The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Red Hook Eating Day

Started the day with some huaraches at the Red Hook food stands.

A vendor sprinkles cheese on the double layered shell.

Two plates needed for the finished product, which is touched with three of the four hot sauces they had available. I thought the lighter green one was going to be guacamole-based and mild. I was wrong. Thank goodness for the extra large horchata that did a very good job of cooling things down.

Hot Tub was visiting with Memphis. Amie had brunch plans with a friend so Hot Tub dug into the corn all by himself. He did pick up a horchata and bean and cheese pupusa for her on the way out.

Then it was a short drive down the road to get some Swingles (a frozen mini key lime pie on a stick and dipped in chocolate) from Steve's.

Dave taunts young Henry.

That evening, dinner at Lucali's gets thwarted by the two hour waiting time, so we headed over to Schnack. We got an order of fries and onion rings for the table. I got a kielbasa and single as well as a Sprecher root beer for myself. I think Hot Tub got the same kielbasa and single combo. Amie ordered the most delicious looking root beer shake and a single. Mooney went with the chili and Chris Larry got the RC Cola ribs. Dan got the two singles - one with bacon, one with cheese - pictured below. By the way, Schnack is now BYOB, but you can still order beer shakes.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ramen Setagaya First Taste

My office closed early last Friday so I headed to the recently opened, much-hyped Ramen Setagaya for a late lunch. Although the restaurant wasn't full and the lines hadn't formed yet, it was a pretty good showing for 4PM on a dreary day. I took a seat along the bar in front of the food preparation area, hoping I could get an insider's look, and ordered a shio ramen and pork gyoza combo. I have to say, I wasn't all that blown away. No photos unfortunately as my camera decided to stop working.

The ramen was good enough, but nothing I'd wait in line for. The noodles came nestled in a bowl with slices of pork, seaweed, marinated bamboo, half a boiled egg and thinly shaved green onion slivers. A tiny sprinkling of pulverized, dried scallops topped off the dish. The pork was flavorful, but on the dry side. I did love the egg. The yolk was barely set, with just a thin layer closest to the white having firmed up. For some reason, seeing the kitchen crew slice the eggs using a piece of fishing wire tied to a cabinet handle delighted me to no end.

The dumplings were a disappointment. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see them being pulled frozen from a bag. I imagine most places use frozen gyoza. But there was a strange taste from either the dipping sauce or the dumplings themselves. It was sort of familiar and though I couldn't quite place it, I knew it was a taste that didn't belong.

At the back of Ramen Setagaya, near the lone bathroom, is another restaurant! It's a completely different place serving pasta and sushi! The other surprise was that the kitchen staff was clearing speaking Korean. So were some of the waitresses. I thought this was a Japanese joint! I'll have to return to investigate.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dear Dairy

After dropping off some stuff for work at the Hotel on Rivington earlier in the week, I headed to the Essex Street Market in search of breakfast. I entered the market on the northern side and made my way past vendors selling fish and fruit and myriad cuts of meat and poultry until I got to Saxelby Cheesemongers. I had only previously tasted Saxelby's cheese curds - in an enormous order of poutine at their neighbor stand, Shopsin's General Store (formerly of Carmine Street in the West Village). Anyway, the morning's cheesemonger turned out to be someone I knew and he proceeded to impress me with his knowledge of cheese. I first picked my bread - mini ciabatta - and he gave me a couple suggestions. His second offering, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, turned out to be the winner. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is a nutty, cow's milk cheese from Wisconsin. I liked its pliable texture - not soft and not overall crumbly. A little pour of Frankie's olive oil on the bread completed this fantastic sandwich.

I also picked up a container of Siggi's Skyr yogurt in pear & mint flavor. I had been seeing these in a couple shops - the Murray's outpost in Grand Central and also at Stinky Cheese in Carroll Gardens - over the past few months. The packaging is very clean and the writing on the label is made to look hand-written. Siggi is apparently an Iceland native now living in New York. His yogurt is super thick, like the good Greek stuff and not very sweet. I found the mint a little overwhelming and the yogurt maybe a little too thick overall until I added some honey. Not only did it thin it out slightly, but it added the touch of sweetness it was lacking.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Brunch at Ici

My tumultuous relationship with Ici continues. The first time was disappointing but the other week I was working from home and decided to stop in for some breakfast. I had a lovely spread of poached eggs with truffle sauce atop Anson Mills grits, a side of thick cut bacon (a generous three pieces) and some iced coffee out back in the garden. The weather was as good as it had been in weeks and I liked my waitress. She was attentive and workmanlike and even gave me a free refill on my coffee since I didn't get my first one until my meal arrive (as they had to brew a new pot or something like that). My eggs and bacon were fantastic and I was feeling really high on Ici and ready to try it more regularly.

This past Sunday after we saw off our guests from Memphis, DMR and I decided to get a second breakfast. The two of us had split a bagel with cream cheese at around 8:45 and by 1 or 2PM we were pretty hungry again. DMR wanted to hit Bonita, but I was feeling good about Ici and dragged him there.

I went with my eggs with grits and bacon combo once again and was overall pleased. I would have preferred the bacon a little more well done to render out more of the fat, so next time I'll ask for just that.

The egg dish was not quite as good as I found the grits a little dry, but overall it was satisfying until I got to the piece of twine/string/fishing wire that was tucked into the grits. Foreign objects seem to find their way into my food quite frequently. Or maybe I just notice them more than others. I was about three quarters of the way through my meal and it was probably a good time to stop anyway.

They wound up comping my eggs, but in general the service was not attentive at all. I couldn't get my water glass refilled to save my life. The verdict is still up in the air.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another Jewrean Wedding!

I've been delinquent in posting about the eatings at the wedding of Glen and Jane. Sadly (or should I say, typically) there are no photos of the food to share.

The ceremony took place in the Japanese Gardens at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Guests were served champagne on arrival. The bathrooms were a bit of a walk away so I hesitated a bit before finally deciding to have a drink. This has nothing to do with food, but Jane's little niece was possibly the cutest flower girl ever. She was so focused on strewing the petals evenly, that she got a little off-track and wound up going a few feet down the wrong path. It was adorable.

The reception took place at the Palm House. As the sun went down, we snacked outside on passed hors d’oeuvres and nibbles from a bountiful table filled with crudite, breads and cheeses. The passed snacks were top notch and included crab and apple salad served in crunchy endive leaves (my favorite), two bite pieces of sesame chicken (DMR's favorite) and baby lamb chops. The dinner was held under the glasshouse, which is pretty stunning at night. We began with a lovely salad with blue cheese and candied nuts and then a wedge of baked polenta blanketed by a rich, portobello mushroom sauce. DMR and I both opted for beef as our main course - filet mignons in a mushroom sauce with potatoes and crisp vegetables. Dan put in a good effort with his steak. I should have passed on those final two endive munchies because I was completely stuffed before dinner even began! Dessert was a trio of sorbets (mango, coconut and lemon) served in a martini glass with a cookie cigar as well as a plate of bite-sized cookies and chocolate covered fruit.

The cake was topped with a cute little birdy couple that Jane had created.

Mazel Tov!

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Meatballs at Scandanavia House

Lunch two days ago was half a dozen golf ball sized meatballs bathed in a cream gravy with pickled cucumbers, lingonberry sauce and a generous portion of dense, rich, buttery potatoes topped with a sprinkling of chopped chives. To drink, a bottle of Kristal lingonberry soda. Yummy.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Today's Breakfast: Frittata at home

My stomach felt really empty after coming home from yesterday's debacle at Shea. I left during the 5th or 6th inning, but really I should have left in the 1st because I knew there would be no way this listless team was going to mount even a notion of a comeback. I was hungry, but nothing sounded good. So I made a frittata. I whipped up a couple eggs with milk and shredded cheddar and dumped in a handful of cooked spaghetti left over from Saturday's dinner. The mixture went into a greased pan and after letting it brown on one side, I executed a perfect flip (which is a rarity for me) to cook the other side. I love crunchy noodles and the frittata reminded me of the great toasted pasta dish they served at Mugsy's Chow Chow on 2nd Avenue (which was possibly my favorite restaurant circa 1997-2000). This morning I woke up hungry and so I reheated the frittata for breakfast. It beat anything any of the stupid generi-delis near my work could put together and overcharge me for.

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