August 2011 | I just want to eat!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Food Thought Of The Day!

I do not know if you are like me: some restaurants are so good that they spoil any dining experience you may have! Each time I go to a Steak House, I compare with Ruth's Chris; for tacos, with the Taco Truck in Hoboken; for cupcakes, with Sweet in Hoboken; for cheesecakes, with Junior's in New York.

However, for omelets, pancakes or soups, I never compare! That will not prevent me from trying food in new joints and I have plenty of new experiences during my trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to share with you! Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chocolate Time!

Who does not like chocolate? I know, some don't and I never understood how it is possible!

I LOVE chocolate and could have an entire dinner with just chocolate (in fact I did when I was younger...). What is interesting about chocolate is that chocolate bars can be different from one country to another. You don't believe me? Here are two examples:
- Lindt pear chocolate / Poire Belle Helene: if you buy it in France, you will be amazed by the taste of the pear cream that is inside the chocolate. In the USA, the equivalent is the Excellence Pear Dark chocolate bar: not nearly as good. No cream and they added almonds.
- Cadbury chocolate bar: buy one in England and one here and compare the ingredients. They are totally different ! Cadbury says that it is because the recipe has to follow local laws and it could affect ingredients.

The purest the chocolate is, the better it is. Unfortunately, the chocolate makers are replacing cocoa butter with vegetable fat, because it is cheaper!

You can still find some good chocolate out there: La maison du Chocolat, Max Brenner the bald guy, Ghirardelli, Godiva...There are also plenty of small chocolate makers who keep the tradition intact! So support them!

Enjoy (I will)!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Restaurant Review: The Dining Room at Anthony David's (Hoboken, NJ)

The Dining Room at Anthony David's is the first restaurant Chef Pino opened in Hoboken. He is also the owner of Bin 14, that is one of my favorites!

I love the feel of the restaurant with its rustic decoration. The menu is inspired by Northern italian food, but it is mainly apparent when you go for dinner! Their Truffle Risotto is delicious and they had it for some time at Bin 14, before removing it from the menu (please come back!).
For Brunch, they serve traditional brunch dishes: eggs benedict (11 different kinds!), French toast (small size that is great if you want it to share or have a small appetite!), salads (the goat cheese one is refreshing with a lot of cheese, roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes and toasted crostini), omelets... Finish your Brunch with a bourbon glazed donut and you are ready for a good nap!

The food is good there, although I have been disappointed by some of the eggs benedict: the ricotta and truffle has nothing extraordinary (you cannot taste really the truffle part and the ricotta is overshadowed by the yolk); the potato pancake, tomato and sour cream benedict is just ok (I was still hungry after that) and expensive for what it is. However, the crab cakes benedict is pretty good: I would just add more crab in the crab cakes.

I will persevere because their menu is original and many dishes are very good. I will probably try the other eggs benedict: maybe the lobster roll benedict or the guacamole and spicy chorizo one...

Enjoy (I did)!
Dining Room at Anthony David's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Restaurant Review: Benny Tudino's Pizza (Hoboken, NJ)

The New York area has great pizza! From the regular slice, to the sicilian, to the white pie! One of my favorite pizza restaurant is Benny Tudino's in Hoboken. This restaurant opened in 1968 and is known for its large $3 slice: a crispy thin crust with a tasty tomato sauce and lots of cheese! I just regret that they do not serve other types such as sicilian or white pie by the slice. 

I usually prefer eating pizza at the restaurant because, when delivered, the pizza has a tendency to steam in the box, and the crust becomes soggy or loses its crispiness. Having an oven pizza stone might do the trick!

Concerning the other type of food this restaurant serves, I heard mixed reviews: some say that the food is good, some say that it is terrible! I so love their slice that I never think about eating something else!

Last, you do not go to that restaurant for the service! A little smile would be welcome!

If you'd like a good slice, come to Benny Tudino's in Hoboken: you will not regret it!

Enjoy (I did)!
Benny Tudino's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

After burgers, onion rings and chocolate mousse, let's have a healthy meal!
Couscous is a healthy grain that can be eaten in many ways: with meat and veggies, in salads such as a taboule, or buttered as I will show you (I know: it is supposed to be healthy and I add butter!).
To make it, I am using a couscousier, but you can use a steamer. Some cook it by simply adding boiling water on it, but the taste is totally different and the grains are not going to be as light and fluffy as with a steamer.

For 4 servings:
2 cups of couscous
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup or 2 cups of edamame (based on your taste)

in a bowl, mix the couscous, the salt and the oil with a cup of water. Put in the steamer, add the edamame and cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to avoid packets of semolina. Add the butter and stir until fully melted. Et voilà!

You can then serve it hot with a boiled egg, raisins or green olives. It can also be eaten with buttermilk in it (try and adjust the quantities)!

Bon appétit! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Facebook page!

Check my page on Facebook and get news feed automatically! It will be updated each time I post on this blog, so click on "like" either on the Facebook page or on this blog (left side - Facebook section). See you soon!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Food Truck Festival at South Street Seaport (NYC) on August 20th!

So we went to the Food Truck Festival at South Street Seaport yesterday! It was pretty good and very exciting to look around for the type of food we wanted, look at what people were getting and their reaction after the first bite! But, Oh Boy!, was it crowded! If you are not patient, this is not for you or you better take the VIP pass that gives you priority access to the trucks and tickets for small bites in 10 different trucks. We went without the VIP pass this time, not next time...
It was interesting to see all the people eating at the restaurants while there was this mass  moving around or waiting to get their meal at the trucks.

The following trucks were there: Big D's Grub, Coolhaus Ice Cream, the Cinnamon Snail, Cupcake Crew, Feed Your Hole, Frites 'n' Meats, Gorilla Cheese Truck, Go Burger, JoyRide, Kelvin Natural Slush Co., Kimchi Taco, La Belle Torte, La Cense Burger, Mexicue Food Truck, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Taim Falafel, the Treats Truck, Valduccis Pizza Truck, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, Wafels & Dinges, Green Pirate Juice, Schnitzel and Things, Desi Food Truck, Two Pitas, Wooly's Ice, and Anne Apparu Soup Caravan.

There were also local vendors.

We decided to try different trucks and vendors. In order:

  • Grillo's pickles (local vendor): 2 very good pickle spears for $1.
  • Macaron Parlor (local vendor): a caramel and salt macaron for $2. It was perfect and not sugary at all.
  • Mimi & Coco (local vendor): they serve japanese street food. We got 6 delicious teriyaki balls for $6, some made with organic potatoes and the others with shrimp: It was light and melted in the mouth.
  • Valducci's pizza (truck): they serve a square slice for $3, that has little cheese but a tomato sauce to die for! The pizza had a nice crisp to it! Definitely a favorite!
  • Mighty balls (local vendor): forget that one. They did not have anything left and proposed a vegetarian meatball: disgusting and expensive ($4).
  • Red Hook Lobster Pound (truck): for the lobster roll, they give you a choice between the Maine roll with mayo or the Connecticut style that is to serve the lobster poached in butter. I went for that one and did not regret it! All the elements of the dish were delicious: from the lobster that was perfectly cooked and buttery to the roll! I just think that $16 was slightly overpriced.
  • Waffles and Dinges (truck): they propose 2 types of waffles. The Brussels waffle is supposed to be light and crispy and the Liege waffle, soft and chewy. You can eat them with just sugar or with some toppings that go from banana, nutella, spekoulos, etc...The basic one costs $5. The waffles were slightly undercooked and the Brussels one was not crispy at all. It was a little disappointing. It might be because they were overwhelmed by the line in front of them. So I would definitely try another time!
This was definitely a festival of food! But, as I said before, if you plan to go to one of those, bring your patience with your fork!

Enjoy (I did)!
The Red Hook Lobster Pound on Urbanspoon
Wafels & Dinges (MOBILE CART) on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Schnipper's (New York, NY)

Schnipper's is located in Time Square right across the street from The Port Authority of New York. This restaurant was founded by two brothers Jon and Andrew Schnipper who also founded and owned until 2006 Hale and Hearty Soups. They decided at some point to travel across the USA to learn some old fashioned dishes: burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese...

I like Schnipper's and I went few times. I would call it a quality fast food with affordable prices. They cook the food a la minute and the service is usually quick (you order at the cashier, they give you a number and then they bring the food to the table). I tried several dishes: some I liked, some I did not! For instance, the founders claim that they learn how to make tasty burgers. If it is true, why don't you make them tasty??? Clearly, the burgers are not good! Same for the Mac and Cheese. However, their grilled four cheese and their fresh veggie & goat cheese sandwich are delicious! They also make very good fresh potato chips. On the dessert side, I have tried their milk shakes: they are thick and tasty (vanilla milk shakes can be tasteless; not there). I had an oreo milk shake once: that was something! Unfortunately, it was a special.

So, if you want a quick bite and some good old fashioned food, go to Schnipper's ! But avoid the burgers....

Enjoy (I did)!
Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen (41st/8th) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Restaurant Review: Pacific Grill (New York, NY)

Yes, I know: a lot of restaurants in South Street Seaport are not good and for tourists who do not know better. This time, I was one of them...We wanted to go to South Street Seaport to have a taste of Soul Daddy, the winner of The Next Great American Restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed after a little over a month. So we looked around and, as I was in the mood for seafood, we ended up at Pacific Grill. This restaurant opened in 2004. Let first see how they explain their opening on their website:
"[...] Pacific Grill swept into town like a tsunami wave from the Asian Pacific and put a spin on seafood classics".
Let me tell you: the tsunami and the spin must have been so strong that it messed up the kitchen! Their lobster bisque was passable and I had better with Freshdirect! The crab cakes were disgusting! The tomato and mozzarella sandwich was bland! It was not a good experience and I will not even give them a second chance!

Enjoy...but somewhere else!!!

Pacific Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Restaurant Review: Topaz (New York, NY)

There are plenty of good Thai restaurants in the city. One of them is Topaz, located Midtown on 56th street between 6th and 7th. The restaurant is split into two rooms separated by a store, that only communicate through the kitchen. So, don't be surprised to be asked to step out and go next door to be seated! What is interesting is that, because of the way the restaurant is setup, it is considered by the city as two different establishments: one is the official restaurant (it has the kitchen) and the other one is a bar. You are probably wondering if it is important. In fact it is, as each room receives its own restaurant grade. When I went, the bar was graded "A" and the restaurant was "Grade pending"... Even with this, we ate there. For lunch, there have a pretty good choice of dishes for very good price.

So far, I have tried drunken noodles (stir fried wide noodles) with shrimp (photo), drunken noodles with chicken, chicken massaman, Panang curry chicken! Each time delicious and tasty, though they have a tendency to over salt (slightly). I also noticed that quantities vary... Despite this and the grade, I would go back!

Enjoy (I did)!

Topaz Thai on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recipe: Onion rings with beer batter

Here is a quick recipe to make delicious onion rings. I tried to find out their origin, but it seems that there is no clear answer; some claims the first deep fried onions recipe came out in the 20's, others in the 50's. 

With a large vidalia onion, you make approximately 30 rings.

The ingredients are:
  • 1 1/3 cup of white flour
  • 1 tps salt
  • 1/4 tps pepper (I also use Cayenne pepper)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup of dark beer
Mix the ingredients all together in a bowl. Slice the onions into rings and dip them in the batter. Fry them in hot vegetable oil (in a pan or a fryer). Be careful with the temperature of the oil: if too hot, the batter will cook too quickly and the onion will not. 
Remove the onion rings once golden brown (flip them from time to time to cook them on both sides) and put them on a paper towel so it absorbs the oil. 

Bon Appétit!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Recipe: very easy Chocolate Mousse

This is a very easy recipe for chocolate mousse that will take 15 minutes of your time!

For 4 people:

  • 150 g (5.3 onces) of semi sweet milk chocolate
  • 3 eggs
Separate the yolks from the eggs.
In a saucing pan, melt the chocolate with a little bit of water on low heat. Once melted, incorporate the yolks. Whisk the egg whites until firm and delicately incorporate them with the chocolate.
Put the mousse in little ramequins and let them sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours minimum.

I told you that was easy!

Bon appétit!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Recipe: Homemade Burgers

Here is a quick recipe to make a burger from A to Z!

Let's start with making some amazing buns:

For 6 buns:

  • 3/4 cup of lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 onces of yeast
Mix all the ingredients together until you reach a very smooth and soft dough. Add flour until the dough is not sticky anymore. Let the dough rise for 1 hour. To prepare this, I use a bread machine that is awesome and makes the bread very fluffy!
Divide the dough into 6 pieces and put them on a baking sheet with flour in the bottom so the buns do not stick to it. Let rise for another 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F (I use a convection oven).
Brush the buns with egg wash (1 egg beaten - some add a little bit of water) and then cook them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the buns are golden.

For the meat, for 5 people:
I use 2 lb organic grass fed ground beef with a ratio of 80/20 fat so the burgers are juicy. I put the meat in a bowl and mix it with half a bottle of dark beer. The beer will help keeping the meat together and it will add some juiciness. No need to season the meat, not even salt.
Now here is the secret weapon: in the middle of each patty, I put a large slice of sharp cheddar! The cheese will explode in your mouth at the first bite and will keep the temperature of the meat hot for a little longer. To do it, I use a small springform pan: put a first layer of meat, then the cheese and then add a second layer of meat. Make sure you close it well so the cheese does not leak while cooking.
I then cook the meat for 15 minutes on a skillet, with no oil, flipping regularly so each side cooks. I finish by putting one large slice of cheddar on top of each patty and cover with a lid so the cheese melts evenly. Once the meat is cooked, it is time for plating!

I always toast the bread so it will give a bit of crunchiness to the burgers. You can then put any topping or sauces you like (I love to mix mayonnaise and ketchup). Et voila!

Bon Appétit!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Restaurant Review: Red Rooster (New York, NY)

Yesterday, we went to Red Rooster, not to be confused with...Red Lobster...

Red Rooster, name inspired by a Harlem speakeasy, is one of the restaurant of Marcus Samuelsson, a talented Swedish raised-Ethiopian born Chef who won the title of Top Chef Master season 2. Chef Samuelsson who is living in Harlem decided to open a restaurant in that area, after realizing that there were no fine dining restaurants around. Despite a difficult beginning (it was graded C couple of months after its opening), the restaurant gain some steam and is now a success story! To get a reservation, it is crazy (I guess if you are Barrack Obama, Bill Clinton or Tyra Banks, it is easier...). The place is real nice, decorated with local art and even the bathroom with these old black and white photos is intriguing (I have to say that the photo on the door of one of the bathroom was like these old photos you see in haunting movies)! There is an outside dining area and when you enter in the restaurant, you end up in a room with a circular bar that is very vibrant. A DJ was there with good music to keep a lively atmosphere.

Now let's talk about the food! The cuisine is inspired by the Swedish origin of the Chef and some american food, especially soul food. The presentation of the dishes is extremely appetizing and the menu changes with the seasons. We tried several of their specialties:

  • Crab cakes with spicy mayo: quite good with a nice pairing of the crab cakes with fruits (fresh and dry) that gave a refreshing taste to the dish. What is interesting is that at first you do not notice the spiciness of the crab cake and then you feel it in the back of your mouth.
  • Mac & Greens: prepared with collar greens with a mix of three cheeses (gouda, comte and NY cheddar). The sharpness of the comte and cheddar gave another dimension to the dish and the next time you will eat regular Mac & Cheese, you will probably cry...
  • Helga's meatballs with mash potatoes, pickled cucumber and Lingonberries: When I think that I only knew the Swedish meatballs they serve at IKEA!!! These were light and tasty, but I did not care about the foam!
  • Steak frites served with bone marrow and broiled crab: although the presentation was well done, I did not really like that dish for several reasons. The first one is that the bone marrow & crab, presented on a bone, and the steak, looked like separate elements and I did not know if they were aimed to be eaten together or not (I tried the different combinations). Second, the bone marrow was overpowering the crab. I think I preferred the way bone marrow was served at La Silhouette, e.g. crusted.
  • Roasted pork shoulder: it is usually proposed for three people and when you see all the food they bring, you understand why (we had to extend the table to be able to fit all of it)! It comes with corn bread, beans, sweet potatoes puree and pickled cabbage. The whole dish was delicious! 
Of course, there is no complete meal without dessert...We finished with a blueberry pie served with a lemon meringue and lemon ice cream. That was a good way to end a delicious dinner in good company!

Despite the fact that the steak was not good (I should have follow my rule that is to avoid steak if I am not in a steakhouse), we had a good meal. I would probably go back to try some other specialties and have another Mac and Greens that was outstanding!

Enjoy (I did)!
Red Rooster on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 12, 2011

Restaurant Review: India On The Hudson (Hoboken, NJ)

I love Indian food: it is so diverse and tasteful! I was lucky to be able to travel to India few years back and being exposed to some great cuisine. I have retrieved these delicious flavors in the New York / New Jersey area and I always enjoy a good indian meal. 
There are many places around here for a great indian experience (avoid The Dosa Hut in Jersey City though!!!). One of my favorite is India on the Hudson, located in Hoboken. I prefer it when they serve their buffet rather than a regular dish because they have a tendency to make dishes spicy (of course you can ask, but when you forgot...). They serve their buffet for lunch (for $10) and for dinner on Tuesday and Thursday ($13). They always propose a large choice in their buffet: fruits, chicken salad, pakora (veggie fritters), three vegetarian appetizers, tandori chicken, chicken tikka masala (one of my favorite) and two specialties that vary. Of course, they give you rice and some naan bread that is delicious! You will finish, if you still have some room, with a dessert that changes regularly (my only regret is that they propose only one dessert!).
This is a good example of a buffet where quality and quantity are present! Their food is outstanding and you end up with a festival of spices and flavors in your palate, but in a good way!

In Hoboken, only two out of the three indian restaurants offer a buffet: Karma Cafe and India on the Hudson. The latter is definitely the best!

Enjoy (I did)!
India on the Hudson on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 11, 2011

All You Can Eat Mussels And Fries At BIN 14

After my post on the All You Can Eat concept, let me tell you about my last AYCE experience at Bin 14.

Every Tuesday night, Bin 14, located in Hoboken, NJ, is proposing all you can eat mussels and fries (with pecorino cheese, yum!) for $17.50. They offer four different sauces: spicy tomato, sweet tomato, garlic & white wine and Pernod and cream. My favorite is the garlic and white wine. My least favorite is sweet tomato because it is missing some texture and is a little bland. The mussels were perfectly cooked and I could not resist dipping the fries in the sauce...We were pressed by the time so I stopped after three servings, but trust me, I could have easily gone for a fourth one! The record is apparently eight!!!

Be aware that Tuesdays can be crazy there and if you do not have a reservation, they usually give you one hour to eat (we went over and they did not come to remind us that we had to go...). Also, they do not announce it on the menu, but on flyers, so if you are not sure, do not hesitate to ask: it is worth it!

Enjoy (I did)!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My take on the All You Can Eat Concept

All You Can Eat (AYCE) concept is interesting: most of the people will be attracted by the quantity of the food rather than the quality (when restaurants marry quality and quantity, it is awesome!). 

For the restaurateur, it is a risk based on the assumption that for most of the customers, they will still make a profit, because these same customers will not eat more than a certain quantity of the most expensive items. Look around and you will see that they always serve something that will stuff you! You need examples? Here you go:
- Churrascaria Plataforma: Brazilian BBQ. They have a salad bar, are generous on sides and always start serving cheaper meats such as...chicken...So my advice: pass on the salad bar, don't eat too much of the sides and ask for the filet mignon and ribs!
- Bin 14: all you eat mussels every Tuesdays. They serve them with French Fries that are yummy and addictive! By the way on the Upper East Side, the restaurant La Tour used to do the same: they are close now (and I am not responsible!). 

Other restaurants will serve you rice, starch or bread for example. Isn't that smart? 

So that does not mean you should avoid AYCE meals; always keep in mind that restaurateurs are not philanthropists...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

NYC Restaurants Grade for dummies

If, like me, you did not know what the ABC grades that NYC restaurants must displayed are, I hope this post will help you understand. The ABC grades started in July 2010 at the initiative of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (inspired by the experiment in Los Angeles). It is a way for consumers to make a conscious choice when eating in a restaurant and force restaurant owners to maintain a certain standard. By restaurant, the Health Department, means fixed location restaurants (excluding mobile food vending units), coffee shops, night clubs for instance. Restaurants in Hospitals, primary or secondary schools, correctional facilities are for example not concerned by the program.

Grades are the results of inspections: each violation is given a number of sanitary points. The lesser, the better!
  • A - 0 to 13 points (next inspection: after a year).
  • B - 14 to 27 (next inspection: 5 to 7 months after re-inspection).
  • C - 28 or more (next inspection: every 30 days until the restaurant improves his grade or is closed. Then, 3 to 5 months after the cycle of inspections ends).
If a restaurant gets a B or C, the restaurant owner has the opportunity to defend himself before the Health Department's Administrative Tribunal. Until then, he can chose to show the given grade or to display a "grade pending" card.

To search for the number of violation points of a restaurant, click here. Note that all restaurants should be graded by the Fall of 2011.

I don't know about you, but personally, I will only go where I see an "A" at the window!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A trip to Chelsea Market!

Image of Lunch at Bar Suzette and Friedman's lunch in Chelsea Market NYC, New York
The last episode of the Next Food Network Star took place at Chelsea Market in New York City, where the contestants not only tasted, but had to described the food they ate there, as if it was the best thing they ever ate (inspired by another show from the Food Network). After seeing some mouth watering food, we decided to go check it out. We started with Friedman's, a restaurant that serves comfort food at reasonable prices. We tried two of their sandwiches: the pastrami reuben and the Heirloom tomato sandwich.
Let's start with the best first and probably one of the best sandwiches I ever had: the pastrami reuben. It was served with sauerkraut, swiss cheese and russian dressing on a rye bread. It was simply delicious from the first to the last bite (you need a solid appetite though!)! The rye bread was grilled and gave a nice crunchiness to the overall experience. The pastrami was moist and melted in my mouth. The second sandwich, the heirloom tomato sandwich, was made with burrata, fresh basil and drizzled with a balsamic reduction, between two pieces of ciabatta bread. It was a good sandwich: not as good as the pastrami one, but very good too and refreshing.

To help digest the reuben, we decided to have a sweet crepe at Bar Suzette. We picked the beurre et sucre (butter and sugar): it was so good that I think we inhale the crepe. It is nice to find crepes that good that far from my country of origin (I am not talking about the nasty ones they serve at the street fairs!). They first prepare the crepes on a crepe maker. Once it is ready, they fold it, put a stick of butter on it and let it melt few seconds. They then spread the butter on the crepe and add the sugar. The buttery and sugary taste is to die for! 

This was definitely an awesome experience and we will go back to these restaurants to try more of their specialties (Chelsea Market has anyway so many different choices).

Enjoy (I did)!

Bar Suzette on UrbanspoonFriedman's Lunch on Urbanspoon

Cannoli time from Giorgio's bakery in Hoboken, NJ

The first time I saw a cannoli (I should probably say cannolo!) was in New York. I have to say that I did not like it at all. I guess it was not the best bakery because when I tried the ones from Giogio's in Hoboken few years after, I became addicted to it! Cannoli are sicilian pastries made of fried dough, shaped like a tube, filled with a cream that contains mainly ricotta, with a hint of cinnamon. 
Now look at the photo and imagine that you are bitting in this cannoli: the crunchiness of the shell married with the sweetness of the cream will make you want to bite again and again and again. That's why I usually get two of them!!!

But it is not only for the cannoli we go there! They have great cookies and pastries. For instance, I love the St Joseph Zeppole, that is like a chou pastry filled either with ricotta, similar to a cannoli, or with custard.

They also always have delicious cookies.
The chocolate blob cookies is always there, waiting for you and me. They also have plenty of Italian cookies made with almonds. Last time, for the first time, they had a coconut macaroon that was awesome!

If you have a sweet tooth like me, go to Giorgio's in Hoboken: he is the boss!

Enjoy (I do)!

Giorgio Pasticcerie Italian on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Restaurant Review: Mother's (Baltimore, MD)

Brunch is one of my favorite meal, although I would say the same thing for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks...In short, anything that concerns food. For our last meal in Baltimore, we wanted to go for  brunch. We decided to go to Mother's in Federal Hills. The restaurant is pretty big and seems to be a popular place. 
In their menu, they propose eggs, french toasts, pancakes, but also some more elaborate dishes. That is how I ended up with two sunny side eggs with shrimp over creamy grits. This was an excellent choice and the plating made it very appetizing! I like my eggs over easy and all the components worked nicely together, especially mixing the yolk, the cream (I was surprised by its lightness) and the grits.
The pancakes were good but nothing special to mention except that they served them with...potatoes...

If you are in Baltimore and are looking for a brunch place, Mother's is the place to go!!! And if you go, I suggest the shrimp dish that was amazing!

Enjoy (I did)!
Mother's Federal Hill Grille on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 5, 2011

Restaurant Review: Caesar's Den (Baltimore, MD)

This country has great Italian restaurants and we decided to go to Little Italy in Baltimore to try some good food. We did not pick any restaurant in advance and just walked in the streets. We ended up in Caesar's Den, a restaurant opened in the 70's. 
The restaurant was quite dark and the decoration quite "heavy". The menu had lots of choices, from typical italian to original dishes. Prices were reasonable (I always check prices against Fettuccine a la Vongole or Fettuccine Alfredo). I tried their shrimp in cream sauce over black linguine and the large bow-ties pasta with wild porcini mushrooms, cheese and light cream. I doubt that the pasta were homemade. They cooked them well, not al dente though, and the two dishes were slightly too salty. In both cases, the cream sauce was very good. We ended up with large plates, so we passed on the dessert...(I know, incredible!).

Overall, it was an ok restaurant. I would be back to Little Italy, I would probably try another one...Anyway, it seems that the owners would like to retire and are looking for somebody to take over.

Enjoy (he)!
Caesar's Den on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Restaurant Review: Castle Bay Irish Pub (Annapolis, MD)

During our trip to Annapolis, we were looking for a restaurant close to the Harbor. I was in my quest for seafood! So, we ended up Irish Pub! It is not what one would have imagined for a seafood place but hey, their menu had crab, shrimp...Needless to say that if you want typical Irish cuisine, they serve what you need!

I first started with the cream of crab soup to see if they made it similar to Obryki's in Baltimore (see review). In fact it was far better! You could really feel the crab and the texture of the cream was more appetizing. I then had 1/2 lb fresh shrimp lightly steamed with chef's spices, served with cocktail sauce and drawn butter. The cocktail sauce was nowhere to be found, but I did not care much as I had the butter. Although it was missing some seasoning, I really enjoyed it and the shrimp were delicious and cooked to perfection.

Enjoy (I did)!
Castlebay Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Restaurant Review: Obrycki's Crab House (Baltimore, MD)

One of my favorite shows is Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel. Each time we go somewhere, we check if Adam Richman, the host, went there and check out the restaurants he tried. We saw the episode in Baltimore, MD and decided to go to Obrycki's, a crab house located in Fells Point (you can watch the video here or watch it on TV on August 12, 2011 at 3pm), but also at the Baltimore and Cleveland airports. 

The restaurant is nice, although the fact that a cop was in front of it all night long made us wonder where we were going!!! The service was very good and the wait staff kept checking on us that is always appreciated (to a certain point of course!).
They have a wonderful menu for seafood lovers with crab, shrimp, mussels....One of their main "attraction" is the hard shell blue crabs: they will simply put them directly on the table and provide you with a crab mallet to break the shell. I have to admit that the experience seems to be fun but probably for few of them; after the fun is gone and it seems to be frustrating. So, I decided to try three different specialties: the cream of crab soup, the crab cake and the seasoned snow crab with drawn butter. The cream of soup was good but extremely thick (the consistency of a pudding) and the crab cake was so so (too much bread crumbs). The snow crab however was delicious and perfectly cooked (overcooked seafood is quite bad). I also tried the tuna that was grilled (you can choose blackened otherwise): I am not a fan of all the way cooked tuna and prefer pan seared.
To digest (what?), we tried the bread pudding: not that great either (too heavy and dry). 

Overall, it was not an unbelievable meal but I enjoyed it. If you have the chance to go, try it! Be aware though that the location in Fells Point will close beginning of November so if you want to try, you will have to go to the airport.

Enjoy (I kind of did)!
Obrycki's Crab House on Urbanspoon

Man v. Food Nation: Milwaukee!

If you are planning a trip to Milwaukee (I do), check this out! it will be aired at 9pm Eastern time on the Travel Channel today!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Restaurant Week - A Steakhouse put to the test!

We all have theories. I have two concerning Steaks:
1 - Do not order steaks if not at a Steakhouse.
2 - Avoid Steakhouses during Restaurant Week.

Let me elaborate on the second theory: I will not deny that Restaurant Week is a perfect way for Restaurant owners to promote their establishment. But I think there are two kinds of owners: those who hope to have people discover their restaurant (and therefore will come back) by serving an outstanding meal at a discount price, and those who just take this opportunity to make money considering only the number of people who will come rather than the number of people who will come back. In the first category, I remember Fig & Olive. In the second category, I was mainly disappointed by Steakhouses: Steak Frites or The Palm are good examples of first time / last time.

So we decided to do a test with Dino and Harry's in Hoboken. Dino and Harry's is one of my favorite Steakhouses and each time we went there, we had a delicious meal. So we put it to the test tonight. The restaurant proposed a 3 courses prix-fixe dinner for $35. For appetizers, we picked Pea soup and calamari salad. For entree, petite filet mignon with sauteed mushrooms and for dessert, a sticky toffee pudding and an almond flan. 
First of all, the quantities were same as usual. The appetizers were very good: the pea soup was creamy and they used pancetta or lardons to add some smokiness that was a nice touch. The calamari salad was very good too, well dressed, with a decent quantity of calamari. The dessert were delicious, although the flan was a little too dense. Now let's talk about the petite filet: the quality of the meat was different than usual. Let's face it, lower. This was a big disappointment and confirmed my theory about Steakhouses and Restaurant week. So, if you have to try Dino and Harry's, I suggest you avoid Restaurant Week, because this Steakhouse is worth it!

Enjoy (I did not...this time)!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Restaurant Review: The Abbey Burger Bistro (Baltimore, MD)

Now let me tell you: I wish the Abbey Burger Bistro was in NYC!!! They serve one of the best burgers I ever had! I cannot tell you what else is on the menu as we came especially for it. The way it works is that you create your own burger: you pick the meat (beef, lamb, bison, Ostrich, chicken, turkey...), the bread (bun, muffin, pretzel bread...), cheese (american, swiss, ...), the toppings and sauces (both quite diverse and original). I picked a lamb burger and also tried the beef burger. The meat was so good: perfectly cooked (medium), very tasty and juicy, but not to the point where it becomes messy to eat (an issue with 5 Napkins Burgers)! As sides, they offer chips, onion rings (slightly greasy) and fries. 

If you go to Baltimore, I definitely recommend this place!

Enjoy (I did)!
Abbey Burger Bistro on Urbanspoon