I just want to eat!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dinner at Left Bank in the West Village, NYC, New York

image of Left Bank in the West Village, NYC, New York

Last week, I had a fantastic dinner with my friends from Tabélog, Sachiko, Kenta and Shouhei. If you read this blog, you probably remember my encounter with Tabélog, a year ago. Tabélog is a restaurant review site with over 40 million users in Japan, expanding now in the US. Their reviews are not anonymous, leveraging bloggers and putting an emphasis on photos, that is great considering that a photo is worth a thousand words. But, what I like also is that the team loves food as much as the bloggers they meet and it is always fun to exchange experiences and good addresses.
image of Left Bank in the West Village, NYC, New York

This time, we had dinner at Left Bank, a restaurant that defined itself as "an American tavern, inspired by Greenwich Village itself, and influenced by European sensibilities". At first, I thought it referred to the rive gauche (literally left bank) in Paris, that is, beyond a location, a movement of writers, artists and philosophers like Pablo Picasso, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, Henri Matisse, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many others. You many not know the term rive gauche, but, if you went to Paris, you probably heard about Boulevard Saint-Germain or the Boulevard Saint-Michel.
image of Left Bank in the West Village, NYC, New York

I arrived a bit early (I hate to be late) and toured the restaurant to take some photos. What I like is that there is a bit of space between tables and they did not try to maximize the space.
image of Left Bank in the West Village, NYC, New York

When I looked around, I could definitely sense a European feel, reminding me a bit restaurants in Paris, especially La Butte Aux Cailles, where I use to live.
image of Left Bank in the West Village, NYC, New York

The menu, crafted by Chef and owner Laurence Edelman, is of a good size, offering small plates as well as just few choices per section (raw bar, appetizers, pasta, meat / poultry /fish, vegetables), made with ingredients provided by local farmers.

We decided to start with drinks. On my side, I ordered a thyme and ginger cocktail:
image of Thyme and Ginger cocktail at Left Bank in the West Village, NYC, New York

We then shared few appetizers / small plates. First was the chicken liver pate:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Parm in Nolita, NYC, New York

image of Parm in Nolita, NYC, New York

On a Sunday afternoon, we were walking in Nolita, looking for a place to eat when we passed in front of Parm, on Mulberry St. We were so pleased to see it that we both shouted "Paaarm!" at the same time. Yes, this place was on our wish list for a while, since we saw their baked ziti featured on the TV show Unique Eats. So, I guess at this point you know what we would order...

This place, opened in 2011, is an offshoot of Torrisi, located few steps away. It is a small place:

Bar and delivery takeout at the entrance:
image of Parm in Nolita, NYC, New York

Small dining room in the back:
image of Parm in Nolita, NYC, New York

With an open kitchen where you can see the Chef and crew prepare the dishes.
image of Parm in Nolita, NYC, New York

We decided to sit at the bar, overlooking a part of the kitchen, watching the magic happen.
image of Parm in Nolita, NYC, New York

The menu is not that large, that is understandable for such a small restaurant. Anyway, I prefer a small menu well executed rather than a large one poorly delivered. At Parm, they propose few vegetables, salads, sandwiches or this mouth watering baked ziti.
image of Parm in Nolita, NYC, New York

You are probably wondering what the big deal is. Well, first of all, after baking the ziti, they fry them in a pan, giving to the sides a nice crunch.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Celebrating Easter with La Maison du Chocolat

Please note that the chocolate was complimentary. However, I was not obliged to post and the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
image of La Maison du Chocolat Easter chocolate

La Maison Du Chocolat proposed to send me some samples of their Easter collection, crafted by Chef Nicolas Cloiseau. I, of course, accepted, being a big fan of this establishment (great hot cocoa, pastries and chocolates). 
image of La Maison du Chocolat Easter chocolate

They sent me some chocolate eggs with the following flavors:

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: