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shengcai

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Posts posted by shengcai


  1. I think the episode used the awkwardness (to great effect) in order to evoke a sentiment shared among many second-generation [insert ethnicity here]-Americans. This sense of connection back to one's homeland while still feeling somewhat of a stranger is such a common theme among immigrant descendants, and I'm glad that AB highlighted this in this episode. It's a unique approach to the travel show that typically uses knowledgeable locals as guides. Rather, in this episode, we're brought along with Augusto as he himself experiences in the discovery. It was a bit of a risk, but I think the episode pulled it off, even if it was at the expense of Augusto.


  2. I'm taking a flyer on Leah as the winner. And she's cute.

    I like Leah too. I think she'll go far, but she was one of the few people who lucked out and got exactly the cuisine that they specialize in. It was easy for her to shine under the circumstances.


  3. I was yelling at the TV when the pair that wound up with Il Postino were brainstorming Italian movies that could go with their food choice.  It was pure agony.

    At first, I thought that it was rather disingenuous of them to come up with a dish first and then to choose an appropriate movie to 'inspire' that dish. But pretty much everyone else did that, except the Willy Wonka group. So I think it worked out well in the end, since the people who abided by the spirit of the challenge produced a killer opener for the meal. Then I tried to do the same exercise in my head and realized that it's really hard to find inspiration when your course for the dinner is fixed. I cut them some slack after I found myself doing the same thing. :smile:


  4. I have a bunch of those small clear plastic containers with the lids that lock on (I have a strong tendency to drop things, and an exploded rice container is no fun to clean up after!). I either put stickers on them with the variety, or clip the label off the bag and put it in the container.

    ditto, except it's a big clear plastic container that can hold 50 lbs of rice.


  5. Steak! I get my cast iron skillet smoking hot before searing for a couple minutes on each side for medium rare. Too bad I have a wimpy exhaust fan, but I'm willing to bear a little smoke for a beautiful crust on my ribeyes.


  6. Will be coming to Atlanta (my first time) for a conference from Fri until Tues morning. After doing some research, I've decided on a few places but I would like some feedback from you experts.

    For a number of these meals, I'll be dining alone -- eating at the bar would be perfect for me. I'll have a car, so getting around won't be a problem.

    On Friday, I'll be arriving around 2 and plan to spend the rest of the afternoon at the aquarium after a quick lunch at Nam. For dinner, I've made reservations at C&S Oyster Bar.

    Dinner on Sunday will be a catered event at Anthony's.

    Which leaves dinner open on Saturday and Monday night. Based on the reviews, I'd really like to try MF Sushi (I'm a sushi fanatic) and Rathbun's (I'm dying to try their roasted marrow bones and other small plate options like the snails and crudo).

    My question is on which night should I go to each restaurant? If the bar at Rathbun's is going to be overcrowded with scenesters on a Sat night, then I'd much rather go to MF on Sat for a more peaceful dining experience (or is that not the case).

    Also, does MF offer an omakase option at the bar? I know they offer sushi "chef's choice" combinations with Cali rolls (which I'm not interested in) on their dinner menu, but if possible I'd like for the itamae to keep coming out with items until I'm stuffed. Would this be a reasonable thing to ask for here?

    On Sat, Sun, and Mon, I'd also like some recommendations for a quick lunch within walking distance of the convention center. I'm open to all ethnic cuisines.

    Of course, I'm very flexible and am open to additional recommendations for must-go places that I may have missed.


  7. A friend was kind enough to share some of his catch from Alaska -- sockeye salmon

    gallery_37892_3980_38424.jpg

    I simply roasted it with lemon juice, olive oil, S&P, and some dill:

    gallery_37892_3980_43509.jpg

    Served with a simple salad of romaine and radicchio tossed in a sherry vinaigrette:

    gallery_37892_3980_45739.jpg


  8. It's the exact opposite for me. I like having complete reign over the seasoning, doneness, etc. For example, I tend to like more pepper (crushed red, white, black, you name it) and more garlic/onion/scallion (when such items are called for) in dishes. My ideal flavor profile of a particular recipe isn't fixed and evolves with each tasting and adjustment that's made, until voila, the flavors are balanced and I'm content, knowing that I've done everything in my power to get it to how I want it to taste.

    Likewise, there are exceptions, but they are definitely in the minority. I do have to say though, that there's a distinct pleasure in having others cook for you, and I'm willing to give up control to experience that hospitality, especially when there are no dishes to be done afterwards! :raz:


  9. Our last day in New York :sad: ......

    We had lunch at Chikubu, which unfortunately is now closed.

    Hitsuma bushi (mixed eel rice) -- grilled eel was served on top of rice in a HOT stone bowl and mixed tableside. Sides included miso soup and pickled seaweed mixed with dried bonito flakes (katsuo bushi)

    gallery_37892_4371_11925.jpg

    gallery_37892_4371_31536.jpg

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    Check out those beautiful grains of rice!

    gallery_37892_4371_63704.jpg

    There was a teapot of light broth that was used for pouring into the rice bowl at the end of the meal to get all of the crispy browned rice bits out of the stone bowl.

    It's really sad to hear that a place as good as this would close. I'm glad I got to try this real-deal Japanese eatery while I had the chance.

    That night, we treated our friend to a belated birthday dinner at Babbo. This was the one place where my camera really failed me. The lighting was too dim, and I started getting looks from a nearby table after the first couple flashes.

    Ceci bean bruschetta

    gallery_37892_4371_75406.jpg

    Grilled octopus with "Borlotti Marinati" and spicy Limoncello vinaigrette -- the most tender chunks of octopus I've ever had. Out of this world good.

    gallery_37892_4371_72288.jpg

    We also got Armandino's salumi (finnochiona and culatello). As this was my first time trying culatello, I could only make comparisons to prosciutto. But it was more delicate than prosciutto. The saltiness was tempered by a mild, nutty sweetness. I don't know, perhaps this is what your typical culatello tastes like. More likely, based on what I've heard about Armandino Batali and his artisanal cured meats, this will probably be the best culatello I've ever had. In any case, this turned me into a huge fan.

    We chose to stick to the pasta dishes, heeding the advice of a couple Babbo veterans.

    Black pepper pappardelle with wild boar ragu

    Beef cheek ravioli with crushed squab liver and black truffles

    Black spaghetti with rock shrimp, spicy salami calabrese and green chiles -- This was my favorite pasta dish of the night, with perfectly cooked shrimp and generous amounts of crispy/chewy calabrese that added a nice hit of spice and salt.

    All 3 of these dishes elevated pasta to a whole new level for me. I've cooked a number of pastas, but I never got an idea for what the ideal texture of pasta should be. Now I know what is meant by a good al dente. And, this may sound incredibly naive, but I learned that something as simple as doneness of pasta makes a HUGE difference.

    For dessert we shared a pineapple cake and the gelato/sorbetto assortment. I wanted to try the famous olive oil gelato, but sadly that wasn't included among the flavors.

    After Babbo, we went out for a few drinks. Being a complete lightweight when it comes to alcohol, I was pretty tipsy. What better place to cure the drunken munchies at 2am than the famous halal cart at 53rd and 6th?

    Even at 2am, there was a line, which means high turnover!

    gallery_37892_4371_93603.jpg

    Chicken/gyro meat combo platter, with the heavenly white sauce

    gallery_37892_4371_41719.jpg

    And so, this ends our eating tour. We had a blast, meeting up with family and friends while enjoying all the sights, sounds, and tastes of NYC. We were given the rare luxury of taking a week away from the demands of work/school/etc. in order to really savor food, to appreciate it on the level of fine art, created by people who really care about what they're putting on your plate (or styrofoam box :smile: ). I'll stop with the schmaltz now (I get that way whenever I start pining for another visit, which sadly won't be for a while). Thanks for humoring me and for allowing me to reminisce on this unforgettable trip!


  10. Doc,

    Those are drool-inspiring questions! My mind was sent into a temporary frenzy as I processed all of the possibilities. After some further rumination, here's a stab at it...

    I feel like I have a responsibility to return to Jean-Georges and Yasuda, Jean-Georges because my underwhelming meal there is more likely attributable to my disposition at the time and Yasuda because I know that the only true way to experience Yasuda-san's artistry is to sit at his station and let him work his magic.

    Other places that I wish I could've gone to this time and will try my darndest not to miss next time:

    Yakitori Totto or Tory -- grilled chicken knees, necks, hearts, livers, and bacon-wrapped enokis. Need I say more?

    Fatty Crab -- I'm dying to get the chili crab and the watermelon/pork dish

    Yeah Shanghai -- I can't come to NYC without getting my fix for xiao long bao. I'd like to compare the ones made here to New Green Bo's.

    Di Fara or Grimaldi's -- ditto for pizza / compare to Lombardi's

    Baden Baden or Unidentified Flying Chicken -- to see what this Asian rotisserie/deep-fried chicken is all about.

    Some place that makes authentic hand-pulled Chinese noodles (la mien)

    Balthazar -- for that giant 3-tiered seafood platter

    the arepa lady in Queens -- if we can ever find her...

    Le Bernardin -- Another NYC fixture. Right now, I can only dream about what Chef Ripert can do with seafood.

    WD-50 -- I think I'm finally ready to experience Wylie's genius/madness. What better place to be introduced to the high-flying acrobatics of molecular gastronomy?

    Eleven Madison Park -- After reading u.e.'s review and seeing his photos, this place quickly ascended to the top of my list.

    I'm going to wait a few more years before I even try for Masa. I'm too young (and too poor) to completely spoil my taste for sushi made at any other establishment.

    Boy, I thought I had covered a lot on this trip. I didn't even make a dent! Am I missing anything on my list? Anything I should strike?


  11. One question about Per Se?

    How do they set the pace of service? I hate food coming before we can complete (or nearly complete) a wonderful course--granted it is my own pet peeve. Did they take their cues from your pace, or did you have to keep up, until the lobster?

    It's paced according to your own speed.

    Yup, they take cues. The front and back of the house are coordinated very well. They watch what comes back on the cleared plates and they also took note when I turned down an offer to have my baguette replaced, mentioning that I needed to pace myself. Right after the lobster plates were cleared, they gave us a good chunk of time to recoup. After that, I never felt like I was struggling to keep up, nor did I ever feel like I was waiting for the next course to arrive. If you're really a stickler for pacing you can be explicit about when you want the next course. If not, the staff is pretty good at anticipating your needs.


  12. Dinner that night was at Sushi Yasuda.

    Kimo (steamed liver of sea bass )

    gallery_37892_4370_69792.jpg

    We each got the sushi matsu combination (12 pieces of sushi and a half roll)

    gallery_37892_4370_36899.jpg

    I don't remember all of the sushi pieces that I got, but the most memorable ones were the eel (the one depicted above and another kind, shirayaki, a white freshwater eel that was grilled and finished with sea salt that I devoured before taking a pic), Alaskan white king salmon, and of course the uni.

    The sushi here was outstanding, but I need to return to experience Yasuda in all its grandeur. Instead of being seated at a table and ordering off the menu, I want to be front and center at Yasuda-san's station, asking him to feed me, no questions asked, until I tap out and cry uncle. My next NYC visit can't come soon enough!!

    For dessert, we stopped by Cones for some ice cream (watermelon and lemon).

    gallery_37892_4370_37567.jpg


  13. Tuesday afternoon was spent hunting down some good, cheap eating around Washington Square Park. The weather was beautiful; dogs, with owners in tow, and street musicians were out in full force, all creating the perfect ambiance for a nice al fresco lunch.

    Our first stop was one on our "must-go" list -- Thiru "Dosa Man" Kumar's cart at W. 4th and Sullivan.

    gallery_37892_4370_19976.jpg

    Here he is manning the griddle, making the last of his uthappam before closing for the day:

    gallery_37892_4370_39878.jpg

    Uthappam (lentil and rice flour pancake) -- I think it was topped with some form of toasted and spiced coconut. There's some chutney, spicy chili paste, and a sambar on the side.

    gallery_37892_4370_16606.jpg

    We had hoped to snag a dosa before selling out for the day, but alas, we arrived too late. Mr. Kumar (or Mr. Man? :raz:) gave us his card and told us next time we could call him and place an order ahead of time. He was incredibly gracious and amiable, and the food he made for us, though it wasn't the special dosa that we were hoping to get, was delicious. We chatted with him about the crazy squirrels in the park, congratulated him on the Vendys, and proceeded onto the next course(s)...

    Mamoun's Falafel

    gallery_37892_4370_75687.jpg

    Falafel sandwich

    gallery_37892_4370_91776.jpg

    Hummus Masabacha from Hummus Place -- whole chick peas, olive oil & spices

    gallery_37892_4370_113074.jpg

    None of these were particularly earthshattering, but I didn't expect them to be. They were, however, great for noshing while people watching and catching up with old friends.


  14. We arrived at Momofuku Ssam Bar a little after 10 and it was packed. After about a 10-minute wait, we grabbed a few seats at the bar.

    We started off by munching on the seasonal pickles. The Asian pear, kim chee, and daikon were especially good.

    gallery_37892_4369_70258.jpg

    Steamed pork belly buns with hoisin sauce, cucumber, and scallions

    gallery_37892_4369_48178.jpg

    Bahn mi three terrine sandwich

    gallery_37892_4369_59705.jpg

    Beef tongue and oxtail stew -- My favorite dish there. The tongue was meltingly tender, and flavors (spice from the jalapenos, sweetness from the carrots) were spot on. We really needed some rice for the stew though. The grilled bread wasn't enough.

    gallery_37892_4369_17096.jpg

    We were nearing the end of the meal, and I still was craving more, so I ordered these Caraquet oysters on the half-shell with kim chee consomme. I should've quit when I was ahead. The bitterness in this consomme clashed with the natural freshness of the oysters. I was truly disappointed. I'm glad to see that now they've replaced the consomme with a lime-gelee, which I imagine would be much better.

    gallery_37892_4369_92825.jpg

    The bahn mi and stew were a couple of favorite things tasted on this trip. I regret not trying a ssam, the grilled rice cakes, and uni. After a couple days of jacket-required eating, it was also nice to unwind in this laid-back atmosphere while sampling some top-notch Asian-inflected cuisine.


  15. We started our lunch at Jean-Georges with a couple refreshing beverages. I got a black cherry-yuzu soda, and my girlfriend got the ginger-lemon.

    gallery_37892_4369_4464.jpg

    Amuse-bouche

    gallery_37892_4369_17463.jpg

    Jerusalem artichoke soup with black truffle emulsion

    gallery_37892_4369_35332.jpg

    Salmon with fennel and tarragon cream, cured in Sambuca

    gallery_37892_4369_23316.jpg

    Dehydrated pineapple with chili and lime with mint sugar

    gallery_37892_4369_16232.jpg

    Bluefin tuna ribbons, avocado, spicy radish, ginger marinade -- I really loved this one. The marinade had just enough acid to brighten, and the crunch from the spiced radishes was very nice. One of the best dishes tasted on this trip.

    gallery_37892_4369_80272.jpg

    Sliced hamachi, Meyer lemon and rose -- this dish seemed out of balance to me. I think the rose salt overpowered the delicateness of the fish.

    gallery_37892_4369_37131.jpg

    Foie gras brulee, dried sour cherries, candied pistachios and white port gelee -- A hint of bitterness from the brulee allowed me to experience foie in another light.

    gallery_37892_4369_22002.jpg

    Parsnip soup, smoked paprika, peekytoe crab and Meyer lemon

    gallery_37892_4369_32977.jpg

    Sea scallops, caramelized cauliflower, caper-raisin emulsion -- It takes a real stroke of genius for someone to be able to combine such simple ingredients and produce such wonderfully complex flavors.

    gallery_37892_4369_27237.jpg

    Pan-roasted sweetbreads, licorice, grilled pear and lemon -- The sweetbreads were so perfectly cooked, brown and crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

    gallery_37892_4369_69554.jpg

    For dessert: Meyer lemon, chocolate chiboust, Earl Grey, praline (right); lemongrass sorbet, dehydrated grapefruit, crispy tangerine, lime curd (left) In retrospect, I shouldn't have gone with citrus for dessert. With so many citrus accents in the savory courses, I was all Meyer lemon'd and limed out. Bad decision-making on my part.

    gallery_37892_4369_44704.jpg

    Crispy spiced chocolate, beet parfait, yogurt powder (right); sauteed apples, olive oil sponge, maple brown butter ice cream -- The intense beet essence in the parfait was well complemented by the yogurt powder.

    gallery_37892_4369_58717.jpg

    Perhaps I was still riding on my high from Per Se, (naively) expecting the same experience during a Tuesday lunch hour, or maybe I ordered too many citrus-accented courses (it's more likely a little bit of both), but I wasn't completely blown away at Jean-Georges as I was hoping to be. That being said, the bluefin tuna with avocado and the scallops with caper-raisin emulsion were undeniable home runs in my book and definite reasons to come back and give it another go.


  16. I've never done fish and chips myself, but I recently read a fascinating article by Harold McGee on making fried fish. Basically, the secret to a great fried fish is adding alcohol -- it dissolves the gluten (no toughness) and boils off faster (crisp, brown, and fish doesn't overcook).

    The link above references a NY Times article, which currently requires a subscription.

    The recipe in the article is as follows:

    Fried Fish With Vodka and Beer Batter

    Adapted from ''In Search of Perfection,'' by Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury, 2006)

    Time: About 45 minutes

    1 1/2 pounds (about 4 large fillets) turbot, sole or flounder

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 1/4 cups white rice flour; more for dusting

    2 to 3 quarts vegetable oil for deep-frying

    1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 1/4 cups vodka

    1 1/4 cups lager beer.

    1. Rinse fish fillets, and dry with paper towels. Season well with salt and pepper, and dust with rice flour, shaking off any extra. Set aside.

    2. Place a wide, deep pan over medium heat. Add oil to a depth of at least 11/2 inches, and bring to 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. In a medium bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour, 11/4 cups rice flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly stir in the vodka and beer to make a batter. (Don't make batter ahead of time, or the bubbles from the lager will be lost.)

    3. Dip one fillet into batter to coat it completely, and lower into hot oil. Repeat with other fillets. When undersides of fillets are golden brown, after 1 or 2 minutes, turn, and brown other sides, a minute or two. Lift from oil, drain and serve.

    Yield: 4 servings.


  17. RE: sous vide -- That was one thing that I was wondering about. Through other blogs, I've seen the Lobster "cuit sous vide" on past menus. What exactly do the quotations mean? I had assumed that they weren't really cooked sous vide but have the semblance of being prepared as such? Perhaps you got the scoop while you were there. If so, could you fill us in?

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