Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gilt Bar

Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone! After spending a few days in Chicago over the holiday, my belly is now rounder, and my soul is happier. It was great to get some r&r, and one of the nice things about my trip is that I got to catch up with law school buddies Julie and Jordan. Jordan suggested we dine at Gilt Bar, and his suggestion did not disappoint!

Jordan and I immediately decided to split the pork belly entree and truffle pasta. Here's the truffle pasta:

I could eat this pasta all day. The hand cut noodles were cooked al dente, and the truffle flavor was perfection. This dish managed to be creamy but light at the same time. I could have eaten the whole bowl, but I decided to be nice and keep my promise to let Jordan have some.

The pork belly was also quite wonderful. The menu's description: "grilled duroc pork belly with cranberry beans, braised kale & smoked chili broth."

I didn't really notice the cranberry beans, but the pork was super tender and fatty - just the way pork belly should be. I've also decided that I like kale in any form (I've recently taken to kale chips from Whole Foods), so the pile of kale underneath the pork made me very happy.

Julie ordered the orecchiette with spicy pork sausage & herbs.

I tried only one bite, but Julie confirmed that this pasta was solid.

Dan got the bolognese with pappardelle, charred tomato & parmesan.

The ratio of sauce to noodles was just right, the sauce was itself delicious, and the texture of the noodles was again ideal.

The table shared a few sides, too. Some brussels sprouts, for your viewing pleasure:

These were caramelized, with pork belly, maple & parmesan. I honestly couldn't taste the maple, but in general these sprouts were pretty good. Tart, fresh, and flavorful.

Next up were smashed potatoes with roasted garlic & chicken jus.

This was the only mediocre dish of the night. The potatoes were too dense/chunky, and too salty for my taste.

My favorite thing of the night was probably the blackened cauliflower side.

The menu says the cauliflower comes with "pickled red onion, capers & chili." It's a testament to how good the cauliflower is, because I didn't even notice capers... and I hate capers. All I could focus on was the beautiful burnt flavor of the cauliflower. Again, I had to fight my inner glutton to stop myself from eating this whole plate.

We were doing so well with dinner that we just had to continue with dessert. First up, mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Han would have loved this. The mint flavor tasted real and fresh, and I loved the tiny crunch of the chocolate chips.

Julie was a genius and ordered us the toasted coconut and mocha cream pie.

Sorry, this picture makes the pie look like a monster and like there are bugs all over it. In fact, it's kinda freaking me out to look at it anymore. But trust me, this pie was fantastic. The best part was the dollop of mocha cream on top. So light and fluffy. The rest of it was awesome, too. I ate it all together with a big smile on my face.

The desserts made Julie and Jordan smile, too. They're so freaking cute.

230 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654
Gilt Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Cure for the Chocolate Craving at Fabiane's

Once upon a time, I worked from home for four weeks.  One week, I caught a marathon of Top Chef: Just Desserts.  

Then I could not stop thinking about desserts.  I had to have them.  The cravings were insatiable.
After all that, I still could not kick those pregnant-ladyesque chocolate cravings!

So, I meandered into Fabiane's on Bedford at night (I was running errands!  I was vulnerable!) and got the cutest, chocolateyest thing I could find:

Behold, an entirely edible chocolate cup of chocolate mousse!

So adorable.  So beautiful.

I hacked into it with my eager spoon.

I can't tell if these images are too suggestive.  They make me feel dirty, but in a good way, so I put two in here.

Why yes, your eyes do espy an underground oasis of melted caramel in the center of a creamy chocolate mousse love nest!

Sorry for my creepy index finger in here.
This dynamite concoction was just what I needed.  Layers upon layers of chocolate, with a surprise crispy cake layer at the base, lightly flavored with orange.

I ate this alone in my room.
In my bed.
I am gross.
And it was great.


Fabiane's Cafe & Pastry
142 North 5th Street  New York, NY 11211
Fabianes Cafe & Pastry Shop on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dinner at Do or Dine & Dessert at The Chocolate Room!

Brooklyn + disco balls + a waitstaff that could fit in perfectly in Breaking Bad = terrific Friday night dinner with Anne, Ismail and Thanan at Do or Dine in Bedford-Stuyvesant.  Do or Dine is a hip new spot created by twenty-somethings who used to work at The Modern.  They learned their tricks of the trade from chef pals, and now dish up standard American type cuisine with interesting, often Asian, twists.

Take their lamb breast, for example, which comes two small ribs to a plate, flavored with cumin and lime and adorned with a green leafy flag.  The lamb was borderline gamey, amply spiced and fatty - chewy, melty and tasty.

The foie gras doughnut was a decadent affair - a crisp filled doughnut jammed with grape jelly and creamed foie gras.

The table was mixed on opinion - Anne didn't like the foie texture, wishing it was more in its pure state than the pureed one, Thanan liked it and helped himself to Anne's share, and I thought it was interesting and novel but mainly preferred the oily-crunch of the doughnut shell over the filling.

The tako taco featured tender bits of octopus, sour cream and tomatillo sauce. 

The nippon "nachos" came as five vegetable dumplings on a plate.  The charred crunch of the dumpling wrappers coupled with the pico de gallo produced the exact flavor of nachos but in a fun presentation. 

The "fish and chips" appeared as a whole pan-fried snapper perched upon a pile of thick cut french fries, spine lined with yuzu and head topped with a glistening crown of golden roe.

This dish was a table favorite, the fries crispy despite being soaked in the oily goodness of the fish, the fish light and flaky and the yuzu providing freshness and crunch.

The New Zealand duck breast was thickly sliced and meaty like steak.  The skin had just the right touch of fat.

Do or Dine represents Brooklyn restaurantery to the max.  Hip waitstaff with cool vocabulary, a cozy, warm space and unique dishes.  A good option if you're in the Bed-Stuy area, but I'm not convinced yet that it is a necessary destination spot.

After, we found ourselves in The Chocolate Room in Park Slope, a particularly delicious spot on a cold night with warm candlelight and air that smells rich with chocolate (mmmmmmm).

The waiter immediately greeted us with a dessert amuse bouche - a bite of chocolate chip blondie topped with a drip of melted chocolate.  An absolutely lovely bite.

Thanan ordered the spiced dark chocolate.  A pool of dense chocolate, utterly warm and brilliantly spiced - cinnamon, clove, nutmeg.  So beautiful.  So intensely delicious. 

I ordered the chocolate layer cake, because I think I was swayed by the Oprah quote featured on their menu ("a luscious and perfect three-layer blackout cake"), but ultimately it was the right decision.  It is a very good classic chocolate cake - with slight crumb, sufficient sweetness from the thin layers of icing and a slice big enough to share, though everyone seemed overdosed from their chocolatey drinks.  This cake may have been perfect with a generous pour of Thanan's spiced drink across the top.

I love The Chocolate Room.  I want to sit there all day and just breathe the air.  ***fierce inhale without exhaling*** aahhh.

All in all, such a delicious Brooklyn night!  (Love!)

Do or Dine
1108 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11216
Do or Dine on Urbanspoon

The Chocolate Room
86 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217 
The Chocolate Room on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Apple Picking at Smolak Farms

One of the best ways to spend a fall weekend day in New England is to go apple picking - especially if you visit Smolak Farms. Smolak Farms has it all: apple orchards, berry fields, a petting zoo, and a general store where you can buy little pieces of heaven otherwise known as apple cider donuts. Lord, and the ice cream! More about that later.

We made the short drive from Boston to North Andover a few weekends ago, and I shrieked with joy when I saw this:

How quaint! Pumpkin patch and all.

I was most excited for the apple cider donuts, so luckily we headed first to the general store for hot cider and donuts. The store was adorable, offering many baked goods, jams, and other homemade items.

The hot apple cider hit the spot, and the apple cider donut (I chose the cinnamon-sugar covered) was amazing.

The cake donut had perfect texture and moistness. The plentiful apple chunks throughout made both my eyes and stomach very happy. I had two donuts instantly, and I bought six more... like this:

They were just as good the next day. And yes, that's a caramel+chocolate+mini-m&ms-covered apple. I stuck it in the fridge for later in the week, and it was divine.

But onto the apple picking... it really was the perfect fall day, and Anna expressed our happiness while walking toward the apple orchard.

The orchard we visited had macintosh and cortland apples, and we filled up a bucket with plenty of each.

Success! Rebecca (an amazing cook and blogger) took these apples home and planned to do amazing things with them. I look forward to tasting the results. :)

As we walked back to the general store, we saw signs for ice cream, and we couldn't resist. Not sure anyone could resist a place that offers apple-cider-donut flavored ice cream.

Wow. I was blown away by this ice cream. I ordered a small size and split the flavors - - half apple cider donut, and half fall pumpkin (bottom half of the cup). The chunks of donut throughout the a.c.d. flavor were delectable. And the fall pumpkin tasted so smooth and fresh - like the pumpkin had just been cut open. Both flavors were wonderfully creamy. From the web site, it looks like the ice cream comes from Treadwell's Ice Cream. Good to know, because I'm now on the hunt to find other places that sell Treadwell's!

I can't wait to go back to Smolak's for some more fall fun and feasting!

Smolak Farms
315 South Bradford St
North Andover, MA 01845

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Pig Party & More Peels

I am an obsessive person.  It's the type of personality that enables someone to watch 4 seasons of Breaking Bad in 8 days or eat Japanese ramen three times in one week.  I gross myself out.  I gross you out too.  (I know.)

And so, last night I found myself again at Sa Aming Nayon (this time with my lovely pals Anne & Thanan), noshing on:

delectably crispy fried spinach (awesomely healthy chips AND complimentary!),


a'plentiful with chewy pig ears, snout and egg,

tender pork adobo, a richly allspiced dish reminiscent of Chinese cuisine, which captured Anne's heart,

and of course, grilled pork belly.  Salty, fatty, satisfying.

And then, of course,as if filling our burgeoning bellies with pig, in all its splendiferous parts and forms, was not enough, we decided to continue our porky party to Peels (because I am obsessed!  I can't stop thinking about that fried chicken!) -- but, this time, for dessert:

a tall slice of 3-in-1 pie (chocolate, banana and coconut - oh, my!), wonderfully light and smooth on a crunchy, buttery crust, with the trio of flavors melding together in a cool, creamy haze

and a ridiculously light round of tres leches cake, floating in a gorgeous pool of condensed milk (I would learn how to swim, if all pools were filled with this).  This is Thanan's new dessert obsession in life (though he likes to call it "three milks" because he is unrefined and annoying).

The best thing about the Peels desserts is that they are not that sweet, enabling you to eat the entire thing without guilt or need for sharing, and that's not a bad way to enjoy a little weekday indulgence.

Sa Aming Nayon
12th St & 1st Ave

325 Bowery, New York NY 10003
Peels on Urbanspoon