September 2012 | I just want to eat!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hoboken Arts & Music Festival - September 29th 2012

Jodi and I went to the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival today. Jodi for the art, me for...the food (let say "the art of the table")...
This festival takes place several times a year in Hoboken and is a big thing there. It had, according to the organizers, close to 350 stands, for art (photography, painting, handcraft...), but also associations such as the Monroe Center for the Arts, or companies like Verizon or The New York Times....

Food wise,  there were few choices: the usual stands that you would find in any street fair (zeppoles, fried oreos, mozzarepas, Italian sausages...) as well as local restaurants such as India On The Hudson (my favorite Indian restaurant in Hoboken) or The Old German Bakery.

Even pets could find some good stuff there! Me & My dog offered some pretty interesting treats!
They had Chicken & Cheese rollovers, Bacon & Cheese Taco or Lamb & Brown rice bone. I wish I was a dog at that point...

First thing we tried were some "Authentic" Wisconsin Cheese Curds.

Friday, September 28, 2012

All cheese dinner at Artisanal Bistro and Fromagerie in New York, NY

Image of Cheese fondue at Artisanal Bistro and Fromagerie restaurant in NYC, New York
If you recall, my last post about Artisanal concerned brunch. Jodi and I wanted to go back for dinner as the brunch experience was remarkable. We were ready for an all cheese dinner in this temple of cheeses! 
When making our reservation, we even asked to be seated in the Cave a Fromages (cheese room) where they setup a table for four. Unfortunately, they told us that we could not have the table on a Saturday night for the two of us...They were gracious about it, apologized and proposed to sit us next to the cheese bar. I was in fact impressed by the selection of cheeses they do have from all over the world: France, Italy, USA, Spain...
We started off with a cheese fondue, small size (petite). The cheeses used were gruyere, emmental and I believe comte. This divine mix is called the artisanal blend that they also sell. The fondue came with some pieces of bread that you dip in the melted cheese as shown in the video below.

The fondue was very good and the taste of the cheese was perfect, smooth and so not too strong. However, the bread was not the best choice: a more neutral bread such as a baguette would have been preferable so it does not overpower the taste of the cheese. Anyway, I enjoyed it. They should add to the experience the "religieuse" that is the thin layer of burnt cheese that forms in the bottom of the pan and that people would fight for!

Then, we decided to go with a selection of four cheeses, all French.
Image of Cheese plate at Artisanal Bistro and Fromagerie restaurant in NYC, New York
From bottom left, clockwise:
  • Roquefort (sheep milk): a creamy, balanced with some spicy nuance blue cheese. Very popular in France, it is a bit expensive in the USA because of the taxes imposed to it few years ago following a ban on hormone beef imported from the USA by the European Union.
  • Crottin de Chavignol (goat milk): a firm, delicate and sweet goat cheese.
  • Epoisses (cow milk): a classic and soft cheese washed in Marc. It had a strong taste that is particular to cheese several days after being opened...
  • Pont L'Eveque (cow milk): with a savory apple flavor, very creamy.
The best for me was the Pont L'Eveque! It reminded me my Grand Father on my mother side who liked stinky cheeses and used to buy Pont L'Eveque as well as Munster "Les petits amis" (different from the soft Munster cheese you find in the US). I think at that time I thought they were stinky cheeses, although now I think that it was my Grand Father who liked them this way and let them sit few days so they got that smell and taste. A lot of people do that in fact and love this pungent taste that is so particular. I can tell you: the Pont L'Eveque at Artisanal was not stinky at all and was amazing!

Then came dessert!
Image of Tarte Tatin at Artisanal Bistro and Fromagerie restaurant in NYC, New York
We picked the tarte tatin (upside-down tart made with caramelized apples), not only because I love it but also because it was a Cheddar cheese crust!!! I loved that one! The cheese crust was amazing: it was buttery and you could definitely taste the cheddar. The apples were perfectly caramelized and I really appreciated the fact that it was not too sweet. Definitely a hit!

This was a fantastic dinner and I will certainly go back, but next time I will wear stretch pants...

Enjoy (I did)!

Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro on Urbanspoon

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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Goat milk ice cream at Victory Garden in NYC, New York

Image of Victory Garden ice cream in West Village NYC, New York

We discovered Victory Garden over the week end! It is a tiny place located on Carmine in the West Village. The logo looks like a goat's head: no wonder as they use goat milk for their ice cream! Why goat milk? Because of the Middle Eastern influence of the owners and the advantages of goat milk that are displayed at the entrance of the store:
  • Goat milk is lower in fat than cow’s milk, but with all the nutrition!
  • Goat milk is rich in healthy antimicrobial fatty acids, which are burned by the body, rather than stored as is cow’s milk.
  • Goat milk is a great source of iron, calcium, protein and potassium.
  • Goat milk is lactose friendly, making it easy for people with lactose-intolerance to digest.
  • Goat milk is the most similar animal milk to that of humans and is more readily processed than cow’s milk.
Image of Victory Garden ice cream in West Village NYC, New York
I very rarely had goat milk in my life, but why not? So we decided to try their ice cream. We picked their most popular: the salted caramel. As a topping, we chose chocolate crunch. 
Image of Salted caramel ice cream at Victory Garden ice cream in West Village NYC, New York

Monday, September 24, 2012

Yapple Frozen Yogurt in Westfield, NJ

Image of Yapple Frozen Yogurt in Westfield, NJ

I discovered a new Frozen Yogurt place in Westfield, New Jersey. I love frozen yogurt because people think that it is a healthy choice, but they forget that the calories are mainly coming from the toppings that they pack their yogurt with!!!

Anyway, the place was interesting: very bright with its white furniture, partly white walls; with fun drawings on the wall that reminded me of Japanese Manga.
Image of Yapple Frozen Yogurt in Westfield, NJ

Saturday, September 22, 2012

CoolHaus Ice Cream Sandwich in NYC, New York

Image of CoolHaus Ice Cream food truck in NYC, New York

I heard about the Coolhaus truck for a while and always wanted to try it! I noticed that the truck was often at Union Square, where many food trucks are now lining up to feed a crowd eager to try some delicious food at a reasonable price. So, that day was the time to try it! The concept is simple: an ice cream sandwich made of a scoop of ice cream in between two cookies! Ideal for the sugar lovers!

The concept is simple: first choose your cookie, then pick your ice cream!
Image of CoolHaus Ice Cream food truck in NYC, New York
We decided to go with two chocolate chip cookies and the chocovivo salted chocolate that is as per the description: a rich dark chocolate base swirled with fudge and sprinkled with chunks of dark chocolate from chocovivo.
Image of CoolHaus Ice Cream Sandwich in NYC, New York
When they gave it to us, it was huge! And when it is warm outside, you'd better hurry to eat it before the ice cream starts to melt!!! It is a bit messy to eat, but fortunately, you hold it with and edible wrapper.
The cookie was very good: not too sweet and soft with a bit of crunch from the chocolate chips and the chunks from the ice cream. The ice cream was divine with intense chocolate flavors! Definitely a very good combination, picked by Jodi!

What is great is that you can swap cookies and ice cream in many, many combinations, making your experience new each time! They have plenty of flavors that I guess they alternate from time to time and some are original, such as candied bacon, chocolate chipotle or nutella almond (I love nutella and will definitely try this one!). If you love sugar, cookies and ice cream, try Coolhaus and let me know what you think!

Enjoy (I sure did)!

Coolhaus on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 21, 2012

Madison Square Eats, Fall 2012 Edition! September 21st to October 19th 2012!

The Madison Square Park conservancy is hosting again this year the Madison Square Park Eats from 11am to 9pm from September 21st to October 19th. It will be a festival of food with several vendors like:
  • Arancini Bros. 
  • Asiadog
  • Baby Got Back Ribs
  • Bar Suzette
  • Broken English
  • Calexico
  • Charlito’s Cocina
  • Flourish Baking Company
  • Graffiti│Mehtaphor
  • Hong Kong Street Cart
  • ilili
  • Kitty Lee Thomas Sweets
  • Kulinary Kraft
  • La Sonrisa Empanadas
  • Macaron Parlour
  • Mayhem & Stout
  • Melt Bakery
  • Mexicue 
  • Mighty Balls
  • Mimi & Coco NY
  • Momofuku Milk Bar
  • Nunu Chocolates
  • Red Hook Lobster Pound
  • Roberta’s
  • Sigmund’s
  • Stuffed Artisan Cannolis
  • The Cannibal
  • Wafels & Dinges
  • Wooly’s Ice

They will serve food daily in the Worth Square area just west of Madison Square Park (24th and 5th Avenue).

Enjoy (I will)!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Recipe: Anise Infused Bread

Image of Anise Infused Bread recipe
Here is a very recipe to make a wonderful bread that has a subtle anise taste.

For 8 small breads:

  • 17.5 ounce (500g) of white flour
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 3/4 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of anise seeds
  • 1/2 ounce of dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 0.8 cup of lukewarm water

  • The first thing to do is to grind the anise seeds.
    To grind seeds, I use a coffee grinder.

    Mix all the ingredients and knead until firm. I have a bread machine and use the setting to only knead and rise as I will cook the bread in the oven.
    Let the dough rise for 1h30.

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, make 8 even portions of the dough and lay them on a cooking sheet or aluminum foil, making sure you either grease it or put some flour to prevent the bread to stick.
    Image of Anise Infused Bread recipe
    In a small ball, make an egg wash by cracking an egg at room temperature and whisking it until the yolk is incorporated in the white. 
    With a knife, make a X on top of each bread so they open while cooking.
    Then brush each bread with the egg wash.
    Rest for 25 more minutes; the bread will rise again.
    Put the bread in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden.

    Et voila!
    Image of Anise Infused Bread recipe
     Bon appetit!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    My brother's culinary visit...

    Last week, my brother stopped by to see us on his way back to France. On top of the fact that it was great to spend time with him, it was a great occasion to make him try some cuisine or food that are not that common in France or that he cannot find in the city where he is living. There is so much diversity in New York that I had to pick just couple of choices that I proposed to him. I'll pass on the first night when we went to Benny Tudino's in Hoboken so he could have a good taste of pizza. We also ordered chicken wings as it is something that he never tried (it is only served in few restaurants, mainly in Paris, such as the Indiana Cafe where I used to go with my cousin Sandrine when I was living there). 

    The pizza was good as usual, but the chicken wings were like fried chicken...Disappointing...In fact, I never ordered anything else other than pizza over there and several people told me that the rest of the food is not very good!
    Image of Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village NYC, New York
    The next day, I proposed to go for Venezuelan as where he lives, there no such restaurants and he never tried before. We ended up at Caracas Arepa Bar that is one of my favorites! Caracas Arepa Bar is a small place in the East Village that has these amazing arepas, which are some sort of buns that are grilled and baked, filled with different ingredients, from chicken to beef, to beans and cheese. They offer a nice selection of vegetarian dishes.
    Image of Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village NYC, New York
    The decor has an authentic feel with its wooden tables and chairs that are a bit run down and plenty of religious figurines on the wall.
    Image of Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village NYC, New York
     as well as satiric figurines of politicians...
    Image of Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village NYC, New York
    I admit that the only one I recognized was Hugo Chavez...

    The service in the restaurant was efficient and extremely courteous. The menu is simple and features items that cost less than $8, at the exception of course of the tasting platters that they propose.

    We started by ordering some banana milkshakes.
    Image of Banana shakes at Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village NYC, New York
    They had a little bit of cinnamon on top. It was more liquid than a traditional milkshake, that is good considering that it was more a drink to go with the meal rather than being a dessert. Unfortunately and contrary to the last time we went there, it did not have as much banana taste.

    For appetizers, we first ordered the guasacaca & chips.
    Image of guasacaca and chips at Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village NYC, New York

    It is in fact guacamole with chips made with plantains and taro roots. The guacamole was very good and fresh, while the chips were deliciously crispy and not at all greasy.

    The second appetizer was the tajadas.
    Image of Tajadas at Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village NYC, New York
    It is fried sweet plantains with cheese. The cheese was salty, making it a perfect ingredient to counterbalance the sweetness of the plantains. This was a fantastic appetizer and I could not stop eating it!

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Salads at Pita Grill in Hoboken, NJ

    After a week end full of food, we decided to have a salad at Pita Grill in Hoboken. Pita Grill is a chain that you can find in lots of places. The concept is healthy Mediterranean food.

    We started off with a fresh squeezed orange juice.
    This was a real fresh squeezed OJ, not a watered down one and for $3, there was a nice quantity of it!

    For the salads, Jodi had the Goat cheese salad.
    It is composed of mesclun greens, golden raisins and roasted walnuts tossed with a lemon honey vinaigrette. Served with grilled pita, topped with Goat cheese and caramelized onions. This is one of my favorites, especially the pita with caramelized onions and goat cheese! The sweetness of the onions completes so well the tartness of the cheese. Definitely to try!

    On my side, I got a Pita Grill salad.
    It is made of grilled chicken and basil-rubbed eggplant over mesclun greens, dried cranberries, crumbled Feta and with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette. That was delicious and fresh! The chicken was perfectly cooked: moist with a nice burnt taste on the charred areas. The vinaigrette was very light and subtle. I finished my plate!

    So definitely, this is the place to go for a healthy lunch! I will try to remember the day I go to another food marathon...

    Enjoy (I did)!

    Pita Grill of Hoboken on Urbanspoon

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Pulino's pizza in NYC, New York

    One of my favorite pizza is the four cheese pizza, but one with real cheeses, not some kind of processed cheeses! So we decided to try Pulino's in Nolita as they had a four cheese pizza on their menu.

    The place was very nice with its high ceilings, wood oven and walls covered in bottles.
    There was even part covered with magazines that the patrons could borrow, adding a casual atmosphere to the place..

    We went for brunch where the menu offers a wide variety of either standard brunch items such as eggs or pancakes, as well as true Italian dishes such as spaghetti or pizza. For pizza, you can add some toppings such as olives, pancetta, anchovies...making the pizza a bit pricey.

    So we decided to start with an appetizer. The choice was easy: burrata.
    They served it with roasted tomatoes on the vine, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. All of this was rested on a piece of bread, fettunta style, meaning like a bruschetta. 
    This was fantastic! The burrata tasted very fresh and was very creamy. It was a perfect combination of flavors, mixed with the tomatoes, a hint of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 

    Then we got our four cheese pizza!
    The pizza looked beautiful with all the cheeses, the caramelized onions and the crust, burnt in some areas.
    The crust was very thin and crispy. What I liked was also the fact that they had, on the table, some olive oil with chili peppers inside: you drizzle some oil on the pizza and it gives a delicious kick to it!
    The cheeses on the pizza were: mozzarella, grana, fontina and gorgonzola. It also had some caramelized onions on top. I loved that pizza! There was a lot of cheese and the idea of putting caramelized onions on it was fabulous! It added some sweetness to the pizza that was perfect to counterbalance the sharpness of the cheese. It was definitely a great pizza that I recommend!

    We skipped the desserts as we wanted to go grab something at Francois Payard, but it is another story...

    Although the service was so so, we really enjoyed our brunch at Pulino's! I am sure I will go back there to try some of their specialties, such as the nutella pizette....

    Enjoy (I did)!

     Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Brunch at Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro in NYC, New York

    If you like cheese, you cannot pass on Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro, the cheese haven from Chef Terry Brennan that opened in New York City in 2001. The place is gorgeous and really captures the atmosphere of a Parisian bistro, from the furniture to the old advertising art, to the way the wait staff is dressed! 

    Amazingly enough, they have a cheese cave, a temperature and humidity controlled room where you can dine! But make sure you reserve the only table in it! The number of cheeses they have is pretty amazing and that fantastic cheese smell fills the entire room, especially after they open one of the fridges...

    The brunch menu is a classic French menu with crepes Suzette, croque monsieur or eggs, but with the Chef's own twist. For instance, they have a Tuna salade nicoise. A basic salade nicoise has canned tuna; but there, they put some seared tuna, making it fancier. They also serve it as a sandwich, called "pan bagnat"! Pan bagnat can be found mainly in the South of France; it has been so many years that I did not have it: when I was a kid, we use to have pan bagnat (in a baguette bread) whenever we were going to the beach.  

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Burgers at Minetta Tavern in NYC, New York

    If you follow this blog, you know that I love burgers! What I like is the bold flavor of the meat combined with the cheese, sauces and bread. It is so comforting and a good burger can be divine! There are so many restaurants who serve this great dish, but not all of them succeed. Recently, I decided to try the burgers at Minetta Tavern. The place has the same owner as Balthazar and therefore gets its breads and pastries from there! Apparently,  when they need something, they send a staff member to the Balthazar bakery to get it!

    The place is smaller than what I imagine and is divided into two rooms: the main room in the back where the kitchen is located and the bar where few booths are available. There is an old feel to the place, with the black and white photos on the wall and the overall furnitures. 

    Minetta Tavern is known for its Black Label burger, a $26 burger with a patty made of prime dry age meats: strip or ribeye, skirt steak and brisket, all coming from the Creekstone Farms (black angus beef raised and grazed in the US and USDA approved). So I decided to try it.
    I ordered it medium and the waitress told us that medium means pink in the center. When the burger came, it look fabulous: a thick patty, shiny on the outside probably from the clarified butter that they drizzle the meat throughout the cooking process, with simply caramelized onions on top. It was served on a brioche bread that was not toasted and with some French fries.

    The burger was juicy but clearly more medium rare than medium. 

    It did not knock my socks off! I was expecting a rich meat flavor that any good dry aged meat would have. In fact, as we wanted to make a comparison,  Jodi ordered the Minetta burger, a cheeseburger that was served with the caramelized onions, as well as the brioche bun, but with cheese on top.

    Similar to the Black Label Burger, it came with a thick patty smothered in cheese. The temperature of the burger was the same: medium was in fact medium rare. I'll be honest: there was not a big difference between the Black Label and the cheeseburger! And both burgers were salty!

    What I truly liked were the fries! They were spectacular! I think these are the best French fries I got so far: perfectly salted and crispy! I was close to finish my plate until I remembered that this place was just a stop in a food journey...

     We finished with eating the coconut layer cake that stared at us during the entire lunch: Jodi could not resist looking at it. The coconut layer cake is on the menu and comes from Balthazar Bakery. I am not the biggest fan of coconut, but I have to say that it was delicious!

    It was made of a very moist cake with two layers of cream and some icing on top with coconut shaving. The coconut taste was perfect and subtle. On top of that, the cake was very light! Fantastic!

    I was a bit disappointed by the burgers at Minetta Tavern as, with all the buzz about them, I was expecting something awesome. The only reason I would come back would be for the French fries and the coconut layer cake, not the burgers!

    Enjoy (I did)!
    Minetta Tavern on Urbanspoon