I just want to eat!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!

 image of Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

Continuing my discovery of Brooklyn, I gladly accepted the invite I received from Fortunato Brothers Bakery in Williamsbug, an all Italian bakery that opened in 1976. Family business for sure, the establishment's name reflecting the association of three brothers from Naples, Michele, Mario and Sal. Today, they transmitted their passion to their sons, Biagio and Biagio, as well as Frank, another member of the family, and another Biagio! I admit that I met with Biagio, but I have no clue which one!!!
image of Fiat 500 in from of Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

So, as we approached the bakery, we could not miss the delicious smell coming from it, as well as the small Fiat cars in front if it. 
image of Fiat 500 in from of Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

The shop is fairly big, with a seating area on the side that is perfect to enjoy an Italian espresso, a homemade gelato (they have twenty different flavors, my favorite being nocciola or hazelnut), or a cake. 
image of seating area at Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

But of course, the best part was the display, where we could salivate in front of the large choice of cakes and cookies:

image of display at Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

As we were close to Easter, they had plenty of items prepared especially for the occasion, some sweet:
image of cookies at Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

and some savory, such as the meat pie that we tasted. 
image of meat pie at Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

It was a delicious combination of ham and ricotta wrapped in a crumbly dough. 

So we sat in the seating area, waiting for our tasting, when we noticed a cat sitting (or shall I say sleeping) next to our table.
image of Rocco the cat at Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

His name is Rocco: he is the bakery's owners cat and you might see him either sleeping, walking around, or coming to you to get pet or to play. 

Biagio served us a combination of pastries that were mouth watering. Small size though, when possible. I have to say that I love when bakeries offer pastries in a smaller size, as it allows us to try several.
image of pastries at Fortunato Brothers, Italian Bakery in Williamburg, Brooklyn, NY

The first I tried was the baba au rum.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Umami Burger in NYC, New York

image of Umami Burger in NYC, New York

Ah, burgers! One of the most American dish ever, known all around the world, but unfortunately not always with a good representation (I am talking about the fast food chain). Well, I mentioned few times in this blog how teenagers and young adults love Mac Donald's in France, and I recently read that people are thrilled to hear that Burger King is going to make a come back in the country, planning to open 40 new restaurants. Seriously, if your benchmark for burgers are these fast food chains, then you got it all wrong. When I came in this country, I got it all wrong, craving a quarter pounder and eating some on a weekly basis, if not several times a week. Until I tried the Burger Joint, Corner Bistro, BLT burger and others. Now, I only go to Mac Donald's for the milkshakes and the fries that are some of the best.

But burgers are not reserved only to fast food restaurants or diners: more and more restaurants, sometimes high end, propose a burger, most of them trying to make it unique. For instance, DBGB from acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud proposes one with pork belly confit and morbier cheese. Another of his restaurants, DB Bistro Modern, with foie gras. 

So, what would make Umami Burger unique, with lots of people saying that they have the best burgers in the City? That is what I was going to figure out. To learn a bit of history about this chain, know that it started in 2009 in Los Angeles, when Adam Fleischman, the owner, passionate about wine and cuisine decided to bring to the masses his twist on burgers. The logo is pretty amusing as it looks like lips made with a bun, hence their motto: get your lips around our buns.
image of Umami Burger in NYC, New York

We tried to go on a Saturday night, a little before 7pm, thinking that the crowd would come later. Big mistake! The place was packed with people waiting for tables. So we decided to go somewhere else and try this place the next day, for lunch. As we were not sure how crowded it would be, we showed up a little before 12pm.
image of Umami Burger in NYC, New York

The place was empty. As the time passed, we saw families coming, some of them with strollers, this time of the day being more kids friendly, and the only time when parents craving a burger would be able to come, skipping the expense of a nanny to satisfy and sudden urge for a burger.

image of Umami Burger in NYC, New York

It is a big place, with a slight industrial look thanks to the air conditioning system. Unlike lots of the burger places today, you do not order at the counter, but rather sit at the table where they will give you a menu; nothing fancy, just the delivery menu.
image of Umami Burger in NYC, New York

Umami is what is called the fifth taste, after sweet, sour, bitter and salty. At Umami Burger, they created some combinations that bring together sweet and salty. Because of this, they do not allow for any substitution. You will not find also a classic cheeseburger. There, everything is their own creation.

As we were waiting for our burgers, they brought us some sauces for our sides:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Peruvian lunch at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!

image of El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

I recently got invited to El Anzuelo Fino (The Fresh Fishhook) in Woodhaven, Queens. This place opened in 1998, after the owners, Maria and Amilcar Torres, who opened a restaurant with the same name in Lima, Peru in 1982, decided to relocate to the US. It is a small place, with definitely a neighborhood feel. A family business for sure: Amilcar was inspired by his mother to become a Chef and Boris, his son, followed the same path after falling in love with this industry at the age of 12, while working with his parents. Later on, after being trained by Peruvian Chefs, Boris attended the French Culinary Institute and worked in NYC restaurants including Red Rooster, Boulud Sud, Nuela, La Mar, and Raymi before taking over the management of El Anzuelo Fino. 
image of fishes at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

The decor there is really simple, if it is not for the stone wall with fishes in the bottom, swimming freely, probably knowing that they would not be served as ceviche. Because I learnt from my friend Chef Vanessa Greeley, who is from Peru, that ceviche is definitely, with lomo salteado, a specialty of the country. 
image of cancha or fried corn at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

For our first immersion into Peruvian cuisine, our host was Maria Torres herself. She explained to us the story behind the restaurant, as well as the passion her family has for this business.
image of glasses at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

Before I talk about the food that was presented to us, let's talk about the beverages. First is wine: they do not have a wide selection there, but if you are curious about Peruvian wines, you should be satisfied.
image of wine at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

They also have cocktails, like the Pisco Sour that Maria prepared for me. 
image of Pisco sour at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

It was made with Pisco and just 2 drops of Angostura for the sour taste.
image of Pisco sour at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

This is definitely not something you would drink like milk...

If you prefer non-alcoholic beverages, they have shakes, as well as the chicha:

image of Chicha at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

Chicha is a drink made with purple corn that is boiled for 2 hours and then prepared with fruit like apple and pineapple.
image of Chicha at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

It is quite sweet and thick, with a taste that I cannot really compare to anything. It was our first encounter with purple corn, that I never tried before and that we would retrieve in our dessert.
image of Purple corn at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

With our drinks came cancha, that is dried corn that is fried.
image of Cancha or fried corn at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

In fact, as we were eating, they were preparing a batch:

image of Cancha or fried corn at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

Then, we started our discovery of Peru. The first dish was a ceviche made with pollock fish (ceviche de corvina).
image of Ceviche de corvina or fish ceviche at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

It was served with sweet potatoes, French corn and onions.
image of Ceviche de corvina or fish ceviche at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

I liked it: it was fresh and refreshing with a nice lemon hint.

The second dish was the veal hearts or anticuchos con papa cocida y choclo:
image of veal hearts or anticuchos con papa cocida y choclo at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

I love veal heart, so I was glad they served us this dish where the meat was accompanied with French corn and some potato. I admit that I mainly focused on the meat that was perfectly cooked and had a nice char from the grill.

Next was the pulpo al olivo or grilled octopus topped with a creamy black olive sauce.
image of pulpo al olivo or grilled octopus with black olive cream at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

This was just an ok dish for me as there was unfortunately too much sauce and I ended up removing it from the octopus that was very good and tender.

image of Lomo salteado at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

Then came the lomo salteado, a dish prepared with some top sirloin that is diced and cooked with onions, tomatoes and French fries. I liked it: original in a way with the fries mixed in, the meat and sauce were tasty.

The last dish was the corvina a la macho.
image of Corvina a la macho at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

It is a fish filet (it depends on arrival, this time we got flounder) that is cooked in a secret sauce and covered with some seafood (octopus, calamari and shrimp). If you like seafood, it is a nice dish: all the elements were perfectly cooked, the calamari and octopus were not tough, and the sauce, that cooked for 3 hours, was delicious.

We then finished with dessert and got the mazamorra morada or purple corn pudding:
image of mazamorra morada or purple corn pudding at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

Just the rice pudding part was delicious and creamy, but with the purple corn pudding, it was fantastic! The left part of the pudding was prepared, besides with corn, with pineapple, vanilla, lemon and anise. It is definitely a good alternative to a simple, but delicious, rice pudding.
image of mazamorra morada or purple corn pudding at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven, NY

The lunch at El Anzuelo Fino was quite good and a nice discovery of Peruvian food, with dishes that were interesting to try. Know that they have a sister restaurant in Jackson Heights, opened in 2008. 

Enjoy (I did)!
El Anzuelo Fino on UrbanspoonEl Anzuelo Fino on Urbanspoon
If you like this post or the photos, feel free to share it using the toolbar below or to write a comment! 

And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!
Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
El Anzuelo Fino
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
Woodhaven / Peruvian
* Street Address
9801 Jamaica Ave., Woodhaven, NY 11421
* Phone
(718) 846-0909

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tapas at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

image of Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

What I love about tapas is the concept: small plates perfect to have with a drink (or two) or to share with others, as well as how comforting some of these dishes can be. So, we went to open table to try to find a tapas place and noticed Tia Pol, conveniently located next to the High Line, where we took a walk to digest...
highline in NYC, NY

image of highline in NYC, NY

image of highline in NYC, NY

Tia Pol was opened by Heather Belz and Mani Dawes in July 2004, to celebrate the Spanish cuisine that the owners experienced few years before, when living or traveling to Spain. The name itself comes from a cat Mani Dawes befriended back then. 
image of Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

This is an exiguous place, a hole in the wall, that feels warm and unpretentious, more like your neighborhood joint.

image of dining room at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

In the back is a larger room that is either used when there is an overflow of customers in the main part of the restaurant or for private parties.
image of dining room at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

Besides tapas, the menu offers different large plates for lunch, brunch and dinner. But we were there for tapas. They have a nice choice, mainly with either meat or fish. So if you do not eat any, your choice will be limited, a pattern pretty common in such place.
image of dining room at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

We started off with a cheese platter:
image of cheeses at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

It was composed of manchego cheese:

image of manchego cheese at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

A goat cheese:
image of goat cheese at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

The last one, I missed the name...
image of cheese at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

They were served with some walnut and raisin bread.
image of bread at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

Then we got the croquetas de jamón or ham croquettes:
image of croquetas de jamón or ham croquettes at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

We had the choice to order the small or larger serving. We chose the smaller one.
image of croquetas de jamón or ham croquettes at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

This was delicious: the outside was crispy and not greasy and the inside soft with a nice smokiness and saltiness from the ham.

Then, we ordered the tortilla española or Spanish omelet.
image of tortilla española or Spanish omelet at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

It was very good and I did not even need the mayonnaise with it as it was tasty and moist. 

The next dish was huevos rellenos al pimentón de la vera or deviled eggs with smoked paprika.
image of deviled eggs at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

Slightly spicy, I truly appreciated the fact that the taste of mayonnaise was not too pronounced.

After that was the crema de hígado de pollo or chicken liver mousse:
image of chicken liver mousse at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

As Jodi does not like chicken liver, I ordered the smaller portion. Served on a toasted bread, it was drizzled with some sort of sauce made with Pedro Ximénez, a white Spanish wine grape, that added a nice sweetness to the dish. I really liked this dish. 

The last tapas was the pinchos mourns or lamb skewers:
image of lamb skewers at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

The smaller portion included two skewers made of cubed lamb cooked with moorish spices (mix of several spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper...). That was a succulent dish, the lamb being perfectly cooked and the spices giving a very flavorful taste to it. I regretted at this point not having ordered the larger portion!

Of course, we could not leave without dessert to accompany my espresso and Jodi's tea...
image of espresso at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

And we picked the churros:
image of churros at Tia Pol in Chelsea, NYC, NY

Churros are Spanish fried-dough pastries, sometimes referred as Spanish doughnuts. This is a very addictive dessert or snack (like any fried stuff, no?). They were served with some melted chocolate. I think that they disappeared from the table in couple of minutes...I definitely recommend them.

We had a fantastic lunch at Tia Pol: the food was very good and prices reasonable. I really like the fact that, for some dishes, they propose smaller portions, allowing us to try multiple dishes. If you are looking for a tapas place, I highly recommend this one.

Enjoy (I did)!

Tia Pol on Urbanspoon

If you like this post or the photos, feel free to share it using the toolbar below or to write a comment! 

And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!

Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
Tia Pol
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
Chelsea / Spanish
* Street Address
205 10th Ave., New York, NY 10011
* Phone
(212) 675-8805