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Everything posted by Nishla

  1. My favorite way to cook bitter melon is with ground pork and some black bean garlic sauce, served over rice. I'm lazy and use the sauce from a jar, but not too much because it's REALLY salty. I don't pre-salt the melon or anything. Just slice it and toss it in a pan with oil, sauce and pork until everything is cooked through. If it's too dry, I add a splash of stock or water. I'm sure someone has a more authentic method out there, but I find this works well enough
  2. We had dinner at Gargoyles tonight, and really enjoyed it. There's an option for a 6-course tasting menu with wines for $90, so we decided to try that. The tasting dishes are just smaller versions of existing menu items. We started with the tuna poke. This had a lot of flavors going on, including ginger, pickled bean sprouts, nori, garlic, jalapeno, sesame, and some thin slices of yellow beets. I really enjoyed this dish--it basically whacks you over the head with flavors, in a good way. Second dish was the grilled salmon collar--YUM. I think this is my favorite part of a fish. It's rich and fatty, and was nicely smoky on the outside, almost raw inside. It was served with hyssop butter, toasted almond milk, truffle, filo strands and lemon caviar. I loved the slight sweetness of the almond milk with the salmon. My only complaint about this dish is the lemon caviar--it had a slightly bitter taste, and didn't really add much lemon flavor. Overall, though, this was really good. Next was xiaoxing marinated halibut, served with kung pao calamari. This was nice, but by far the least interesting of all the dishes. The fish and calamari were perfectly cooked. Flavor-wise, it tasted like a good kung-pao dish, but not really different than a good chinese restaurant dish. There was also too much plain steamed rice (too filling). Veal cutlet with cream cheese noodles. I pretty much agree with everything baw said about this dish earlier. I loved the flavors, especially the onion powder. The veal was also perfectly cooked. Last savory dish was the duck confit with mango/coconut sticky rice and cashews. This was SO good. Unfortunately, I was too full to finish all the rice, but I would have eaten buckets of it if I could. The duck was also incredibly tasty, with really crispy skin and meat falling apart. Dessert was a very dense chocolate cake with an anise, cinnamon and curry caramel. Also on the side were kaffir lime and lemongrass ice creams. The caramel was awesome, as well as the ice cream. The lime ice cream in particular had a brilliant, pure flavor. Our server Kat (Cat?) was really good, and apparently it's only her first week. She knew the menu thoroughly, and was clearly psyched about the food. Wine pairings were nice, but nothing mind-blowing. This is one of the best valued meals we've had in a while, and we'll definitely be back. Next time we'll probably just order from the menu, and check out the bar too.
  3. Now I'm confused...from my reading, the only thing they didn't like was the butterscotch dessert. Was there something in particular that made you think they didn't like the rest of the food?
  4. Ooh, your cake looks so pretty with the ginger on top! I'm very glad you liked the variation...I was a bit worried that I had horribly butchered a classic recipe The cake tasted even better the next day, and was so easy to make I'll definitely be trying it again.
  5. Since trying Audrey's Earl Grey Martini last weekend at Pegu Club, I've been experimenting with tea-infused drinks at home. I've got the Earl Grey drink working pretty well, so last night I tried a green tea cocktail 1.5 oz green tea vodka .75 oz lemon juice 1 oz honey syrup (half honey, half water) .5 egg white Shake and strain into cocktail glass Turned out pretty well, but the green tea flavor was a little too subtle even though the vodka itself is quite strongly flavored. I think next time I'll skip the egg white and cut down on the lemon juice. I liked the honey syrup, particularly with the tea.
  6. Thanks for the informative report...we've got Gargoyles on our list of places to try, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Good to hear they've got a decent bar too!
  7. I was eyeing this Dutch ginger pastry recipe from Chufi, but I was really craving a chocolate dessert tonight. I figured ginger and chocolate can work well together, so I replaced some of the butter and sugar with melted chocolate chips. The result was pretty good, like a chewy, slightly flaky brownie. I really liked the ginger bits, but I think it would have been better with a more bitter chocolate. Here's a slice, topped with some powdered sugar and orange zest:
  8. Eastern Standard in Kenmore Sq is very good. Also B-Side Lounge in Cambridge (which I re-discovered recently based on a couple posts by fatdeko). Both places have pretty good food too. The restaurant side of ES is slightly upscale but the bar is very casual, while B-Side is a funky diner-like neighborhood spot. This weekend I'm going to try to check out some other places, so I'll report back if I find anything good!
  9. ekaim, you bring up a good point. I would definitely recommend Clio for people with a more adventurous palate. No 9 Park's food is much safer (and in my opinion too safe, bordering on boring, therefore not worth paying a lot of money for). Everyone has a different idea of what "special occasion" dining should be, but that's probably a discussion for another thread As for 10 Tables, I've heard very good things about it, and it's on my list of places to go. Don't have any specific reports though. I also forgot to mention East Coast Grill in Cambridge, but that may be out of your way--I particularly enjoy their brunch. Has anyone been to Excelsior for dinner? I've had some really good appetizers at the bar, but haven't heard much about the regular menu. Location right on the park is nice too.
  10. I really like tropical sauvignon blancs, but often when I smell these the first thing that comes to mind is armpits or cat pee
  11. I've been to Toro a few times. I think it's good, but not somewhere I like to go often because it's always packed and noisy. You sit elbow-to-elbow with your neighbors. However, it certainly seems like you can't find any other food like this in Boston. The grilled corn, snails in almond/garlic soup, pork ribs, and a number of other dishes were really delicious. I also found the value of the dishes to vary wildly--I expected to get more than two small pieces of grilled bread with tomato for $3, but for ~$25 we got a huge pan of paella which was shared amongst 4 people. If I remember correctly, we usually spend ~$40pp for food. I also remembered the Federalist as a possible special occasion spot. We haven't been in a few years, but at the time the tasting menu was ~$80. The food was very good, if not particularly adventurous. For something more casual, Eastern Standard or Petit Robert in Kenmore Sq might be good for lunch (or even dinner, now that the baseball season is over). If you like Indian food, I'd highly recommend Tamarind Bay in Harvard Sq. Finally, Parish Cafe is always a popular choice for sandwiches, but with a toddler I'd stick to earlier hours before it becomes too bar-like (and it's near the ColdStone Creamery at Park plaza!).
  12. I would recommend Clio and l'Espalier as special occasion dinners. I like Radius a lot too. I've been to No. 9 Park twice, and while it is good, I find it to be highly overpriced. Service was great, wine pairings were awesome, but the food just didn't hit the level I expected for $135/pp (food only). I honestly don't remember a single course of the tasting menu we had last time. On the other hand, I can list almost every dish I've eaten at Clio over the last 4 years (we've only tried the tasting menus). I'd also agree with chau chow for dim sum; for non-dim sum my favorite is Taiwan Cafe on Oxford St. Sel de la Terre (sister restaurant of l'Espalier, near the Aquarium) is a much more casual French-style restaurant that seems toddler-friendly. I'll add more later if I think of anything else...hope you guys have a great trip!
  13. Last night we had a fantastic meal at EMP. We were more than 30 minutes late for our 6pm reservation because we got stuck in traffic, and had a cab driver who apparently doesn't know how to drive in NY. (Note to self: next time you're getting in a cab and the previous occupants say "make sure you give this guy directions," find another cab). We called the restaurant to say we were running late, and they saved our table. For dinner, we ordered the gourmand tasting menu with wine pairings: Amuses Hors d'oeuvres were similar to those described previously--clam in saffron gelee, sweetbread cornet, tuna roulade on fennel, and goat cheese sandwich. These were nice starters, each very different. Langoustines in a bouillabaisse gelee with peekytoe crabmeat and caviar served with a manzanilla sherry, la Guitana. Yummy. A nice light starter, and the sherry (almost colorless) matched very well. I think there was dill and saffron in the gelee, which went well with the seafood. Diver scallops and lobster ceviche with orange and tarragon, with fennel/radish salad. Served with a cold sake (can't remember the brand). The seafood was barely "cooked" in the citrus, with a great texture and orange flavor. The sake was just a touch sweet and fruity--good match. Fantasy of Eggs Egg yolk cooked in the shell with sea urchin and cauliflower foams and caviar. Served with champagne Geoffroy. The flavors in this were SO good, but the egg was slightly overcooked (definitely into soft-boiled range instead of runny). The champagne really brought out the sea urchin and cauliflower flavors. Turbot Slow cooked in saffron fumet, with mussel and scallop coquillage, topped with zucchini to look like scales. Wine was a chateauneuf du pape white, roussane grape. I thought this was the most beautiful dish, but the least interesting in terms of flavor. The broth was tasty, the fish was perfectly cooked, but no wow factor (compared to the other dishes). Lobster Poached in orange carrot nage, with fried ginger. Served with 1994 German riesling. This was my favorite dish of the night, partially because of the wine pairing. Each of the flavors came through extremely well, and the wine really heightened the dish and made the ginger flavor really explode. It was nice to have an aged riesling too--the color was golden, and the flavor had much more depth than typical young rieslings. Foie gras Seared, topped with spice cookie crumble, served with banyuls poached apple and red wine poached apple puree. Wine was a sweet chenin blanc. This was probably the least successful dish of the evening. I couldn't taste the cookies at all, and the apple didn't have a great flavor. Supreme de volail poached with black truffles, with sliced truffles also under the skin. Served with celery root puree, and diced truffles and celery root. Wine was a very funky 2002 gevry chambertin with notes of agave and pine. Before serving this dish, two servers came to the table with the whole pot of chicken, opened the lid, and let us see and smell the whole supreme. The plated dish was really tasty, and the wine was incredible with it. Fromage Lynnhaven chevre with capezzana olive oil and pickled chantarelles. Served with vin jaune, which was almost like a dry sherry. I LOVE goat cheese, and the mushrooms were an interesting touch. Dessert amuse Concord grape sorbet and jelly and cheesecake ice cream with crispy meringue sticks. YUM. Chocolate-hazelnut Souffle with gianduja ganache and espresso bean ice cream. Served with vin santo. This was a really good chocolate dessert, and the ice cream was fabulous. I was pretty stuffed by this point, and couldn't even finish the dessert! Mignardises Overall, this was an extremely good meal. I was really pleased with the wine pairings and most of the dishes were very well executed. The service was generally very good, with a couple minor problems. Our server got the order of dishes mixed up at one point and described the wrong one. Also, my husband is allergic to peanuts (not too severely), which we mentioned to the server, but one of the mignardises had some peanut butter inside. It wasn't enough to make my husband sick (just tingly, itchy mouth), but it was a mistake that could have been much more serious if he were more severely allergic. Also, the woman serving the table next to us might be the most patient person in the world. It was a table of four patrons who complained about absolutely everything. They needed each dish described multiple times, then sent back a bunch of stuff because it wasn't exactly what they wanted. They were incredibly unpleasant, but the waitress graciously accommodated all their requests.
  14. Nishla

    Pegu Club

    We're in NY for the weekend, and stopped by Pegu Club for a drink before dinner last night. We brought a friend who lives in Manhattan but had never been there, and as soon as he walked in the room he said, "now THIS is what a bar is supposed to be like!" I think Pegu has a new regular Since it was just after 5pm, we were one of two groups in the bar, and we had Audrey all to ourselves at the counter. She was an fabulous hostess, really fun to talk to, and made us some outstanding drinks. My favorite was the Li'l Jig--the thai basil is perfect with the tequila. I also tried a Jack Rose with the Lairds bonded after reading about it upthread. Yum. We'll definitely be back this evening, and might try some of the food too.
  15. East Coast Grill's "hell night" is coming up at the end of the month. We're going on Oct 31. Is anyone else going? For those who haven't heard about it, this is a three-day affair of super spicy food. Menu items are rated in bombs, and even the cocktails are hot. The most famous dish is the "pasta from hell" (10 bombs), with a habenero sauce that will literally leave you speechless and breathless for a few minutes. We went this past spring, and have been talking about the next one ever since. This time, I'm taking the next morning off
  16. Bison in a dessert would certainly be interesting... you might also be able to use curry as a bridge between sweet and savory. I'm thinking of the beef curry buns I get in chinatown that are SO good...mild yellow curry beef with sweet-ish bread. The beef could be exchanged for bison, and the form could be a pie or tart instead of a bun. Fruit chutney could be worked in somehow...and a crunchy sheet of carmelized meat for garnish? I'm not sure which side of the tasty/disgusting line I'm on here
  17. So I've been following this thread since the beginning, and am really impressed by everyone's creations. I've been hesitant to post because we don't follow recipes much, so I'm never sure whether a given dish actually belongs to a particular region of cuisine. Anyway, Pontormo mentioned in the Dinner thread that I should post here, so here it is! A calzone we made for a dinner party last weekend: ricotta, broccoli rabe, tomato and sausage. My husband made the dough with some garlic mixed in. This was definitely inspired by all the lovely calzones others have been posting here
  18. I was thinking duck too...I think I saw an iron chef episode where crispy sweetened duck skin was incorporated into a dessert. I bet that would be tasty with fruit, maybe in sorbet form. It could go with a tart made with duck fat pastry!
  19. This blog has been an excellent ride through NY. So excellent, in fact, that my husband and I have decided to go to NY this weekend for a much-needed visit to Pegu Club (we went this summer, and LOVED it). Your dinner party was also inspirational! By the way, the 3ss and 0ij are probably old apothecary measurements. Check page 55 or so of the book the recipe came from. It looks like some kind of strange code, and there are a few conversion tables in there. I didn't feel like figuring it out, but I'll be watching the cocktail threads to see if you have the patience
  20. Stuffed tomato with shrimp and chorizo Serves 6 as Appetizer. This is a really easy appetizer we made for a dinner party. It's based upon flavors you might see in spanish dishes, and VERY garlicky. You can adjust the amount of garlic depending on how many strangers you plan on talking to afterwards. 3 medium sized tomatoes 1/2 head of garlic, minced 1 T butter 1 T olive oil 1/4 c bread crumbs 1 small chorizo link, cut in 1/4 inch cubes 1/3 lb raw shrimp, peeled and roughly chopped 1 egg Preheat oven to 350F Cut each tomato in half and carefully remove the seeds, juice and inner membranes into a bowl. Saute the garilc and bread crumbs in the butter and olive oil for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. The garlic should be just cooked, and the bread crumbs lightly toasted Add the chorizo and tomato innards, and cook 2-3 minutes, or until the tomato juice is mostly evaporated. Salt to taste, if necessary. Combine the chorizo, garlic, tomato and breadcrumb mixture with the raw shrimp and the egg (lightly beaten). Stuff each tomato half--the stuffing can be mounded fairly high. Make a small ring out of aluminum foil for each tomato half. This keeps the tomatoes from tipping over, and prevents the bottom from burning. Bake 25-30 minutes, until tomatoes and shrimp are cooked. If the top is not browned before the filling is cooked, raise the oven temperature to 450F for 3-4 minute, or use a broiler. Finally, top with a few drops of good olive oil, and serve hot. Keywords: Appetizer, Seafood, Easy ( RG1814 )
  21. Nishla

    Wine and Food Pairing

    Last night we cooked a multi-course dinner, described here. Wine 1: 2005 Burgans Albarino, Rais Baixas Food: Tomato stuffed with shrimp, chorizo and garlic. Cod with fennel and watercress salad, bacon orange vinaigrette. The albarino was good with the stuffed tomato, and great with the cod. It really brought out the orange flavor of the vinaigrette. By itself, the wine was rich and crisp at the same time, with citrus and floral notes. Wine 2: 2004 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara Food: Roast duck with parsnip puree and raspberry sauce. I thought the raspberries might not work with the wine, but this pairing was really good. There was enough fruit in the wine with go with the sauce, and the earthiness went great with the duck and parsnips. Wine 3: 2004 ia garnacha, Spain Food: Roast pork with sweet potato, leeks and apple cider reduction. This pairing was good, but the sweet potato and apple cider were a bit too sweet to make this a great match. The wine had dark berry and spice flavors. Wine 4: 2004 Errazuriz late harvest sauvignon blanc, Chile Food: Red wine poached pears, ginger snaps This wine was really good...distinctly sauvignon blanc flavors of passion fruit and herbs, but sweet. It was perfect with the fruit dessert and spices from the cookies.
  22. Nishla

    Wine and Food Pairing

    Wines: 2001 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Herrenweg de Turckheim Pinot Gris (~$20 in bin ends) 2005 Dr. Loosen "L" Riesling Food: Curried buttercup squash/cauliflower soup with ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, tumeric and yogurt, topped with shrimp. The curry flavor in this soup was fairly mild, but the spices were definitely noticable, and the yogurt added some nice tanginess. The Pinot Gris was really good on its own, with mineral, honey, petrol and peach flavors. The wine and soup together were okay, but neither made the other better, so I figured I'd save the rest of the wine for tomorrow. I remembered that I had an opened bottle of the Dr. Loosen from the other day, so I gave it a try. This wine is much less complex than the Pinot Gris, and has more pronounced citrus notes. This was really great with the curry spices, and brought out the sweetness of the squash. I've noticed that in many cases, a wine with a lot of complexity tends to lose something when paired with food. So far my favorite wines for food pairing are more simple, which is fine with me since they're usually cheaper The Dr. Loosen is one of my all time favorites.
  23. Nishla

    Wine and Food Pairing

    Ludja, great suggestion. I'm in the middle of cooking dinner right now, so hopefully I'll have something good to post later katmandude, I've generally found spicy food and reds to be terrible pairings (with a few exceptions). I wonder if that wine would work with a simply prepared steak, maybe grilled or pan seared with a sauce using the wine--something meaty to play off the fruit flavors. Maybe a pork chop would work too. I'm really glad you guys are interested in this topic!
  24. Nishla

    Wine and Food Pairing

    A couple more from the past week: 1. Olive oil-poached wild salmon with tomato cucumber salad, served with the E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose 2003. Not a spectacular pairing, but certainly servicable. The light berry flavors from the rose were good with the freshness of the salad, and the salmon definitely remained the highlight. 2. Buttercup squash/sausage/goat cheese pizza with Neyers Merlot Napa Valley 2000. This was another decent but not great pairing. The plummy fruit of the merlot balanced the sweetness of the squash and the meatiness of the sausage. This particular wine was ridiculously high in alcohol (14.7% ), so I'd definitely pick something a bit more subtle next time.
  25. We went to check out the B-side last night, and really enjoyed it. The atmosphere is totally different from E/S (more of a neighborhood bar compared to a more upscale restaurant/hotel bar), but the drinks were very well made. I had an Emily Rose (gin, dry vermouth, apry, lemon and grenadine) and an Uptown Manhattan (bourbon, Vya sweet, and angostura bitters), and my husband had a Bijou (gin, green chartreuse, sweet vermouth, orange bitters) followed by a Creole (bourbon, sweet vermouth, benedictine and punt e mes). The manhattan was probably my favorite, but all the drinks were very good. We also had an order of the fried calamari, which was great, although the dipping sauce had so much garlic I can still taste it this morning Anyway, we'll definitely be back to the B-side...thanks for the recommendations!
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