@ Home Cooking: Roasted Root Veggies with Herbs & Spices

March 4, 2010

So I made my own version of Roasted Root Vegetables courtesy of Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Root-Vegetables-104833

*Sigh… I burnt the pan in the second rack. I can still smell the burnt air lingering in the house. Not quite familiar with using the dang oven — I’m Chinese after all! The ones in the top rack’s fine though! :D

Here’s my list of ingredients (They’re guestimations as I’m using lots of leftover raw veggies. All veggies, except for garlic & brussel sprouts, cut into about 1/2 inch pieces):

  • 1/2 lb brussel sprouts (about 10)
  • 3 small carrots
  • 1 lb butternut squash (peeled, seeded, cubed)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 head garlic (peeled & whole cloves)
  • 1 bunch beets (peeled & cubed)
  • 2 – 3 tbs light olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbs dried thyme
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste

Convect roasted @ 425 degrees for 40 minutes. I read some reviews saying they only roasted for 50 minutes or so. I might have cut my veggies too small? They looked like they were starting to burn already so I cut the roasting time.

Overall: Pretty yummy! Tasted all the veggies in it without the herbs & spices being too overwhelming. A happy outcome, if not a kinda smoky one.

My lesson to be learned here: Stuff on the bottom oven rack cook faster, so it must be checked first & taken out once it’s done!

Elephant & Castle: Tight Space, Delectable Food

March 1, 2010

Eggs’n Apples Benedict on French Toast

Eggs Benedict on Potato Pancakes

Rating: 

Location: 68 Greenwich Ave. (btwn 7th Ave. & 11th St.)

Still one of our all-time favorite spots on Greenwich! This time we intended to come here for lunch on President’s Day. To our surprise, they actually had brunch until 4:30 pm…so what the hey! Here’s what we got:

  • Eggs’n Apples Benedict on French Toast with maple syrup: Surprisingly not too greasy, buttery tasting, spiced apples fragrance (like apple pie). Super yummy! (You have to like apple pie to like this though!)
  • Eggs Benedict on Potato Pancakes: Same light Hollandaise sauce as the Apples Benedict. Potato pancakes at the bottom instead of french toast. The salty, crunchy, & creamy went well together here. More satisfying if you prefer that over apples on french toast. :P
I’ve had these in the past while here:
  • Smoked Chicken Salad with apples, avocado, cucumbers, hazelnuts & orange ginger vinaigrette: Just tangy & crunchy enough, biiig salad!
  • Boston Indian Pudding with whipped cream: Warm, homey, & comforting. Perfect any time of the year, especially when cold! You’d think this dessert is a bit small but it’s quite filling.

It’s in an old location = tight space: Weird, long dining area with serving station right in the middle. A very tiny water closet (toilet room) to boot too! The whole place has a laid-back feel complete with lots of ceramic elephant decorations (plates, figurines, etc.). Makes for a quaint, intimate dining experience any time of the day, any season of the year.

We’ve never had a bad experience dining here through the years and always look forward to trying something new on the menu.

Parents: Tight space = no stroller room. There’s barely enough space of your kid’s high chair. We wore our baby the whole time we were there. She was content sleeping and/or quietly watching all the action in this lil’ place. ^_^

The Spotted Pig: Lots of Salt Anyone?

February 16, 2010

Rating:  Edible

Location: 314 W. 11th St.

I came upon The Spotted Pig one night while watching one of the food shows on TV, deciding to give it try despite having read mixed reviews. I can’t really judge a restaurant without experiencing it myself.

The husband and I found The Spotted Pig just in time, before the Friday night dinner crowd hit. It was already packed to the rim downstairs at the bar so we went upstairs to their dining area. Like the rest of the place, the second floor dining area was tight, dimly lit, and had a very casual, cozy feel to it. Let’s just say you didn’t have to dress up one bit to dine here. The wait staff, while courteous and helpful, also gave us this laid-back impression, wearing only Spotted Pig logo tees and tight jeans.

We started with the devil eggs as an appetizer — actually it was really just one egg split in half with too much mayo and salt in the filling. It didn’t feel like an appetizer at all but a tease. Not worth the $3 for an egg. Next, I had the Sheep’s Ricotta Gnudi: Surprisingly warm, comfy, and not too salty! Listed under the “Plates” section of the menu, it was really an appetizer size. With this nice little surprise we were eager to have their classic Chargrilled Burger. While it was cooked the way we wanted, at medium, there was too much Roquefort cheese on it, making it too salty.

The side of shoestring fries that came with the burger, while cute, took a lot of work to eat. They were really the width of shoestrings! Seasoned with salt and rosemary, it was pretty good but you’d have to grab a big handful of it to feel satisfied. We also ordered a side of champ just because the name sounded cool. It was really just mashed potatoes with fresh scallions mixed in. (Scallions: Not one of my favorite things!) It was OK, but again, a bit salty and for $8 not a bargain.

Because we didn’t feel satisfied with our meals and we thought they couldn’t possibly put too much salt on dessert, we ordered the Banoffee Pie. A combination of mashed bananas and toffee filling, it was interesting. I still haven’t decided if I liked it or not. I had expected some kind of crunch out of the toffee instead of mushiness but at least it was not too sweet.

Apparently we weren’t the only ones who found most of the food too salty. We overheard a couple near us complain as well. The waiter decided to waive the charge on the plate they didn’t like which was nice of him.

Overall, I would have to agree with most of the reviewers in saying that while the food was mostly fair it was too salty for American tastes and overpriced considering the very casual atmosphere of The Spotted Pig.

5 Ninth: Every Little Bit Done Well

February 11, 2010

The dimmly lit atmosphere

Rating: 

Location: 5 9th Ave. (btwn Gansevoort & Little W. 12th St.)

We went here for their Winter 2010 Restaurant Week menu. It was our only dining splurge of January so we had to splurge well and wisely. From their dimly lit, dark, casual decor, I had assumed the experience would almost be like the one we got from The Spotted Pig. Nope, I was so wrong…it was way better!

(Sorry for the bad pics! This place was quite dark.)

From their menu we ordered:

BBQ Pigtails

Parsnip Soup

Appetizers…

  • Parsnip Soup with ginger, cilantro, parsnip “crouton”: Nice subtle flavor, parsnip chips on top made it extra yummy. Only minus: Soup was kinda warm.
  • BBQ Pig Tails with bourbon glaze: Nice BBQ flavor, not too gelatinous/slimy as you’d expect. Since it’s an end part, you’d have to pick through the bones. Very nicely done.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Braised Pork Cheeks

Main Courses…

  • Sweet Potato Gnocchi: Great umami taste with a lil’ bit of shredded cheese and morel mushrooms. Super yum!
  • Braised Pork Cheeks: Was very tender (you can tell it was carefully slow cooked) and flavorful. Practically madeit the best edible part of the pig! Very similar to its Cider Braised Pork Shank from the regular menu and came with a potato gratin & red winebraised cabbage.

Truffled Mac & Cheese

Side…

  • Truffled Mac & Cheese: We couldn’t help but order it ’cause it was only $6 for a small side. The waiter said it was”sooo goood”after all! Yup, it was definitely worth it! Subtle, delicious truffle flavor abound in a surprisingly, almost light, creamytextured mac & cheese. Definitely not your school lunch variety and more in the high-end department! Can I sayenough “yum”‘s?!

Desserts…

  • Chocolate Fudgy Cake with Bailey’s Ice Cream: Very rich, smooth chocolate was a lil’ dinky finger size portion. However, it was actually a good portion since it was really dense. Bailey’s Ice Cream helped balance out the slight bitter heaviness of the chocolate. (By the way, this is not the official name of the dish, I just remember it being this. ^_^)
  • Hazelnut, Cranberry, Pear Crumble: Had the right amount of tart, sweet, crunch, and warmth. A perfect balance.

Now, a note about service: So, I was a lil’ apprehensive about going to this place because I read a whole bunch of bad reviews on its service…being slow, waiter being snobby, etc. Well, to my surprise, it was the complete opposite. The host was very accommodating to our needs when we first walked in (we had a 6 PM reservation on a Monday and the bar was only started to get loaded) — we had to bring our baby with us. There were barely any diners on their second floor so he let us choose our spot. We wanted lots of room on a bench so he sat us in an intimate corner where we could watch all the action on the floor. Well, it was also close to the bathroom, but not that close! We situated the baby on cushions right at the corner of the bench. Our server was quite friendly with us and the baby as well as attentive. No bad service for us on that night.

The only downside to this place, and perhaps the cause of its long wait for food, was the fact the kitchen is in the basement. They tend to wait until a few orders are done before bringing the food up. Waiters have to carry these dishes up the same flight of stairs as the ones you go up on. In hindsight, the wait was worth it because we haven’t had a great dining experience like this in a really, really long time (and with baby in tow)!

The New French: An “Un-New” Bad Experience

February 7, 2010

Rating: 

Location: 522 Hudson St. (at 10th St.)

Went here for lunch with good expectations after reading positive reviews (nymag.com/listings/restaurant/the-new-french/). My friend was also able to get a 20% off discount for being an employee in the neighborhood. As an afterthought, that was the only positive thing about going to this place.

Since it was already after 2 PM when we came in, I expected service to be fast. There were only four other tables in this dinky place being occupied (about 1/3 full). But, for some reason, service was pretty inattentive and slow after we got seated. It took almost 30 minutes for the food to arrive! We only ordered two lunch specials. I ordered the The New French Salad with chopped romaine, radicchio, pear, gruyere, celery, carrots, gold beets in red wine-pear vinaigrette. Well, at least according to the menu, that’s what it’s supposed to contain. There were no celery in there at all though. The gruyere was julienned and there were lots of it…a little too much! The gold beets were mixed in with red beets, sliced super thin like the carrots, and raw. Vinaigrette was weak, no pear taste at all, and only had a slightly vinegary taste. In the end, I left a lot of the cheese out, it stuck to my ribs!

My friend ordered the Spicy Steak Sandwich on ciabatta with grilled onions. She said it was quite spicy but not really great. It looked really messy to eat too with the sauce all coming out.

Was not impressed with the lack of service, quality of food, or the taste. There are way better places around the neighborhood: will not be coming here again.

Almond: Quaint lil’ family-friendly brunch spot

February 6, 2010
Leek & Fingerling Frittata with pecorino toscano

Leek & Fingerling Frittata with pecorino toscano

Rating:  

Location: 12 E. 22nd St.

On one of the last weeks I was still pregnant we went to Almond for brunch. Couldn’t have some of the cooler stuff on the menu ’cause of my restricted diet so I got the frittata which had cooked eggs and cheese I could eat.

The presentation was cute: perfectly cooked scrambled eggs surround a little cast iron pan with big chunks of leek, potato, and cheese inside, garnished with a twig of rosemary and two slices of oil-toasted bread on the side.

As for taste, it was a little on the bland side but nothing fresh ground pepper couldn’t fix. However, only after eating a fourth of the thing I felt stuffed. I’m not sure how many eggs were used for this dish but I suspect it was a lot. I also realized I’m not really an eggs-and-potato kind of person, even if on the pregnant side.

Service was attentive and friendly. Never had to ask to get a refill of water.

Decor was nice, casual, and relaxing. Not a gotta-get-dressy kinda place. Wooden dining tables were on the small side, our two orders of food barely fit on the table! But, I guess it was just adequate enough when they’re trying to jam as many diners in as possible (during the dinner rush).

Mommies: They offer baby food on the menu! (Tiger Lily’s Homemade Baby Food in assorted flavors.) It’s one of the reasons why I tried the place — for future reference when I need to tote the baby around!

Overall: We had a pleasant experience here. Will probably come back again with the baby for dinner and give that a try.


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