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Everything posted by mikeycook

  1. mikeycook

    Confit de Porc

    1. The tradition of confit is that meats are cooked in their own fat, so, no, olive oil is not traditional anywhere. One practical limitation of using olive oil traditionally is there point made before, namely that olive oil is not solid at room temperature. Traditionally, confit pots would be buried about 2/3 of the way into the ground for the winter (which is why the glaze is only present on the upper 1/3). Since confit pots don't have a lid, the fat is relied upon to prevent air from entering the confit (thus preventing spoilage). In fact, some duck confit recipes call for a layer of freshly rendered pork fat to be poured over the very top, as pork fat is even less air-permeable than duck or goose fat. 2. My biggest concern about flavor would be a persistent olive flavor, which might not be bad in a duck confit, but I would find less desirable with pork. Whether the oil is "destroyed" or not, the flavor of the olive oil would probably dominate.
  2. In the suburban areas outside of New York (Long Island, Westchester, Northern New Jersey), the Italian classics seem to hold sway. You can generally count on two of the following dishes at any event (and sometimes all four). 1. Baked Ziti 2. Penne a la Vodka 3. Chicken Francese 4. Veal or Chicken Marsala In addition, there is the ubiquitous Caesar salad and Italian bread. The Chicken Francese always cracks me up as a dish. Nothing completes an Italian feast like "Chicken French-style".
  3. The selection is good and prices decent (all things being relative) at Manhattan Fuit Exchange in Chelsea Market. They only take cash, but over the years I have bought a number of wild mushroom types (chanterelles, morels, bluefoot, porcini, lobster, black trumpet, etc.) there and have been very happy with the cost and quality.
  4. For those who had not heard, Broadway Panhandler officially opened yesterday on E. 8th St. between Mercer and Broadway. They are having a sale through the end of October, which includes 40-50% off the retail price off a number of fine pieces of cookware, including Bourgeat copper, All Clad, and Le Creuset. Managed to get a small All Clad Ltd roasting pan and rack for 1/2 price (marked down from $259.95 to $129.95). Good deals to be had here, but check it out soon, as I expect the best stuff to go quickly.
  5. I would agree on L'Impero as well as on Cru. I would also add Veritas to the list.
  6. Breast of lamb is usually not too expensive so a Navarrin of Lamb is a possibility, although not exactly summery food.
  7. mikeycook


    They had pairings available for the summer tasting menu and I imagine they would have done the same with our menu. Only two problems I had with that at the time: 1. I assumed, perhaps naively, that they would do the pairings based on the wines by the glass being offered, which I wasn't wowed by (they weren't bad, but I found more interesting half-bottles). 2. The last time I did a pairing, I was barely able to remember the end of the meal, so I was worried from a self-preservation perspective.
  8. mikeycook


    Had an excellent dinner at Cru last night for my birthday. I had been to the bar a couple of times and had a variety of wines by the glass and a dish or two, but this was the first time I had eaten a full meal. After going through several options (prix fixe, summer tasting menu, just let the chef cook, etc.), we finally decided to design our own six-course tasting menu. Eckerton Hill Heirloom Tomatoes (A Variety of Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes, Whipped Burrata and 25yr Old Balsamic) We both got this. I love heirloom tomatoes when they are in season. This dish did not disappoint. It was a relatively simple dressing with the balsamic, a little oil, and salt. The burrata could be used as wished (the tomatoes didn't need it, but it added a nice richness as an accompaniment.) Given the high quality of the tomatoes, the simplicity was greatly appreciated. Duo of Hudson Valley Foie Gras (Spinach Purée, Gooseberry Salad with Summer Truffle and Caramelized Cauliflower) We both got this as well. I like almost all foie gras dishes and I liked this one a lot, although not as much as some. It consisted of both seared foie gras and cold pate, the carmelized cauliflower paired with the former and the gooseberry salad with the latter. The seared piece was perfectly carmelized. My wife would have preferred more of a sauce, but I kind of liked the simplicity (different than the more typical fruit compote/sauce approach). The cold pate was good as well, but I would have preferred it with a crusty piece of bread (I was trying to abstain from too much table bread, but this is one place where I might have changed my decision.) Good dish, but a little sparse compared to a lot of foie gras appetizers. Agnolotto (Stuffed with Fava Beans & Goat Cheese in a Toasted Walnut Butter) Only I ordered this. I am an absolute fava beans freak, so this dish was a natural for me. The fava bean and goat cheese filling was wonderful and burst perfectly i the mouth. The toasted walnut butter was spare, just enough to keep the whole dish lubricated. Excellent dish. Handrolled Fuzi (Braised Organic Rabbit, Pancetta, Spring Onions, and Toasted Pine Nuts) My wife ordered this one. The rabbit flavors blended nicely with the handmade pasta in this dish. In fact, it might have gotten more mention if the chef had not decided to augment both our pastas with the following dish. Lamb Tortellini (Garlic and Garlic Foam) Not sure what was mixed in with the lamb in this pasta, but it was a hedonistic gem (who can argue with garlic and lamb?) We would both easily order this if it were served as its own dish. What's a great meal without a great surprise? Maine Lobster (Fregola-Sweet Corn Ragu, Grilled White Asparagus and Chanterelles, Port-Lobster Sauce) We both ordered this. Having been born in Maine, I am probably most critical of lobster dishes. This one had some nice touches and was, overall, an excellent dish. Sweet corn and lobster is, in my opinion, one of the absolute best combinations with lobster. I also liked the idea of trying lobster the same way that salmon and char are sometimes cooked, with a sauce more typical of meat, in this case a port sauce. The claw was cooked perfectly, but tail piece was a little tough (an almost universal problem in restaurants with lobster) The combination was very good, although I might have preferred just the lobster with the ragu and chanterelles (personal preference). Berkshire Pig Tasting (Sliced Loin, Slow Roasted Shoulder and Braised Fresh Bacon Fava & Runner Beans with Roasted Garlic and Herbs) This was my last course and my favorite dish, with all pieces of the pig cooked perfectly and the favas. The shoulder had the flavor of suckling pig and the belly had just the right amount of fat rendered out. "Grain Fed" Veal Loin and Roulade (Cannaletti Beans with Pearl Onions and Baby Spinach, Maitake, Celery Root Purée, Green Garlic-Natural Jus) My wife is a big veal fan and, hence, chose this for her last savory course. Although a bit undercooked for her taste, the meat was meltingly tender and the accompaniments made for a rich, satisfying dish. The Wines Ironically, the only place where I was slightly disappointed was the wine, but this was purely through my own choices, not a reflection on what must surely be one of the finest wine lists in the country. After much discussion about the food, I was looking for a wine option that would provide the right amount of the right type of wine at the right point in the meal. Deciding the wines-by-the-glass list was not compelling on the high end (a change for the worse, I think, as they used to have a '90 Pignan by the glass), I went for 2 half-bottles. The first was a 2002 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet "Caillerets" 1er Cru that was drinking quite well. The second was a 2000 Chateau Beaucastel, which has really begun to close down. It did not have much forward fruit but exhibited the usual tannic cherry element typical of Beaucastel (the Mouvedre). While I generally liked it, my wife was not as enamored and I got her a glass of 1999 Vietti Barolo ‘Castiglione’. I must confess I had forgotten the backward nature of young Beaucastel and would have been better served choosing one of my other options or asking the sommelier's recommendation. Nevertheless, it was my error, not the restaurant's. Still, the 2 half-bottles was the right approach for us given the size and duration of the meal. Finally, I had a glass of 1985 Taylor Fladgate instead of dessert, which was a pure pleasure to drink. Overall, I would probably put Cru in the top handful of restaurants we have eaten at. Being big fans of both Bouley and Veritas, I would say this combines the best elements of both, while maintaining its own identity.
  9. Yesterday, my mother-in-law and I were discussing a couple she knows who dine out frequently in New York. They have been to a lot of the top places and they almost never come back with a balanced critique of the restaurants they visit. The meal is either "wonderful, unique, etc" or "horrible, vile, etc" (I would share some specifics, but given the lack of balance in their approach, I find myself doubting their conclusions). Nevertheless, they have gone to many of the same places we have and some they have loved and some they have hated. I just found out that they always try to get a dinner reservation around 5pm and almost never after 6pm. When asked why, they always state that they simply like to eat early. As I thought about it, I began to wonder if their choice of eating time was affecting their meals at certain places. While on the one hand, any top restaurant should be able to serve a customer equally as well at 5pm as at 8pm, there is also an argument that says that at 5pm the restaurant is not into "the flow" of the evening yet and there are bound to be issues because the kitchen and staff haven't had time to warm up. So, this leads me to my two questions. First, do restaurants give a substantially different experience intentional or otherwise, to customers who dine early (say before 6:30). Second, is it a legitimate knock on a top restaurant (2-4 stars) if this is the case?
  10. I have seen it in a number of stores in Manhattan, but am drawing a blank as to specifics (that's what I usually buy). However, you can always get it at Fresh Direct.
  11. The tunapica was (and is) my favorite, too. I haven't been for dinner in a while, only drinks (the bar upstairs is smaller and fun if not too crowded). At least it doesn't seem to take itself too seriously these days (how can you take yourself seriously when you have a dessert called "Bay of Pigs").
  12. There are a number of good places on Stone Street, including Smorgas Chef and Financier (there are other places, too, but I am forgetting the names). Most have outdoor as well as indoor seating in the summer. If you want more upscale, Delmonico's is within walking distance and Les Halles is up on John street if you want to go a little further.
  13. mikeycook


    Sorry for the late post, but my wife and I had a great meal at Annisa on Friday for our Anniversary. We both opted for the shorter tasting menu (5 courses) and were impressed by all of the courses. The two courses that stood out the most were the Foie Gras with Soup Dumpling and Jicama and the Filet of Barramundi with Artichokes, Leeks and Black Trumpet Sauce. First, the Foie Gras. I love Foie Gras and rarely have a dish that I don't like, whether hot or cold. That said, this was an excellent example and the combination of the stock-filled Shanghai dumpling and a little slice of foie gras was a completely hedonistic enjoyment. It reminded me of occasional soup dishes I've made with stock in which foie gras has been poached (for a terrine), which usually involve a pasta of some sort. A completely logical and delicious dish. Regarding the Barramundi, I don't believe I have ever had it prior to Friday, although it seems to be emerging as a popular fish (probably because we've overcaught sea bass everywhere else in the world). Aside from the fact that the fish was perfectly cooked, what was interesting about the dish to me was the black trumpet mushroom sauce. It contained only very tiny visible bits of black trumpet mushroom, but not so large that the tongue could sense pieces. The end result was a wonderfully complement flavor to the fish without any bits where the mushroom dominated. I was initially hesitant about Annisa because I was afraid that the fish dishes would be the high point and the meat dishes less tasty and interesting. In fact, all of the dishes, from the Kanpachi Sashimi with Lilies to the Grilled Loin of Australian Lamb with Golden Raisins and Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms (stuffed with ground veal and bulgar) were excellent. It definitely merits a return trip.
  14. mikeycook


    I would certainly agree that is a personal preference. For me, the Rao's Marinara is the best sauce out there (short of what one can make at home), hands down, and is worth the extra price. We probably only have pasta once a week at home, though, so it's not like it's breaking the bank.
  15. Definite thumbs up for St. John's. My wife and I went with our friends from London and had a blast (we went to the Smithfield location).
  16. mikeycook


    I believe you are wrong. The food products are all strictly controlled/overseen by the family/ owners of Rao's--Pellegrino and Straci. Frank Pellegrino is the Chairman and CEO and Ron Straci's wife Sharon runs the business--"Rao's Specialty foods" ← This is true. Had the pleasure of meeting them at the food show on Sunday.
  17. Glad to hear all the positive comments on Annisa. We are going there for our anniversary next week and I hope to add it to this list. Otherwise... DATES (this means my wife) Bouley (the red room and white room are equally charming) Alto Babbo La Ripaille (I proposed here) La Petite Auberge FRIENDS (also generally includes my wife) Cuba Stanton Social Otto (friends especially love it as take out) Bistro Les Amis Provence PLACES THAT SERVE BOTH PURPOSES L'Impero Veritas FORMER FAVORITE DATE HAUNTS (i.e. CLOSED) La Colombe d'Or Sonia Rose
  18. You might try Ottomanelli & Sons meat market on Bleecker St. I got some of the genuine article there at one point but it's been a very long time.
  19. This place? Cuba Cafe 200 8th Avenue New York, NY 10011 (212) 633-1570 ← No, this place. Cuba Restaurant 222 Thompson St. New York, NY 10012 (212) 420-7878 http://www.cubanyc.com/ Haven't been to Cuba Cafe.
  20. Surgery? (PS -- That's the place on Thompson, right? Sounds GREAT.) ← That is the one.
  21. Big Hunk is a West Coast regional candy bar. It's basically a strip of white nougat (firmer than the nougat I generally make) with peanuts in it. See here. I have thought of adding peanut butter as well as peanuts to one version. Do you have a specific brand you find works well?
  22. mikeycook

    Veal Kidneys

    Thanks for the note. I just removed them from my Fresh Direct order. Too bad because most of the meat I've gotten from them has been good.
  23. After last night, I am adding Cuba to my list. I have been several times now and the food has been great each time. The suckling pig is delicious and the plaintains remind me of why I ever liked them in the first place (for some reason, there is no dish I find done poorly more often than plantains). They had cuban music and free freshly-rolled cigars last night. It is affordable enough to allow for regular eating and one of the better spots for cuban food I have found (and I can't get the suckling pig out of my head).
  24. Kerry - Have you made any other nougat versions (other than the Montelimar style with almonds and pistachios) using the same basic recipe that you've been happy with? I have played around with a torrone version using almonds and hazelnuts and candied lemon and orange peel (came out good, but too sweet for my tastes, so I am considering zest instead of the candied peel for the next batch or maybe leaving the fruit out altogether). I was also planning to make a version with peanuts (like a more gourmet version of a Big Hunk) and have a few other types in mind (one with brazil nuts, one with macadamias). I'll be making them this week and early next and will post photos. Excellent pictures and comments. Nice to know someone else is a nougat freak.
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