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Archive for December, 2008

2008 was a year of great meals – thanks to our friends and family who enriched these meals with their company (and were always willing to let me try their food).  The highlights…

  • Best overall – Momofuku Ko
  • Best newcomer – Scarpetta
  • Best entrée – Blue Hill, potato and green garlic ravioli with smoked chicken wings
  • Best side – Perilla, farro risotto
  • Best dessert – Dovetail, brioche bread pudding with bananas, bacon brittle, and rum vanilla ice cream
  • Best burger – Market Table
  • Best comfort food – The Smith (notably the mac + cheese)
  • Best brunch – Telepan
  • Best wine bar – Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar

Honorable mentions – Commerce, Smith’s, the little owl, Casa Mono, Convivio, Jean Georges, Frankie’s Spuntino 17, Hearth, Sfoglia, Peter Luger Steakhouse, and probably a few that I forgot.

Happy New Year – may your 2009 be filled with good food!

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New Kefi = Olive Garden?

My dad was in NYC last night visiting his “favorite daughter” (I am his only daughter…).  We were discussing our dinner plans, and I mentioned that our favorite neighborhood spot, Kefi, had moved to a new location.  I took my dad to Kefi on a prior NYC visit and he loved it so off we went to the new Kefi.

I knew that Kefi had expanded (and was now taking reservations and credit cards with plans to open for brunch), but I had no idea that the new space was so large (130 seats!).  Cozy neighborhood spot no more…the new Kefi is a behemoth.  I was anticipating a change for the worse, but I was surprised by the Olive Gardenization of my favorite restaurant – with endless staff zipping around the cavernous restaurant serving throngs of families. 

For all of my gripes about the new restaurant, Kefi remains a great value with very good (if no longer excellent) food.  The biggest change in the prices was that the cost of drinks has increased – what used to be a $6 beer is now $7.50 and margaritas went from $7 to $9.  I also noticed that portions were scaled back on some dishes; most notably, the serving of calamari was half of what it was at the old Kefi (for the same price). (more…)

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Inspiring Italian – Convivio

Capping off a year of great meals, we went to Convivio on Saturday to celebrate my husband’s new job.  The restaurant is located in Tudor City, a neighborhood we had never visited (it’s great to live in a city that you are “discovering” continually).  Convivio looked warm and cozy from the outside with Christmas lights adorning the small courtyard in front of the restaurant and snow falling right on queue.  The inside of the restaurant, however, was bustling (loud) and modern (austere) with a rather stuffy (Upper East Side) crowd.  Despite the bland décor, Convivio served up one of the best meals that we had this year.

Taking the restaurant’s recommendation, which came with the promise of reasonably-sized portions, we ordered the $59 four-course prix fixe.  As you may have ascertained from previous posts, my husband and I are big eaters, but the prix fixe was way too much food.  By the time our secondi (the third course) arrived, we couldn’t enjoy the food fully because we were so stuffed.  I would recommend ordering a few sfizi (starter snacks), an antipasti and either a primi or a secondi OR a few sfizi, a primi and split a secondi – this will still be a copious amount of food.  If you make a reservation for two, my other tip is to ask for a table on the upper level, which had individual tables for two as opposed to a long banquette on the lower level.

Now that I have gotten my (minor) gripes out of the way, let me tell you about our delicious meal.  Here’s what we ordered with my notes: (more…)

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Best cookies in NYC

‘tis the season for cookies (I have had a few today already) so I wanted to weigh in on my favorite NYC cookies.  Among my friends, it’s no secret that I am a glutton for desserts with peanut butter – when reviewing dessert menus, my eyes glaze over the offerings until I see those two magical words.  Not surprisingly, my favorite NYC cookies all contain peanut butter.  Here they are…

‘wichcraft peanut butter sandwich cookies – Two flaky, buttery (think shortbread) peanut butter cookies filled with peanut butter ganache and topped with sea salt.  They are the perfect size (unlike the other cookies on my list, you do not need to share these treats) and the perfect price at $1.  I have never tried to make them at home, but I found this recipe.

Bouchon Bakery “Nutter Butters” – This rendition of a classic is a major improvement over the original.  A generous dollop of peanut butter ganache is sandwiched between two soft peanut butter cookies.  My husband prefers Bouchon’s version of the peanut butter sandwich over ‘wichcraft’s version.  I disagreed until a recent dinner at Bouchon Bakery when we had the “Nutter Butters” with vanilla ice cream (the decadence!), which was heaven.  You can make these at home with this recipe from the New York Times.

Levain Bakery dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookies – Levain Bakery is famous in NYC cookie circles.  This itsy-bitsy bakery is located a mere two blocks from our apartment.  Our favorite of the four cookies that Levain makes is the dark chocolate peanut butter chip.  These cookies are not for the lighthearted – each cookie is 8 ounces of chewy, gooey deliciousness served fresh from the oven.  The recipe for Levain cookies is a closely-guarded secret, but I found this copycat recipe of Levain’s chocolate chip walnut cookie.

Honorable mention goes to Jacques Torres Chocolate’s chocolate chip cookies.  This article from the Times has some interesting tidbits on baking perfect chocolate chip cookies and a recipe adapted from Jacques Torres.  I made cookies using the recipe and they turned out pretty close to the original and quite fabulous according to everyone who tasted them.

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We returned from Belize (sigh) and were met with busy schedules and holiday madness so I have been slow to get back on the blog bandwagon.  Belize was wonderful – one of our favorite vacations.  I will post some pictures from the trip soon.  Should you find yourself in Ambergris Caye, grab dinner at Elvi’s Kitchen and breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea (where you can sample a Belizean breakfast staple, fry jack, their version of the beignet…and an aggressive way to start to the day).  Marie Sharp’s products are sold all over the country – she makes delicious sauces, jams and jellies, and amazing plantain chips (yep, I used the word amazing to describe plantain chips). 

 

The inevitable result of dragging your feet on writing posts is that someone beats you to the punch.  In this case, Frank Bruni beat me to the punch on sharing his thoughts on Frankies 17 Spuntino.  Recall that I mentioned my intention to post on Frankies before Bruni’s article came out (I don’t want there to be any confusion!).  Here’s what I have to say about this gem of a restaurant…. (more…)

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Belize bound!

I was hoping to fill you in on some of my latest and greatest dining adventures before we leave for Belize, but I’ve been too busy scampering around getting ready for the big trip.  I am not organized enough to line up guest bloggers (like my friend Yael) so please bear with me while the site is quiet across the next ten days.  I hope that things will ease up later this month and I can get back to regular postings.  Thanks for your patience in the meantime.

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We survived Thanksgiving with only a few hiccups – my dad’s flight getting delayed by three hours on Thanksgiving morning, the oven turning off while the turkey was roasting, a broken meat thermometer, and burnt cheesecake crust (I blame the oven – see above).  More importantly, we survived NYC at Thanksgiving, which is, in a word, overwhelming.  I heard on the news that 3 million spectators were expected for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (which we enjoyed painlessly from the end of our block).  That is a heck of a lot of people and many of them stay through the weekend.  In an effort to avoid the Black Friday masses, we went to “Slumdog Millionaire” (which I recommend). 

After the movie, we wandered over to Clo, the new and much-discussed wine bar in the Time Warner Center, which features a touch screen interactive table.  The interactive display provides information about the 100+ wines available by the glass – a picture, basic details (region, price, vintage, etc.), tasting notes, and a map of where to find the wine in the dispensing showcases that surround the communal table.  Clo payment cards allow you to obtain 4 oz. glasses from the dispensing machines. 

My husband, who is a bit of a techy, was delighted with the Clo experience…technology + wine = :).  My father, despite having an iPhone, was frustrated by the touch screen and overwhelmed by the selection.  I was somewhere in the middle.  (more…)

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