The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ramen Santoka @ Mitsuwa Marketplace, Edgewater, NJ

Tagged along on a Mitsuwa/Trader Joe's run with Dave and Jen last week. I've loved shopping at Mitsuwa since it first opened (as Yaohan). My brother even worked as a stock boy during in high school.

We first hit the food court. After a once around looksee, the three of us decided on Ramen Santoka. If little Henry could have voiced a vote, he would have opted for ramen as well.

I ordered a regular miso ramen set, which came with a side of rice topped with bonito shavings and a blanket of green onions, as well as hard boiled egg flavored with soy sauce. The egg was dumped into the bowl of noodles, as were the green onions which I don't like to eat raw.

Jen ordered natto with her rice side dish. She is a brave woman. Oh, she also ate all of the shredded black mushroom which I picked off my ramen. I love mushrooms, but not those!

For those inquiring minds, part of my Mitsuwa haul included stew meat pre-cubed for curry (which I made for dinner that evening), a couple bottles of Orion beer, frozen gyoza and a package of vanilla bean Kit-Kat.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 25, 2008

Valentine's Day dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar

DMR made a surprise visit to Manhattan on Valentine's Day. He was trying to find me a Wii, but 15 months after its launch, those things are still impossible to track down. So instead, we had an impromptu dinner at the Ssam Bar which I'll take as a consolation prize any day.

Here's the house pickle plate, featuring radish and cabbage kimchi along with Tokyo radish, jicama, Korean pear, carrots, fennel, celery, cucumbers, beets and shitake mushrooms. Sweet, spicy, tangy and crisp.

The cured hamachi comes with radish sprouts, horseradish cream and edamame. Sprinkled atop is a furikake of dried seaweed and little round rice crackers, whose crunch works great against the butteriness of the yellowtail.

You can't eat at Momofuku without ordering the pork buns. Melt-in-your-mouth braised pork belly tucked into spongy white buns with cucumber slices and a schmear of plum sauce. Addictive.

I've previously had this dish with cauliflower, but here it's the brussels sprout that gets the fish sauce, chili and puffed rice treatment. I never imagined talking so lovingly about either of these vegetables.

For the entree, we split the spicy sausage, Chinese greens and rice cake stir fry. Rice cakes take on such an amazing texture when they are fried - the outside begins to puff and crackle like pork skin, while the inside remains chewy.

The meal was washed down with a couple OB beers, which is basically the Bud of Korea.

On the way to the subway, we encountered the Wafels and Dinges truck and I ordered up a liege waffle. I was disappointed to get a pre-made waffle that was heated up on the iron, rather than one made-to-order. The waffle didn't even get very warm.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

miscellaneous photos from france relating to food

Room service breakfast. That there's a glass of jus de pamplemousse. The Europeans really do their juice right. I also liked the way my fruit was cut in a uniform dice.

I would like to spotlight the yogurt from my breakfast, which in addition to being delicious as it was not overly sweet, came in an adorable glass container.

Jambon and gruyere on a baguette from a boulangerie in the old town. A perfect sandwich.

I went to the Monoprix to buy some snacks to go along with my ham and cheese sandwich. I love going to markets in other countries to see what is offered on their shelves. Here we have some hermetically sealed headcheese and a ready-to-go choucroute platter. These did not make the cut. I got some chips and cookies instead.

Picked up some macarons from L'atelier Jean Luc Pele. The guy behind the counter was not very friendly and I was too scared to take photos inside the store. He also shortchanged me 10 Euros. I was 10 steps outside the door when I realized so I was able to get my money back. He handed me my money a little too quickly, which made me wonder if he did it on purpose. Anyway, the jerkiness is worth enduring as these things are delicious and addictive with the most wonderful chewy-crisp texture. They are also expensive as hell and do not travel well. The ones I had purchased totally shrunk overnight or on the plane or a combination of both and the colors lost their vibrancy. Still they made for a nice gift for my parents and nieces.

My last meal in Cannes was via room service as I was too tired to go out. Got a cheese plate and a nicoise salad, which were washed down with a beer I got a stand in the festival hall earlier in the day. The butter they gave me is apparently fancy-schmancy. It's an A.O.C. product and served at places like Le Bernardin. Ooh la la.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lunch at Katsuhama

Katsuhama, the only tonkatsu restaurant in New York, is three blocks from my work! There is little section up front that offers bento boxes, onigiri and made-to-order udon, but behind a sliding door is a sit-down restaurant. Similar to its sister restaurant, Menkui-tei, seating is available at tables or the long bar.

I ordered the pork cutlet lunch special. Pickles, miso soup, rice and a mound of paper thin shredded cabbage accompanied the duo of deep fried pork pieces.

The dish of pickles came out first. On this day, there was spicy and non spicy cabbage and a pickled plum. I was also presented with sesame seeds in a grooved bowl. Using a pestle, I ground up the seeds to mix with the restaurant's homemade katsu sauce.

My pork cutlets arrived on a plate with the cabbage and a squirt of hot mustard. The panko breading was enjoyably crunchy, not to mention non-greasy and the pork moist. The Waiters walked by with tongs offering up even more cabbage. The sesame salad dressing they have at Katsu Hama is addictive. I'd have no problem eating an entire head of in a single sitting, in addition to everything else!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Soup and Sandwich at Wichcraft

Potato cheddar soup with parsley oil and half a chicken salad with walnuts, roasted tomatoes, pickled red onions and frisée on multigrain bread studded with lots and lots of seeds from 'Wichcraft on 46th St between 5th and Madison.

I can't help but feel really healthy when I eat multigrain bread.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 10, 2008

cannes dinner 2: not at soleado

I can't remember the name of the place I had dinner the second night in Cannes. We were planning to eat at a Mexican place called Soleado but they were closed for the night due to some unforeseen incident which was explained in French on a piece of paper tacked onto their doors. So our group of seven decided to head back to the neighborhood we had eaten in the night before but any place that looked halfway decent was booked up or not overly enticing for the three vegetarians in the group.

Eventually we wound up at some place where we had the pleasure of breaking the dining seal. Though the restaurant was completely empty, the hostess asked us if we minded being split up into two tables. Uh, yes. So not only were these people insane, but the restaurant was also such a clusterfuck with a flat screen television (airing a bizzaro dubbed version of the the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" video when we walked in), a waterfall, color changing lights and oversized chairs. And they momentarily misplaced my sweater at the end of the night!

I ordered a tomato, mozzarella and pesto salad to begin with and the onglet (hanger steak) but because it wasn't available, settled for the flank steak with pommes dauphinois. My starter was surprisingly enjoyable (aside from the store-bought, uniformly sized croutons), but the meat got tougher and chewier as the night progressed. My coworker Madeline, who sat next to me, ordered a pasta with grilled prawns, which were comically huge.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ce que j'ai mangé pour le petit déjeuner le premier matin à Cannes

This simple meal of a pair of sunny-side up eggs, bread with butter and jam and coffee was one of my favorites of the trip. The bread had a wonderfully crusty shell and soft and spongey inside and the egg yolks such a vibrant shade of orange.

The small cafe was called Cannes 'Eveil (7 Rue Jean Jaures)and was located by a small square that held a daily market. On the way to the cafe, I passed a butcher shop that had an 8 foot tall rotisserie filled with roasted chickens that gave off the most delicious odor.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

cannes dinner 1: commes chez soi

Dinner the first night in Cannes was a company affair. I met my coworker Molly in the lobby of the hotel (we were the only two staying there) and walked down the Rue D'Antibes to Commes Chez Soi (4, Rue Batéguier) to meet the rest of the crew. The restaurant is on one of those hidden, tiny side streets that make you forget where you are. So very European, or West Village even, I guess. Inside, it looked like someone's Jersey! The place was so ornate! There were painted vines and accoutrements throughout that reminded me of Carmela Soprano and surprise, surprise, there was a basset hound snoozing in an armchair near the bar area where we first congregated. Our hostess reminded me of a character from The Triplets of Belleville, with her exaggerated features and personality, and heavily lacquered eyelids. Come to think of it, that dog reminded me of the hound from the movie.

Plates of cod fritters were already on the table when we sat down. Our table of eleven was then presented with an amuse. It was a square piece of raw salmon marinated in olive oil, which then served as a dipping sauce for bread.

I went with the carpaccio of scallops with purple potatoes and roe to begin, followed by an asparagus risotto. Though the latter was under seasoned, I didn't mind because that just meant I could liberally dip into the tiny, adorable bag of fleur de sel over and over. Also, the risotto was really impeccably cooked with the grains of caronoli rice having just the right amount of the al denteness that I enjoy so much.

For dessert, I bounced between a trio of ice cream (including some of the most delicious mint chocolate chip ever and a brilliant dark chocolate) and some sort of chocolate bonbon flight.

And in between it all, I had a lot of wine. A lot.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

the first meal in cannes was...

a delicious ham and gruyere crepe!

I arrived at my hotel at 10am, desperately needing a shower and a nap, but of course the Frenchies wouldn't let me check in until 3pm (actually i wound up not getting to check in until closer to 3:20). With five hours to kill, I walked all around, picked up my badge and then walked around and around some more. At this point I realized I was starving and luckily found a little place called Restaurant Esmeralda (6 Rue Tony Allard).

Had absolutely zero complaints about this place, except for the weird tie-dyed tablecloths that would get accidentally pulled off and in different directions. Loved the haricot verts in my little bit of salad and the steak fries were cooked through (nothing worse than an undercooked steak fry). To drink, I had a glass of the house red which cost less than 4 US dollars. As an extra bonus, the family next to me had a dog eating with them!

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 02, 2008

in-flight menu

I know airplane food sucks, but I look forward to it on every flight. I love all the little compartments that fit perfectly on your tiny tray and the potpourri of foodstuffs (often in mini form).

On this Air France flight, we were given out little paper menus describing our food options. You can tell why I thought the meal might have an Asian twist. Seriously, what is up with the illustration?

According to the menu, my meal consisted of (counter clockwise from bottom left):

Satueed beef with chasseur sauce accompanied by baby vegetables and mashed potatoes (I also had the option of a cheese ravioli with aurore sauce and shrimp as my main course)

Seven-grain salad served with sauteed chicken

Cheese (in this case a wedge of President brand Camembert)

Kozy Shack rice pudding (the menu does not list pudding, instead entrements)

Coffee-chocolate chip cake

To drink I had a bottle of the Vin de Pays d'Oc Cabernet Merlot 2006 Castel.

The grains in the salad weren't cooked long enough and the chicken was rubbery. The dish was ice cold as well. The main was a typical airline dish - mushy protein in a salty sauce, and the cake was dry and crumbly. But I ate all of it because I was starving. The rice pudding was vanillay and delicious. There are few things more homey and satisfying than a container of Kozy Shack.

Before landing, we were served breakfast - a yogurt, orange juice from concentrate and a pastry. I opted out of the first two things and tried the baked good which turned out to be a nasty roll, completely devoid of any softness and dotted with about 5 "chocolate" chips the size of those tiny silver dragee balls you see on fancy wedding cakes.