May 2012 | I just want to eat!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pie Face Bakery Cafe in NYC, New York

I have discovered Pie Face Bakery Cafe thanks to a co worker whose wife, Jane, is Australian. We were talking about Australia that we would like to visit one day and, at some point, we inquired about the food. It all started when talking about dessert. Jane mentioned the Lamington, a cake made of sponge cake with strawberry jam and coated with chocolate and coconut. I then learnt that there is a bakery on the corner of Broadway and 53rd called Pie Face. As you can imagine, it was my next mission possible to go there. 

To give you some background: Pie Face is a true Australian chain that opened its first location in NYC in January 2012. They are in fact opening a new location soon. It is in 2003 that Wayne Homschek and Betty Fong opened the fist Pie Face in Sydney, Australia and since, they have more than 70 shops, serving more than 18,000 pies a day! They are planning on opening 50 bakeries in Manhattan: pretty ambitious! So, what do they serve: the main specialty there is meat pie or potpie as some are vegetarian. The pie itself is a delicious puff pastry. What is smart is that they serve the pies in two sizes: regular and small. So you can try several small as I did. They were even proposing a menu for $8: three small pies (any choice) and a bottle of water. For somebody with a regular appetite like me (!), three small pies and a dessert is sufficient.


They also serve quiches and sandwiches; they mention baguettes, but it did not really look like baguettes! 
So I tried the small pies.
Each of them have a different face so you can differentiate them. I had:
  • The tandoori vegetables one (with a V as a mouth): it was very tasty and had a delicious Indian flavor. The veggies were like a puree, at the exception of chick pies. It was not too spicy.
  • The Mexican (with a X as a mouth): it was composed of ground beef, black beans and jalapenos. It was good but did not really remind me of Mexican flavors. The Jalapeno taste was even inexistent.
  • The Chicken and Mushrooms: this was my least favorite. It was like eating a cream of mushrooms in a pie. I really did not like the texture.
From the three pies, the vegetarian one was the best!

Then, of course, I needed to try the desserts! I ordered few of them:
The cherry pie (bottom right) is one of their best sellers: it was very good! In fact all their desserts were perfect: good and not too sweet! The lemon pie was also delicious with its thick lemon layer. The other best seller I tried is the Pear and Ricotta pie.
It was, in a puff pastry, a layer of poached pears, a layer of ricotta that was caramelized on top. The three layers gave a nice balanced flavor.

Last, was the Lamington: I had to try it! And remember: I am not a huge fan of coconut!
It was delicious! The sponge cake was extremely light and moist. I was conquered!

At the end of this experience, I liked Pie Face, but mainly for the desserts. It seems that their chocolate mousse cake is very popular. I guess I will have to try it...Just for the blog...


Enjoy (I did)!

  Pie Face Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Recipe: Almond cigars


I love Almond Cigars. When I was a kid, my mom and my grand mother use to make them: it was driving me crazy! Well, it still does...

It is a treat that comes from North Africa, but in fact, as cuisine traveled, you can easily compare it to the baklava found in Greece or Middle East. It is a delicious dessert, served with a hot tea (best is with mint tea in fact).

The recipe below is very easy to make. In France, we used to make it with Feuilles de brick (brick sheets or dough) that are closed to phyllo sheets, but a bit different. You can find Brick sheets in the US, but it is way overpriced. So I decided to try with Phyllo dough. I admit that it was a bit challenging as the phyllo sheets were very thin!

Monday, May 28, 2012

BLT Burger - The best burger in NYC, New York


Today is National Hamburger Day and clearly I needed to celebrate it! So we decided to go to my favorite burger place in NY: BLT Burger.

If you do not know, BLT stands for Bistro Laurent Tourondel. Laurent Tourondel is a passionate and talented Chef, born and raised in Auvergne, France (great cheeses in Auvergne!). He told Food & Wine magazine that he ended up cooking because he was really bad at school. Today, his name is on several restaurants across the country: BLT Prime, BLT Steak, BLT Fish and...BLT Burger. 

Trust me: it is not because Laurent Tourondel is French that I like this place! I have tried many burgers here, but I can tell you: it is the best! The meat is always perfectly cooked, juicy and extremely tasty (yes: it tastes like real meat!), the bun is perfect (it is a sesame brioche bun).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC, New York

If you recall, several months ago, I went to Momofuku Milk Bar for a snack. The experience was just ok.
As a reminder, Momofuku is a group of restaurants (Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssiam...) owned by Chef David Chang. In Japanese, it could be translated to "Lucky peach", but Chef David Chang once mentioned that it was in honor of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of the instant ramen. So, this time, we were thinking about having lunch at Momofuku Noodle Bar  located in the East Village to see what all the buzz was about.


We went there yesterday and arrived at around 11:45am. The restaurant was not yet opened (it opens at 12pm) and besides us, there were only two Canadian tourists waiting. So we decided to go for a walk in the nearby market. We came back after 10 minutes and surprisingly, there was already a line in front of the restaurant! Probably 20 people! The restaurant is quite bright, with light wood all over. You can either sit at the bar, the kitchen bar or the communal tables. We got seated at the bar, in front of the opened kitchen. It was perfect to see them cooked, but a bit hot...

Friday, May 25, 2012

European Vacation - Part 15 - Lebanese Food in Berlin, Germany


Towards the end of our vacations, in Berlin, we tried different types of cuisines. If you read my other blog posts, you probably seen two things:
1- German cuisine was not my forte. I admit that maybe it was because we did not find the good restaurants where maybe I would have had an epiphany!
2 - There were tons of ethnic cuisines...and I love it!

So let's start with Duniya, a Lebanese restaurant located in the Derag Living Hotel. The restaurant itself was nice with an outdoor patio, a cafe and the dining room. The server was a bit overwhelm and the service suffered from it. Imagine that the poor guy was the only one to take care of all the customers, going inside and outside intermittently. He clearly did not have time to take a break!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Monday May 28th is National Burger Day: don't go to Sonic!!!


I tried Sonic because I was told that they have good burgers. I have no preconceive idea, so why not: you may end up with a big surprise!

Sonic is an old fast food chain founded in the 50's in Oklahoma. The one where I went was a drive-thru: as you can see on the photo, drivers park and will order from their car, through an inter-phone. Problem is that they had difficulties understanding my accent...but I ended up with the correct order! If you do not want to eat in your car, the only solution is to eat outside, on the patio, as there is no dining room. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

European Vacation - Part 14 - Vino Caffe in Munich, Germany


If you read my post, you probably realized that my experience of German food was not that great. As I mentioned before, it might have been my cold or just the fact that I did not prepare enough the trip to make sure I would eat in the best places to try German cuisine. So I admit that from time to time, we had non German food, whether in Munich or Berlin. Interestingly enough, I noticed plenty of Asian restaurants (Thai, Indian...) as well as Doner cafe. And of course, Italian restaurants.

In fact, the best dinner I had in Germany, was at Vino Caffe, an Italian wine bar very close to our hotel. Clearly, the location was not ideal as not on a main street, but it seemed to be popular with mostly German customers (meaning, coming back because the food is good?).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Zylo Tuscan Steakhouse in Hoboken, New Jersey


It has been a while since I wanted to try Zylo in the W Hotel in Hoboken (it opened in 2009). They call themselves a Tuscan Steakhouse. Knowing that we like Steaks and Italian food, there was no more hesitation!

The restaurant was interesting: it looked more like a lounge than a restaurant with the low leather chairs and couches. We went on a Tuesday night and it was packed!

The service was perfect: efficient and extremely courteous.
Now, the most interesting thing about Zylo is the menu.

Monday, May 21, 2012

European Vacation - Part 13 - The Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany



If you like food, the Viktualienmarkt behing Marienplatz in Munich is the place to go. It used to be a farmers'market and is now a place where gourmets and Chefs shop for victuals. It is a huge market that is comprise of more than 140 stalls and shops. 
This is definitely a tourist place as it is one of many attractions that you can find in guides, but people from Munich also go there to get their food and lunch. There is definitely a relaxed atmosphere and you will see many people taking their time to eat or enjoy a delicious beer from Munich!


Sunday, May 20, 2012

European Vacation - Part 12 - Bagel Company in Berlin, Germany

We were walking in Berlin, looking around when we ended up in front of the Bagel Company. Bagels did not originate in Germany, but the different stories I found confirm an Easter Europe origin directly or indirectly linked to Poland (some say it is coming from there, others that it was a viennese bread to celebrate the Polish King Jan III Sobieski for saving the people of Austria from Turkish invaders). What is sure is that they existed for Centuries before coming to the United States at the end of the 19th Century, brought by Jewish immigrants. 

I never had a bagel before going to London many years ago: bagels are not known in France. But the best bagels I ever ate were in the United States.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Persepolis Restaurant in NYC, New York - A taste of Persian Food!

What I love in New York City is the diversity of restaurants and cuisines. I think every cuisine is particular although you will always find similarities due mainly to historical reasons. 

This time, we went for Persian (aka Iranian) food at Persepolis in New York City. It was not the first time for us and the place has not changed: nice decor and very attentive service, with food as good as before!

Going back to the decor, Persepolis is pretty big with red bricks on the wall, a large map of what use to be the Persian Empire and photographs of the soccer team the founder of the restaurant used to be in back in Iran.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

European Vacation - Part 11 - Ratskeller and Spatenhaus in Munich, Germany

Besides the Hofbrauhaus, we did not really eat that much of German cuisine. I do not know if it is the cold I had at that time or the restaurants we went to, but it was really not my thing. It is not that we did not try as this post will show (besides the Hofbrauhaus).

Ratskeller Self Service:
Marienplatz 8  80331 Munich, Germany
089 219989-0

After walking around the city and our visit to one of its Art Museums, we decided to go to Ratskeller, a self service on Marienplatz. It was crowded for sure and we thought it was because the food was delicious... 

Like any self service, we picked up our tray and went first to the salad bar. There was some mozzarella and tomatoes, grilled vegetables, salad, etc...All priced by weight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

European Vacation - Part 10 - Treats in Germany

I'll be honest with you: I was not thrill with the food I ate in Germany: heavy, heavy, heavy! So I was looking forward for sweets.

Cafe Hag in Munich:
In Munich, we ended up at Confiserie Rottenhöfer Café Hag. 


Address: Residenzstraße 25, 80333
Phone: 089 22 29 15


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

European Vacation - Part 9 - Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany

Anybody who went to Munich will tell you to go to the Hofbrauhaus! Even the taxi driver other there mentioned it!

It is a very old brewery owned by the state government of Bavaria and one of the epicenter of Oktoberfest in Munich. The brewery is beautiful inside with some amazing painted high ceilings. There is really a bavarian ambiance there between the loud band and the staff wearing traditional outfits!

Some would say that it is a tourist trap. I do not know. I can only say that their menu is pretty reasonable. For sure you will not find fine dining there! No, it is traditional bavarian food.


Monday, May 14, 2012

European Vacation - Part 8 - L'eden, seafood restaurant in Coublevie, France

Still in France, we decided to go outside Grenoble for a delicious seafood lunch. We ended up in Coublevie, at L'Eden. Nice name for hopefully a paradisiac meal!

The restaurant is located on the highs of the city of Coublevie and the view of the town is beautiful. The decor is all about the sea with a large fish tank where you can see live lobster that most likely will end up in your plate.

The service was a bit slow, but courteous and the restaurant was busy (it was a Sunday).




Sunday, May 13, 2012

European vacation - Part 7 - Crepes at Le Celia in Grenoble, France

Crepes are a very thin version of pancakes that originated in Brittany and are today commonly eaten all around France (for instance, there is a whole street with crepes restaurants - creperies- in Paris). There are two types: the ones made with wheat flour (crepes de froment) and the ones made with buckwheat (galettes). They are not complicated to make (I promise I will post the recipe soon) and are great because you can put whatever you want in it! 

In NYC, there are plenty of places where you can eat delicious crepes: Maison on 53rd and 7th or Bar Suzette in Chelsea Market are a good example.

So here we are in Grenoble, at Le Celia, a very popular creperie. I went there last year and we decided to go back. I like the decor that references Brittany and its fishermen. The restaurant is warm with its blue walls. Reservation is suggested because it gets very busy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

July 22nd: The US Jerk Festival

Yes, you are not mistaken: when referring to jerk, I am talking about food, not individuals!

On July 22nd, come to the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival to celebrate the independence of Jamaica 50 years ago and the 90th anniversary of Grace Food (Caribbean food manufacturer). It will take place at Roy Wilkins Park, Queens, New York from noon to 8pm. There will be hot and spicy food as well as music!

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at www.jerkfestivalny.com

Enjoy!

European Vacation - Part 6 - Pizza time in Grenoble, France

One of the best known area in Grenoble to eat Pizza is the Quartier Saint Laurent (Saint Laurent Quarter) on the bank of the Isere river. It is one of the older quarter of Grenoble and is known as the Italian quarter since a lot of Italian immigrants settle there years ago and opened Pizza places (pizzeria) next to each other. Yes, there are plenty of Italian restaurants that mainly serve pizza and pasta, but can also serve crepes...

Like anywhere else, there are some good ones and some bad ones. For instance, last year, I went to Casanova: it was pretty bad!

Now, let's talk about pizza in France:

  • Pizza is pretty popular, but in pizzeria, you will have a whole pizza that is typically for one person (usually 11 to 12 inches). They never sell by the slice.
  • If you want a slice, you can buy it in a boulangerie (bakery) or in a sandwich shop.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ninth Avenue Food Festival in NYC, New York - May 19th and 20th

Save the date! Next week, on May 19th and 20th will take place the 9th Avenue International Food Festival, running for the 39th year!

You will be able to taste some delicious (hopefully!) food from Poland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Japan, Thailand, etc...

Where:
9th Avenue from 42nd and 57th street in NYC, New York
From noon to 5pm, rain or shine
Information available at: www.ninthavenuefoodfestival.com
Free!

Enjoy!

European Vacation - Part 5 - Time for something sweet (Grenoble - France)!

You cannot go in France without trying sweets! And do not go there when on diet: you would miss so much!

Here is what I think is so particular about French Pastries:
  • There is a large variety and in every pastry shop (patisserie in French), you will not only find different cakes, but also the creations of the Pastry Chef that will make your experience unique.
  • Pastry Chefs use real butter, not butter cream (sorry Cake Boss!). You can definitely taste the difference. 
The difficulty with pastries is that you have to be extremely careful making any change to the recipe as it can completely mess up your cake. So, chapeau to the Pastry Chefs (I would like so much to be a judge on Top Chef Just Desserts...)!



Thursday, May 10, 2012

European Vacation - Part 4 - Brasserie Le 1836 in Grenoble

Imagine a restaurant located in an old hotel particulier (old townhouse of grand sort) where the Chef is dedicated to quality and food inspired by nature. This is the brasserie Le 1836. In fact, there are two restaurants: The Fantin Latour located at the entrance of the townhouse, where the Museum dedicated to the painter Fantin Latour was. The restaurant is kind of fancy and gastronomical with some mouth watering tasting menu. And then the brasserie Le 1836, a more casual but still upscale restaurant whose name comes from the year Fantin Latour was born.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

European Vacations - Part 3: cheese / Fromage

France is definitely the country of cheeses (fromages)! Imagine that there are approximately 400 different types depending on how you count them. On top of this, cheeses can be aged, giving a different texture, color and taste. I remember that few years ago, I brought my wife Jodi to the cheese section of a supermarket in France and showed her not only the large selection, but also the prices that were 2 to 3 times less than in the United States!

It is very common in a French family lunch or dinner to end with a cheese plate (do not forget the bread)! There are also lots of recipes featuring cheese: a cheese souffle is a good example.

Monday, May 7, 2012

European Vacations - Part 2: The Mc Baguette - oh la la!

So, few months ago I wrote a post about the revolutionary release of the Mc Baguette in France on April 18th 2012 and here I am on vacation over there!

Yes, I promise that I did not plan the trip just for that!

Let's step back a minute to understand few things:
  1. Bread is a huge thing in France. In every French restaurant, they will systematically bring you a bread basket. Boulangeries (bakeries) are everywhere and you will often see people carrying a baguette or some bread, most of the time eating the end of it on their way home.
  2. Baguette is the most popular bread, but not the only one. 
  3. A recent study for the Sandwich and Snack trade fair indicated that 65% of the 2 billion sandwiches eaten each year in France are made with baguette.
  4. The fast food industry represented 33 billion Euros (approx. $43 billion) in France showing an increase in a country that traditionally resisted to it! Mc Donald's, present since 1979, is a big part of it.
  5. Mc Donald's is already serving in its Mc Cafes macarons and bread from the Holder Group that owns Laduree and Paul bakery (chain that makes delicious bread and sandwiches)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

European vacations - Part 1: Introduction

If you read the post of the Facebook page of I Just Want To Eat!, you know that I was in Europe recently. The primary objective of my European trips is to see my family, but also visit places in Europe where I have never been or went a long time ago. This time it was Germany. 

So the trip was divided in three cities:

  • Grenoble, a city in the Southeastern part of France, near the French Alps with a population of approximately 156,000 people. It is known abroad from hosting the Winter Olympic games in 1968. Food wise, Grenoble's specialty is the walnut: you can find it in candy or cakes for instance. But, of course, you can also find in this city some amazing French food from the region and all over France. People are sometimes surprised when I tell them that there is an Italian Quarter where you can eat some great (sometimes bad also, let's be honest) pizza (pasta is not a big of a deal as sometimes people associate it to the time they had to save money for food and thus eat pasta!). This is the Saint Laurent Quarter that is one of the oldest area of the city. Grenoble is located one hour from Lyon that is for lots of people considered as the capital of French Gastronomy with famous chefs (Paul Bocuse being the most famous of all) and delightful cuisine. It is also close to Savoie and Haute Savoie that is known for raclette (cheese dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off the melted part on boiled potatoes or meat) as well as fondue (dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot -caquelon- over heat, and eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread into the cheese). 
  • Munich in Germany: it is the capital of the state of Bavaria and third city in Germany behind Berlin and Hamburg with 1.42 million people. This city is of course known for its sad history (Hitler's putsch, Nazi stronghold and the Dachau camp close by are just few examples), as well as lighter things: soccer with the Bayern of Munich team and beer. 
  • Berlin: It is the capital of Germany with a population of 3.5 million. Here also, there is a large history. 
One of my colleagues is from Munich and before going, I asked him what I should eat in Germany. He mentioned two things: sausages (wurst) and cakes, especially the World famous apple strudel. Of course, he added beer... In both cities, we saw many tourists from all over the world: USA, Europe, Russia. 

This was a memorable trip not only for the stomach, but also for the soul. I will at least share the first one on my blog and hope to make you (when possible) salivate!

Enjoy (I did)!

And remember: I just Want To Eat!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

El Cocotero restaurant in NYC, New York

El Cocotero is a great Venezuelan restaurant located in the heart of Chelsea. I went few times and they have been pretty consistent: good service and great food! This is were I discovered what arepas were (check out the recipe of arepas here)! 

We went there for lunch and had a feast!

We started with drinks:
www.ijustwanttoeat.com

Venezuelan lemonade made with sugar cane. Pretty good, although not the usual lemonade taste.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Madison Square Eats, spring 2012 Edition! May 4th to June 1st 2012!

The Madison Square Park conservancy is hosting again this year the Madison Square Park Eats, a festival of food with several vendors like:


  • Roberta’s Pizza,
  • Asiadog,
  • Momofuku Milk Bar,
  • ilili,
  • Sigmund Pretzelshop,
  • Bar Suzette,
  • Calexico,
  • Nunu Chocolates
  • Birch Coffee
They will serve food daily in the Worth Square area just west of Madison Square Park (24th and 5th Avenue).

Enjoy (I will)!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Steak'n Shake Signature in NYC, New York - Another Burger Place?

I am wondering how many burger joints New York City will need!!! Between the restaurants who try to surf on the wave of this popular dish and the chains that try to multiply like pickles, there will soon be a burger place in every corner of the City!

Well, I am not going to complain! What is funny is that in France, people associate burgers with McDonald's! Normal: burgers are not popular there, steak frites are!

The last chain I went to is Steak'n Shake Midtown. Smart people: they opened, back in January, next to the David Letterman Show!