Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We're back and better than ever.

It's spring so instead of cleaning out my closet and tidying up at home, I'm reformatting my blog. I hate to admit it, but I sort of cringed every time I signed in to post on the old, tacky pink thing I used to call Le Dish. I've found a new home for my posts and I think it's truly fantastic. One of my New Year's Resolutions was to blog more so I think this new format will certainly keep me on the right track.

Do let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pizza-making AND Wine Tasting? Um, YES!

Photo: Devour This

Tonight, we're heading back to New York Vintners, scene of a heinous Valentine's Day date in which over twelve glasses of champagne were consumed and a case (ok, four bottles) were drunkenly purchased, forgotten about and not picked up until a month later.

Anyways, tonight's class focuses on pizza-making at home and wines that pair well with these gluttonous pies.

I'm praying that it's a different class instructor so I'm not immediately judged upon arrival. Will keep you posted on how it goes!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Summer's Front-Runner Pasta Recipe

I consider my daily emails from Saveur, Tasting Table and Grub Street to be the most welcome break in a hectic day. So, you can only imagine my audible glee when this recipe appeared in my inbox.

Ever since I compulsively purchased about six cookbooks in the past three months from Amazon, I've been craving more time at the stove lately (please note: am NOT actively trying to embrace traditional gender roles here. It merely just happens when you live with a manfriend). I can't wait to get some fresh artichokes to try this recipe on Sunday. This just screams "SUMMER IS HERE!":

(Photo: Andre Baranowski)
Fettuccine with Artichokes and Chicken:
Juice of 1 lemon
15 baby artichokes (about 2 lbs.)
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 dried mushrooms, such as porcini,
chopped (about 1⁄8 oz.)
1 small carrot, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,
to taste
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 lb.),
cut into 1" chunks
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar
4 tbsp. chopped tarragon leaves
3 cups chicken broth
1 lb. dried fettuccine
3⁄4 cup grated parmesan

1. Stir lemon juice into a medium bowl filled with water. Trim away tough outer leaves of the artichokes to expose their tender, pale green interior. (For illustrated, step-by-step instructions, see Trimming Baby Artichokes.) Put trimmed artichokes into lemon water; set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and add the chicken and tomato paste; cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute. Drain the artichokes and add them, along with 2 tbsp. tarragon and the chicken broth, to the pot. Bring broth to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken and artichokes are very tender and the broth has reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set sauce aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and transfer to pot with artichoke and chicken sauce; set over high heat. Bring sauce to a boil, stir in 1⁄2 cup parmesan and cook, tossing occasionally with tongs, until sauce thickens and clings to pasta, about 2 minutes. (If sauce is too dry, pour in a little pasta water.) Add remaining tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Transfer pasta to 4 bowls and sprinkle with remaining parmesan.


This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #118

Friday, January 8, 2010

HALLELUJAH! Israel comes to New Jersey

After my May 2006 trip to Israel, I was seriously hooked on Maoz. Then it opened up in Union Square in NYC. Now, it's opening AROUND THE CORNER from my new casa in New Brunswick.

(Image: Serious Eats)

I have never been so ecstatic about a chain opening in my life!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Black Fettucine and Mussels and Meatballs, OH MY!

Birthdays are never taken lightly in my presence. I've always been known to bring home cupcakes for roommates on their birthdays, plan birthday dinners for friends and begin celebrating my own birth at LEAST two weeks before it actually arrived.

So, for my manfriend's big New Year's Day birthday, I had to make it memorable. Not only did we start celebrating with meatball pizza, rigatoni bolognese and not a vegetable in sight at Vic and Angelo's in Florida a week beforehand but we rounded up the troops from NYC, shuttled them on the next NJ Transit train to New Brunny and fed them. Extraordinarily well.

Since moving here, one of the warmest, most comfortably sophisticated institutions I could never tire of visiting is Catherine Lombardi's. It's one of those places where you cozy up to a loved one and munch on some stuffed calamari and garlic popcorn while watching 08901's finest bartenders create mind-blowing concoctions.

To not celebrate BFOLED's birthday at Catherine's would be a felony. Seriously. The red-walled, vintage chandeliered dining room was made for birthdays. And so we came. We ate. We conquered.

Now, I'm not usually one to fill up on greens at an Italian joint, but the arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano salad was not to be believed. The lightly acidic lemon juice perfectly dressed the tender sprigs of baby arugula. The freshly grated cheese added the perfect bite to the peppery greens. Luckily, BFOLED's red meatballs (not to be confused with the black variety, no seriously) were calling my name directly to my left. I don't know how these people can make such a firm yet moist (ew I hate that word but there isn't another to describe the texture!) meatball. Yes. I'd like another, please.

(Image: Google images - I know, I should have taken photos of this one!)
Oh, and while all of these first courses are being devoured there is garlic bread staring me in the face. No, this isn't any ordinary garlic bread. This is a freshly baked baguette smothered with garlic, olive oil and some sort of magic potion that makes you eat at least two rounds. It's seriously heaven.

Anyways, back on track, we're ready for our primi, or pasta course. Now, I'm all for going out on a limb and being adventurous 90% of the time. But, Catherine Lombardi is a very smart lady. She really knows her black fettuccine and mussels. And you cannot stray from what she knows and does well. So, I found a primi partner and we went to work on the fantastically al dente strands of squid ink-infused fettuccine tossed with the most harmonious combination of garlic, pepper flakes and roasted tomatoes possible. Bliss.

The other stand out dish that night was the long fusilli with walnut basil pesto cream. Not too heavy, not too creamy. Long fusilli was never so much fun to eat.
(Image: Foodnetwork.com)

For dessert, we were all practically reeling from sensory overload but alas, a birthday had to be celebrated, people. Gratis, a gorgeous plate of chocolate hazelnut bread pudding arrived. I'm not sure if it was the South African cab that went straight to my brain but I cannot remember this dessert for the life of me. All I can tell you was that "Happy Birthday, Lee" was glistening on the rim of that plate. In chocolate. How could I possibly forget that?

If you're ever in the market for a birthday dinner, a casual night out, a glass of fine wine or inventive cocktail AND you don't mind going to the gym the next morning, you simply must get yourself to Catherine Lombardi's. It's one of those places you just cannot forget.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Michael White...in the new New York?

That's right. Not too long ago, I (GASP!) moved from the Big Apple to the Big New Apple, aka the new New York aka New Brunswick, NJ. I wish I could use this blog as a platform to rant, complain and tear New Brunny to shreds but to be honest, it really has been smooth (culinary) sailing.

Friday nights in the new New York typically include a bottle of wine post-work and the all motivations are lost while renting bad movies on the couch. Well, this past Friday, a surge of energy propelled us into Due Mari, a terrific Michael White-owned gem on the next corner. After flirting with the restaurant for the past two months (essentially doing a pop-in only to find no available seats at the bar or tables until 10 pm), we finally made the crucial ressie and entered the space with the confidence that we'd leave happy.

The space itself is traditional with its white table clothes and muted colors but the bar and the energy is truly contemporary. The circular bar sprawls across the entire cross section of the restaurant and is packed to the gills with diners craving the latest hand-crafted pasta dish. BFOLED (bf of le disher) and I were led to charming table, passing some old 50-something diehards and some exotic-looking 30-somethings. As much as I'm trying to lay off the carbs, I couldn't resist the foccacia being laid out as a peace offering from the server. From that point forward, I was in Michael White heaven.

Our server was beyond knowledgeable and made the experience very farm to table - he knew exactly where everything was sourced. I started with the grilled octopus salad that combined the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth octopus with red peppers, olives, radicchio, and ceci beans. It was the perfect light starter to what was about to be unveiled. BFOLED's Caesar salad was truly unmemorable - this is a seafood place, people!!

Ready for the main event? Just thinking about it makes me want to go back and experience it all over again. Knowing Michael White as Poseidon, King of the Sea, I went straight for jugular: the "Pesce" section of the menu. I settled on the Chatham cod: pan-seared and served atop of cushion-y bed of eggplant, cremini mushrooms, roasted Brussels sprouts and tiny cipollini onions. Not only was the fish one of the freshest filets I've ever laid taste buds on, but it married wonderfully with the fall veggies.

Of course, Michael White is not only a god of the sea but he also is a pasta-making god as well. Being the true carb-lover that he is, BFOLED chose the pasta special: a pappardelle laden with pork ragu. The long, wide ribbons of tender pasta were coated to perfection with the rich, hearty stew-like ragu. Let's just say my fork made its way across the table more than once.

Now that we've been introduced to Michael White in the new New York, I'm already looking forward to returning. Again. And again. And again.

You'd like it here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Taste of Tribeca

A big thanks to FoodBuzz for my ticket to the annual Taste of Tribeca food and wine festival. My personal highlight? Grazing Gail Simmons' shoulder as we snaked through the crowd to maul some of Tribeca's finest food.

The day was nearly perfect: 80 and sunny (low humidity!) and food was literally surrounding us from every angle. I forced Lee to strategize since we only had 12 (food?!) stamps and there were dozens of restaurants vying for taste buds' attention. While Lee went the predictable pasta/meatballs/red sauce route, I ventured into my comfort zone of spicy tuna hand rolls, diver scallops and watermelon-feta-arugula salad. The latter, from the new Bar Artisanal, was totally inedible and I was hard-pressed to find the nearest garbage can immediately. Disappointment ensued - Terrance Brennan has never let me down like that before.

However, everything else we tasted was truly spectacular and hit the spot. The real winner? Definitely The Odeon's homemade cookies and cream ice cream with M1-5's pulled pork sliders coming in a close second.

Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the fact that I was in foodie heaven? Whatever the case may be, this was one of the most memorable dates ever.