Saturday, March 29, 2008

Trout

I wanted to make whole duck last night but the Columbus Circle Whole Foods did not have any. Balducci's also did not have a single duck in stock. Are they out of season? Is everyone cooking them? Or is no one cooking them?

Anyway, I refused to go to a third store. Didn't want any beef, the lamb was ridiculously over-priced, I've been eating chicken almost every day, I'm trying not to get sick of salmon, Chilean sea bass looked good but I always feel guilty eating it, and the sole is always more expensive than you'd think it should be. Hey, I haven't had trout for a while. And I don't think I've ever cooked it before.

They looked so good at Balducci's. And so affordable. Only $10 for two fish.


Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques had a really simple recipe for trout and the fishmonger did most of the hardest parts for me. All I had to do was lightly dredge the skin side in flour, salt and pepper, fold the fish in half, width-wise, and cook them in a skillet with butter. Five minutes per side over medium heat. With the heads on.

I took the fish off the heat, toasted some sliced almonds in the cooking butter, and then spooned the almonds on the fish. I placed some lemon slices covered in minced parsley on top, and that was all!

I like this dish. It's simple and cooks the fish nicely, I like almonds, and I think keeping the heads on is cool. Mabel was freaked out by the heads and asked me not to make it this way anymore. I think the heads are cool.

This was my fish.


And this one was Mabel's.


Hers looks a little meaner. Maybe that was the problem. They look like angry turtles.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Caporal Fried Chicken

Last Friday, Priscilla and I decided to get some fried chicken at New Caporal Fried Chicken. We asked others in the lab if they wanted to go, but for some reason they didn't want to go. It's not that far away.

We decided to take the bus but got on the wrong one by mistake (the M3). Well, we figured that maybe we could go to another chicken place that Lei has talked about: Charles Southern Style Kitchen on 8th Ave. It turns out Priscilla had been there too, but she was up for going again. When we got down to 152nd St, we thought 8th Ave was just a few blocks away. But then we reached a cliff.


So we turned back. Upper Manhattan is a strange place. Charles Southern Style Kitchen will have to wait another day.

Anyway, after walking another 20 minutes we made our way to our original destination, New Caporal.


There's no seating inside, and you have to order through bulletproof glass.


We got 6 pieces of chicken for $5! I think it was cheaper because we got all legs and thighs.

It turns out that the 157th St 1 train stops at the corner of the block. We spent 40 minutes getting there by bus. It took less than 10 minutes to get back to lab on the train.

But it was worth it.


This fried chicken is so good. It's not super crispy, but the chicken is flavorful and tastes like chicken. When I say it tastes like chicken, I mean that it doesn't just taste like bland generic meat. And you're not mainly tasting the seasonings or the batter. I mean that the meat it is flavorful in a chicken-like way analogous to how lamb is flavorful in a lamb way. In a way that some people might not like because it tastes how meat should taste. Mabel's tells me that the slogan on the box, "Sabrosito hasta el huesito," roughly translates into "Flavorful to the bone." Indeed.


I love their chicken box. It is awesome in so many ways, one of which is the cowboy chick shooting guns. I wonder if that's what the bulletproof glass is for.

New Caporal Restaurant
3772 Broadway (btn 156th and 157th St)
New York, NY 10032

Balducci's chicken

Last Wednesday Mabel sat in line at the Met Opera to get rush tickets for La Traviata. (She was post-call.) I was in charge of dinner.


It had to be quick, so I made a 20 minute meal. Balducci's has an awesome herb roast chicken. Sometimes it is less fresh than others, but on average it is one of the best deals ever. Only about $8.50. And it took 0 minutes.

The other 20 minutes were spent making Brussels sprouts and heating up rice.

Balducci's
81 8th Ave (at 14th St)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 741-3700

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bouchon's Nutter Butter Cookies are good again

Bouchon's Nutter Butter cookie is back to its former glory. Priscilla brought (half of) one into lab for me to try. They went through a short stretch where the cookies were disgusting, but now they are awesome again.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oysters from Citarella

I got some oysters from Citarella last week, half a dozen Wellfleets and half a dozen from Fisher Island.

Citarella is the best place I know of to get oysters.

The Wellfleets are usually my favorites from Citarella, but the fishmonger said that the Fisher Island ones were looking pretty good too, so I gave them a try.


The Fisher Island shells were beautiful and the oysters were plump, fresh, and awesome. These are my new favorites. Or maybe they were just the freshest of the bunch.

Citarella will shuck oysters for you, at just an extra $1 per 6. I wish I knew about that a while ago. It's totally worth it for me. I average about 30 seconds to a minute per oyster (probably closer to a minute), and I don't have to scrub them and get all set up. And worry about stabbing myself. And they give you lots of ice.

Citarella
2135 Broadway (at 75th St)
New York, NY 10023

Monday, March 17, 2008

David Burke at Bloomingdale's

Way back in November Mabel and I got something to eat at Burke in the Box at Bloomingdale's.


Burke in the Box and the adjacent cafe were both packed. And both are pricey for what you get, although what you get can be pretty good.

I got the reuben. It had a great bun with a thin, crisp exterior and soft interior. It came with a nice side of thick homemade chips.

Mabel got an order of the truffle fries which are supposedly well known. They were cold when we got them.

Burke in the Box
Bloomingdale's
1000 3rd Ave (entrance on 59th St)
New York, NY 10022
212.705.3800

Tilden Park and The Little Farm

Okay, last post about the Bay Area. Ben, Azusa, and friends decided to rent a Zipcar and take a hike in Tilden Park.


Oversized sunglasses are in style.

Anyway, there's a little farm at Tilden Park called The Little Farm, and I got to pet a cow!



They had goats and sheep and chickens and pigs too, but I like the cow the best. The sheep sort of freak me out. The goats really have personality.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bouchon

Crystal and I capped off our day in the Napa Valley with dinner at Bouchon.



We ordered Cassoulet, Leg of Lamb, and a Sauteed Gnocchi dish.

Cassoulet was listed under hors d'oeuvres which seemed weird to me, but we split an order to start. I was really curious to see how Bouchon would do it. It came in a mini Staub cast iron pot and had a nice garnish of a leaf on a slice of sausage. But the duck was blended into the beans and the whole dish seemed kind of homogenous. It was basically just beans with a slice of sausage on top. It was good, but not really what I was expecting.

I read a great recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon in the Bouchon cookbook earlier in the week and was hoping the restaurant would have it on their menu that night, but they didn't. So I got the leg of lamb, which was perfectly cooked. It came on a bed of beans. This was a complete miscalculation on my part. I think that day I ate the most beans that I've ever eaten in a single day. There was the Petite Sale, then the Cassoulet, and then the huge portion of beans that came with the lamb. I'm not sure how I managed to order all these bean dishes. The odds of that happening are really low. But I guess the odds are even lower that in my entire life I would not eat beans for every meal of the day. So I've gotten that out of the way.

Crystal got a sauteed gnocchi dish which wasn't exactly what either of us expected either, but it was still good.

For dessert we split a Pot de Creme that I think was infused with cinnamon. It was really good.

I was sort of Califonia red wined out, so I got a glass of red Burgundy. Crystal was wined out too, so she ordered lemon drops. Her drinks were really good. The bartenders at Bouchon are fantastic.

Overall, Bouchon had good food, but it isn't worth a special trip to Yountville. Everything was well prepared, but there seemed to be something missing at the same time. I really like the idea of refined and well thought out bistro food that Bouchon claims to be about, but the experience didn't seem extraordinary. Bistro Jeanty felt more like a nice refined bistro to me.

Maybe I felt this way because the waitress seemed a bit off that night. She was flustered but at the same time didn't seem to care that much. And it was really difficult to flag her down for the check. I've been to bistros where there are only 2 people running the entire front of the restaurant, and it was difficult to get a hold of the waiters. But Bouchon isn't really one of those kinds of places.

Maybe it was because I noticed that our plates were streaked. If they go to the trouble of turning the Bouchon logo on the plate to face you, then the plate should be polished, right? I'm usually not that picky about those kinds of things, except they seem to be asking for it. I mean, it's a nice plate and you're looking at it and it looks kind of dirty.

Or maybe it was just the beans. I don't know.

Bouchon
6534 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-8037