The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Frackin' Delicious

A few weeks ago, the CLC and I were invited over to our pal Marvin's (note, this is an alias) for dinner and a screening of that evening's new episode of Battlestar Galactica. Marv had prepared a delicious pot roast with a gorgeous gravy that I wanted to gulp down straight from the boat. He also put together some pickled red cabbage and mashed potatoes for our pre-show meal. Afterwards we still had a little bit of time before the episode began airing so worked off some of the calories by Wii-ing. We Wii bowled, Wii tennised and Wii boxed. I haven't had a workout this good in ages. My arms were wii-ly sore for the next couple days. I won't even discus the episode because it was incredibly annoying and made me mad, but that gravy! How much time do you have?

Marvy decided to reprise the festivities this past Sunday for the season finale of Battlepoop Shitactica. That night, he prepared a bacon wrapped pork loin. I was impressed by the succulence of the meat. Whenever I make pork, I always overcook it in a way you need a tricked out Ginsu to make a dent. His secret was to cook it in chicken stock and continually baste (did I get that right?). Accompanying our double shot of pig was homemade chunky applesauce and roasted Brussels sprouts. I've never been much of a fan of Brussels sprouts, but these were really good. It was a simple preparation stolen from Ms. Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that before heading over to M's apartment in Chinatown, the CLC and I got pretty drunk. DMR was out of town doing fantasy baseball crap so I invited the CLC over to watch the basketball games. She was rooting for the Ducks over Florida in game one, while the one tournament pool I'm still a contender in dictated that I root for the Gators. I really did want to root for the Duckies since they were the underdog, but I had to go with my bracket. Sorry spirit of Steve Prefontaine. In the second game, we were both rooting for Georgetown over UNC and while doing so downed a bottle of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque 1996 without realizing it. It was probably the most delicious champagne I've ever tasted. The only mixer available in my apartment was a little carton of ruby red grapefruit juice so we made Moon Walks (champers and grapefruit). The CLC then polished off the trio of each with only a couple shots left vodka bottles, which I was grateful for since I'm moving soon and didn't want to move those bottles.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's For Lunch?

All I seem capable of eating for lunch lately is mozzarella + protein. And usually that protein is roast beef or chicken cutlets. What I am getting at is that I've become completely beaten down by my lunch options. If you're in Park Slope you can usually see me wandering aimlessly up and down 5th Avenue between 1-2PM. Nothing sounds overly appealing to me (taste + price) and when I do decide on something specific I seem to get foiled a lot (Palo Santo & El Pollo, I'm looking right at you!).

I had a hot roast beef with mozzarella and roasted red peppers yesterday and a chicken parm the day before. I limit myself to half a sandwich because they are pretty big and filling. I have eaten whole ones in the past and come to regret that choice. DMR usually takes the uneaten half with him to work the next day so it works out well. Both were from A&S Pork Store, which I like quite a lot and will totally miss when we move. The butchers always mistake me for someone else and recently asked how the baby was. I don't have a kid nor am I pregnant, so that was amusing. I nearly got another mozzarella + ? sandwich today but decided against it. Then I decided I wanted El Pollo and hooray, they were open for lunch! They had a few lunch specials written out on a board outside, including a 1/4 rotisserie chicken combo with curly fries. Curly fries? I wanted tostones to accompany my meal but didn't feel like checking in to see if the substitution was possible so I just kept walking.

North of Union Street, I began to feel really stressed out. I had done this exact same quest for lunch route a few days before and settled for something I really didn't want. Today I decided on Nana before I had a breakdown on the street. DMR and I will order delivery from Nana once in a blue moon. They aren't a go-to for us, but it's where we get our roti canai fix. I ordered a lunch special combination of wontons with balsamic soy and a chicken curry laksa. The dumplings were encased in a nice thin skin and stuffed with chicken or pork. I wasn't really paying attention but it wasn't a typical meat + chive/green vegetable mixture. It could have been a chicken meatball even. The dipping sauce came applied to the dumplings (boo!) which unfortunately made all the crispy shallots that were sprinkled atop soggy. Other than that, these were pretty good.

The laksa seemed promising. There was a little fire symbol next to this dish on the menu to indicate its spiciness. I'm still waiting for the spice to kick in. I do give them credit for packing up the sauce/broth separately from the noodles and chicken, but overall the laksa was a disappointment. The curry lacked spice and flavor for that matter! I liked the thick egg noodles, which reminded me of skinny udon. I wasn't expecting fried potato chunks but those were in the container along with Japanese eggplant, scallions and bean sprouts. I don't like eggplant in non-babaganouj form, but have learned to accept it. Maybe potatoes aren't uncommon in a laksa, but these looked like home fries, hence the confusion.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Two Things I Won't Miss When We Move

I've enjoyed every meal I've had at Bogota Latin Bistro. The food is always solid and the service has always been quite friendly. So it pains me to have to call them out on this, but I think it's worth mentioning. The other day DMR and I met at Bogota for dinner. He went with the plantain crusted chicken, I the ropa vieja and we split the entrees half and half. Both were great, especially the chicken which I had never tried before and would definitely consider ordering again. I ordered a Michelada to drink and Dan decided to have one as well. The Michelada at Bogota is made with Negra Modelo beer, lime, hot sauce and served over ice in a glass with a chili-rubbed rim. I think beer cocktails are delicious. They charge $7 for the drink, two dollars more than ordering a regular Negra Modelo, which I imagine comes in a bottle. Imagine my chagrin then when the drink is served in a smallish high ball glass that's packed with ice and the remaining beer is nowhere to be found. It's enough of a price gouge to charge $2 more for ice, a few shakes of hot sauce and a lime wedge. Actually I take that back since many places serve Negra Modelo with lime. To then serve it in a small glass that probably held at most 6 oz of liquid between all that ice and not give you what's left of your beer is completely lame. If our table had only ordered one, would I have gotten the beer that couldn't fit in the glass? It always made me angry when you'd order a shake or ice cream soda and the store would throw away the part that didn't fit into the glass. Which is why a place like Tom's in Prospect Heights, where they bring the metal mixing cup out with your lime rickey or milk shake, is so great. I mean, did the bartender see this as an opportunity to squeeze an extra drink out of one bottle of beer? Does the restaurant feel good about this frugality? I was so shocked I didn't even know what to say. Next time I'll order a bottle and ask for a glass with ice and lime. I'll use the hot sauce that's provided for free liberal dousing to make my own Michelada.

In other Park Slope bullshit, I'm completely done with Palo Santo. I guess they are no longer serving food during the day since Dan and I tried to meet there for lunch again this past week and they were not open. Yesterday we tried to eat brunch there. A two-top that's floating in the room, practically in the way of the front door is where they wanted to seat us. I didn't understand why this table was placed where it was. I asked if there were seats available in the back room. There were not. There were two four-tops available in the front area as well but we were not offered those tables. Understandable, but it was also on the late side for brunch. We were offered a sorry, so we left. Perhaps I overreacted by not wanting to sit at the reject table but all those times the restaurant has not been open during promised open hours has really soured me. All these attempts to eat brunch here and that's the only seating they can offer? Oh well, we're moving in a few weeks anyway.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Yesterday's Brunch: Gen Japanese Restaurant

While the husband was off pondering over baseball players for the first of his many fantasy drafts, I met up with the CLC and Jimmy-John for some Japanese brunch at Gen. I first noticed this place because their logo is similiar to the Korean word for Hong and because I don't think I ever saw it open. Also, it sticks out on a relatively unattractive stretch of Prospect Heights, flanked by wholesale liquor stores and hiddeous new construction. The CLC had recently tried their newish brunch with her mom and was all raves. I know some people might be turned off by the idea of brunch at a Japanese restaurant, but mostly folks are just probably misinformed and scared.

You can order Japanese dishes and sushi a la carte or go with the prix-fix brunch, which is what I did. At $13, it's quite a deal. To drink, you can pick from a selection of teas or Cafe Du Monde coffee. On top of that you get a choice of juice (orange, cranberry or tomato) or cocktail (sake mimosa or cranberry sake spritzer type beverage). I went with coffee and the spritzer, the CLC barley tea and cranberry juice and Jim, who did not go with the special brunch ordered a ginger ale with a splash of cranberry.

All the brunch bentos begin with the soup of the day. On Sunday it was a savory chicken vegetable (potato chunks, napa cabbage ribbons and lima beans!) Not terribly Japanese, but tasty nonetheless.

To accompany your main course, you also get the following: a piece of green tea pancake with a dollop of sweetened red beans, mini-chirashi and a mini-omelet with king crab, parmasaen, tomato and onion. The mini-chirashi was built with a mound of seasoned wild rice as its foundation. Pieces of whitefish, salmon and smoked salmon sashimi were draped over it and then topped with salmon roe and green tobiko.

I had a tough time picking my main but ultimately went with the salad with tuna two ways. I know Sunday isn't the best day to order fish, but I took a chance and it worked out fine. The salad was composed of pieces of fresh tuna and pressed, deep fried tuna and avocado slices over a bed of lettuces, tomato, red cabbage and carrot strands. Served on the side was a salty and tart yuzu caper dressing. At first I dipped my salad into my dressing, but then wound up just pouring it over everything which worked out just fine, thank you.

I ate it all, although I did share some of my pancake with Jim. It was delicious and such a nice alternative to full sized omelets and home fries. I liked getting a little bit of sweet to go with my savory. I liked the lack of bread, which I eat way too much of anyway. The only non-plus was the service. It wasn't a minus since she was quite attentive (there was only one other table eating), but she was kind of strange. Jim had finished eating his oyako-don but there was still a little bit of food left. When the waitress came to clear his plate, she seemed a little annoyed that he hadn't eaten everything. Also, she seemed to be having a contentious conversation with one of the sushi chefs about the way the menu was written out. Although they had nothing to do with each other, it didn't help matters when Beth loudly complained about girls with schmatas on their heads since our waitress was wearing a headwrap herself!

I hope some of this appeals to DMR since I plan on eating brunch here EVERY WEEKEND. Just kidding, we can alternate with Bonitas.

I also thought that I was picking up menu #2 for the new apartment (The Smoke Joint being menu #1), but turns out we'll be 2 blocks too North for their delivery range.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Last Night's Dinner: The Smoke Joint

Last night was our board approval meeting (just found out a short while ago we got approved, yay!) in Clinton Hill and afterwards we walked in the cold to the Smoke Joint. I had foolishly decided to wear knee socks thinking that both my coat and skirt ran past my knees and by the time we got to the restaurant, I had lost feeling in them.

I've gone with the baby backs the previous two times I've been here and went with them again last night and they did not disappoint. They were the best they've ever been. I got a really nice portion of about 6-7 ribs that I gnawed clean. DMR went with the hacked and stacked beef sandwich and I stole a few nubbins of meat from right under his nose, which he lets me get away with all the time. His sandwich came with some spicy pickles and a small mound of vinegar-based cole slaw, most of which I ate. We also got a side of fries seasoned with their house dry rub and some simmered greens. The greens were completely unecessary due to the generous number of ribs and I couldn't finish them. If I could change one thing, I'd prefer if the greens were chopped into smaller pieces and I'd love it if they offered combo platters. I need a taste of greens or cole slaw, not an entire side.

Incidentially the proprietor of 67 Burger was digging into some barbeque last night, too.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

No writing, but lots of eating.

So much has been consumed since I last wrote. I kept having specific things that I wanted to write about that just never panned out, causing me to just not bother. Like, I’m still waiting for pictures of the amazingly fresh sushi I ate at Sushi Yasuda (Matt – Are you ok? WHERE ARE YOU? How is South Africa? Have you been eaten by a lion? If so, does said lion want to be a guest poster for the PSG & CLC?). I also requested some photographic evidence of the delicious Hoosier tenderloin EZ made for the Super Bowl, but no love! By the way, for the aforementioned event, I made two types of little canapés – both had halved baby Yukon Gold potatoes as the base. For the first, I scooped out the potato, filled it with sautéed sauerkraut and placed a slice of Greenpoint procured kielbasa atop. The second variety had some shredded mozzarella in the little scooped out part with a slice of pork and broccoli rabe sausage on top (sausage was from the butcher at Fairway). I’m an idea person and not that great at actually executing, so while the canapés were pretty tasty, they didn’t look as nice as I initially envisioned.

Anyway, I just wanted to quickly check in. Soon I’ll write about some brunches – two were off the hook (from the same place though) and one used to be an old favorite of mine, but now I’m feeling v. under-whelmed.



Thursday, March 01, 2007

New on Fifth: Willie's Dawgs

The tiny storefront across the street from IS 51 that's been promising hot dogs for months has finally opened. I happened to be walking by on the first day of operations at Willie's Dawgs and picked up a couple to sample. They use natural casing Karl Ehmers, which have a nice snap to them. The guys behind the counter hadn't yet found their groove, but the dogs were solid. Willie's offers an afterschool special for the kids but there were no combos for the adults, something I hope will change soon as two dogs cost a little over $8 with tax.

I went with the Heidi - swiss cheese, sauerkraut and mustard on a multi-grain roll.

For DMR, I picked up a Frankie, loaded with bacon and caramelized onions on a challah roll.

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