January 2013 | I just want to eat!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kouign Amman at Dominique Ansel Bakery in NYC, New York

Image of the Entrance of Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho, NYC, New York
Jodi and I went to Dominique Ansel Bakery after watching a segment on their Kouign Amman on the TV show Unique Sweets. The bakery, located in Soho, is heaven for anybody with a sweet tooth! Anyway, if you do not have a sweet tooth, they also have a lunch menu...
Image of the Inside of Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho, NYC, New York
We went in the afternoon and we could clearly see that a lot of the cakes they made were already sold out! I was a bit disappointed because I was not only coming for the Kouign Amman, but also for the Paris-New York, a pastry that is a spin on a Paris-Brest (puff pastry with a hazelnut cream that I love - Dominique Ansel made it with peanut butter!).

Anyway, we came for their specialty: the Kouign Amman. So you probably wonder what this is! This is a cake from Bretagne, a region on the west coast of France, made with a croissant dough and layered with butter and sugar. If you eat it, do not tell your cardiologist because there is a lot of butter!

On the show, we got the impression that the Kouign Amman was small so we decided to order two of them...and a cake.
Image of Kouign Amman at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho, NYC, New York
The Kouign Amman was divine! Buttery, flaky, airy with a bit of crunch from the sugar on the outer shell, sugar that caramelized for the most part. We literally inhaled it. I just wish they warm it up a bit as it seems it is the way to eat it. When I think that I had to come to New York to try it for the first time! It was expansive though: close to $6 a piece.

The cake we chose as the Paris-New York was sold out, was the religieuse. 
Image of Rose flower religieuse at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho, NYC, New York
A religieuse is a traditional pasty made of two cream puff stuffed either with chocolate or vanilla custard, topped by a chocolate frosting. Dominique Ansel made it differently: no chocolate but rose flower cream. Although I enjoyed the part with the frosting, I did not really liked the rose flower cream. So it was not the best choice.

With that, we got a hot chocolate to drink, but I found it too bitter...

I will definitely have to go back to that place to try their other pastries and have another Kouign Amman. I bet that going in the morning, for breakfast, would be the best time to eat them warm! Sacrebleu!

Enjoy (I did)!

And remember: I just want to eat!

Dominique Ansel Bakery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bouchon Bakery in New York City!

Image of Entrance of Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle Time Warner Building in NYC, New York
Several people I know told me that I should go to Bouchon Bakery, located on the third floor of the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle. I went a first time to try their brioche and decided to go back! The place is pure madness, overcrowded by people trying to indulge on those delicate pastries and sandwiches that they sell.

So we went there on a Sunday, after a visit to the Moma. I decided to order again the brioche!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vietnamese Food at Chapa's in NYC, New York

Image of Entrance of Chapas Vietnamese eatery in NYC, New York
We passed by ChaPa's Noodles and Grill, a Vietnamese eatery, several times and each time, this restaurant was packed. So we decided to give it a try. In fact, we gave it two tries! The first time we went and picked various dishes and then saw many people ordering their Pho (a Vietnamese dish consisting of broth,  rice noodles, herbs, and meat); so we decided to go another time to try the Pho.

So, the first time we went, we shared several plates.

The crispy calamari or Muc Chien Don:
Image of Crispy calamari at Chapas Vietnamese eatery in NYC, New York

I loved it: the calamari was not rubbery, the batter well cooked and very crispy, not greasy at all. The sweet chili sauce gave a nice Asian twist to this dish!

The veggie dumplings - steamed:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Italian Doughnuts at Bomboloni in NYC, New York

Image of the Entrance of Bombolini in UWS NYC, New York
I think there is a misconception in Europe about doughnuts! Yes, There are always associated to the US, thanks to number of movies were you see people (shall I say mainly from the police force?), eating them. They have nothing unique in the sense that many countries have a similar treat, but a different name. You do not believe me? Check this out:
- The sugar twist is called chichi in South of France. I had quite a few when I was a kid...
- Germany has the Berliner.
- Italy has the Bomboloni!
Image of Inside of Bombolini in UWS NYC, New York

If you are curious to try a Bomboloni, go to...Bomboloni on the Upper West Side! This joint offers these delicious filled doughnuts with plenty of mouth watering flavors: coconut, nutella, creme brulee, tiramisu, apricot, strawberry...

Jodi decided to order the coconut one:
Image of a Coconut Italian doughnut donut at Bombolini in UWS NYC, New York
I ordered the Nutella one!
Image of a Nutella Italian doughnut donut at Bombolini in UWS NYC, New York
The doughnut itself was nice and airy. The fillings were good, although I would have liked to taste more of the Nutella! I certainly appreciated the fact that this was not too sweet!

It is definitely a nice treat and the creativity they show with their fillings makes me want to try more flavors...

Enjoy (I did)!

And remember: I Just Want To Eat!

Bomboloni on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ethiopian food at Queen of Sheba in NYC, New York

Image of the Entrance of Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in NYC, New York
The first time I had Ethiopian food was at Meskerem, that is just few steps from Queen of Sheba! As I explained in my post on Meskerem, we decided to try after hearing my cousin Jessica talk about the wonderful experience she had in an Ethiopian restaurant in New Jersey. We were also excited to try as we followed Marcus Samuelson during his appearance on Top Chef Master, where he tried sometimes to showcase some Ethiopian flavors.

The name of the restaurant comes from a monarch of the ancient kingdom of Sheba that is referenced in various cultures, one of them being Ethiopian. The restaurant has a nice decoration with wooden chairs and traditional baskets for sharing.
Image of the Inside of Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in NYC, New York

So, if you do not like eat get your hands dirty, this is not the restaurant for you, although I am sure you can ask for a fork...But then you would miss the experience!

Jodi ordered the Sheba Vegetarian combination plate.
Image of Vegetarian combination plate at Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in NYC, New York
It was composed of:

  • Misir Wot: split lentils stewed with onion, garlic and blend of mild ethiopian herbs.
  • Ater Kik Alecha: split pea cooked in onion, garlic and olive oil, mild yellow dish with a touch of turmeric and subtle blend of herbs and spices. It reminded me of yellow dal in Indian cuisine.
  •  Shiro: split peas milled together with a blend of berbere, herbs and onions, slow-cooked into a creamy dip.
  •  Shimbra Asa: chick peas flour molded dumpling style sauteed and cooked in berbere sauce.
  • Gomen Wot: finely chopped collard greens cooked in their own steam with mild seasonings and olive oil. This was pretty good and well cooked as the collard greens were not bitter at all.
  • Atakilt Wot: fresh string beans and long cut carrot cooked in tomato sauce with our rich blend of seasonings. This was just ok for me: the veggies were undercooked.
  • Cabbage Wot: cabbage, potato and carrot cooked with onion and garlic, with a touch of turmeric.

On my side, I ordered the Taste of Sheba combination dish.
Image of Meat combination plate at Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in NYC, New York
It was composed of:
  • Yebeg Wot: freshly made lamb stew.
  • Yebeg Alicha: a mild stew of diced and on-the-bone lamb.
  • Tibs Wot: dices of lean beef seared on hot skillet then slow cooked in a hot berbere stew.
  • Menchet Abesh Wot: lean beef grounded and cooked in mild green pepper sauce, red wine and jalapeno and seasoned with ginger and garlic.
  • Menchet Abesh Alecha: lean beef grounded and cooked in mild sauce and jalapeno and seasoned with ginger and garlic.
  • Zilzil Tibs: beef marinated in awaze, olive oil, red wine and stir fried with onions.
  • Gomen Besiga: marbled cuts of beef slow-cooked in a mild onions sauce with chopped collard greens. garlic and blend of alicha seasonings

The best was the Yebeg Wot. Otherwise, I found the meat to be tough. I even think that I preferred the vegetarian platter!!! Go figure!

All of this was of course served with Injera that you use as your utensil to eat. It was pretty good.
Image of Injera at Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in NYC, New York
There was definitely lots of unusual flavors. I liked the experience, but I guess this is not the type of food I would crave, contrary to Indian for instance. 

Enjoy (I did)!

Queen of Sheba on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pierogis at Veselka in NYC, New York

Image of Entrance of Veselka in the East Village NYC, New York
It has been a while I wanted to try Veselka, a restaurant located in the East Village, that serves Ukrainian cuisine. Interestingly, Veselka is located where it used to be Little Ukraine and you can still see some of its presence, between the Ukrainian Church, Ukrainian Museum or Ukrainian school!

The restaurant reminded me a bit of Katz's deli, probably because of the decor that appears similar to what it was when they opened in 1954 (not that I was there), as well as the large crowd waiting for a seat. We went there at 11:30am on a Saturday and it was already packed! Normal: people came for breakfast in this 24/7 joint. 

Although the menu offers traditional breakfast items such as pancakes, waffles or eggs, we decided to try typical Eastern cuisine dishes. We started off with soup. Jodi ordered a Matzo Ball soup.
Image of Matzo Ball soup at Veselka in the East Village NYC, New York
I ordered the Borscht soup.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The best Banana Cream Pie ever - Redeye Gill in NYC, New York

Image of the Entrance of the Redeye Grill in NYC, New York
If you go to The Redeye Grill, it is not for their steaks or their seafood! Surprisingly, I would only go for one of the most delicious banana cream pie I ever had! Forget Billy's Bakery and just go to The Redeye Grill!!!
Image of Dining room of the Redeye Grill in NYC, New York

It is the third time I had this dessert and each time I was in heaven! Ok, I had steaks in the past and never tried their seafood. Except last week...When I went back for lunch. I like the decor of this restaurant that looks like a cafe and has a beautiful raw bar with an impressive selection of seafood: fish, shrimp, scallops, you name it! I started off with the Diver Scallops.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Totto Ramen in NYC, New York

Image of Totto Ramen in NYC, New York

Last year, I discovered ramen. So I was very excited to go to Totto Ramen, after the feasts I had at Momofuku Noodle Bar and Ippudo. Each time we passed in front of this joint, there was a big line, so we definitely wanted to try it! If there is a line, there must be a reason!

We arrived at 11:30am, knowing that they opened at 12pm; there were already few people waiting. What you have to do is put your name on a list and they will call you to sit you. The place is very tiny, so you have to be patient and pray that people will eat quickly and leave, and that you will not have in front of you a group of people who did not see each other for 10 years and are trying to catch up!!!

So we sat at the bar. I like that because we had a direct view on the kitchen and were able to see the cooks making noodles, bouncing them up and down to remove the excess of water, as you can see on the video below.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bibimbap at Miss Korea BBQ in NYC, New York

In our quest for the best Bibimbap, this fantastic Korean rice bowl dish, we decided to go to Miss Korea BBQ in Korea Town.

When we arrived in the restaurant, we were asked if we would consume alcohol. As we said no, we were sent upstairs, on the third floor (probably because their second location did not have a liquor license and they wanted to preserve the main one to their customers who would order some). They told us that this was the same menu and same cuisine. As the elevator was out of order and we proceeded to take the stairs. This was like going to a hidden and secret place, in these dark staircases (ok, maybe I saw too many James Bond). 
Image of Entrance of Miss Korea BBQ in Koreatown NYC, New York

So here we are in the restaurant on the third floor! I do not know if the one downstairs has the same decor, but this one was modern.

Image of Banchan at Miss Korea BBQ in Koreatown NYC, New York

Once we ordered our food, they brought us the banchan, these little plates that usually start a Korean meal. These dishes were not that great I have to say! The only thing I liked was the turnip and the fish skin. Otherwise, they had some fish that had a very strong taste and the kimchi was replaced by a bok choy salad that I did not really like.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cookies at City Bakery and Rocco's in NYC, New York

I guess this past week end was a cookie discovery, in the sense that we got to try some cookies for snacks. The first joint we went to is City Bakery; not that we went there for their cookies, but more for their hot chocolate. The second one, is Rocco's on Bleecker street.
Image of the Entrance of City Bakery in NYC, New York

City Bakery is supposedly known for their hot chocolate and I read recently an article ranking it best hot chocolate in the US. It said: "Made from pure melted chocolate bars and topped with homemade marshmallows, this thick hot chocolate is F&W editor in chief Dana Cowin's favorite version in the country". 
So, here we are at City Bakery: the place is packed! We can see lots of people with a cup of hot chocolate, food and cookies. As we ordered, we could not miss the chocolate room behind us...Promising!
Image of Chocolate room of City Bakery in NYC, New York

As well as the rack full of freshly made cookies in front of us!
Image of Tray of cookies at City Bakery in NYC, New York

That was so tempting that we decided to get a chocolate chip cookie!
Image of Chocolate chip cookie at City Bakery in NYC, New York

It was a nice size and you could definitely see that there was a lot of chocolate! Not the type of cookies where you are looking for chocolate chips! This cookie was one of the best I ever tried! It was not too sweet, was chewy and heavenly buttery. The photo below will show you that they do not cheat their customers when it comes to chocolate:
Image of Chocolate chip cookie at City Bakery in NYC, New York

The hot chocolate however was a bit disappointing...

Image of Hot Chocolate at City Bakery in NYC, New York

It started well though! Imagine a cup full of melted chocolate with a homemade marshmallow in it. I was so expecting something scrumptious...It was not the case. I am not sure what chocolate bar they use or if it is because I ate some cookie before, but I found it just ok. It is not like the hot chocolate at Max Brenner where I drink a bit and then will finish it in few minutes. In fact, I left some of it, that is very rare with me. 

The second bakery is Rocco's.
Image of the Entrance of Rocco's in NYC, New York

We were just walking in the street when we saw all these big cookies at the window!
Image of Pastries linzer tarts and cookies at Rocco's in NYC, New York

Look at the size of the cookies next to the Linzer tarts! They had plenty of them: s'mores, twix, chocolate chip, dark chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate peppermint... And inside, it was as if we found heaven for sweets!

Image of Pastries and cookies at Rocco's in NYC, New York

I ordered a twix cookie and Jodi a chocolate chip one. I took a photo of each of them next to a lemon, so you can see the size of it!
Image of Chocolate chip cookie at Rocco's in NYC, New York
Chocolate Chip Cookie

Image of Twix cookie at Rocco's in NYC, New York
Twix Cookie
I love twix and was pretty excited to try a twix cookie! Unfortunately, you could barely taste the twix. The cookie was not soft and not chewy, too sweet and lacking butter. The chocolate chip one was not better and tasted more like a crumbled vanilla cookie than anything else. They were disappointing. 

I think the mistake with Rocco's is that it is an Italian Bakery, so we should have tried some Italian specialties such as cannoli or Napoleons. As for City Bakery, I would go back to try their other cookies or just get again their chocolate chip cookie!
City Bakery - 1
Rocco's - 0

Enjoy (I did)!

City Bakery on Urbanspoon Pasticceria Rocco on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fabulous treats in Paris, France

I could not end the posts on our trip to Europe without mentioning two fabulous treats you can find in Paris!!!

The first one is Angelina! If you like pastries and love hot cocoa, this is your place. Their most known location is across the street from the Louvre Museum, but it seems that they opened several other places, that might be good to know considering the line you can find in front of their main store.
Image of Hot chocolate at Angelina in Paris, France

If I go to Angelina, it is definitely for their hot chocolate, whether it is Summer or Winter! It is divine! It beats any hot chocolate you find at Max Brenner or La Maison du Chocolat and is literally melted chocolate. Trust me, you will need whipped cream to lower the strong chocolate taste and there is no need to order anything else, because it is so satisfying. I think I just drooled...

226 Rue Rivoli
75001 Paris, France

The second one is the merveilleux de Fred.
Image of The merveilleux de Fred in Paris, France

We were invited for dinner by some close friends and, for dessert, they served some cookies that were fantastic! These cookies are meringue coated with whipped cream and shaved chocolate sold at Aux Merveilleux de Fred stores (addresses below). We tried two flavors:
  • The Incroyable: meringue, speculoos biscuit whipped cream coated with shaved white chocolate.
  • The Merveilleux: meringue, chocolate whipped cream coated with shavings of dark chocolate.
The common element is that these cookies were very, very light. It is bad in fact, because they are so good and light that you would eat tons of them! Between the two, I preferred the while chocolate one (the incroyable). Surprisingly, it was not too sweet (white chocolate is often) and had a more delicate taste compared to the dark chocolate one. However, I would not have guessed there was speculoos in it (people are crazy about speculoos in France!). 

People love the Merveilleux de Fred and it seems that there is often a line in front of the stores, but it is worth it based on what we tried! I hope the Chef, Frédéric Vaucamp will have the great idea to open a store in the US!!!

Aux Merveilleux de Fred
7 rue de Tocqueville, 17th arrondissement

Aux Merveilleux de Fred
129 bis rue Saint Charles, 15th arrondissement

Aux Merveilleux de Fred
29 rue de l’Annonciation, 16th arrondissement

Aux Merveilleux de Fred
94 rue Saint-Dominique, 7th arrondissement

Aux Merveilleux
Lippens Laan 99
8300 Knokke

Aux Merveilleux de Fred
88 Old Brompton Road
SW7 3LQ London
(South Kensington)
Opening 2013

Enjoy (I sure did)!

And remember: I Just Want To Eat!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Last dinner in Paris at Le Franc-Tireur

Image of Le Franc-Tireur in Paris, France

Our last night in Paris, it was pouring outside, so we decided to find a restaurant close to our hotel. As we wanted something reasonable, we wandered around and found a brasserie called Le Franc-Tireur. What I like about brasseries is the casual atmosphere you will find inside: casual with an eclectic crowd (business people, students, retirees, tourists...). And usually, the wait staff is shouting the orders...

So, we sat in the dinner area and they brought us the ardoise (slate) with the items of the day, as well as the regular menu.
Image of the Dining room at Le Franc-Tireur in Paris, France

Jodi went for La salade du pere Olivier, a salad made with grilled vegetables and fresh goat cheese on a toast.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Crepes at Le Petit Josselin in Paris, France

Image of the Entrance of the creperie Le Petit Josselin in Paris, France

I promised Jodi that, as we were in France, we would go to a Crêperie to eat a crêpe. We ended up at Le petit Josselin, located rue de Montparnasse. This street is quite interesting as it is full of Crêperies, as if we were in Bretagne, although I have never been there...

So, here we are, entering the place; immediately on the left is the area where they are making crêpes. Of course, I cannot miss the piece of butter sitting there...very promising...
Image of Kitchen of the creperie Le Petit Josselin in Paris, France
And, in the back of the photo, you can see a crêpe, with a darker color indicating that the flour used is buckwheat, making it slightly heaver and tastier. In fact, the crêpe is called a galette.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fondue at L'Assiette aux deux fromages in Paris, France

Image of the Entrance of L'assiette aux deux fromages in Paris, France
What I really enjoy in the Winter is a cheese fondue. Not sure I would call it a Fondue Savoyarde or une fondue aux fromages as there is a debate between France and Switzerland as to who made the first cheese fondue...In New York, my favorite places for fondue are Artisanal and for a low key and a rustic atmosphere, Kashkaval. 

In France, a lot of people like fondue and it is not rare to be invited to a fondue party, because it is easy to prepare, fun (if you drop the bread in the cheese, you should have a dare) and delicious. The most common mix of cheese is Comte, Beaufort and Emmental. But, sometimes, people go to the fromager (cheese store) and ask for some cheese to make fondue,  ending up with various ones as the combinations are endless. At home, I have in fact a fondue pot that is electric and sometimes buy a fondue mix that is convenient and pretty descent! 

So, back to my trip: Jodi and I wanted to eat a fondue! We went to one of our favorite spots in Paris: rue Mouffetard. It is a narrow street made of cobblestones. At night, it can be crowded as people go there for the multitude of restaurants you can find: traditional French to Iranian! Looking around, we decided to go to L'Assiette aux fromages. It was not the first time and the last time we went, we had a pretty good meal!

I like the place: warm with its wood all over that reminds a bit of a chalet in the mountain. The big blue cow in the middle of the main dining room is surprising though...
Image of the Dining room of L'assiette aux deux fromages in Paris, France

We decided to order a traditional cheese fondue.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fantastic Lunch at Le Train Bleu in Paris, France

Image of the Entrance of Le Train Bleu in Gare de Lyon Paris, France
Who would have thought that you would find such a nice restaurant in a train station??? Le train Bleu is a fancy restaurant that I always suggest to people visiting Paris and who want to enjoy a nice dinner in a fantastic decor. It is pricey but worth it if you are looking to treat yourself!

The place is incredibly beautiful! These photos speak for themselves!
Image of the Dining room of Le Train Bleu in Gare de Lyon Paris, France

The paintings on the walls and ceilings attest of the history of the site and are the result of the work of famous painters who did a magnificent job. So going there is not only about food!

Another particularity of the restaurant is polo the cat.
Image of Polo the cat at Le Train Bleu in Gare de Lyon Paris, France
According to a wait staff, the cat came one day and never left. You see him wandering around the restaurant quietly, without bothering at all the customers and not begging at all. I guess that he is probably well fed there!

So here are some of the fantastic dishes we tried: