Archive for November, 2011
Hello food fans,
It’s been about 5-6 weeks since my last post. I would apologize for the delay but at this point it seems to be becoming a pattern that I post in bunches and then dissapear for a while, so maybe you should just expect that at this point. Anyways, I’ve got some great ideas and recipes which are coming your way over the next month or two, including: Oreo cake balls, the best stuffing recipe EVAR, White Chicken Chili, grilled pheasant breasts, and some homemade eggnog when we get close to Christmas!
Today’s recipe comes from… nowheres in particular. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work one night and got a hankering for some kind of garlicky-creamy goodness which I could spread on crackers. Since this particular grocery store happened to sell roasted garlic cloves in their olive bar, I went for those. A week later I re-made the recipe with a few tweaks which really brought everything together.
- 1 brick of cream cheese, room temp
- 1 cup roasted garlic cloves
- 1 raw garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1 package basil leaves (15 big leaves or so?)
- 4 scallions, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup shredded/grated Parmesan
- 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt & pepper
- Sprinkle of red wine vinegar
- a big dollop of sour cream (optional)
Combine everything but the cream cheese in a food processor and pulse until its a roughly homogeneous mixture, then add the cream cheese and process until everything is mixed together. You can do a few different things with this; I imagine it would be great as a sandwich spread, you could make pinwheels, you could probably thin this out with some milk and white wine to make a bitchin’ pan sauce for something like roasted chicken, or you could just spread it on same fancy crackers and top it with some thinly sliced capocollo. I chose the latter route, and it was well received by the Thanksgiving crowd.
On a side note, please do yourself a favor and go buy a half pound of capocollo. This delicious salumi is dry cured from the meat on the neck and shoulder cuts of the pig. It’s like a cross between canadian bacon, real bacon (take that Canada!), and prosciutto. It’s not usually smoked to the best of my knowledge, but there is sometimes a spicy or savory coating on the outside of the meat. The marbling, which is amply demonstrated below, is incredible and gives it a deep, rich flavor. Get your butcher to slice it thin, and eat a few slices while you walk around the grocery store and decide what you want to do with this manna from heaven.
My recent post on Peter Luger reminded me of a trip to the Post House a few months back with my good friend Alex. Alex lives in California, but he makes a point of stopping at the Post House every time he swings through the city.
Nestled in Midtown, the sophistication that people might miss at Luger’s can be found in abundance at the Post House. The establishment has a a rich, but simple, elegance that you would expect from a top end Manhattan steak house. The table clothes are white, the waiters dote, and the clientele is suit clad. And, as Alex likes to point out, this was one of Bernie Madoff’s favorite haunts.
I had the New York cut, which was, of course, everything that you can hope for in a steak.
Our sides consisted of the creamed spinach and asparagus. The creamed spinach was a clear home run. Unlike Peter Luger’s, the Post House’s creamed spinach has visible strands of spinach mixed with a thick cream sauce. (Luger presented creamed spinach that seemed to be whipped steamed spinach alone.)
But the coup de grâce was Alex’s order of the filet Oscar. Wikipedia should have a picture of this bad boy under its entry for decadent. The base is a huge melt in your mouth filet minion which is topped in crab meat, drowned (in the best sense of the word) in a Bearnaise Sauce, topped with chopped asparagus. I’m sure this dish would infuriate a Peter Luger waiter, who seem to universally believe that a steak should, under no circumstances, be adulterated. For my self, while I enjoy a great pure steak, this decadent tower of meat and seafood should be on everyone’s culinary bucket list.
In writing this, I learned that the Post House has a $24.07 dollar lunch prefix. I’m not sure that I’ll spring for the $10 extra for the filet Oscar, but given that this amazing deal is within walking distance from my office I’ll have to find an excuse to try this place again on the cheap.
After trying Brooklyn Local One, I knew I had to get my hands on a bottle of Brooklyn Local Two. The Local Two, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale with a 9.00% ABV, is a completely different beer from the Local One.
Appearance: This beer is dark brown, like a well brewed coffee. The head is extremely solid with a white/brown color. Both the texture and appearance of head reminded me of a substantial foam on a cappuccino after its been stirred and taken on a slight coffee color.
(The coffee analogies end at appearance–there is no hint of it in the smell or flavor.)
Smell: Yeasty, like fresh bread or bread dough.
Taste: It’s like a cinnamon roll without the cinnamon. There is some mild yeasty tartness balanced with caramel flavor and a little sweetness.
Overall: It’s a good beer, but I’m just not head over heels for this style in general. If you like the style I’m sure you’d love this beer, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the Local One.
To many, the name is synonymous with great steak. Founded in 1887, Peter Luger is a New York institution that I had yet to experience. Fayaz changed that by generously treating Nick and me for a passing the bar celebration.
On the night of our 8:45 Thursday reservation, Nick and Fayaz were running a little late and on Fayaz’s arrival we learned that he had made the reservation at the sister restaurant 140 miles away from the Brooklyn location. This small error just meant we had to spend a little quality time at the bar. After a proper negroni and solid gibson (think a martini with cocktail onions instead of olives) we got our table.
Second only to Peter Luger’s reputation for amazing meat is it’s reputation for dismissive and and condescending servers. I have to say that we experience none of the rumored poor service. The only slight sneer we drew from our waiter was when Fayaz asked if the sauce on the table was the famous Peter Luger sauce. (Despite having steak sauce in stores all over the city, Lugers hates the idea of you putting it on their steak.) If I had to guess at the reason for the service reputation, I would point the finger at the customer. Not only does some Minnesota nice and few please and thank yous go a long way, but I suspect that many first time Luger diners have miss placed expectations. Yes, the place is expensive, but the menu is spartan and its simple food done really right. I can see people coming in the door expecting pretense having their reality realigned by a server who’s seen it all.
And the food. To start we ordered the Sliced Tomatoes & Onions and the bacon. The Sliced Tomatoes & Onions are perfectly named, you get three huge slices of tomatoes and two large onion slices on a plate–that is it. Our waiter recommended that we try it with a rust brown sauce sitting on a table in a gravy boat. The sauce, their signature, reminded us of a cocktail sauce, not very sweet and heavy on the horseradish. The sauce was great on the tomatoes and onion and delicious when sopped-up with bread.
We ordered steak for three (yeah, that’s how you order it at Lugers) and it was [insert beefy superlatives]. It’s the best selection of meat that is dry aged on site before it’s butchered and cooked perfectly. But, at the end of the day–and I know my grandfather is spinning in his grave as I type this–it was still steak. I just don’t know if I’m able to tell the difference between a really good steak and an amazing steak. The thick cut bacon, that little appetizer I didn’t elaborate on, was the home run when it came to the meat. Fatty, but not overly so, this little bit heaven had prefect crisp on the outside and a smoky flavor that is still making me salivate as I think of it. I felt like I was experiencing a whole smoked ham in every bit. (To my vegetarian, Muslim, and Jewish friends: if you every change your mind run here and order several slices of this.)
For sides we took down the creamed spinach and the German potatoes. The creamed spinach was unremarkable, but a necessary bit of color and texture for a plate of steak. The German potatoes, not so different from home fries, were the prefect crispy starch that every good steak needs. You can also get a baked potatoe (thank you Mr. Quayle) or french fries–I’m happy with our pick.
We decided to round the meal off with a tall ice cream Sunday that seems to hail from an old school ice cream shop. A prefect sweet ending to a great meal with a literal cherry on top.
Today, I attempted to make a return to the Waffle Truck to satisfy my lunch time craving for a BBQ pork waffle. Unfortunately, the truck was no where to be found at its Tuesday location. A quick twitter check revealed that the truck was stuck in the repair shop for a few hours. Luckily the streets of New York are swarming with food trucks. A few blocks later and I was standing in front of the Schnitzel and Things.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Schnitzel and Things offers up schnitzel… and things. They actually have four different kinds of schnitzel and a bratwurst. You can take the schnitzel down in either sandwich or platter form. If you opt for the platter you can pick two items from a long tasty list of things (aka sides). In case your not sure what schnitzel is: it’s piece of meat, pounded thin, breaded, and fried–so good! Oh, and I almost forgot, the truck offers up an amazing array of condiments, including Spicy Sriracha Mayo and Ginger Scallion & Garlic Relish.
I went for the pork schnitzel, with fries, and sauerkraut with the sriracha mayo. It was a heaping amount of fried deliciousness. It was a little to heavy for lunch, actually it was just missing a beer, but I’ve just grazed the surface of this menu and will need to make a return trip.
I have an embarrassing confession: I don’t know where I live. I tell people, with confidence, that I live in South Slope (aka South Park Slope). With it’s amorphous borders, South Slope seems like a realtor’s invention to lure renters further into the heart of Brooklyn. Some say that I’m in Sunset Park while others tell me I’m living in Windsor Terrace.
Where ever I live, it’s still New York–the land of bagel snobs, where a bagel store is never far off. So it’s no small matter when I say that Terrace Bagels is my favorite bagel spot.
There is always a long line at this cash only establishment. Behind the counter is a crew of four or five weary looking souls. Every day it looks like at least one employee was up all night. Even if they are sleep deprived, they keep the line moving and the orders strait with a New York briskness and edge. Know what you want when you get to the counter. The attitude isn’t charming, it’s short, curt, and necessary to bring order to chaos and to keep the wait short.
The stereo typical New York service is well worth it for the bagels. They are exactly what a bagel should be, a fresh snappy doughy ring. (If it reminds you of bread it’s not a bagel!) And, unlike at Murray’s Bagel’s, you can get your bagel toasted. You can top your choice, from a wide selection, of bagels with a range of cream cheese flavors.
Whether it’s a solo bagel for me alone or a half dozen of em’ with a tub of cream cheese, I think that some of Terrace Bagels’ fine product makes it into the house on a weekly basis. With this place just a few blocks away, I’m happy to call 17th Street home, whatever anyone else wants to call it.
Sure, the temperature was hovering in the low 40s or high 30s, but Fayaz and I are Minnesotans, and knew it was perfect grilling weather. And a fine beer is perfect match for the grilling prep work. I’ve been meaning to try the Brooklyn Local One since I learned of its existence on a Brooklyn Brewery Tour a few years back. After sampling more than my share of Brooklyn’s standard brews, I’ve learned to trust what they do.
The Brooklyn Local One is in the Belgian Strong Pale Ale style packing a 9% ABV. Part of Brooklyn Brewery’s process is an in bottle fermentation–similar to the method used to give champagne its sparkle.
Appearance: A bright, but cloudy, yellow gold with a solid head.
Smell: A very weak nose, just mild yeast.
Taste: Strong yeast and some malt flavor. A bitterness balance with with an almost nutty savoriness and light honey—a little sweet but strong on whatever the non-sweet flavor of honey is. The finish was short, savory, and yeasty.
Mouth: Well carbonated with small velvety bubbles.
Overall: A great freak’n beer at a reasonable price. I could see this guy pairing well with a little spice, a savory cheese, or a salty game day snack.
Next up: the Brooklyn Local Two.