The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Friday, February 23, 2007

comida typical

Before the long weekend, DMR and I were invited to dinner at the home of his former colleague Ms. R. Ms. R lives out in Bay Ridge and on the R train ride over, it occurred to me that I hadn't been to this part of Brooklyn (sans driving through it) in over 2 years! My boss, let's call him "Great Morning!" at the former workplace named for a vegetable moved to Bay Ridge shortly after I started. GM! would disappear for hours at a time on a daily basis and my coworkers and I just knew was home playing with his new dog. That job required me to traverse Manhattan and Kings County and on several occasions I thought about going into to Bay Ridge on the change I might bump into GM! and totally bust him. I digress.

Ms. R's husband cooked a typical Puerto Rican meal for us - red beans and rice, chicken and tostones. The chicken legs were super tender, with the meat easily falling off the bone. I had two drumsticks, DMR had three! Chunks of pork were cooked down with the beans, lending a savory smokiness. My favorite part of the meal were tostones. I've had plenty of platanos maduros in my day, but tostones were new to me. I love the way they're prepared. Green plantains are cut up and placed in a fryer for a bit. They're then taken out of the fryer and smashed to form a thinner disc and fried again. The result is an ultimate chip with a fantastically crisp exterior.

DMR and I did our best to clear our plates but we came up short as we had both been presented with a heaping mound of rice upon sitting down at the table. I was full for the next 24 hours.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007


DMR had Tuesday off as part of a four-day weekend, so we decided to head over to Palo Santo for lunch. Once again, they were closed and we were foiled. I guess they are no longer serving breakfast and lunch? According to the website, they're open seven days a week, but there's no mention of breakfast and lunch. Menupages has daytime hours as Monday - Friday from 7AM-3PM, but with dinner only served Wednesday - Sunday. I don't understand this place, which is a sad thing because I really liked going for lunch.

Our consolation prize, or should I say, booby prize was to have lunch at Moutarde. This place just isn't very good. It's not terrible, but as I like to say about many restaurants in the area, it's passably mediocre. Occasionally, the kitchen has its shit together and you get a decent meal, but more often than not, it's a combination of lax service and underwhelming food. I ordered a croque madame with fries and DMR went with the banana pancakes with a side of bacon. The bacon, while a generous side portion of about 5 strips, was completely overcooked. The pieces had curled up like ribbon candy. My sandwich came with greens instead of the fries I had requested. Although the missing starch situation was quickly remedied, there wasn't a french fry on the plate longer than an inch and a half. I must have gotten the last remaining fries in the bag. Dan's pancakes were just bad - nothing fluffy about them at all.

Which brings us to the past weekend in Silver Spring, where DMR and I had the blandest Chinese food ever at the China House restaurant, and unbelievably bad service at the Bombay Indian restaurant. Nearly every dish we had at China House was devoid of flavor which apparently customers are ok with, judging by the brisk takeout business. The food at Bombay was on par with or better than most of the Indian restaurants in this area, but the service was atrocious. The restaurant wasn't even that big and there were 3 servers on the floor plus a manager who didn't appear to be helping to pick up the slack when things fell behind. We had to wait forever for menus (which we had to ask for after twiddling our thumbs for 10 or 15 minutes), plates, our food (Stone Groove's entree came out about 10 minutes after everyone else's), refills on water (I asked one of the servers who just didn't want to acknowledge me. When she was again in our vicinity, I repeated my request and she responded with a deer in headlights look) and of course our check. There was a lot of head shaking as patrons got up from their tables to leave. All the tables seemed to have the same combination of amusement and annoyance. In addition to getting into a productive rhythm in the kitchen and the room, these guys could also stand to be a little more generous with the sauces and chutneys. Ramekins the size of pre-portioned creamers cups you get at the diner doesn't cut it for a table of 5, or even a table of two!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Last Night's Dinner: Anti-Valentine's Day / Nester Version

DMR is especially not a fan of Valentine's Day. I think it's somewhat of a racket too, but it's still nice to go out mainly because I like eating out. But mainly, we stay in. Last year he surprised me by "cooking" dinner at home. That is, he assembled pre-made items, which is all I can ask for considering he had to step into a market to pick up these things which I'm sure was hard enough.

This year I did the shopping and picked up the following for dinner:
• flank steak with roasted tomatoes
• sauteed spinach with garlic
• haricot vert with mushrooms
• fromager d'affinois (a cheese I had recently tried for the first time and loved)
• demi-baguette (I think from Tom Cat Bakery which they stock at Union Market).

and best of all for dessert, 18 oz of Il Laboratorio del Gelato in mint chip picked up from Bierkraft.

I reheated the flank steak in the toaster oven on the broiler setting, which brought it back to life. I had planned to reduce some balsamic vinegear into a syrup to drizzle over the meat, but forgot and turns out the meat really didn't need it. The veggies I placed in a small covered skillet to quickly reheat them and also resulted in a very hot pan lid, which I of course grabbed without a towel. There's a nice Mike n Ike sized burn mark on my palm. The gelato was soft and smooth with abundant chunks of dark chocolate. Somehow we managed not to eat the entire container.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Todaya's Lunch: Delices de Paris

While I do love my fair share of sandwiches overstuffed with cured, poly-syllabic meats or completely drenched in red sauce, I'm also a fan of simpler fare like a jambon baguette. I love the combination of soft, creamy butter and thinly sliced ham on a crusty baguette. I used to get these regularly at Balthazar when I worked one of my myriad jobs in the Soho area. Recently I found a place in my neighborhood that serves a pretty formidable jambon baguette - Delicies de Paris. The sandwiches run a little on the small side, since their baguettes are skinnier than I'm accustomed to, but that's probably all for the better. Both sides of bread are spread with butter. Then they lay on a couple slices of ham and Gruyere. A few halved grape tomatoes and chopped romaine lettuce are placed atop and dressed with an olive oil based vinaigrette. Tasty.

I never really noticed this place until I ran into a neighbor on 5th Avenue with a baguette tucked under his arm and inquired about its origins. 9th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues is just one of those blocks I don't traffic much. There are three gyms in the vicinity (NYSC, Curves and the Y). That's probably why I stay away.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Japanese Shake n' Bake / Wattstax Party
(For Marge the Chestnuts)

Who knew Shake 'n' Bake could be so much fun? Well, apparently Mooney did and recently came over to shake it and bake it in the PSG test kitchen. He had received a care package from the inimitable Yu (aka Marge the Chestnuts) all the way from Japan, containing a bounty of treats, including Japanese-style SnB. I was curious and so Mooney graciously offered to include myself and some other friends in the taste test.

Here's Chef Mooney preparing to shake some cut-up chicken breasts and thighs. Even though I like to say I don't like dark meat, thighs are my favorite part of a chicken. I always thought they were white meat, anyway.

We used this packet of seasonings to coat the aforementioned chicken pieces. Mooney added some sesame oil into the egg mixture to up the Asian taste sensation. Don't the what I assume to be nuggets on the packaging look delicious?

Action shot!

This second type of seasoning was slightly spicier, and used on wings. It was difficult to coat such large pieces of chicken with a small amount of spices. Since none of us could read Japanese, we had to wing it (no pun intended). Perhaps we were supposed to mix the contents of each packet with flour or cornstarch? No clue. Maybe Marge the Chestnuts can fill us in.

Mooney brought over some Hot Chinese Mustard to use as a condiment. We supplemented the condiments bar with Hot Chili Sauce and Kewpie Mayo from my fridge. Here, he displays his great teeth strength.

The finished wings!

The finished SnB chicken. This was so good, I even picked some of the leftover crunchy bits off the baking pan.

The chef holds up a bottle of infamous Kewpie Mayo, while the sous-chef wonders when it will be time to eat. Rounding out our feast were some roasted garlic mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli which I made and some spicy vinegar-based cole slaw from Anne and Alex.

And then it was on to good times with the Wattstax crew!

Ain't I'm clean?

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Friday, February 02, 2007

The PSG and The CLC Congratulate...

Dave and Jen on the birth of their son! I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that little Mandela's middle name was inspired by this man:

Need a hint? Think Balgavy's favorite place to eat tuna tataki!