July 2011 | I just want to eat!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Milk Shake at Kilwin's!

With this hot weather, thank God we got Ice cream and Milk Shakes! We were in Annapolis this week end and the temperature was so hot, that I really needed to...hydrate... We found a Kilwin's store. We first started with a sample of their triple chocolate fudge: delicious! I then ended up having a praline butter pecan milk shake. I usually choose vanilla milk shakes, but this time, it was too tempting as it is rare to find praline flavor. It started very well when I saw the person put three huge scoops of ice cream in the cup. The milk shake was thick and vary tasty. The only regret I have is that the straw was a regular straw and pecans got stuck from time to time in it. This was one of the best milk shakes I ever had!
My wife got the toasted coconut ice cream and she loved it!

Too bad Kilwin's is not in New York!
Kilwins on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 29, 2011

Scrambled Eggs!!!

Why can't restaurant cook eggs properly? I hate when they overcook them: they are all dry and lose their taste! There are so many different ways of cooking eggs: omelet, boiled, scrambled, Benedict, poached...Today, let's talk about scrambled eggs.

The origin of scrambled eggs goes back far far away, in Ancient Roman. Eggs will be whisked and mixed with vegetables and spices before being baked. Was it similar to what we know today as scrambled eggs or to an omelet? Difficult to say! The ingredients you mix the eggs with depend on the culture, region or country. For instance, in Nigeria, they will make them spicy with tomatoes, herbs and chillies. In Morocco, with tomatoes, onions and cumin.

Did you know that the song "Yesterday" from the Beatles was at the beginning called "Scrambled Eggs" ("Scrambled Eggs/Oh, my baby how I love your legs" was the first verse)? This was at the time John Lennon and Paul McCartney were writing using the method of the substitute lyrics.

So, now let me tell you how I prepare them: I usually whisk them with salt and pepper and then scramble them in a pan, while adding milk. I like to cook then slightly runny after making sure the milk has been fully integrated with the eggs: they will be moist and smooth. I will eat them with a piece of buttered toast. Yum!

Enjoy (I do)!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Food everywhere? Come on!

Image of burger earbuds
Seen at Dick Blick (Art store) today: Burger and Fries ear buds. Who would use that???
By the way, if you are interested, you can find them on Amazon: Hamburger and Fries Earbuds

America's Next Great Restaurant - Soul Daddy - CLOSED???

I was all excited yesterday when planning for our trip to Soul Daddy, the winning Restaurant of America's Next Great Restaurant. For those who did not watch the show, four investors (Chez Bobby Flay, chef Lorena Garcia, Chef Curtis Stone and Steve Ells founder of Chipotle) want to invest in a fast casual restaurant and open three locations: New York City, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. They therefore organize a competition where contestants must bring not only good food but also a brand new concept. They will battle during several weeks during elimination challenges until a winner is proclaimed. The winner was Jamawn Woods with Soul Daddy, a healthy soul food restaurant. The restaurant opened on May 2nd. At that time, I wanted to go, but the reviews were so so: the food was not that great and too pricey for a fast food. I was then thinking that it was probably because the restaurant was new and they needed to adjust. Well, apparently they did not! The restaurant opened on May 2nd and closed in NYC and Los Angeles on June 15th!!! They released the following statement:

"This was a difficult decision for us, as we wanted to see Soul Daddy succeed, but the restaurant simply was not performing as we had hoped."

So, they will focus on Minneapolis and who knows, they may come back. What is sure is that it proves that knowing how to cook or have investors like he did does not make it a success for sure! Good luck, Jamawn, I hope you will do well and come back! I want my ribs!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Etiquette 101 - Wine

Wine is definitely a good complement to a delicious meal. Whether you drink it in a restaurant or somebody's home, there are different rules (I am just giving them: that does not mean I apply them!):
  • If somebody brings wine, you are supposed to open the bottle and drink it with them. The only exception is if your guest ask you to keep the bottle for another occasion.
  • You might be in presence of two or three glasses at the table: the biggest one is for water (normally on the left), the middle one for red and the smallest one for white.
  • Before every sip, clean your lips so your glass remains clean during the entire meal.
  • If you do not want to drink wine, do not put your end on top of the glass. Just say "No wine for me, thanks" (not literally: you understand what I mean). If you do not want more wine, stop drinking and leave some of it in your glass. Wine is not for hydration: water is!
  • Some say that wine should only be served after the soup or the potage if part of the menu.
  • At a restaurant, aways make sure that the wine you pick satisfies everybody's taste. Otherwise, wine by the glass might be the solution...
  • After choosing a bottle of wine at the restaurant, always check the label to make sure that the waiter or sommelier gave you the correct wine. I went to a restaurant few years ago and ended up with a $300 bottle (I did not pay for it). When you taste the wine, if you do not like it, send it back gently, especially if it is an expensive one. If it tastes like cork, definitely send it back! The cork will be placed next to you not to play with it or bring it as a souvenir, but rather to check if you see some mold or if it is too dry.

Last, if you are serving wine, make sure it is at the correct temperature. As a guideline:
                 
                 Fahrenheit          Celsius
Red            57 to 68              13 to 20
White         48 to 58              9 to 14
Rose           48 to 54              9 to 12
Sparkling    42 to 54              6 to 12

Conclusion: with all these rules, I am not surprised that so many people drink soda!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Restaurant Review - Good Eats (Woodbridge, NJ)

Image of Food at the restaurant Good eats in Woodbridge NJ
Oh Boy! I should have worn my stretch pants the day I went to Good Eats!!! This restaurant is pretty good and the portions are quite...big. Good Eats is a Tex-Mex and Cajun restaurant (interesting combination) that serves traditional Tex-Mex dishes such as fajitas, tacos, etc...and traditional Cajun cuisine such as crawfish etouffee, Jambalaya or blackened fish. I went for lunch and the restaurant was full; apparently, on the week end, it is packed and you need to be patient to have a table. The atmosphere in the restaurant reminds me John Wayne's movies, but, fortunately, my meal did not end up in a fight. 

I had the chance of trying different dishes (now you will understand my first comment): I chose the chicken taco and cheese enchilada combination plater and picked jambalaya instead of rice & beans (great that they give the choice). I also asked for guacamole (good) and sour cream (extra). The chicken taco (soft taco shell) was ok: I wish they put some cheese in it. The cheese enchilada however was delicious: they were very very generous with the cheese! The Jambalaya was quite good and was an excellent way to try some Cajun cooking at the same time. I also tried the blackened catfish that was tasty, although spicy (normal for a blackened fish). Finally, I tried the chicken from the chicken fajita and it was moist and tender. 

I would definitely go back to Good Eats and maybe next time I will try the Margaritas that are supposed to be fantastic!

Enjoy (I do)!
Good Eats on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Restaurant Review - Bin 14 (Hoboken)

Image of Brunch at Bin 14 in Hoboken, NJ











Bin 14 is one of my favorite restaurant for brunch, lunch or dinner. This wine bar opened in 2008 by Chef Anthony Pino who also owns Anthony David's in Hoboken (awesome for Eggs benedict lovers). The decor is really warm with a marble bar, red bricks walls and a brick oven. 

I like this place for different reasons:
- all dishes are small sizes, so it can be shared: not only it is a great way to try a little bit of everything, but it is also fun when dining with a group of people.
- the wine list offers a wide choice (more than 100) and they serve the wine by the glass in different quantities: 2 and 6 ounces. 
- the food is de-li-cious! They have a good variety of cheeses, brushetta, pizza (the truffle and creamy taleggio cheese is terrific) and small plates, such as meatballs in marinara sauce, arancini made with fresh mozzarella and warm tomato salsa (2nd photo), truffle fries with Romano cheese and black pepper (addictive), the sauteed shrimp with lardons and grits (3rd photo) or the mushrooms and truffle oil risotto. Try also the pasta that are made daily. One of their best brunch dish is the Goat cheese and mushrooms omelet (they are generous on the cheese - 1st photo). 

The only negative about Bin 14 is that there are no desserts, except if you go for brunch and try their zeppoles. 

Bin 14 organizes different wine events that teach the basics but also focus on specific topics such as Italian white wine. On Tuesdays, they propose for $19 all you can eat mussels and fries. The record is apparently owned by a woman: 8 servings. I have to say that after a slice of pizza and a brushetta, I could only eat 3...but I do not desperate to try to beat that record!

Last, they have a kid menu for brunch and kids under 8 eat for free!

Enjoy (I do)!
Bin 14 on Urbanspoon

Etiquette 101 - The Art of Eating Soup

Some people always wonder how to behave at the table. There are extreme, moderate and relaxed rules and these good manners should not prevent you from enjoying your time at the table. What is interesting is that some of these rules can apply at home, when being a host/hostess or invitee, but they do not apply in a restaurant.

Let's start with Soup: first, be aware that the spoon for the soup must be placed on the right side of the plate. There are two ways of eating soup with the spoon: from the end of the spoon (French way) or from the side (British); in all cases, do not put the entire spoon in your mouth and do not make any sound (slurp!!!)... If the soup is too hot, you are not supposed to blow on it; instead, eat the soup from the sides of the plate. When finishing your soup: do not try to get the last drops of the soup by inclining the plate or using a piece of bread. 

When you are finished, leave the spoon in the plate: do not put it on the table!

Recipe: Pasta with Walnut Sauce

Image of Pasta with walnut sauce recipe
If you like nuts, here is a very easy recipe for a pasta sauce that will serve two persons. In this recipe, Walnuts can be replaced by unsalted peanuts.

In a bowl, grind a 1 - 1 1/2 cup of walnuts. To grind them, I am using a coffee grinder. Add a teaspoon of minced garlic, two tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of parsley, season with salt and add 4 generous spoons of sour cream. Mix all the ingredients and it is done! I suggest you heat the sauce for one minute in the microwave before serving. Isn't this easy?

Enjoy (I do)!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The $5000 burger!!!

image of Burger at Five Guys in NYC, New York
Burgers is a popular dish in the US and it goes beyond fast food. New Burger joints are opening on a regular basis and chefs like Bobby Flay or Laurent Tourondel are proposing their own version. In France, at the exception of few restaurant who may want to give their own spin (like Chez Papa in Paris), it is restricted to the fast food world. Mac Donald’s commonly called MacDo or Quick, a French-Belgian spin off of Mac Donald’s, are popular, especially among teenagers; Burger King closed down its restaurants there as it was not profitable. The most expensive burger in the US is proposed by Chef Hubert Keller at Fleur de Lys at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, for... $5000! It is a foie gras and black truffle stuffed Kobe beef burger served on a truffle brioche bun with a garnish that also contains truffles (you better know that you like truffles before ordering it!). Of course, for that price, they give you a free bottle of Chateau Petrus 1995 (very expensive wine) and you can keep the stemware (at this price I should be able to keep the Chef!). So, if you are in Las Vegas and someone proposes you to have a burger, be careful….

Fortunately, you do not need to spend $5000 to have a good burger. For less than $8, you can go to Five Guys. Their first location opened in Arlington,Virginia in 1986 and the restaurant got its name simply because it was founded by a father and his four sons.

Five Guys burgers are coming with two patty; if you prefer a "lighter" meal, you can ask for the "little burger" that has only one. Besides burgers, they also propose hot dogs, but these have nothing special. You can then pick from a large selection of toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, pickles...In term of sides, they unfortunately only propose French fries, no other sides such as onion rings! Be aware that they are quite generous with the fries and one regular order can feed two people.

The meat is cooked medium and...tastes like meat, that is not always the case in some other restaurants (sorry Spike!). It is also juicy, but not to the point where you regret you were wearing your favorite white shirt. The Bun is a regular bun. I suggest you eat your burger right away otherwise it steams in the aluminum foil.

Last but not least, the restaurant is nice enough to offer shelled peanuts while you wait for your burger! 

Although not the best, Five guys is in my top 3 list (check out My Favorite Restaurants section): good burger for a good price!


Enjoy (I do)
Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Restaurant review - Remi (NYC)

Image of Italian food at Remi in NYC, New York
I LOVE Italian food. I know: I love any type of food! New York is a great city for italian food and there is no need to go to Little Italy to find a good one!

Remi is one of them. Located Midtown, Remi serves North Italian cuisine in a decor inspired from Venice (there is a big fresco of Venice on one of the walls). It is important to mention that they serve homemade pastas! I am always disappointed when I go to an italian restaurant and the pasta are not fresh: I can cook them myself! 

The menu offers a large variety of italian dishes that will satisfy all the palates: meat lovers, fish lovers and vegetarians. In term of appetizers, their Tuna tartare (First photo), served with avocado and cucumber is refreshing. The pairing of the tuna and the avocado works very well. For the main course, their Fazzoletti ai funghi selvatici, that you all understand is wide hand cut pasta with mixed wild mushrooms, garlic and white truffle sauce are worth the visit. Look at the color on the middle photo and you will understand that this dish was very appetizing! The gnocchi are good but a little heavy (not easy to find a restaurant that makes good gnocchi - try Forgione). I also tried the calf liver served with polenta and it was delicious. The polenta was creamy, not dry, and the liver cooked to perfection.
For dessert, the Tiramisu (last photo) is very good as well as the Ricotta cheese cake that is served with caramelized pears and a raspberry sauce (yum!). 

I definitely recommend this restaurant, but be aware that its prices are on the high side.

Enjoy (I do)!

Remi on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Restaurant review - Bobo (NYC)

image of brunch French toast and eggs benedict at Bobo in NYC, New York
Bobo is a restaurant located in the West Village whose name comes from the contraction "Bourgeois" - "Bohemian" (people from upper class leaving a bohemian inspired life, e.g. simple and non materialistic). 
The restaurant is located in a brownstone and the entrance is below street level. They have a garden, but there is no shade. The interior is really nicely decorated with tables made of old wood that gives a special atmosphere to the place.

The brunch menu offers a variety of typical brunch items: eggs, french toast, burger, etc...We tried the french toast and the crab cakes benedict. The french toast were awesome: served with oatmeal streusel (crumbled) and bananas. You need a solid appetite to finish them (I guess no problem for me...)!
The crab cakes were just ok: they were served with supposedly béarnaise sauce (did not really taste like it) and mache salad. The eggs were cooked perfectly, but I felt they should have served them with the english muffins so you can dip them in the sauce and the egg yolk. The crab cakes contained too much bread crumbs and not enough lump crab. Despite that, I would recommend this restaurant and next time, for brunch, we will try the griddled cheese (goat cheese, cheddar and gruyere!!!). We will definitely try the dinner that seems yummy.

Enjoy (I do)!

Bobo on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week - Hudson County

Enjoy Restaurant week in Hudson County from July 25th to August 5th!

The list of participating restaurants can be found at www.hudsonrestaurantweek.com

It is a good opportunity to try Amanda's and Dino & Harry's in Hoboken!

Enjoy (I will)!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Event: Food Network Challenge- Chocolate Myths!

One of my colleagues, Vanessa Greeley, is a talented pastry chef (she has been Silver Medalist in the 2010 Connecticut Cake Competition Challenge) who graduated from the French Culinary Institute of New York. Vanessa has participated in Chocolate Myths Challenge on the Food Network that aired yesterday at 8pm. The principle of the show, as described by the Food Network is: “Four chocolatiers will create their version of a mythical creature and then bring it to life with some extreme effects. But there is magic and mischief afoot in the Challenge studio. And the competitors will have to work fast and smart to overcome it all win ten thousand dollars”.

The show will air again tonight and tomorrow morning – Check it out!

Monday July 18 at 11:00 pm
Tuesday July 19 at 2:00 am

Check Vanessa’s website at http://www.vanessascakedesigns.com

…Enjoy (I will)!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Restaurant review- Wolfgang's Steakhouse

Image of steaks and onion rings at Wolfgang's steakhouse in NYC, New York

I love steaks and I was really excited to try Wolfgang's Steakhouse in New York City. Be careful, it has nothing to do with Wolfgang Puck: the owner is Wolfgang Weiner and there have been a lawsuit in the past as Mr. Puck said that the name of the Steakhouse was misleading. Wolfgang Weiner used to work for Peter Luger in Brooklyn, one of the top rated steakhouses in the US. Well, I can tell you that it is not because you worked there that it means you are going to have good steaks! This was horrible!!!

First of all, Mr Weiner was a head waiter at Peter Luger: well I do not know what quality of service he was giving at that time, but clearly, service needs improvement at Wolfgang's! The servers were more interested in discussing soccer than taking care of the customers....

Second of all, the food was really average. It started with stale bread. I began the meal with crab cakes (I love crab so much that I may change into a crab one day!), served with a salad and tartare sauce. When the plate arrived, I could right away see that it was dry, and it was. The only positive is that there was a lot of lump crab. 
We then had the ribeye and the filet mignon. As side dishes, we ordered onion rings and sauteed mushrooms.  The meat was cooked as ordered but the outside of the filet mignon was charred, most likely because they cooked it on flames. Cutting both pieces of meat, we could see that it was not a good quality. I think I get better cuts at Whole Foods! The steaks were dry and I clearly needed the steak sauce. Mushrooms were so so and the only thing I liked were in fact the onion rings, although slightly too salty!

Clearly, Wolfgang's Steakhouse does not measure up with Ruth's Chris (NYC), Dino & Harry's (Hoboken) or The Old Homestead (NYC)! If you want a good steak, forget Wolfgang's!!!!

I'd like to say "Enjoy" but I did not!

Wolfgang's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Restaurant review - La Silhouette (NYC)

Image of Food at La Silhouette in NYC, New York


La Silhouette is a French-American restaurant located on 53rd street between 8th and 9th avenue. The location is clearly not perfect as there is not that much passage, explaining the low number of people during lunch time. The way the restaurant is organized is interesting: succession of rooms before entering into the main room that is quite bright. The decor is modern and quite simple.

The restaurant offers different menus from brunch to dinner with prix-fixe for lunch and dinner. I have tried the lunch prix-fixe ($21 - pick 2 between appetizer, main course and dessert) and it was good: for appetizer, I chose the slow cooked leek salad with duck prosciutto, grilled red onion dressing and aged Manchego cheese (photo on the right). Although the portion was small compared to other appetizers, it was delicious. The cheese and duck paired very well together!
For the main course, I had the hanger steak a la plancha with marrow and porcini crust, served with béarnaise sauce (left photo). I usually do not order meat if the restaurant is not a steak house and hanger steak is not my favorite piece of meat, but I have to say that it was good! The béarnaise sauce was well done, not too liquid like some restaurants do it.

Although I would recommend this restaurant, I have to mention that the service was slow (maybe because they were short staffed for lunch) and the waiter did not do a great job. Also, I was surprised that they did not have any special lunch for Bastille day!!! It is anyway worth trying it and if you look at the different menus they propose, I am sure you will find the dishes appetizing!

Enjoy (I do)! 

La Silhouette on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 15, 2011

Indian Dessert - Gulab Jamun

Image of Indian dessert Gulab Jamun
Gulab Jamun is my favorite dessert in Indian restaurants and I have to say it is difficult for me not to eat an entire bowl! Gulab Jamun is in fact a dessert in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It is a milk ball that is fried and then dipped in a rose flavored sugar syrup. Gulab means "rose" and Jamun is an indian berry similar in color and shape.

You can make Gulab Jamun (there are many recipes available on the net) or buy either Gulab Jamun mix to prepare it or buy already prepared ones in a can. I shop indian is a good marketplace for indian produces if you do not have a store near you.

Enjoy (i do)!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The catch of the day: Tilapia!

Fish is an interesting topic: there are so many different species and so many different tastes. I have to confess that in a restaurant, I tend to order meat and not fish but from time to time, I enjoy a good fish dish. 


Tilapia is a very good white fish. It is a farm raised fish and some argue that the diet of the tilapia being mainly grain makes it toxin free. It is also low in fat and rich in potassium. 


Tilapia is the second largest fish production in the world after carp and the USA is the larger importer of farm raised tilapia (imported from Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil).

I cook it in different ways:
- in olive oil (7 to 8 minutes), then drizzle some lemon after plating (photo).
- in olive oil (7 to 8 minutes) then, close to the end of the cooking, add lemon and capers.
- in tomato sauce with some indian chili paste (cook for 20 minutes).
- with olives, butternut squash and potatoes (tasted at the Franciscan restaurant  in San Francisco (I love it!) - I'll give you the recipe another time!

Just two tips for fish:
- if you want to avoid the fish to stick to the pan, dip it in some flour.
- freezing fish is not always great when uncooked. You really have to remove the moisture on the fish if you do not want it to taste too...fishy. 

Enjoy!



Monday, July 11, 2011

Restaurant review - Kosher Deluxe (NYC)

Image of Shawarma at Kosher Deluxe in NYC, New York
I love Shawarma! If you are scared of the carts in the street and their "side effects", I suggest you try Kosher Deluxe located midtown. Ok, this restaurant is serving a wide range of food: Middle Eastern, japanese, chinese...I have only tried the Shawarma and the falafel and they were delish! They serve it in different ways: pita, baguette or plate and you can pick Hummus and / or hot sauce. Each sandwich is coming with salad (there is a salad bar) also very good, for a little over $10.

So, what is Shawarma? It is a Middle Eastern sandwich with pieces of lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, or a halal mixture of meats that cooked on a spit for sometimes an entire day. The way the meat is cooked is very important: it has to be upright to give that wonderful taste. Some argue that Shawarma is different from a Gyro because a Gyro is a mixed of beef and lamb. 

If you are adventurous, try the gyro in the cart situated at the corner of 6 avenue and 53rd street. It is well known and very good. But make sure you go to the South West corner cart, otherwise, if you go to the South East side cart, you will probably understand what I meant by "side effects".

Enjoy!

Kosher Deluxe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Arepas!!!!

Arepas are very popular in Latin America. I discovered it thanks to a friend from Colombia and I can tell you that her mom makes them great!

It is very easy to make: corn flour (I used white from PAN), water and salt. You can eat them in many ways: with queso blanco like on the photo, or with chicken, ground beef, tomatoes, avocado...There are many ways. Just consider this as a bread!



In New York, I like two restaurants for Arepas, both Venezuelan: 
Caracas located in the East Village.
El Cocotero in Chelsea.

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Blog!!!!

Those who know me know that I love food. So I decided to share with you my passion! I hope you will enjoy!