Friday, February 22, 2013

Tasting Menus in Cobblestone Alleys: Cava in Portsmouth

Portsmouth, New Hampshire has always been my favorite place to get away from the city. Every once in awhile we need that fresh snap of chilly air, a beer flight at the brewery, quiet sleepy nights and tugboats on deep blue water to wake up to. We do a little shopping at Market Basket and prep most of our own meals when we can. But Portsmouth has so many great restaurants and it'd be a shame not to make the most of it. Our favorite spot is a little tapas place down a small cobblestone alley. Cava serves up fantastic Spanish dishes and amazingly, it's completely affordable. On our last visit with friends, two of us ordered the $30 chef's tasting menu, which includes four plates, and we got a few other plates to share. Sidenote -- everything on the chef's menu is doubled, since it was intended for two of us to share.

First on the tasting menu was a crudo. I think this was the yellow tail tuna. Fresh and pretty.

There was beef sirloin with brussel sprouts and a little something extra we couldn't be certain about. The texture reminded us of chestnuts, but were they really? They don't look or taste like what we have at Christmas every year, but the waiter assured us that we were actually correct. 

Then a creamy soup, poured tableside.

There was this. I don't remember what it was. Was it the oxtail chorizo meatball? Maybe.

But how could I forget the poutine?

I think this one was an add-on. I can never resist scallops on the menu. Especially when they're sweetened with vanilla. The cauliflower added a salty contrast.

And the staple of tapas, patatas bravas. Comprendas?

The duck breast. Kumquats. Pistachios. This plate's a beauty.

The dessert was fantastic. I believe this was the almond torta with orange, mascarpone and white chocolate.

It has been a year and a half since our last real visit, so everything had that extra special magic feel to it. This meal fit into our weekend perfectly. We vowed that it won't be that long until our next mini road trip to our favorite zen spot. Who wants to come with us next time?

10 Commercial Alley
Portsmouth, NY

Also -- the chef has a pretty cool blog with the monthly-updated menu. The backlog is my favorite part!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Milk Burger. Milk Shakes.

You know what's pretty awesome? A burger under $10.

You know what's even more awesome? When that same burger comes with bacon, jalapeno relish and melted cheese with a sunnyside up egg that juts out at you like a star. For $7.75. Behold the El Barrio from Milk Burger! It's like Shake Shack without the wait. Only you have to trek up to East Harlem for it.

Fun tip: take the Java shake for the long walk back downtown.
Vanilla ice cream spun with Cafe Patron. Makes your afternoon that much better.

Rumor has it they're coming to Williamsburg this summer!

Milk Burger
2051 2nd Ave, NY, NY 10029
Btwn 105th & 106th St
(212) 360-1988

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A New Ippudo Favorite

During our obligatory monthly visits to Ippudo in the wintertime, Rob and I give each other those daring looks that say "YOU be the adventurous one." We rarely get the same thing when we dine out so we can try other things, but the Akamaru Modern is the accepted favorite at Ippudo (still as beautiful and bone warming as it was two years ago). That leaves one of us with the obligation to try a different ramen, and then stare longingly at the Akamaru Modern until its offered. Relationships are all about compromise, after all.

At our last visit the other week, I willingly took the risk for one of the specials -- the Kogashi Miso Ramen with a broth made from blackened miso. Pork, cabbage, greens (watercress, maybe?) and oil. Wow. It tasted like magic crack laced with pork. I asked the waiter, what's IN this? Because it can't just be charred miso. I didn't get a straight answer. Or really any answer.

Anyway, I always order with the nitamago added on -- a soft boiled egg that lends extra richness to the already hearty broth. Not a great picture -- I was clearly shaking with anticipation -- but here it is, in all its oily glory.

I think it's still on the menu. I have a feeling neither of us will be ordering the Akamaru next time.

Ippudo NY
65 4th Ave