Michael Pollan made Time Magazine's Time 100 list. Ruth Reichl writes Chang's profile and Alice Waters gives us the essay on Pollan.

- Farmers try to protect farmers markets as places for local vendors as resellers infiltrate.

- The popularity of the local-food movement has gotten many restaurants interested in creating rooftop gardens.

- There's now an iphone app that caters specifically to the people who photograph their meals and tweet about it.

- One woman indulges in her love of curry by going to Bangkok for a cooking class.

- The recent oil spill has raised concerns about the safety of eating seafood from the Gulf.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Recent Eats

Brunch at Char No. 4

Char No. 4 adds a twinkle of Southern charm to Smith Street in Brooklyn. They've got the biscuits and gravy and the grits on the menu. And several "house smoked" items on there as well. It all added up to a more interesting brunch menu than most.

Smoked &fried pork nuggets with Char No. 4 hot sauce

Crazy Concepts

Grub Street has a jump on the big news that Grant Achatz, chef of Alinea restaurant, will continue to challenge people's concepts of dining with a molecular gastronomy bar in Chicago called Aviary along with a new restaurant called Next that will feature menus reflecting different cities of different time periods. The menus will change every three months and diners will have to purchase tickets to eat there. There's an interesting video to introduce the idea. Guess those rumors weren't so far off.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Happy New Custard Flavors Day

Following my conquest of last month's flavors, the new challenge is revealed. Shake Shack's May flavors:

Monday: Mud Pie
Tuesday: Raspberry Verbena
Wednesday: Flan
Thursday: Grasshopper
Friday: Salted Caramel
Saturday: Red Velvet
Sunday: Strawberry Rhubarb

Custard Calender Conclusion

I did it. A full week's worth of Shake Shack flavors in April. I tasted them all and just in time. No, I didn't do it seven days in a row. But I did accomplish it on the last day of the month. Saturday, Sunday and Monday first. And this week, I pushed through the other four days, consecutively, and I was forced to take extreme measures to ensure I reached the finish line. Here are my reviews and a few notes on how I got there.

Tuesday: Gianduja.
The hard-to-pronounce name for chocolate hazelnut that makes people afraid to say it. The hazelnut side dominated, earning this custard more points in my book because I typically don't love chocolate ice cream. The texture was thick and dense, solid. It was like eating the center of a Ferrero Roche chocolate without having to break through the outer shell; you start at the creamy center.