Tuesday, September 30, 2008

restaurant review: del posto

Restaurant: Del Posto
Location: 85 Tenth Ave., New York 10011
Telephone: 212-497-8090
Website: delpost.com

Meal type: Dinner

Average price per person: $100+

What I ordered:
- Bellini
Il menu Del Posto -
- Antipasta: insalata d’estiva, summer squashes, warm almonds and ruchetta
- Bis 2 Tastes of Pasta: rabbit panzotti with pencil asparagus and black truffle butter (pictured), orecchiette with lamb neck sausage, morels and spring onion
- Secondi: tomato and cerignola braised tuna with chipotle & avocado
- Dolci: gelati e sorbetti del giorno



We were unable to make reservations for Babbo, because they were under renovations so we decided to try Mario Batali's other restaurant Del Posto which is located in New York's trendy meat packing district.

Del Posto received two Michelin stars in 2007 and 2008, so we were really looking forward to it. I think this was our first visit to a Michelin star-rated restaurant.

When we first arrived and sat down I think we were pretty taken by the gorgeous interior of the place. Not only did it look elegent, classy and huge, but it somehow retained the comfortable cozy setting. The staff was super attentive, which I would expect from a restaurant of this calibre. And our waiter was extremely helpful with the menu. I think this was probably the best service I've ever received while dining out.

When we finally received our orders we were quite impressed not only by the quality, but the size of the portions. They were definitely generous. Our favorite dish was the rabbit hats in the butter sauce. I don't think I've ever had pasta in butter sauce, but it is to die for. It was so rich and tasty and it balanced the rabbit so well.

Enjoying the ambience of the restaurant was also quite enjoyable. There was an extreme amount of wait staff buzzing around at all times and we noticed a couple of very enchanting elements. The first was how every time a woman placed her purse on the floor a staff member would quickly bring a little unique and adorable looking footstool to place her bag on. The second was the a service station set up in the middle of the dining area. At first I assumed the service station was a place to store cutlery, drinks and whatnot, but after watching the staff in action we realized it was so much more. We watched a waiter plate a fish with great ease and flair as well as prepare a fresh custard on a stovetop on order.

In between dinner and dessert our waiter brought over a cheese cart and asked if we wanted to sample some cheeses picked by Mario's wife. We selected three cheeses and enjoyed them with the most amazing hazelnut and date bread slices. Why cheese always tastes so much better in restaurants than when I buy them at the market I'll never know.

We ordered a dessert of just gelati because we were so completely stuffed with food, but seeing as it was 4 scoops of very decadent gelati I couldn't even finish it. It was two scoops of very rich chocolate, and two scoops of what we think was gingerbread. I really enjoyed the gingerbread was it was light and very interesting tasting. The dessert course came with a complimentary plate of cute Italian desserts such as: candied almonds, biscotti, etc. It was definitely a nice touch, but unfortunlately I was so stuffed I could only try 2 or 3 items.

I was very impressed by Del Posto and must say that it was worth the money. I didn't even write about every thing that made me fall in love with this restaurant as it would make my post extremely long (even moreso than it already is), but I was very happy we were able to go to Del Posto. I hope next time we're in New York we get a chance to visit Babbo.

Monday, September 29, 2008

michelin stars

Watching a lot of the food network and Gordon Ramsay I kept hearing about Michelin stars. I gathered that it was a prestigeous rating system for restaurants known around the world (or at least North America and Europe), but that's about all I knew about it, so I decided to investigate.

From Wikipedia:
"The Michelin Guide (Le Guide Michelin) is a series of annual guide books published by Michelin for over a dozen countries. The term refers by default to the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest and best-known European hotel and restaurant guide, which awards the Michelin stars."

I was totally unaware that the Michelin they mentioned was actually the Tire company. They have a hotel and restaurant guide? you learn something new every day!

See tommorrow's post for a review of Mario Batali's Del Posto restaurant which received 2 Michelin stars in 2007 and 2008.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

new york city chronicles: little italy

While escaping the hoards of China town, we slipped in to what we thought was an alleyway, but turned out to be an equally crowded and bustling Little Italy. As like everything else in the big apple it blew our mids. Our senses were attached by all the amazing smells coming from all the tents set up right on the street by dinfferent food vendors. The streets were closed off to cars and there was everything being sold from gelato, to Italian sausages, to pastries and desserts. I almost died when I saw a man selling giant blocks of that white stuff with the nuts in it(pictured).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

restaurant review: aoki japanese restaurant

Restaurant: Aoki Japanese Restaurant
Location: 234 West 48th Street, New York 10036
Telephone: 212-956-2356

Meal type: Dinner

Average price per person: $26-$60

What I ordered (shared):
- Green tea
Aoki Grande Sushi and Sashimi for 2
- 15 pieces of sashimi
- 8 pieces of sushi
- eel avocado roll
- crunchy lobster salad topped with tuna


We were undecided on what to eat our first night in NYC, so we agreed on the 1 thing we always agree on - sushi! We picked this place randomely because it looked busy (always a good sign) and very chic, but comfortable. It definitely had a good atmosphere.

We ordered a dinner for 2 not expecting the portions to be so generous., but when our beautiful plate of dinner came we knew we would be wasting food. The sashimi was huge and very fresh and I absolutely loved the eel avacado roll which reminded us of peanut butter for some reason.

We definitely enjoyed our NYC sushi experience!

Friday, September 26, 2008

new york city crhonicles: food festival

On our way to dinner we passed a huge street festival. So since we had some time before dinner we decided to check it out.

It was a huge street festival of some kind near Broadway and Times Square. As usual there was huge masses of people checking out the goods being sold. In addition to the vendors selling things like jewellery and trinkets there was LOTS of food.

Although there wasn't a huge variety of vendors (it was the same vendors over & over again), the sheer number of people walking around and checking things out was overwhelming.

Some of the items being sold were:
- crepes with your choice of topping
- freshly made fruit smoothies
- arepas (baby corn with mozerella cheese)
- thai food (spring rolls, pad thai, etc.)

It was all so tempting, but we didn't want to spoil our dinner. I wish I had more time there just to eat more food.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

new york chronicles: minamoto kitchoan

While walking around Rockefeller Centre Plaza we peeked in to this Japanese bakery and I fell in love with these cute bunny shaped cakes, so I just had to go inside to check it out. It sold traditional Japanese treats made in Japan and imported to North America.

Store: Minamoto Kitchoan
Location: 608 Fifth Ave., New York 10020
Telephone: 212-489-3747
Website: kitchoan.com

I bought a Fukuwatashiesenbei cookie (pictured below) and Dave bought a Kurimanjyu bean cake. We sat outside Rockefeller Centre and enjoyed our treasures.

I love Japanese treats because they're usually so prettily made and packaged/wrapped. So much care goes in to making it special. My Fukuwatashiesenbei was basically a cookie sandwich with a cream filling. It was oh-so-yummy. The cream wasn't heavy, but suprisingly light and it was so subtle and airy. I was suprised that something so beautiful was so simple and not pretentious at all. Dave laughed at me when I described it that way.

I usually wouldn't spend $2+ on a single cookie, but it's not everyday you run across fresh imported Japanese goodies of this calibre (at least not around where I live/work).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

new york city chronicles: street food

We knew going to NYC that we'd get to try some different street foods, but we never imagined this:
- falafal sandwhiches
- gyros
- hot dots/sausages
- gourmet ice cream trucks
- pretzels
- fruit
- nuts
- chinese take-out
- arepas (baby corn with mozerella cheese)
to name a few.

I think my hands down favorite was the vegetable lo mein we got for $1.25 in China town. It was not only taste, but a super bargain!

Another favorite was the nuts - I didn't realize New Yorkers were such nut fans!

new york city chronicles: first taste

We're back from New York City!

It was a whirlwind 5 days and 4 nights in the big apple. We rented an apartment in Chelsea and basically ran around Manhattan (via our feet and the subway). THere was definitely too much to see and it made me feel like a fish out of water.

Our first taste of New York City was streed food. We ate falafal sandwiches from a street vendor near Rockefeller Centre. It was delicious and makes me wish we had more than just hot dog carts in Toronto.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

happy birthday to me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

new york chronicles: coming up

The restaurant I mentioned earlier that we would try to hit, since our plans for Babbo fell through, is a gastropub in the West Village called The Spotted Pig. I've never been to a gastropub, so I'm hoping we can check it out!

Monday, September 8, 2008

childhood favorites

So i'm at work and snacking on Pocky. And I realize that I've been eating Pocky since I was a child. Of course, when I was a child I only ever say chocolate, strawberry and plain Pocky in the Chinese supermarkets.

Pocky, is a Japanese snack made by the Exaki Glico Company of Japan. According to wikipedia: "It was first sold in 1966, and consists of a biscuit stick coated with chocolate...The original was followed by "Almond Pocky" in 1971, with an almond coating, and "Strawberry Pocky" in 1977. Today, the product line includes such variations as milk, mouse, green tea, honey, banana and coconut flavored coatings, and themed products such as "Decorer Pocky," with colorful decorative stripes in the coating, and "Men's Pocky," a dark (bittersweet) chocolate and "mature" version...Pocky is very popular in Japan. In bars, it is sometimes served with a glass of ice water."

I still stick with the chocolate Pocky today. The other Pocky variations make me chuckle when I see them, especially the description on the Decorer Pocky which says something like "it's like a decorative cake on a stick".

Sunday, September 7, 2008

new york chronicles: coming up

So we made reservations for Gordon Ramsay's Maze, but unfortunlately Mario Batalli's Babbo is under construction, so we couldn't get reservations for there.

We are gonna try to eat at another restaurant, which I can't remember the name of at this moment - it's supposidely Jamie Oliver's favorite restaurant in New York city. I'm keeping my finger's crossed that we can get a table for lunch or dinner because they don't take reservations.

Another restaurant on our dining itinerary while in NY is Kyotofu (kyotofu-nyc.com). We found out about it while looking for a place to stay in NY. According to their site, they won New York Magazine's Best Cupcake in 2007. It looks really cute and their menu sounds very cool! =)

I can't wait! it's a foodie's dream!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

restaurant review: keg steakhouse & bar

Restaurant: Keg Steakhouse & Bar
Location: 515 Jarvix Street, Toronto, Ontario
Telephone: 416-964-6609
Website: kegsteakhouse.com

Meal type: Dinner

Average price per person: $26-$60

What I ordered:
- Lychee Martini
- Crab, Parmesan and Spinich Dip
- Pecan Sirloin topped with goat cheese (sweet potato fries on the side)


I never realized this, but it's been years since I've been to the Keg! It's definitely come a long way since I remember it.

The food was impressive - I enjoyed the appetizer and my steak. It was cooked rare, just the way I like it & the pecan shell was very differnt but gave the meat a sweetness that was very pleasing to my tastebuds. I could have done without the goat cheese and cold sweet potato fries though. And my lychee martini was to die for, although a bit steep for my pockets at approximately $10 a drink.

The service at the door was a bit snobbish & cold, but our waitresses seemed nice and pleasant. They weren't the best, but pretty decent considering we were in the lounge area.

This was my first time at the Keg Mansion. I was expecting a large restaurant, but was happy to find out it was actually in a large old mansion! It definitely felt very grand. The place seemed to be kept well and had some very upscale and modern touches, although some areas (like the booths upstairs) could have gone for a bit of a touch-up. All-in-all the atmosphere was great and definitely made probably the best Keg I've ever been to and will ever be to.

Friday, September 5, 2008

vietnamese spring rolls follow-up

So it turned out to be a good thing that we didn’t bring out feeble attempts at Vietnamese fresh spring rolls to the potluck bar-b-q, because our friend brought one’s that she had made & there were amazing! She had them so prettily rolled and they were so incredibly yummy.

I got some great ideas from her rolls that I cannot wait to try myself. She had things like fake crab meat, salmon, and avocado in her rolls. I think the next time I make them I might skip the bean sprouts and add avocado instead. It makes the rolls so rich and creamy. She also accompanied her spring rolls with a sweet chili garlic sauce, which was very refreshing & tasty.

We had 3 different dipping sauces with our spring rolls:
1) a mix of: fish sauce, water, lime juice, garlic, sugar, garlic chili sauce
2) a mix of: hoison sauce and crushed peanuts
3) Thai Kitchen's Spicy Thai Peanut Satay Sauce that we picked up from the grocery store’s “asian” aisle

I learned a few things from the sauce experiment:
- peanut sauce is pretty easy to make, so I’ll be trying it myself next time.
- always check the expiry date of items you buy (some items like Thai Kitchen's Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce have a very, very, very limited shelf life - honestly, what am I going to do with a jar of peanut sauce in a few days???)
- sometimes the simplest sauces are the most tasty (we enjoyed sauce#2 the best)

I think next time I'm going to stick with:
1) sweet chili garlic sauce (available in most grocery stores in the "Asian" aisle)
2) a mix of: hoison sauce and crushed peanuts
3) a peanut sauce of some kind, home-made or store bought.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

new york chronicles: coming up

Although the goal is to eat cheap while in New York city, we couldn't resist but to splurge a little bit since we'll be in walking distance to so many great restaurants.

On the dining itinerary:
Dinner at Mario Batalli's restaurant Del Posto
Dinner at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant Maze

I'm so excited!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

restaurant review: congee queen

Restaurant: Congee Queen
Location: 895 Lawrence Ave. East, Unit 8, North York, Ontario
Telephone: 416-916-0338
Website: congeequeen.com

Meal type: Lunch

Average price per person: $0-$10

What I ordered (shared dishes):
- Spice & Pepper Salt Squid (pictured)
- Minced Beef Congee
- General Tao Chicken Rice
- Dough Fritter Rice Noodle Roll


I really enjoy going to Congee Queen. They've managed to take the usual dingy congee restaurants that are typical and updated it and taken it to the next level in dining standards. It's 1 of my parent's regular restaurants. And although I'm not a huge fan of congee myself, I still enjoy eating there. Their portions are very generous, the food is consistantly tasty, the service is fast and efficient and the atmosphere is modern and clean. I've only been to their North York location though.

My favorite dish is the spice & pepper salt squid. This time we decided to try the general tao chicken rice and it was so yummy. It came with a small mountain (shaped like a pyrmaid of course) of rice. Next time I don't think we'll order so many fried dishes as they were very filling, but I still enjoyed the food very much. And between 4 adults we still had leftovers - what a great deal!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

vietnamese fresh spring rolls

So I decided it would be neat to attempt to make Vietnamese fresh spring rolls to bring to a potluck bar-b-q.

Unfortunately my fiancee didn't think our attempts were quite ready for public consumption just yet. We still had a bit to go until our spring roll rolling techniques were perfected.

They were a lot easier to make than I thought though, so I'm looking forward to making them for lunch and maybe by next year we'll be good enough to bring them for our friends to try!

I got the recipe from: allrecipes.com but added a few extra touches like bean sprouts and shredded carrots to the mix. We also picked up a peanut sauce in the local grocery store so we`d have 3 dipping sauces to choose from, but it didn`t turn out that great - i`ll post about that at a later date.

p.s. I`m so happy to have my camera fixed again!

Monday, September 1, 2008

can`t get enough of that bubble tea

Restaurant: Tea Shop 168
Location: 5661 Steeles Ave. East, T&T Supermarket Unit #12
Website: teashop168.ca

Okay, so I know I recently posted a review of this Tea Shop 168, but I hit it up again this weekend after picking up groceries from the T&T. I actually found myself driving to the farther T&T Supermarket JUST to get this bubble tea afterwards.