Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Food Art at the Modern

It was last summer that I visted the Modern (at the MOMA) for an amazing tasting menu with wine pairings. The service here was top-notch (should I mention that they very quickly and very discreetly brought me a band-aid within seconds of my inquiry? Let's not ask why), the wines matched the notes of each course amazingly well, but most of all, the presentation was absolutely beautiful!

These pics are highlights from the separate tasting menus that Rob and I enjoyed. There was the foie gras terrine, yellowfin tartare, diver scallops, escargot ravioli... then it starts to get hazy. Let's just enjoy these very colorful and droolworthy pictures from the evening:

After dessert, they rolled out a very amazing dessert cart and encouraged us to try as much as we wanted. A very cruel trick, considering we were all stuffed to the brim. The balsamic lollipop (the only thing I could even consider trying) was really memorable -- the vinegar was surprisingly nice as an after-meal sucker. The "lobster cappuccino," on the other hand, didn't have the same effect, though I know some people that disagree.

If you ever find yourself at the MOMA, stop by next door, grab a seat at the bar, enjoy some free truffled popcorn and order a hinny kick (it's Alice's favorite, as well!). It's a fantastic introduction to this amazing restaurant.

The Modern
9 W. 53rd St.

Weekend Fix at Blue Bottle

I'm not a coffee snob during the week, but when Saturday and Sunday come around I need a smoother, craftier caffeine fix than the usual grande bold blend from Starbucks. Even though its a bit of a walk, and sometimes its a bit chilly out, and there's ALWAYS a line out the door, I head to Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg to get a special weekend treat before catching the L train to Manhattan. 

Even when its cold out, I have to get a cold-brewed New Orleans iced coffee. It's a bold and flavorful, but with a solid pour of milk (they balance it themselves), its super smooth, a little sweet and adequately creamy. Just check out the deep, nutty-brown color of that iced coffee. Doesn't get much better than that! I only wish they served it in a normal iced coffee cup with a straw.

They also have a fantastic hot chocolate featuring cacao crafted from the bearded Mast Brothers down the street.

I still have yet to try other drip coffees here, but so far, the New Orleans is a winner.

Blue Bottle Coffee
160 Berry Street (betw. N. 4th and N. 5th), Brooklyn, NY


Sunday, April 10, 2011

My 100th Post!

I haven't blogged in the past month or so because it was really hard to find a spot that would one-up my 99th post of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I've also been spending so much more time in the kitchen than in any restaurant. So I guess it makes sense to do something different here and post about a few food adventures I've had here in the 'ol Greenpoint apartment.

I've been using America's Test Kitchen recipe book as my home cooking Bible. I seriously love this book, not only because every recipe has come out amazingly well, but because they write a little "Why This Recipe Works" blurb for every single recipe. It gives great perspective on why one method or set of ingredients works better than another. And its made it even easier to go from Bisquick and cake mixes to the from-scratch school of thought.

Baking is a million times more fun when you're involved in combining every single basic ingredient. When making brownies, cupcakes or other chocolately desserts, its fun to melt butter and hand-chopped dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a low simmering pot of water. Just make sure the glass you use is tempered -- made that mistake (oops).

The kitchen can get messier than normal, but its definitely a more satisfying experience do it the longhand way.

We snagged my parents' pasta roller and ordered a ravioli maker a few weeks ago. The roller is still attached to the side of our kitchen table in case we want to make more pasta on a whim. The hand-made egg linguinis and other Italian basics are good, but ATK's 4-cheese lasagna with creamy bechamel sauce was a complete revelation. The best ravioli we've cranked out so far is the lamb and spinach; the butternut squash mixed with ricotta wasn't so bad, either.

Breakfast on the weekends has also been pretty good lately. It's been just chilly enough to deter us from going out to brunch, so I like to make the blueberry pancakes recipe from the ATK book. I add a little bit more lemon juice to the milk and let it sit 'til its thick; sometimes I'll add powdered sugar or ricotta cheese directly to the batter to lighten it up a bit. It's still a little early for fresh blueberries (plus, the best blueberries for pancakes are in Maine at the end of August anyway) so I use the frozen kind. They still look pretty while they thaw and drain.

And then there's the freestyle after-work snack. Rosemary pork roast and speck from Eataly, a medium-cooked egg, a few slices of Swiss cheese, a little whole grain mustard on lightly toasted rye, with a final drizzle of truffle oil. I think I'm getting the hang of this cooking thing!