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Archive for November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a crazy few weeks so I apologize for my sporadic postings.  I have lots of good stuff to tell you about – Market Table, Frankies Spuntino, BLT Market and, of course, the highlights and lowlights of Thanksgiving dinner.  My husband and I are off to Belize for vacation next week.  I will try to squeeze in a post or two before we leave.  In the meantime, I wanted to wish my readers a happy (and delicious!) Thanksgiving.  I am thankful and grateful for all of you.

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Top tapas

Last week, we visited one of our favorite spots in the city – Tía Pol.  We discovered Tía Pol in 2006, two years after this delightful spot opened (it’s unclear why it took us so long to get there, but we’ve been trying to make up for lost time ever since).  It seems that Tía Pol has only grown in popularity since we first started going there.  Despite the loss of chef Alex Raij earlier this year, the food is as good as ever.  (Those in the know have heard that Alex just opened a new tapas spot, Txkito, which will surely be added to the list as soon as I get around to updating it).  In addition to great food, Tía Pol offers great value…although $6 tapas can add up to a surprisingly high bill (particularly when you throw in a few glasses of wine) and beware the nightly specials, which are much more expensive than the regular menu items. 

The only downside of Tía Pol is the size of the restaurant, which results inevitably in long waits.  There is a bar area where you can bide your time, but it gets very crowded.  Tía Pol has one large table and will take reservations for parties of 6-8 (at least this use to be the case).  If you haven’t snagged a reservation at the big table, be prepared to wait, but rest assured that the food will be worth the wait.  Here are some of our favorite items on the menu:

  • patatas bravas – rough cut potatoes with spicy aioli (simply amazing)
  • croquetas de jamón y croquetas del día – ham croquettes and croquette of the day
  • garbanzos fritos – fried chickpeas (a great snack to tide you over while you wait)
  • chorizo con chocolate – palacios chorizo with bittersweet chocolate
  • huevos rellenos al pimentón de la vera – deviled eggs (the best deviled eggs)
  • montadito de crema de habitas con beyos – fava bean puree, beyos cheese on toasted bread

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Last month, I made two Saturday afternoon visits to Union Square Cafe (USC) after shopping at the Greenmarket.  I highly recommend visiting USC during the lull between lunch and dinner, which starts at 5:30.  It’s a delightful (if slightly decadent) Saturday afternoon activity.  On both visits, we were treated to USC’s bar nuts, which are delicious.  My best friend gave me the recipe a few years ago, and I am planning to make the bar nuts as a mid-afternoon snack on Thanksgiving.  We’ll be opening a bottle of Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc that we picked up on our trip to Napa earlier this year.  I’ll also be serving champagne-friendly cheese from Artisanal and some sort of homemade crackers (possibly these parmesan black pepper crackers from Barefoot Contessa).  We should have plenty of snacks to tide us over until dinner!  Recipe for the bar nuts after the jump. (more…)

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Brunch bliss

My husband and I have been wanting to try brunch at Telepan for some time, but it’s hard to swallow the $28 prix fixe on an average weekend.  Our scuba diving lessons, which prevented us from eating dinner out last weekend, provided the perfect excuse.  Telepan brunch was high on the list because of the rave reviews the burger has received.  While the burger was excellent (and my husband has ceded J.G. Melon’s spot on his top 5 NYC hamburger list to Telepan), the biscuits and gravy stole the show.  We agreed that this was the best brunch we’ve had in NYC (possibly anywhere) and the $28 price fixe seemed quite reasonable when all was said and done.  Here’s what we ordered:

FOR THE TABLE
BREADS & SWEET THINGS

FIRST COURSE
SHEEP’S MILK RICOTTA BLINTZES (me)
dried fruit compote
HOUSE SMOKED BROOK TROUT (hubby)
celery root blini & green apple sour cream

SECOND COURSE
BISCUITS AND GRAVY (me)
house-made breakfast sausage & poached eggs
BURGER (hubby)
house-made pickles & a volcano (more…)

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Thanksgiving menu continued

We made it past the 1000 hit mark – thanks so much for your support and enthusiasm!  to demonstrate my gratitude, I am going to tell you about the insanely fabulous brunch that we had at Telepan…but I can’t do the brunch justice today as I am pressed for time and tuckered out from a weekend of scuba diving lessons.  For now, I wanted to pass along another recipe from my Thanksgiving menu.  I discovered this recipe for Crisp Haricots Verts with Pine Nuts last winter and I’ve made the recipe several times.  This easy recipe makes an elegant and delicious side dish.  You can use regular green beans, but I recommend opting for the fancier haricots verts for a holiday dinner.

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I resisted Hearth for some time, despite the restaurant’s glowing reviews and the many personal recommendations that I received.  I looked at the menu several times and was never inspired.  Exacerbating my lack of enthusiasm was the restaurant’s location on the Lower East Side, which is a long haul from our apartment on the Upper West Side.  After reading a recent review of Hearth’s Apple Cider Doughnuts on Serious Eats, I took another peek at the menu and was compelled (finally) to make a reservation.

Last weekend we went to Hearth with our friends John and Amy and had an excellent meal.  It’s hard to find many faults with our meal.  Getting nitpicky, the bread was not good and the meal took a very long time and we were left unattended for long stretches (in defense of our affable and competent waitress, we were not in a rush and didn’t convey impatience).  Other than those minor tweaks, we had a great dining experience. 

Hearth has a very interesting and diverse wine list so we let our waitress select a bottle – I threw out a few adjectives and she produced a recession-friendly bottle of Shinn Estates 2005 Merlot from North Fork (!?), which hit the spot perfectly (and tasted nothing like a merlot).  John was the only person at the table who ordered an appetizer – the Foie Gras Torchon, which was quite good.

Everyone was very pleased with their entrées.  I don’t think that one particular entrée stood out (I wouldn’t know about the cobia because John finished his entrée without giving me a bite…ahem), but there wasn’t a miss in the bunch. 

Here’s what we ordered: (more…)

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the loot

the loot

By now, much has been blogged about last weekend’s Chocolate Show, but I wanted to weigh in with my thoughts on this annual ritual.  The event was held at a new venue – Pier 94.  The new space offered pros (namely more space) and cons (far-flung location and less “energy”), and I would be pleased to see the Chocolate Show return to the Metropolitan Pavilion next year.  There were a host of new chocolatiers at this year’s event – many more new faces than in past years.  We sorely missed the cheery ladies of SweetBliss – please come back next year! 

We were happy to see some old friends who have impressed us in the past and did so again this year:

  • Berkshire Bark – it’s been great to watch this company’s product line expand; we picked up a few bars on our recent trip to the Berkshires (favorites include Jumpin’ Java and Mocha Buzz).
  • Chocolove – they were back with new $1 mini bars.  This is not haute chocolate (hee-hee), but the bars are cute as can be and tasty to boot (I recommend the Rich Dark 65% Cocoa and the Toffee & Almonds in 33% Milk Chocolate…I don’t normally like milk chocolate, but this bar is addictive).
  • Pralus – Pralus consistently offers one of the best products at the show; their single-origin chocolates are high quality and it’s interesting to compare the chocolates from different origins.  If you are looking for a holiday gift for a chocolate lover, consider the Pralus Pyramid or the mini version as a stocking stuffer.

And here are our top three chocolatiers from this year’s show: (more…)

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