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I thought it was going to be easier the second week around, but yesterday was actually a challenging Meatless Monday. I went out with friends to a beer-tasting event, and it was rough watching them consume the charcuterie and sausages while I just nibbled on the cheese.

To make things somewhat worse, we passed by a Japanese bakery selling the day's leftover goods for $1.50/bag on the way home. I bought crullers and croissants and immediately scarfed two down on the walk to the subway. I don't think replacing meat for donuts is necessarily healthier.

Breakfast: coffee, 1 buttermilk scone
Lunch: paneer tikka masala with rice, mango lassi
Dinner: cheese, 2 cruller donuts
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Trying out Meatless Monday -- not really a resolution, but more of a "how long can I do something every week" deal.

Today was tricky. I woke up late so all I had for breakfast was my coffee, and when it's lunchtime and you're starving, nothing seems so good as a BLT or a chicken parmesan sandwich. I figured that going to the Indian restaurant, I would get more chances to eat vegetarian; I ordered pakoras and bhindi subji (stir fried okra) with rice. Dinner ended up being a grilled cheese sandwich.

I think for next week, if I'm to continue successfully, I would need to cook/prepare everything ahead. I actually don't mind going mostly vegetarian, it's just that it's easier to be a carnivore/omnivore and if I can take the easier way out, I usually do.
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)


Even though I think I'm fairly adept at baking, I'm still generally wary of working with yeast. I have this perpetual fear that I'm going to screw it up (make the slurry too cold or too hot, inevitably end up killing the yeast) so in a fit of bravado, I decided to make these cinnamon sticky buns for Christmas breakfast. My mom was staying over, and if there's anybody who's a challenge to impress, it's mom.

I followed my baking guru's recipe, down to making twice the amount of needed dough, which essentially was just a buttery brioche dough. The recipe itself wasn't difficult to follow; it just takes a lot of time, between the rising and the chilling and the second rising. It is so fulfilling to actually see the dough rising and expanding though~ maybe that's the thrill that bread bakers experience all the time.

The final baked product came not too shabby, in my opinion. The mom and I scarfed a couple each as soon as they were removed from the oven.
reika: (Default)
Made too much food, which I have to clear out of my fridge before leaving on Saturday.

Sausage rolls
Cheeseballs - cheddar/cranberry & goat cheese/scallion/parsley
More cheese, plus crackers & crudite

Roast beef
Ham
Scalloped potatoes
Lemon green beans
Brown sugar glazed carrots
Khristine's stuffing
Kris' quiche

Citrus rum punch
Hot spiced cider

--

My citrus rum punch was basically something that I just threw together. Because really, isn't punch just a big mix of liquor and juice or soda that you have around the house. My concoction had orange juice, pineapple juice, some lime juice, dark rum, whatever little bit of Domaine de Canton I had left, and some Amaretto. Topped off with ginger ale and garnished with orange and grapefruit slices.
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)
I never really worked with pumpkin before, but I figured that, hey, it's that time of the year so why not try something new?

So far, I've made:
- pumpkin roll
- pumpkin muffins

And I now plan to make:
- pumpkin pie ice cream
- pumpkin pasties, maybe in anticipation for next week's HP7 movie?
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)
One of the assistants in the other group organized an office trick-or-treating. Mostly everyone on her list brought in candy and chocolate. Of course I have to be fancy and bring cookies.



I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe for these classic cookies. These really are my favorite kind of cookies -- not so much a big fan of chocolate chip. I think cookies should be mostly crisp and simple. With snickerdoodles, it's just butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Done.

The hardest part about making cookies is figuring out the proper cooking time. SK's recipe suggests 10 minutes. I followed the instructions for the first batch, and the bottoms ended up burned. I tried 8 minutes for all subsequent batches, which did leave a little soft out of the oven, but I left them on the tray for another minute before moving them to the cooling rack, and that seemed to be the best way for me to get perfect cookies.

My co-workers happily devoured them all.
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)
Inspired by The Food Librarian, I set out to make this Dorie Greenspan double apple bundt.

I actually found the cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours, at a random Marshall's store when I was out shopping with my mom. It's literally a tome, but they had priced it at $7.99 so I figured why not. Little would I know that it would become one of my favorite baking references here on out.



I know I sound like a remnant of a bygone era when I say this, but I really like making bundt cakes. I've borrowed my mom's pan indefinitely and have made numerous cakes (mostly pound cakes or banana cakes) using it. Maybe it's a false sentimentality, because I don't think I remember my mom making too many bundt cakes in my childhood, even though she did have a couple of cake pans back home in the Philippines too.

Anyway, this recipe makes a lot of bundt. I still had apples from when we went apple-picking a while back so I used a combination of empire, golden delicious, and macintosh for the recipe. I even made my own apple butter since I wasn't going to buy a jar of it only to use 1 cup; it's easy to enough to make anyway. I added the nuts and raisins, but you can skip them if you don't like such elements mixed in your cake, or if you're serving it to others who may be allergic, etc.

(If you don't have the book, the recipe's here.)
reika: (Default)
I think the Germans knew a good thing when they thought up of the idea of a beer garden. Pitchers of beer, good substantial food like sausages and potato salad, and lots of space for the biggest of groups to spread out make for a good time.

Where I've been:
Loreley - LES
Studio Square
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
Bia Garden
Zeppelin
Radegast
Loreley - Brooklyn (5 Sept 2010)
Mission Dolores (23 Feb 2011)

To visit:
Berry Park
Zum Schneider
Der Schwarze Kölner
Standard
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Traveling derailed this a bit. Also, because I sometimes eat with a co-worker, it's awkward to take pictures of what I'm eating, even more so if what I'm eating are lousy burgers and fries.

8/09 Mon - Kati Roll Company
8/17 Tue - Vandam Diner
8/18 Wed - Calexico Cart
8/19 Thu - Amelia's Diner

--

In other eating venue news, I did go to Stand4 again to try their toasted marshmallow milkshake; I thought it was worth the hype.

I also had yet another Waffles & Dinges waffle -- this time it was the Belgian with spekuloos. Just what I needed to wrap up a long exhausting workweek.
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Wednesday
Dinner - Dick's Last Resort at the Gaslamp

Thursday
Lunch - Buster's Beach House at Seaport Village
Dinner - Coyote Cafe in Old Town

Friday
Breakfast - Lael's breakfast buffet at Manchester Grand Hyatt
Drinks - Tipsy Crow at Gaslamp, Top of the Hyatt at Manchester Grand Hyatt

Saturday
Breakfast - Richard Walker's Pancake House
Snack - Pinkberry
Drinks - The Little Club
Dinner - South Beach Bar and Grill

Sunday
Lunch - Ra Sushi
reika: avatar of four espresso cups (cups)
I was not good on the picture-taking. I feel awkward taking photos of my food sometimes.

Caffe Roast Bean - Veggie sandwich, chips, ice coffee
Baluchi's - lamb korma with garlic naan and a mango lassi
Hiroko's - mix sandwiches & green tea shake
Murray's Cheese Shop - PMT (prisciutto, mozzarella, tomato) melt
Daisymay Bakery - pizza bianca & bread budding
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I'm linking to the original WSJ article, because Gawker's write-up just incited feelings of rage.

What an interesting reversal. Now the non-Asians are complaining that the others are taking over and so they feel vulnerable and confused that they can't even get their food and read the signs...
can you imagine how it was when the first Chinese and Koreans got to the US and couldn't read the signs and couldn't find their food in the stores?

Actually, as I go to Flushing pretty often, there are some stores where you can find the Entenmann's and the deli meats. The Asian groceries do carry them; there's an American food aisle, because hey, just 'cause we're Asian, we still eat our sandwich meat and generic pastries. The encouraging part of this article is how one of the managers of the groceries hears what the non-Asians are complaining about and sees this as an opportunity to grow the business. And that's why this was in the WSJ.
reika: (Default)


Donatella sandwich from Alidoro
Tropical mango smoothie from Red Mango
Shawarma sandwich from Mamoun's Falafel
Beef and potato empanadas from Ruben's Empanadas
Korean fried chicken from Mad About Chicken
Bahn mi #1 from Saigon Sandwiches

Not photographed:
Spaghetti with meat sauce from Hiroko's
Bun Bo Lui (grilled beef with sesame seasoning & lettuce on rice vermicelli) from Nam Son Vietnamese restaurant
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(l-r, top-bottom)
Salmon bento from Sunrise Mart
Salad combo from Once Upon a Tart
Lobster roll from Better Being Underground
Salty Pimp from Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
Peach tarte tatin from Sho Shaun Hergatt
Petits fours and Milk chocolate palet from Sho Shaun Hergatt
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My first experience at NYC Restaurant Week was a visit to Blue Water Grill on Union Square. I passed that restaurant many times when I had my college internship in that area, and it always looked packed -- which for me, was always a good sign. If it's popular, there's gotta be a reason why that's so.

Unfortunately, our meal there was AWFUL. The staff was stressed out and messed up our orders twice, the scallops were flavorless, and little scoops of sorbet for dessert felt like an afterthought. I was never going to eat RW again, I promised.

Fast forward many years, to when I genuinely look forward to visiting a new venue each time Restaurant Week rolls around. This summer, I chose Park Avenue Summer (with my mom) and Sho Shaun Hergatt (with the boy) for my eating venues.

Both places were absolutely exquisite. Both used the best of the summer's bounty and highlighted them in each chef's style. Park Avenue Summer had us noshing on corn succotash, watermelon amuse bouches, and peach coleslaw -- all familiar food with expected twists. At Sho, the dishes were prepared so beautifully, with a few of the dishes getting a final touch at table, which only served to highlight the freshness and flavor of each course.

I highly recommend both these places if you're ever in NY.
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The salad combination from Once Upon a Tart is the best lunch bargain in Soho. For $7+, you get all this: greek salad and chickpea salsa with a slice of fritata. Today, I wanted to get all fancy, so I added a glass of their ginger ice tea -- which was totally the best idea that I've had all day.



They also had this fancy display of cookies at the counter.
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I was craving summer rolls (gỏi cuốn) the other day, but Soho doesn't have any good Vietnamese restaurants within walking distance of my office, so I had to stick getting an order from Mooncake Foods, which is an Asian fusion restaurant on Sixth Ave and Watt.

The summer rolls were disappointing -- they were at least half the size of what I'd usually get at my fave Vietnamese place in Queens -- but at least I got a Thai steak salad which sort of made up for the lackluster rolls.
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The Mitsuwa grocery in Edgewater, NJ often stages food festivals celebrating a particular area of Japan. In the past, they've had a Hokkaido-centric festival, bringing in specialty items that would only be common in that area.

This past weekend, they had another food festival, but instead of concentrating on one area, they picked various foodstuffs from various areas of Japan for the curious (and hungry) to try.



reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)


My favorite part about eating ice cream in a cone wasn't really the ice cream so much, but the crisp sweet cones. Ice cream was easy enough to get, but cones were special. The cones that were available from the supermarkets (at least when I was a child) were nothing special, tasting faintly of cardboard if I recall correctly. But going to an actual ice cream shop, there were these special treats called waffle cones, which essentially improved the entire ice cream eating experience by a few hundred percent.

So, discovering these cookies was an epiphany to me. Because to my mind (and taste buds), they're the cones -- without the shape, but with all the yummy sweetness and crispness. They suggest having this with tea, but I think it goes along okay by itself and all your memories of childhood.
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I had a 30% off coupon to Robataya, so I figured it was a good a time as any to try it. I've actually been wanting to go to a robatayaki, if only to say that I've been to one.

A robatayaki is actually another form of the izakaya, where they serve food that goes well with drinks. In a robatayaki, you commonly sit at a counter and watch the food grilled in front of you and then passed to you on a wooden paddle. Most of the food that's grilled include vegetables in season, fish, or meats.

As far as I'm aware, there are only two 'nice' robatayaki places in New York: Robataya (where we ate last night) in the East Village and Inakaya in Times Square (which is actually participating in the upcoming Restaurant Week, hmm). They're actually pricier than your average izakaya, but at the same time, I think that the food and the dining experience is worth it as these establishments use just the best and most premium of ingredients.



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