Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Special Foodies In NYC Round Up!

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This was a special Foodies in NYC. We decided to do TAKE OUT and take a trip down memory lane of food clubs past (and pre-Foodies In NYC blog!).

So we ordered in some Turkish food from Marmara on the Upper East side. While snacking on some Manit (steamed dumplings with lamb and herbs...think the Turkish form of gnocchi), hummus, artichokes and Turkish meatballs, we came up with a a VERY random list of what we suggest to EAT or NOT TO EAT! We also decided to start a rating system! Five forks - MUST GO; One fork - Take a permanent RAIN CHECK!

Here goes!

Frank - Our food club inaugural dinner back in 2007! This is one of our favorite Italian spots! It's hidden in the East Village (you won't even see a sign) but worth the search! The food is fresh and authentically Italian. We have each been there several times since and highly recommend the borata appetizer - it's pure creamy-cheesy heaven! We give it 4.5 forks

Barbes - None of us had tried Moroccan food before so this was a little adventurous to us at the time - but it was great! Nothing scary on the menu and the dishes were very sharable. Plus - the authentic Moroccan white wine was great! We give it 3 forks!

Mercat - Amamos Tapas (we love tapas!) The plates were little and we tried a lot (8 plates!) We topped the meal off with homemade churros and left very full and happy! We give it 4 forks!

Graffiti - This strange little eclectic restaurant/shack was a surprise. All of the food is pre-prepped and cooked on hotplates in a closet-sized kitchen (the whole place is maybe 5 tables). We ate things like tofu, pork buns and pepper ice cream! And it was all fabulous! 3.5 forks!

Yakitori Torys - Danielle and Christa LOVED it - Anne HATED it. Chicken neck and/or skin may be an acquired taste - but definitely try this place for traditional yakitori. NOTE - the rest of Manhattan apparently agrees with Anne ;) Yakitori Tory actually closed this summer - but many on Yelp offer up Yakitori Trotto as a great alternative. Overall - Danielle and Christa give this 3.5 forks!

Freemans - Great if you can get in and/or find it. It was so good - we wrote down everything we ate! Spinach artichoke dip (DD's favorite!), fried chicken and pork chops are a must and we dove into desserts with a brownie, cheery tumbler and a blueberry cobbler - oh my! 4.5 forks indeed!

The Spotted Pig - This was where the idea for our blog first percolated! We waited for over an hour to sit (on a weeknight) - but it was well worth it. We had a friendly waiter who seeded the idea for us to write about our experience. It's a British inspired bistro with some Italian influence. The burgers, deviled eggs, shoe string fries and chicken liver pate made it worth the wait. PLUS - we just found out that this is owned by none other than Shawn Carter - aka JAY-Z! We give it 4 forks!

So, when we select our restaurants, we do our research. We want good food, good drink and good atmosphere - so it really is rare that we have a "less than good" experience. But after 3 years, we accumulated a small list of "meh" places.

Woo Chon - Korean BBQ. Christa and Anne overrode Danielle on this. It was a little too "authentic" for our taste. We had to grill our own food -- (um - that's why we go out - so we don't HAVE to cook our food - DUH)!
1 fork

Southern Hospitality - Don't be fooled by the "celebrity ownership" here (stick to singing, dancing and those SNL skits Justin Timberlake - please!) It wasn't terrible - but there is MUCH better BBQ in the city...2 forks

Great Jones Cafe - Some will be surprised to hear this - but it just wasn't up to par. Good bevvies but average food. 2 forks.

So there you have it! Some of our most memorable meals - here is to many more!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Making a Splash at the Waverly Inn

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Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend, hasn't had the truffle mac n’ cheese at Waverly Inn…

The scene at Waverly Inn felt like something out of a James Bond movie – old Russians with deep pockets and young models on their arms whispering in the corner…

JG spotted at Waverly Inn with SK in the back corner, sucking face over the grilled octopus salad and organic chicken breast….

It was very difficult to begin writing a review of our experience at Waverly Inn. Do we focus on the “scene” and the who/what/with who/when? Or the richness and interesting qualities of a meal that can only be described as gourmet, comfort food?

So, we went with D – all of the above. The night started at a fun nearby lesbian dive bar called the Cubby Hole, a very…colorful, place in the west village. The pinwheels floating on the ceiling characterize the people inside brightening the room and giving the bar a cool vibe (the tunes helped too!). Loosening up with some before-dinner drinks made our entrance into Waverly Inn seem surreal. Walking below street level in the dim lighting of the restaurant felt very 1920, speak easy-esque, like we were being transported onto the set of an old movie. Kudos to our guest Jeffrey for “getting us in” even though Anne and I still believe we could have done it on our own ;)

Now, on to the food. As three people with different personalities, we are also foodies with differing palettes. Appetizers were a hit all around (except for Anne, the seafood hater) – grilled baby octopus with fresh oregano, celery and cerignola olives; refreshing chickpea salad; tuna tartare with avocado, diced egg and a dijon emulsion. Entrees were another story. While mac n’ cheese, burgers, chicken and pork chops aren’t revolutionary menu items – the preparation was hit or miss. While the Waverly Burger was good – we’ve had better. The Amish Organic Free-Range Chicken with organic butternut squash and foraged maitake mushrooms was tasty but not spectacular. The Berkshire All Natural Pork Chop with Asian pear, mache and endive salad was flavorful but a tad too salty when topped with pork belly. The truffle mac n’cheese (not on the menu – you have to ask for it), in my opinion, was the only “stand out” dish - but at $60, I may have subconsciously forced myself to like it. The next day, when the girls reminded me that it was kind of liquidy and not really cheesy (in which we proceeded to discuss the many virtues of Velvetta) my opinion was swayed. While the food left us in limbo, there was one thing we could agree on, the wine! A 2009 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Cosecha from Spain was the perfect summer rosé, light but strong enough to accompany a heavy meal.
No photos are allowed at the Waverly Inn so this was our only souvenir!

For dessert, people watching with a side of piping hot bananas foster topped with creamy and cool vanilla ice cream. My (and Anne’s) favorite part of the meal!

All in all, Waverly Inn made us examine our foodiness. Is it really all about the food or the experience? Are the rich and sophisticated missing out on the diners, drive-ins and dives of the world because they feel that Waverly Inn is “it”? This experience made me happy to be a foodie who doesn’t judge a dish for the dollar signs attached to it but for the quality of food and the experience of enjoying a good meal with friends. But let’s just say the next time we want a great burger or creamy mac n’cheese, you’ll more than likely find us in a borough, and not the west village.  :-)

The Waverly Inn
American (New)
16 Bank St , New York NY 10014 (At Waverly Pl)
(917) 828-1154

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

FC Nibble: Foodie in Cali

Pin It Being foodies, we are required to try the food of not just our local eateries but to experience culinary genius all around our epi-curious nation. So, just a few weeks ago I embarked on a culinary adventure to the left coast to drink, eat and be merry (in no specific order). Here is a brief digest of some Cali tips for NYC-ers:

San Francisco Bay Area:
  1. Pier Market Seafood Restaurant – Creamy and chunky clam chowder with warm sourdough bread, fresh tuna steaks and smooth local beers – how can you go wrong? Don’t forget to ask for a seat by the window so you can take in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the sea lions working on their tans!

Napa/Sonoma Region:
  1. Mustard’s Grill – Proudly ate an entire roasted garlic clove in addition to the delicious Mongolian pork chop (their specialty) served with sweet and sour red cabbage surrounded by their housemade mustard sauce and complimented by a Napa Valley Michael Pozzan Cab Sav.
  2. the girl and the fig – You cannot go here without trying the grilled fig and arugula salad topped with toasted pecans, chèvre (goat cheese!), mano formate pancetta, figs and port vinaigrette. I’d also suggest, if you’re taking a break between wine tastings, either the salami and brie baguette sandwich or the top sirloin burger.
  3. The wineries worth the tasting fee (and in no particular order) – Grgich, Gundlach Bundschu (pronounced Gun-Lock Bun-Shoe), Buena Vista, Goosecross, Andretti, ConnCreek, Cakebread (a staple of most wine country excursions), Adastra, Peju Province.
  4. To avoid: Sebastiani (too commercial); Hotel room service (with all the great food at your fingertips, take a nap after the vineyards close at 5 or 6 and venture out at night).

It’s going to sound strange but the best thing I ate the entire two days in Napa/Sonoma was a sunsugar tomato from Adastra Vineyards, which Owner Chris Thorpe laid out for us during our tour/tasting. It was the sweetest, juiciest, most decadent tomato I’ve ever laid taste buds on and immediately experienced the dedication, heart and pure satisfaction of being a farmer (both wine and crop) in the Napa/Sonoma valley.

San Diego Area:
  1. South Beach Bar and Grille – FAB fish tacos (the mahi and baja were our personal favorites) and great views of the Cali sunsets; fried jalapenos dipped in ranch – what else can I say?
  2. Trattoria Acqua (in La Jolla) – Gourmet Italian done right – from the al dente pasta with kicking pomodoro sauce to the fried brie in phyllo dough with golden delicious apple slices on toasted bread and melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto.
  3. Solare – Deliciously fresh Italian food in a very feng shui'd atomosphere on the naval base where they filmed Top Gun!
  4. In ‘N Out – Crunchy, toasted bun + fresh lettuce + tomato + flavorful moist patty = burger heaven - you can't go to the West Coast without trying it!  (Avoid the fries - they are better at Fatburger!)
  5. Baked – Best. Cinnamon. Buns. Ever.
  6. To avoid: The shops/restaurants on the Mission Bay Walkway – when “they” tell you to try places off the beaten track and away from the tourist areas, they mean it!

Not to cross-contaminate our clubs but for all the foodie-bookies out there, I’d highly recommend Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, a foodies bible (according to Danielle) that was the perfect companion on my trip.

All in all, visiting California reminded this foodie that simple food done well can be a great flavor exploration. My souvenirs from the trip: a nice tan, a case of wine and five extra pounds!