October 2012 | I just want to eat!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Press dinner and follow up brunch at Jeanne et Gaston in NYC, New York

Image of Jeanne et Gaston in NY, New York
I was recently invited to a press dinner at Jeanne et Gaston, a French restaurant located in the West Village. I then decided to go back for brunch to see if the impression I got from the dinner would be right! So, this post is about the dinner and the brunch!

First, know that the owner and French Chef Claude Godard is a third generation Chef who has the title of Maitre Cuisinier de France. It is an envied title, obtained in a competition and given to a Chef who will follow the motto “to preserve and spread the French culinary arts, encourage training in cuisine, and assist professional development.” This is a big deal and a guaranty to eat some authentic French food! 
Image of Jeanne et Gaston in NY, New York

The restaurant, named after the Chef's Grand Mother Jeanne and his Grand Father Gaston, is of medium size, with a warm ambiance thanks to its bricks and wooden tables.

One of the main feature that will be great during warm weather is the garden.
image of the garden at Jeanne et Gaston in NY, New York
Courtesy of Jeanne et Gaston

Round 1 - Press Dinner:

So here I am for this press dinner in a French restaurant. I am asked if I will be pickier because the chef is a fellow Frenchman: I do not think so, especially knowing that most of the Chefs try give a modern flair or elevate traditional dishes. 
They first brought us some bread and butter:
Image of bread at Jeanne et Gaston in NY, New York

The bread was a cute little baguette that was warm and delightfully crispy. I would eat that bread at each meal!

Then, we started off with some Charcuterie:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gelato pop at Popbar in New York City, NY

Image of Popbar in NYC, New York
Recently, we discovered this small place called Popbar in the West Village. Popbar serves gelato or sorbet on a stick. They have plenty of choices and the colors are spectacular! 

Their gelato is apparently made every day with fresh fruits and ingredients coming from Italy! They have many flavors such as: banana, chocolate, coconut, hazelnut, pistachio, cream, vanilla, peanut butter, ...
They also have sorbet such as lemon, pineapple, kiwi, mixed berries, ...
Image of Popbar in NYC, New York

The process is in 4 easy steps:

Friday, October 26, 2012

South Indian Dosa at Matt & Meera in Hoboken, NJ

Image of Matt and Meera Indian restaurant in Hoboken, NJ New Jersey
I have already written a post about Matt & Meera, an American-Indian fusion restaurant in Hoboken, NJ. Since they opened, I went few times and I have become a huge fan of this place. So, I was somewhat curious to try their brunch menu!

Jodi and I decided to try the dosa, a lentil crepe from South India. The first time I tried it was many years ago in Mumbai, during the Ganesh festival. The one I had was vegetarian and delicious from what I recall!

Jodi ordered the potato dosa.
Image of Potato dosa at Matt and Meera Indian restaurant in Hoboken, NJ New Jersey
When it arrived, it looked fantastic! It was served with some chutney, one of them being the tomato mustard chutney that is amazing! It is certainly a big portion if you compare to the knife and fork on the photo.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vegetarian dinner at Gobo in NYC, New York

"In the Kingdom of the Vegetarian, the Carnivore is King"
Jean-Philippe - October 2012

I started this blog post with this sentence because I realize that it is easier to be a carnivore in New York than being a vegetarian and forget it if you are vegan! Yes, there are options in the city, but they are still limited and it is easier for a carnivore to eat in a vegetarian restaurant than the contrary. I love meat, from beef, lamb, mutton...But I do not mind trying a meatless dish sometimes, especially if it is different from the usual salads and has some flavors...The first time I tried a vegetarian dish was at Zen Palate, many years ago, at the time they were located at Union Square. Their fake sweet and sour chicken was fantastic! Then I tried Gobo on the Upper East Side. These restaurants show that you can make great vegetarian food! So, I promised Jodi to go back to Gobo for dinner.
Image of Gobo Vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York
We went on a Saturday night. The restaurant was at first not packed, but started to fill up as the evening went by. I like the setting of the restaurant, with its large table at the entrance that gives the impression you eat in someones' kitchen.
Image of Gobo Vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York
Or its communal table...
Image of Gobo Vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York
The menu offers a large choice of dishes in three formats: quick bite, small or large plates. The smaller sizes are ideal for sharing or to try different specialties. So we decided to order few of them.

We started off with the avocado tartare served with a wasabi lime sauce.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vegetarian food at Angelica kitchen in New York, NY

Image of Angelica Kitchen in NYC, New York
In search for the best vegetarian place, we ended up at Angelica Kitchen in the East Village, after having heard about it by my wife's cousin, Jessica. As mentioned in prior posts, I am more a carnivore, but I am always interested in trying different types of cuisines.

We went to that place on a Saturday, for lunch. I thought it would be more crowded, but it was not the case. 
Image of Lemonade and hibiscus cooler at Angelica Kitchen in NYC, New York
As the weather was still nice, we needed a nice drink to rehydrate. Jodi ordered a lemonade and I ordered an hibiscus cooler. The lemonade was really good and not too sweet. The cooler was surprisingly good considering that the only hibiscus I ever saw was in a pot at my Mom's place...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lunch menu at T Thai in Hoboken, NJ

Image of T Thai restaurant in Hoboken, New Jersey NJ
T Thai is one of my favorite Thai restaurant in Hoboken, with Sri Thai. Not to mention Casual Thai that should probably be less casual on the cooking...I tried T Thai few times and have never been disappointed! Especially with their marinated half chicken with chili sauce that I really enjoy (so does the cat)!

This time, we decided to try their lunch menu. Not surprisingly, they offer a menu for less than $8 that features a veggie roll, a salad and an entree. To go with it, I had my usual Thai Iced Tea that is delicious at T Thai.
Image of Thai Iced Tea at T Thai restaurant in Hoboken, New Jersey NJ

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fantastic Burger at Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien - NYC, New York

Image of Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien, NYC, New York
As I mentioned in previous posts about burger places, I love burgers. Interestingly, in France, you will only associate burgers with Mc Donald's or other fast food chains like Quick as this dish is mainly served there (there are few exceptions, like Chez Papa in Paris, but putting a burger on the menu is more a novelty). So when I came here, it remained my reference until my wife convinced me to try non fast food burgers! It did not take her that much effort to convince me and since then, I cannot understand how I came to like Burger King or Mc Donald's!!! What is interesting is to see all these burger chains opening across the country and all these Chefs trying to elevate that dish to something close to fine dining, like Hubert Keller and his $5000 burger at Fleur de Lys in San Francisco! 

The first time I went to Burger Joint was in 2002. I stayed at Le Parker Meridien for a while and they started to know me. One night, I was going for Pizza and one of the managers who knew me proposed to try a burger. I noticed that the location was where the bar used to be. The place was empty, at the exception of the head of the hotel who sat with me while I was tasting the delicious sandwich! It was the time when Burger Joint was unknown and very quickly, people and the press started to talk about it, making it a madhouse! Imagine that we were there on Saturday at 5:30pm thinking it would be ok and it was crazy! According to one of the wait staff, they make between 1500 to 1700 burgers a day! So, be ready to wait, although, people just come to eat a burger, so it should not take too long!
Image of a lamp at Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien, NYC, New York

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ramen at Ippudo-NY in NYC, New York

Image of Ippudo ramen in the East Village, NYC, New York
Last Sunday, Jodi and I decided to go eat ramen at Ippudo a Japanese restaurant in New York City I heard about. It is interesting to note that ramen were not that known in France when I was living there: you could find them in the International food section of some supermarkets or in a few Japanese restaurants, but it was not that known. I understand that in the US, students use to eat them when broke; in France, it was more spaghetti... I really discovered ramen bowls when I tried it at Noodles 32 in Korea Town: it was incredibly good! I was sold later on when going to Momofuku Noodle Bar...

So we decided to go early to Ippudo as I knew that it was popular. Know that the original Ippudo opened in Fukukoa in Japan in 1985 and the New York location opened in 2008. Go figure why I waited that long to go there...We showed up at 11:40am and the restaurant was already full. We had to wait for a table for approximately 20 minutes, in the entrance, admiring a wall full of ramen bowls.
Image of Ippudo ramen in the East Village, NYC, New York
While waiting, we could hear people yelling something in Japanese and then people cheering back. We later understood that it was their way to introduce new patrons to the main room. They said in a nutshell: "these are our new guests, please say welcome to them".

They sat us in the first room, in a large table shared with other customers. The room was overlooked by a huge tree made of bamboo and there was bamboo everywhere. I was very excited to try as people around us seemed delighted to eat their noodles. Of course, do not be shy to slurp: it is mandatory! Interesting how when I grew up, we were taught how to eat soup and pasta a certain way, without making any noise. Sorry Mom and Dad...I have to slurp too! 

So, I started with Tako Wasabi or raw baby octopus as an appetizer.
Image of Baby octopus at Ippudo ramen in the East Village, NYC, New York
Yes, I know, some of you think it is creepy. I wanted to give it a try as I love octopus but never had it raw. I thought it would be a nice training for the day I will eat live octopus (soon)!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, NJ - Is the Cake Boss overrated???

Image of Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, NJ - The Cake Boss
Who does not know the Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro? His show on TV is very popular and there is always a very long line in front of his bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. But know that if you live in Hoboken, you can skip the line: just show an ID that proves you are living there. My first experience with Carlo's Bakery was so so: couple of years ago, I bought a cannoli and did not like it. I thought at that time that it might have been because I did not eat it right away and put it in the refrigerator for few hours. Then, one of my colleagues brought a tiramisu and a chocolate cake at work: I loved the tiramisu but the chocolate cake was way too sweet. So we decided to try again.
Image of Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, NJ - The Cake Boss

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lombardi, the oldest pizzeria in the US - NYC, New York

Image of the Sign about Lombardi's Pizza in NYC, New York - the oldest pizzeria in the US
It has been a while since I wanted to go to Lombardi's Pizza, the oldest pizzeria in the US, located in New York City. We went last Saturday and the place was not packed, until 12:30pm where patrons started to come and even had to wait outside! I guess this place is in all the guides, explaining the sudden rush!

We saw two dining rooms there: the one at the entrance, with its bar, and the one in the back. We got seated in the first one. It definitely had a rustic and traditional feel with its brick walls and the white and red table clothes. The service was quick and courteous that is sometimes missing in popular restaurants!
Image of the Dining room Lombardi's Pizza in NYC, New York - the oldest pizzeria in the US
I started off with an Italian Soda that is seltzer with vanilla flavored syrup and whipped cream.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Press dinner at De Santos in NYC, New York

Courtesy of De Santos
I have been invited to a press dinner at De Santos, a new American cuisine restaurant in the West Village. I was very excited as it was the first invitation of that sort and intimidated at the same time, not knowing how it would be and who would be there! Plenty of questions came through my head: how will it be? Who would be there? Can I stay true to myself judging a restaurant who, in fine, invites me?

The answer to the last question is yes! Restaurants need people to comment on them to improve and it is pretty courageous to invite critics and bloggers to review your restaurant! The only important thing I need to do is to honestly mention that I was invited in my post so you understand that the food served to me was probably more carefully prepared and the service would be on his toes as the wait staff knew why people at the table were doing there!

So, the dinner was at 7pm. As I always try to be on time, I came a bit early. I noticed in front of the restaurant a person talking photos with a small camera and immediately thought that it was one of the people invited. I later learnt that it was Marc Shepard whose blog, New York Journal, has been around for a while. I respectfully let him take his photo of the restaurant and then took mine. 
I like the fact that the restaurant is in a townhouse. As I mentioned when going to Vetri in Philadelphia, it gives the impression to go a friend's place. The place was welcoming and bigger than what I expected: bar at the entrance, main dining room, then a second dining room next to a garden. The last intriguing room is a former speakeasy located downstairs, called the Janis room, used for private dinners and live performances. The name comes from Janis Joplin, one of the celebrities who lived in the building that is packed with memories, but hopefully no paranormal activity...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ken and Cook in NYC, New York

Image of Ken and Cook in Nolita NYC, New York
Jodi and I went to Ken & Cook recently for brunch. The place is very nice with a warm and modern feel. The front of the restaurant can be fully opened to the street so dinners can enjoy some people watching while eating, although the street the restaurant is located is not that busy.

A particularity I noticed in the decor is the two telephone booths that reminded me of what you see in very old movies! I should have tried to use them just to see if they were working...
Image of Ken and Cook in Nolita NYC, New York
When you know that the Executive Chef Richard Diamonte and partner Artan Gjoni are veterans from Jean Georges, then you for sure have high expectations! They offer a simple brunch menu with not that many items. Sometimes, less is more! I prefer a restaurant with a limited menu that is executed perfectly rather than a restaurant with ton of choices that are poorly prepared!

First, they served us some delicious bread with some olive oil.
Image of Bread and olive oil at Ken and Cook in Nolita NYC, New York

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Brunch at La Petite Abeille in NYC, New York

Image of La Petite Abeille in the West Village NYC, New York

We went to La Petite Abeille in the West Village on a Sunday. The restaurant was a bit crowded and the poor waiter was alone to attend all the patrons inside and outside. He did a good job!
I went to this place many years ago and wanted to go back specifically for "The Mitraillette" (machine gun) sandwich, a Belgian sandwich made with steak and fries. Where I come from, we use to have an equivalent: beef patty, French fries and ketchup in a baguette; we called it "The American". I remember that I loved it, although the idea of fries in bread can seem weird. 

So, La Petite Abeille (The Little Bee in English) is a Belgian restaurant. I was surprised to see some posters of Tintin as well as comic books from this Belgian hero (Tintin is big in Europe and has been big way before the Steven Spielberg's movie released last year). The atmosphere was casual and homey.

The menu was proposing a wide array of dishes that can satisfy anybody who would like to have a nice brunch: eggs, burger, salad, bread and of course waffles.

We started off with a fresh squeezed orange juice.
Image of Orange juice at La Petite Abeille in the West Village NYC, New York
The OJ was just ok: it was a bit watered down!

Looking at the menu, I did not find the sandwich I was coming for! No Mitraillette! Apparently, they are making it in other locations! So I had to pick something else. I went for the egg cocotte.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sourdough bread recipe

This is an easy recipe that my friend Benny's wife, Rufina, gave me and that I tried over the week end. It is easy but a bit long because of the time needed for the fermentation process that gives this bread such a distinct taste.

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cup of water

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and knead until obtaining a firm dough.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 12 to 18 hours.
On a slightly floured surface, fold the dough 2 to 3 times. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Generously flour a kitchen towel and put the dough on it. Shape the dough the way you would like your bread to be shaped. Put some more flour on top of the dough and cover with another kitchen towel. Let stand for 2 more hours.
Image of Sourdough bread recipe
Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put the dough on an aluminum foil and cover with another aluminum foil sheet. Put in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
Then remove the aluminum foil that was on top and continue to cook for another 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Et voila! It will give you a bread similar to what you would buy in a bakery with a fantastic crunchy crust!
Image of Sourdough bread recipe
Enjoy (I did)!


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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Korean food at Korea Palace in NYC, New York

When you think about Korean food in New York, you immediately think about Korea town and its BBQ joints! But, there is a great place Midtown that serves some mouth watering Korean food that can satisfy the meat eaters as well as the vegetarians. This place is called Korea Palace.
Image of Korea Palace restaurant Midtown East NYC, New York
Here is my history with Korean food: I went to Seoul more than 10 years ago, on a Business trip. I stayed few weeks and tried many of their specialties, some that I would probably not even mention on this blog! Of course, the most popular is the Korean BBQ (Bulgogi) where you will cook some marinated meat and eat it in a piece of salad with some red sauce on it. A variation of that dish is made with eel that is very good, but I remember that they were serving it not with lettuce, but with a leaf that had a thicker texture and a more pronounced taste.
I also remember eating a chicken ginger soup that Korea Palace has on its menu. It was a very hot day and we ended up in a restaurant where, after removing our shoes, we sat on the floor. There was no A/C and it was already uncomfortable. They brought this extremely hot soup that we ate and we were sweating like crazy because of the soup. Our Korean host told us that it was normal and very good for health as it allows the body to get accustomed to the heat. Well, it did not work for me...But the soup was delicious!

So, back to Korea Palace. I went to this restaurant in 2010, when my boss retired and although I liked the food, I never came back. This time I came with a bunch of co-workers for a nice celebration. Of course, when you enter into the restaurant, you cannot miss the golden crown that is displayed. It is a Chonma-Chong Gold Crown dated 5th to 6th Century A.D. 

Then, the restaurant has plenty of rooms and what I appreciate is the fact that they have separate private rooms, some for up to 8 people and some bigger, like the one where we were.

In term of food, we decided to order some appetizers to share. Of course, like most Korean restaurants, there were already some side dishes (banchan) that had various veggies such as potatoes or pea pods.
Image of Banchan at Korea Palace restaurant Midtown East NYC, New York

Monday, October 1, 2012

Annual Food and Wine Tasting Benefit, Plate by Plate, at The New York Public Library - October 5th 2012



Plate by Plate is organized by Project by Project, a non profit organization of social entrepreneurs that serve Asian American non-profits in need by raising public awareness, volunteerism, and money, that is celebrating its 15 years of existence. Each year, they organize the Plate by Plate Annual Food and Wine fundraising in different cities, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

Concerning the food, here are some participants: 


If you follow cooking shows, you will also recognize some special guests: Chef Kerry Hefferman (Top Chef Masters runner up) or Chef Justin Antiorio (Hell's Kitchen runner up).

So if you want to enjoy for a good cause:

Date:       Friday, October 5th, 2012
Time:      8:00pm – 11:00pm
Venue:    Astor Hall @ The New York Public Library
Address: Fifth Avenue @ 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018

Tickets on sale on their website: www.platebyplate.org/ny